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Author Topic:   Montauk 170: Towing with Honda ODYSSEY
Marsh posted 10-13-2006 11:17 AM ET (US)   Profile for Marsh   Send Email to Marsh  
Anyone care to share towing experiences for a post-classic Montauk 170 with a Honda Odyssey, or Chrysler/Dodge Caravan? I'm particularly interested in first-hand experiences on long-haul tows, at interstate speeds. My Keravan trailer is not brake-equipped, but the Honda web site says trailer brakes are required for the Odyssey, which has a 3,500 pound tow rating. 3,500 would seem to be adequate for the 170, but actual experiences may vary.

Thanks in advance,

masbama posted 10-13-2006 11:29 AM ET (US)     Profile for masbama  Send Email to masbama     
No problem. My friend tows his 19' bay boat with one.
AllanR posted 10-13-2006 08:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for AllanR  Send Email to AllanR     
I tow my 1994 classic Montauk with a 2000 Odyssey, and it does very well.

With the boat, motor (90 HP 2s Johnson) and trailer, I have the stern seat and two extra 6 gallon tanks in the stern, plus a 24 gallon Pate tank, so it is pretty heavy for a classic, probably comparable to a new one.

No problem. I would just note that being a front wheel drive, you might want to check the ramps that you would be using and make sure that they are not excessively steep. But a normal ramp has not been a problem for me.

Also, I always use chocks at the ramp.

I installed the Honda tow package, which includes a transmission cooler and never tow in high gear. Also, never use cruise control. Do those things, and you should not have a problem.

Barney posted 10-13-2006 08:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for Barney  Send Email to Barney     
Marsh, Your email has an auto reply from 2005. I was looking for info on your bow mount trolling motor and found your pictures. Jim
Chuck Tribolet posted 10-13-2006 11:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Why never use cruise control? My Pathfinders have towed
just fine with cruise control.


AllanR posted 10-14-2006 08:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for AllanR  Send Email to AllanR     
If you tow in high gear and use cruise control, it will put a lot more strain on the transmission, especially when it goes up any grade as the car tries to keep the same speed up the grade. In fact, our previous tow vehicle, a Ford Aerostar had that happen. I was taking my daughter to college with her stuff in a small U-Haul trailer, using cruise control and high gear without knowing about this, and as we drove on the Florida Turnpike, the transmission starting slipping as we went over the overpasses. We stopped at the next service station and that was all she wrote. The van would then not go forward, only in reverse. The transmission was shot. It made for a very interesting weekend, I can tell you.

With the Honda, I always tow in 3rd gear and never use cruise control. I let the speed drop as we go up grades, and it picks up the speed on the other side. Never had a problem with it.

Marsh posted 10-14-2006 09:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for Marsh  Send Email to Marsh     
Sorry...I changed my ISP, and forgot to update my profile. it is now updated for my current email address.

Thanks for the remnder,

jimh posted 10-14-2006 11:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
We never use cruise control, and for just the reason mentioned: the cruise control is very dumb about trailer loads and grades. When it tries to maintain speed on grades, the transmission usually compensates by coming out of torque-converter lock-up mode and back to fluid coupling. When you are transferring 225-HP via fluid coupling for a long hill climb, the temperature of the transmission fluid increases very rapidly. We try to maintain a steady throttle pressure on grades, and if the truck losses speed, we let it. If the speed drops too much, we force a downshift to second gear. We never tow in overdrive--this is explicitly forbidden in my vehicle with warnings in the owner's manual and on door frame stickers.

What we have found, over maybe 12,000 miles of towing with a load that is right at the maximum rating for our vehicle, is that it is often easy to ascend a grade at a higher speed. If we see a hill coming, we will accelerate on the level approach to it, building up some speed. The engine has more horsepower if it is turning at 3,000-RPM (65-MPH) than it does at 2,500-RPM (55-MPH), and it will often be able to maintain speed better up a grade if you start the climb at a higher speed.

The worse case--as happened to us recently in Tennessee--is to begin a long climb at low speed. You can never manage to accelerate up a hill, so if you start the climb at 45-MPH you can be certain you are going to drop down to 35-MPH or less. We pulled out of a rest area which was at the base of a very long uphill climb, several miles. We did not get a chance to accelerate up to full speed before we hit the grade. Oh man, that was a long hill to climb, and we ended up in no-man's land (in terms of where the transmission would like to operate). We were too fast to drop into 2nd-Gear, and too slow for 3rd-Gear. The highway did not have an extra right-hand lane for slow vehicles, and a big truck was right behind us. He was stuck, too, as he could not pull out to pass us (due to too much traffic in the left lane), and I was going too slow for his liking, too.

