I am slowly planning on upgrading my 1977 Camper Special. My last project was getting the floor pans replaced.
I want to build a truck that will is solid for towing. In the current configuration it is a 4x4 with a 400 Engine, NP435 4 speed, Dana 60 Rear with 4.10 gears, Dana 44 front, and a NP205 transfer case. It has leaf springs all around, disc brakes in the front and drum brakes in the rear. I believe the GVWR is around 7300 pounds on the door. Included in the camper special package was a upgraded radiator as well as other upgrades.
What are recommended upgrades for building a stout towing truck? I plan on eventually overhauling the engine for additional performance, but what other things should I be considering? Heavy Duty springs, brakes, clutch upgrades, etc?
I want to start putting a plan together, and any help would be appreciated.
With the 3/4 ton, 400, NP435, and 4.10's you have a strong starting point. How much do you want to tow? With a good hitch and electric brake controller you could probably handle 8k lb. With the above plus beefed engine probably 10k lb. With my stock '78 F250/400m/4.10/C6/31" tire I've towed ~6,500# without problem and would be comfortable with 8,000# as is.
I'd suggest focus on a good hitch with weight distribution if over 5-6k lbs and brake controller if towing heavy with electric brakes. The 435 can take a lot and a stock type clutch with stock engine should do fine. 1'st (granny gear) is there to get you rolling when heavy without smoking the clutch. Save the clutch upgrade for when you get a (significantly) upgraded engine.
I've got my brake kit from Etrailer and am satisfied.
Goes without saying, make sure the brakes, steering, tires and cooling system on the truck are in good shape.
There are few things that have changed significantly since your rig was made .. Tire and spring technology are at the top of the list .. A good set of load E tires rated for the kind of driving you'll do with a profile to match .. and a complete set of variable/progressive leaf springs will help with load management and give you a much better ride which you will appreciate more after a full day of towing .. Deaver springs will set you up with whatever load rating you want with a variable/progressive spring pack and new bushings installed .. Last but not least a good steering gear rebuilt by "Redhead" .. add a tilt steering column with cruise control if your going to be towing all day long and a set of captain chairs over the bench seat ..
Other things that I would think about if your going to be towing for long stretches are an alternator upgrade (3g) and a dual battery system so you can add an electric fan upgrade .. This will help when your in stop an go traffic on hot summer days with the A/C on .. It's a must in my opinion for this kind of driving .. and lastly mirrors and gauges to check where your rig is at all the time .. I like the west coast mirrors which your rig may have come with if they survived ..
On the tires, as you shop around the selection of 16.5's is pretty limited. There are a few out there but not a lot. I "bit the bullet" a couple of years ago and got some 16" rims when it was time to shop for new tires. Lots of selection in 16". I went with 245/75/16... about the same size as 9.50x16.5. My truck came stock with 8.75x16.5... still have the original unused spare.
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