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Author Topic: Thanks for Advice on Trailers, and the winner is.......  (Read 3923 times)
Dave Siegel
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« on: October 15, 2006, 04:16:54 AM »

Thanks everyone for all the good advice about tow bars, trailers and dollies. Some of those adventures sounded pretty wild. I can just imagine trying to go up a mountain with Jan in the towed, helping push the bus up the hill, tears streaming from her eyes from utter determination that she would get me for this.

Conversely, I could just imagine the looks on passer-bys thinking that our little Toyota was pushing that great big bus up a steep hill. That might be a new business....Jan's Pushing Service,USA.

The Tow Bars all seem to run into the $2500 to $3000 price range once you consider all of the parts concerned. Then you have to modify the car and if you trade it in, those parts are especially for the Toyota so they are not moveable, and they go with the trade.

I agree with those that say the trailer is added weight, but I do like the idea about extra storage that can be added to a trailer in the form of tool boxes, job boxes etc. Another vision I have is Jan and I trying to push a tandem trailer around a campground to get it to the parking area. Yeah, I can just see that. We would do that for one unhook and Jan would see to it that the trailer was gone in the morning. Trailers here seem to run about $2500 plus attachments. (Jan has read this announcement and she approves this message. With the reminder that she does help a lot. And she does.)

Looks like Rick Brown in Reno has the right idea. The Tow dolly has won out. Even in this city of inflated prices (Naples) I can get a tow dolly with electric brakes for less than $1700 brand new. I don't have to modify the car. It doesn't seem too much harder to disconnect than the car alone. Like Rick says, The dolly is small, light weight and can be stored easily.

I haven't bought it yet, but the dolly fits our budget and capabilities better. Is there a really better reason why not to buy one?

Dave Siegel
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Dave & Jan Siegel    1948 GMC  "Silversides"
               Naples, Florida
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« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2006, 05:20:21 AM »

Not having a tow dolly, let alone a bus, Maybe I am not qualified to comment.......
Ahhhh Heck, Why stop now   Grin

If the Dolly i swhat you have decided on, Why dont ya rent one for a week and see if it really fits you.  Might decide that it's not worth it, or might think it's the greatest thing since power steering.  FWIW, You should probably spend the day going through a local campground with the toad attached, a few residential streets and maby a quick trip to Wally World to see if you can put it through some "Real-World" paces prior to purchasing.  Heck, Maybe somebody would loan you a 4 down toad and a trailer to try out also....

whatever you decide, Good Luck! 


Jim
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« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2006, 05:53:52 AM »

  Heck I did push a bluebird 22K with a Renault alliance about 1000' & it work.
         wrench
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larryh
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« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2006, 06:23:15 AM »

I bought my Tow Dolly for 500.00 just towed it and toad just under 6000 miles and no problems even got on a one lane road and a bridge with weight limit of 5000 lbs and unloaded and unhooked and got turned around in less than a hour by myself so not bad at all.

LarryH
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« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2006, 07:44:16 AM »

My vote would be a hitch mount tow bar. Hook-up or un-hook in 1 minute. You can't back up a tow bar or tow dolly for more than a few feet so to me four down was the way to go. I was able to get a Falcon ll hitch mount tow bar and mounting brackets direct from RoadMaster in reconditioned form for under $400. (The bar alone retails for near $600) All you need is lights and brake system. The brake system could prolly be had in reconditioned form also. My bus has 12 V lights and seperate tail/brake/t-signal which was easy to wire up the toad direct with plug-in's. I used a tow dolly before and I was always worried about the straps being tight or the car shifting or the rockers touching in sharp turns etc... I just found it a hassle to mount/tie the toad onto the dolly.
The advantage to using a tow dolly is being able to tow a front wheel drive car with no hassles.
If your toad IS a FWD then the choice is simple. We needed another car so we bought one (4WD) that could be towed 4 down. '03 Chevy Tracker. Small, light and good on gas. Suzuki Grand Vitara is another good choice. We live in Colorado so we needed a 4WD.

