Tow dolly

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PancakeBill

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Apr 9, 2005
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Benson , AZ.
I have had TD's before, was not fond, but current situation it is the solution. Car we want to tow is an automatic that is not towable 4-down. Prices of used TDs has gone crazy, but I guess everything has. In about 2007 or so I bought a used Master Tow, only a few years old, used it a couple times and sold it, then converted car to 4-down. Todays marketplace, I ended up buying a retired UHaul dolly fo more than I paid for the MAster Tow. Good news, not rusted, and I think it was manufactured by Demco. Bad news the fenders took a beating over the years. My frugal nature prevented me from purchasing 2 new steel fenders, so JB Weld and some sheet metal to the rescue.

My wife asked me when she saw what I had bought, (it was certainly ugly!), well what would a new one have cost. When I told her, she said she was glad I could fix things. Fenders almost ready to be remounted, all new wiring run thru the frame, and the whole unit repainted.

Later today will tow down to the local shop and have them repack the wheel bearings. A skill I am capable of, but rather have done.

Any hints or tips, loading and tieing/strapping down to share? It has been awhile.
 
Not exactly sure what you’re looking for, but we pull ours right up onto it until it hits the “bumper”, i’m assuming you have the straps for the tires, then get those over the tires and securely tightened down.Ours came with two safety chains that you then need to crawl under the front of the dolly to attach over the axle of the car,back to an anchor point on the dolly itself, on each side of the front of the car.(these obviously are a back up for the tire straps.) I then pop the hood and disconnect the battery,then back inside the car I turn the key all the way to the start position and confirm the car is in park. The key in the start position allows the front wheels to turn with the dolly’s turning/movements as you travel down the road. Obviously, disconnecting the battery saves the battery from sitting there discharging as we travel. I check the straps,again obviously at all stops and soon after we have started out on the road.
Scott,Orlando
 
Years ago we had a tow dolly and I recall reading somewhere or seeing a Youtube video that after securely strapping the wheels down to stop at around 50 miles to double check the tightness. I found it was not uncommon an adjustment was needed, then was good for the remainder of the trip, though whenever we stopped I always checked. Also make sure the straps are not worn badly, we bought the tow dolly used and the straps did not inspire confidence, so I bought new ones.
 
Yeah the straps that came with this did not either, ordered new ones on the way home. Tips are the basics, I have done this before, and had to use 2x6 because front of care was very low. Haven't tried loading yet, so I do know about that. The first time we owned a dolly, I think we only used it twice, then set the car for 4-down ans sold the dolly. Just wondering, any alignment tricks, things to watch for?
 
What is it you want to tow.. Some "Can't be towed 4-down" cars can be modified by addition of a device or two (The Two is an aux braking systrem)

On my 1992 Lumina APV I used and axel lock. in "Tow mode" the drive wheels ran free only the differential gears turnning transmission in PARK.

On my 2001 Neon I added a lube pump to circulate tranny fluid towed in neutral

Some rear wheel drive you use a drive shaft disconnect. works the same as the axle lock only the differential gears turn. Tranny in park.
 
Been using US Cargo Basket Straps for 4 years; about 8K miles since new. Bought them on Amazon. Easy to install and remove. Drive 3-6 miles, stop, and tighten. I usually check them at all other stops. Little stretching even when wet.
 
Years ago we had a tow dolly and I recall reading somewhere or seeing a Youtube video that after securely strapping the wheels down to stop at around 50 miles to double check the tightness. I found it was not uncommon an adjustment was needed, then was good for the remainder of the trip, though whenever we stopped I always checked. Also make sure the straps are not worn badly, we bought the tow dolly used and the straps did not inspire confidence, so I bought new ones.
I can just relate that on mine, if I stop after the first 500’ or so I can take up a few inches of slack in the straps from the weight of the vehicle resisting the initial forward motion of the MH and then again after the first 1/4 or 1/2 mi. or so. After that it settles in.
 
Little update. Finished the rehab on the dolly I bought Saturday, new straps arrived today, but noticed one of my neighbors had on in her carport. I had forgotten she had it. Well a text to her, found she was selling, and hers had ellectric brakes, so bought that one and listed mine.
 
A Couple of things come to mind. For one, is the "newer used dolly vis the neighbor" a fixed deck or swivel deck dolly? With a fixed deck, you leave the steering wheel unlocked so it can rotate as the car and dolly turn. Fixed deck dollies tend to take a wider radius on turns than your RV so be careful the first few times out. Swivel deck dollies the steering wheel is locked. The swiveling deck is what turns the dolly and car. This type of dolly generally tracks exactly behind your RV. Also, swivel deck dollies cannot be backed up where fixed deck you can for a short distance. As far as safety chains go, if your toad has any kind of open mag-type wheel you can loop the safety chains through the wheel instead of the PIA crawling under the vehicle. Another option is to buy short 6' tie-down straps and loop them through the wheel.

As far as strapping down the toad, I follow the rule in my Master Tow dolly instruction book, "There is no such thing as too tight". With new straps, you may have to stop after 25-50 miles and tighten them down again, after that, practicing the Master Tow rule you should be good to go with the straps. I check mine if we stop for bathroom breaks etc.
 
Any hints or tips, loading and tieing/strapping down to share? It has been awhile.
I dolly towed for awhile and somewhere I read to pull up to the bump stop, back off about 3/4 to inch. Then strap down and let the straps pull the vehicle toward the stops. I tried it once then rechecked in 20-25 miles and the hadn't moved. Rechecked another 20-25 miles and still solid. At the end of the day they were still tight. Always did that since. What I can't remember is if I left the car in neutral and strapped and put in park or put it in park and pulled the slack out of the drive train.
 
I dolly towed for awhile and somewhere I read to pull up to the bump stop, back off about 3/4 to inch. Then strap down and let the straps pull the vehicle toward the stops. I tried it once then rechecked in 20-25 miles and the hadn't moved. Rechecked another 20-25 miles and still solid. At the end of the day they were still tight. Always did that since. What I can't remember is if I left the car in neutral and strapped and put in park or put it in park and pulled the slack out of the drive train.
Anyone who can back a vehicle 3/4-1" is way better at it than I'll ever be.
 
Master Tow directions are to pull tight to the stop, lock the steering wheel, car in neutral with the parking brake on, place and tighten the straps as much as you can, then release the parking brake. This is the routine I have followed hundreds of times over the past 16 years.

What I just started doing this year as recommended on this or another forum is to loop the seat belt/shoulder strap through the steering wheel as an added protection of locking the steering wheel, but more so maybe taking some of the stress off of the steering wheel lock.

As an aside, over the years I have found eBay to have the best price on dolly straps.
 

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