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Old 08-13-2019, 10:22 AM   #1
delco1946
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Default Towing capacity of a 292

This is more of a hypothetical question but Iíve been rather curious. Iíve been wondering how much my 1955 crown Victoria with a 292 engine could haul. In the movie A long long trailer with Lucy and Desi, their 55 Pontiac hauled a 40 foot long trailer. Is this realistic- were cars that strong back then? I canít find any towing capacities. Also can you haul a trailer when you have a continental kit? Once again this is more hypothetical but Iíve been very curious if I ever wanted to get a small trailer of the same era for fun and nostalgic camping trips.
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:45 AM   #2
Merc Cruzer
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Default Re: Towing capacity of a 292

The Long Long Trailer movie trivia:

The car used the movie was a 1953 Mercury.

The hairpin turn offers scenic views of the Owens Valley. During the scenes of Nicky and Tacy pulling their trailer in the mountains, their 1953 Mercury Monterey convertible is replaced with a larger but similar appearing 1953 Lincoln Capri convertible. The distinct Lincoln grille is clearly evident in a shot as the car rounds a curve. (I always noticed the tail lights on the Lincoln). The more powerful Lincoln (which is equipped with a 205 HP V8 engine) was needed to pull the heavy New Moon trailer up and over the steep grades of the Sierra Nevada where the scenes were filmed. (In 1953 some 23,640 Capris left the production line. that year the 317 cubic-inch (5.2-liter) Y-block V8 powered Capri won the top four places in the Stock Car Class of the Carrera Panamericana Road Race.)

The trailer, a 1953 New Moon, used in the film is 32 feet in length and weighed more than 3 tons total.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Long long trailer 2.jpg (63.1 KB, 34 views)
File Type: jpg longlongtrailer-trailer.jpg (139.1 KB, 35 views)
File Type: jpg The Long, Long Trailer 1953 6.jpg (46.2 KB, 37 views)
File Type: jpg the long long trailer 3.jpg (7.5 KB, 30 views)

Last edited by Merc Cruzer; 08-13-2019 at 11:07 AM.
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Old 08-13-2019, 11:18 AM   #3
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Default Re: Towing capacity of a 292

Whoops sorry I was thinking of the Pontiac they crossed the country in I love Lucy! Good catch! So my engine is 198 hp I believe so not much smaller so in theory it could haul a decent size trailer yes?
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:25 PM   #4
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Default Re: Towing capacity of a 292

As long as you stay in the flat lands, you would have allot of choices. You could easily do one of these. Not exactly a New Moon but it could be fun.
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:45 PM   #5
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Default Re: Towing capacity of a 292

Its all gearing. Lower the rear end ratio to tow. Remember there were lots and lots of tow trucks made all the way to 1964 built with 292’s in them.
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Old 08-13-2019, 01:02 PM   #6
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Default Re: Towing capacity of a 292

My Pop had a 1961 Ford F600 bob tail grain truck from new. It had a 292 with a truck 4-speed and 2-speed rear axle. We all used it on the farm for many years. The engine finally let go in the early 2000s. He found another 292 block and got it overhauled for the truck then traded it off on a larger dual tandem Ford truck. It definitely pulled better than the 49 F6 we had. We could consistently haul 400+ bushels of wheat with it.
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Old 08-13-2019, 01:48 PM   #7
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Default Re: Towing capacity of a 292

True, heavy trucks used 292's with steep gears, however they also had heavy duty larger rear axles with a larger gear oil capacity, along with heavy duty frames and suspension. A 292 car is not made to tow that much unless you want to overheat the rear axle and hurt things. I've seen even F150 type trucks with the paint on the real axle center blistered from heat when over loaded.


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Old 08-13-2019, 01:51 PM   #8
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Default Re: Towing capacity of a 292

delco1946, do you have one of the very very rare '55 Ford's that actually came with the 292 police interceptor engine (with the first digit of the VIN being a "P"), or was the 292 installed later ?


