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Old 10-09-2013, 11:43 PM   #1
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: Four Winds Hurricane 33T
State: Florida
Posts: 12
THOR #484
Dinghy Towing a Ford Focus

Appreciated the help with my first question on this forum. Nice to have people with experience when your a newbie like myself. I want to flat tow my 2014 Ford Focus with automatic transmission. I purchased this car specifically because it can be flat towed, which my Toyota Corolla could not. This is the instructions from the manual for towing:

Vehicles with an Automatic Transmission but No Push Button Start
System
Note: There must be battery power to properly move the transmissionís
internal components to position N in Step 3. In addition, moving the
gearshift to position N without first turning the ignition to the on (II)
position limits the towing capability to 35 mph (56 km/h) and 50 miles
(80 kilometers).
1. Release the parking brake.
2. Turn the ignition to the on (II) position.
3. Press the brake pedal, then move the gearshift to position N.
4. Wait for TRANSMISSION READY to appear in the multi-function
display, then turn the ignition to the off (0) position and release
the brake pedal.
5. Disconnect the negative (black) cable from the battery.
(The anti-theft system does not function until the battery cable is
reconnected.) See Changing the vehicle battery in the
Maintenance chapter when disconnecting and reconnecting the
battery cable.
ē The maximum towing speed is 70 mph (113 km/h).
ē There is no limitation on towing distance.
When done towing, start the engine within 15 minutes of reconnecting
the battery cable. When reconnecting that cable, tighten it until it is
snug against the terminal. Be careful not to over-tighten.

As you can see, you must tow with the battery disconnected. I am looking for an auxiliary braking system, and it looks like they will not work without battery power. Don't see how the brake lights are going to work either, without battery power. Can anyone with experience point me in the right direction? I am looking at several braking systems including "Even Brake", "Add a Brake", and "Invisibrake". I think they are all made by Roadmaster. Appreciate any assistance you may be able to give. Sorry for the long read.
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Old 10-10-2013, 01:58 AM   #2
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State: Wisconsin
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THOR #124
James, I can't tell you what you should or shouldn't do as far as the towing.
I can relate my experiences. I have towed with a car dolly behind a class a Winnebago, (Dodge Shadow). Also have flat towed a Jeep Wrangler behind a small 20 ft. Tioga class C. I didn't have any auxiliary baking for either one, and never once did I feel the need for it.
As far as lights, I purchased a set of magnetic tail/stop/turn lights, and plopped then on the back of the toad and plug the cord into the tow vehicle.
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Old 10-10-2013, 03:34 AM   #3
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Brand: Redwood
Model: 38GK
State: Texas
Posts: 37
THOR #439
Back in the day...
I towed a Jeep cj-5 (full size) with a little 22' winnebago LeSharo (4 cylinder turbo diesel) that looked just like this:
Google Image Result for http://worldcarslist.com/images/winnebago/winnebago-lesharo/winnebago-lesharo-01.jpg

and we didn't have no stinkin' auxillary brakes !

nor any special thing other than put the xfer case and tranny in neutral and go !

but understand if you want it...
My suggestion is to see how it does without it
and the braking system can always be added after the fact....
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Old 10-10-2013, 07:02 PM   #4
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: Four Winds Hurricane 33T
State: Florida
Posts: 12
THOR #484
Thanks for the replies. Doing some research on legality, it looks like the only state I would be illegal without auxiliary brakes would be Nevada. My Ford Focus weighs less than 3,000 pounds, which is the weight that requires brakes in my home state of Florida. Nevada requires them on vehicles weighing more than 1,500 pounds. We were planning on doing a cross country trip next summer, but guess we could avoid Nevada. So you guys felt safe without the supplemental brakes? I don't mind buying them, but looks like they need power, which would be hard to do with the battery disconnected, which is required for towing my Focus.
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Old 10-10-2013, 08:43 PM   #5
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Model: 38GK
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THOR #439
Actually, that seems extreme since my 5x10 utility trailer can have 3k on it easily and it doesn't have brakes ?!?

I wonder what uhaul does in Nevada since most of their trailers can have more than 1500 lbs easily !

