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Old 03-16-2011, 12:38 PM   #1
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What Tow Dolly to Buy

I am confused--which is my normal condition. We are anticipating the purchase of a 2005 Winnebago Aspect 26 A in the next few weeks. I have towed a CRV 4 down, but no longer have the MH or the CRV and presently own a dsl PU and a 5'er. The DW will not drive the unit and she is afraid if something happens to me she will have to have someone get it home. We are seniors (70) but very active and healthy. I will be purchasing a tow dolly and that opens a whole new can of worms. Elec. brakes or surge, what type of dolly? etc. etc. How do surge brakes handle long, steep down grades in the Rockies, or GrandFather mountain in the east? With the CRV and a brake buddy, no problem, surge brakes---any problem being applied constantly on a long down grade? I've heard and read about dollies that have swivels on the deck. Do older dollies have swivel decks or is this something installed in the last few years. I will be looking for a used dolly, but may have to purchase a new one to get what I want. We have a Honda Odyssey at present, but will be buying a smaller lighter vehicle to tow in the near future . I do most of my own work so can fix or change some things if need be. Sorry this is so long. Thanks for any input.
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Old 03-16-2011, 08:01 PM   #2
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Mr. John...I don't know if I can answer all..but what are you going to tow. I think a Saturn Vue four down is the easiest to set up, and it pulls and stops great. I do not have a brake assist, but I am going to buy a ready brake soon. I would, pick your toad and then decide how it is best to tow that vehicle. Good luck and keep us posted. D
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Old 03-16-2011, 08:27 PM   #3
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I would purchase one with electric brakes. The surge brakes work well, but traveling in the mountains can be a problem. A down hill grade will cause the brakes to drag to much for me. The dolly does allow you a choice on which vehicle to take. Make sure you get the one with a wide base. A new one can be bought with electric brakes from 1200 to 1800 dollars. I think that Camping World has one on sale!

Good Luck!
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Old 03-17-2011, 01:46 AM   #4
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You will probably get a lot of opinions on this. I disagree that a tow dolly will open a new can of worms. It will open a different type of towing situation that has different requirements and characteristics....and I have towed both 4-down and dolly. All things considered, the dolly is a little bit more of a hassle (mounting the toad, securing the tire straps) and it adds a couple more feet in tow length. BUT....if you change toads, you can still use the dolly without the need for any new towing equipment. Our newer front wheel drive Ford Escape cannot be towed 4-down...hence our dolly. I pull the Escape on our dolly with surge brakes through the Sierra's behind our 40' DP....absolutely no problem at all. Electric brakes might be somewhat better and cost a bit more, but common sense and prudent engine braking help a lot.

IMHO, probably the most important things to consider re dolly's are brakes (some don't come with brakes), platform and weight capacity. Not all dolly's are equal....and quality construction matters as well. I strongly recommend you buy a dolly with a swivel platform versus a solid platform. A swivel platform dolly basically follows the same track as the M/H, while a solid will "turn in" sharper than the track of the M/H. This can and will cause a major problem when pulling into tight areas or navigating 90 degree turns. I have a MasterTow HD dolly....and it pulls like a dream. If I didn't "notice" it in the rear camera, I could easily forget it and the toad are back there. The HD dolly came with heavier weight capacity and bigger tires. I also recommend a spare tire which can be secured and locked to the dolly, unless you have room in the M/H. Over the years, I have seen way too many boat trailers, dolly's and t/trailers sitting along the road, up on a jack....and nobody around 'cause the owners are out looking for a spare. Right?

Others will also offer their thoughts and recommendations. Good luck!
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Old 03-17-2011, 05:15 PM   #5
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Check out American Car Dolly. They have electric brakes and work well. You can just google American car dolly to get their website. They do deliver.
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Old 03-18-2011, 02:49 AM   #6
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mr. john,
i tow with a stehl swivel tow dolly with electric brakes.
if you buy any dolly, check the wheel alignment with a tape measure before paying for it. there is a long story about that on this forum.
after taking care of the alignment issues, my dolly is doing well.
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Old 03-19-2011, 03:02 PM   #7
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Financially the tow dolly seems the way to go and you have the flexibility of changing TOADS... good dollies can be had for 1500 to 2000 new and less used. A complete 4down system is gonna run you 4000 and then you are restricted to the toad you paid to have the attachments added to. You may also have to add a tranny lube pump and the add=ons only seem to grow as you go.
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Old 03-19-2011, 07:30 PM   #8
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Hi Mr John,
I tow with a dolly or 4 down. It depends on the trip and who is going. I have the Kar Kaddy SS from Demco. Go to KarKaddy SS to read about it. I have surge brakes. I have not used the dolly west of the Mississippi. The dolly has performed better than advertised. I would make the same purchase again.
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Old 03-20-2011, 07:04 AM   #9
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tow dolly

have you considered this one Tow Dolly / Car Tow Dolly / Car Dolly / Master / Tow Dollies
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Old 03-20-2011, 07:25 AM   #10
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If you can, try hooking up a car on a dolly first and then make up your mind. I personally don't need that extra aggravation.

