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Old 07-12-2010, 06:13 AM   #1
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Towing a car with a dolly... tighten those straps and check them!

Those of you who use a dolly, I learned a valuable lesson yesterday... Make sure your straps are tight tight tight!

We got into an accident with the camper and dolly, and the car stayed where it belonged, and took only minor damage. The dolly is probably a write-off: the tray was bent into a slight "U" shape, and the tongue would have to be replaced, and there's some electrical problem because the lights stopped working. I've hated that dolly over the years, but right now I'm very glad it protected the car so well.

However, the tow truck driver told us that frequently during accidents the cars come off the dollies and end up under the camper. So, make those straps tight. Of course that might still happen if you hit someone at a higher speed but try to be safe as much as you can.

I always tightened the straps quite a lot, and I worried about damaging the tire or wheel (though I never have), but after yesterday I'm glad I did that.
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Old 07-25-2010, 07:32 PM   #2
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Curious about your towing. Is the weight above what the mfg specs it at? Aside from keeping miles off the vehicle, why sue a dolly? Isn't the added weight of it an issue?

Hope you and your B is okay.
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Old 07-30-2010, 08:30 AM   #3
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We use a dolly for several reasons.

1. Each time we trade vehicles we do not have the expense of setting the new one up to tow.

2. I think its just as quick to load up and go as the tow bars.

3. We can tow any of our vehicles with it. (I have even towed my corvette.)

3. It has its own surge brakes.

4. With the big overhang of our 345 going through dips and swales the dolly does not stress the motorhome frame. The tow bars are short enough that the motorhome can actually try to lift the car off the ground.
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Old 08-04-2010, 06:25 AM   #4
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Curious about your towing. Is the weight above what the mfg specs it at? Aside from keeping miles off the vehicle, why sue a dolly? Isn't the added weight of it an issue?

Hope you and your B is okay.
Thanks. The B van is being repaired now... actually he thought they'd finish today, so hopefully we can get it back this weekend.

Which weight? The dolly is spec'd to handle SUVs, so my 3,000 lb Cougar is definitely not a problem. The Impala's curb weight is a bit more - 3,400 lbs - but it's still not a problem.

The camper plus dolly plus towed vehicle should all come in under 15,000 lbs, which is the GCVW of the camper. (9,000 for the camper, 500 lbs for the dolly, and 3000 for the Cougar gives us nice headroom for supplies, people, etc.) The dolly only weighs 500 lbs, though it feels like a lot more than that when I have to manually push it back up the driveway.

As for towing four-down, there were several reasons I didn't want to do it, some of which are similar to cooperhawk's:

1. It's just as expensive as a dolly... without brakes. I priced them out and found that a dolly was cheaper once you figured in the cost of brakes (mine has electric brakes).

2. You have to get an ugly, un-aerodynamic hitch for the front of your car. This was especially a problem for my Cougar (the vehicle I usually took with me on trips), because the hitches aren't even available, but even if they were I wouldn't want that on the front of my car. I didn't want it on my Impala either. I'm a bit of a car enthusiast and seeing those things on my car, even just the brackets, would have been pretty annoying.

3. Said tow bar bracket can only be used with one car - want to tow something else? You have to buy a new bracket for several hundred dollars, if one is even available. Whereas with the dolly I can tow pretty much any car; I've towed both my Cougar and my Impala, as well as my wife's Saturn (we met well after I had the camper and dolly setup ).

4. Some cars (not my Cougar since it's a stick, but the Impala falls into this category; not sure about the wife's Saturn) require a halfshaft disconnect, so even more money.

In my case I already had the cars before I bought the camper, and I don't want to be limited to the few cars that can be flat towed without the halfshaft disconnects. And it's a good thing I didn't limit myself to towing just one car - there have been several situations where it made sense to tow a car other than the Cougar.

There are advantages to four-down towing - the dolly has been a lot of headaches for me over the years (see my website), especially with loading and unloading, and that all would go away with four-down.

We've since decided to junk the dolly. If anyone needs a spare tire for a Stehl tow dolly, we have one, never used, will sell cheap. Comes with two free caps for the grease fittings - we'd lost one and ordered two new ones before the last trip. Just PM me.

