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Old 05-15-2011
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Towing Build

Motorcycle racing has created a need for a new tow vehicle. By new I mean used because any excess funds go to feed the bike, it has a large appetite for tires.
Trailer is an Atlas 5 x 10 enclosed, steel frame, single axle, no brakes, all up weight could go as high as 3000 lb. with 2 bikes and spares. It's high so there's considerable wind resistance.
I've noticed a good selection of used Rangers out there going all the way back to the early 80's. From what I can gather, all of these have full frame so would easily take a Class III Hitch, that part's easy.
Rather than just guess what to buy, I thought I'd come to "The Trough Of Knowledge here"and ask for opinions on where to start, what to avoid, model/year suggestions, etc.
Don't want to get into major mods. Was thinking 5 speed, limited slip diff, up-graded brakes ..... Anyone have any thoughts?
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Old 05-15-2011
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If your going to tow regularly w that much I would get the trailer set up w brakes and equip truck accordingly. I would Def suggest a 4.0 w 410s or the truck will get tired awful quick. I would stick w auto they rated to tow more and if so make sure it has a tranny cooler and regular maintenance done to tranny.
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Old 05-15-2011
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OK, that's a good place to start, thanks.
Are the stock brakes adequate when used in conjunction with trailer brakes?
Any specific year with 4.0 better than others?
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Old 05-16-2011
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Stock brakes are adequate for what you plan on towing, yes. I towed a 3,600lb truck on a 1,500lb steel car trailer with mine, and it did the job nicely. Figure about 5,000-5,500lb is the maximum for these trucks, and you'll be going 55-60MPH maximum. I couldn't use 5th gear hauling that load, for example, even with the 4.0L and 4.10s, just not enough power. Braking capability is adequate, but you MUST pay attention and keep a very wide berth between you and vehicles in front of you. Go slow.

I'd suggest you get electric drum brakes on your trailer, they aren't that expensive. You can get a brake control module and a 7 plug harness and convert the truck from 4 pin to 7 with little effort.
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Old 05-16-2011
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what sucks the most about towing with a ranger is the breaks but with the weight your towing you should be fine ecspecially with trailer brakes, these engines will pull fantastic and really do handle a good deal of weight but the brakes are definetly the weak link once you get to the 5000lb+ zone
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Old 05-16-2011
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Thanks everyone, your advice is appreciated. Now I'll get busy locating the right vehicle.
I should have no problem getting it well sorted with the info on this site.
Good job everyone.
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Old 05-17-2011
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I tow a race car all over the country with my 4.0L ranger. The trailer is enclose, single axle, low profile and total weight with the car and some other stuff is around 3500 lbs. I also carry another 800 lbs or so of tools, parts and gear on the bed.

Originally, I towed without trailer brakes but when I installed a new axle with brakes I realized that is the only way to go. Without brakes you have to be on top of everything around you to the extreme to make sure you have plenty of time to stop. With the brakes you still need to pay attention but it is a more relaxed attention.

I found it is a good idea to upgrade the brake pads and shoes to a premium material. Stock pad and shoe materials are marginal if you have to work them hard. Otherwise the stock brakes are fine.

I find the manual transmission works very well with this load and I prefer it over using an automatic. I just try not to stop on a steep incline that would cause excess stress on the clutch during take off. I do have the option to put it into low range for an incline start, if I am not turning. I also never use 5th (OD) when towing. I had a bad experience with my first Ranger when trying to tow in OD.

I suggest you have some type of rear suspension aid to keep the rear from sagging. Having a good load on the tongue of the trailer to helps to stabilize track when going down the road. Keeping the rear from sagging also helps to stabilize. I use air springs to keep the rear from sagging. I like air springs because I can adjust the air pressure to compensate for different loads. I am able to drive at up to 75 mph without danger of swaying. I have gone faster but don't feel comfortable doing it and usually cruise around 72 mph to keep fuel consumption reasonable (ave.14.5 mpg).

As to what year of Ranger, The 03 and newer 4.0 Rangers have larger front rotors and that would be an advantage. The 01 4.0 SOHC engine had some timing chain problems but was pretty much resolved by 02 and it is rare to see this problem in 03 and newer. The 4.0 OHV engine in the 2000 and older Rangers is not bad for towing because it has decent low end torque but it does not have the horsepower of the 4.0 SOHC engine. Otherwise you should be good to go.
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Old 05-17-2011
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Thanks Gary,
I presume you have 410 gears.
Nice to know I can get away with manual trans, I thought it could work if careful.
Noticed you did a few tuning tweaks, looks like the kind of things I would be inclined to do.
Did you notice a difference?
Thanks for taking the time for such a detailed explanation of what you did. It will save me alot of time which is usually not in abundance during race season.
We just started and I've already had to re-build the bike after a wicked crash.
Hope you're fairing better.
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Old 05-17-2011
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A note about the rear leafsprings: Get a couple leafs added into the pack. Not expensive to have done at all. This will help combat the sagging rear issue that IN2 FX4 noted in a prior post. I added a small leaf to my springpack when I lifted my Ranger 2", and I need to add another larger one. These trucks are 1/4 ton, and need extra leafs if you're gonna use them like a 1/2 ton truck.

1,500 lb in the bed will have the rear almost on the bumpers, I did this with a load of scrap steel one time. Shows the limits of these trucks.
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Old 05-18-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Cat View Post
I presume you have 4.10 gears.
Nice to know I can get away with manual trans, I thought it could work if careful.
Noticed you did a few tuning tweaks, looks like the kind of things I would be inclined to do.
Did you notice a difference?
Thanks for taking the time for such a detailed explanation of what you did. It will save me alot of time which is usually not in abundance during race season.
We just started and I've already had to re-build the bike after a wicked crash.
Hope you're fairing better.
Yes, I do have 410 gears. The biggest improvement was the reprogramming on the computer (Bama flash) but I think all of it works together to improve performance. Yes, I did see a difference. I came up with an acceleration tests that did not involve taking off from a stop or shifting which are hard to control variables. I observed a definite improvement in acceleration with the Bama flash.

My season is doing well with only one minor collision that resulted in only surface scuffs and a lot of black rubber marks on the side of the car. I am now qualified for the National Runoffs at Road America in September. I do know about lack of time during race season.

As to adding springs to the rear, I installed add-a-leaf springs in my first Ranger rear suspension. That helped to keep the rear from sagging somewhat but was very stiff riding when not loaded. I also added the air springs because the add-a-leafs were not enough. Installing two more leafs to the rear would probably keep it from sagging but will also probably rattle your teeth when not loaded. There are other options also, just look for them and decide for what works for you.
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