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Open Roads Forum  >  Towing

 > Need towing advice for car-hauler.

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JIMMY034

Springville, NY (S. of Buffalo)

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Posted: 01/13/03 10:19am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

A friend of mine is buying a car in New Jersey. It will be a 800 mile round trip. The car trailer (non-enclosed flat bed type) weighs 1,900 pounds and has surge brakes (wish it had electric brakes, would feel better having my Prodigy do the braking). The car is a Dodge Stratus, and weighs about 3,000 pounds. So, total I will be pulling is about 5,000 pounds. My question is, there is no weight-distribution or sway controls. The car hauler is a rental. What is the best way to do this? I'm figuring placing the car on the trailer in such a way that it puts SOME weight on the tongue, until the back of the truck sags just a little. Is this a good method? Also, anyone who has experience towing cars this way, what are your experiences doing so? Anything special I should know? Thanks in advance. The trip will be this Friday if he wins the bid on the auction.

P.S. My truck is in signature.


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Caddywhompus

Southeast WI

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Posted: 01/13/03 12:29pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi Jimmy.

I've towed a few thousand miles (over the course of several trips) with a flatbed car hauler and the Astro. I certainly agree about the surge brakes, but look at the bright side at least it has brakes!

Anyway, the first time I used my car trailer with the Astro, I didn't use my WD hitch, and instead positioned the car on the trailer to try and get some decent tongue weight without bottoming out my suspension. BAD IDEA! The tow was terrible, and the trailer was a handfull to control. I think our rear suspensions and axles are the same, so my guess is your experience would be the same.

The 2nd (and every subsequent) time I took a trip, I transferred my Reese WD hitch to the car hauler. Still no sway control (no ball to attach to), but didn't need it anyway. The difference was amazing. I loaded the trailer with the WD bars disconnected, and ran the car forward until I dropped the rear end about 3 inches. Then I snapped the bars into place to level the rig. I used the 3" number because it's the distance my rear end drops when I drop the trailer onto the ball, so I figured it was pretty close to the right tongue weight. I ran over the scales once to make sure I was within GVWR and GCWR (which I was). With this setup, I am safe and secure.

Good luck with your trip. I myself ran to Connecticut about a year and a half ago to pick up a car I bought on Ebay. It was a great road trip. I took a few friends and we took turns watching movies in the back. Pensylvania and NY are beautifull!

-Jim



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SquareTriangle

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Posted: 01/13/03 02:23pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Check this out very carefully, I'm no expert, but I don't think the surge brakes on that trailer will work properly with the dual cam WD bars on there. For surge brakes to work, that trailer has to push forward against the coupler mechanism and activate a master cylinder there. The WD bars with the dual cam hooked up will tend to restrict the forward motion of the trailer, thus impeding the activation of the surge brakes.

I think you need the brakes more than the WD. That Z-71 should be able to handle 500# on the back without much sag at all. If your trailer and car weigh 5000#, then 500 to 600 #'s of tongue weight should work.

What I would do is load the car and immediately find a truck scale. Pull up on that scale and get a tongue weight. If you are running 10 to 12% of total towed weight on the tongue then you should have no problems. I know those surge brakes will work smoother without the WD bars on there.

Just my 2 cents.


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BarneyS

S.E. Lower Michigan

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Posted: 01/13/03 02:28pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Jimmy, I would go along with Caddywompus in using your existing WD hitch. It would take very little effort to remove the snap-up chain brackets from your trailer and put them on the rental trailer. You would have to put the chains back on the spring bars too. Then use your present hitch with spring bars to hook up to the trailer. You would not have sway control but at least you would have better steering control with the weight distribution. Heck, you could even swap the Dual Cam without too much additional effort. Let us know how it all works out when you get done and good luck!

Edit: Just read Franks reply and he is probably correct. The surge brakes most likely will not work with the Dual Cam. They should work with just the spring bars though. There should be enough front to rear play in the chains to allow the surge brakes to work. Might want to check with a dealer or the brake manufacturer just to make sure if you decide to try it.

2nd Edit: Boy you guys are too fast for me!


*This Message was edited on 13-Jan-03 02:34 PM by bsmith0337*



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Caddywhompus

Southeast WI

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Posted: 01/13/03 02:33pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Surge brakes work fine with WD hitches. I speak from experience. The chains allow plenty of forward motion to activate the surge brakes.

However, you are correct about the Dual-Cam option. The Dual-Cam setup could probably not be used on a surge brake trailer. I would check with Reese to be sure. I didn't advocate the Dual-Cam use in my previous post.


