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Old 03-25-2012, 10:24 PM   #29
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That was my thought on the surge brakes, hook up and go. I was just concerned with the longevity or the function-ability after sitting. Say after a winter or two.
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Old 03-26-2012, 02:50 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Windy City View Post
Has anyone here used both a surge brake dolly and an electric brake dolly?
I found a trailer manufacturer in Wisconsin who sells their dolly with or without brakes. Brakes can be surge or electric.
I am planning on towing an automatic FWD Mini Clubman S and definitely want a dolly with brakes.
Car Dolly, Johnson Trailer, Colfax Wisconsin

Be sure to check out the ACME eze-tow dolly, all heavy welded, nothing to come loose, unscrew, or fall off. Surge disc brakes. Plastic fenders that don't dent, rust, or show scratches. Only weighs 400#, that is 170# less than Johnson. 5-year sealed wheel bearings. Delivered to your front door. Free spare tire and wheel. LED lights. Johnson charges extra to buy with credit card.
Could be in your best interest to check out this link before you buy............

Car Tow Dolly -The Lightest and Toughest Tow Dolly For All Car Towing Needs - Acme Car Tow Dolly Company

.
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Old 03-26-2012, 08:16 AM   #31
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I have had trailers with both surge brakes and electric brakes. Our dolly and our current trailer both have electric brakes. I prefer the electric brakes 10 to 1 over surge.
Electric brakes do require a controller be installed in the vehicle. Most motorhomes and trucks today are prewired for the controller. It takes less than 5 minutes to do the initial install, and less than 2 minutes to move it from vehicle to vehicle.

Surge brakes rely on collapsing a spring or hydraulic cylinder before they begin to activate the master cylinder. The spring or hydraulic pressure is a constant. That means regardless of the size of the load you carry the brakes will always start to activate when the trailer tongue puts the set amount of pressure against the hitch. The heavier the load the quicker the brakes will start to apply.

Electric brakes rely on a signal from the brake lights and an internal motion sensor in the controller to apply the brakes. They can be adjusted to match the load you are carrying and work equally in forward or reverse over all kinds of terrain.

Surge brakes are not good when traveling over rough or uneven ground in that the brakes are continually applied and released. They also have to be locked out when attempting to back up. (A non issue for dollies since they aren't intended to be backed up regardless of the style of braking system.) They also don't hold when stopped on an incline or activate at extremely slow speeds. Once the tow vehicle and trailer/dolly stop on an incline the trailer/dolly brakes release and only the towing vehicle brakes hold the load. In heavy traffic if you aren't going fast enough to overcome the initial spring/hydraulic cylinder pressure the trailer/dolly brakes won't apply.

Electric brakes are truely proportional from the instant you step on the brake pedal to the time you release it. Ssince they can be adjusted for the load they will apply at the proper rate regardless of whether you are carrying 500 lbs or 5000 lbs.

All brakes require some maintenance regardless of the style. Both styles require periodic shoe adjustment unless you have the newest self adjusting style or disk brakes. Surge brakes however require preiodic changes of the hydraulic brake fluid just like a gas powered motorhome.

I don't know what system dogpatch is using but in over 50,000 miles of towing either a dolly or trailer with electric brakes I've never made any adjustments when going from city to country driving. We use a Tekonsha Prodigy controller. Our trailer has 2 5,200 lb Dexter axles with 12" brakes and the dolly has Dexter 10" brakes. We've never made a city/country adjustment on either.
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Old 03-26-2012, 08:43 AM   #32
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I bought a tow dolly with surge brakes.. as stated it was a pain to hook up. I had to lay down to hook it all up. Another thought.. The guy was selling it because his VW would not tow correctly.. the back bumper would drag when hooked up..
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:16 AM   #33
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Good Morning:
When I was getting ready to tow our minivan (Dodge) I ran wires inside the left side main frame and installed a regular four prong trailer plug on the front. I also used diodes on each side so the motorhome circuit wouldn't try to power all of the van and when running buy itself the male plug wouldn't be powered up. This way I can use the lights on the back of the van and and not have to worry about the magnetic lights messing up the paint. A little extra work but well worth it.

Bob
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Old 03-26-2012, 04:28 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donhoward49 View Post
I bought a tow dolly with surge brakes.. as stated it was a pain to hook up. I had to lay down to hook it all up. Another thought.. The guy was selling it because his VW would not tow correctly.. the back bumper would drag when hooked up..

Having surge brakes does not make a dolly a pain to hook up.
I have NEVER had to lay down to hook a car onto my dolly,
either you are doing it the hard way or you bought the wrong dolly.
Have never seen a toad rear bumper even close to dragging,
maybe his toad just sat closer to the ground.

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Old 03-26-2012, 04:57 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hikerdogs View Post
I have had trailers with both surge brakes and electric brakes. Our dolly and our current trailer both have electric brakes. I prefer the electric brakes 10 to 1 over surge.
Electric brakes do require a controller be installed in the vehicle. Most motorhomes and trucks today are prewired for the controller. It takes less than 5 minutes to do the initial install, and less than 2 minutes to move it from vehicle to vehicle.

Surge brakes rely on collapsing a spring or hydraulic cylinder before they begin to activate the master cylinder. The spring or hydraulic pressure is a constant. That means regardless of the size of the load you carry the brakes will always start to activate when the trailer tongue puts the set amount of pressure against the hitch. The heavier the load the quicker the brakes will start to apply.

Electric brakes rely on a signal from the brake lights and an internal motion sensor in the controller to apply the brakes. They can be adjusted to match the load you are carrying and work equally in forward or reverse over all kinds of terrain.

