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Old 12-06-2019, 07:31 PM   #1
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Going solo and using a dolly OK for a 1st time noob?

My plan is to buy a 31ft class A MH and use a dolly to tow my car.
I will be alone and have zero experience with anything to do with RV or MH.
Am I crazy to think a total newbie could handle using a dolly?

My goal is to use a dolly and not any other type of tow.
Yes I know a dolly is harder when it comes to unloading and loading at a RV park or small campsites.
I just want to know how hard it will be at first. I can image that after a few solo trips I will get better.

My plan will be before I set off to traverse the united states is to spend a month just driving the MH and staying at multiple sites without the tow.
Also, when I do start using the dolly, if I am unsure of a campsite I will opt for a pull thru when available.
My goal is to not look like a fool trying to unload my dolly and car before I back into a campsite stall pissing everyone off blocking traffic.

By the way, I am totally comfortable towing a boat on a regular trailer, but a dolly is an unruly thing so I've been told.
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Old 12-06-2019, 07:37 PM   #2
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You might consider putting a tow bar on your car. That way when you need to move the dolly someplace you can pull it with the car rather than with the RV. You won't need a heavy duty tow bar for that, so it shouldn't be too expensive, and it will hopefully make things easier for you every now and then.
Many folks drop the dolly and park their RV so that the tail of the RV is over the dolly. Once you get comfortable with how it will fit under there you could probably hand move the dolly to the back of the site and then park the RV.
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Old 12-06-2019, 07:44 PM   #3
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Don't sweat it -you will do fine, we pull a demco tow dolly and I practiced 3 times at home before we got on the road, the more you do it the easier it gets-at 75 I kneel on a sponge pad and take my time, don't be concerned if you tie up a lane for a little while , none of your neighbors are going to send you a christmas card anyway,I stop at almost every rest area to empty kidneys and check straps, usually first stop it gets a click or two then they stay pretty tight- you'll be OK " Enjoy "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 12-06-2019, 07:44 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Podivin View Post
You might consider putting a tow bar on your car. That way when you need to move the dolly someplace you can pull it with the car rather than with the RV. You won't need a heavy duty tow bar for that, so it shouldn't be too expensive, and it will hopefully make things easier for you every now and then.
Many folks drop the dolly and park their RV so that the tail of the RV is over the dolly. Once you get comfortable with how it will fit under there you could probably hand move the dolly to the back of the site and then park the RV.
Are you saying that I unhook the car from the dolly, then unhook the dolly from the MH, then attach the dolly to the tow hitch on my car.
Then, drive the car with dolly in tow into the campsite and walk the dolly into the stall. then drive the car back to the MH and then drive the MH back to the campsite reverse it in and after that walk back to my car?
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Old 12-06-2019, 07:49 PM   #5
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Don't sweat it -you will do fine, we pull a demco tow dolly and I practiced 3 times at home before we got on the road, the more you do it the easier it gets-at 75 I kneel on a sponge pad and take my time, don't be concerned if you tie up a lane for a little while , none of your neighbors are going to send you a christmas card anyway,I stop at almost every rest area to empty kidneys and check straps, usually first stop it gets a click or two then they stay pretty tight- you'll be OK " Enjoy "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
when you dont use a pull thru site what is the sequence you use?

My guess it would be.
1. check in with front desk via phone or in person.
2. drive past you campsite stall.
3. unhook your car
4. unhook your dolly
5. hand walk the dolly to the rear of the stall
6. reverse the MH into the stall just enough that it runs over the dolly tongue
7 park the car in front of the MH

