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codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) UberDork
12/8/20 5:07 p.m.
accordionfolder said:

3) 2 of the towed car's wheels are down. Depending on the distance I'm going I swap on "roller" tires on, minor annoyance.

This varies by state, but sometimes having the towed vehicle's wheels down and rolling means that you're required to have current registration on that vehicle.

 

 

accordionfolder
accordionfolder SuperDork
12/8/20 5:30 p.m.

In reply to codrus (Forum Supporter) :

Troof!

APEowner
APEowner Dork
12/8/20 5:36 p.m.
codrus (Forum Supporter) said:
accordionfolder said:

3) 2 of the towed car's wheels are down. Depending on the distance I'm going I swap on "roller" tires on, minor annoyance.

This varies by state, but sometimes having the towed vehicle's wheels down and rolling means that you're required to have current registration on that vehicle.

 

 

I have no idea if it's still the case or if it's true anywhere else but at one time the New York State Thruway required that the vehicle be operational.  I learned that the hard way.  I paid a $75.00 service fee for answering no when I was asked if the car on the tow dolly ran.

 

pirate
pirate HalfDork
12/8/20 7:38 p.m.

In reply to accordionfolder :

2) You (well, **I) can't back them up, you've got to plan ahead or you can get into trouble. I've had some close calls getting gas/etc. My cars are all gas-burners so the pumps are much tighter than a lot of diesel pumps. 

Just thought I would add, we have a gas motorhome and use a tow dolly. Getting gas for the motorhome while traveling is almost always a pain. They don't sell gas in the truck lanes at truck stops so you have to pick your gas stations carefully so you don't get into a position you can't back up or have enough room to turn. End pumps sometimes work. I always do a search for Pilot Gas Stations on phone or iPad. They have what they call dedicated RV lanes for motorhomes, vehicles pulling trailer rather they be RV or car trailers or anything else. Those lanes provide ample room to navigate and sell both gas and diesel and sometimes have provisions for water and compressed air. Just a heads up.

 

maschinenbau (I live here)
maschinenbau (I live here) SuperDork
12/9/20 7:39 a.m.

A lot of good info here. Just want to reiterate the point about tongue weight. You NEED it! Especially for lighter tow vehicles! 

I learned firsthand how important it is. My mystery no-name tow dolly seems to center the wheels with the dolly axle, resulting in very little, zero, or sometimes negative tongue weight depending on how you load it. I think it has to do with how the swivel plate was mounted when they built the dolly, but basically the tire pockets are not far enough forward. I once got into a Code Brown situation on the interstate when the tail started to wag the dog...almost lost my Challenge car and my El Camino. The U-Haul dolly is much more stable in this regard.

accordionfolder
accordionfolder SuperDork
12/9/20 10:59 a.m.

In reply to maschinenbau (I live here) :

I don't really follow the tongue weight argument. Tow dolly's work more like a flat tow or a trailer with wheels at 4 corners. Tongue weight doesn't come into the equation for the ones I've used. The cars weight is nearly square over the tow dolly's wheels - what would cause wag is loose parts in any of the joints. Another thing tow dollys are particular on is tow ball height - mine has very specific documentation to keep it level. 

https://www.etrailer.com/question-70015.html

etc. 

I'm not sure why your particular tow dolly wagged, but all the documentation on the others I've read says the same thing. 

PS I love your tow pig :) 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
12/9/20 12:15 p.m.

In reply to accordionfolder :

I recall EvanB's tow dolly throwing his car around over some lumpy Interstate, because of the flipping-signs tongue weight.  Keeps you awake at 2am at least!

thedoc
thedoc HalfDork
12/9/20 12:33 p.m.

Sorry, nothing  helpful, but dang this reminds me of the cars I bought and moved in my youth.  I would have been in the drag winch crowd.

accordionfolder
accordionfolder SuperDork
12/9/20 1:07 p.m.
Pete. (l33t FS) said:

In reply to accordionfolder :

I recall EvanB's tow dolly throwing his car around over some lumpy Interstate, because of the flipping-signs tongue weight.  Keeps you awake at 2am at least!

"because of the flipping-signs tongue weight" - I'm not following this scenario.

Unless this is a style of tow dolly I haven't seen, tongue weight doesn't help/change the waggy-ness like a regular trailer. It's more related to the towed vehicles state of affairs: are the bad ball joints? Bad bushings? etc. Though if the car is actually bouncing out of the wheel straps or isn't strapped correctly that could do it too, but it doesn't have to do with tongue weight. 

