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Thread: calling all backyard mechanics

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    140

    calling all backyard mechanics

    OK, here is my thing.

    I own a 1995 F150, 2 wheel drive, with a 5.0 litre motor, automatic with OD that has only 55,000 miles on it. The truck is in very good shape except, I suspect the transmission is going out. It is going to the shop Monday for that and a complete tuneup and service.

    I like the truck because of it's general condition, new tires, brakes, and I can get into the dang thing. Being old with a bad back this is an issue for me. I also really like it being a short box with a nice canopy and biggest feature of all, a joey bed.

    What I don't like is that it will not tow my travel trailer. It is a 2000, 25ft. fibreglass sided, 6800lbs wet beast.

    I'm going to have a tranny cooler installed with whatever care the tranny requires Monday.

    My question is: Since I believe that the gear ratio in the rear axle is probably fairly high, do you mechanic types think I can change to 4:10/4:11 (whatever the magic number is for Ford) and achieve a towable solution?

    I only drive 3-4000 miles a year anymore and use the trailer to live in full time. I'm moving 250 miles north next month and I just really do not want to buy a new truck just because of these short trips.

    What do you all think? Your comments are appreciated.

    Doug

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    ozarks
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    4,992
    doug, by changing your gearing you`ll make it easier to tug a load at the expense of both milage and top speed.
    it shouldn`t hurt the truck to lower the gear ratio unless you like to drive 75-80 mph all the time?
    just let whoever is going to do your tranny that you`ll be pulling with the truck, heck by doing some valve body magic and using a different torque convertor your present gearing may be fine?
    i`m not a ford or automatic transmission expert but i do tow a bit..
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Mountain Home, Arkansas
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    If the transmission requies a rebuild that will cost about $1,500.00. The weight of your trailer should be within the two limits of the truck. A cooler is a very good idea. Take the truck to a Ford dealer and have them look up the ratio of your differential and make a reccomendation for towing. Going to a lower ratio will seriously drop fuel economy but your low milage make make that acceptable. BTW, a differential replacement will run $1000.00 to $1,500.00. That has to be factored in. As for towing the camper, I have had many friends experience engine/trans. failure even when the weight was well within the (theoretical) limits of the truck. What happens is that the air drag exerts tremendous forces that take the 'pull' weight way-way beyond the actual weight of the trailer. Whatever you do, for the short trip, keep you speed at no more than 55 mph. I don't know what kind of trailer you have, but look at it this way, you are trying to pull an 8' to 12' high wall through the air at highway speeds.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    810
    Just some personal experience to share with you. My Dad towed a trailer similar to yours for many years. He would leave Ontario in November, tow thru' the PA. hill country, all the way to Florida and then back again in March or April. He was using a 1978 GMC 1/2 ton with a 5.7L (350ci) diesel, the kind that was a converted Olds block (pretty crappy). The truck had a 2.7? rear gear ratio and he was advised by GM that the truck "wouldn't" tow. He's a farm boy ... he knows how to change gears and how to schedule what hours he's on the road to avoid traffic. He towed anyway, regardless of the advice and just shifted gears and changed highway speeds to accommodate the conditions. He generally drove about 90kmph (55mph) and after ten years and 155,000km, I bought the truck from him and used it to tow a tandem contractors trailer for my lawn and garden equipment business (self employed mechanic). I sold the truck at about 230,000km,and when I saw it again it had over 300,000km on it. We never had a towing related failure ... except for the time in PA when a trans cooler hose broke. He was watching the trans temp guage and caught it before it became terminal.

    My advice? ... if you can "drive easy" drive it as is. If you can't, then change the gearset in the rear end - just make sure you change the speedometer sensor a the same time.

    cheers eh?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Tokyo Japan
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    My Dad had a 1977 GMC, with a 305 V8 smog motor in it. The truck was bought second hand, and the guy before had low gears put in the diff, it was an automatic, and at full chat, it would maybe do 80 mph, the mileage sucked, but it was great for hauling heavy stuff, it was a 1/2 ton, but a heavy half, they had extra springs put on it too.

    Generally the mileage sucked, but a funny thing happened when we towed a trailer, and kept to about 80 km/h (50 mph) the mileage went up, not much but it did not go down.

    My uncle had a HUGE motor home he had the largest big block V8 put in it he could, around town it got crap mileage, as could be expected, but on the highway, his big block got much better mileage than his buddy did with a small block, much smaller motor, reason why.........? His buddy's motor was working hard at near max all the time, his big block was just thumping along, and that HUGE bloody motor home could get up the hills without holding traffic up for miles behind him and I even saw him pass a few other motor homes on some long straights.

    So to me, the best thing you can do is to get someone who knows the truck the trany guys or a Ford dealer to tell listen to what you want to do, and to tell you want you need to do it.

    As for a "New" truck, if you are talking brand new, well, I'd not go that route, I'd look for a good used one that is already set up for towing.

    Cheers!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Portland, OR
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    Thanks all. Sounds like I'm on the same page as many of you.

    I have no problem driving slower, ie 55-60, that's about what I do anyways these days, just not in all that much hurry I guess. I do care about fuel milage but with my low miles driven, it would take a lot of fuel purchased to offset the price of a new, even used truck that I would trust.

    I've had my share of new trucks, having purchased 4 new trucks in 2 years in 99 and 00. Diesel's I absolutely loved, standard 6 speeds that I quickly grew tired of, 4X4's that I did not utilize, and a monster Excursion that I did not dare haul anything in for fear it would get dirty!

    I will talk to my transmission shop on Monday, make sure they understand my intent and see what they suggest.

    Doug

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Doug, back when I was kid, and that was a long time ago, my best friend and I built a stock car racer. It was a Ford coupe with a flat head Mercury V-8 engine. We also put in a two-speed, electrically operated truck differential. Wadda monster. Enneyhow, I dunno if such things are still made, or if it would be practical, but seems to me that a two-speed option would solve a lot of the fuel economy problems of today with light trucks. Use low for power when you need it, shift up when you don't.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    New Springfield OH
    Posts
    806
    The two speed is still an option.

    http://www.gearvendors.com/index.html

    http://www.drivetrain.com/overdrive.html

    Personally I think this is a better option than changing rear end ratios

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Mickley View Post
    The two speed is still an option.

    http://www.gearvendors.com/index.html

    http://www.drivetrain.com/overdrive.html

    Personally I think this is a better option than changing rear end ratios
    Didn't know such things existed. Maybe my next truck.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    ozarks
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    i`ve done business with gearvendors, good company!
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

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