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Old 07-22-2006, 06:57 PM   #1
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I just traded my 81 Foretravel in for a 2001 Itasca Suncruiser. The Foretravel was too old to have a GCVW. I was told by an engineer at Foretravel that I could pull about 3500 lbs safely, without brakes. I bought a Mini Cooper with a manual transmission and a tow dolly (Mini said towing 4 down would void my warranty). I pulled this with the Foretravel for a couple of years.

When I got the Itasca, it had all kinds of modern amenities. One of them was the GVW sheet in the kitchen cabinet. It provided me the GVW of the coach. It also said that if I did not have brakes in the toad, the GCVW is 1000 lbs more than the GVW. If it has brakes, the GVCW is 3000 lbs more.

I went on my first trip today. I went to a truck stop and weighed everything.

The GVW is 18000 lbs. The GVCW is 21000 (with toad brakes). The weight of the coach is 17,300 lbs. With the toad it is 20,740 lbs., which means that I need toad brakes.

I have a few options. I have read in a couploe of places that I CAN tow the Mini 4 wheels down, but I have already invested in a tow dolly (without brakes). One option is to add brakes to the tow dolly. I am not sure how practical this will be. Another option is to get rid of the tow dolly, get a tow bar and install aux brakes in Mini. I had a thought that perhaps I could get something like Brake Buddy and use it in the car on the tow dolly. I would have two-wheel braking, the same as if I had tow dolly brakes.

Has anyone tried this before? Can anyone offer any comments about the practicality of this? The Mini is three years old and I am not sure if I want to invest in the cost of the towing adapter in a car that age.

Thanks in advance for any comments.
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Old 07-22-2006, 06:57 PM   #2
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I just traded my 81 Foretravel in for a 2001 Itasca Suncruiser. The Foretravel was too old to have a GCVW. I was told by an engineer at Foretravel that I could pull about 3500 lbs safely, without brakes. I bought a Mini Cooper with a manual transmission and a tow dolly (Mini said towing 4 down would void my warranty). I pulled this with the Foretravel for a couple of years.

When I got the Itasca, it had all kinds of modern amenities. One of them was the GVW sheet in the kitchen cabinet. It provided me the GVW of the coach. It also said that if I did not have brakes in the toad, the GCVW is 1000 lbs more than the GVW. If it has brakes, the GVCW is 3000 lbs more.

I went on my first trip today. I went to a truck stop and weighed everything.

The GVW is 18000 lbs. The GVCW is 21000 (with toad brakes). The weight of the coach is 17,300 lbs. With the toad it is 20,740 lbs., which means that I need toad brakes.

I have a few options. I have read in a couploe of places that I CAN tow the Mini 4 wheels down, but I have already invested in a tow dolly (without brakes). One option is to add brakes to the tow dolly. I am not sure how practical this will be. Another option is to get rid of the tow dolly, get a tow bar and install aux brakes in Mini. I had a thought that perhaps I could get something like Brake Buddy and use it in the car on the tow dolly. I would have two-wheel braking, the same as if I had tow dolly brakes.

Has anyone tried this before? Can anyone offer any comments about the practicality of this? The Mini is three years old and I am not sure if I want to invest in the cost of the towing adapter in a car that age.

Thanks in advance for any comments.
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Old 07-22-2006, 09:47 PM   #3
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Most likely the supplemental braking systems would not work properly and would not be recommended for use with the vehicle elevated on the dolly.
I just switched from a dolly after one year to a 4-down Jeep but before I did I added brakes to the dolly for about $200 plus controller. Acquiring the parts and changing the hubs on the dolly was easy. Wiring the controller and finding just the right amount of braking was a little more work, but not too bad.
You can find the brake parts (I used electric) and controller (I used the Prodigy) at most online RV parts suppliers.
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Old 07-23-2006, 07:43 AM   #4
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I use a Brake Buddy when I tow my PT Crusier on a dolly. I make sure the toad strapped to the dolly tightly and I also hook safety chains from the toad to the dolly. I figure that using the rear wheel brakes on the toad is as good as brakes on the dolly.
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Old 07-23-2006, 12:17 PM   #5
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If I were you, I'd tow the Mini Cooper 4 down. The Mini Cooper is light at 2500#. I would tow without an auxillary braking system.
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Old 07-23-2006, 05:43 PM   #6
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Towing 4 down would save me about 500 lbs. The would put my total combined weight at approx. 20,000 lbs. This is still 1000 lbs. more than Winnebago says for the GCVW without toad brakes.

Am I splitting hairs for a thousand pounds? The cost of a brake buddy is about the same as a tow bar. The only difference is if I go to a tow bar, I could sell the tow dolly and keep my additional costs to a minimum.

