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Old 06-15-2010, 10:03 PM   #1
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tow dolly

We will be leaving to Houston on friday to pick up our Georgetown XL 359 motorhome. I would like to buy a tow dolly but there are so many to chose from. We would like any information on dollies out there. Thanks
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Old 06-16-2010, 01:15 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TEXAS AGGIE View Post
We will be leaving to Houston on friday to pick up our Georgetown XL 359 motorhome. I would like to buy a tow dolly but there are so many to chose from. We would like any information on dollies out there. Thanks
i like my stehl tow dolly with electric brakes, ez lube hubs, and 13'' 8 ply tires. cost new was about $1300.

STEHL TOW TRAILERS
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Old 06-16-2010, 06:12 AM   #3
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What car are you planning to tow? Some minivans are too wide for tow dollies and you may get body damage in tight turns (I speak from experience...).
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Old 06-16-2010, 07:02 PM   #4
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tow dolly

We will be pulling a 2010 RAV- 4 .
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Old 06-16-2010, 07:49 PM   #5
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Old 06-17-2010, 09:37 AM   #6
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Demco Kar Kaddy SS

We have towed a 2007 VW Eos with a Demco Kar Kaddy SS for many miles. Love the folding capability when setup for winters in Arizona.

TowDemco.com - Kar-Kaddy SS
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Old 06-17-2010, 12:05 PM   #7
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I have been looking at tow dollies and following other threads on this site since January. I think it is a good idea to have a tow dolly with brakes even for smaller cars. I have been considering the American Car Dolly (www.americancardolly.com) and Acme Trailer's Eze-tow (www.towbartowdolly.com) and both are about the same low price of $1300. The major differences that I can tell are:
- American has the swivel feature, Eze doesn't
- American has electric brakes and Eze has surge brakes

There are some other more minor differences like tire quality/performance, ramps ratchets, etc.

Can anyone help me understand the importance (or how important) of electric vs. surge brakes and the swivel feature?
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Old 06-17-2010, 12:34 PM   #8
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There are some other more minor differences like tire quality/performance, ramps ratchets, etc.

Can anyone help me understand the importance (or how important) of electric vs. surge brakes and the swivel feature?
Tire quality is very,very important. I wouldn't think that was a minor difference.

Some dolly's have ramps that have to be taken on and off each time you load and unload and I can imagine the fun that would be in the rain. Some dolly's the ramps tilt so when you drive up it goes down and latches. Unlatch,drive off and it tilts down. To me that would be more convenient.

Electric vs surge differences is with electric you need a brake controller mounted in the tow vehicle and it must be set so you don't lock up the brakes each time you touch the brakes in the tow vehicle. I remember seeing the fellow not long ago leaving his gravel camp site and as he slowly eased out of his site with his foot resting on the brake pedal he was dragging the dolly with the brakes locked up.

To me the swivel feature is the most important especially when its the dolly wheels that swivel. This allows the dolly and towed vehicle to track the tow vehicle. If you've ever pulled a small utility trailer and noticed when you turn a corner, if you don't drive past your turn the trailer wheels will jump the curb. The same would happen with a dolly that the wheels don't turn.

Its been stated before, you get what you pay for and I know there are many rv'ers using tow dolly's with no brakes, no tilting ramps, smaller tires and no steering wheels and have never had a problem.

I suppose it comes down to what you feel is important and what your budget allows you to buy. Good luck with your buying decision.
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Old 09-05-2010, 03:25 PM   #9
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Reviving an old thread as looking to purchase a car dolly. Trying to understand why the swivel function is so important? Seems that if you leave the steering unlocked in the car, then the front wheels would turn and function the same as a swivel. And if the dolly didn't swivel it would mean less chance of the dolly fender making contact with the car? Please explain so I fully understand before I purchase a dolly. This forum has been extremely helpful and appreciate the wisdom and experience from you folks that have been doing this a lot longer than me!
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Old 09-05-2010, 07:12 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by tprochaz View Post
Reviving an old thread as looking to purchase a car dolly. Trying to understand why the swivel function is so important? Seems that if you leave the steering unlocked in the car, then the front wheels would turn and function the same as a swivel. And if the dolly didn't swivel it would mean less chance of the dolly fender making contact with the car? Please explain so I fully understand before I purchase a dolly. This forum has been extremely helpful and appreciate the wisdom and experience from you folks that have been doing this a lot longer than me!

