Plan to Tow a '47 Willis (Jeep) from LR to Utah

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Mar 10, 2007
So much experience and knowledge out there, I need your advice/opinions. I have a new FJC w auto trans and stock tires. I am thinking of towing a 1947 Willis (Jeep) using a U-Haul trailer (one of those that you put the front wheels up on and drag the rear wheels along) from Little Rock to Huntsville, UT. Is this a good idea? Any body done this technique before? What do you think I should expect? etc.

Any experience and thoughtful advice would be welcomed since I will be also loaded with wife and two grand children and I want to be as safe, responsible and careful as possible.

I have experience towing my protable fly fishing trailer ('50 Silver Streak) using an FJ-40 w electric brakes - the death wobble, fish tailing when braking, or going downhill, etc. Ugly experience! I want to avoid any of that nerve racking act....
I've towed my 40 on a car trailer with brakes on both axles without a problem. It sounds like you're talking about a tow dolly which might be a little iffy due to a lack of brakes and the FJC's short wheel base. You won't be able to make anything close to a panic stop and the dolly may tend to push the back of the FJC on corners.. Your plan sounds better than flat towing, but not much better.
If you read you manual, this is not reccomended. Any towing with a trailer over a 1000lbs needs a brake system. Any thing over 2500 needs a weight distribution system. That said I would reccomend that you tow it with a full trailer with brakes if you want to be safe(and weight distribution system). You can tow up to 5000 lbs. I would think the older willies with a full towing trailer will not excide that weight system and be a lot safer. This way is a little more costly, but worth it when you are hauling other precious cargo with you (your family). Any how good luck with the choice. Later robbie
Thanks guys. I have been concerned. Sounds like I will have to go for a full trailer with surge brakes and maybe a stabilization system. No expense is too much when it comes to being safe with precious cargo alright.

After the trip I will report in.
If you rent a trailer, expect to get a hassle due to the weight of the Willys vs, the FJC. You might have to tell U-Haul that you plan on towing a '66 VW Beetle.
Thats right! U-haul is notorious for rules on what they will let you tow. I have used there trailers many times, and I am always towing a vw bug with no engine or tranny. Just remember to give yourself some extra time to stop and increase your following distance. With all the good advice on this forum you should be fine. Oh yea! make sure you look over the trailer tires carefully. They tend to be overlooked by the employee's of U-haul.

Great advice. U-Haul hastle, check trailer tires, increase spacing...forget about a dolly trailer. Stabilizer and load leveler system to control sway and equalize load, trailer brakes.

I think the trailers come with surge brakes, for want of a better description. I am not wanting to get an electronic brake controller installed just yet as I don't plan to use the FJ as a primary tow vehicle. Or should I just go ahead and do it?

What about the auto trans...should I plan on using only 4th gear on the flats or is it OK to slip into 5th gear on occasion? I am anticipating low gas mileage (about 10 to 12 mpg)... Any techniques for hauling?

Thanks for all your helpful advice.
I believe the U-Haul trailers come with surge brakes and I don't know that you can use sway control or a weight distributing hitch with them; call U-Haul in advance. I towed without sway control or a weight distributing hitch and it was OK. If your Willys is like a 40, the wind resistance is as big a factor as the weight so I'd keep it in 4th, even on the flats. I averaged about 12 MPG including going up some pretty long inclines. Keep the speed under about 63 or your mileage will drop quickly.
The '47 Willis is topless and low and will have the windshield down also so should be low profile. I plan to do a lot of research at a U- Haul place tomorrow morning. 12 mpg in 4th Huh?...not so great, but will keep her down. Did you use Cruise control while towing. Please forgive my nit noy questions, but as I said the only towing I have done has been with my 79' FJ-40 (4 speed), and the '73 FJ-45 LB PU (3-speed) , or the '95 LandCruiser (auto with overdrive)...funny they all get 15 mpg no matter what. Towing, not towing, 65 MPH hiway, combined stop and go, 75 mph w air-condtioning on...doesn't matter they all do 15 mpg...consistently. Strange fact.
I don't use cruise control when I tow; I want to be avble to react all on my own. I've towed my 40 with my wife's FZJ80 and still got better mileage than just driving the 40! My mileage towing with the FJc ranged from 11 - 14 with 14 being on flatter terrain.
I just towed a long wheelbase Suzuki Samauri for a few hundred km on a U haul trailer. I have the Toyota hitch and wiring. Didn't use any weight distributing stuff. I didn't really seem to think I needed it. Besides being a little slower off the line, I barely knew it was there. They do have surge brakes, and they worked quite well. It drove very well. But I do have the OME heavy coils in it. Was no rear end sag at all. As for power, I had to go through the mountains, and it was fine. I even passed some slower drivers. I hit 6th on the flat parts. I hear the standard is a bit better for towing. Fuel use wasn't much different, as long as I kept it slower.

Oh, and keep in mind the U Haul trailers weigh 2000 lbs empty. And your 5000 lbs limit is reduced when you have other cargo and passengers in the vehicle.;)
I towed this sucker all the way from Boston to Texas on a U-Haul tow dolly, and I am running a three inch lift and 33's. The gas mileage sucked and keep it out of overdrive, other than that you should be fine.


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