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Old 10-18-2009, 09:13 PM   #1
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2001 27' Safari
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Smile 2-Wheel Tow Dollies

I'd like to know the pros & cons of the different braking systems of two wheel tow dollies. I'm led to believe that if one wanted a braking system on a tow dolly that the surge brakes are the best to have. Your comments please.
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Old 10-30-2009, 02:29 PM   #2
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1994 35' Land Yacht Diesel
Franklin NC , North Carolina
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Dolly Brakes

I'm not sure I've ever see a tow dolly with brakes.
I gave up on tow dollies and went to a trailer or flat towing early in
my RVing llife. This was after two scary experiences.
#1. I was towing my 1934 Ford Tudor on a tow dolly (From Florida to NH and back). On the way back I stopped in Scranton PA and inspected my rig and found one wheel tie down stap missing! $35.00 later I was on the road again and felt real lucky I still had my favorite car.
#2 I was on I-75 in Georgia with the same car on the dolly when a trucker called me on the CB and said "You know that old car has a flat tire
on the back". It had blown one of the radial tires I put on with modern wheels just for towing and the steel belts had nearly destroyed the rear fender on my favorite car.
I bought a trailer. (was also warned by a trucker that the trailer had a flat, which damaged the trailer fender but not my 1934 Ford Phaeton!)
When traveling with our 1966 VW or our 2006 Saturn Vue we flat tow them, but keep the CB on and hope for friendly truckers.
I have used surge brakes before and found them to a good solution and less tempormental than electric brakes. But I never had them on a dolly.
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Old 10-31-2009, 08:19 AM   #3
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I have a Stehl with electric brakes. I hate the dolly, but not because of the brakes. Master Tow also makes them with electric brakes, and I think there's at least one more brand with electric brakes whose name escapes me at the moment. So they're definitely out there. I got a good brake controller - Tekonsha Prodigy - and I haven't had any problems on that end.

I haven't tried surge brakes, but I do kinda like having control over the brakes myself. For example, one time the camper lost its brakes, and I used the dolly's brakes to help slow down. Obviously you DON'T want to do this if you can at all avoid it, but with electric you at least have the ability.

But others I've talked to who tow in general (not dollies specifically) say surge is much better. Haven't tried it myself.
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Old 10-31-2009, 08:24 AM   #4
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There must be something to the surge brake thing. Take a look at the largest trailer rental place in the country. Every trailer has SURGE BRAKES.
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Old 10-31-2009, 09:52 AM   #5
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The Tow Dolly is not your problem....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Dobbin View Post
I'm not sure I've ever see a tow dolly with brakes.
I gave up on tow dollies and went to a trailer or flat towing early in
my RVing llife. This was after two scary experiences.
#1. I was towing my 1934 Ford Tudor on a tow dolly (From Florida to NH and back). On the way back I stopped in Scranton PA and inspected my rig and found one wheel tie down stap missing! $35.00 later I was on the road again and felt real lucky I still had my favorite car.
#2 I was on I-75 in Georgia with the same car on the dolly when a trucker called me on the CB and said "You know that old car has a flat tire
on the back". It had blown one of the radial tires I put on with modern wheels just for towing and the steel belts had nearly destroyed the rear fender on my favorite car.
I bought a trailer. (was also warned by a trucker that the trailer had a flat, which damaged the trailer fender but not my 1934 Ford Phaeton!)
When traveling with our 1966 VW or our 2006 Saturn Vue we flat tow them, but keep the CB on and hope for friendly truckers.
I have used surge brakes before and found them to a good solution and less tempormental than electric brakes. But I never had them on a dolly.
No offense, but I see nothing in the above post that has to do with the question posed about brakes.

Seems to me every one of your tire problems would be easily solved by the installation of tire pressure monitors on all of the tires on your RV and toads, be they cars with or without a tow dolly or a trailer in which you have a vehicle. With tire pressure monitors you would have known that your tires had lost air long before it would have been obvious to those passing you by.

I see absolutely no correlation between the question about brakes on tow dollies and the problems you had with tires not holding air.
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Old 10-31-2009, 02:38 PM   #6
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I have had three Master Tow 80THD dollies with electric brakes, and my current dolly is an 80THD with electric brakes. Surge brakes only work AFTER your rig starts to slow, and cannot help slow the towed load first. Electric brakes with a good controller (Prodigy or P3 or equivalent) is the only way to go.

Roger
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Old 10-31-2009, 02:41 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikethefixit View Post
There must be something to the surge brake thing. Take a look at the largest trailer rental place in the country. Every trailer has SURGE BRAKES.
Roger, that's because surge brakes require nothing installed on the tow vehicle (like a brake controller), and will suffice in all states to meet their trailer brake laws. Unfortunately, they're not particularly effective.

