MrEarl

Towing Trailers With '50's Buick's, Who's Done It

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Doug and others, THANKS for all your input and please don't think Rita and I  haven't been listening to and using each and every pro and con comment to make a knowledgeable and unbiased decision as to how to proceed with this possible adventure. I have always gathered the facts and pros and cons before making decisions whether when I was working or in our personal lives such as here.

It basically boils down to this. The 54 Buick's just simply don't cut it when talking about pulling the size trailer Rita and I would want to use to do this in. Even with all of Willies and others upgrades, the 200 horses of the 54 would be struggling to make the trips we have planned. I even got as far as considering an engine swap to a 56 engine with 260 hp and/or adding the McCullough supercharger I have. Most of the Buick/trailer pulling scenarios seen above show either later model Buicks (57 and on) pulling the size trailer we are considering or in Dougs case the trailer is smaller and likely doesn't contain the one most important luxury Rita is demanding, a bath room.  So we are now considering other pull vehicles and depending on that decision perhaps even a bit larger trailer.

And regarding hotel rooms vs trailer camping, and not to offend, but gentleman I absolutely despise and abhor modern day hotels. Always have and guess always will. I personally would rather sleep in the back of a a pick up truck camper shell in a rest stop (done many times) or a car trailer in a Walmart parking lot in the middle of summer than in a modern day hotel. ( You reading this Bob Coker :))  People have quirks, I guess that is just one of mine. Rita has only been west of the Mississippi traveling by roadway 2 times . It has always been our dream to see the USA and all it's wonderful state parks and off the beaten path highways and bi-ways using the Buick and a vintage trailer and not through the plate glass window of a 4 story hotel room. 

 

So the saga continues of mating up a vehicle to a vintage trailer. I really like Ed's idea of a first gen Riviera and since that has been in my ever deepening bucket list may look into that. Also entering a new Enclave or possibly Tahoe/Yukon into the equation. Either of these will require selling a couple of '54's. We are in no big hurry, Rita retires next spring, I have a garage to finish and we have a lot of home improvements on slate before hitting the road probably the following year. So we have time to work it all out.

 

Again thanks for all the above great comments and opinions. I knew I could count on my Buick family to help us make this important decision. 

 

Here is what we are considering. It is a 2015 re-issue of a 1961 Shasta Airflyte camper. The look of a vintage with modern appliances, plumbing and other amenities. We are considering a 16 ft but they also come 19 ft.  While some may consider the additional cost for the "cute" factor a bit much, I don't. I don't need a trailer to be cute, if I was any cuter I couldn't stand myself. :lol:

 

http://roamingtimes.com/2015/11/10/2015-shasta-airflyte-16-reissue-travel-trailer/

 

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Buttercup 005.jpg

 

 

 

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NICE! 

My wife feels along the lines your Rita does regarding the bathroom issue.

Some of these 13 to 15 foot units have been retro fitted to accommodate a small bathroom but as you say, are not huge units in total. 

The one comment some made was that if they had to do it again they would want a unit that had two axles. One reason was for the four wheel braking and the other for the stability with towing. 

Obviously each of us has our own views and needs.

Shoot, three couples had teardrops and this gang has been on the road for 5 weeks so far......

 

I didn't get inside to see the layout but I know my wife would love to travel in it. B)

IMG_1741.thumb.JPG.98e0319b9a693648a557a050eba6aaa0.JPG

 

Keep us posted and have fun getting there.

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1 hour ago, dei said:

NICE! 

My wife feels along the lines your Rita does regarding the bathroom issue.

Some of these 13 to 15 foot units have been retro fitted to accommodate a small bathroom but as you say, are not huge units in total. 

The one comment some made was that if they had to do it again they would want a unit that had two axles. One reason was for the four wheel braking and the other for the stability with towing. 

Obviously each of us has our own views and needs.

Shoot, three couples had teardrops and this gang has been on the road for 5 weeks so far......

 

I didn't get inside to see the layout but I know my wife would love to travel in it. B)

IMG_1741.thumb.JPG.98e0319b9a693648a557a050eba6aaa0.JPG

 

Keep us posted and have fun getting there.

 

Here you go, Lamar. You've been figuring it backwards. DRIVE something like the above and PULL one of your 54's.....................Bob

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1 hour ago, Bhigdog said:

 

Here you go, Lamar. You've been figuring it backwards. DRIVE something like the above and PULL one of your 54's.....................Bob

 

I've barely resigned myself to selling a couple of  54's for to afford a trailer. Selling the house for one of those, I don't think so?

 

Re dual axels, I'm not looking forward to backing a single axel at all. ?

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(So NOW we know why Lamar stays at home?)

 

Concur on 5th wheel dbl axle unit!  Use a HD2500-type vehicle for towing, rather than something smaller.  Resale will be higher with a diesel, but with a higher maintenance cost.  And, of course, the requisite 5th wheel hitch package from a reputable manufacturer.

 

IF you or anybody else is considering a newer Buick SUV to tow with, get one with the FACTORY tow package!  Otherwise, you'll spend a good bit of money to retrofit the necessary wiring harnesses and fuse block!  Get it that way from the factory, where it's less expensive.  BUT there ARE limits of GCVW that could be exceeded with your desired trailer's weight.