We're not going to replace the dolly. Instead, we'll either rent a car at our destination, or my wife will drive a car separately. The long-term plan is to replace the B-van with an Airstream trailer in a year or two anyway, so we'll just deal without a dolly until then. I will say I'm really looking forward to not towing a car on the trip next week, but I'm going to miss having my Cougar on vacation.
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Old 10-04-2010, 12:58 PM   #5
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I was just going to post about towing. We have a 36 ft Airstream Land Yacht Clipper Diesel. I have a Scion TC. Had it before the motorhome so just wish to tow it on a dolly. It is pretty low profile and not very heavy. Any advice on which kind of dolly to get, what type of brake is easiest to use. We see something called American Car Dolly that folds to a smaller footprint for storage. Would there ever be an issue of dragging the rear of a low profile vehicle when towing on a dolly?
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Old 10-05-2010, 08:13 AM   #6
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Our dolly is a "Demco", made in Iowa and we have been very satisfied with it. The overhang is no problem with the dolly as the tongue is long enough to compensate for it. The surge brakes work very well and you hardly know you are towing a vehicle.
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Old 10-05-2010, 09:57 AM   #7
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Would there ever be an issue of dragging the rear of a low profile vehicle when towing on a dolly?
I've never had a problem with the Cougar, and it sits fairly low. Even after I lowered it an inch I didn't have any problems scraping.

But, yeah, buy a good dolly. More money, yes, but it'll save in the long run if my experience is any indicator.
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Old 02-05-2011, 09:57 AM   #8
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Dolly Rules

Here is a reminder to unload the car before disconnecting the dolly from the back of the motorhome. The dolly shot forward right thru the f/g bumper.
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Old 02-23-2011, 09:51 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by cooperhawk View Post
We use a dolly for several reasons.

4. With the big overhang of our 345 going through dips and swales the dolly does not stress the motorhome frame. The tow bars are short enough that the motorhome can actually try to lift the car off the ground.
So - here's our scenario:

We're buying a 345, and had at first been planning to tow the Jeep Wrangler TJ on a tow bar that's already mounted to the Jeep now. The Jeep sits higher than many "cars", but after reading that, I am worried about the "lifting off the ground" part. Any comments?

Now - I said "had at first been"' - my new scheme is to find a 31' - 34' Airstream Trailer that is in need of restoration, and convert it to a "toy hauler", by putting a divider wall in front of the wheel wells, build a bedroom in the front, and move the bathroom, eliminating the kitchen which we don't need to duplicate (since we have one in the 345), and driving the Jeep in from the back of the trailer, and parking it between the wheel wells over the axles.

Yes, I know I'll have to do some major reconfiguring to the rear. I plan to cut the rear off the trailer where it begins to round - then cut the rear shell in half, and somehow hinge the 2 pieces to make a "barn-door" style opening to drive the Jeep into. The only thing that will give away the modification is the missing rear window - or possibly the presence of 2 small rear windows instead of the one big one.

So my further question is this: With the "big overhang" of the 345, how will it handle pulling a 32' Airstream trailer? Will I run into similar problems?

Thanks for your help - we're "not yet brand new Airstreamers", so any help is appreciated.

Oh - by the way - I also need to locate a replacement spare tire cover for the 345. It's in really good shape, with the exception of 3 items:
Spare tire cover door is missing, shroud for the rear AC is missing, and the backup monitor is missing.
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Old 02-23-2011, 09:56 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skater View Post
4. Some cars (not my Cougar since it's a stick, but the Impala falls into this category; not sure about the wife's Saturn) require a halfshaft disconnect, so even more money.
The Jeep can be towed 4-down, but requires a driveshaft disconnect for front-up dolly towing - so I am stuck with either 4-down, or full trailering - and in that case, I may as well buy an old Airstream 31' and make my mods as stated above - which will also give us the extra bedroom, so the wife and I don't need to worry about "'sounds in the night" with the kiddies present!
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Old 02-23-2011, 10:06 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audiv8q View Post
So - here's our scenario:

We're buying a 345, and had at first been planning to tow the Jeep Wrangler TJ on a tow bar that's already mounted to the Jeep now. The Jeep sits higher than many "cars", but after reading that, I am worried about the "lifting off the ground" part. Any comments?