Now, we are in Texas and there are no hills big enough to be a concern... but I'm thinking if your car/truck/rv's brakes can't handle 3k more weight than there are other issues - heck a few of my more 'healthy' friends might do it
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Old 10-11-2013, 01:20 AM   #6
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: Four Winds Hurricane 33T
State: Florida
Posts: 12
THOR #484
I am new to RV'ing and want to make sure my insurance covers me if I do something stupid. Insurance companies will go to great lengths to avoid paying a claim if they can. The page below supposedly states the legal requirements in each state for mandatory auxiliary braking systems. I only had a class C motorhome for 6 months before it started leaking and I got rid of it 3 years ago. During that 6 months, I pulled a Toyota Corolla around the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas without problems, so I am confident my Thor Hurricane can pull and stop the Ford Focus without problems. I just want to make sure my butt is covered legally if I have an accident.

http://roadmasterinc.com/products/braking/map.html
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Old 08-27-2014, 11:37 PM   #7
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: 31F
State: Georgia
Posts: 166
THOR #631
I thought I should report what my wife and I finally did regarding towing our 2014 Ford Focus four wheels down. First it was clear that we needed a 4 inch drop receiver. Then our local RV shop, owned by a friend, recommended Ready Brake from NSA Products, a mechanical yet proportional brake system that requires no power and mounts in line with the Blue OX alpha tow bar and base plate. The last item I added my self was a battery cutoff switch purchased from Tractor Supply. I'll attach photos of the base plate installation appearance, the battery cutoff switch, and the Ready Break.
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Old 08-28-2014, 12:34 PM   #8
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Model: 2011 Four Winds 28Z
State: Michigan
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THOR #531
A on-off switch on the battery negative seems like it would make things a whole lot easier. Good idea.

I have always liked that mechanical braking idea, but wondered how good they worked. I'd like to hear your thoughts on it after using it awhile.

On the use of brakes or not needing brakes for certain weights, I look at it more as a safety issue than a legal issue. For me at least, we plan on towing from Michigan to Florida, which means a few mountains or at least big hills. I just have more comfort in knowing I had a toad with it's own brakes helping me slow down, rather than pushing me down a hill.

Of course, the E450 does have a pseudo engine brake which helps, but it can't hurt to have an extra set of brakes.

But if all of your towing is over flat terrain, you won't likely have as many concerns.

So far though, we're looking at possibly the Blue Ox Patriot as it has it's own battery backup should you drain the vehicle battery.

And as crazy as I am with wild ideas, here is one: perhaps buying a Honda EU1000 genny - which has a DC battery charge function, bolt it to the rear bumper of the RV, and run it to keep the toad's battery charged.

