Towing System Question

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MariahAZ

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Aug 14, 2005
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Dewey, AZ
We are getting ready to have a towing system installed for our 35 ft Class A.? We will be towing a small Mazda pickup.? We seem to be getting conflicting recommendations as to whether a cable or an electric type is best, so I thought I'd see if any of you have an opinion before we proceed.? Would really appreciate any thoughts you might have.?
Thanks? ?:)
 

John From Detroit

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I'm not sure what you mean by "A towing system" here... To me a Towing system is the hitch, tow bars, and the like that enable your Class A to tow your Import.

If, however you mean a towed vehicle BRAKING system...  Then we need to know more about your system

For example... My towed is a Lumina APV and my Tow is a Gas buddy (runs on gasoline not diesel) Thius makes the M&G braking system (Which is just about as good as it gets) impossible... Won't fit on the Lumina

(The lack of compressed braking system air on the motor home is correctable)

So I went with the Unified Gear system... Which is electric, purportional and progressive (Whatever that means, and I've yet to figure it out)

The advantage of both of these systems is that there is NOTHING in your way in the car.  You unhook the cable or hose, unhook the tow system (tow bar), optionally re-engage the axel or driver shaft (Note, not all vehicles require a disconnect on these parts and that has nothing to do with the brakes) and drive away

There are cable operated systems, also called surge brakes, these work by sensing when the towed is pushing against the towing vehicle and pulling the brake pedal.. Personally I do not like them, too many ways they can fail (even tempertiure can serioiusly affect them) Too muich trouble to adjust them as they age or temperture changes. and no feddback to the driver of the motor home

There are "ineterial systems" which work much the same way.. They sense when you slow and try to make you slow faster... These (Brake Buddy, is one of the systems) have a large box you got to move to drive. Some of them are very good however.  And some of them DO feed back info to the MH driver via an RF link (Remote)

And there are some other systems

Since I can not use the M&G, I went with the Unified Gear unit though... Works well
 

Tom

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Like John, I wasn't sure if you were asking about a supplemental braking system for the Mazda when it's towed behind your motorhome. If so, you can view some of the options, including the ones John mentioned, by clicking on the Library button above, selecting Towing and towables and clicking Auxiliary (toad) braking systems.

I'm not aware of "Electric brakes" that you'd install for towing the Mazda .

A "cable" system would appear to refer to the breakaway system which would activate the Mazda brakes in the event of it becoming accidentally detached from the motorhome.
 

Bob Buchanan

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>> So I went with the Unified Gear system... Which is electric, purportional and progressive (Whatever that means, and I've yet to figure it out)
====
My system is US Gear also, John. There were a number of reasons I chose not to go with M&G - one being the "Proportional AND Progressive feature" of US Gear, coupled with using the power assisted brakes on "both" vehicles. And I would find it a pain to have to connect a unit such as Brake Buddy every time I hook up the toad to press brakes without power assistance from the toad engine.

A MH is big, a toad is small - so the US Gear system applies the correct amount of braking "proportionally" between the two -- and, the more brakes that are applied to the rig, the amount becomes "progressively" more in the toad. Plus they provide a control in the drivers cab to adjust with read out lights to let you know how much gain is being applied, and an audible signal plus the lights to let you know if the system is not working. There are times I don't need toad brakes, such as around an RV park -- or on level ground otherwise, so I like being able to turn the amount of toad braking down to zero from the cab.

And as you know, the drivers cab control unit provides a lever to apply power assisted toad brakes manually in the event the brakes fail in the MH. If my MH engine died or the brakes failed otherwise coming down a grade such as the "grapevine" on eye 5, I like the idea of dragging a Jeep Cherokee with the power assisted brake pedal crammed toward floorboard to assist me in slowing down.
 

Ron

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If you are referring to  braking for the toad then there are several options.  We have used the Brake Buddy on three different toads and over 150K  miles with no problems.  It works very well and only takes a few minutes to hook up.  Has a breakaway switch and an indicator inside the motorhome to show when ever it is activated.  It is adjustable as to when it will activate and how much pressure is applied to the brake.
 

MariahAZ

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Dewey, AZ
My fault because obviously I don't know what I'm talking about.  We do not have a tow bar installed so that is what we are getting ready to do.  I'm see that my use of the word "system" was not appropriate and threw a monkey wrench into the whole thing.  It was my understanding there are two types of tow bars, a cable type and an electrical type.  Again if I've screwed the terminology all up just ignore and I'll have hubby write the question. What I probably should have used, like we technologically challenged females often do, is tow "thingy".  Hahahaha Thanks all
Mariah
 

Tom

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Mariah

I'm sorry, but I just don't have a clue what a cable tow bar or an electrical tow bar is. A tow bar is usually constructed of heavy metal box channel or tube. If you're talking about the tow hitch that would be attached to the motorhome, you'd be best going to a hitch shop to get that done. If you're talking about the part that connects to the car and the bar in between the motorhome and car, that's what is normally referred to as a tow bar, or a tow bar and base plate.

To see how I installed one on my Suburban, click the Library button above, select Tech topics, then click Tow bar installation. Scroll down that page to the last photo to see the final thing. Is this what you were thinking of?
 

John From Detroit

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MariahAZ said:
.  It was my understanding there are two types of tow bars, a cable type and an electrical type.  Again if I've screwed the terminology all up just ignore and I'll have hubby write the question. What I probably should have used, like we technologically challenged females often do, is tow "thingy".  Hahahaha Thanks all

I have no idea how an "electric type" tow bar would work,,, Can not even imagine such a thing

Tow bars are nothing more than a solid chunk of metal,  The basic Tow bar is a triangle shaped affair, a bar is bolted to the towed vehicle (i will say car to save typing) front end, this has mounting points (hinged by the way) and two "Arms" hook into them, The result is the arms can move up and down.