 

HD2500 Duramax, Allison trans, 5th wheel, fancier trim option, shortest bed length (results in rear seat leg room of "limo" proportions!) . . . for a GM truck.

 

As far as "seeing the USA" from behind a plate glass window, when did they become mobile?

 

I know that many like to "trailer" to areas not normally scene, which is fine, but to me, a campground is a different type of "hotel".  I like to get out and drive around the area to see what's there.  If I trailered, I'd have to find a secure place to leave the trailer while I cruised around for a while.  Not to forget about the various "sanitary deposits" which would need to be drained from the trailer every so often.  To me, too many negatives to deal with in trailering, versus a comfortable and smoooooth car and a nice hotel at the end of the day.  But that's just me.

 

Why not lease a motor home, stay in towns where you can get a daily rent car for excursions, and THEN get a nice newer Buick that you can use everyday?  Let your route be a connect the dots affair between the larger campgrounds.

 

Enjoy at any cost!

NTX5467

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Remember those comments about "young and adventurous"?  That WalMart parking lot might be welcoming to overnight travelers and have banks of video surveillance cameras, but I don't believe those places are as safe as they used to be.  Same for roadside parks, possibly?  I'd much rather sleep in a strong building, behind a thick door, and on allegedly clean sheets each night, with plenty of hot water in the morning (oh and "free" breakfast of varying menus) than on a windswept parking lot relying on an occasional drive-thru by a local law enforcement operative.  40 years ago was a "different world", in many respects.  At least if you might "pass" in your sleep, the morning maid would find you, rather than several days later in that roadside park.  There are many different ways to experience "adventure", which can be "age-related", by observation.

 

AND . . . make sure that trailer has ALL NEW tires on it, right before you leave town!  NO matter what!

 

Everybody has their own level of desired/assumed risk orientation, which I respect.

 

NTX5467

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2 minutes ago, NTX5467 said:

Everybody has their own level of desired/assumed risk orientation, which I respect.

 

Traveling with Mssrs. Smith and Wesson always adds to my comfort level.............................Bob

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Not to be subversive about hotel / motels but there is bed bug issues (even with reputable name hotels).:wacko:

Don't ask....

Edited by dei (see edit history)
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Glad you were able to finalize a decision, somewhat.  The main thing is to hit the road.  The other main thing is to think twice about those by-ways and back roads.  In my limited adventures, the words of the tour guide when we were passing through Dolan Springs AZ.  always come to mind. While looking like a nice place in the middle of nowhere, I asked, "what was the main industry here?"  Then answer:  "petty crime" !  Since there was little for anyone to actually do as a job,  it seems the crime rate for burglary - etc was exceptionally high.  And unfortunately it seems like some societal misfits today go out of their way to do maximum damage just because "why not"? 

( Not that a Hotel is any less susceptible).

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  Lamar, do not listen to all these pantie waists'.!:D  Go for it. As that Canadian group plainly shows, your Buick is up to the task. And I assume you and Ms Rita are at least as tough as the Canadians. I know I am. Except I will yield to them on the cold.

 

  See you in Denver? With our trailers? Hope so!

 

  Ben

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I understand the lure of the open road, blue skies, and natural settings and the desire to wake up each morning to be greeted by mountain streams, the sun filtering through tall trees, and "sounds of nature".  I also understand the desire to strike out toward the horizon each day to see what's there, needing only a safe parking place each night, to reflect on the day's adventures (or mis-adventures).  Be that as it may.  In many cases, a trailer on the back of a suitable tow vehicle is the way these desires are achieved, but a rented cabin in the mountains might provide similar things.  Just as a resort "with views" could do similar.  Or even an Air BnB rental.  But for some, the variability of the schedule and route is important.  Still, a certain level of planning is generally needed.  With a trailer, the placement of good campgrounds, roadside parks with pull-through spaces, attachment to facilities, etc. might be a little too much to plan for . . . .in advance of their need.

 

Every mode of travel has its own related "costs".  Whether monetary (investment or daily expenditures), activities (making allowances for where one might go with and/or without a trailer in tow),  and that "sleep in my own bed" issue.  This is a very complex matrix of issues to consider!  Everybody has their own priorities in these considerations.

 

Key thing is to make your best judgment calls on each item under consideration!  Plus "Living to tell about it, pictures optional".    Only by "doing it" can you best determine what "not to do" or" what to do differently" next time (if there IS a next time).  But above all . . . . ENJOY as best you can!

 

NTX5467

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On 7/29/2017 at 8:18 AM, MrEarl said:

I absolutely despise and abhor modern day hotels

I don't like towing.  Much more stress to watch tow vehicle and towed vehicle; slower speeds; limited choices for fuel and food (truck stops); rougher ride (you get bounced when the tow vehicle hits a bump and again when the trailer hits that bump); people are less friendly than if you drive a 54 (you get lots of waves either way...thumbs up for the 54 and middle finger for the trailer rig); trailers have lots of flats and blowouts, but never in a convenient place; if you think it is hard to find a hotel, try to find a campground in a "destination" area and at least the hotels answer the phone if calling ahead.  Hotels on the other hand will have lots of interesting people at the breakfast (rivals WalMart shoppers emails); and friendly people too (We are often asked where the nearest Dollar store is located --- ok, I would have combed my hair if present).