Surge brakes are not good when traveling over rough or uneven ground in that the brakes are continually applied and released. They also have to be locked out when attempting to back up. (A non issue for dollies since they aren't intended to be backed up regardless of the style of braking system.) They also don't hold when stopped on an incline or activate at extremely slow speeds. Once the tow vehicle and trailer/dolly stop on an incline the trailer/dolly brakes release and only the towing vehicle brakes hold the load. In heavy traffic if you aren't going fast enough to overcome the initial spring/hydraulic cylinder pressure the trailer/dolly brakes won't apply.

Electric brakes are truely proportional from the instant you step on the brake pedal to the time you release it. Ssince they can be adjusted for the load they will apply at the proper rate regardless of whether you are carrying 500 lbs or 5000 lbs.

All brakes require some maintenance regardless of the style. Both styles require periodic shoe adjustment unless you have the newest self adjusting style or disk brakes. Surge brakes however require preiodic changes of the hydraulic brake fluid just like a gas powered motorhome.

I don't know what system dogpatch is using but in over 50,000 miles of towing either a dolly or trailer with electric brakes I've never made any adjustments when going from city to country driving. We use a Tekonsha Prodigy controller. Our trailer has 2 5,200 lb Dexter axles with 12" brakes and the dolly has Dexter 10" brakes. We've never made a city/country adjustment on either.

I disagree with most of your opinions about surge brakes,
but am not inclined to type 7 paragraphs of my opinions.

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Old 03-26-2012, 06:32 PM   #36
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I've been following this thread because I've decided that I'll need to get a dolly so we can tow our 1998 Dodge Caravan. The class A we're getting has electric controls installed so maybe I'd be smart to go with electric?

Our first big trip is to see my wife's family in Oregon so traveling through the mountains I'd feel better with brakes.
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Old 03-26-2012, 06:40 PM   #37
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According to what I have read, surge brakes are indeed proportional. Never had the problem of them activating on bumps or going downhill.
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Old 03-26-2012, 10:48 PM   #38
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Thanks everyone for the opinions. It's good to know what people have experienced.

I have had and do have several trailers, all with electric brakes. All have been reliable with the exception of wiring issues.

The only surge brakes I had experience with was ones on trailers from 25 years ago. Those were all a huge PITA!
Thanks
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Old 03-27-2012, 07:35 PM   #39
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GREAT INFO! As a NewBee I haven't completly resolved this issue yet, though after reading through the comments here, I'm thinking it's a dolly for me, if it does turn out to be the PITA some say, I can sell it, and modify the wife's Solara to flat tow. Thanks!
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Old 03-28-2012, 12:56 AM   #40
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Lots of good advise & personal opinions. I bit the bullet and purchased top of the line (I think), Kar Kaddy, with the folding front and the fold up ramps. $3k + tax at the Phx ralley. I decided to go with the surge brakes. I'm very familiar with electric brakes, but always with the trailer heaver than the tow vehicle. Wasn't sure how I would ever know the correct adjustment pulling with a motor home. I'll hang on to the tow bar just incase I get a different tote thats capable of being towed 4 down. Thanks All!
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Old 04-19-2012, 01:11 AM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Long View Post
In California... if a wheel touches the ground it has to be licensed.

Errr...That is so not true
Dolly's do not have to be licensed and are not titled in Cali'
See:
V C Section 617 Tow Dolly
and
Registering Commercial Vehicles and PTI Trailers FFVR 27

But the CA DMV will issue you a PTI if you want (best case if leaving the state for the Po-lice in other states that require plates on everything).

The start(er) of this thread was in AZ so I have not idea about that state.
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Old 04-19-2012, 01:23 AM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kalynzoo View Post
California registers a tow dolly as they would farm equipment, with a sticker that is good for 5 years, and is rather inexpensive. Problem is that most Dept of Motor Vehicle personell don't know this, so it is often necessary to find a supervisor to look up the reg and use the correct form.
That said; I have used a Demco Dolly for just over 25 years, happily. We just recently switched to flat towing as our lifestyle has change and this seems best for now. I would greatly and sincerely recommend surge brakes. Our first dolly, without surge brakes, resulted in the brakes boiling and just about failing on a long mountain road. Peddle to the floor and lots of stink...but all ended well, and I prompty traded in the old one for a new one with brakes.
I did not use the dolly lights, rather I used magnetic lights on the toad. I only plugged in the dolly lights when towing the trailer empty....seldom, as they don't ride well without a load.
Suggest you carry a spare tire for the dolly, as that size tire is not always available...another story...you can get one the next day or so, but that kills a few days of vacation, and with a spare, tire change is rather simple.
Happy Trails.
Same - same as above...
Dolly's do not have to be licensed and are not titled in Cali'
See:
http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d01/vc617.htm
and
http://dmv.ca.gov/commercial/cvra.htm

The 5 year thing mentioned here is the CA PTI (Permanent Trailer Identification). They will issue/sell you a PTI plate if you want (safest bet if leaving the state for the Po-lice in other states that require plates on everything)...they are very cheap.

GOOD POINT about the spare...and don't forget to carry a tire wrench that fits those lugs.

Seems like most people go to "flat tow" over time 'cuz it is SO MUCH EASIER to hook-up and drop, but I'm just too cheap to except the miles added to my toad and all the expenses of modifying the toad too. But since I want to tow a different car sometimes, it was an easy decision for me to stay on a dolly...Go EZE Tow!!
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