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Old 05-31-2021, 07:11 PM   #1
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Gas station boo boo - bent tow dolly axle? how to straighten?

I am using a Master Tow dolly, about 2012 vintage - judging by the date code on the tires it came with. I bought Goodyear Endurance tires for it - load range D is not that common in a 205-75R14 size and I wanted to avoid China bombs. On the first day of our trip, we snagged a steep post while exiting a very tightly laid out truck stop gas pump with the LH tire/fender of the tow dolly.

After this mishap the tow dolly now tracks slightly to the left - I can now see the edge of the fender/tire in the mirror - was not able to do so before. Visually we did not see any damage other than wiping yellow paint off of the post and onto the fender and tire. After about 900 miles of towing after the incident I noticed an aggressive wear pattern on the tow dolly tire treads and the LH tire has the tread worn 50% on the inboard side, similar but less wear on the RH tire. I checked the toe alignment with a tape measure and the front of the tires are toe **out** 1.5 inches. It appears that the axle is bent - not that I can see where it is bent without either a straight edge or dismantling most of the tow dolly to gunsight down the axle. The axle is an integral/structural part of the tow dolly - I can't just go and buy a replacement axle at a trailer store. Anyone have experience in having a tow dolly or trailer axle straightened?
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Old 05-31-2021, 07:18 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aribert View Post
I am using a Master Tow dolly, about 2012 vintage - judging by the date code on the tires it came with. I bought Goodyear Endurance tires for it - load range D is not that common in a 205-75R14 size and I wanted to avoid China bombs. On the first day of our trip, we snagged a steep post while exiting a very tightly laid out truck stop gas pump with the LH tire/fender of the tow dolly.

After this mishap the tow dolly now tracks slightly to the left - I can now see the edge of the fender/tire in the mirror - was not able to do so before. Visually we did not see any damage other than wiping yellow paint off of the post and onto the fender and tire. After about 900 miles of towing after the incident I noticed an aggressive wear pattern on the tow dolly tire treads and the LH tire has the tread worn 50% on the inboard side, similar but less wear on the RH tire. I checked the toe alignment with a tape measure and the front of the tires are toe **out** 1.5 inches. It appears that the axle is bent - not that I can see where it is bent without either a straight edge or dismantling most of the tow dolly to gunsight down the axle. The axle is an integral/structural part of the tow dolly - I can't just go and buy a replacement axle at a trailer store. Anyone have experience in having a tow dolly or trailer axle straightened?
Normally I would say no to straightening an axel. Can I assume this is a welded assembly? The way most tow dolly's are built? If you can measure that it is off somewhere it is bent. Might be the spindle assembly. A good welding frame shop should be able to measure and if it is the spindle, that can be cut off and replaced. Or a frame shop may be able to pull it back. But I would make sure the spindle is not bent. I have built these things from scratch and have also replaced spindles that have spun a bearing on it. It doesn't take much to throw them off and tow funny.
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Old 05-31-2021, 07:40 PM   #3
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GO to a truck/trailer spring frame alignment shop. I had a very similar problem with a new tow dolly, (small local manufacturer). On our first trip of about 2500 miles wore this inside treads of the tires completely out. When I took it to their shop, I was told the toe in was about an inch. Left it with them, and they fixed the issue, never another tire wear problem. This was a solid axle with the spindles and backing plates welded on.

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Old 05-31-2021, 10:19 PM   #4
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Yes the axle and the tongue are one piece, with other details welded to the axle.

Kenny Loney
Good suggestion. We are overnighting in Billings tomorrow and I was already planning on calling trailer repair shops while enroute. I'll add truck and trailer spring/axle shops to the list.

If I were home, I'd grab a chain and a porta-power hydraulic unit and pull the axle back. Might not be perfect but it would be close enough to get good tire wear.
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Old 06-01-2021, 07:44 AM   #5
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I've had a couple of dollies and fixed axle issues. Portapower and patience will fix it. Watch the welds after straighteniing, weak ones will crack, if not now...later.

If you want to have it done, a well-equipped alignement shop often has a pulling rack, mini framemaster if you will. A frame pulling shop can get the job done if they wish to tackle it.
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Old 06-01-2021, 10:42 AM   #6
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......If you want to have it done, a well-equipped alignement shop often has a pulling rack, mini framemaster if you will......
I would suggest checking with the more "established" (aka older) alignment shops. I had the same problem with a bass boat trailer once and had a real problem finding an alignment shop locally that could handle it. All the newer shops that I checked with were built specifically to handle alignment work on newer vehicles and none of them had a pulling rack. The only one that I could find that did have one was an older shop that was started back in the 50's and had equipment to bend the axle on old Ford I-Beam front ends.

This isn't the same business but it's kind of cool to watch for some of us old guys......
https://youtu.be/0Ba7n4tsJsk
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Old 06-01-2021, 11:04 PM   #7
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I think we found a guy to do the straightening in Boseman - dropped off the tow dolly (and the Fusion) this evening and will pick both up again Sat afternoon when we are back in the area.
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Old 07-01-2021, 03:59 PM   #8
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I think we found a guy to do the straightening in Boseman - dropped off the tow dolly (and the Fusion) this evening and will pick both up again Sat afternoon when we are back in the area.
You might want to think long and hard before using Western Services and Repair in Bozeman MT. We picked up the tow dolly 3 days after dropping it off. We were billed 5.5 hrs for the repair. The dolly had 1.5 in. of tow out when dropped off. The "repaired" tow dolly has 1 1/8 inches of tow out - a measly 25% improvement, not nearly enough improvement to prevent ruining tires in short order. We are are a bit remote with limited cell service so unable to post earlier. It pains me greatly to have the tools/skills to do the repair if I were home but ending up paying someone else to do a half a$$ed job! I'll end up sacrificing a pair of tires to get back home and fix it myself.
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Old 07-01-2021, 04:12 PM   #9
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I had a boat axle similar to the one I will share a link to, and had the same (similar) thing happen. I was far from home but had some tools and loosened the u-bolts and rotated the axle about 90 degrees. What that did for me was trade off the extreme tow-out condition to a less concerning positive camber condition (tire leaning outwards but tracking straight). Perhaps you could do something similar on your axle for now. Ultimately I replaced the entire axle, like this one, they aren't too expensive, although I am not sure with the master tow axle which likely will have brakes included which will bring the price up, but you will have new brakes, bearings, and axle which may in the long run cost less overall. ~CA

https://www.amazon.com/LCI-Lippert-5...173498&sr=8-15
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Old 07-01-2021, 05:37 PM   #10
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The axle and tongue and a few other brackets are all one welded asm. I need to straighten the axle beam between the tongue and the spindle.
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