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Old 11-17-2014, 05:36 AM   #1
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Towing in snow?

Okly doakly,
so My trip to Hokaido and back was a resounding sucess, and all of the short trip since then have been spot on.

Next question is for the seriously experienced towing members: how about some tips on towing in the snow. should I carry chains.while the tires are not driven when driving up and down snowy switchbacks will chains help? will the trailer slide in any fashion? will chains help the trailer brakes on a mechanically operated braking system.

how should I coat the bottom of the trailer IRT moisuture and ice?

can I run alcohol based antifreeze in the sewage tanks to prevent iceing?

standing by for your knowledge and insight

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Old 11-17-2014, 09:47 AM   #2
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Yes, tire chains work and you should have a set for the trailer as well as the truck.

My advice, if at all possible, avoid towing in snow. Your driving might be fine, but 85% of the other drivers won't have a clue, and chances are they will cause a wreck that you may not be able to avoid.

Good luck.
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Old 11-17-2014, 09:59 AM   #3
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I don't think I would ever put tire chains on a trailer, ever ride in a vehicle with chains on? I have alot, you probley wouldn't have any dishes left!! I have drove 18 wheeler log trucks with chains coming out of mountains with alot of snow and never saw chains on trailers, what you need is good trailer brakes and alot of attension to what that trailer is doing behind you. but the best advise is pull over where its safe and wait till the roads are better, after all your not on a schedule.
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Old 11-17-2014, 10:49 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by kenn_chan View Post
... how about some tips on towing in the snow.
The best tip is don't do it.

But if you have no choice, then be certain your tow vehicle has winter tires with excellent ratings for driving on ice and snow. I would even put ice studs in the drive tires if not against the law where you'll be towing.

For a TT, tow only with an excellent WD hitch with excellent sway control. If you can buy the hitch for less than $500 from or, then that's a cheap hitch. Pay more and get a Reese Strait-Line with dual cam sway control, or an Equalizer, or a Husky Centerline, or a Blue Ox.

...should I carry chains.
If you have to have chains in addition to excellent winter tires, then you should park the trailer. In the lower 48, mountain passes usually require either chains or adequate snow tires. I've never seen a mountain pass that required chains, period.

will chains help the trailer brakes on a mechanically operated braking system.
I hope you don't mean surge brakes. DO NOT tow a trailer that has surge brakes on snow or ice.

how should I coat the bottom of the trailer IRT moisuture and ice?
If the trailer is a 4-seasons trailer, then you don't need to add anything under the trailer. If it's not a 4-seasons trailer, then don't tow it on snow or ice.

can I run alcohol based antifreeze in the sewage tanks to prevent iceing?
Do they still make that stuff? Why not simply pour in a coupla quarts of RV antifreeze. It's cheap and avilable at Wal-Mart.
Grumpy ole man with over 60 years towing experience. Now my heaviest trailer is a 7'x16' 5,000-pound flatbed utility trailer, my tow vehicle is a 2019 F-150 Lariat 3.5L EcoBoost SuperCab with Max Tow (1,904 pounds payload capacity).
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Old 11-17-2014, 02:10 PM   #5
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Worst thing I have ever had to do is tow on snow-all 4 wheels chained and the trailer chained in 4wd low.Took 4 hours to go over a mountain pass-(16 miles)never and I repeat never would I do that again.
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Old 11-17-2014, 03:19 PM   #6
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I just want to know where you will be traveling so I can avoid that road!!!
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Old 11-17-2014, 03:50 PM   #7
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I tow a rather large enclosed snowmobile trailer in the northeast every winter. I have had a few scary moments like when the cross wind actually pushed the trailer to the side on an icy road.

I would never take a travel trailer out on slippery roads, the snowmobile trailer is my limit. Another thing to consider is the chemicals used on the road will destroy your brakes and suspension parts.
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Old 11-17-2014, 04:01 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by lynnmor View Post
Another thing to consider is the chemicals used on the road will destroy your brakes and suspension parts.
And that is why I would never tow in the snow. Our vehicles need total brake replacement every 2 years.
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Old 11-17-2014, 04:04 PM   #9
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"<how should I coat the bottom of the trailer IRT moisuture and ice?>"
Use 'Fluid Film' in spray form.

Have good winter tires on your TV and don't drive much over 20 mph.
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Old 11-17-2014, 04:24 PM   #10
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The best thing to do is slow down, pull over and wait until it goes away.

You did not say what you were trying to tow in. There are so many possible scenarios that it is difficult to give a good anwer. Is the snow dry, wet, wind blown? Are the highways clear and dry, slushy, cold and icing?

