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Old 06-12-2015, 04:34 AM   #1
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Tow dolly Q.

My husband just bought a new tow dolly to tow our 2600 lb car to FL this Nov. The dolly, from Northern Tools, has no brakes. He said the Fleetwood SouthWind can tow up to 5000 lbs safely without needing brakes on the dolly. This doesn't sound right to me. We have to go over Mounteagle mountain on our way which has a 5 to 6% grade. Anyone have an opinion on this? Am I being paranoid?
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Old 06-12-2015, 04:53 AM   #2
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I wouldn't do it. My tow dolly has disc surge breaks on it, we tow a dodge caravan with it.

Most states require breaking systems on anything over 3000 lbs gross weight. I am guessing with fuel and the weight of the tow dolly, you will be over that.

Go over the pass and gear down to let the RV slow you.

This is just my opinion, but i like a safety factor built in.
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Old 06-12-2015, 05:00 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by the_vfox View Post
I wouldn't do it. My tow dolly has disc surge breaks on it, we tow a dodge caravan with it.

Most states require breaking systems on anything over 3000 lbs gross weight. I am guessing with fuel and the weight of the tow dolly, you will be over that.

Go over the pass and gear down to let the RV slow you.

This is just my opinion, but i like a safety factor built in.
I like a safety factor also but DH and I always disagree on these things. He puts $$$ first and I put safety first. Ours is a small station wagon actually. He did gear down over that mountain this past weekend (we went to Atlanta) but we kept picking up speed anyway. He'd have to use the brakes, then it would start picking up speed again. There have been a lot of accidents on that mountain. I'm a basket case going over it. Thinking of that 2600 lbs plus the weight of the dolly pushing us from behind going down that mountain makes me cringe.

Can brakes be added somehow?
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Old 06-12-2015, 05:14 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by RanCarr View Post
I like a safety factor also but DH and I always disagree on these things. He puts $$$ first and I put safety first. Ours is a small station wagon actually. He did gear down over that mountain this past weekend (we went to Atlanta) but we kept picking up speed anyway. He'd have to use the brakes, then it would start picking up speed again. There have been a lot of accidents on that mountain. I'm a basket case going over it. Thinking of that 2600 lbs plus the weight of the dolly pushing us from behind going down that mountain makes me cringe.

Can brakes be added somehow?
They could, but it would be cheaper to buy one with breaks. I would look around on Craigslist and such for a used one with breaks.
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Old 06-12-2015, 05:19 AM   #5
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They could, but it would be cheaper to buy one with breaks. I would look around on Craigslist and such for a used one with breaks.
You mean buy a second one? He already bought one. He looked on CL for weeks and none came up in our area so he bought one at Northern Tool. It was like $1200 with tax. We can't afford to buy a second one.
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Old 06-12-2015, 05:27 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by RanCarr View Post
You mean buy a second one? He already bought one. He looked on CL for weeks and none came up in our area so he bought one at Northern Tool. It was like $1200 with tax. We can't afford to buy a second one.
Well you have three choices,
1. Look for a dealer that will take a trade in and take the loss
2. Search the internet or Northern Tool site and buy a break kit
3. Live with it.

No easy answers
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Old 06-12-2015, 08:12 AM   #7
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Towing with a tow dolly that has no brakes can be done if you go real slow down mountians and you drive way ahead of yourself to prevent panit stops but it's real hard on the MH brakes. The towing specs say your MH will pull 5Klbs but it boesn't say anything about stoping it.
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Old 06-12-2015, 08:51 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RanCarr View Post
My husband just bought a new tow dolly to tow our 2600 lb car to FL this Nov. The dolly, from Northern Tools, has no brakes. He said the Fleetwood SouthWind can tow up to 5000 lbs safely without needing brakes on the dolly. This doesn't sound right to me. We have to go over Mounteagle mountain on our way which has a 5 to 6% grade. Anyone have an opinion on this? Am I being paranoid?
Bring it back to that el cheapo dealer and trade it in for one with brakes !
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Old 06-12-2015, 08:55 AM   #9
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Looked at the Northern tool dolly. Here are a list of all its good features:
1. Cheap
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Old 06-12-2015, 10:07 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by RanCarr View Post
He said the Fleetwood SouthWind can tow up to 5000 lbs safely without needing brakes on the dolly. This doesn't sound right to me.
I agree with you. He's likely looking at the ratings on the hitch. The MH may be rated to tow 5,000 pounds, but I bet a search of the motorhome's owner manual will say that anything over 1,000 or 1,500 pounds needs to have brakes on it.