Fortunately, the grade was just gentle enough that we could hang in there without lugging everything down too much. The transmission temperature was climbing by the time we made the summit. Then we had a long stretch down hill for it to cool off again. Keeping the transmission cool is the secret to keeping it working. Once the fluid gets hot, it does not work as well, and that makes it get hotter. If you go to far into that cycle it will kill the transmission. We watch very carefully for the 200-RPM jump in tachometer speed that occurs when the torque-convertor drops out of mechanical lock-up and goes into fluid drive. As soon as that happens we reduce throttle pressure and try to get it to lock up, again.

Of course, none of this happens if you have a really big truck, with a really big engine that has lots of torque and horsepower, and a really rugged transmission. We hope to reach that point some day with our tow vehicle, but we are not there yet. So, in the meantime, we drive it carefully and try to keep it as cool as possible. (And, yes, we have installed the largest external cooler we could find for the transmission fluid. Without it we would have never succeeded in crossing the Rockies (once) and the Appalachians (twice) while towing at the vehicle's maximum rated load.)

Well, sorry, I shared my towing experiences, but they weren't with a MONTAUK 170.

gorji posted 10-15-2006 10:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for gorji  Send Email to gorji     

Thanks for your nice post.
Can you comment on towing with automatic transmission. I do the same with my Honda Pilot. When I get into a hill, I come out of cruise control (use cc only when level). I keep a close eye on the rpm as well. I cruise my pilot with the eastport @ around 2500-3000 rpm @a round 60 mph. If the engine strains on a up grade, and rpm jumps to 4000, I come out of cc. BUT I do not have an option with lower gear unless I go to D2.


gorji posted 10-15-2006 10:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for gorji  Send Email to gorji     

The Odyseey is rated for 3500 lbs when properly equipped.
That means a right hitch, transmission cooler as well as larger radiator. The Montauk even with fuel and trailer is well within the range of the Odyssey. The comment on ramp precaution is real important.

jimh posted 10-16-2006 08:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I only have a four-speed transmission:

--Overdrive: can't use it at all when towing
--3: a 1:1 gear through the transmission
--2: an intermediate gear good for up to 35-MPH
--1: low gear for starting

For now, we hang on in 3 on grades until the speed falls below 40-MPH. Then we have to downshift to 2 and hang on at around 35-MPH. There will be much less transmission heating if you are climbing a hill at 35-MPH in 2 than if you are lugging up the hill at 40-MPH in 3. The pump which circulates the transmission fluid for cooling is driven by the input shaft, that is, the engine crankshaft. When the engine speed is higher, the transmission fluid is circulating through the cooling system faster. Thus when running uphill in 2 at 3,500-RPM you will get much more transmission fluid circulation and cooling than if in 3 at 2,000-RPM--probably twice as much cooling! Even though the engine is racing, it is really running easier than if it were being lugged at lower RPM.

Important safety note: check your transmission manual regarding the operation of the 2 gear. On many automatic transmissions, if you engage 2 the transmission is locked into second gear, including starting from a stop! I once accidently pulled the boat up a ramp with the the transmission in 2--oh, man, it did not like that! The torque-convertor has to do all the work in that situation.

GM has a new six-speed automatic transmission coming out in 2007-model-year trucks. That should provide better performance, particularly when you need a slight downshift to make it up a grade.

an86carrera posted 10-16-2006 10:02 AM ET (US)     Profile for an86carrera  Send Email to an86carrera     
My diesel Liberty is the first vehicle I have ever owned that specifically states that you CAN tow in overdrive.

I have only towed the 15' so far but you really can't tell it is back there except for the occassional hitch joggling noise on a bumpy road.

The mileage is also great at 23-24 mpg on the higway towing alot of this is because of the ability to tow in overdrive.

The towing capacity is 5000 pounds which would allow me to tow the 22', I can't wait to see how that goes.


swist posted 10-16-2006 03:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
I would not use cruise control for all the above mentioned reasons, but I see no reason not to use overdrive (5th gear) when towing on relatively level terrain superhighways. It saves on gas. Just pay attention to engine lugging and pull out of it if you have an extended and/or steep uphill.

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