While all this is happening, will I be blocking traffic?
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Old 12-06-2019, 07:49 PM   #6
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What is your car? Can it be towed 4 down?
First timer going full time? Are you positive about this? Full timing is not for everyone thats for sure. What is your plan if 6 months or a year for now you wake up and realize this is not your cup of tea? Do you have an exit stradigy and the funds to support yourself or buy a permanent residence? Remember all RVs are a deprecating asset. Meaning whwn you decide to sell it will be worth far,leas than when you buy it.
Not trying to persuade you, just want to make sure you have all the facts ahead of taking the plunge.
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Old 12-06-2019, 07:50 PM   #7
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What is your car? Can it be towed 4 down?
First timer going full time? Are you positive about this? Full timing is not for everyone thats for sure. What is your plan if 6 months or a year for now you wake up and realize this is not your cup of tea? Do you have an exit stradigy and the funds to support yourself or buy a permanent residence? Remember all RVs are a deprecating asset. Meaning whwn you decide to sell it will be worth far,leas than when you buy it.
Not trying to persuade you, just want to make sure you have all the facts ahead of taking the plunge.
no, that's why I said it must be a dolly.
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Old 12-06-2019, 08:00 PM   #8
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What is your car? Can it be towed 4 down?
First timer going full time? Are you positive about this? Full timing is not for everyone thats for sure. What is your plan if 6 months or a year for now you wake up and realize this is not your cup of tea? Do you have an exit stradigy and the funds to support yourself or buy a permanent residence? Remember all RVs are a deprecating asset. Meaning whwn you decide to sell it will be worth far,leas than when you buy it.
Not trying to persuade you, just want to make sure you have all the facts ahead of taking the plunge.
I have discussed exit plans on another thread.
My hope is that I will drive until I find a place to buy a house and at that point if I can afford it, keep the MH and buy a house as well.

That part is truly up in the air. I am more afraid I will like the full time RV life that I drive the RV into the ground and not be able to sell it for anywhere near what I paid for it and not have money to buy a home with my remaining funds.

So, its not just a bucket list thing (living in a MH for months or years)
Its also a fact finding mission. I am looking for a house that is in a cheaper area to live than where I am now. this house will need to be near a great fishing river and not be in a dry brown dirt state like NM.
It was recommended to me that I camp and fish the San Juan river.
To me, from the pictures I saw NM and the town closests to that river Farmington was not very green. coming from Oregon, not sure I could handle all that brown dirt.
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Old 12-07-2019, 01:48 AM   #9
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I had to practice a few times at home to get the dolly thing right.

One HUGE mistake is to drive the car too far up the ramps, past the platform stops and high-center the car on the dolly. If you have a high horsepower car, this is far too easy to do. Don't ask how long it takes to get extracted from that mess, and how much damage ensues.

But you will get used to the process, and you will get it down to a 10-15 minute operation.

Still, when I do it over again, I will forget the whole dolly thing and flat-tow. Even though I will have to change cars to do it. (I REALLY like my car, so that made the original decision.) My tow dolly was $3000, just about the cost of a flat tow set-up. So that's a toss-up.

Your money! Your choice!
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Old 12-07-2019, 03:25 AM   #10
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when you dont use a pull thru site what is the sequence you use?

My guess it would be.
1. check in with front desk via phone or in person.
2. drive past you campsite stall.
3. unhook your car
4. unhook your dolly
5. hand walk the dolly to the rear of the stall
6. reverse the MH into the stall just enough that it runs over the dolly tongue
7 park the car in front of the MH

While all this is happening, will I be blocking traffic?
It will be different at every campground. Some have designated unhooking areas near the front. Some the roads will be too narrow to pull your MH through them with the Dolly attached and some will have big wide roads with easy pull through.

As a solo camper, at times you will find having your toad with you will mean a little extra walking. My bride cannot always come with me so I solo camp on occasion and have certainly had occasion (Particularly in Provincial/State Parks) where I have had to unhook at the front gates, go park the MH and then come back for the Toad. I pull 4-Down so a little easier for me, the earlier advice about having a hitch on your car might make moving the dolly much easier in some circumstances.