Now - I said "had at first been"' - my new scheme is to find a 31' - 34' Airstream Trailer that is in need of restoration, and convert it to a "toy hauler", by putting a divider wall in front of the wheel wells, build a bedroom in the front, and move the bathroom, eliminating the kitchen which we don't need to duplicate (since we have one in the 345), and driving the Jeep in from the back of the trailer, and parking it between the wheel wells over the axles.

Yes, I know I'll have to do some major reconfiguring to the rear. I plan to cut the rear off the trailer where it begins to round - then cut the rear shell in half, and somehow hinge the 2 pieces to make a "barn-door" style opening to drive the Jeep into. The only thing that will give away the modification is the missing rear window - or possibly the presence of 2 small rear windows instead of the one big one.

So my further question is this: With the "big overhang" of the 345, how will it handle pulling a 32' Airstream trailer? Will I run into similar problems?

Thanks for your help - we're "not yet brand new Airstreamers", so any help is appreciated.

Oh - by the way - I also need to locate a replacement spare tire cover for the 345. It's in really good shape, with the exception of 3 items:
Spare tire cover door is missing, shroud for the rear AC is missing, and the backup monitor is missing.
I think more than the reconfiguration to the rear to get some sort of a door, you'd have to build an entire custom heavy-duty frame to be able to support that kind of weight. You're talking about carrying a vehicle that weighs close to 50% of the rated max gross weight of the trailer you propose to modify, and probably only about 1000 lb. of that original rated gross was intended to be cargo and water.
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Old 02-23-2011, 10:10 AM   #12
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Toad

I don't understand why you would have to disconnect the drive with front up towing. Please explain?
Below is a link with lots of up to date info.
http://www.motorhomemagazine.com/ima...yGuide2010.pdf

Dave

Quote:
Originally Posted by audiv8q View Post
The Jeep can be towed 4-down, but requires a driveshaft disconnect for front-up dolly towing - so I am stuck with either 4-down, or full trailering - and in that case, I may as well buy an old Airstream 31' and make my mods as stated above - which will also give us the extra bedroom, so the wife and I don't need to worry about "'sounds in the night" with the kiddies present!
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Old 02-23-2011, 11:16 AM   #13
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I don't understand why you would have to disconnect the drive with front up towing. Please explain?
Below is a link with lots of up to date info.
http://www.motorhomemagazine.com/ima...yGuide2010.pdf

Dave
me too, never seen that, have to before.
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Old 02-23-2011, 12:29 PM   #14
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I don't understand why you would have to disconnect the drive with front up towing. Please explain?
Below is a link with lots of up to date info.
http://www.motorhomemagazine.com/ima...yGuide2010.pdf

Dave
The article you link is all about 4-down towing.

If you're front-up towing a vehicle that's FWD or is RWD and approved to be towed and you follow the sometimes-arcane procedures described in the article you linked, things should be fine.

Where you run into trouble is with 4WD/AWD vehicles on a tow dolly. The center differential or transfer case usually isn't designed to have only one set of wheels turning for long periods of time, with the other set held stationary. That's when driveshafts need to be disconnected.
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Old 02-24-2011, 12:07 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by DKB_SATX View Post
I think more than the reconfiguration to the rear to get some sort of a door, you'd have to build an entire custom heavy-duty frame to be able to support that kind of weight. You're talking about carrying a vehicle that weighs close to 50% of the rated max gross weight of the trailer you propose to modify, and probably only about 1000 lb. of that original rated gross was intended to be cargo and water.
The jeep weighs less than 2,000Lbs - and I will be removing the entire kitchen and rear bedroom - or rather the front lounge, and moving the bedroom to the front - so, out with the fridge, stove, oven, microwave(?), cabinets, and a couch, in with the Jeep. I think it's probably a pretty even swap...
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Old 02-24-2011, 12:18 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by masseyfarm View Post
I don't understand why you would have to disconnect the drive with front up towing. Please explain?
Below is a link with lots of up to date info.
http://www.motorhomemagazine.com/ima...yGuide2010.pdf

Dave
The link talks alot about towing with a tow-ar (4-down).
The Jeep can disengage the 4WD - put the transfer case in neutral, and has a mechanical internal diff lube pump that keeps the diffs lubed while being towed.
However - if the front wheels are up, the mechanical lube pump won't work, and you blow out the transfer case.
That's what the Jeep dealer in Lisle, IL told me. He went and checked the specs to be sure - and said 4-down is fine - 2-Up needs a drive shaft disconnect.
My Audi V8 - whenever towed - MUST(!!!) be 4-UP - no wheels rolling -even in neutral! You burn (literally) up the torsen differential if you pull it for any distance other than, say, pushing it off the road, or to the gas station across the street when you run dry... Not - that this has ever happened to ME, of course...
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Old 02-24-2011, 12:23 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audiv8q View Post
So - here's our scenario:

We're buying a 345, and had at first been planning to tow the Jeep Wrangler TJ on a tow bar that's already mounted to the Jeep now. The Jeep sits higher than many "cars", but after reading that, I am worried about the "lifting off the ground" part. Any comments?

Now - I said "had at first been"' - my new scheme is to find a 31' - 34' Airstream Trailer that is in need of restoration, and convert it to a "toy hauler", by putting a divider wall in front of the wheel wells, build a bedroom in the front, and move the bathroom, eliminating the kitchen which we don't need to duplicate (since we have one in the 345), and driving the Jeep in from the back of the trailer, and parking it between the wheel wells over the axles.

Yes, I know I'll have to do some major reconfiguring to the rear. I plan to cut the rear off the trailer where it begins to round - then cut the rear shell in half, and somehow hinge the 2 pieces to make a "barn-door" style opening to drive the Jeep into. The only thing that will give away the modification is the missing rear window - or possibly the presence of 2 small rear windows instead of the one big one.

So my further question is this: With the "big overhang" of the 345, how will it handle pulling a 32' Airstream trailer? Will I run into similar problems?

Thanks for your help - we're "not yet brand new Airstreamers", so any help is appreciated.

Oh - by the way - I also need to locate a replacement spare tire cover for the 345. It's in really good shape, with the exception of 3 items:
Spare tire cover door is missing, shroud for the rear AC is missing, and the backup monitor is missing.
If you are concerned about lifting a tow bar because of excessive overhang multiply that several times to imagine what the rear of a 30' trailer will do. Like others have said you will also need massive reinforcement to the Airstream trailer frame to carry the Jeep. Then think about the weight distribution problem with the Jeep in the rear of the trailer. It would look neat going down the highway but probably not a very good idea.

Cheers, Dan
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Old 02-24-2011, 11:36 AM   #18
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Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smartstream View Post
If you are concerned about lifting a tow bar because of excessive overhang multiply that several times to imagine what the rear of a 30' trailer will do. Like others have said you will also need massive reinforcement to the Airstream trailer frame to carry the Jeep. Then think about the weight distribution problem with the Jeep in the rear of the trailer. It would look neat going down the highway but probably not a very good idea.

Cheers, Dan
I wasn't concerned about lifting, until I saw the original post about that here.

Also, I was not planning to carry the Jeep "in the rear" of the trailer - rather over the axles. I looked up the curb weight on the 1998 TJ, and I was wrong aout "just shy of 2,000Lbs" - Stock, it weighs 3,229, and mine only has minor mods; stainless nerf running boards / side steps, slightly larger tires (31x10.5x15, instead of 235x75x15), and a stainless tube rear bumper. No which or other heavy steel hop-ups, so I am guessing it's under 3,500Lbs.

So my plan has been to remove all the "'furniture" and appliances from the rear of the trailer, and add either aluminum ramps or 2x6 lumber as a floor to drive in on, and set the Jeep directly over the axles - section off the "garage" area with a dividing wall, and having only bunk beds, a desk, a few small closets/dresser-type drawers, and the bathroom in the front. I would not move the fresh/grey/black tanks, which I do believe are at the axles, or very near there.

As far as I can imagine, I am removing substantial weight from the trailer by removing the stock furniture/woodwork/appliances, but adding the weight of 2x6 or aluminum ramps, and the Jeep.

I assume the Airstream trailers have electric brakes?

Why would this plan not be structurally sound? Are the Airstream trailers built so poorly that they can't support this weight, when distributed on either ramps or re-enforced flooring?

And yes, I am imagining how "cool" this rig is going to look, going down the highway...
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Old 02-24-2011, 12:23 PM   #19
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I wasn't concerned about lifting, until I saw the original post about that here.

