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Old 02-04-2012, 05:26 PM   #1
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fwd car dolly questions

Hi...new to the forum and bought my first Class A coach in Nov. 2011 and have a few general questions that I hope are no totally ignorant, but I am new to the RV game...

I have a 1994 Winnebago Adventurer Class A 29 foot with a Ford 460V8FI with about 59,000 miles on it...in excellent shape..inside and out and runs strong.

I want to pull my 2009 Ford Focus 4 dr sedan...(Front wheel drive..total curb weight is 2623 lbs according to owners manual....with about 62% of that total weight on the front wheels) with a CAR TOW DOLLY...here comes the questions.....

With the car dolly weight and the towed car weight total..under 3200 lbs, do I need to buy a car dolly with brakes? given the size/weight/power of my motorhome?

If I do need to get a car dolly with brakes....what are the opinions out there as to buying ELECTRIC brakes ,or SURGE type brakes and why is one better than the other???

AND...from those with experience....what brand names of car tow dollies for small to medium sized FWD cars are rated the BEST over recent years?

Thanks in advance for your valued advice....Steve
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Old 02-04-2012, 05:53 PM   #2
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car dolly towing questions from a newbee

I bought a 1994 Winnebago Adventurer 29 foot Class A coach with a Ford 460V8FI and AT last October....I want to tow my wife's 2009 Ford Focus 4dr sedan behind the motorhome.....some basic questions from someone who has never gone there before....can those with experience help out??

I first thought...get a basic car dolly...Focus curb weight is only 2623 lbs and basic dolly is under 600 lbs.....DO I NEED A DOLLY with brakes for the weight???

And...if you do recommend a car dolly with brakes.....which are easier to operate/hook up, etc....Electric OR Surge type dolly brakes????

Can those of you with some "car dolly..on the road training" recommend a few good reliable brand names to look at ??? Thanks for the help
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Old 02-04-2012, 06:21 PM   #3
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I use a Master tow Dolly with electric brakes to tow a Camry or Avalon, and would replace it with the same. Be aware that some states require brakes on the dolly, and others do not allow hydraulic surge brakes. I opted for the 80" wide model for extra room and flexibility in future vehicles.

I hope this helps.
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Old 02-04-2012, 06:40 PM   #4
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Hi sshake1905,
Welcome to iRV2. I tow with a dolly. To answer your questions:
1. The dolly does need brakes. This is for safety and liability reasons. For an analysis of this go to The Physics of Towed-Vehicle Braking and read post #1.

2. My dolly has surge brakes. They are about as simple and maintenance free as one can get. They are like a toaster, they just work, without any fuss. There is no set up or tear down.

3. I have a Kar Kaddy SS. The dolly was purchased in 05. It is not used on every trip. I also tow 4 down (different vehicle). I got it because it folds up and fits where ever I need it to go when not in use. It's not cheap, your checkbook will not like this recommendation. Go to Tow Dollies - Kar Kaddy SS on Sale - PPL Motor Homes and read about it.
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Old 02-04-2012, 06:49 PM   #5
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Hi Steve,

We use a Master Tow with surge brakes. We only tow a VW bug which only weighs 2200# but it is the only year that didn't come with a steering dampner so we have to tow it on the dolly or the front wheels go crazy. With the surge brakes there is nothing special to hook up. The part that applies the brakes is part of the tongue and is porportional. Even though the car weighs very little I can feel it when towing but don't even know it's there when we have to stop. For as big as we are 20,500# for the MH, 800# for the dolly and 2200# for the car we can stop surprisingly quick. The only thing about the surge brakes is the first time we apply the brakes after attaching everything we get a little chirp out of the dolly tires as the slide portion of the tongue adjusts.
hope this helps.

Steve
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Old 02-04-2012, 07:11 PM   #6
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Hi
I own a roadmaster tow Dolly with electric brakes and a controller in the motorhome and have been to Alaska and back with no problems.
I would recommend electric brakes as you can adjust the amount of braking you require whereas with surge brakes you can't and they only activate when you brake hard or come to a panic stop.
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Old 02-04-2012, 08:47 PM   #7
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Surge brakes are porportional
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Old 02-05-2012, 11:07 AM   #8
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Hi
Surge brakes work as follows:
when the trailer or tow Dolly wants to catch up to the tow vehicle a shock absorber activates a master cylinder which sends brake fluid through the copper lines which activate the brakes.
Therefore you cannot apply a small amount of braking as you descend a long grade.
I own a, boat trailer that has surge brakes and the above is how they work.
On my roadmaster tow I also have a steering system where the wheels of the Dolly actually steer and follow the rear tires of the motorhome.
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Old 02-05-2012, 01:53 PM   #9
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Sorry Steve, don't want to hi-jack your post and question. One item that will be needed if you decide on electric brakes is the installation of a brake controller. The controller is mounted close to the driver so he/she can manually apply the brakes if needed. The controller is also plumbed into the the MH brake tubing so it will operate automatically when the MH brakes are applied and also wired into the MH 12 VDC system. There is a wire run to the rear of the MH and connected either to a dedicated trailer plug or is part of the standard trailer plug.
It has been my experince with trailer light plugs you always have to wiggle them a get to get one light to work and I didn't want the one terminal that wasn't making good contact to be the brakes. Towing a trailer with electric brakes naturally required the controller, I tow my dolly with various vehicles without having to install a contrlloer in each vehicle. on the other hand we had a travel trailer that had electric brakes and it was very helpful when going down mountains to reach down to the controller and apply only the trailer brakes to help us slow down. Doing that allowed the truck brakes to stay cool incase we really needed to stop quickly. It is kind of a balancing game you don't want to overheat the trailer brakes either.
Isn't RVing great....a million decissions to make....I thought we were doing this to relax!!!!!!!
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Old 02-05-2012, 04:30 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Belgian View Post
Sorry Steve, don't want to hi-jack your post and question. One item that will be needed if you decide on electric brakes is the installation of a brake controller. The controller is mounted close to the driver so he/she can manually apply the brakes if needed. The controller is also plumbed into the the MH brake tubing so it will operate automatically when the MH brakes are applied and also wired into the MH 12 VDC system. There is a wire run to the rear of the MH and connected either to a dedicated trailer plug or is part of the standard trailer plug.
It has been my experince with trailer light plugs you always have to wiggle them a get to get one light to work and I didn't want the one terminal that wasn't making good contact to be the brakes. Towing a trailer with electric brakes naturally required the controller, I tow my dolly with various vehicles without having to install a contrlloer in each vehicle. on the other hand we had a travel trailer that had electric brakes and it was very helpful when going down mountains to reach down to the controller and apply only the trailer brakes to help us slow down. Doing that allowed the truck brakes to stay cool incase we really needed to stop quickly. It is kind of a balancing game you don't want to overheat the trailer brakes either.
Isn't RVing great....a million decissions to make....I thought we were doing this to relax!!!!!!!

