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1977 Camper Special Towing

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Old 07-18-2014, 09:56 PM
Joel Cassell Joel Cassell is offline
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1977 Camper Special Towing

Hi Guys,

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.
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Old 07-18-2014, 10:21 PM
Blue and White Blue and White is offline
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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.
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Old 07-18-2014, 10:58 PM
oddfordjunkie oddfordjunkie is offline
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Hydroboost, before I got my brake controller I had no problem stopping a 6,000lbs load.

Brake controller, I got a Tekonsha Prodigy P3 and love it and all it's features.

Sway bars front and rear, reduced wonder on the freeway.

Air bags, I put on Firestone bags and a compressor and like being able to level the truck after I load tongue weight, also reduced sway.

Good tires with a high enough load rating.

Replace all the suspension bushings with Polyurethane, this made more of a difference than I expected.

Quality shocks.

Should be a good start.
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Old 07-19-2014, 07:17 AM
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redroad redroad is offline
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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 ..
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Old 07-19-2014, 10:18 AM
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HIO Silver HIO Silver is online now
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All excellent input and recommendations above.

... I'd add an oil cooler.
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Old 07-19-2014, 10:58 AM
Joel Cassell Joel Cassell is offline
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Thanks for all of the good feedback. Here is a picture of the truck.... Body is overall pretty solid.


Click the image to open in full size.


1977 Camper Special 4x4
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Old 07-19-2014, 07:48 PM
Blue and White Blue and White is offline
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Nice looking truck! The moderate size tires are just right for towing. Are you running original size 16.5" wheels or something else?
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Old 07-19-2014, 08:44 PM
Joel Cassell Joel Cassell is offline
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Thanks for your comment. Yes the wheels are still 16.5". I was thinking of trying to find 16" rims from a later F250 but havent looked too hard.
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Old 07-19-2014, 09:07 PM
Blue and White Blue and White is offline
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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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