Another Towing Story.

From: Glenn S. Wiltse (
Date: Tue Aug 20 1996 - 10:30:27 EDT

   Well it's not so much a towing story, as it is a fully loaded and
towing a small boat story...

   I live in southeast Michigan(metro Detroit). Once a year I travel to
northern Ontario, Canada. It's about 800 miles round trip, and this year
I did some adtional driving and racked up over 1000 miles. The first
150 miles is reasonably flat, but once you get in to the Norther lower
pinsula of Michigan, it starts to get pretty hilly. I have a 1996 Dakota
Club Cab 4x4 with a V8, and just recently added a fiberglass top. I had
the back end packed pretty full, with fishing gear, 2 deep cycle batterys,
2 outboard motors, ect... It was squating a little when I was loaded.
My boat is just a row boat, with some wood decking, and the trailer is
pretty heavy duty, I'd figure about 600 for both.
   So probablyh had about 1500 to 1700 pounds I was hauling on my trip.
The speed limit went from 65 to 70 about the time I got into the hills
in northern Michigan. I was traveling about 70 at first, and it seemed like
when ever I'd get to a moderatly steep hill, it would come out of overdrive
and down into 3rd gear. When the speed changed to 70 I drove 75. My truck
seemed to perfer the extra RPMs at that speed and would not downshift except
on the steepest/longest hills. It certainly had no problem driving 75 in
3rd gear on any of the hills.
    Some observations I made... Barely got 14 MPG when traveling 75
in the hills. I was getting about 15 on flats doing around 70. I discovered
that if/when you hit the brakes on a automatic trans, with locked up
torque converter, you cause the converter to unlock. On the marginal hills
I traveled on I sometimes used this to keep from shifting all the way down
to 3r, I'd tap the brake to unlock the converter and I'd gain some RPM
to motor up the hill. I was somewhat disapointed at my 14 MPG traveling 75.

    Later when I was in the bush, unloaded I did have some trouble. I had
shifted into 4 low to pull my boat out of a steep rough boat luanch. Then
I had shifted back to 4 high to go up another hill that I didn't expect
to have any trouble with, and I didn't. However when I got to the top
and had just got into this puddle, I went to accelerate a little and
travel out of the puddle, but I had no drivetrain... The transfer case
shifter was moving unusually freely, so the linkage was suspect...
I beeped at my brother, who heard me, and stoped... He pulled me out of
the puddle and up a incline so i could get under my truck, I couldn't get
the linkage re-connected and it was raining, and dirty, so I poped it into
what I thought was 4 high, based on info my brother was giving. I got
back to camp, but I was in 4 low the last 15 miles.
     Later inspection revealed a bent shift linkage rod, and just poping the
nylon bushing back, would fail repeately when going from 4 low to high. I
eventualy left it in high and didn't use low the rest of the trip.

    Mean while I can't figure out how the rod got bent... I'ts up above
the bottome of the transfer case and the drive shaft. Highly unlikely that
a rock or other object got up there and bent it without causeing any
other damage. I also can't belive that normal shifting of the transfer case
caused the bend.
   Some of you may remember me talking about a growling noise and clunk
when under severe acceleration a few weeks ago. The problem had ceased
shortly after I told this group about it. I am now wondering if the U-joint
of the drive shaft wasn't somehow catching on this linkage when the
transmission would move from troque, and cause the growling and clunk(as well
as the bend in the linkage)... Well it's going in for waranty repairs as
soon as I can spare my vehicle for a day or so.

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