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Old 06-19-2015, 12:51 AM   #1
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ACME Tow Dolly and Car Tow Shield Review



I don't write a lot of online reviews, but I thought I would share my experiences with these two products:

The ACME Car Tow Dolly & the Tow Car Shield.

I normally use my coach to pull my race car trailer to the race track. My family and I have also used it for short trips, but our last trip was an over 2,000 mile vacation.

First, I must say we loved vacationing in a Motorhome. We have a 2 year old son, and it is an amazing way to vacation with kids. Most campgrounds are very kid/family friendly and offer a much better experience than a hotel.

This trip was planned in short order. We knew where we were going, and knew we'd want to leave our various campgrounds for site-seeing and activities. I didn't really want to lug the enclosed race trailer with me, so I looked for options for towing one of our cars.

I have some manual transmission vehicles that could be flat towed with a tow bar, but those are sports car. Sports cars aren't exactly a great family vehicle. My daily driver, a 2008 Mercury Milan, isn't anything fancy, but it does a great job of getting the entire family from point A to point B comfortably. It is front wheel drive, so I knew I could use a tow dolly.

Next I considered the options. I have owned and used multiple tow dollies. I've never been a big fan. They have all seemed heavy, had ramps that would hit the car over big bumps, and made you worry about running the dolly into the car in tight corners.

The other problem I've experienced with a tow dolly is lots of rock chips on the front of the car from the tow vehicle.

I'm happy to say the products mentioned above alleviated all my problems and concerns.

The Tow Car Shield

On the forums, people seemed to have mixed feelings about the need for this product. I know from my own personal experience (and a $700 bill to repaint my front bumper and hood on the last car I towed on a dolly) that I wanted some paint protection. I settled on the Tow Car Shield because I liked the design and the ease of installation.

The spring loaded fasteners secure the shield well. It was much easier than the old car bra's I had used years ago. The fit was good, but didn't quite come far enough down on the front of my car with the Primier trim body work. Still it provided a lot of protection.

By the 3rd time I installed the shield, I could have it on in less than 5 minutes. It is really quite easy and very secure. It didn't seem to flap much when traveling 75 mph with the car in tow on the Texas Interstates, either.

As I mentioned above, my trip was a bit last minute. When I called to order it, the guys at Coastline Manufacturing went above and beyond in getting my shield manufactured and shipped to me in just 10 days.

A couple of tips about the Tow Car Shield:
  1. Always clean the front end of the car before installing to prevent scratching.
  2. Store in a clean dry location to keep from contaminating the shield with dirt and grime that could be caught between it and the car's paint.


ACME Tow Car Dolly

I decided to try this dolly because I liked the fact that it doesn't have a pivot plate. It instead relies on the car's suspension/steering to allow the car to articulate. This means leaving the ignition unlocked (but my newer cars don't even have locks anymore), but it was worth it to me to eliminate the possibility of the dolly making contact with the car.

Another feature is the removable steel ramps. These are the best ramps I've ever used on a tow dolly. The ramps have an extremely grippy surface. I had no problems loading the car in wet conditions. And although ACME doesn't recommend it, I had no problems loading the car on gravel, either.

Again, I only had 10 days until I left for my trip when I ordered the Car Tow Dolly. When I called I wanted to order a unit with electric brakes because 1) it was cheaper, and 2) I already has an electric brake controller installed. They didn't have any electric brake units manufactured, so the cut me a deal on a unit with hydraulic disc surge brakes to meet my time line. Three days after I order the dolly, it was sitting in my driveway. That is service!

The dolly took me about 20 minutes to un-crate and install the fenders. Moving it around my driveway was a breeze. It is by far the lightest dolly I have ever used.

Everything is top notch on the dolly. The construction and welds looked great. The straps work great. And the coupler is a great design.

I was concerned about the turning radius since the axle is fixed, but I found I could navigate extremely tight corners. 90 degree right hand turns were no problem at all. That said, the tires do scrub a lot in a parking lot. I'll be interested to see what kind of life I get out of these tires.

The small size of the tires makes for an extremely low loading deck. The draw back is that the tires might be difficult to replace while traveling. That's why I bought a spare that store in the trunk of the car while traveling.