As to blocking traffic... That is part of camping. You will be blocking it for less time then most TT or 5th's during their hook-up and unhook procedures. People will be patient, they know in a few minutes it will be them blocking traffic. And reality is, 12 years of RVing and I can only think of a handful of times that I encountered people waiting for me to hook or unhook. Even the largest campgrounds only have 20-30 sites in a single row.
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Old 12-07-2019, 03:46 AM   #11
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Here's my tip to make loading the toad easier if you are alone. Measured the outside edge of the track width of the front tires of the toad. Transfer and center this dimension onto the dolly ramps and paint a 1 inch wide stripe representing the outside edge of the driver's tire on the driver's side ramp. Now you will know where to position the toad to clear the passenger side toad fender.
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Old 12-07-2019, 06:28 AM   #12
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It will be different at every campground. Some have designated unhooking areas near the front. Some the roads will be too narrow to pull your MH through them with the Dolly attached and some will have big wide roads with easy pull through.
How do you know what a campground is like until you drive into it?
Do all campgrounds have at least enough space that if you drive in with a toad you can drive out without having to unhitch?
I am concern that I will drive into a campground only to find I can't backup nor can I turn around unless I unhook. I hope that I can tell by using google map or contacting a human by phone and asking. Also I think some campground review sites mention this kind of info?
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Old 12-07-2019, 06:34 AM   #13
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Here's my tip to make loading the toad easier if you are alone. Measured the outside edge of the track width of the front tires of the toad. Transfer and center this dimension onto the dolly ramps and paint a 1 inch wide stripe representing the outside edge of the driver's tire on the driver's side ramp. Now you will know where to position the toad to clear the passenger side toad fender.
Any chance you could say that in a completely different way?
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Old 12-07-2019, 07:05 AM   #14
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Are you saying that I unhook the car from the dolly, then unhook the dolly from the MH, then attach the dolly to the tow hitch on my car.
Then, drive the car with dolly in tow into the campsite and walk the dolly into the stall. then drive the car back to the MH and then drive the MH back to the campsite reverse it in and after that walk back to my car?
No, sorry, I wasn't very clear was I. I'm just saying that AT TIMES, you may be glad to have a hitch on your car to give you another way to move the dolly that doesn't REQUIRE the RV. This assume a site that you MUST back in to, not a pull through. If it's a pull through then you've got nothing to worry about. On some back-in sites it's tricky enough getting the RV in place, without also having to try to keep the dolly from jack-knifing behind you.

Note first that I knowing about you, in particular how strong you are, but on a flat level surface a tow dolly can be moved by hand. You don't have to lift much weight at the hitch, and they are not THAT heavy to push or pull.

Note also that an empty tow dolly can't easily be seen in your mirrors behind an RV, it can be seen in the mirrors behind a car (it's wider than the car). It can of course be seen behind the RV with a rear view camera.

Let's say you've got a nice level site, hard packed ground or concrete. But it's a short site, you can't leave the dolly hooked to the RV because there simply isn't space for it. I think you'll find that the easiest thing to do will be to unhook everything and manually roll the dolly into your site, then back in the RV, then park your car. The dolly never gets hooked to the car.

Now lets say you've got a site is surrounded by trees and they put giant rocks for decorations (yep, some places do that), and there is a fire hydrant very close, and it's slightly uphill, on loose sand. (why the heck are you here anyway?? ). Because of the sand and grade you can't easily walk the dolly in to the site. Because of the obstructions around it will be 'trying' to back it in with the RV. At this site you may want to hook the dolly to the car to put it in the site. Then park the RV.

Or, you're at a campground that says you must park your tow dolly 'over there' somewhere. It could be that 'over there' would be much easier to park the dolly with your car rather than with the RV. In that case you unhook everything, park the RV in the site, hook the dolly to the car, take the dolly 'over there', and drive back to your site.

Neither of our cars is four down towable, but either of them can be towed on a dolly. We have no intentions of trading cars at this point. Twice we've rented a dolly so that we could have a car with us. Both times I walked the dolly into the site. Both times we hauled my car because it has a hitch on it, JUST in case we needed to move the dolly somewhere. We didn't have to, but we had the option if it had been necessary.

There WILL be times that the dolly is a right pain the butt to have, not the hooking up to leave part, but the part where you have to do something with it when you get to your site. To ME that's a stronger argument for four-down towing that the hook up times. That said, when the time comes that we want a car with us more often than we do now we'll buy a dolly. *IF* we were full time I MIGHT do it differently, but for now, with our current cars, a dolly will be the way to go.
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