I doubt there are any electric brake controllers on the market that still require a connection to the tow vehicles hydraulic system. Since at least the 1990's electric brake controllers use either a timer or an inertia switch to activate the trailer/dolly electric brakes.

I'm not sure which year they started but sometime in the 1990's Ford started prewiring the F53 chassis (class A motorhome) for an electric brake controller. If it's prewired there is a plug under the dash usually taped to the wiring harness near the steering column. If you're lucky enough to have a prewired chassis all you need is the brake controller and a small jumper harness to connect it.

We use a Tekonsha Prodigy. It's the inertia switch variety that provides true proportional braking. By true proportional I mean the brakes on the towed trailer or dolly are applied at the exact same rate as those in the towed vehicle. This is different than proportional surge brakes in that surge brakes are applied proportionlly only after the pressure against the trailer tongue overcomes either a preset spring or hydraulic shock pressure.


It took about 15 minutes to install in our motorhome. All we had to do is mount the controller bracket to the dash and connect the jumper harness to the Ford chassis harness. On some chassis (if the original Ford frame has been extended by the motorhome manufacturer) the blue brake wire may not have been extended to the trailer socket at the back of the coach. If that's the case the wire is folded back into the trailer harness where the Ford frame meets the extensions. You'll need to add a few feet of #10 blue wire to terminate it in the socket.

Here's a link to the Tekonsha site:http://www.tekonsha.com/content/default.aspx

Electric brakes have come a long way in the last 20 years. In my opinion they are now far superior to surge brakes. I've had several equipment trailers (capable of loads of 10,000 - 20,000 lbs) with both types of braking systems. I much prefer the electric brakes for several reasons. The braking power can be adjusted at the controller to match the load. If additional braking is needed in emergency situations the controller can be manually activated to add boost. Braking is truely proportional. Brakes work equally well in forward or reverse. (With most surge brake systems the brakes have to be locked out at the trailer tongue so they won't be applied by the pressure needed to back up the trailer). Electric brakes are more consistent over rough terrain. They are not constantly being applied and released when going over bumps.
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Old 02-05-2012, 04:56 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Tom-NC View Post
Hi
Surge brakes work as follows:
when the trailer or tow Dolly wants to catch up to the tow vehicle a shock absorber activates a master cylinder which sends brake fluid through the copper lines which activate the brakes.
Therefore you cannot apply a small amount of braking as you descend a long grade.
Totally untrue, they are proportional to the braking of the towing vehicle.
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Old 02-12-2012, 03:13 AM   #12
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[/QUOTE] With the car dolly weight and the towed car weight total..under 3200 lbs, do I need to buy a car dolly with brakes? given the size/weight/power of my motorhome?

If I do need to get a car dolly with brakes....what are the opinions out there as to buying ELECTRIC brakes ,or SURGE type brakes and why is one better than the other???

AND...from those with experience....what brand names of car tow dollies for small to medium sized FWD cars are rated the BEST over recent years?

[/QUOTE]


Yes, you need a dolly with brakes.

Electric brakes are more expensive. I had electric brakes on a TT a few years ago, and now have had a dolly with surge disk brakes for last couple of years. I prefer the surge brakes, they are simple and they work.

From someone with experience.....I have an ACME EZE-TOW dolly and it is great. Have had it for almost 2 years now and have about 8000 miles on it. This is probably the easiest dolly to own and operate. All heavy welded seams, 80" deck, weights only 400#, surge DISK brakes, has low profile tires rated at 1650# each, capacity of vehicles up to 4985#, 5-year sealed wheel bearings, and I just stand it up against my inside garage wall for storage. And when I'm camped, it slides up under my rear bumper and only sticks out 24".
It doesn't have all the extras you don't need, that's why it's only $1489 plus $75 delivered to your door.
No, I don't work for ACME, but you asked, so I'm telling you.
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Old 02-12-2012, 05:01 AM   #13
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I wouldn't leave home without them. (brakes) Ours has the hydraulic system and it works great. As is our sig we have the KarKaddy SS by Demco. A little pricey but has some nice features other don't have.
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Old 02-12-2012, 06:46 AM   #14
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When I bought my tow dolly last year - a braking system was a must. Many states require brakes on a trailer over 2,000 lbs. the additional cost for brakes isn't much. I tow a Honda Accord on a Karen Kaddy ss dolly. I would rather have the brakes and not need them instead of needing them and not have them.
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