As for the hassle, I can load/unload the car in 10 minutes or less. In fact when I was loading up and leaving Pine Mountain RV resort, my neighbor was preparing to leave at the same time. I was hooked up and on the road faster than he was with a tow bar setup!

I am extremely happy with the ACME Car Tow Dolly!


Disaster--well, almost...

About 3 hours into the first leg of my trip, I heard a strange thud after going over a bump in the road. I looked at my review camera display and saw nothing but sparks. I was dragging my new dolly!!!

As luck would have it, I was in an construction zone. This meant I was going slow and that they had a full lane closed. Since the closed lane was unoccupied, I pulled over into it to inspect the damage.

The bottom nut had fallen of the ball and the ball separated from the ball mount when I hit the bump. The ball was still in the tongue of the trailer. In fact it was the ball that was dragging the ground. It had held the dolly up and kept the dolly itself from dragging. One of the safety chain broke, but the other was intact. The biggest surprise was that there was no damage to my motorhome or my car--not a scratch!

We had a late start leaving for our trip, so it was 11 pm when this happened. As luck would have it, this all happened 2 miles from a 24hr Wal-Mart. Thus after a short trip up the road and back, I had a new ball mounted and we were back in business.

I have 10's of thousands of miles towing and I've never had anything like this happen. I hope I never have anything like this happen again. Thankfully the Car Tow Dolly did what it was supposed to... the safety chains worked and the break away brakes slowed it down.

-bj
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Old 06-20-2015, 01:44 AM   #2
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Congrats on the new dolly and thanks for the review.

We don't have a cover and have never needed one since we have a full width Ultrashield...YMMV.

Glad the ball disconnect didn't cause any other damage. Have never heard of that, but if it was a new drop hitch and ball, then obviously needed a recheck or some Loctite...or both.

The tires should not be scrubbing during a turn when towed by a motohome. Maybe with a smaller tow vehicle with tighter turn radius, but not a motorhome. Be sure to check for free steering pivot on the car...maybe tie a bright ribbon to the top of the steering wheel and watch it in the rear view cam, to ensure the steering is free to pivot.

We have about 15,000miles on our EZE-Tow...and have replaced only 1 of the tires. The curb side on ours wore faster due to the road condition on that side of most roads. We keep the ramps and spare in a bin to keep them safe, clean and to just keep honest people, honest.

I think you may come to prefer the surge disc brakes. They auto-adjust from loaded to unloaded, they need no maint except for the pads - someday...just not yet for us, and there is no wires or controller to worry about connecting. Be sure to keep the back-up lock-out key in a place where you can find it. These dollies CAN be backed-up when loaded. We have done it several times when blocked in at service stations Yes, it happens and sometimes there is nothing you can do about "the other guy" except back-up.

Best luck and safe travels
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Old 06-20-2015, 05:27 AM   #3
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Scarab0088,

Did you ever suspect that the right tire could have worn faster, because right turns are a sharper turn?

It just make sense that there is going to be some side pressure on a fixed dolly, during a turn.
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Old 06-20-2015, 07:47 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twinboat View Post
Scarab0088,

Did you ever suspect that the right tire could have worn faster, because right turns are a sharper turn?

It just make sense that there is going to be some side pressure on a fixed dolly, during a turn.
Interesting you should mention this. I just had my tires off to replace the valve stems with metal stems so I can use a TPMS and measured the depth of the tire tread. The right side was a bit more worn than the left. I had attributed it to the typically rougher surface on the gutter side of the road.
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Old 06-20-2015, 07:49 AM   #5
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I keep my ramps in the trunk of the car and not on the dolly as well. I also keep the spare in the coach basement.
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Old 06-20-2015, 09:09 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scarab0088 View Post
We don't have a cover and have never needed one since we have a full width Ultrashield...YMMV.
I have a full length shield as well. I had the Ultrashield on the coach when the other car was beat to death with rocks. I think it may be because I have such a small distance between the rear axle and the dolly. My RV is only 27' long.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scarab0088 View Post
Have never heard of that, but if it was a new drop hitch and ball, then obviously needed a recheck or some Loctite...or both.
It was a new drop mount and ball. I noticed that there wasn't a lock washer on it. Ever other ball I've owned had a lock washer, including the replacement that I installed on the side of the road. I became a bit paranoid after the incident and rechecked the torque on the nut of the replacement every stop.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scarab0088 View Post
The tires should not be scrubbing during a turn when towed by a motohome.
My coach has a very tight turning radius. Although I know it isn't, I'd swear it has a tighter turn radius than my full size pickup had.

