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Old 07-28-2004, 06:55 PM   #1
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Towing with 370

Getting '89 370 Motorhome, Gillig chassis, Ford 460, Ford C-6 transmission: Question - Manual says can only tow 2000 lbs. I have Chevrolet Malibu that weighs less than 3,500 lbs. If I tow in on all 4 wheels with a tow bar set-up, will it damage the motorhome? Manual seems concerned with extra weight on tag axle when towing, but a tow bar system with a relatively light load shouldn't put hardly any stress on tag. Anyone with experience towing a car behind a tag axle Airstream? I've seen many of them on the highway, so I'm hoping it doesn't cause problems as long as it connected and towed correctly. Thanks for any input on this.

Noiva
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Old 07-28-2004, 07:51 PM   #2
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The 2000 LB Limit is normally due to the ability of the frame to take the stress of the weight being pulled by the motorhome. Many owners will tow over this rating. If there is a failure of the frame you would be liable for the damages to any thing or one. The engineers had a reason for limiting the total dead weight that you can tow.

Many people tow more weight than the motorhome manufacturers limit them too, that does not make it a good idea. But, at the time that the classics were made there were not many manufacturers of aux braking systems so the motorhome would have been expected to stop the toad too.

If you wish to tow the additional weight I would be sure to equip the towed car with a good aux break system and all of the breakaway and safety hardware. But first have the frame inspected and if possible have a hitch shop reinforce the receiver and how it attaches to the frame to be sure.
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Old 07-28-2004, 08:05 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noiva
Getting '89 370 Motorhome, Gillig chassis, Ford 460, Ford C-6 transmission: Question - Manual says can only tow 2000 lbs. I have Chevrolet Malibu that weighs less than 3,500 lbs. If I tow in on all 4 wheels with a tow bar set-up, will it damage the motorhome? Manual seems concerned with extra weight on tag axle when towing, but a tow bar system with a relatively light load shouldn't put hardly any stress on tag. Anyone with experience towing a car behind a tag axle Airstream?

Novia:

The problem has more to do with the huge length between the axels and the hitch.

It's not so much of a vertical load question as a side load. The 370's reportedly had a more severe "tail slap" problem than the 345's. This would be acerbated by a heavier than design load.

My advice would be not to tow the Malibu. I purchased a Saturn Wagon (2400 lbs) just for the 345, also have a VIP brake system for it. Used Saturns with a lot of mileage left can be picked up for less than 3 grand.
The one I purchased even had the tow bar adapters installed already.

Try this link for vehicles for sale already set up.

http://www.hitchtrader.com/
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Old 07-28-2004, 08:24 PM   #4
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Towing

Thank you for taking the time to go into those details. Having towed trailers for 30 years, I know exactly what you're talking about with the length between the axles. I towed a 30' Avion trailer (7,500 lbs.) with a '79 Chevrolet Caprice Wagon when I couldn't afford anything else, and I experienced the effects of the long length between the axles. Of course, I was way out of bounds just attempting towing anything with that car, but it worked. I wouldn't suggest it was smart, however. Anyway, I was hoping the Gillig chassis would be strong enough to overcome some of the length problems. I agree that there was a reason for the rating, however, and I suspect you're correct about the Malibu. If I buy the 370, as I hope to do, I'll be selling my current tower (Suburban), so I could shop one of those vehicles you mentioned. Good site. Thanks again.

Noiva

Quote:
Originally Posted by 87MH
Novia:

The problem has more to do with the huge length between the axels and the hitch.

It's not so much of a vertical load question as a side load. The 370's reportedly had a more severe "tail slap" problem than the 345's. This would be acerbated by a heavier than design load.

My advice would be not to tow the Malibu. I purchased a Saturn Wagon (2400 lbs) just for the 345, also have a VIP brake system for it. Used Saturns with a lot of mileage left can be picked up for less than 3 grand.
The one I purchased even had the tow bar adapters installed already.

Try this link for vehicles for sale already set up.

http://www.hitchtrader.com/
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Old 07-28-2004, 08:32 PM   #5
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Towing with 370

Thanks. I'm just getting into motorhomes after towing trailers for 30 years, so I've got lots of questions and concerns. I've done some looking at what's available for towing cars behind motorhomes, and it does appear there's a lot of stuff out there. Do you know how the braking systems work? The descriptions I've read range from a bar that pushes down the car's brake pedal (can't see how that would be effective since the engine has to be running to get the power booster to work) to much more elaborate things that I'm not sure how they connect with the towed vehicle's brakes. It does appear to me that to safely tow a car one is talking big bucks if everything is bought new. I guess one issue would be what experiences other motorhome folks have had who did not tow a car. How inconvenient do they find having to get in a motorhome to get groceries, sight-see, and all the other errands one does while traveling. Any ideas?

Noiva


Quote:
Originally Posted by thenewkid64
The 2000 LB Limit is normally due to the ability of the frame to take the stress of the weight being pulled by the motorhome. Many owners will tow over this rating. If there is a failure of the frame you would be liable for the damages to any thing or one. The engineers had a reason for limiting the total dead weight that you can tow.

