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Old 08-21-2011, 09:00 PM   #1
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Towing a "toad" - tips & hints for my first time?

We have a 41' Gulf Stream Atrium diesel pusher (our first motorhome - purchased a few months ago) and just got it and a new Jeep Wrangler set up for towing the Jeep. BlueOx tow bars and bracket, SMI Air Force One braking system.

I have not yet towed the Jeep with the motorhome, but we're planning to do a short trip for a few days, beginning later this week.

I'm wondering what I might pick up in terms of tips and hints and suggestions before we embark. Even simple things like differences in making turns, how much space is too little and the toad needs to be un-hitched... stuff like that. I guess I'm a little apprehensive as I just have never done this before and don't have anyone to coach me.

Thanks for your comments.

"Be kind... everyone you encounter in life is fighting battles that you have no awareness of."
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Old 08-21-2011, 09:16 PM   #2
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Watch how your toad follows through turns. Depending on the lengths from the coach rear axle to the hitch, length of the tow bar etc, the toad may tend to cut corners. You also can't backup with it connected, so be careful pulling into RV parks and gas stations. You will also feel it going up and down hills. The AFO is a great braking system. We have been very happy with ours.

When hooking up, make sure you take your time and get everything hooked up correctly. I always double check and usually stop a couple miles after I hook up to check again. I also leave my rear view camera on so I can see what is happening with the toad while we travel and check everything again when we stop.

Once you tow it a couple times you will get used to it. Watch your turns, you would hate to drag it over a curb or worse through a stop sign.

USN, Retired
2002 Tradewinds LTC Founders Ed
2004 Tundra Double Cab toad, 2007 Honda Goldwing
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Old 08-21-2011, 09:20 PM   #3
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If I tow our Honda Odyssey on our dolly (Demco Kar Kaddy 460) it tracks right in the MH's tracks, if I tow it four down (I have it set for either way) the Ody cuts inside the MH. I have to swing slightly wider. It's only about one foot difference but that's all it takes!
2009 45' Magna 630 w/Cummins ISX 650 HP/1950 Lbs Ft
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Old 08-21-2011, 09:21 PM   #4
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O.K. Do not back up with toad attached. PERIOD.
Next you may have a slight issue, at times, with unlevel or crooked unhooking of the toad, i.e. binding. Try to unhook with both units as straight and level as possible. But this may not be possible ALL the time. I have a rubber mallet to hit the pins for those tough unhooking times.
Toad should follow (tracking) behind the MH O.K., just watch it carefully. I have never turned the toad into the MH doing a hard turn. Doing a pull away from fueling and turning the MH the toad may hook slightly and you need to watch it closely, I have never had an issue, but it is a concern.
When traveling a lot, moving long distances, it is nice to have the "pull-trough" parking for the night. Just more convent.
Always check the lights (and your toad brakes) for the toad every day traveling. Do not want to have no lights showing for the toad.
An finally be sure the toad is free wheeling and in neutral when towing. Know this is "standard" but always double check. I have heard of a few MH dragging the toad with the wheels locked. Oops....ruined tires...very quickly.
Well others may chime it with their pointers...happy trails and have fun.
Steve & Leslie
Winnebago 2007 Adventurer 38T
Honda 2010 CR-V "Toad"
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Old 08-21-2011, 09:34 PM   #5
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Well, you didn't mention what year your Jeep is, so I will assume that you are aware of the proper way to set it up to tow. As far as hooking it up, practice it a few times before you leave on your first trip. Don't allow any distractions while you are hooking up like anyone talking to you, including the wife. Getting distracted can be a very costly mistake if you forget one of the steps. Make a checklist if you need to until you are comfortable with the procedure. Plan ahead for your fuel stops, you will be about 65 to 70 feet long when you are hooked up. Many gas stations will not handle anything as long as you pulling in.

Be aware of your HEIGHT before you make your first trip. If you are not 100% sure, check it now. Air up the suspension, crawl up on the roof and using something like a 10' 2X4 and a level, find the highest point of your rig. AC unit, vent, horns ect, place the 2X4 on top of the highest point and place the level on top. Have an assistant with a tape measure check the distance from the bottom of the 2X4 to the ground. Record the distance and note it somewhere near the drivers position so you can see it at a glance.

Many RV's are damaged on the roof by overhangs that the driver did not know were not high enough.

When entering or exiting a drive way, try to do so at a 45 degree angle. Many driveway approaches are too steep for a MH to drive straight into and you will drag either the bottom of the rig, the tow bar, or both.

Always use a spotter when backing into a campsite. Tell them to look not only left and right, but UP as well (trees). If you haven't already, pick up a set of FRS radios to use when communicating with your spotter. It's easier than hand signals, and much clearer. And do not rely on the camp ground person to guide you in. They can get you to the space, but your spotter should be out of the rig and watching for obstructions. After all, it's your rig, not the camp ground persons.

