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Old 09-06-2010, 09:39 PM   #15
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Gene65 said, in part...
"Surge brakes do not require anything additional on the tow vehicle, but have a slight lag time before braking. If you would want to back up, the brakes will apply themselves.

Well done, Gene65 excellent write-up in its comprehensiveness, ...agree on everything up to the "backing up part" on surge brakes... May I respectfully offer this exception which MAY be present on some surge set-ups:

On many surge brake set-ups, there is a "By-Pass" lever near the slider-piston which can be manually flipped up to defeat the surge brake and thus allow backing the loaded dolly, ...even up a sharp incline ...without applying the brakes.

(Such backing up an incline being a vector of force on the tongue which would ordinarily replicate the "surge" forward ...and thus exert pressure on the master cylinder ...and thus, unfailingly, apply the brakes on the dolly.)

Admittedly circuitous verbage there... tortuously so, I fear... but succinctly exacting in its accuracy, because it is such an important safety consideration. My apologies to the faint-of-heart ...or to the "bored-to-tears" as it were.

The design of this by-pass lever is such that when it is employed, (by getting out of the drivers' seat walking back to the tongue and lifting it from its detent locking position) ...it literally "FLAGS" a warning (often with a yellow/black cautionary motiff on the underside of the broad lever plate, now being visible in the raised "by-pass" position) ...advising that the surge brake has thus been MANUALLY defeated... overridden... to the point of being totally ineffective whilst that lever stands on its tiptoes and silently screams its urgent warning... waiting and wanting to be returned to its downward position of normal operating function ...locking in the "surge" piston... which in its own turn is waiting for that "surge" forward to do its important work ...of braking.

Nothing guarantees that the driver will do a walk-around OR that he will even notice this "warning flag" and re-seat the lever prior to embarking on a forward vector with a vengeance... safe in the knowledge that the surge brake sentinel is "on da job"...

But then again, PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY must come to bear at some point in the process.

This is that point.

It's all good...
Jim
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Old 09-07-2010, 12:52 PM   #16
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On my surge brake set-up there is no bypass, the lever actually sets the brakes. This lever is connected to the towing vehicle by a safety cable so in case of disconnect the dolly brakes are applied by a powerful spring operating the master cylinder.
As the Tracker we tow is fairly light backing is not an issue as the brakes do not apply as long as the ground is fairly level and no major turning is done.

The Tracker is towed with the rear wheels on the dolly and the steering wheel unlocked with a rubber bungee dampening steering wheel movements. If you see a wrecker towing a vehicle with the front wheels on the ground if it is a good wrecker operator he will also have the column unlocked and the wheel bungeed or tied off. The manufacturers of all vehicles I am aware of state not to use the column lock when towing front wheels on the ground. I ran a city shop for 17 years and we had 7 of our own wreckers and also used commercial towing companies. Had a fleet of 4,500 vehicles.
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Old 09-07-2010, 10:38 PM   #17
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Thanks guys for the additional info. So sounds like my 2002 Frontier with a manual tranny will not rack up miles if the switch is off ... even though the drive shaft is still turning. Thanks for that info.

I might be getting wrapped around the axle on the steering on the car. When I was a kid and used to pull a hayrack around on the farm with a tractor (yes I'm too young for it to be horses!!), I understand about the front wheels steering as you indicated the Demco does -- our hayracks had a tie rod fixed to the tongue so when in a turn the front wheels would turn (which is what I assume the Demco does or something similar). If you have two solid axles (the front axle being the dolly with no steering or swivel) then something has to give in a turn. That's why I assumed in a non swivel or steeing dolly, you'd have to leave the steering unlocked because the front end is strapped to a solid frame (axle) and rear axle of the tow vehicle will have to follow the dolly. Maybe I'm not making sense or explaining properly. Best way to provide an example is the dual axles on the reaf of a truck or real of a semi trailer, they are spaced closer together, but still have to slide in a turn and more noticable on a very tight turn.

In the end, I'll probably get a steerable Demco Kar Kaddy SS as I seen them on one website for about $2360. So I won't get to much more wrapped around the axle on this -- just trying to understand and you all have been very patient with me ... Thanks
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Old 10-03-2010, 04:55 PM   #18
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Having put about 5000 miles on my Acme Trailer tow dolly, I am very pleased with it.
It has disc-brake surge brakes that seem to work very well. There is a place on the side of the surge assembly to insert a pin that stops the brakes from applying, so I can back up, although if I go slow on level ground, it isn't needed. It also has a small cable to attach to MH so if it comes loose, the brakes apply.
As for leaving ignition on ACC to unlock steering, yes I do that. When in a slow sharp turn, I can see the front wheels turn a little on the dolly, using the rear view mirrors.
The ramps are not built on, they are separate heavy duty plastic ramps like you drive up on to change oil. There is a rack to store them on the front of the dolly, but I just put them in the toad when on the road and on dolly when set up. Can load up vehicle and be ready to go in about 15 minutes.
Have a set of LED magnetic tail lights that mount on top of Santa Fe that plug into MH 4-wire plug. When towing the wife's PT Cruiser convertible (no place to mount magnetic lights), I just plug in the trailer lights.
Picking up ramps became not a big deal when I started comparing dolly prices.
And one of the best things about this dolly was $1400 delivered to my door.
I just try to keep things simple, like me.