Don & Sheila
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gumpy
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« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2006, 07:49:54 AM »

Wow, I don't know where you were looking, but I'm glad I didn't look there for my towing equipment. $2500 - $3000?? $1700 for a tow dolly? Dang. My Father-in-Law bought a an 18 ft flat trailer with ramps in GA for about $1700 a few years ago. I've seen used tow dolly's advertised here for between $300 and $600. There were tow listed locally on Craigslist for those prices in the last month. They're still there so probably didn't sell.

I've put 2 base plates on Explorers. The first on the '91 was about $120. The second on the '03 was $315 and I thought that was high. The tow bar I currently use was a reconditiioned unit from Blue Ox. That and the 8" drop receiver I had to put on cost something like $300. So, on the current Explorer, my entire towing setup from bus to car, not including the electrical and cables, cost me just over $600.

Do what's right for you and your pocketbook.
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Craig Shepard
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« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2006, 10:47:12 AM »

I bought my 18 foot Car Trailer from All Pro Trailers in Sanford Florida for about $1,800 a couple of years ago.
It handles so well that I have to look to see if it is still behind me. I couldn't even tell it was there with a car
on it and the Bus was happy. I have hauled entire RTS cradles on it ( ouch! 2-at the same time! ) Poor trailer
was 2,200 lbs over it's 5,500 lbs limit but it worked fine. I can't say my 6 cylinder van liked that load however.
I could get to 35 mph or maybe 40 downhill but it was a short haul.

The nice thing about trailers is the break-down factor. If the trailer breaks you just unload the car and go get
a tire or whatever you need. If the car tears up something on the drive line from pulling it 4-down or the dolly
causes problems you pretty much need a tow truck.

I would rather pay for a $100 tire and wheel than a $1,000 repair job to fix the car.

Trailers are predictable when towing and backing. Dolly's and all-down are not. I would rather scrub the tires off a trailer
in a sharp swing-out turn that be twisting on a plastic car.

Generally if your hitch can't handle 500 lbs downforce you shouldn't be towing anything anyhow. ( Personal Opinion!) Grin
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« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2006, 04:36:37 PM »

Dave -

Jim the Eagle Lover has the right idea - rent a dolly and take it for a spin.  U-Haul has them available for both local and one-way rentals, most larger locations will have one or two sitting around.

If you're still thinking about a full-out car trailer, and if you're a Good Sam member, in the back of the monthly mag there are usually a couple of ads for electric manual dollys to move trailers around by hand.  I have a little non-electric one that I got at Harbor Freight for $65 that I often use to move my little utility trailer, it's very handy.

www.powercaster.com or www.powermoverinc.net are the two listed in the current issue.

Just a few extra thoughts to drive yourselves crazy. . .

 Wink
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RJ Long
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« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2006, 06:08:38 PM »

