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Old 08-07-2009, 09:18 PM   #1
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To Dolly or not to Dolly

We are new to Rving and know nothing about a lot of RV subjects although I have tried to educate myself over the past several months. We have ordered a Class A Motorhome and will be towing a vehicle. We have two available vehicles to tow. A Toyota Sienna MiniVan and a 1998 Buick Riviera, both front wheel drive.

My inclination is to get a dolly so we can switch between the two, if we want. I have checked out Remco and know that we can do all kinds of modifications to each vehicle and tow either four down.

Is a dolly really that much of a hassle and inconvenience?

I would appreciate any comments or suggestions because I just don't know which way to go.

Thank you very much

Don
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Old 08-07-2009, 09:42 PM   #2
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Don, let me first welcome you and yours to a great site, you will get a lot of imformation and suggestions on this site, some good, and some not so good. Just remember everyone has an opinion, and this is mine.
I use a Dolly for the reason you just mentioned. We also have two(2) different vehicles, and sometimes will take the other vehicle. That could be expensive to buy the hardware for both vehicles to adapt to a Towbar. I find it very easy to load as well as unload. I just slide the Dolly under the rear of motorhome once I park it. One important thing to always remember, UNHOOK WHILE VEHICLE IS STARIGHT, the dolly platform does turn when you turn your motorhome, which makes loading much easier. There is no wear and tear on your drivetrain as well as the front tires. JMHO, GOOD LUCK,
David G.
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Old 08-08-2009, 06:41 AM   #3
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Don,

I used a tow dolly for 10 years and just recently went to the 'other side' with flat towing a Grand Cherokee.

I had a Toyota Sienna and bought a wider tow dolly to handle it in 2006. Even a wide 95" tow dolly is NOT wide enough for a Sienna. Very often you are forced to make a tight turn in a gas station and your dolly fender will hit into the side of your van. In my case, to the tune of $1700 in body damage.

Before you invest in the dolly, put the van on it and see how little clearance you have. I remember mine only had about a fist width at the tires and less behind the tires as the body flared out.

I also now have a Town and Country minivan with a Remco pump. Great for towing in cool weather but I have problems with the pump in hot weather on long hauls.

The Jeep gave me ZERO problems on a recent summer run from NJ to Key West and back.

Good luck. Hope you can learn from my expensive mistakes!
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Old 08-08-2009, 09:30 AM   #4
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We used both a dolly and 4-down towing when we had a motorhome. If I was to do it again, I'd buy a good dolly with brakes and hit the road. It is a bit of a hassle to park the dolly, but I generally just pushed it to the rear of the coach and tucked it under the coach. If ir was a pull through site, I just left the dolly attached.

There is a lot to be said for being able to just switch cars and not being tied to only one.

Ken
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Old 08-08-2009, 10:42 AM   #5
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Far as I'm concerned it's 4-down all the way I will list concerns

Dolly: Cost, of a new dolly is right close to cost of 4-down systems so that's a break even, perhaps a bit less.

Storage: When camping you got to store it
Hookup: You need to drive STRAIGHT on and tie it down, then you need to inspect it a few miles down the road after it's settled in.

Brakes.. Though the dolly likely will have brakes.. the 2 wheels on the car will still be free-wheeling, this adds to stopping distance epically in a panic stop situtation.

Backing: Not supposed to do that with a 2-wheel dolly, can with a full auto trailer

4: Down: You can't back up either.
Storage.. There is nothing to store, I mean the Blue-Ox Aladdin tow bars store on the motor home so I've nothing to store.. I mean I'm not even sure I can find the keys for the padlocks to remove that tow bar system (Actually I know where they are)

Braking: With the US-Gear brake system on the car, all wheels brake, thus my "Skid Distance" is the same as any other vehicle for any give speed.

Hook UP: I can pull up exact, or off to one side, or at a slight angle or.. Just so long as I'm fairly close.

To hook up 4-down

Park car close to rig (it is a fairly narrow window, but it is a window)

Extend tow bars to base plate and install pin and lock pin (2 sides)

Hook up safety cables

Hook up electrical cables

Hook up break-a-way cable (Total time to hook up all cables is measured in seconds, and not many of 'em, to hook up total, a few minutes)

On my car (this varies car to car) Start engine and turn wheel hard right, reach behind wheel with oil-filter wrench and twist collar on axle toward the rear (UP as in HOOKED UP) turn wheel back forward, place in neutral and observe about 10mph on speedometer. turn off engine, on my car I can then remove keys, and place in park.. NOTE Turn off, THEN place in park. Ready to tow.