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Old 08-13-2019, 01:59 PM   #9
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Default Re: Towing capacity of a 292

Its all about capacity of the frame, springs, axles and tire combinations as far as load capacity. It's about gearing for pulling capacity. The 292 is a proven puller with its torque rating. There are plenty better but it wasn't bad for it's time. I worked on a bunch of old Ford Y-block trucks and they were very reliable.
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Old 08-13-2019, 05:53 PM   #10
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Default Re: Towing capacity of a 292

Quote:
Originally Posted by rotorwrench View Post
Its all about capacity of the frame, springs, axles and tire combinations as far as load capacity. It's about gearing for pulling capacity. ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by delco1946 View Post
This is more of a hypothetical question but I’ve been rather curious. I’ve been wondering how much my 1955 crown Victoria with a 292 engine could haul. In the movie A long long trailer with Lucy and Desi, their 55 Pontiac hauled a 40 foot long trailer. Is this realistic- were cars that strong back then? I can’t find any towing capacities. Also can you haul a trailer when you have a continental kit? Once again this is more hypothetical but I’ve been very curious if I ever wanted to get a small trailer of the same era for fun and nostalgic camping trips.
The movie is not particularly realistic regarding trailer towing. This is part of what the Special Effects folks do in making movies, they provide the means to make something look real when it isn't....
It's *movie magic*.
Look closer at the side view photo of the car & long trailer climbing a hill. The camera is tilted to the right so the uphill angle looks more extreme than it really is. Also there are extra wheels under the tongue of the trailer, to help support the load.
In addition, many of the close up shots in the movie were actually filmed inside a studio with the car & trailer in front of a projection screen.

As important as the gearing are a couple other things... gross trailer weight, tongue weight, trailer brakes, and the weight of the towing vehicle.

The tongue weight (vertical weight on the hitch) should be approx 10% of the trailer weight, but not significantly higher or lower. Weight distributing hitches are available for larger trailers towed by larger vehicles.

As the weight of a loaded trailer approaches 2500# having brakes on it becomes more important.

Under adverse driving conditions: slippery pavement, excess speed, steep downgrades, brake fade, sudden lane changes, etc. the weight of a trailer can push the towing vehicle around, with potentially disastrous results.
As the weight of a trailer increases compared to the weight of the towing vehicle this situation becomes worse. The tail wags the dog.

With a bumper style hitch and no trailer brakes I'm not sure of a rule-of-thumb percentage, but I would guess a loaded trailer should not weigh more than 50% of the towing vehicle, preferably less, to help avoid accidents and undue stress on the (64 yr old) frame and drivetrain.

Quote:
Originally Posted by delco1946 View Post
... can you haul a trailer when you have a continental kit?
A custom hitch can be built but you will likely need additional weight bearing hardware for the rear suspension due to the additional distance of the hitch ball from the rear axle. Extra leaves in the rear springs, or maybe airshocks... The white '56 TBird pulls a small 2 person teardrop camper.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg The Long, Long Trailer 1953, copy.jpg (84.7 KB, 39 views)
File Type: jpg trailer overload.jpg (48.0 KB, 39 views)
File Type: jpg overloaded T-Bird.jpg (43.1 KB, 38 views)
File Type: jpg RH 56 bird hitch.jpg (67.4 KB, 36 views)
File Type: jpg RH '56 bird hitch 2.jpg (107.5 KB, 32 views)

Last edited by dmsfrr; 08-14-2019 at 07:46 AM.
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Old 08-13-2019, 07:36 PM   #11
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Default Re: Towing capacity of a 292

"The wheels under the tongue were actually two wheels and were known has a Nelson Trailer Dolly. They even had a slogan,"make your trailer travel jolly with a Nelson trailer dolly"."

Last edited by Merc Cruzer; 08-13-2019 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:45 PM   #12
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Default Re: Towing capacity of a 292

All the major items have been mentioned, especially Sal’s comment on the rear axle. There’s a reason the trucks, wagons, police cars and even birds used the Dana 44. I think (being reasonable to weight) that’s the limiting factor. Traffic is so much different today and you can’t go far without avoiding it somewhere along the way. You can upgrade your brakes, use load leveling hitches with “sway brakes” and trailer brakes, etc. but it’s still an old car.

If my “significant other” wouldn’t throw a fit, I’d have a tear drop or the modern equivalent. Less is more, and most KOA’s have really nice showers now.
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:24 PM   #13
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Default Re: Towing capacity of a 292

And trailer brakes of that era were hydraulic, using the car's master cylinder. You installed a 'T' fitting on the master cylinder hydraulic line, then ran a line into the car to the controller, and back to the trailer brakes. Then get it all bled! Cars all had single master cylinders back then. Blow a hose or cylinder, and you lost ALL brakes, car and trailer!