Many people tow more weight than the motorhome manufacturers limit them too, that does not make it a good idea. But, at the time that the classics were made there were not many manufacturers of aux braking systems so the motorhome would have been expected to stop the toad too.

If you wish to tow the additional weight I would be sure to equip the towed car with a good aux break system and all of the breakaway and safety hardware. But first have the frame inspected and if possible have a hitch shop reinforce the receiver and how it attaches to the frame to be sure.
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Old 07-28-2004, 08:47 PM   #6
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I tow a Saturn 4 door.

I use a Brake Buddy. It is a 12 volt powered inertia sensing brake actuator that exerts enough force to make the brakes work without the engine running.

Roadmaster makes one too. There is a member here on the forum selling his brake buddy. The brake buddy works for cars/trucks up to 5 or 6 thousand pounds. The Saturn is a little over for most of us, but I really don't want to do my touring and errands in a 3 door Speck

IN my last MH (76 Argosy 28) I had a 2k limit, my current MH (78 Argosy 28) has a 4K Limit, go figure.
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Old 07-28-2004, 10:09 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noiva
Getting '89 370 Motorhome............
Do yourself a big favor and call Airstream and ask them straight out if they ever had any reported problems with the 370 towing cars.
A few years ago, when I was looking to buy a MH, I read an article from a 370 owner, who was desperately looking for someone to raise his MH in the rear. According to him towing a car put him into compromising situations when driving through dips in the road. The tow bar would bottom out due to the long overhang. I have no idea how valid his story was, but one has to wonder why they only manufactured the 370 for 1 year.
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Old 07-29-2004, 11:46 AM   #8
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Hello all,

I was wondering if it would be OK to put the car onto a car hauler. That would solve the brake issue as the trailer has its own. But I assume, since hardly anyone does it, that it must create some worst problem? Like added stress in the chassis?

It would be nice not to put any miles on the car while towing it.

Francois.
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Old 07-29-2004, 12:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noiva
I have Chevrolet Malibu that weighs less than 3,500 lbs.
I tow a SC Saturn and definitely know it is there and it weighs 1200 lbs. less than the Malibu, my mh is 4 ft. shorter with a 454. With the added size/weight of yours I don't think you will be very happy with performance especially in hilly country, 37 ft. is pretty well maxed out for a gasser.


Quote:
Originally Posted by redynvre
I was wondering if it would be OK to put the car onto a car hauler.
It would be nice not to put any miles on the car while towing it.
No problem putting it on a car hauler, the biggest problem is what to do with it when you get there. Most campsites are fairly small and a trailer isn't easy to back with a long vehicle, most campground roads aren't that wide to maneuver.

Miles generally don't accumulate when towing on newer vehicles.

John
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Old 07-29-2004, 12:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redynvre
It would be nice not to put any miles on the car while towing it.

Most cars that can be towed 4 down do not accrue miles while under tow, yes the rolling components do but the odometer does not show it.

A car hauler is one way to go. You still have the weight issue, and you have added another 5-800 LBS or more to the total towed weight. When you arrive at your destination the trailer will need to be stored somewhere, and many places do not have a ton of space to do that. It is also a matter of the unloading and loading. tow bar is easy, a dolly is hard, a flatbed is .................. Last but not least you are adding 4 more tires to the list to be maintained ands another set of brakes, tagging the trailer, etc.

Many of the BIG bus style Motorhomes you see pulling enclosed trailers are hauling their toy box, the sometimes include 1 or more cars, a motorcycle, bikes, tools, sporting equipment, etc. They have the capacity to do this, most Airstream Motorhomes do not
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Old 07-29-2004, 03:32 PM   #11
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I didn't think of the campground space issue.... Still new at this hehe. I was thinking of doing this so I could pull my Delorean behind the rig without wearing anything out, especially its tires, since they cannot be rotated.

I think the odometer keeps rolling when towed I still need to confirm that with Delorean One.

Oh well, we will see...
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Old 07-29-2004, 05:49 PM   #12
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Towing with 370

Thanks to everyone for all the helpful suggestions. I think I'll use this thing for a year or so before I look into towing, if at all. I may find it's not as inconvenient being without a car as it now seems. The 370 is definitely maxed out now. I've only driven 200 miles and it doesn't like anything over 55. Not that the power's not there, but the engine begins to really rev above 55. The Ford C-6 is a good transmission, but still only a 3-speed. It also doesn't lock up, which may be good for heat buildup, but isn't so good for mileage. Of course, I'm not expecting mileage. Anyway. thanks again to everyone. If anyone else has ideas or comments, please keep adding. I'm learning all the time.

Noiva
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Old 07-29-2004, 06:20 PM   #13
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We've considered using a scooter mounted on a hitch mount. Many times our trips away from the parked MH would only be for juice or something "in town" and only require one person to make the trip. We tend to be travellers more than campers but it's certainly an inexpensive option.
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