My motorhome is rated to pull 10,000 pounds, but the manual says that anything being towed over 1,000 pounds needs brakes.

My current truck is rated to pull over 7,000 pounds, but the manual says that anything being towed over 1,500 pounds needs brakes.

My previous truck was rated to pull over 7,500 pounds, but the manual said that anything being towed over 1,000 pounds needs brakes.

Do you see a pattern here? Every vehicle I've ever owned, which has a tow rating, also has a statement that brakes are required over a certain weight, and it has always been less than my state's legal requirement. (My state says anything 2,000 pounds or more, and I've never owned a tow vehicle that was rated to pull that much without auxiliary brakes.) Even the heaviest vehicle I've owned with the best brakes (my 33,000 pound DP with air brakes) has the lowest weight braking requirement (1,000 pounds.)

There are two key ratings to keep in mind:
  • GVWR - the total weight rating for the vehicle itself
  • GCWR - The total weight of the vehicle and what it is towing
Most vehicles (motorhomes included) are designed with a powertrain that can safely pull the GCWR (vechicle and trailer.) However, they are usually designed with brakes that are only rated to safely stop the GVWR (vehicle only.) While possible, I would be very surprised if you motorhome was designed to be able to safely brake the combined GCWR.

There is another consideration: many states require brakes on a trailer or towed vehicle. With a driver's license, there is reciprocity so that if you are properly licensed in your state, your are legal in all states. However, that reciprocity DOES NOT carry over to the vehicle and equipment. If you are traveling through a state, your equipment must be legal for that state. If you are passing through a state that requires brakes on a toad, then you had better have brakes on your toad, even if your home state doesn't require it.

There is one more legal consideration: the laws of physics. These laws apply equally in all states, and there is nothing a state or federal legislature can do to override these laws. Simply put, the laws of momentum says that if you increase the weight of a vehicle, without increasing your braking power, then your stopping distance WILL increase. You may be able to stop well under normal conditions, but in a panic stop, where every inch may matter, will you always be able to stop in time? Or will that extra 5, 10, 50, or whatever feet of stopping distance be the difference between life and death?
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Old 06-12-2015, 11:00 AM   #11
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There is a surge disk brake kit, listed on Stehl Tow dolly site.

I don't know if it will fit the Northern Tool dolly. That's homework for your DH, if you change his mind.
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Old 06-12-2015, 04:57 PM   #12
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Bring it back to that el cheapo dealer and trade it in for one with brakes !
Northern Tool doesn't sell dollies that come with brakes. It can't be returned because he took it out of the shipping crates and put it together. He could have got one at Camping world with brakes (I just looked) for a few hundred bucks more. He refuses to discuss these things with me. This isn't the first time something like this has come up. If we lived where the ground was level for the most part and never had to deal with hills and mountains, I wouldn't be so concerned. Once again there is nothing I can do....
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Old 06-12-2015, 05:00 PM   #13
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There is a surge disk brake kit, listed on Stehl Tow dolly site.

I don't know if it will fit the Northern Tool dolly. That's homework for your DH, if you change his mind.
He wont change his mind. He'd rather risk our lives than sell this one and buy one with brakes. I'm dead (no pun intended) serious.
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Old 06-12-2015, 05:14 PM   #14
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I agree with you. He's likely looking at the ratings on the hitch. The MH may be rated to tow 5,000 pounds, but I bet a search of the motorhome's owner manual will say that anything over 1,000 or 1,500 pounds needs to have brakes on it.....
Thank you for this very informative post. I don't believe he read the entire booklet on this coach and towing, nor does he understand the physics you explained. I don't believe he read the website on towing I asked him to check out. HE KNOWS EVERYTHING! I'm going to read the booklet for myself but I am convinced we need a dolly with brakes for the 2600 lb van plus the weight of the dolly.

You know, it's not just killing yourself taking chances, I wouldn't want some innocent person on the road to be killed over something like the difference of a few hundred dollars.
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