96 Ranger Tow Vehicle question - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-04-2019, 04:57 PM   #1
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96 Ranger Tow Vehicle question

I've got a 1996 Ford Ranger with a 3.0L (3 point slow) v-6 engine that I want to use as a starter tow vehicle because that is what I have. I want to pull something like a 13 ft scamp or boler or trillium. The ranger has an outrageously high tow rating but I think anything over about 1500 lbs would be too much. Anyhow I've been looking at buying my first camper and most of them that I've been interested in are about 8 to 10 hours away. To prepare I've done all the maintenance on my truck, had the brakes overhauled, put on new top quality shocks, installed a class three hitch, etc.

I'm wondering if I need a transmission cooler to tow a pretty lightweight trailer, especially if its just a one time thing to go buy it and tow it home. Unfortunately I'm a little pressed for time and although I know that the cooler is a very good idea, I haven't had time to put one on and I've got a couple of light campers I've been watching which will need nearly immediate action when the time is right or someone else will get them.

Please tell me what you think.
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Old 06-04-2019, 07:34 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by thrifty bill View Post
When I picked my 1977 Trillium up, I took a lot of tools with me (trailer had been sitting). I also took a magnetic trailer light kit from Harbor Freight. Good thing as about half the trailer lights weren't working. I also took a set of mounted tires (bought them at Northern Tool). Good thing there too as the tires on the trailer turned out to be 24 years old!

I removed the old wheels, while they were off, greasing the old bearings wasn't really that big of a deal either. I also took inspection tools with me, a long straight edge (think long level) and a short ladder. I took a small floor jack and other basic tools.

While some Scamps are new enough that this is overkill, on a Boler or Trillium, both are going to be old. My trip home with the Trillium was about 650 miles. I also took basic camping gear and camped one night at a state park along the way.

FWIW. I bought the THIRD trailer I inspected. The first two had far too many issues. One of them was close to where I live, the other two involved serious drives. I was locked into getting just a Trillium. You are more open so you probably will have an easier time finding a good one. To be fair, all of the trailers I looked at were 40 years old or older. But poor storage and the lack of maintenance really took a toll.

In general the problem I found was a lot of leaks and extensive floor rot. Sellers seemed surprised when I showed them the rot. I am not talking a small area, I am talking like the entire back half of the trailer, or similar. Clueless or devious? I can't say. I did walk them through exactly what I was going to look at, and how I would look at it. And suggested they could save us both a lot of time by looking at it first and letting me know everything was OK. Of course, they assured me later they had made the checks and everything was great...... Both the trailers were sold to others, hopefully they got a good discount.


You know the mechanics of your truck. I would be less concerned about the truck and more focused on the trailer.

I also read a lot of threads on Trillium repairs, so I was relatively informed as far as inspection went.
Thanks, I don't have any of those added ranger options that are required to increase the tow rating but the rating without them is pretty high considering the size of the truck. After I posted this it occurred to me to check the manual and see what it says (duh). An unloaded trillium is only about 1200 lbs or so. The one I was looking at (online at least) isn't an original 40 year old one - its the reincarnation (sidekick, outback or something like that) and is less than 10 years old +/-. I want simple and light and something where the dinette in front converts into a bed that is at least reasonable for an adult to fit on. The bed in the front of the scamps that have them are too narrow and the ends are curved - a lot.
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Old 06-04-2019, 07:42 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by jrmarsh View Post
I've got a 1996 Ford Ranger with a 3.0L (3 point slow) v-6 engine...
most of them that I've been interested in are about 8 to 10 hours away.

...
Please tell me what you think.

Check your owners manual for tow limits for your vehicle. I had a 94 Ranger and there were literally pages of tow limits based on the model and options. Mine also listed maximum frontal area of the trailer.


I picked up my first trailer 8-10 hrs away. Take it easy and you should do fine. Consider electric brakes for the trailer. My Ranger always stopped better towing a trailer with brakes than it did empty - the brakes were a weakness.
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Old 06-04-2019, 09:10 PM   #4
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It just so happens that(last I checked) the Scamp factory still has a 1996 3.0L Ford Ranger with which it has been delivering Scamp19 fivers for more than twenty years.
I would pull a Scamp13 with an absolute entry level 1996 Ranger, even a 2.3L 4CYL stick. If your Ranger is a 3.0L with an automatic.. it will LOVE the job.
This is assuming the truck is in good original condition with sound components.
In my opinion the early 3.0L pushrod engine is a great, strong and reliable engine if not the fastest.



My last Ranger 2001 (4.0L 5spd) pulled my car trailer, car dolly, utility trailer,and Scamp13D for 18 years and left my yard running as good as when it arrived. Of course it had the maximum Ranger tow rating.
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Old 06-04-2019, 10:09 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Roy in TO View Post
Check your owners manual for tow limits for your vehicle. I had a 94 Ranger and there were literally pages of tow limits based on the model and options. Mine also listed maximum frontal area of the trailer.


