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Old 11-26-2015, 06:06 PM   #21
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The states don't say if you have safety cables, you don't need brakes. Any trailer over 3000 lbs, or 1500 lbs in a lot of states, needs break-away brakes. That is why surge brakes are not offered as much any more because they did not meet the break-away requirement.

Safety cables are important. But in most cases, the safety cables are attached on the same hitch mount as the ball or tow bar. A failure of that attachment point, will let loose of both things.

As for a dolly/car combination, the dolly can disconnect from the tow vehicle but the tongue will tend to drop to the ground and cause a halt. That doesn't remove the requirements for brakes for the dolly as the dolly is rated for weight with the car loaded.
The surge brakes on my 2014 Master Tow meets the brake requirements of all 50 states and Canada. For breakaway protection, there is a cable that connects an actuator lever on the brakes to the tow hitch on the coach. If the dolly were to disconnect from the motor home the cable becoming tight would activate the dolly's brakes before the safety chains took hold.

Most tow dollies have 2 sets of safety chains. One set goes from the dolly to the hitch in the event of a break away and the second goes from the dolly bed to the car.

As to Chance's statement about transmission gear selection when using a dolly. The loading instructions for most dollies will state that after the car is loaded and the straps are tightened the transmission is to be placed in "Park" or in "Low Gear" for a manual transmission. This is to aid in the prevention of a car rolling off the dolly should a strap break. If the car, by some stroke of imagination, came off the dolly it would come to a stop rather than free wheel along the road.

As to laws, they differ from state to state. In Virginia a car being flat towed is considered a trailer and requires registration, supplemental braking (if over 3000 pounds) and if registered in Virginia a valid safety inspection. A car being towed with "two wheels off the ground" requires none of the above because it is considered a "car in tow". A tow dolly in Virginia does not require titling, registration, safety inspection or brakes.
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Old 11-26-2015, 06:15 PM   #22
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In looking through many state codes I have found the statement that "a car in tow does not need auxiliary brakes." The context of that statement was in the area of the state codes that cover tow trucks. That exception was made so that disable cars can be removed from the pavement. An RV is not a tow truck.
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Old 11-27-2015, 02:53 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by dstankov
As to Chance's statement about transmission gear selection when using a dolly. The loading instructions for most dollies will state that after the car is loaded and the straps are tightened the transmission is to be placed in "Park" or in "Low Gear" for a manual transmission. This is to aid in the prevention of a car rolling off the dolly should a strap break. If the car, by some stroke of imagination, came off the dolly it would come to a stop rather than free wheel along the road.
The instructions for the Acme Dolly say the car should be put in neutral. This allows the car to pivot for varying terrain (hills, dips, etc.). Otherwise you put excess stress on the straps as the rear of the car raises and lowers causing the front wheels to want to turn with the rotation of the car which the straps will be resisting.
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Old 11-27-2015, 08:46 AM   #24
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The definitive answer is usually the owner's manual.

Most vehicle owner manuals have a section called "Recreational Towing", and will tell you if the vehicle can be flat towed behind a motorhome, and what restrictions there are, if any (speed/distance limitation, etc), as well as the procedure (removing fuses, disconnecting battery, putting vehicle in neutral, and so on).

According to the Remco website, while officially the Element is not flat towable according to Honda, some people are towing the Element without issue.

Store : Remco

This is a situation where you must make your own decision whether or not it is safe to tow without damage.

If you decide to flat tow, you have to do the following:

1. ascertain whether or not your motorhome has the weight capacity to tow the vehicle.
2. install a baseplate.
3. select a compatible towbar (and drop receiver, if required).
4. install a braking system (I am assuming the Element weighs enough that this is required).
5. install a tail-light system in the towed vehicle.
6. optionally, install a motorhome powered battery charger in the towed vehicle.


While I did everything myself, including installing the baseplate, it can be a rather involved procedure (including removing the front grill, fascia, etc. from the vehicle, and possibly cutting away sheet metal). If you are not experienced mechanically, you might want a dealer to install everything as a package deal.

Many people do not want to go to all the trouble to do these things, and as well, some vehicles are not towable, so they use a dolly. Many vehicles can be towed by a dolly - the exception being 4WD vehicles generally cannot (can't have two drive wheels turning and two drive wheels not turning).

With a dolly, about the only thing you need to do is possibly extend the brake lights to the rear of the vehicle - which can be done with wireless magnetic LED brake lights if you wish.