I have a EU2000 but the EU1000 would be smaller. Given that these gennys can sip gas at as little as a few ounces per hour, a one gallon tank might give you a day's worth of battery charging as you tow.
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Old 08-28-2014, 04:25 PM   #9
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: Challenger 37GT
State: Louisiana
Posts: 31
THOR #625
This is a great conversation at a very good time. We have our 2014 Ford Fiesta Automatic at the RV Dealership right now getting the tow plate, tow bars and everything else done. We were so confused as of what to do for a breaking system. Our concerns were warranty issue with the motorhome because the manual specifies that the tow vehicle has to have a breaking system and of course we considered the legal issues also. We have been at whits end about what to do. So we decided to go with the Break Buddy and have the wiring run so the Break Buddy plugs into the cigarette lighter and we are having a battery disconnect installed for the negative terminal on the battery. I'm hoping and praying this will work for us......Cause everything we are having installed has cost a small fortune. This is our first motorhome so we had to start from scratch!!!! $$$$$$$$$$$$
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Old 08-28-2014, 04:37 PM   #10
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Model: Four Winds 26A
State: Florida
Posts: 28
THOR #981
A few years ago, we towed a Ford Fiesta using a Brake Buddy. I ran the power, which is available on the 7-pin tow connector. Just ran the cable provided by Brake Buddy direct to the tow connector. Don't recall how we powered the brake lights. I might how used magnetic lights.
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Old 08-28-2014, 04:44 PM   #11
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Model: Challenger 37GT
State: Louisiana
Posts: 31
THOR #625
Did you have any problems towing your Ford Fiesta? We have definitely heard some horror stories but we never hear any good stories. LOL I guess it's just the folks complaining that post the bad stuff........
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Old 08-28-2014, 04:50 PM   #12
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: Four Winds 26A
State: Florida
Posts: 28
THOR #981
No problems at all - I did add a battery disconnect switch to make cable removal easier. We towed it behind our 38' Tiffin RED and never knew it was there. We now have downsized to a Thor Four Winds and to a Fiat 500. Same, don't even know its there. I had to buy one of those window magnifiers just to make sure it was down there. My backup camera is wired for power via the reverse lights so I can't use the camera.
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Old 08-28-2014, 04:59 PM   #13
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Model: Challenger 37GT
State: Louisiana
Posts: 31
THOR #625
Well thank you so much for your reply.....It is certainly good news to hear......I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions.....
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Old 09-03-2014, 10:13 PM   #14
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: 31F
State: Georgia
Posts: 166
THOR #631
I agree that this was a good discussion. So far we've had no troubles towing our Ford Focus. I wouldn't say that we "don't know it's there" because I keep the backup camera on full time (it's wired so we can) and appreciate it especially on multi-laned Interstate conditions as a double check after using the mirrors and signaling our lane changes.
As for the use of the mechanical and proportional Ready Brake, I'd have to say that I can't tell that it has worked much. My guess is that it would lock up the wheels on the Focus if I hit the brakes hard (but I'm too chicken to do this as a trial and haven't had a close call yet).
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Old 09-04-2014, 12:19 AM   #15
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: freedom elite 23H
State: North Carolina
Posts: 19
THOR #266
Maybe my experience may help the supplemental brake problem. I have a 2014 Chev Sonic that I tow 4 down. When I went to hook up the power cord(which has a lighter plug end) I found that the power to the aux plug in does not work unless ignition is on. I bought an extension 12 v lighter plug and put small clamps on one end. these are attached to the battery posts and I run the extension from under the hood to the driver door and inside to the power cord for my blue ox patriot brake system. It draws very little amps and has not ever discharged my battery. Once I get to my destination i start the car and let it run for 15-20 minutes. something to consider?
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Old 09-04-2014, 12:36 AM   #16
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: 2011 Four Winds 28Z
State: Michigan
Posts: 1,274
THOR #531
I was looking at the Blue Ox Patriot system, but after reviewing the RViBrake2, I am thinking this might be the one I will go with. I plan on attending Hershey next week so I will have an opportunity to check them out.

The RViBrake claims to have 3 days of use before discharging the battery, but that seems to be overly optimistic to me.

Having said that, I did notice that RViBrake (among a couple of others) have a 12V trickle charger that uses 12V from the moho to charge the toad battery, so I will be installing one of those.

RVibrake Towed Battery Charger

The most convenient source of 12V would be from the moho from a 6 pin trailer connector - however, my coach only has a 4 pin connector. However, from the Ford E450 electrical schematic, there is a 4 pin connector on the chassis that most likely is what Thor used for extending to the trailer hitch.

And there is supposed to be another connector that supplies +12V and electric brake signal (which won't be used), so adding that to the 4 pin connector makes the 6 pin connector. Now I just have to find whether Thor simply coiled up that extra connector or cut it off when they built the coach.

If I can find it wrapped up, it is simply a matter of extending it to the trailer hitch connector. Otherwise, I'll likely run power from the house battery on the coach to the trailer hitch connector.

To me, this seems to have the best of both worlds. I can use the toad's battery for the brake system, yet the coach will keep the toad's battery on trickle charge.
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Old 09-04-2014, 12:39 AM   #17
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: 2011 Four Winds 28Z
State: Michigan
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THOR #531
By the way, if you have a Ford chassis, this website might be helpful:

https://www.fleet.ford.com/truckbbas...bodybuild.html

It has all of the electrical, mechanical, and other data for your Ford chassis.

For example, here is where I found out about the trailer wiring:

https://www.fleet.ford.com/truckbbas...rical_v1.1.pdf


Page 10. There is actually a wire on the Class II connector labelled "Trailer Battery Charge Feed", and according to the schematic, it goes through a relay and 30A fuse before connection to the engine battery.

The relay appears to turn on only in the engine RUN position, so that means the toad battery charger won't run the engine battery down if the engine is off.

Elegant solution... hopefully Thor did not cut the connector off.

Page 9 even shows where the connector is located, and the matching plug you need.
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