EvanB (Forum Supporter)
EvanB (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/9/20 1:14 p.m.

To be fair, that tow dolly was pretty terrible. It was a model where the wheels steered but the kingpins were very worn so with no weight on the dolly they would flop around and make it a bit scary to tow. 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
12/9/20 1:22 p.m.

In reply to EvanB (Forum Supporter) :

I recall watching your rig bouncing like a porpoise from 15-odd car lengths back.

 

No this isn't sway, but that would turn into sway in a corner.

accordionfolder
accordionfolder SuperDork
12/9/20 1:34 p.m.
Pete. (l33t FS) said:

In reply to EvanB (Forum Supporter) :

I recall watching your rig bouncing like a porpoise from 15-odd car lengths back.

 

No this isn't sway, but that would turn into sway in a corner.

Lol - that sounds terrifying. 

fanfoy
fanfoy SuperDork
12/9/20 3:42 p.m.

IMHO, the only downsides of a tow dolly is that they get trashed when they are unloaded and it can be a pain to change out the tires if you run slicks.

But for a FWD car on street tires, they are THE perfect solution. 

keithedwards
keithedwards Reader
12/10/20 6:41 a.m.

I built a tandem axle, 800 lb., un-sprung, car trailer back in 1984. Designed it for my Little British Cars but used it for a few even lighter Japanese cars. Stored a rusty Austin-Healey on it for too many years. Kept it until about 5 years ago. I also bought a well-used Master Tow dolly in the '90s that saw a lot of use towing my CRX race car, and a few other Hondas, sometimes pretty long distances. For my purposes, the trailer and tow dolly were interchangeable for towing my race car. The tow dolly was often more convenient, though I think it weighed about the same as my tandem axle trailer.

I towed the tow dolly behind a Civic, Suburban, 3/4 ton GMC 3+3, and 2 different Winnebagos. Only once or twice did I end up down a feeder road or similar where I couldn't make a U-turn, and had to back it up about a block. It required careful straightening up several times, by pulling forward. One time, at a gas station, and I had to ask somebody not to park where it would block me in.

Both were pretty miserable to tow empty, but I could stabilize the trailer by removing the front tires for towing long distances. I also strapped extra spare tires on the tow dolly, when it is was empty, for a litle extra weight. My tow dolly had kingpins, instead of a turntable, so it tended to "crab" if I didn't put the locking pin in (only when empty).

I used 8' ramps on the trailer, and extended the stock ramps on the tow dolly by 4-5 feet, with 2 by 6s.

 

maschinenbau (I live here)
maschinenbau (I live here) SuperDork
12/10/20 7:12 a.m.

In reply to accordionfolder :

I don't know how to explain the situation either, but it was definitely a brown pants moment. The towed car started rocking back and forth so violently it almost loosened the straps (I use chains as backup). I can "feel" when the dolly isn't loaded correctly. Imagine a 500 lb dude using your tailgate as a trampoline on the interstate, then applying normal braking and turning inputs with 3000 lbs behind you. Depending on when the rear suspension is in squat or extension, the momentum of the dolly can knock your tow vehicle around and initiate some sort of weird resonant effect. I've never read anything about it either, but I also see most tow dollies put the towed vehicles' front wheels forward of the dolly wheels, so tongue weight is always solid. I think my dolly is just a bad design, so I just jam 2x4's behind the loaded front wheels to center the mass further forward in the wheels pockets. 

I love my El Camino too <3

Vigo (Forum Supporter)
Vigo (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/12/20 12:47 a.m.

You definitely want to push your vehicle against the forward stops and i also agree it's useful to have SOME tongue weight, if only for the reason that the tongue weight, if it's close to zero, will actually flop between positive and negative when the whole rig is moving as Pete was referring to.

Like i sort of alluded to 3 years ago, one of the reasons I think towing a dolley with a small car is safer than you might think is because it seems that under braking, a tow dolley adds a lot of dynamic tongue weight because the car tied on top is trying to rotate the tongue downwards with a pretty large force. Having all that weight added to the back tires AND preventing some of the excessive weight transfer onto the front tires makes it so that when i've had to panic brake a loaded dolley, it seemed like the tow vehicle just compressed the hell out of all 4 corners and the tires dug in with more-than-normal traction.  Not magic, but offsets the loss of braking power from the towed weight to a noticeable extent. 

My dolley doesn't have brakes and i've never felt the need to add any. Not that they wouldn't be good to have, I've just never thought "i wish this dolley had brakes". So far. 

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