Try not to arrive at a camping spot after dark. Too difficult to set up and see what's going on in the dark, even with radios. Get a "Trailerlife campground guide" from Camping World if you don't already have one. Lists thousands of campgrounds, their descriptions and last know rates. And if you are internet savvy, I also like RV Park Reviews :: Home to get much more info on all the campgrounds that you wont get from the trailerlife guide.

Well, that's a bunch of stuff to start with, and I am sure that there is tons more. Hope this helps. Take your time and enjoy the ride.

Marty and Diane, Fulltiming!

Our Travel Blog www.mytripjournal.com/rvnchickalaska
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Old 08-21-2011, 09:39 PM   #6
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My suggestions are anticipate the space ahead of you when getting into new area because it takes a lot of room to turn around and I'll repeat the do NOT BACK UP mentioned above. Be sure you are well clear of the slow truck or car you happen to pass. In my case I wait until the vehicle I have passed is out or almost out of the rear view/back up camera before I change lanes. Mirrors are good but cameras sure help. Also acelerating and stopping take additional distance. Be real cautious until you get a good feel for the difference and then stay cautious.
Safe Travels
Bob, Sandi & Marmaduke the Big Pug
SW OREGON 2004 Journey 39K, 330 Cat
If towing: a 2006 Mini Cooper or 1995 Wrangler
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Old 08-21-2011, 09:42 PM   #7
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Like others have said, I leave the back-up monitor turned on all the time while towing. I also like to turn up the volume when I first start out to listen for any squeals or strange noises. Once I'm sure everything is as it should be, I turn the monitor volume back down.

One time I didn't have the steering wheel in the unlocked position and this process helped me catch the problem quickly, without any damage to the tires or alignment. I actually got the idea after watching a motorhome drive by our house with the toad squealing all the way, the driver was oblivious to the fully locked wheels.

Another tip is to not make any sharp turns until you know both sides of the hitch arms are locked in place. If they aren't locked, damage can occur to the hitch.

Good luck!
Denny, Connie & Shadow (former barn cat made good)
2000 Itasca Horizon, Cat 3126B, Freightliner Chassis
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Old 08-21-2011, 10:05 PM   #8
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Sarge... the Jeep is a 2011.
"Be kind... everyone you encounter in life is fighting battles that you have no awareness of."
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Old 08-21-2011, 10:37 PM   #9
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OK, so you don't have the steering lock to contend with. Just make sure that when you put the transfer case in neutral that the trans is in 1st gear (standard) or park. This keeps your gears from turning from fluid friction going down the road. Other than that hooking up the toad is pretty straight forward.
Marty and Diane, Fulltiming!

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Old 08-21-2011, 10:40 PM   #10
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All great advice that I will second. I'll only repeat the importance of a check list (mental or written) for the toad. Forget one thing and it can be a very bad day. Also, remembering that you can't back up... plan your exit before entering anything! My new 40 DP was my first RV of any kind too and the Jeep Grand Cherokee presented little or no problem. In 41,000 miles of towing I've only had to disconnect to get out of a jam once... and that was because of my GPS taking me down some kind of cow path on the way to where it thought the CG was.

With your coach I'm betting that you won't even know that it's there and that it will track inside the coach tracks. You'll do fine. Have fun.

Rick, Nancy, Peanut & Lola our Westie Dogs & Bailey the Sheltie.

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Old 08-22-2011, 07:43 PM   #11
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Use gloves to disconnect, if your motor is at the back of your motorhome. The tow bars get hot from the motor exhaust. And like others have mentioned, plan your exit before entering.
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Old 08-23-2011, 05:59 AM   #12
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An '04 MH probably has a "slobber tube" so a "catch system" is required. Google "slobber tube" and find hours of "how to" discussions.......
Hal & Ginny Miller '04 Beaver Santiam PRT40
'04 Saturn Vue - US Gear Brake - Blue Ox tow
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Old 08-23-2011, 06:22 AM   #13
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+1 for the checklist. We have one that we go through every departure. Another trick is to tie something on the steering wheel at the top like a rag or we use a piece of orange tape like used to mark off construction. It is possible under the right circumstances to not have the wheels follow, like in gravel and drag. You will see the marker in your rear camera move so you know it is turning. Sun on the windshield can make it hard to see but most of the time it is nice to see it moving when you turn.

I also use the toad sometimes to check to see if I am in the middle of the lane by watching where it is behind in the camera.
Mark & Nancy
2004 Winnebago Vectra 40KD
Shep dog, R.I.P. Kenzie dog Toad 2015 Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler
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Old 08-23-2011, 10:50 PM   #14
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Also have toad transfere case fluid condition and level checked frequently.Expect to change fluid at about 1/2 the recomended interval.

99DSDP 3884, Freightliner, XC, CAT 3126B, 300 HP /ALLISON 3060
2000 Caravan toad, Remco & Blue Ox.
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