(edit) Some hydraulic set ups had some kind of safety device to separate the car brake system from the trailer hydraulic system. Others were electric, but the controller used pressure from the master cylinder to activate the trailer brakes, with a handle for the driver to use only trailer brakes if needed. I wonder how many drivers had brake fluid dripping on their knees from a loose line?!!

Last edited by 40 Deluxe; 08-13-2019 at 11:17 PM.
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Old 08-13-2019, 11:17 PM   #14
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Default Re: Towing capacity of a 292

All good info! If I ever hauled anything, at most it would be a cute lil teardrop or maybe ...maybe a small Shasta type deal. But no plans currently, just was surprised at the lack of info on the internet considering you know people hauled with their cars then. My 292 is not original to the car either. A PO must have installed it at some point.
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Old 08-14-2019, 02:10 AM   #15
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Default Re: Towing capacity of a 292

I'm an old trailer guy in addition to an old car guy. I'm not saying there weren't hydraulic brakes out there that tied into the vehicle master (sounds like a nightmare to bleed), but I've never seen one. The closest I've encountered would be surge brakes, which have their own master cylinder on the tongue and are completely separate from the vehicle's hydraulic braking system. On the other hand, electric trailer brakes were very, very common back in the 1950s.

Assuming the vehicle and cooling system are in good shape and you're not crossing the Rockies or towing a 40' monster, you'll be fine. Trailer brakes are less for stopping power and more for trailer control- anything much over 1800-2000lbs and you'd be wise to use them.

Trailers prior to the mid-1960s were much, much lighter than modern trailers, thanks to the advent of cheap particle board (and the fact that folks tow with trucks instead of cars since the '80s or so), so while a 1957 16' trailer might barely crack 2000lbs a modern trailer of similar size would be well over 3000lbs.

I'd try to keep the trailer weight around 2000-2500lbs tops behind your Fairlane, and be certain your tongue weight is set up properly (that means no bike racks hanging off the back of your trailer, ever, shudder). A load-balancing setup would be a good idea as well.

Here's my '57 Cardinal, which has been neglected recently in favor of the '55 Courier that will be towing it.

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Old 08-14-2019, 09:05 AM   #16
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Default Re: Towing capacity of a 292

I've always felt that the movie (The Long Long Trailer) was made for a classic comedic quality. Most folks even knew back then that you have to match the tow vehicle with the trailer but this was perfect for what can happen when naive young newlyweds try to go out and do things on their own without doing some research before making the big jump.

A 1953 Mercury would have been a decent tow vehicle for a trailer half that size but there wouldn't have been anything funny about that.
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Old 08-14-2019, 09:13 AM   #17
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Default Re: Towing capacity of a 292

Quote:
Originally Posted by datac View Post
I'm an old trailer guy in addition to an old car guy. I'm not saying there weren't hydraulic brakes out there that tied into the vehicle master (sounds like a nightmare to bleed), but I've never seen one. The closest I've encountered would be surge brakes, which have their own master cylinder on the tongue and are completely separate from the vehicle's hydraulic braking system. On the other hand, electric trailer brakes were very, very common back in the 1950s.

Assuming the vehicle and cooling system are in good shape and you're not crossing the Rockies or towing a 40' monster, you'll be fine. Trailer brakes are less for stopping power and more for trailer control- anything much over 1800-2000lbs and you'd be wise to use them.

[/IMG]
For an example of hydraulic trailer brakes try a search for: "brakes-vintage Airstream". A brake fluid actuated controller is ebay #153580289863
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Old 08-14-2019, 04:32 PM   #18
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Default Re: Towing capacity of a 292

I've installed 100's of those hydraulic controlled electric brakes. Worked at a RV dealer till they went out of business when the gas crunch came. Seen at lot of Ricky and Lucy's along with Griswalds over the years. Some older trailers can be very heavy if a quality build. Don't trust any weight until you pull it over a scale. Most states have a weight limit that above require brakes. Brakes would be a must have for me.
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Old 08-14-2019, 04:34 PM   #19
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https://tincantourists.com/
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Old 08-15-2019, 04:49 AM   #20
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Default Re: Towing capacity of a 292

One thing you might want to take into consideration is ATF TEMP.

Being a 55 it most likely has an air-cooled convertor and main case.
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