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Old 10-05-2009, 11:19 AM   #1
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Winnebago Hitch Limitations

we just picked up and took our first trip with our 09 Itasca Suncruiser 32H on the Ford Chasis. One eveing while reading through all the manuals, I came across a warning, that Winnebago does not recomend using a tow dolly with surge brakes if the ball hitch you are using has more than a 4" drop. We have a Demco Kar Kaddy tow dolly and have to use a ball hitch with much more than a 4" drop in order to get the dolly close to level. So, anyone out there have any experience with this?
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Old 10-05-2009, 06:40 PM   #2
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I would be interested to know when that tow dolly restriction started(model year),why was it put in place?? . I just purchased a Master Tow Dolly with electric brakes & have a ball hitch with a 5 3/4" drop & still not exactly level.
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Old 10-06-2009, 03:28 PM   #3
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A drop hitch puts considerable stress on the receiver and the chassis mount - it is basically a big lever. The bigger the drop, the more leverage the car has when stopping unless the car or dolly brakes do most all of the stopping and there is little or no "push" against the ball mount. The drop hitch leverage problem applies whether dolly towing or 4-down - the physics is the same.
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Old 10-06-2009, 05:06 PM   #4
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Hi RV Roamer.
I understand about levers & you are right about the drop hitch being a lever. I guess that I was rationalizing when I look at the drop hitch as a unit & see the steel wedge that is welded behind the ball & below the hitch bar taking away the lever look, & then rating it as class III/5,000 lbs.
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Old 10-07-2009, 09:18 AM   #5
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The warning in the Winnebago manual specifically called out tow dolys with surge brakes. Thinking about the way surge brakes work, i can see how that would transfer some "push" to the hitch...where electric brakes would not. So now i have a tow dolly (Demco Kar Kaddy) that I should not be using. O Well
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Old 10-07-2009, 11:30 AM   #6
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This is serious ( O well)

I had a best friend killed when the operator failed to hook safty chains and the hitch broke free of the frame. The tow hitch and trailer came across the center line an struck the his Class c motorhome head on in the driver side.

The court finding: incorrect hitch for the load, and not have safty chains applied, - there were under size for the load anyway.
The operator pled guilty and was sentinced to 2yrs, - he serviced 6 months .

The Wife and 3 kids and now trying to move on. The civil case is now under way as to how they will be compensated .

Driving is not a right! Please correct you tow to conform to the Winne Spec.

gg
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Old 10-08-2009, 08:58 AM   #7
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Sorry if my "O Well" comment was misunderstood.
we are most certainly NOT using our tow dolly based on the Winnebago warning
My current situation is trying to decide what to do in order to safely pull our toad.
Most obvious option is selling the dolly and getting set up to flat tow
but the other option might be to look into a dolly with electric brakes like the one roadmaster makes. So, i just have some research to do.
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Old 10-08-2009, 09:31 AM   #8
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I am not sure where you are on your decision but would offer an alternative to the drop hitch. Based on the value of the tow dolly and whether you wished to seek alternatives, it is not uncommon to have the trailer/tow dolly hitch built up. In other words, if you know of an metal shop or a facility that builds trailers, you could actually build up the tongue of the tow dolly sufficiently to reduce the drop to a minimum. If you have a surge brake, it might require re-plumbing the brake lines but it is an alternative not yet discussed. Certainly, the cost of such modifications may outweigh the benefits.
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Old 10-08-2009, 12:09 PM   #9
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Note that a toad or dolly with no brakes causes the same effect on a drop hitch. Whenever you slow the coach, the toad pushes HARD against the lever of the drop hitch and tries to twist the receiver off the chassis. The same applies if you set the sensitivity of a toad brake very light to the save the toad brakes. The inertia of the toad pushes against the drop hitch on every stop, or even when you take your foot off the gas for a moment and the coach begins to slow.

Most drop hitch manufacturers now include a caveat about derating the hitch capacity when a drop is used.
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Old 10-14-2009, 07:49 PM   #10
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I do not use a dolly but I have a Jeep Liberty toad with the Blue Ox brake system, I have a 4inch drop. With the factory hitch from Winnebago I found out of the 6 bolts used to mount it to the frame 4 of them were broken, Winnebago drilled 5/8 holes and put 1/2 bolts in (easier to line up) when I contacted there service dept they stated the 1/2 bolts were ok and that the problem was the spacing from were the hitch/tow bar is hooked to the coach this distance should not exceed 8 inches, with the drop receiver and the tow bar this is next to impossible to not exceed the 8 in. quoted by Winnebago, I have got that measurement down to 11inches and had a Draw tite hitch installed to replace the factory hitch it uses 5/8 bolts, after doing this I noticed the frame C section were the hitch is installed was bent, I have had to take my coach to a frame shop and have the frame straightened and reinforced, if Winnebago had closed in the C section frame none of this would have been necessary. In summary the hitch they rate at 5000 lbs in my opinion is not really a good 5000lb hitch and I would be extra careful and take any advice regarding towing safety before you have a mishap please check how your factory hitch is mounted and also the frame were it is mounted
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Old 10-15-2009, 09:24 AM   #11
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Thanks for that information about the hitch itself. I will crawl under and take a look. Man, when i think about it, I see a ton of Winnebago motorhomes going down the road pulling toads flat and on dollys. Either everyone has figured out how to deal with this limitation, or there are a lot of unsafe motorhome/toad combinations out there.
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Old 10-16-2009, 06:42 AM   #12
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our Roadmaster tow dolly requires the top of the hitch ball to be between 18" to 20" above road. I don't know if this has anything to do with level or not on ours. We only need a 2" drop to get to this measurement. I was wondering why your drop has to be so much? Your dolly hitch must be much lower to the road than our Roadmaster.
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Old 10-17-2009, 11:11 AM   #13
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CrankArm I have a Demco Kar Kaddy 460 with the surge brakes and this is the first I am hearing about this restriction. It may not apply to me because I have a 2006 on a Workhorse chassis. I plan to investigate and would like to know the reference, which Winnebago volume owner’s manual and page #. To answer Rek the Demco Kar Kaddy 460 requires the top of the ball to be 18 inches above the road. I bet if you compare tow dollies you will probably find this to be the standard within plus or minus two inches. The drop down height varies because we are talking different chassis makes and even models. Rek has a Workhorse W22 and his drop down is 2 inches. My Workhorse W24 has definitely more than a 2 inch drop.
I think you’re definitely doing the right thing and have put safety first. I would suggest calling Winnebago technical assistance. I have always found these folks to be very helpful and they may provide some insight from an engineering standpoint. Next look at changing the receiver bar mounted under the motorhome. You can find all different makes and models and I am sure there is one out there that can satisfy or exceed all weight requirements and lower your drop down requirement to less than 4 inches. When you crunch the numbers this may be a more economical solution then selling your tow dolly and having to set your toad up for 4 down towing.
Good luck and please keep us updated on what you find out.
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Old 10-19-2009, 09:56 AM   #14
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OK, here are the details

we have a 2009 Itasca Suncruiser 32H on a Ford chassis (22k GVWR)
the operator's manual, section 12 (miscellaneous), page 3 (car or trailer towing) is where I find the warning (I have attempted to attach)

with a full tank of gas, 1/3 tank fresh water, empty holding tanks my measurements: From the ground to the center line of our receiver is 23"
With a 7-3/4" drop, I get 19" to the top of the ball. Kar Kaddy recomends 18" I suppose if the bus was loaded down and the suspension was into it's sag, the ball height would come down a bit...but I still could not get by with just a 4" drop and keep anywhere near the 18" to the top of the ball as recomended by Kar KAddy
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