I don't like towing, but I do like sitting behind that big ol' steering wheel while the 322 strokes on down the road!

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All of the above is correct and call me crazy but I actually like to tow...................Bob

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MrEarl, drop the 56 322 in and add the supercharger. Even if you don't tow, you can finally say you put the McCulloch on a Buick.

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On 7/29/2017 at 9:18 AM, MrEarl said:

to make a knowledgeable and unbiased decision

 

I have never made a decision that wasn't biased. What road is paved with attempts to be unbiased?

 

Then.

flooded-residential-area-in-Richmond-2-a

 

High water.... something, high water. Oh, what's that saying?  something, something, high water. It's on the tip of my tongue.

Bernie

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Along a similar vein, I got a call from a decent guy on Denver who rents exotic cars. The one we discussed was a Porsche Boxster for four days next June. It is not a bad deal but I told him to look for a Bentley Flying Spur. I'll probably end up with an Escalade from Enterprise.

Bernie

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I've taken 5 lengthy road trips in the last year (two 5000+, one 3500, one 2700, and one 1600).  I've slept in hotels, tents, and (most often) the back seat along the side of the road.  I drove from south Florida to Alaska a few years ago; I spent 62 night in a row in a tent.  At no point in any of those trips did I ever wish I was hauling a trailer.  But many is the time I had some choice words for the guy in front of me who was.

 

I get the idealistic desire and all that, but as a practical matter, you can buy a lot of gas and hotel rooms for the price of a trailer, you can go a hell of a lot faster without a trailer, you won't beat the crap out of your tow vehicle, and you can see a lot more.

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Interesting topic, there is no best way to travel.  Everything is pro and con.  Bev and I pull a car hauling trailer with a truck and we carry tent camping gear and camped during the trip to the recent AACA Vintage Tour.  Camping gear adds little weight, takes a bit of space in the truck box, security and washrooms are provided by the campground and hotels are still an option.  I hope to try a weekend tenting trip driving our '39 Century in a local Provincial Park soon.  

 

Ten years ago we used a '69 Skylark to pull an open car hauler about 4000 lbs, worked but not well.  Later we had a '96 Roadmaster wagon, better but still not great.

 

Gary

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I am way too much of a princess to want to camp. I heart hotels.

 

BUT, I love that Shasta. I have restored two full size Spartan trailers and a few smaller ones, but would love to have a new trailer.

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On 7/22/2017 at 11:29 AM, old-tank said:

Install some 3.9 gears from a standard tranny car, but good luck finding a speedo gear to match.  Try a roadtrip without the trailer first.

 

That was going to be one of the easiest retrofits to the 54 Roadmaster I had figured on. Remember the parts car Roadmaster 322 with the export adjustable rockers? Well, while looking for a good rear end to pull for someone, discovered that that car had a 3.9 gear in it and it was a good one. So I would reckon that the speedo gear would likely match.

Even with that rear end, would a 55 Dynaflow (or 56 if I wanted to go as far as retrofitting the torque tube and shaft) with the variable pitch torque converter help improve handling of load and grades. Or not? The 55 has variable pitch stators. The stall speed at low angle (cruising) is 1400 RPM. At high angle (performance) it is 2600. The stall speed of the '54 Dynaflow is 1700, period. So doesn't higher stall speeds increase the temperature of the transmission and hence the transmission fluid. So which would be the better transmission for  pulling a load cross country, a 54 Dynaflow or 55/56 Dynaflow

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Low range would most likely help with engine braking and hill climbing, however, may be more work than its worth to put your frankenstein Buick together. 

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21 minutes ago, MrEarl said:

(or 56 if I wanted to go as far as retrofitting the torque tube and shaft)

Retrofitting not needed with the big series, except maybe the trans mount cross member.

That RM would be more stable, but try with your Century?

The RM should work with 3.9 and supercharger, just get ready to use highest octane (40-60 cents more) and 8 mpg.

Or, just drink a few beers before retiring so you don't think about who slept on that motel bed and what they did on it.:lol:

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19 minutes ago, old-tank said:

Retrofitting not needed with the big series, except maybe the trans mount cross member.

 

So a 56 transmission length with the existing 54 torque tube would work on the Roadmaster?

 

19 minutes ago, old-tank said:

The RM should work with 3.9 and supercharger, just get ready to use highest octane (40-60 cents more) and 8 mpg.

 

Interesting note here- the supercharger actually came off a 55 Century estate wagon owned by someone who owned a mobile home park and used the car to pull mobile homes with. But I really don't want to get into adding the supercharger to the Roadmaster. I would however be interested in hearing what components from a 56 322 might be swapped over to my 54  322. Would the heads and the improved Carter carburetor do it. I don't want to get into pistons and lower engine parts? I have a low mileage (48,000 mile) 56 Century engine for a possible donor but want to retain the original 322, don't want to do a complete engine swap. 

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