Does anypone have any experience with Readybrake? It looks like I could get a towbar with integrated surge brakes for about the cost of a tow bar.
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Old 07-23-2006, 09:15 PM   #7
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Handy, I was about to post a similar question. I too have a dolly w/o brakes. I looked into putting brakes on but found that I would have to abandon the hubs and stub axles and install a drop axle to get brakes and putting the towed vehicle very high off ground. I always thought the rear brakes on the toad is the most effective to use. So if mrschwarz doesn't mind(we may both get the best solution) I'll ask abarkl if he had a solid axle or stub axles on his. Second, not being sold on Brake Buddy, (who needs a cumbersome box on the floor to mess with) I've read of a simpler setup that uses the power steering vacuum on the toad to apply toad brakes. BTW I didn't know the vacuum could be used w/o engine running but I must have been wrong.
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Old 07-23-2006, 09:21 PM   #8
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by eandy:
Handy, I was about to post a similar question. I too have a dolly w/o brakes. I looked into putting brakes on but found that I would have to abandon the hubs and stub axles and install a drop axle to get brakes and putting the towed vehicle very high off ground. I always thought the rear brakes on the toad is the most effective to use. So if mrschwarz doesn't mind(we may both get the best solution) I'll ask abarkl if he had a solid axle or stub axles on his. Second, not being sold on Brake Buddy, (who needs a cumbersome box on the floor to mess with) I've read of a simpler setup that uses the power steering vacuum on the toad to apply toad brakes. BTW I didn't know the vacuum could be used w/o engine running but I must have been wrong. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

My 2005 Texas Tow Dolly had stub axles. So all I had to do was remove the hubs and install new ones with brake drum backing mounting plates.
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Old 07-23-2006, 10:05 PM   #9
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I cannot beleive anyone would consider towing a vehicle without auxilary brakes. The car/dolly combo may be light but what about a breakaway device. It does happen, and a run away car could cause a major accident. Plus 9 states require brakes at 2000 lbs or less. California is 1500.

$700 to $1000 for a brake system seems like a small price to pay, when you consider what many of us pay for our rigs.

I have to agree with abarkl about a vehicle on a dolly. <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Most likely the supplemental braking systems would not work properly and would not be recommended for use with the vehicle elevated on the dolly.
</div></BLOCKQUOTE>

If you are looking for a great brake system check out SMI http://www.smibrake.com/company.html
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Old 07-24-2006, 03:30 AM   #10
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by andyk:
I use a Brake Buddy when I tow my PT Crusier on a dolly. I figure that using the rear wheel brakes on the toad is as good as brakes on the dolly. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Can you see the difference in braking with and without the Brake Buddy?
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Old 07-24-2006, 03:49 AM   #11
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Tom and Patty:
I cannot beleive anyone would consider towing a vehicle without auxilary brakes. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

This is how the tow dolly was sold to be. There are plenty of towed vehicles on the road that do not have brakes. Most U-Haul trailers and tow dollies don't. Boat trailers don't have brakes until they get quite heavy. Isn't that why I have 2 5000 lb. capacity safety chains connected between the tow dolly to the coach?

I'm curious as to how many people reading this have any experience with trailer breakaways.

If it was that unsafe and unpopular to not have brakes, I wouldn't imagine the tow dolly manufacturers would offer non-braking models, which they do.

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">If you are looking for a great brake system check out SMI http://www.smibrake.com/company.html </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I went to their web site and took a look at their product. Their advantage, according to them, is they utilize the vehicle's vaccum booster for power instead of applying the force directly to the pedal.

The weh site also says that proportional braking is not really necessary because of the wiehgt differential between the tow vehicle and the toad. They further go on to say that the new models have proportional braking.

Which is it? Is proportional braking really required or is it a marketing feature for new sales?

As I said in the first post, I'd like to get brakes on the toad to stay within the safety requirements of the manufacturer, but the more I look at it the more confusing it gets.
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Old 07-24-2006, 05:55 AM   #12
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Tom and Patty:
I cannot beleive anyone would consider towing a vehicle without auxilary brakes. The car/dolly combo may be light but what about a breakaway device. It does happen, and a run away car could cause a major accident. Plus 9 states require brakes at 2000 lbs or less. California is 1500.
</div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Pennsylvania does not require brakes on a towed vehicle under 3000#. My Civic EX coupe weights 2750#. I'm legal in PA and all states honor Pennsylvania's requirements. No different than Pennsylvania's requirement to have all PA vehicles state inspected once a year. PA does not ticket out of state vehicles that are not state inspected.

The nine states that require braking for towed vehicles that weight 2000# or less only applies to vehicles registered in those states. Their requirements do not extended to vehicles registered in other states. And Pennsylvania is one of 32 states along with DC that deem it safe to tow a vehicle that weights less the 3000# without a braking system.
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Old 07-24-2006, 06:50 AM   #13
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Tom N:
The nine states that require braking for towed vehicles that weight 2000# or less only applies to vehicles registered in those states. Their requirements do not extended to vehicles registered in other states. And Pennsylvania is one of 32 states along with DC that deem it safe to tow a vehicle that weights less the 3000# without a braking system. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

My issue is not with legality. My issue is with the GCVW of the coach. According to Winnebago, My GCVW cannot be more than 19000 lbs. without tow brakes. My GCVW is 20500. With brake, the allowed GCVW is 21000 lbs.

Actually when driving the Itasca, the brakes worked better than when pulling it with the Foretravel. The engineer at Foretravel never made any mention of toad brakes. His only concern was with the transmission in the Dodge chassis.
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Old 07-24-2006, 07:37 AM   #14
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by mrschwarz:

My issue is not with legality. My issue is with the GCVW of the coach. According to Winnebago, My GCVW cannot be more than 19000 lbs. without tow brakes. My GCVW is 20500. With brake, the allowed GCVW is 21000 lbs.
</div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Exceeding the GCWR (Gross Carry Weight Rating) is not good. The GCWR for my Suncruiser on the W24 chassis is 30,000# and I'm 5000# below that with car in tow.
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