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Old 08-12-2013, 08:53 PM   #1
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Bought tow dolly scared to use it.... Questions

So I bought a used tow dolly from another rv owner. It's a Uc Tracy. TowDollies.com - Tow Dollies and Tow Dolly Accessories I got home and after explaining to my bride why it was such a good idea to have one I hooked it up behind my truck and loaded my front wheel drive Toyota Camry onto it. After fighting with the tire nets for about an hour I was ready to go... As I drove Round the block the tow dolly makes funny noises, I assume its some of the pea gravel that is stuck between the swivel base and ramps? Making right and left turns scares the hell out of me cause I swear its gonna crunch the side of the car when turning right or left

There must be some basics to using one?

Am I suppose to leave the power steering unlocked? There are no safety chains? It does have surge brakes.

Can anyone shed some light on using a tow dolly and reassure me it will make the 5 hr trip behind my motorhome in a couple of weeks. I can't believe that the manufacturer doesn't even have a video out there on how to use their product or instructions

I'm gonna play with it some moe this weekend...

Advice please?
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Old 08-12-2013, 09:01 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kountrystar3 View Post
So I bought a used tow dolly from another rv owner. It's a Uc Tracy. TowDollies.com - Tow Dollies and Tow Dolly Accessories I got home and after explaining to my bride why it was such a good idea to have one I hooked it up behind my truck and loaded my front wheel drive Toyota Camry onto it. After fighting with the tire nets for about an hour I was ready to go... As I drove Round the block the tow dolly makes funny noises, I assume its some of the pea gravel that is stuck between the swivel base and ramps? Making right and left turns scares the hell out of me cause I swear its gonna crunch the side of the car when turning right or left

There must be some basics to using one?

Am I suppose to leave the power steering unlocked? There are no safety chains? It does have surge brakes.

Can anyone shed some light on using a tow dolly and reassure me it will make the 5 hr trip behind my motorhome in a couple of weeks. I can't believe that the manufacturer doesn't even have a video out there on how to use their product or instructions

I'm gonna play with it some moe this weekend...

Advice please?
I'm not familiar with this particular dolly so I can't comment on steering lock, but I would strongly urge you to go buy a set of safety chains. The first time I used a dolly I cinched the web straps down so tight I swear the tires were square. I also attached safety chains between the car frame and the dolly, wrapping them as tightly as possible. I stopped after 5 miles and checked that everything was ok. After 100 miles I found that the straps had slackened or stretched to the extent that one hook was dangling free. The car had moved back about 4 or 6 inches and it was only the chains that were keeping the car on the dolly. So, I would not consider towing on a dolly without safety chains.
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Old 08-12-2013, 09:07 PM   #3
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There should be 2 safety chains attached to the trailer that hook on the RV hitch. They should cross under hitch tongue so they support tongue in case hitch fails. In addition, chains or cables should also be used to back up the stretchy nylon tire net straps. The car's steering should be locked, if it doesn't lock, then steering wheel should be tied down to prevent turning. Be to sure to stop after a short time and check tightness of the tire straps, they almost always stretch and require tightening a few times during trip. I'd use something to remove all pea gravel from between swivel base and ramps so they can be firmly secured. You don't mention brakes on the dolly, that would be a good idea to aid in stopping safely and is required in many states you may travel through if you own state doesn't require them. U Haul has good instructions here: U-Haul: Tips: Tow Dolly User Instructions
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Old 08-12-2013, 09:12 PM   #4
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I should clarify my response about chains. Bflinn181 is correct regarding the crossover chains between the dolly and the tow vehicle which prevent runaway if the tow bar fails. I was describing the chains that keep the car on the dolly if the wheel straps should fail. So, you really need TWO sets of chains.
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Old 08-12-2013, 09:17 PM   #5
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Don't feel bad, we bought a new dolly a year ago Sept.
My wife has yet to let me put her car on it, she says I still need practice going around the corners.
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Old 08-13-2013, 06:50 AM   #6
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Not liking the sound of things...

Thanks for your responses...

I do have Surge brakes on the dolley, I do have safety chains for the hitch. I am gonna call the company and see if they can give me any input on it. So much for load and go! Glad i am testing it now instead of hooking it up to the back of the coach and just taking off!
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Old 08-13-2013, 07:45 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kountrystar3 View Post
Thanks for your responses...