Sorta depends on where you plan to go. If camping in a proper RV park, you may spend a good bit of time arriving, unloading the toad from either a trailer or dolly, hooking up the trailer or dolly to the toad, parking the trailer or dolly in the approved area for towables. And this can be come quite burdensome. Very few parks have room for a trailer and toad parked at the campsite. They get funny about the toads in some places.
If you are not planning to use RV parks, and can leave the trailer and toad connected to the coach when parked, that changes the equasion a little.
Still, 4 down is by far and away the easiest and quickest method of pulling a toad. A late model toad in good condition will rarely cause problems.
As Craig says, tow bars can be bought for far less than indicated. I have less than $500 in my Blue Ox Acclaim towbar and Roadmaster brackets on a Jeep Cherokee. The one expensive thing, of which the value is debateable, is an automatic braking unit. They can cause as much trouble as they prevent. On a heavy vehicle, toad braking may be desirable, but on such units an my Cherokee (3300 lbs), the need is not clear at all. Your state laws (and your level of comfort ignoring them) may help you make a decision on whether you wish to install a braking system...or fabricate a "air servo" braking system. It'll pass the "sniff" test even in not totally functional...if you get my point.
May I suggest you get with some RV savvy folk and observe hooking up a tow bar arrangement, and then try loading and tying down a car onto a dolly or trailer. Imagine this event during a rainstorm. A dolly is a pain, but a trailer is even worse. You gotta tie both ends of your car down. And, it better be affixed to the dolly or trailer in a workmanlike manner.
Be clear on what you are getting into with dollys and trailers before making that leap.
The points that DrDave makes are valid, but there's a reason that 90% of RV toads are towed 4 down. You can unhook a towbar in less than a minute...don't have to remove anything from the coach. Safety cables, lighting, and towbar all store on the hitch (if you get a hitch storing unit, which I recommend). I've got a toad storing unit that is almost as fast....got a towbar folded on the front of the toad. Whole towbar comes off faster than you can run the tongue jack down on a trailer. Another bonus with towbars is that if you get within plus or minus 6" of the towbars operating range, you can hook it up....it isn't necessary to be accurate with aligning the towbar as is with a trailer or dolly. A towbar extends or compresses to adjust for errors...hook it up, and pull forward to latch. Verify latching and drive off.
Often you can pull the toad to the campsite with you....generally cannot do this with a trailer. There obviously are exceptions.
If you use a trailer, you'll need to wire the coach for electric brakes. Most trailers have electric brakes. Dolly will have surge brakes...which will soon enough be no brakes. Dollys work fine. Just a lot of mess loading up and tying down the front wheels...especially when the toad wheels are muddy or wet. And you gotta get up under the car to attach safety chains to the car. OH MY! Shocked
AND last but definitely not the last word....don't know much about vintage GM coaches, which I believe you have, but the hitch had better be subtantial if you plan to pull a trailer. A towbar has zero tongue weight. A dolly has minimal tongue weight. A trailer should have at least 10% of the GVW on the hitch....can be a tall order for bus hitches.
All of the above assumes a 4 down towable vehicle. That's another diatribe.
May the sun shine on your choice! Wink
My dos centavos, JR
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JR Lynch , Charlotte, NC
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« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2006, 06:26:50 PM »

Then you have to modify the car and if you trade it in, those parts are especially for the Toyota so they are not moveable, and they go with the trade.
Dave Siegel

Dave, the only thing you'd lose in a vehicle trade is the baseplate (Blue Ox) or brackets (Roadmaster) and lighting adaptor.
Brackets are the only proprietary component in a towbar setup. They oughta give you more for a trade with brackets. Sell the toad to an RV'er and you'll make big bucks!
Towbars are universal. Install the correct brackets or baseplate and the towbar will continue to serve your needs.
Retail on baseplates or brackets are approx $300...so it ain't but so bad...you'd have to install them on the new toad. All in all, not a bad situation...unless you trade anually or something?
Roadmaster brackets are easier to install than Blue Ox baseplates. I used Roadmaster brackets with adaptors. The Roadmaster adaptors make the Blue Ox too easy to remove. Blue Ox baseplates are rugged items...both brands work without issues.
I'm done...I promise. JR
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JR Lynch , Charlotte, NC
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« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2006, 06:38:28 PM »

we don't have a dolly - yet, and we're debating on a 30ft trailer so we can haul our van and some equipment.  in the meantime, our car problem has been solved by renting.  we thought about the dolly, but everyone says no, and it still wouldn't solve the equip problem.  we found that renting for a few days is cheaper than hauling and maint.  if you don't really need a car that much, we let enterprise come get us.  we get most things from the kmarts, etc, with the bus, but if we want to sight see, then we get a car.

just another point of view.
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Tom
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« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2006, 11:52:33 PM »

I'm sure we're a minority, here, but our family of five we've done 15 states and 15,000 miles of bus travel (so far) toad free. By planning ahead, using Google Earth or Google Maps we can usually find a spot to park Da Bus. And then it's there for our "home away from home" whenever we need something.

If we can't take the bus, can't walk there, ride our bikes, or use public trans... we just don't do it. We sometimes camp next to folks that spend a lot of time fiddling with their toads, or dollys... attaching, detaching, lining it up, trying to find a place to put it... or take three hours to break camp and get the fifth wheel attached and ready. Meanwhile, we've been long gone... touring and having fun in our bus.