The other limitation of using a dolly is it can add 400~800lbs to the towed weight, so for heavier vehicles, it might exceed the motorhome's towing capacity.
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Old 11-27-2015, 08:49 AM   #25
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States differ a to how heavy a towed trailer can be before brakes are required. While a towed vehicle may not technically be a trailer, case law in some states may have made it so.

http://www.rvibrake.com/Towing-Laws-s/1826.htm

Some States are as low as 1,500lbs, while some are as much as 10,000lbs. Some don't specify a tow weight, but require a certain stopping distance. But the typical tow weight limitation is 2,000 or 3,000lbs. Only one State (Missouri) has no limit at all.

However, the State limit on trailers without brakes is often a moot point, as typically non-diesel motorhomes have a 2,000lb maximum towed weight before the vehicle requires brakes.

There may be a few motorhomes out there that are the exception, but I think you will find most motorhomes require brakes for tow weights over 2,000lbs.
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Old 11-27-2015, 01:13 PM   #26
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The instructions for the Acme Dolly say the car should be put in neutral. This allows the car to pivot for varying terrain (hills, dips, etc.). Otherwise you put excess stress on the straps as the rear of the car raises and lowers causing the front wheels to want to turn with the rotation of the car which the straps will be resisting.
Acme appears to be the exception to the rules. Demco, Roadmaster Master Tow all require steering wheel locked and transmission in Park.
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Old 11-27-2015, 01:53 PM   #27
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I think it has to do with the setup of the dolly. For example, I don't think the Acme dolly is steerable (whereas the front wheels don't turn with the tongue), while the Demco dolly is steerable. I may be wrong on this, but without seeing an Acme dolly, I cannot tell for sure. Whether the dolly's front wheels turn or not would make the difference whether or not to lock the steering wheel.

When I was researching dollys when trying to decide how to tow, I also wondered about the rocking up and down action damaging the transmission if it is put into park. On the other hand, with the transmission in neutral, it might put more stress on the straps holding the wheels on the dolly. So I can see advantages and disadvantages to both methods.
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Old 11-27-2015, 04:36 PM   #28
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I think it has to do with the setup of the dolly. For example, I don't think the Acme dolly is steerable (whereas the front wheels don't turn with the tongue), while the Demco dolly is steerable. I may be wrong on this, but without seeing an Acme dolly, I cannot tell for sure. Whether the dolly's front wheels turn or not would make the difference whether or not to lock the steering wheel.

When I was researching dollys when trying to decide how to tow, I also wondered about the rocking up and down action damaging the transmission if it is put into park. On the other hand, with the transmission in neutral, it might put more stress on the straps holding the wheels on the dolly. So I can see advantages and disadvantages to both methods.
The Acme Dolly has no platform and no pivoting of the hitch bar. Thus the front wheels need to be able to turn (steering wheel unlocked) and the front wheels need to spin--if only slightly (transmission in neutral) to allow for hills, valleys, dips, driveways, etc. (e.g. changing road angles).

I fail to see how the trans being in neutral would but more stress on the straps though? The wheels will remain stationary with respect to the dolly thus there isn't much rubbing of the tire against the straps (or the base of the dolly for that matter).

When we first got the Acme Dolly my first couple of test tows with it I had left the trans in park. At the end of those tows (and when I stopped to check) the straps were always slightly loose. After I started leaving the trans in neutral the straps remain very tight.
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Old 11-27-2015, 05:04 PM   #29
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The pattern appears to be that dollies with pivoting beds require that the transmission be in park and the steering wheel locked. This is mentioned in the owner's manuals for Master Tow, KarKaddy, Roadmaster and Stehl dollies.

I'm trying to think of who else besides Acme makes a non-pivoting bed dolly so I can check their manual.

Personally, I like having the ability to place the trans in park, lock the steering wheel, remove the keys, lock the doors and place the keys in my pocket.
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Old 11-27-2015, 05:47 PM   #30
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I fail to see how the trans being in neutral would but more stress on the straps though? The wheels will remain stationary with respect to the dolly thus there isn't much rubbing of the tire against the straps (or the base of the dolly for that matter).
For example, under acceleration or braking, given inertia and such, the weight of the vehicle might push/pull on the straps, wherein if the transmission has locked the tires, these forces would be somewhat absorbed by the transmission.

I dunno, it was just a thought.
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Old 11-27-2015, 05:50 PM   #31
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For example, under acceleration or braking, inertia and such, the weight of the vehicle might push/pull on the straps, wherein if the transmission has locked the tires, these forces would be somewhat absorbed by the transmission.
Whoops mis-attributed the quote above! Sorry

Ok yeah I can see that. In neutral the car could "roll back" so to speak.

If the dolly were a flat surface. On the Acme the wheels actually sit between two bars and not ride on a flat panel.
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Old 11-27-2015, 06:32 PM   #32
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On the Acme the wheels actually sit between two bars and not ride on a flat panel.
That certainly would help.
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Old 11-27-2015, 07:44 PM   #33
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That's weird.