With dolly

Drive on EXACTLY (much narrower window) tie down wheels, hook up safety chains, hook up electrical and other cables, (Cable hook up is a bit harder due to lack of attachment points)

The tire tie down is much harder than hooking up the tow bars. (Takes as long to do one wheel as I spend on the whole job.

Plus you have more weight to haul, that costs you every mile.
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Old 08-08-2009, 02:01 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wa8yxm View Post
On my car (this varies car to car) Start engine and turn wheel hard right, reach behind wheel with oil-filter wrench and twist collar on axle toward the rear (UP as in HOOKED UP) turn wheel back forward, place in neutral and observe about 10mph on speedometer. turn off engine, on my car I can then remove keys, and place in park.. NOTE Turn off, THEN place in park. Ready to tow.
And how much time does this save????
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Old 08-08-2009, 02:35 PM   #7
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"Not to dolly" I would have thought would be the answer.

Just take a look at the amount of people who "dolly" and the ones that don't. I will guestimate that 90% is "4 down". Could 90% be wrong?

Personally I wouldn't want a third vehicle to park, store and service. We have a Saturn that hooks up in about 3 minutes all inclusive - it couldn't be simpler than that.

Some of the older campgrounds are very tight for a large motorhome and a car. They just leave no room for a dolly at all.
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Old 08-08-2009, 03:46 PM   #8
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I'm sure glad they make chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice cream.
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Old 08-08-2009, 04:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elkhartjim View Post
I'm sure glad they make chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice cream.
Make mine Cherry Pecan, fudge swirl
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Old 08-08-2009, 09:15 PM   #10
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We have a dolly we have never used. I pull a Mini Cooper and we can unhook in two minutes and hook up in about three minutes. It takes a little longer to hook up the Suburban or the Jeep Liberty as we have to deal with the brake setup. We bought the Cooper expressly to pull and to have fun when we get to our destination.
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Old 08-08-2009, 09:22 PM   #11
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Make mine Cherry Pecan, fudge swirl
I hate that I'm so ordinary. I do however tow four down,its just that two wheels rest on a tow dolly.

I'm convinced that those that choose to tow four down and spend thousands of dollars to do so have to justify it someway.

And to those that can hook up in less than three minutes...I've got a job for you in the nascar pits. But you've got to have brakes to stop.
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Old 08-08-2009, 09:44 PM   #12
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If you want to tow both vehicles at will, or are going to tow either now, with a different one in the future, the dolly is the way to go. It typically cost more to set up a single vehicle to tow 4 down when you include the tow bar, brackets, light modifications, braking system with breakaway and installation labor than it does for a tow dolly with brakes.

Look on e-bay, you can usually find a good tow dolly with surge brakes for less than $2,000.00.

I tow a Ford Flex 4 down, but everyones situation is different. Yours seems to dictate a dolly.
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Old 08-09-2009, 08:09 AM   #13
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Quote:
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If you want to tow both vehicles at will, or are going to tow either now, with a different one in the future, the dolly is the way to go. It typically cost more to set up a single vehicle to tow 4 down when you include the tow bar, brackets, light modifications, braking system with breakaway and installation labor than it does for a tow dolly with brakes.

Look on e-bay, you can usually find a good tow dolly with surge brakes for less than $2,000.00.

I tow a Ford Flex 4 down, but everyones situation is different. Yours seems to dictate a dolly.
We tow four down but like Jim says a dolly may be more practical for certain applications. One disadvantage to towing 4 down that has not been mentioned is what can happen to your front tires. We have ruined two sets of tires by towing our CRV behind the motorhome. It took me awhile to figure out that towing the CRV was the cause. The tires look good but when you run your hand across them you can feel that they are uneven. This leads to some very annoying road noise while driving the CRV. The CRV is my wife's daily driver so this problem has been pointed out to me often. Some of the guys on yahoo pointed out what may be causing the problem and I just installed a 2 inch riser to make a tow bar angle correction. It seems the CRV is very picky on the tow bar angle. I need to purchase yet another set of tires before we will know if the problem is solved.

Bob
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Old 08-09-2009, 09:24 AM   #14
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When I looked at both options for towing I settled on the dolly. The cost was over $3000.00 with modifying the PT Cruiser to fit the tow bar. I don't tow all that much to justify that cost. Have never had a problem getting into any park big or small. I do have the brake package on my dolly and total cost was $1100.00 new.
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