And the photo is another reason I like this dolly.
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Old 10-04-2010, 06:08 AM   #19
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Thanks for your input. I was close to buying the Acme, but then had a suggestion from an experienced MHr that suggested if one is going to use a dolly to get one with wheels that turn to track the MH. Those types are very nice but twice the cost and thus I am renting a car when we get to the destination until I figure out what to do. It appears you have a 37', how was the cornering and that fact that it didn't track the MH, did that cause a problem?

It seems that it is going to be very difficult to get in and out of gas stations.

Great picture of storing you dolly.

Again, I really appreciate the input.
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Old 10-04-2010, 04:45 PM   #20
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FORTHEKIDS,

Everything people tell you about tow dolly experience is a personal opinion, and this is mine.
I have towed it over 5000 miles, from the L.A. freeways at rush hour to the narrow winding Oregon coast, and never once was I sorry that I didn't pay twice as much for swivel deck or steerable wheels. Those are probably nice things to have, but they aren't necessary. My dolly follows me just fine, I have been in big and small gas stations and it always followed me with no problem, USE YOUR MIRRORS. The only time cornering is an issue is at slow speed, and if you get in a too tight spot, steerable dolly wheels are not going to save you.
So if you have nothing else to spend your money on, go ahead and buy the expensive dolly, but I don't think there is any great advantage to it.
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Old 10-04-2010, 05:50 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FORTHEKIDS View Post
Thanks for your input. I was close to buying the Acme, but then had a suggestion from an experienced MHr that suggested if one is going to use a dolly to get one with wheels that turn to track the MH. Those types are very nice but twice the cost and thus I am renting a car when we get to the destination until I figure out what to do. It appears you have a 37', how was the cornering and that fact that it didn't track the MH, did that cause a problem?

It seems that it is going to be very difficult to get in and out of gas stations.

Great picture of storing you dolly.

Again, I really appreciate the input.
if you buy any tow dolly, check the wheel alignment (toe in or out) before purchasing.
my stehl dolly is on its 3rd set of tires in 1500 miles. the truck/trailer shop in reno didn't correct the alignment during 2 visits. my dolly is in a frame straightening shop in san jose, ca right now to get the alignment corrected.
i am careful about gas stations and don't go in when i have to make a sharp turn to leave. so far this hasn't been a problem for me.
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Old 10-04-2010, 06:47 PM   #22
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For the record I tow with a Demco SS. Yep, I paid a little more but it came with good tires that were balanced, the alignment was correct, safety chains, breakaway brake and additional safety chains for the car to the dolly plus sturdy metal ramps that are attached to the dolly. The Demco is heavy and I would never be able to lift it to set it on end but then I would not won't a dolly that was lite enough to do that with.

The bottom line is buy what you can afford and hope for the best. The extra few dollars for the better towing (cornering), big balanced radial tires that come properly aligned and includes all the safety devices made it easier for me to justify the added expense.

As a safety precaution I would suggest you never leave the the steering wheel unlocked on the towed vehicle. Each time the steering wheels turn side to side they will loosen (stretch) the straps. Have you ever noticed when a tow truck tows a vehicle they will secure the steering wheel? Just my opinion.
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Old 10-04-2010, 07:09 PM   #23
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We have 6,200 miles on our Mastertow 80HDSB and are very pleased at its quality and endurance. The surge brakes work as advertised and all I have done is check the air in the tires and added bearing grease every 3,000 miles. It has a swing plate where the front tires rest and I have never had a problem with cornering or rubbing the toad on the trailer fenders. Just don't try sharp u-turns.

Oh, and go ahead a spend the $19.95 for a fold-up hitch wheel (?) at Northern Tool. It is almost worth its weight in gol...., er, (pesos). The surge brakes add about 100 lbs. to the tongue weight so lifting it and maneuvering it at the same time was a little tough for me, but that hitch wheel made it 100% better.

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Old 10-05-2010, 07:15 PM   #24
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update on my stehl tow dolly:
i purchased it from a dealer in seattle 1.5 years before i first used it. the warranty has expired.
on my first trip from vancouver to reno, about 600 miles, i wore out a set of tires. the toe in was 3/4 inch.
i had an alignment job accomplished in reno and put on another set of tires. this alignment didn't take. in 900 miles, i wore out another set of tires. back in reno, i took the dolly to the same alignment shop. they now stated that they could not align it by bending the axle with the equipment they had.
i had to put on another set of tires in reno.
in san jose, ca i found a frame shop that said they could align it. they tried to bend the square tubing cold but said that it just bounced back to about 1/2'' toe in. they heated the square tube and bent it. the heating melted the insulation on the light and brake wires in the axle tube. they ''repaired'' the wires.
i got the dolly back this morning. they charged me $250.
the shop owner says that it must have came from the factory in this condition. he says that there is no way that any damage from potholes or curbs could have led to this extreme alignment condition.
I've spent $250 on tires and $370 on alignments so far.
i sure hope this is the end of my mis-alignment saga.
if you are buying any tow dolly or trailer it would be wise to at least use a tape measure to check the toe in or out before purchasing it.
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