I picked up my first trailer 8-10 hrs away. Take it easy and you should do fine. Consider electric brakes for the trailer. My Ranger always stopped better towing a trailer with brakes than it did empty - the brakes were a weakness.
I agree that the brakes are a weakness. I just had them overhauled front and back 5 days ago so they are good as they will get. I haven't had the ranger wired for electric brakes though. I've carried loads of green cord wood in the back where I estimated a payload weight of nearly 2000 lbs BEFORE I had the brakes overhauled and the truck did fine stopping as long as I took it easy. Ultimately I would wire it for electric trailer brakes but for the initial purchase ride home my plan was to go on stock brakes and take it easy.
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Old 06-04-2019, 10:14 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by floyd View Post
It just so happens that(last I checked) the Scamp factory still has a 1996 3.0L Ford Ranger with which it has been delivering Scamp19 fivers for more than twenty years.
I would pull a Scamp13 with an absolute entry level 1996 Ranger, even a 2.3L 4CYL stick. If your Ranger is a 3.0L with an automatic.. it will LOVE the job.
This is assuming the truck is in good original condition with sound components.
In my opinion the early 3.0L pushrod engine is a great, strong and reliable engine if not the fastest.



My last Ranger 2001 (4.0L 5spd) pulled my car trailer, car dolly, utility trailer,and Scamp13D for 18 years and left my yard running as good as when it arrived. Of course it had the maximum Ranger tow rating.
A transmission fluid cooler keeps the fluid cool which is a good thing. Its best to have it even if you don't really need it. Generally tow packages include an additional transmission cooler. That said its probably fine without one if towing a light trailer. I'll check the manual tommorrow.
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Old 06-05-2019, 01:06 AM   #7
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I have a 15' Trillium Jubilee which I originally towed with the 2005 3L Ranger that I had.
I wondered about a transmission cooler so took it to the local ford dealership and they told me it already had one. I got the Ranger at one year old and so it was on there from new ... so check this on yours.
The Trillium is about 2000 lbs loaded and that Ranger pulled it from Vancouver BC on the west coast to Nova Scotia on the east coast of Canada, and back - 18000 kms - without a hiccup.
The Trillium does have brakes so that is a factor to consider when looking at a trailer purchase .... I think that 13'ers don't usually come with brakes ... Good Luck
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Old 06-05-2019, 01:30 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by jrmarsh View Post
Ultimately I would wire it for electric trailer brakes but for the initial purchase ride home my plan was to go on stock brakes and take it easy.

That should do. Wiring was easy. I got a Tekonsha P3 and followed their instruction on the front end. On the rear there is a premade harness that plugs inline into your tail lights that will give you a 4 pin connection. Plug that into a Hoppy 4/7 pin unit and run a blue wire from the front to the back.
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Old 06-05-2019, 09:46 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by peatle View Post
I have a 15' Trillium Jubilee which I originally towed with the 2005 3L Ranger that I had.
I wondered about a transmission cooler so took it to the local ford dealership and they told me it already had one. I got the Ranger at one year old and so it was on there from new ... so check this on yours.
The Trillium is about 2000 lbs loaded and that Ranger pulled it from Vancouver BC on the west coast to Nova Scotia on the east coast of Canada, and back - 18000 kms - without a hiccup.
The Trillium does have brakes so that is a factor to consider when looking at a trailer purchase .... I think that 13'ers don't usually come with brakes ... Good Luck
Its hard to know what they meant. Many if not most cars have cooling in the radiator for the transmission fluid. I guess I should have said that I'm wondering if I need an additional transmission cooler. Kits are sold to increase the transmission cooling capacity for towing. Typically the additionalcooling comes as part of an OEM towing package if you bought the tow vehicle with that option.
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Old 06-05-2019, 11:24 AM   #10
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I tow with a 96 Ranger 3.0 pulling a Scamp 5th wheel. No problems, can be a little slow on a long grade like the 20+ miles from Las Vegas to Phrump.
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Old 06-05-2019, 07:23 PM   #11
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I towed a trailer the same weight as the boler with a 97 aerostar which I believe is the same tranny etc as the ranger and it was great . But I had the 4liter not the 3 liter. I still would put in the cooler if I was going anywhere that is not flat. Its really not that big a deal to put it in. .Put that aerostar down with 600k kms.
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Old 06-06-2019, 06:38 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by john hackert View Post
I towed a trailer the same weight as the boler with a 97 aerostar which I believe is the same tranny etc as the ranger and it was great . But I had the 4liter not the 3 liter. I still would put in the cooler if I was going anywhere that is not flat. Its really not that big a deal to put it in. .Put that aerostar down with 600k kms.
It's not a big deal if the lines are rubber. The 96 ranger lines are steel so you have to cut into them and splice something in. If you're going to do it yourself like me it requires some thought.
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Old 06-12-2019, 11:09 AM   #13
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If I'm not mistaken, most after-market cooler kits come with adapters to fit radiator fittings, or use rubber hoses/clamps to connect to OEM steel lines, by-passing the tube loop in the radiator.
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