Most modern cities, even downtowns, were designed around the 40' transit bus. Big box stores have parking-aplenty. Most major tourist attractions have bus/ RV parking. Same with college/ pro sports (no better tailgating vehicle than a bus!). We've dry-camped in front of relatives homes... then packed 12 people in the bus to head to the pool or grocery store. Never worrying about backing up, tow plates, stashing the dolly, oil slicks on the toad, or loooong turning radii.

For the hundred$ you spend on a dolly, or the couple grand for a 4-wheel toad setup... and the inevetable loss of MPG and fretting and fussing over towing something... you could rent a car, take a taxi, walk, or just... drive Da Bus.

We also use it around home sometimes when we're not travelling. We took it to my softball game the other night for a double header. The kids watched a DVD and played board games while I played ball for three hours in the chilly weather. My teammates thought it was sooo cool to have something like that. We take it to the local lake for daytrips... the County Fair... the zoo... even the grocery store twice.  Why not? Even if/when fuel is $3+/gallon... a trip to Starbuck$ costs more.

Speaking of travel, look for us and The SpaceShip at my wife's beloved Iowa Hawkeyes game in two weeks! Can't wait...

Just another $0.02... and not to flame the toad-ers out there!
bb
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Brian Brown
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« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2006, 08:39:58 AM »

The Tow Bars all seem to run into the $2500 to $3000 price range once you consider all of the parts concerned.

Where are you shopping for tow bars?  I paid $650 for the Stowmaster bar and brackets from an eBay vendor called RVExit.  Great price and good service.  They were about the same on the bar as the cheapest web price I found but were $100 less on the brackets.  Other than a hitch on the bus, that's all you need.  As for lights, I just added additional sockets to the Jeep tail lights which was about $20 in parts.

Aside from letting the wife drive the car, which can have it's benefits, the tow bar is the cheapest option.  You can find a Chinese cheapo dolly for $500 or so, but take a good look at it before you buy it.  A good tow dolly is not cheap.

Ross
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Dave Siegel
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« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2006, 10:57:47 AM »

Again, thanks everyone for the abundance of advice offered about towing our towed. And , I can safely say that I am probably more confused now than I was when I started. But I liked the imput, it required me to do more research.

1: A trailer is prefered because you can attach additional boxes to it and make room for more storage. But that also adds to the weight and un-manuveraility of the entire package. Trailers here are about $1800.00

2: A tow dolly is prefered because of it's light weight and......oh I don't know, there was something.

3: A tow bar was really prefered because it is easy to hook up and un-hook. But I stated that it would be about $3,000 for the complete package and with that price lots of folks around came back with " where do you shop?" Well I was concerned about where I shopped, too. So I took someone's advice and went to EBay. This is what I found. These are the cheapest prices I have found anywhere. That are convenient to us here is South West Florida.

       Tow bar  Blue Ox (Fact. Reconditioned  ($295.00) E-Bay w/free shipping
       Tow bracket Demco (RVexit ($269.00)  E-Bay  w/Free shipping
       Electric Brake system (required by law in 32 states) ($700.00)  RV exit  e-bay  w/free shipping (and thats a cheap one)
       Labor to hook this mess up   $250.00
       Lube Pump for Toyota Matrix  (only available at Remco) $700 + shipping
       Dealer install on pump  $250

       That adds up to $2464.00 dollars. $950 of which I will loose if I trade the Matrix in at any time.

Bottom line here is I found a brand new Masters Tow Dolly with electric brakes for $1200.00 and that sure sounds like the best absolute best deal going. The way I look at it is that by saving that extra $1200 will give us and extra month on the road. Best of all I don't have to modify the Toyota at all.

Dave Siegel
That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

Dave Siegel

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Dave & Jan Siegel    1948 GMC  "Silversides"
               Naples, Florida
   Dave is Host to the "Help Assist Pages"
  (Free roadside help for Bus Conversions)
         www.help-assist-list.com
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« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2006, 12:04:31 PM »

Ah, so you need a lot more than just a tow bar.  If you don't have a car that is readily towable 4 down, all the extras can get pricey.

Ross
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