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Old 12-11-2005, 01:13 PM   #1
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Well, we did it.

Ever since we bought our 1984 310 Limited MH about 18 months ago, I have wondered about whether we would want a tow car. The purchase of the MH was an experiment for us to determine whether we liked RV'ing and to get an idea of what we would enjoy.

After last summer's trip to Washington DC, I began more and more to think about a tow car. On that trip we did fine without it (we once rented a car when we needed to have some work done), but I know there were times when we would have done more if we had a car available. Of course the 2000 lb tow limit makes selection of a tow car pretty limited. I first thought about an older, light vehicle like a VW or Tercel. My issue with that kind of vehicle is one of safety. These cars were made before modern safety equipment and it seemed a bad choice to take the additional risk of driving a light weight car without the best safety gear you can get.

After much searching I decided on a Toyota Echo. It weighs less than 2100 lb and is pretty roomy. Unfortunately Toyota has stopped selling them (they are being replaced by a new model - the Yaris).

So we went with the Scion xB. It weighs 2400 lb, is very roomy and we like they way it looks. It is equipped with 5 speed (according to Remco there is no way to make the automatic tow-able four down). We had an aluminum Blue Ox tow bar and US Gear Unified braking system installed and took our maiden trip yesterday. I noticed some effect of the weight in acceleration and engine temp when going up a grade, the braking system makes it unnoticeable when braking. So far, so good. You can see a picture here: http://tinypic.com/ifpv9v.jpg
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Courtesy Parking (W/S/E/Wi-Fi) on I-5 in Northern California, 70 miles from Oregon border
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Old 12-11-2005, 02:38 PM   #2
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Hey -they match!
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Old 12-11-2005, 03:39 PM   #3
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Well, sort of match. They discontinued the color which matched even better.
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Old 12-11-2005, 03:54 PM   #4
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What do you call them, the BIG box and the LITTLE box? How's your mileage towing the car? Also, what kind of temperature increases have you seen? I'm looking into the same idea, but probably with a dolly to deal with the weight of the car I have to use.
Tim
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Old 12-11-2005, 04:40 PM   #5
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The motorhome is the "Silver Slug" (license plate AG SLUG) the car is the "Silver Box" unfortunately AG BOX is taken. We'll see.

A tow dolly doesn't increase the weight of vehicle you can tow, it decreases it by the weight of the tow dolly. Allowable tow weight is the maximum combined weight of everything you are towing. So you add the weight of the dolly and the weight of the vehicle.

I don't know what that rating is for your MH, perhaps since your chassis and power plant are different your MH is rated with a higher tow limit.

On a long, step grade gaining about 3000 feet, my temp got up to 210 degrees or so. When I shifted down a gear and kept the RPM just under 3000 (about 45 mph) it cooled off a bit. It was a very cool day.

I have only driven 120 miles so I don't have a fuel consumption calculation.
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Old 12-11-2005, 04:50 PM   #6
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I understand what you're talking about with the weight totals. I guess I did a poor job of explaining the dolly plan. The dolly is being considered for 2 reasons. I do a lot of hills and mountains in the eastern U.S. I have an extremely low axle (5.29), so pulling the weight isn't the issue as much, although my rating officially is the same as most (2,000 lbs). It's just plain cheaper for me to have a braking system that I can get on a dolly than to go into all the expense of tow bars, and then adding a braking system to the car. I have to go with the cheapest system that provides braking. My research seems to favor the dolly. If money weren't an issue, I would probably go with on the ground like yours.
Thanks for answering my questions. Always looking for suggestions.

Tim
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Old 12-11-2005, 04:54 PM   #7
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Thanks, Tim. I wasn't criticizing, just wanted to be clear.

No question the tow bar, base plate, and brake system was expensive. So was the labor to install.
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Old 12-11-2005, 06:21 PM   #8
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Don't know when that picture was taken, but gas is sure expensive where you are. It's about $1.87 here in Chandler, America.
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Old 12-11-2005, 06:32 PM   #9
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Those look like Florida gas prices!
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Old 12-11-2005, 06:55 PM   #10
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Or North Carolina I paid $2.65 for diesel here today...best I could find...gas is still over $2.15

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Old 12-11-2005, 07:07 PM   #11
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That picture was taken in Medford, OR
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Old 12-11-2005, 07:51 PM   #12
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Hi. I've sdriven through Medford. The Shakespeare Festival gets held around there each year.
I took my MH to a fabrication shop and had them upgrade my receiver to be able to take 5000 lbs. They did some frame welding and actually replaced the original receiver with a heavy duty one. Now I can tow my 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee (4K lbs), but I sure feel the weight back there, since I only have a 28'. Eventually I would like to get a Toyota Prius to tow, but I don't know if it's possible on all four. Does anyone?
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Old 12-11-2005, 08:21 PM   #13
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Yin and Yang

Guy99, looks like a cool combo....but the one up front is so STREAMLINED, while the one in the back is so ....BOXY!!
I pushed real hard for a Honda Element and Julie insisted on the Odessy minivan.
Great looking combo.
We're all waiting for the fuel mileage totals.
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Old 12-11-2005, 09:18 PM   #14
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Back to towing with my 370

Guy, I didn't take the slightest offense about your information on weight totals. I learned a long time ago to pay attention to the people who actually have done what I'm considering. That's why I love this forum so much. Concerning the weight issue - I know the Airstream official recommendation for almost every one of their motorhomes is 2,000 lbs. The Airstream receiver is listed in the owner's manual as a Class I receiver, but it's really a class III . Problem is that it's attached to the frame with very small elastic stop nuts . The beef is there, but the thing could very easily get ripped off the bottom of the frame if overloaded too far. I'm going to be pulling a Chevrolet Malibu (a little over 3,000 lbs), probably with a dolly to keep as much weight as possible from pulling DOWN on the rear of the coach. The strain will mostly be transferred to lateral pull vs tongue weight. I've been assured by many MH owners that they have successfully pulled under much more severe conditions than that for many years. I intend to replace the factory bolts on the receiver with much heavier duty stuff, use a dolly with brakes, and then hope for the best. Another vehicle isn't an option financially, and neither is a tow bar/car brake system. The extremely low gearing of the 370 should work to my advantage as long as I take it easy on interstates. I'm looking into a Gear Vendors under/over drive to give me a little relief at interstate speeds. That's probably where the real money will go. Sorry to run so long, but I wanted to lay as much out there as possible. Many folks have encouraged me and given advice about these issues, and I'm always open for more - especially BEFORE I spend the money .
Thanks to all,

Tim (Noiva)
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