If the conditions are really cold the snow does not stick to the highway. While sight distance is not optimal traction is very reasonable. Slow down and drive conservatively.

Warmer conditions where snow is wet and sticking to the highway will be the worst. This is a pull over and stop condition. While chaining up, etc may keep you going you will be out amongst a group of folks who will continue to drive as if it is summer time. After all they have all wheel or 4 wheel drive vehicles! Therein lies the danger.

While the advice of snow tires, chains and other combinations is good it is tough to recommend them as it will depend upon the regularity of encountering the conditions envisioned. Installing a set of lug tires for a one off encounter may be a bit over the top. While lug tires may work well in snow they will reduce fuel economy and tire life. Carrying chains for a one time use will use up considerable space (and weight) so do you need to carry them. Studded tires will require you to have an additional set as most jurisdictions ban them and the ones that allow them generally allow only a small window of use.

While I have driven many miles with ribbed tires in many winter conditions pulling the 5er the best driving I did was in the parking lot waiting for the roads to clear.
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Old 11-17-2014, 04:26 PM   #11
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You know trailer brakes are touchy at best. Remember they don't have any sort of "anti-lock" system on them. The last 3 years I have seen two 32'+ tt's being pulled on very snow covered freeways in NE. Ohio and seen them end up backwards in the median later on down the road.
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Old 11-17-2014, 09:43 PM   #12
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Yes, carry chains for both the tow vehicle and the trailer. If you need them on the tow vehicle, you need them on the trailer, especially switchback climbs and descents.

It is best to avoid driving in snow. If you absolutely must, keep the speed down and avoid any sudden acceleration or braking. Top the hills slowly so the ride down is at slow speed. Gravity mixed with ice and snow are not your friend.

Remember not to try and stop the trailer on an incline, use flat ground only. We were in northern Canada on the way to Alaska and came to a winding uphill and could see a large commercial truck with two trailers in the ditch ahead and above us, so we stopped on a flat patch of road to wait for the road crew. A truck with 5th wheel camper came up behind us and stopped on the slight grade, and then slid backwards off the road into the brush and heavy snow. A Canadian trucker came along with a truck and trailer with 14 wheels chained up. He pulled up, asked a few folks to move ahead until he had a clear road, then backed down until he could get a chain on the truck and 5th wheel in the brush. Once hooked up, he pulled them up to the flat spot, then went on his way. The road crew and grader came about an hour later.

Avoid snow unless you have a supply of Canadian truckers handy.
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Old 11-18-2014, 12:51 AM   #13
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everybody who posted thank you for your insights.

I guess I should have added some more info to help you better understand the situation: I currently live in Japan so I am not sure what to equate the weather here to in regards to snow etc. in the states or canada.

the highways will be lightly packed but speeds are limited and strictly enforced during snow season so max speed on highway if it is totaly clear with no visible ice or snow is 80kph (50mph) once snow starts to accumulate only 4wd vehicles with severe snow duty tires are allowed to travel and speed is reduced and monitored to 50 kph or about 30mph. (or lower as conditions allow)

on the higway I am not so concerned, it is on the lower roads in the switchbacks leading to the mountain resorts that I am concerned with. my truck has studless bridgestones which have been proven to work better than studded tires (for the conditions present in nagano and or nigata areas) trailer is 3300 lbs loaded and truck is a F150 Super crew 4wd.

While I have driven in the snow a lot I have never towed hence my questions. I was concerned if I should put studless on the trailer, or just use chains (if needed) I was concerned with the posibility of the truck/trailer swapping ends while coming downhill if the trailer did not have adequate traction while decending.

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Old 11-18-2014, 01:01 AM   #14
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surge brakes

yes I believe the common term for the braking system is surge brakes, however they are immensely different from what I remember in the states. Vice having a hydraulic resevoir/master cylinder on the tounge my trailer uses a mechanical linkage back to the axle which activatees the brakes and is adjustable via a turnbuckle type afffair.

How would this be any different than an electronic brake? Other than ease of adjustments for conditions. My plan was to adjust it slighlty lighter than normal and test it a bit before getting deep into the switchbacks

IRT the iceing etc. I do not have access to a walmart to by RV specific anti iceing compounds for the water lines and septic tank. all water lines on my camper are designed to flex and stretch so that even if the lines freeze they wil not burst (no hardlines all flexible silicon rubber) so I am only worried about the waste tank on the cassete toilet

unit is danish made and designed for four seasons but I think a recoat would be good for the bottom. It currently ahs a rubberized type of paint coating but it looks a little rough so I was thining a recoat, but what to use. the RV industry here in Japan is designed to make you buy new vice maintaining them,so they really do not offer the materials that are available in the states or even europe to maintain the units.

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