I personally like the ease of setting up the four down over the dolly. Life is too short and there is too much other stuff to do setting up camp than to hassle with the dolly. Tow bar takes a minute to unhook. The car brake is the hardest part and not really hard.
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Old 03-20-2011, 08:52 PM   #11
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There are 2 basic types of tow dollies, those with the swivel deck and those with steerable wheels. Generally the swivel deck types are less expensive. The only downsides I am aware of are that the swivel needs to be lubricated regularly to keep in moving freely and they have a larger turning radius than those with steerable wheels. The type with steerable wheels will follow directly in the path of the rear wheels of the motorhome.
When we tow our Buick we use a Roadmaster 200-1 dolly: http://www.roadmasterinc.com/products/towdolly/towdolly.html#RoadMastertowdolly

It isn't the least expensive dolly on the road but it's well built, easy to use and has lots of features that come in handy.

As for brakes I much prefer electric. They require a controller in the towing vehicle but for me that's a minor expense. Today most trucks and motorhome chassis are "plug and play". It took less than 5 minutes to install one on my 2010 Ford truck. The nice part is the controller (we use a Tekonsha Prodigy) can be set for the type of braking you want and the load you are towing. The Tekonsha Prodigy P2 is the newer version. http://www.tekonsha.com/content/products.aspx?lvl=3&parentid=1400&catid=1435&part= 90885

Over the years I've had trailers with both hydraulic surge brakes and electric brakes. Over time the hydraulic ones always seem to need more maintenance. They don't work well on uneven terrain and have been known to apply when going down steep declines when heavily loaded even if the tow vehicle has downshifted rather than applying the brakes.
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Old 03-24-2011, 02:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DAN L View Post
mr. john,
i tow with a stehl swivel tow dolly with electric brakes.
if you buy any dolly, check the wheel alignment with a tape measure before paying for it. there is a long story about that on this forum.
after taking care of the alignment issues, my dolly is doing well.
The problem with Stehl dollies is not actually an "alignment" problem.
It is a design flaw, If you make to tight of a turn the table hits the end of the spindle causing it to toe down, almost exclusively the tire issues with the dollies are the outside wearing quickly. This is caused by the toed down of the spindle caused by the table hitting it.

If anyone needs directions on how to fix this let me know.
Other than having to fix mine, the dolly has serviced me well, I tow a Town and Country mini van, my dolly has elec. brakes.
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Old 03-24-2011, 06:38 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mafiaman View Post
The problem with Stehl dollies is not actually an "alignment" problem.
It is a design flaw, If you make to tight of a turn the table hits the end of the spindle causing it to toe down, almost exclusively the tire issues with the dollies are the outside wearing quickly. This is caused by the toed down of the spindle caused by the table hitting it.

If anyone needs directions on how to fix this let me know.
Other than having to fix mine, the dolly has serviced me well, I tow a Town and Country mini van, my dolly has elec. brakes.
how did you fix yours?

my stehl dolly had 3/4'' toe in when it was new. i didn't use it for the first 1 1/2 years i owned it. when i took my first trip with it, it wore the original set of tires out in 500 miles. i took it to a truck frame shop in reno, nv. and that is when i found out that it had so much toe in. they bent the axle frame bar and the spindles. i put a new set of tires on it. i traveled on south to pahrump, nv. and then north to san jose, ca. in about 1000 miles, the tires were worn out again. there is a stehl dealer in san jose. he said that they are sometimes delivered to him that way. the dealer said that if i hit something like a curb or pothole, it would have toe out. he sent me to the frame shop that he uses. it how had 7/16'' toe in. they could not bend the frame axle tube cold. it would spring back to the same position when they turned the hydraulics off. they heated the axle frame tube in 2 places and bent it to get it straight. another new set of tires were required. i have about 800 miles on this set of tires and alignment and the tires are wearing well.
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Old 03-25-2011, 06:40 AM   #14
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OK, first let me show the design flaw, then I will make a post or two on my repairs.

First picture shows how much the table needs to turn before it hits the back of the spindle.
Second picture shows the contact point, keeping in mind the weight of a front wheel drive vehicle as well as the torque the turning puts out you can see how easy it would be to bend it.
Picture a 14' breaker bar hooked to a truck!
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