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Info on using Tow Dolly 13 years 2 weeks ago #3036

  • subldo
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Can anyone share their expierence using a tow dolly? we have a ford taurus that we want to tow behind our Winnebago. It has front wheel drive with an auto transmission so cannot flat tow it. Any insight into using a tow dolly would be helpful. Both Pro and Con.

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Re: Info on using Tow Dolly 13 years 2 weeks ago #3037

  • bill6750
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Rich,
I am strickly Con on the tow dolly. It takes a good bit of time to load and strap the auto down on it, when you get to a campground you have to find a place to park it, and in some parks that is a problem. You may like it but I think you will see after you use it for a while, that you would prefer to do the towing all four down.
Bill
Bill & Jean
Bill Retired US Army,
Viet Nam Vet, 24th Evac. Hosp.
Jean Retired from DOA
2014 Tiffin Phaeton, 40'
2018 GMC Sierra 4x4 in Toe

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Re: Info on using Tow Dolly 13 years 2 weeks ago #3038

  • utmtman
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I have been running a tow dolly for two years. Luv it. We just roll it under the rear of the motor home when we are not using it to shorten the parking space. We have not found a rv park or campground yet that did not have a space long enough to accomodate both our vehicle dolly and rv in one space. We went that route cuz we had two vehicles one a car like you with front wheel drive and the other a truck 4x4 that we could not get the tranny kit only the driveline kit for it to be towed so could not tow four down with it either so went with a dolly. Takes me less than five minutes to load or unload and tie down. Sure with four down it takes 3 to 4 minutes and if one is not real good at bringing the vehicle centered to hook up may take even longer. We have now sold the car and just use the truck. I do know that we are planning to trade our truck in for a Honda CRV in the next year or two and when we do we will sell the dolly and buy a tow bar and the only reason is to lower our weight a few lbs and for no other reason. With gas you do not have the weight available you have with a DP.

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Re: Info on using Tow Dolly 13 years 2 weeks ago #3040

  • bblhed
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I have had both, and to me towing with a dolly, or four flat towing are about the same thing when in motion, but read on for my opinion on the whole thing.

Had a dolly, and the main reason I got rid of it was because I found out that you are supposed to use supplemental breaks in the towed vehicle even with it on the dolly, and the dolly having breaks.

I already had a tow bar so I just modified the car for towing. I figured it this way, tow bar folds, into less room than a dolly, and the brake buddy takes up the same amount of room weather you dolly or flat tow.

Now there was a lot more that went into my choice, like age of the toad, amount it would cost to modify, what I could get for the dolly, is this the only car I want to tow all the time.

They make tranny kits, and all kinds of other goodies so that you can flat tow just about anything, but the biggest thing you are going to have to look at before modifying your car like that is how long are you going to keep the car. My recommendation to you if you aren't going to keep the car for more than 3 more years is to get a dolly and a brake buddy, drive the car until you are ready to get rid of it then, sell the car, sell the dolly, keep the brake buddy, and get a brand new car you can flat tow and install a tow bar and towing lights on it.

That is my two cents, in a nut shell.
Dolly an old car, flat tow a new car.

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Re: Info on using Tow Dolly 13 years 2 weeks ago #3041

  • johnandmari
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I am an advocate of the tow dolly. I have used tow dollies for almost fifteen years and have never experienced problems, either with campground storage (as suggested, slip the tongue under the back of the MH) or with the time required to load the toad vehicle. Regarding brakes for the dolly, I strongly suggest you buy a dolly with brakes installed – some states and all of Canada require supplemental braking. Our first dolly had surge brakes and the one we have now has electric brakes. I am neutral on the differences in either type. The advantage of the dolly is that, for the most part, many different vehicles can be towed, while usage of a tow bar requires a new vehicle-mounted plate for each vehicle. Tow dollies are cheaper than tow bars for the simple reason that due to the need for supplemental braking, you must purchase an additional brake system, a somewhat expensive item - transmission kits, drive shaft disconnect kits, etc. just add to the cost of towing.

Regarding expense – while you can spend upwards of $3200 for a dolly (Roadmaster), many are available, with brakes, for less than $1100 (Master Tow, Stehl Tow). Of course, numerous makes/models of tow dollies are available throughout the price range, based on your needs. Good luck with your choice! ;D

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Re: Info on using Tow Dolly 13 years 2 weeks ago #3042

  • subldo
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all the posts have been helpful. we also have looked at a new Honda CRV but the cost of new one is about $21,000, used ones are only a few thousand less. Looking at both the roadmaster and master tow dollies there is quite a difference in prices. since we have an adequate car to tow on the dolly I think thats the way I am leaning. And, when we need to trade we can purchase a much less expensive vehicle and still use the dolly. Putting out a couple of grand for a good dolly seems the most cost effective way to go now.

Thanks for all your replies.