The two arms meet at a centeral point, which is the articulated hitch. This may (in the simpleist case) be a simple ball coupler such as on a standard trailer, or it may be an articluated joint (As it is on my Blue OX)

There are some safety features common to all towing systems we will get to.

Advanced tow bars may have self-storage ability (my Blue Ox stores on the motor home, another model stores on the car) and "Self alinging" ability (again my blue ox has this, the arms telescope (and lock in the extended position) so you pull your car up behind the MH, if you are not perfectly alingned who cares. Pull the arms out to hook them up and once hooked drive the MH forward VERY SLOWLY to extend and lock the arms (I often push thecarback to lock the first one... Push by hand that is  It pushes real easy in tow-mode. not all cars are that easy to roll)

There may be other features as well... Two or three companies all make very much the same tow bars

Remco, Blue-OX and Roadmaster if memory serves... I can not recommend one over the other, I have a blue-ox for the simple reason that is what my dealer sells.

Now: common safety features.

All tow bars come with safety cables,  These are either cables or chains that go between the tractor (motor home) and trailer (towed car) and are supposed to control the towed in the event of tow-bar failure.

DO use them, law requires them.. DO NOT put too much faith in them,  Use and emergency/auxularry braking system as well... This is a system such as I discussed in my previous post It applies the car's brakes as you apply the motor home's brakes.. USgear is a good one for all tow/towed combos, M&G is good when you can use it (I could not)  This system not only helps stop your motorhome/car combo in normal conditions, but provides an independent system to help stop you in the event of system failure,and, heaven forbid the tow bar breaks (We have pictures of one half way there in the forum library) the break-away feature will lock up the car's brakes solid till someone with a break-away key unlocks them (or the battery dies in my cane... Air runs out in an M&G, in all cases, more than long enough to insure the towed comes to one screatching hault.

But as for the tow bars,,, Any of the major manafactures are just about as good as the rest
 

MariahAZ

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Dewey, AZ
Thanks to each of you for your patience.  At this point I'm copying and handing over all of your comments to hubby.  Obviously, as I said before, I don't have a clue what I'm talking about.  I won't cuss but it really makes me angry when I don't understand stuff or know the proper terminology.  All I know is we are going to be towing a pick-up someway.
*#(@@%%%%.  ;)  I can just hear all of you saying, is she blonde? 
 

Ron

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Please don't feel discouraged.  This is the place where we can learn and we learn by asking questions.  What make and model pickup do you want to tow?  I'm sure we can help you figure out what you need.  Please don't loose patience with us.

 

Betty Brewer

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MariahAZ said:
*#(@@%%%%.? ?;)? I can just hear all of you saying, is she blonde?? ?

Oh, on the contrary.  Most of us on the forum who are able to answer a question feel very valued to have been asked and  to be able to be of assistance.  It seems to me that if you knew  exactly what to ask, you wouldn't need to be here.  I do admit that I love questions  like yours as I think we have all been there at one time or other.  You get points for asking!!!  Many just sit back and watch hoping their answer will show up.

And isn't it always the husband who sends us out to do  the questioning?  Something about asking for directions!  I love your questions, and I appreciate those among us who are able to answer them with sound content.

Betty Brewer
Frosted blonde
 

Tom

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Mariah

As Betty says, most of us have been in the same position. That's how I first joined the RV Forum - came here asking what I thought was a "dumb question", but didn't know how to ask it. Fortunately, we have a great group of folks who are very willing to help.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Mariah,

While you are waiting on hubby's input, maybe we can  help a bit with the terminology.

You will need some kind of "tow bar" to connect the vehicle to the motorhome. That's the thing that connects to the motorhome's "hitch" and actually pulls the vehicle along behind.  It needs to be solid (not flexible) so that the towed vehicle (often called a "toad") cannot run up the back end of the motorhome when you slow or stop.  It will be made out of steel or aluminum. There are several types, with varying degrees of convenience (and cost).  Associated with the tow bar will be a pair of "safety chains", which are there just in case the towbar breaks somehow - they prevent the vehicle from breaking loose.  The "safety chains"  may in fact be a steel cable instead of a chain. Wiht the tow bar and safety chains, you can move the vehicle.

Since there is nobody in the toad to operate its brakes, it is highly advisable to add an "auxiliary brake unit", sometimes called a "toad brake".  The motorhome's brakes are generally designed to stop only the motohome, not the large additional weight you are tywing behind. In fact, many states require auxiliary brakes on any towed vehicle above a certain weight, typically around 2000 lbs. The toad  brake unit activates the toad's brakes in some fashion when you step on the motorhome's brake pedal. There are quite a few types of these units and some are activated by cables, others are triggered electriically by wire from the motorhome and some rely on inertial sensors in the brake unit itself.  There are a lot terms associated with the brake units and a lot of pros and cons that I won't go into at this time.  We can cover the relevent ones of those once you have a better idea what you & your husband are interested in.

Hope this helps get you started.

 

MariahAZ

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Location
Dewey, AZ
Oh my gosh, thank you all.  I think I've got it.  Hoooooray!!!!  I really knew what a tow bar was but I guess what I was asking about was the braking system.  You know how we wives are (hehehe), we don't always understand exactly what hubby is explaining, and to be real honest sometimes we don't even want to know.  It's like when I was shown how to operate the new lawn mower and listened.  BAD THING TO DO!!!!!  So I've printed out what you have explained and am turning it over to Dennis.  And Betty, thank you for the feminine support  ;)  You all are THE BEST
MariahAZ 
 
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