The other day I received an email and the sender said they watched all of the episodes we produced on restoring the vintage 1967 Yellowstone travel trailer. The question they had was, what did I do to prepare the 1971 Dodge Power Wagon to tow the Yellowstone trailer when I restored the truck.
That’s a great question. Throughout the Dodge Power Wagon restoration, I kept it in the back of my mind the truck would tow a trailer every now and then. I wanted to do something similar to how modern-day manufacturers add a towing package to a new truck. Let’s take a look at how my trailer towing package turned out.
The 1971 W100 Dodge Power Wagon came equipped with 4.10 axle gear ratios. This is typically a good towing gear ratio, but it was overkill for my project, especially with concern about improving fuel efficiency too. I decided to replace the 4.10 gears with 3.55 gears in both the front and rear axles. This is what I would call a middle of the road gear set for both towing and fuel efficiency.
With that completed I moved on to the steering and suspension. There was quite a bit of free-play in the steering wheel so I ordered and installed a rebuilt steering gear box. I recently found a power steering set-up for the truck, but I did not have a chance to install it yet.
Another addition to help the steering was installing a dual steering stabilizer.
For the suspension I replaced the front leaf springs and all of the front suspension components.
On the rear I installed air ride suspension along with an air compressor and an air pressure gauge mounted in the cab. When I tow the trailer the air ride not only helps with the trailer tongue weight, it also provides a smoother ride.
Next, I replaced all of the brakes on the truck. I wanted to make sure when it was time to stop, the truck could stop, especially with a trailer behind it.
I knew the engine had plenty of horsepower to tow the trailer, but I added an aluminum radiator and electric fan to help keep the engine cool.
I wanted to make sure the transmission was ready too. I sent the transmission out to be rebuilt, and when I installed it in the truck I installed a transmission oil cooler.
Transmission oil coolers are like small radiators, when the fluid circulates through the cooler it is cooled by airflow before going back to the transmission.
I installed and electronic brake controller for the trailer brakes.
and I installed a universal hitch receiver rated at 5,000 pounds. Next I installed and wired a 7-way plug for the trailer lights.
When it came to towing the trailer down the road I installed Toyo Open Country tires with an E-rated load range.
Last but certainly not least, when I tow a travel trailer I use an Equalizer hitch with built in sway control.
That completes what I consider the trailer towing package for the 1971 Dodge Power Wagon. The first time I towed the trailer I hardly knew it was behind the truck.
Mark J. Polk
To learn more about your tow vehicle or trailer check out some of our RV training courses available at RV Online Training