Roger
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Old 10-31-2009, 03:27 PM   #8
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I towed my 1989 Cadillac on a Master Tow Dolly with Surge Brakes behind my 345 Motorhome. I did this until I got a Jeep Wrangler and tow four down. The surge brakes were a tremendous help when slowing down or coming to a stop. My boat trailer also has surge brakes with a 2,500 lbs. boat. With both the Tow Dolly and Boat Trailer there is not the pressure on the Tow Vehicle when slowing or stopping due to the Surge Brakes.
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Old 10-31-2009, 04:39 PM   #9
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Gunner, first, unless you've beefed up your chassis, a 345 is limited to 2,000 lbs towing. Your Caddie was waaay over weight for a factory tow setup per the P30 chassis specs. But don't feel bad... long before I knew what the mohos were actually rated for, I towed a Lincoln Continental with our 325 on a Master Tow 80THD, but with electric brakes.

Again, surge brakes work fine AFTER the tow vehicle brakes engage and start to slow the two vehicle. Then as the towed trailer begins to try to run over the tow vehicle and the coupler spoon rams into the hitch ball, the hydraulic surge brakes are activated. Surge brakes are better than nothing at all; but not much, IMHO.

They're adequate for light boat trailers and are used primarily because the hydraulics are a closed system that isn't as subject to water intrusion and corrosion as the electrics are. But for anything that isn't going to be regularly submerged, I just can't recommend surge brakes over electrics with a good controller.

Roger
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Old 11-01-2009, 04:57 AM   #10
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Yes I beefed up my chassis, had to since one side of the stock hitch broke off while towing a 1,500 lb. Bass Boat on the way to our camping site, luckily it happened while towing through a small town going 25 MPH. My experience has been that the surge brakes helped tremendously during the braking process. The only time they are of hindrence is when backing the trailer etc. up a hill, then you have to lock out the surge brakes.
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Old 11-01-2009, 06:00 AM   #11
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I like using a dolly...
quick to load and off load...
easy to fimd a spot to store at campsite...
Most cars today are FWD, so no drive shaft to worry about.

To move up from a dolly would be to flat tow.

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Old 11-01-2009, 06:24 AM   #12
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Klattu, nice caddy sir. But aren't you concerned about road debris when using a dolly? I sure wouldn't want to put my 87 Allante on a dolly for that reason.

Do you have a rock guard on either the dolly or the motorhome?

Gunner, what flavor Cadillac is yours?

When it comes time to paint the topsides on the AS I'm going to use the same paint as was used to repaint the caddy so they match.

Mine will go on the trailer.
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Old 11-01-2009, 07:40 AM   #13
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Mine was a 1989 Cadillac Deville, 2 Door, Gold Edition. I have since sold it and purchased a 2000 Corvette convertible. I also purchased a Wrangler Jeep to tow behind the Motorhome.
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Old 11-02-2009, 06:39 PM   #14
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Gunner, assuming you went from a hard top to the 'vert vet you've at least got the wind in your hair some of the time.

There's nothing like driving your caddy topless.
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Old 11-02-2009, 08:43 PM   #15
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I have an 87 345. I have been using a tow dolly. I want to tow flat now. What did you do to your chassis? Do you have to beef up the chassis for a tow dolly?
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Old 11-03-2009, 03:57 PM   #16
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There are several posts regarding beefing up the hitch, some include pictures. They are strong enough to pull enclosed car trailers. I went to a class 5 hitch that bolts to the frame in several places approximately 1.5 to 2 ft. apart on each side.
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Old 11-03-2009, 05:02 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GlenCoombe View Post
Klattu, nice caddy sir. But aren't you concerned about road debris when using a dolly? I sure wouldn't want to put my 87 Allante on a dolly for that reason.

Do you have a rock guard on either the dolly or the motorhome?
Road debris is one problem I haven't had with the dolly. All the damage done to my cars has been directly or indirectly related to the design of the dolly. However, I finally have all the quirks figured out and haven't damaged a car in years.

Although, one time after getting home from a trip, I found a piece of tire in the tray of the dolly. I was pretty scared and started looking for where it came from. In the end I concluded that it wasn't from my rig and just happened to be kicked up and landed in the tray. Evidence in favor of that conclusion was that (a) there were no chunks out of any of the 10 tires out there, and (b) it didn't match any of my tires anyway. (I was already on edge because, less than an hour before that, a Cadillac passing us in the left lane lost a lug nut that hit my camper's hood and the trim around the windshield...)

However, if I had the space to store it, I'd go full trailer. All four wheels off the ground, and I can back up. What's not to love?
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Old 11-03-2009, 05:43 PM   #18
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Which ever way you choose to tow the primary consideration in "pulling" a load is to get the mass moving in one horizontal direction. That means a hitch that is on the appropriate level with the vehicle to be towed.

A hitch to low/high changes tongue weight. Get the geometry right first and then build it as tough as you can.

It has been proven that AS moho's can tow much more than their original tow design with the right hitch.
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