In post #28 above I'm being quoted as having written something actually written by FW28z.

Is that done through editing?
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Old 11-27-2015, 08:14 PM   #34
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For example, under acceleration or braking, given inertia and such, the weight of the vehicle might push/pull on the straps, wherein if the transmission has locked the tires, these forces would be somewhat absorbed by the transmission.

I dunno, it was just a thought.
I agree, however, I expect the forces that could be developed by the car trying to pitch relative to the dolly could be much higher if the transmission was locked in park, "AND" there was little play in the drivetrain.

If a dolly/car combo is driven over a severe dip (like driveway) and the pitch angle is enough to remove all slack from system, then what would give?

Regarding acceleration and braking, I would expect that most motorhomes accelerate very slowly. Braking during a panic event, on the other hand, could lead to higher forces on straps if the dolly doesn't have a built-in wheel stop in front of the tires. I think many might have stops but I'm not sure.
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Old 11-27-2015, 09:06 PM   #35
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...

If a dolly/car combo is driven over a severe dip (like driveway) and the pitch angle is enough to remove all slack from system, then what would give?
Absolutely nothing. Folks tend to forget the car being towed has a suspension system that compensations for a lot of the pitch and roll that may occur. Chances are that the drivetrain itself, transmission, is not impacted at all if the car is properly restrained with tight straps because any pitch and roll is absorbed by the front and rear suspension.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chance View Post
...Regarding acceleration and braking, I would expect that most motorhomes accelerate very slowly. Braking during a panic event, on the other hand, could lead to higher forces on straps if the dolly doesn't have a built-in wheel stop in front of the tires. I think many might have stops but I'm not sure.
On my dolly, as with most flat bed dollies, there is a front lip that keeps the car from rolling forward and the welded metal strap loops in the rear keep the car from rolling backwards. Although I have no intention of trying it, I believe with the trans in Park the only way for my car to come off the dolly is for me to forget putting on both straps and the car to bounce off the dolly going over extremely rough roads at high speed.
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Old 11-27-2015, 09:58 PM   #36
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Is that done through editing?
Yes. That was my fault. When I respond to posts I type in the bracket quote="" etc. and then copy/paste text in. I just typed in the wrong name--I guess I just reply to your posts too much! LOL

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chance
If a dolly/car combo is driven over a severe dip (like driveway) and the pitch angle is enough to remove all slack from system, then what would give?
In my case I've witnessed the tire/wheels rotating inside the straps when the car was in park.
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Old 11-27-2015, 10:42 PM   #37
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Absolutely nothing. Folks tend to forget the car being towed has a suspension system that compensations for a lot of the pitch and roll that may occur. Chances are that the drivetrain itself, transmission, is not impacted at all if the car is properly restrained with tight straps because any pitch and roll is absorbed by the front and rear suspension.

...cut.....
Suspension travel by itself can't be enough to compensate for a large dip. A few degrees of difference between a clamped-in-place (not meant literally) front wheel and the rest of the car, acting through the length of the wheelbase, is more than the car's suspension can move. Something else would have to allow movement. Perhaps the tires rotate inside the straps without breaking them. Or the straps stretch some. Or the straps compress the tires. Or a combination of all above. The bottom line from my perspective is that it has to place additional stress on straps.

My guess is that extreme dips that could cause damage are rare, but I fully understand the point Jamie brought up. It's just geometry.
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Old 11-28-2015, 12:20 AM   #38
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One and all,

Time for some rookie questions about using the mount for something other than towing, I am using a Curt (item 31006) sparetire mount.
1. Is there a preferred way to secure the the mount into the receiver? Bolt with locking pin, bolt with small padlock, or actually threaded bolt (Roadmaster's $500+ tilt tire mount does it that way).
2. Should the sparetire be just bolted on to the tire mounting plate or locked on? No mounting hardware was enclosed with the sparetire mount.
3. Any recommendations for a tire cover company, I'd like to do a custom cloth cover.

Please advise as I have the tire rim and next week I will be going over to a tire dealership I have used for 20+ years to obtain another spare tire (mine has Michelin LT225/75R16 front and rear). I am going for safety and security (anti-theft).

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Old 11-28-2015, 01:31 AM   #39
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Doc,

If you go with a Reese locking pin available for 15.00 at Lowes that should solve the mounting problem and provide security. I use that pin on my hitch when I tow my car on the dolly so if it can handle pulling 3200 ponds it should handle a 100 pound tire and wheel.

http://www.lowes.com/pd_225082-29318...ductId=3365330
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Old 11-28-2015, 02:07 AM   #40
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Dave,

Will do, Thanks.

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