JIMMY034

Springville, NY (S. of Buffalo)

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Posted: 01/13/03 04:28pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I know not to use the dual-cam with surge brakes. I will re-convert my bars, which are 750# bars, to the chains and take my brackets with me. I thought about doing this, but didn't know if it would be a big deal or not, never having towed in this situation before. I will certainly use the w/d system. Thanks for the input guys.

Hopefully he gets the car. A day out of the house might be good for me.

Lumpty

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Posted: 01/13/03 08:47pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Ahh, a question I can answer as an expert....I've been towing cars on open trailers for 14 years totalling about 80,000 miles.....

Is the rental a real car trailer or a U-Haul/Ryder goofy one? Reason I ask is I've had three open car trailers of my own over the years, and seen countless others at the racing events that I do, and I can't remember ever seeing any with surge brakes, except from the "You Move It" joints. You'll never get your snap-ups on that kind of tongue.

As for tongue weight, here is a good rule of thumb, only a little complicated. This is a Stratus that is going on, right? 3000lb car, with 63% on the front wheels, so the front car axle weighs about 1900 lbs. If this is a double axle trailer, measure from the equalizer bracket between each axle's leaf to the hitch coupler. For a 16' bed trailer with a 4 foot tongue, this will be about 11'. By a simple static equation putting the front axle of the car 3'-8" ahead of the center of the trailer axles will put 1/3 of that weight on the tongue(633 lbs), 2/3 on the axles. Add the empty trailer tongue weight to this (150-200lbs). This seems heavy, because now the weight of the rear axle of the car has to be accounted for, as it is behind the trailer axles and effectively unloads the tongue. That is 1100lbs, and if the Status has a 108" (9') wheelbase (?), that rear axle will be 5'-4" behind the trailer axle centerline. 1100*16.33'(distance from coupler to rear axle), divided the trailer axles to the coupler (11') = 1633lbs, way more than the 1100lbs from the car, which means the tongue is unloaded by 533lbs, making the actual tongue weight from the car only 100 lbs! Rolling the car forward 1' will increase the tongue weight to 375 lbs from the car and 200 lbs from the trailer = 575 lbs, about where it should be. I'll attempt a bad ASCII sketch to show the math:

-1100 -1900
car RA 9 feet FA
V V 4feet
-------------------------l------ trailer
^ 4.67' 2.33' ^
A H
2626lbs 374lbs

The other major thing that no one has mentioned is how to tie the car down. Always if possible use an X pattern at both ends, using minimum 5000lb rated straps. Try to attach to a structural component like a subframe, not a suspension piece. Some cars to have hooks designed for tie-down purposes. Be prepared with a few different types of attachments, and there is no such thing as it being too tight. Check the straps after about 50 miles, because they will loosen up.

Don't worry about not having sway control. An open trailer and car doesn't have enough side sail area to need one. The wind finds its way over and through. Even if you can't get the spring bars set-up, if you keep speeds reasonable, with an extended cab fullsize the trip shouldn't be a problem.




Rob

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RogerC

Winchester, VA

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Posted: 01/13/03 10:53pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

It's a Stratus? Personally I'd put it on a two wheel dolly since it's front wheel drive. You'll only know it's back there when it tries to push you a little stopping. I've towed hundreds of miles with one of them as many Class A and C owners here probably have also. They follow like a dream. PITA to back up though!

As kids we used to spend summer vacations driving the countryside searching for junkers to haul to the scrap yard. Used a two wheel dolly. Only one I can ever remember having problems with was a 60's Chrysler Imperial, but my god, that thing weiged three tons!




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JIMMY034

Springville, NY (S. of Buffalo)

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Posted: 01/14/03 06:13am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hmm......great advice from everyone, especially the last two posts. I will suggest the tow dolly to my buddy. Seems that WOULD be a better way to go for sure. Certainly would be better on the gas bill. Up to him though, he's footing the bill.

As for the car hauler, being that it is a rental is probably the reason it has surge brakes. This way you can't use your override on your brake controller to use JUST the trailer brakes and smoke theirs. I can see their point, but still wish it had elec. brakes. It is a true car hauler, a heavy-duty steel frame tandem axle flat bed with integrated ramps. The place that rents it MAKES them AND the also make the BOSS snowplows, familiar with them?

And thanks for easing my mind about sway. I didn't think there would be too much problem, but having this confirmed is definitely good for my nerves . Thanks guys. Now, hopefully all this won't be in vain...I won't know if he won the auction until this afternoon. If he doesn't win, I don't have to worry about towing ANYTHING except my camper in a few months from now .

Jetsfan68

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Posted: 01/14/03 02:36pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Jimmy- Where in New Jersey?
I live here- Maybe some other options.


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