I do have Surge brakes on the dolly, I do have safety chains for the hitch. I am gonna call the company and see if they can give me any input on it. So much for load and go! Glad i am testing it now instead of hooking it up to the back of the coach and just taking off!
I went through the same problems as you, when I bought a dolly to haul my '08 Corolla. Twice, I stopped to check the straps, etc. and found one side had totally dropped off the tire and was laying on the dolly ramp, partially dragging on the ground. The thought of what could have happened, prompted me to trade for an '08 Saturn Vue ( at a huge financial loss) and had it set up for towing four - down. I have never regretted it. Sold the dolly, at another financial loss. Couldn't hardly give the darn thing away.
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Old 08-13-2013, 08:06 AM   #8
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You are right to be concerned about turns and damaging your car. If you turn too tightly and there is not a large clearance between the tow dolly fender and the car, you will dent the car and crack the tow dolly fender. I did thousands of dollars of damage to a minivan when I tried to make a tight turn into a gas station.

Find a large empty parking lot and see how close you get to the tow dolly fender when making turns.


PS - I now flat tow a Jeep and all is better.
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Old 08-13-2013, 08:08 AM   #9
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Our experience was quite different. The first long trip we made in the MH was to CA towing a Chev Impala on a tow dolly. Yes, we had the same issues with straps working loose. The lesson I learned was to stop within the first 5-10 miles and tighten again. In fact, the first day of the trip I must have tightened them 4-5 times. Eventually, I figured it out, load the car, which took no more than 15 minutes, then stop before leaving the campground and tighten the straps again. If traveling on interstate I found there was no need to stop again. They generally work loose when making sharp turns.

Your noise may be wheel bearings making that grinding sound if you don't see stones between the platform that the front wheels set on and the frame. Check if the wheel bearings have grease in them.

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Old 08-13-2013, 08:23 AM   #10
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Ditto on the wheel bearings. Go ahead and have them re-packed and then grease them every 3,000 miles or so.

I have safety chains but don't use them. The straps have always been enough. I stop after about 15-20 miles and I can always get one or two more cranks on the strap. I usually check them after about another 100 miles and they usually are not loose unless we have come through some rain. Be sure the portion of the strap on the inside of the tire is not rubbing on part of the linkage. This will cut the strap. I had one cut about half of the width of the strap once.

Ours is 80" wide from fender to fender. When we tow my wife's Sienna it is pretty tight and I have rubbed up against the dolly fenders more than once on tight turns. It happens. No major damage except one of the dolly fenders is cracked but still functional.

Good luck.

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Old 08-13-2013, 08:51 AM   #11
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There should also be safety chains, Normally they just "Toss" over the axle on the car (or some other solid frame related part) and hook to the dollly..

One thing you may have missed with the tire "nets" as you cal them (Good name by the way) When you tow.. After the initial "mount" of the car for the trip, stop in a few miles (I forget if it's 5 or 15) and check the tire straps to make sure they are still tight.. This should be done at least one time...

Find a dolly, ANY dolly, on line and download the owner's manual for it.
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Old 08-13-2013, 08:52 AM   #12
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Thanks for your responses...

I do have Surge brakes on the dolley, I do have safety chains for the hitch. I am gonna call the company and see if they can give me any input on it. So much for load and go! Glad i am testing it now instead of hooking it up to the back of the coach and just taking off!

So called the company..they weren't very helpful..although they still sell them they tell me they no longer make them...

The wheel bearings are fine...i was pulling it empty on a newly seal coated road and of course all the grease between the swivel plate and ramps attracted small gravel.

i am gonna play with it some more...

Am i suppose to put the tire webs in before i drive the car on?
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Old 08-13-2013, 09:02 AM   #13
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We have used a Demco Tow Dolly for years now. It sounds like you have the dolly that has a pivot on a plate. They usually get noisy. Ours has rack and pinon steering and is never a problem. I always use the safety chains.

Drive the car on the dolly up to the bumper lip, shift to park. Install straps and tighten as tight as you can. Place chains over some part of steering or suspension on both sides and secure.

I drive for an hour or two and whenever I stop I check the straps. Sometimes they are loose. I just retighten. Never had a problem. The chains have never had to save the day for me, but they might some day.
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Old 08-13-2013, 07:50 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kountrystar3 View Post
So called the company..they weren't very helpful..although they still sell them they tell me they no longer make them...

The wheel bearings are fine...i was pulling it empty on a newly seal coated road and of course all the grease between the swivel plate and ramps attracted small gravel.

i am gonna play with it some more...

Am i suppose to put the tire webs in before i drive the car on?
Our tow dolly makes a terrible racket when towing empty and bounces all over the road at anything above 30MPH. It needs the weight of the car to put some weight on the hitch and to keep it stable.
The noise is mainly from the hitch rattling in the receiver although the ramps also rattle from the bouncing.
My manual says to reduce the tire pressures if towing empty to reduce the bounce.
I have never had a problem with the straps loosening after the first few miles. Will usually get 2-3 clicks after 5-10 miles but has never loosened after that.
I have had some fraying on one strap so also use safety chains from car to dolly.
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