Also, I was not planning to carry the Jeep "in the rear" of the trailer - rather over the axles. I looked up the curb weight on the 1998 TJ, and I was wrong aout "just shy of 2,000Lbs" - Stock, it weighs 3,229, and mine only has minor mods; stainless nerf running boards / side steps, slightly larger tires (31x10.5x15, instead of 235x75x15), and a stainless tube rear bumper. No which or other heavy steel hop-ups, so I am guessing it's under 3,500Lbs.

So my plan has been to remove all the "'furniture" and appliances from the rear of the trailer, and add either aluminum ramps or 2x6 lumber as a floor to drive in on, and set the Jeep directly over the axles - section off the "garage" area with a dividing wall, and having only bunk beds, a desk, a few small closets/dresser-type drawers, and the bathroom in the front. I would not move the fresh/grey/black tanks, which I do believe are at the axles, or very near there.

As far as I can imagine, I am removing substantial weight from the trailer by removing the stock furniture/woodwork/appliances, but adding the weight of 2x6 or aluminum ramps, and the Jeep.

I assume the Airstream trailers have electric brakes?

Why would this plan not be structurally sound? Are the Airstream trailers built so poorly that they can't support this weight, when distributed on either ramps or re-enforced flooring?

And yes, I am imagining how "cool" this rig is going to look, going down the highway...
The Airstreams are structurally sound as travel trailers but not as car haulers. The frames are very light weight and the shell is designed as part of that structure. The longer trailers will actually sag and separate in the rear with rusty weakened frames and abuse. They recommend not even something like a bike rack on the rear bumper.

The furnishings are not heavy and I think your Jeep will weigh a lot more then the furnishings you remove. Also the structure you build to hold the rear end together and be open-able will all be weight added in the wrong area. When you move the Jeep forward over the axles you will have a large wasted open area in the rear unless you add fold down bunks or storage which again adds weight.

The point of lifting because of motorhome rear overhang will drive the rear overhang of the trailer into the pavement. This is really a problem going in and out of driveways and will put tremendous loads on the trailer frame.

I have often thought it would be great to tow a car hauler Airstream behind my motorhome but I would start with maybe a 16' or 18' shell and build a custom frame to hold the shell and car. Possibly a longer shell and cut it down to a size just large enough for the car. The long overhangs and Airstream frame designs are the real problems that I see.

Again an Airstream motorhome towing an Airstream trailer/car hauler would be a sight to see.

Cheers, Dan
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Old 02-24-2011, 02:22 PM   #20
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Hmmm...

The point of using a 31' or longer would be to have not only the "garage" area, but also the "spare bedroom" in the front of the trailer for the boys. That way, when we aren't actively traveling, they can sleep in the trailer on bunk beds, with their own bathroom, and my wife and I can have the privacy of the 345 bedroom in the back, and not worry about "certain noise levels" that one would not want to expose the kiddies to in the night...

(sigh)

"In and out of driveways," huh...

How about if I didn't' use the 345 to back the trailer in - but hooked it to the Jeep - ONLY for the "placing" of the trailer. I am sure the Jeep would handle that work...

Should I then still e worried about the "lifting" while driving down the highway? I should hope not - especially on interstates - but how about on "byways" - NOT divided highways - say, for example, back roads in AZ...? On "normal" roads - even in hilly terrain (and I am not talking about 2-tracks, or even single lane roads that one really should not be taking the 345 onto even by itself), is the overhang and lifting, and subsequent dipping of the rear of the trailer still a concern?

As for the"wasted space" in the rear of the trailer - I was planning to build (very lightweight) storage and/or pegboard-type hanging space for tools, fuel cans, extra LP gas tanks, etc. - And maybe shelves for linens and extra fabric (my wife sews) - perhaps a couple of tarps to make the space etween the 2 awnings covered, and maybe even be able to create an "outdoor hallway/living space" next to the rig - so not planning to entirely "waste" the space - but surely not have anything there that is going to have significant enough weight to it that it would cause the frame to buckle. I'll keep the heavier items (spare fuel and propane tanks) closer to the axles, and the lighter stuff further to the rear.

I wish there were someone with knowledge of the structure, or someone with engineering knowledge, and specific Airstream knowledge, that could help me through these potential pitfalls before I end up doing something I'll be sorry about.

The alternative to using the trailer is simply towing the Jeep on a tow-bar behind the 345, but that would end up just a little on the cramped side for long-term living, with the 3 boys (12, 10, and 4).
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