Rich Henry
LT USN (RET)
Greer SC

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Re: Info on using Tow Dolly 13 years 2 weeks ago #3043

  • cheldreth
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I have been using a Master Tow dolly for almost two years now. It has its own braking system so the only thing I needed to add to the MH was a brake controller. I had occasion to visit the MasterTow factory in Fayetteville, NC (Fort Bragg) and found them to be very reputable.

I looked at the added expense I was going to have to modify every new toad I would purchase and decided on the dolly. I have gotten to where I can unload or load the toad is just a few minutes. It may be easier to use a tow bar and tow 4 down but I have not reached the point where I would want to change.

Make sure that you get one with a braking system and add safety chains for your own peace of mind. I do not even know that the toad is back there when I am towing. I do check on it from time to time using my rear camera.

Curt
Curt Heldreth
Retired US Army
Retired HS Teacher
Copilot: Mary, NC Guardian ad Litem
Activities Director: Roscoe the Beagle
2006 Bounder 35E
2010 Malibu LS

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Re: Info on using Tow Dolly 13 years 2 weeks ago #3050

  • subldo
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Curt, thanks for your reply. I went to a Master Tow dealer in my area. Of the two models they only carry the heavier duty one. Cost for basic unit is $925, with elect brakes $1070 and with surge brakes $1345. I have a brake controller unit in my P/U from when I pulled a travel camper so I'm going to assume that I can remove it and intsall it in the motorhome to use. According to the chevy owners manual there should be wiring already installed for a controller. Will have to get an adapter to mate the 7 pin on the motor home with a 4 pin on the dolly.

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Re: Info on using Tow Dolly 13 years 2 weeks ago #3054

  • lamsan
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We used a Kar Kaddy about 6 years ago for our non towable Pontiac Grand Am and we will make a couple suggestions to help you. Look for a dolly with auto steer cornering to save wear and tear on the car tires and as others mentioned the hydraulic surge braking system. We figured why buy a new one so we shopped for a used one and saved about 50% on the cost. We sold it after a year and sold it for exactly what we paid for it, so all around it was a good purchase and easy and safe to use.

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Re: Info on using Tow Dolly 13 years 2 weeks ago #3055

  • oldchief46
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Just to throw in my .02 cents. I've towed both ways but prefer towing four wheels down. When we bought our first MH in 1997 we already had a fairly new care, a Pontiac convertible, that my wife did not want to part with. We bought a Kar Kaddy tow dolly and towed the convertible for a couple of years. When it came time to trade my car we bought a towable Saturn and had a base plate put on and bought a tow bar. Sold the tow dolly. We're now on our third MH and second towable car. We now tow a 2006 Chevy HHR. Most chevy's can be towed four wheels down without modification where Ford has not gotten around to doing that yet.

Would we go back to a tow dolly? Nope. The two dolly was approximately five hundred pounds of excess weight I was pulling around. Also, found with my bad back I had trouble sometimes pulling the thing around by hand when it was not hooked to the MH. I did run into some state parks that did not have a place to put it. Also, I had to carry a big log chain to chain it down when we were in a campground to keep it from walking away.

Everyone has their own prefrences and no one is right or wrong. It's just what works better for you.
Rick Stone, YNC, USN(RET)
2007 Monaco Cayman XL
2006 Chevy HHR
oldchief1.blogspot.com

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Re: Info on using Tow Dolly 13 years 5 days ago #3104

  • DutchStar38
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Found this thread to be very interesting. Just bought a Master Tow Tow Dolly. This will be first trip towing a car. Usually, we tow a trailer and use our motorcycle but this year, because of recent surgery, we decided to tow the car. We really appreciate all the info all of you have provided. When we get home we will put our 2 cents in on our experience with a tow dolly.
Thanks All.

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Re: Info on using Tow Dolly 13 years 5 days ago #3105

  • FastEagle
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I think I've posted this web page in this forum before but can't remember where so here it is again.

www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/s..._200329053_200329053

FastEagle
2003 Everest 363K 38' 14K
2004 Dodge 3500 STL-DRW-QC-LB-2WD-4.10-AUTO-CTD
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Re: Info on using Tow Dolly 13 years 4 days ago #3107

  • subldo
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Ronnie, I'll look for your post on the dolly experience when you get back. I haven't bought one yet, we are not full time and all scheduled trips this year we won't need one. Plan is for my wife to retire next year so thats when we will take our first long trip and will need a TOAD. Did you get a dolly with brakes and if so did you get electric or surge?

SUBLDO

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Re: Info on using Tow Dolly 13 years 17 hours ago #3142

  • kona
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This is great timing. Was going to ask the same questions and you kind folks have answered all. I also have a Pontiac GP and really don't want to buy something different at this time. One thing..what is the advantage/disadvantage of electric or purge brakes on a dolly? Should I be looking for one over the other?
Thanks,
Al

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Re: Info on using Tow Dolly 13 years 12 hours ago #3153

  • subldo
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from the info I've gotten from dealers, the surge brake system is better. If cost is an indication of better, the Master Tow quote I got with surge brakes was higher than the electric brakes.