I have towed both small and medium sized vehicles (including a VW bus) back and forth across the US on the two tow dollies I have owned. Neither tow dolly had brakes, but when it snowed, I didn't travel until the roads were plowed. Never had a problem otherwise. (My motorhome was a 23 foot class C.)
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.
Electric brakes require the tow vehicle has a brake controller installed, can adjust the sensitivity of applying the tow dolly brakes, and requires an additional wire in the harness for the brakes. Backing up is possible, if you needed to.
The only time a towed vehicle's steering is unlocked is when using a tow bar. Then all 4 wheels are on the ground and the towed vehicle steers itself. If it is an automatic, you need a pump installed in the towed vehicle to keep the transmission fluid pumping through the transmission to keep it cooled. Standard shift and 4wheel drive must be in neutral, steering unlocked, and 4wheel transfer case in neutral.
Tow dollies are normally used with front wheel drive vehicles. Rear wheel drive vehicles must have the drive shaft disconnected (a real pain). There is a driveshaft disconnect mechanism available, and usually requires a professional install. NEVER tow a rear wheel drive vehicle backwards on a tow dolly!! The front suspension is set up to track forwards only. Trying towing it backwards on a tow dolly is unstable and dangerous even for a SHORT distance! (Been there, done that!)
Demco tow dollies have wheels that steer, allowing you to make tighter turns. The ramps are built in, and you pull a lever/pin to tilt them down to load/unload the towed vehicle. The towed vehicle is held tightly in place by straps over the front wheels that you ratchet tight. You must also remove a pin to allow the wheels to steer, but the pin MUST be installed when there is no vehicle on the dolly, otherwise it doesn't 'track', it 'wanders'! They come with or without brakes. The standard size tows all but the large full size vans and trucks (and remember, these are rear wheel drive), for which you need the larger model.
The tow dollies with the movable plate (available in most rental centers) have fixed wheels and the towed vehicle's front wheels are held tightly by straps you ratchet down tight. When you turn your motorhome, the tow dolly follows in a wider track due to the fixed wheels. In extreme cases, it is possible to turn tight enough to get the fender of the tow dolly into the side of the towed vehicle. (I did it trying to back up - NOT advised!) It also transmits strain to the towed vehicle frame in extreme turns.
There is an old cheapo tow dolly that I used to see. This one lifts the front wheels of the towed vehicle off the ground and uses its own fixed wheels (which are narrow to fit under the towed vehicle). They were rough on the towed vehicle in all turns, twisting and straining the frame. They were ungainly and unstable for anything except an emergency breakdown, which is probably explains why I haven't seen them in years.

Hope this helps.

Gene

BTW, if your tow vehicle is a motorhome over 30 ft, you WANT the steerable wheels on the tow dolly! You can count on seeing a TOAD being dragged through a ditch at least once a season on a tight turn in/out of a RV park! This is due to the large overhang of the rear after the rear wheels. It makes for some interesting viewing.
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Old 09-05-2010, 09:58 PM   #11
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Never say never. There are some vehicles that are required that they be towed with the rear wheels on the dolly. I own one of them. A 1998 Chevy Tracker 4 wheel drive with automatic front locking hubs. This is per the owners manual and it even has a picture of the vehicle on a dolly.
Works just fine on an old U-haul dolly with no swivel. It does have surge brakes and if you tow the same vehicle all the time you can adjust the brake application for the weight of the vehicle. Not something that is normally done on a rental unit.
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Old 09-05-2010, 11:28 PM   #12
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Thanks for the additional info. My MH is 34 -- so quite a bit of overhand. Understand with a front wheel drive (Toyota Corolla in this case) that the front wheels are strapped on the dolly. But if you didn't have a swivel dolly, then you could leave the steering unlocked so the rear of the car would follow properly in turns. Perhaps, even on a swivel dolly you are supposed to leave the steering unlocked to assist in turns? Wouldn't you have less a chance of the fender on the dolly hitting the side of the car on a dolly that did not swivel?

One other question. I also will tow a Nissan Frontier rear wheel drive manual transmission. Since it is manual, the Remco site indicates it is safe to tow; however, with the switch in the tow vehcile off, would you still add miles to the electronic odometer?

Again, thanks for the advise.
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Old 09-06-2010, 08:11 PM   #13
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You are getting wrapped around the axle about this leaving the steering unlocked thing. Think of it this way. Once the front wheels are strapped down tightly, they effectively become a stationary part of the plate they are strapped to. Where it goes, they go because they are now physically attached to it. Whether it is a Demco with steerable wheels or a swivel plate, what those towed vehicle wheels are pointing at does not matter. They are fixed to the exact point they are tied down to - period. Think of it as a 4 corner-wheeled trailer, with the towed vehicle's front end a fixed part of the bed of the trailer and the front wheels of the trailer doing the 'steering' now for the whole setup. Effectively, that is what you have with a vehicle on a tow dolly. The rear wheels just follow the trailer's lead, not the towed vehicle's front tires.
The only way the towed vehicle could assist itself in turning better would be if its sides stretched and contracted, bending the towed vehicle - can't happen. (I won't say never because there might be a rubber TOAD out there somewhere) The frame will have lots of stress and twist exerted on it is all.
I have not had a Demco with steerable wheels ever damage the towed vehicle on it. That's why I bought it, after I got a fender into the side of my Escort with a swivel plate dolly as I tried backing out of a very tight spot. My fault, but it happened.
I also towed a VW bus but the speedometer/odometer ran off a FRONT wheel.
I have no idea what happens with an electronic odometer. Sorry.

Anyone out there tow a Nissan Frontier?

Safe travels,

Gene
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Old 09-06-2010, 08:34 PM   #14
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As to the issue of the electronic odometer, it does not register miles unless it gets a signal form the vehicle ECU. The vehicle ECU counts signals from the vehicle speed sensors usually located in the transmission. If the transmission is not turning, the speed sensor is not sending signal to the ECU, and the ECU is not sending a signal to the vehicle electronic odometer.
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