The tires definitely scrub in tight turns. I could actually feel them scrub and provide more resistance when navigating tight gas stations. There was also evidence of scrubbing on the tires themselves.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scarab0088 View Post
I think you may come to prefer the surge disc brakes.
I definitely prefer them. I only wanted the electric brakes because it was cheaper cheaper option. I'm usually not cost conscious when it come to things like this, but in preparation for this trip it seemed like I was burning through money like crazy.

I am extremely happy with the surge disc brakes setup. I especially like the maintenance free sealed hubs. You don't get that on the electric brake models.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vettenuts View Post
I keep my ramps in the trunk of the car and not on the dolly as well. I also keep the spare in the coach basement.
I would consider this, but I have a small coach with limited basement space. Additionally the trunk was packed: One of our stops on the trip was a wedding in Virginia. Some how I was talked into transporting the adult beverages from Texas to Virginia. Why they couldn't have purchased the booze in VA, escapes me. I guess they really wanted to have Shiner Bock at the reception.

My transport responsibilities made me feel like I was Jerry Reed in "Smokey and the Bandit"--only I was bringing the beer from Texas instead of to Texas. The whole time I was driving I expected to see Burt Reynolds fly by me in a Trans Am.

-bj
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Old 06-20-2015, 10:43 AM   #7
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For now I still have the ramps mounted on the tow dolly and the spare tire in the basement of the RV. We recently picked up a used Saturn Vue, FWD, stick, for towing. With the hatch back the ramps would stow easily. I have seriously considered using the threaded rod that is for the ramps to mount the spare to. I have as yet not been able to find a disk to fit the spare, but then I haven't searched very hard either.
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Old 06-20-2015, 12:09 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twinboat View Post
Scarab0088,

Did you ever suspect that the right tire could have worn faster, because right turns are a sharper turn?

It just make sense that there is going to be some side pressure on a fixed dolly, during a turn.
Our passenger side tire was replaced for wear on the outside edges of the tread, not for being worn out like normal high mileage tires. I blame this odd wear on road conditions on the shoulder side of the road.
The tire is actually still servicable, but I didn't want to risk it with our last trip being over 2,800 miles round trip.

As far as scrubbing...we have used the dolly with our pick-up which is able to turn so sharply that it will leave dolly tire marks on the roadway = scrubbing. In contrast, our RV has a large rear overhang and 22.5's = 60 degree wheel cut, so the dolly never experiences a sharp radius turn behind the RV...YMMV.

And, about the Ultraguard...if mounted too low, they CAN be the cause of rock damage to a toad. I believe this is easy to see, if after a good drive there is noticable wear on the flap from dragging on the ground. Ours sits about 2" off the ground -static.

Again, congrats to the OP. The EZE-Tow is so EZE to use
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Old 06-20-2015, 03:17 PM   #9
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I have a large rear overhang and observe a sharper turn.

During the initial turn, the tail swing actually turns the dolly the opposite way, before it follows around. This is why the toad tracks, so well, behind the MH, rather then taking an inside track.

I learned of this, when I pulled away from a curb. The curb side of the dolly, would drive up on the curb, if I turned the MH too sharply when pulling away.
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Old 06-20-2015, 08:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
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And, about the Ultraguard...if mounted too low, they CAN be the cause of rock damage to a toad. I believe this is easy to see, if after a good drive there is noticable wear on the flap from dragging on the ground. Ours sits about 2" off the ground -static.
I do think this was a problem. It wasn't touching the ground static, but I think in motion it was hitting the ground a lot. That seemed to be resolved when I replaced the rear shocks with new shocks with helper springs.

Quote:
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Again, congrats to the OP. The EZE-Tow is so EZE to use
It is indeed. I was a bit worried that I'd regret not having a pivoting dolly, but now I wouldn't go back to the pivoting style.

Quote:
Originally Posted by twinboat View Post
During the initial turn, the tail swing actually turns the dolly the opposite way, before it follows around. This is why the toad tracks, so well, behind the MH, rather then taking an inside track.
I noticed that too. Being a smaller MH, mine doesn't have a long overhang, but it is long enough to see this effect.

-bj
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