Rich

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Re: Info on using Tow Dolly 13 years 11 hours ago #3156

  • johnandmari
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Surge brake systems are more expensive because they are much more complicated than electric brake systems. The surge system uses a master cylinder (usually mounted on the tongue) and all the things associated with hydraulic braking systems; the electric brake system uses a magnet system located on the brake backing plates that activates the brakes, once voltage is applied at the towing vehicle. Surge brakes are activated when the system senses a deceleration – just taking your foot off the gas petal can cause the system to activate depending on sensitivity adjustments. The electric system requires voltage from the towing vehicle, through braking by the driver. On my coach, when the exhaust brake is turned on, the electric brakes are activated, which helps going down hills. I’m not certain if that is a universal thing or not – I have a Prodigy Brake Controller in my coach. As I said before, I have used both types and frankly have seen no benefit of one over the other.

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Re: Info on using Tow Dolly 12 years 11 months ago #3165

  • utmtman
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So what is your question. I believe most tow dollys come with the electric brake system. Matter of fact I have not seen a surge break system in 20 years on any trailer. Not saying they are not out there just that I have not seen any. I have had a tent trailer, tt, two atv trailer, utility trailer, and now a tow dolly. All in the last ten years and have only had electric brake systems on all.

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Re: Info on using Tow Dolly 12 years 11 months ago #3214

  • FastEagle
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utmtman said:
"So what is your question. I believe most tow dollys come with the electric brake system. Matter of fact I have not seen a surge break system in 20 years on any trailer. Not saying they are not out there just that I have not seen any. I have had a tent trailer, tt, two atv trailer, utility trailer, and now a tow dolly. All in the last ten years and have only had electric brake systems on all."

And if he would read all the replies in a posting he would see that I had referenced a web site to Northern Tool in a previous reply. That posting was about their surge brake dolly. If he likes his electric dolly that's good for him. But his comment is biased because he has not throughly researched other options and has no experience with a surge brake system.

Here are a couple more web sites for tow dolly research.

www.bigdiscountrv.com/towdollys_mastertow.htm
www.bigdiscountrv.com/towdollys_demco.htm

FastEagle
2003 Everest 363K 38' 14K
2004 Dodge 3500 STL-DRW-QC-LB-2WD-4.10-AUTO-CTD
USN Retired - PDRL
DOD Retired - Aircraft Mechanic
Part Timers with sticks in SC

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Re: Info on using Tow Dolly 12 years 11 months ago #3216

  • utmtman
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I was asleep at the wheel that day since I read it as the first post and not as a continuation of posts. LOL OUCH

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Re: Info on using Tow Dolly 12 years 10 months ago #3496

  • DutchStar38
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Hi Rich,
Almost finished with our trip and the Master Tow Dolly worked GREAT! I only had one problem and that was at our first stop, I left the locking pin in the site space. I had drivers flagging me about the dolly and found out it was bouncing up and down from not being locked down. I obtained a proper sized bolt and nut until the Rv camp overnighted the original locking pin to me. Since this was my first dolly tow I guess I got the case of stupid out of the way early. I plan to attach a wire from the locking pin handle to the dolly frame so this cannot happen again. I also bought an extra pin set.
As for loading and unloading I found it to be very easy. After a few times I soon had it down to a science. I did buy some gloves because during loading you can get your hands black from the tires. Driving with the tow dolly was no problem. There was no wagging. The only thing I didn't like was not being able to back up. You have to plan your escapes when going to restaurants, malls, etc.
Some of the roadways were extremely rough and the dolly handled them fine. The one recommendation I would make and it is also contained in the instruction manual is after loading, drive a block or two and recheck the straps. They tend to get loose but not dangerously loose. Usually, just pulling out of an RV park will work them enough to be checked
CAUTION.... If your car has a low front cowling it will probably be damaged by the dolly. Since my car is fairly old I didn't mind so much. But, low cowlings tend to catch on the dolly when unloading. It can be corrected using small blocks of wood but that is just another thing to mess with.
BRAKES.... I have the one with electric brakes and it is also the wide 80 inch model. Wide means you can make tighter turns without damaging the car. The brakes worked fine. In fact, on a couple of occasions I had to stop abruptly and the dolly did what it was supposed to. I smelled the burned rubber after stopping.
Auxillary tow lights.... I used magnetic tow lights rather than rewire the cars system. I spliced the tow lights into the dolly wiring and they worked just fine.
OVERALL.... No problem except just being stupid here and there. Moving the tow dolly by hand is very easy if needed. I always use a hitch handle lock even if the dolly is detached from the RV. No campground refused me with the dolly. Some required the RV to be backed in, which is no problem once the car is unloaded. Most parks were pull-through. I have no problem recommending the Master Tow Dolly as a means of towing.

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