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Open Roads Forum  >  Dinghy Towing

 > Loading a tow dolly without help?

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willald

NC

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Posted: 02/16/12 07:07am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

..We're about to purchase a MH, and have decided we will definitely tow our minvan behind it, with a tow dolly. One thing I'm used to with our current TT and tow vehicle, is that with the backup camera I installed on the truck, I am able to do ALL hitch-up duties myself, witout having to enlist any help from DW (she's used to this, too, haha!)

Been researching tow dolly hookup, loading procedures quite a bit, and have seen that it requires two people - one to drive the vehicle up onto the dolly, the other to 'spot' for them, and guide them up onto the dolly.

Soooo, not wanting to give up the 'luxury' we have now of doing all hitch-up by myself, I'm wondering if anyone that tows with a dolly has found a way to load and hitch it up by themselves? Any tips, tricks, etc. anyone might want to share that allows them to load/hitch up a dolly without any help from a 2nd person?

My first thought, was to get a portable backup camera like the Swift Hitch. Sit the camera for this on front of dolly, use the monitor in the minivan to guide you as you drive up onto the dolly. Would that work, you think? I can think of many other things that swift hitch camera would come in handy for as well, so would not have a problem spending the $$ for one.

Would something as simple as a mirror on a magnetic pole work, that you sit on the front of the dolly when pulling the car onto it? Any other thoughts, ideas?


Will & Angela
2 children that love camping, Stephen & Allison
2012 FR Georgetown 351DS on F53 (V10) Chassis
Our Rig

mowermech

Billings, MT

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Posted: 02/16/12 07:34am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The few times that I have used a dolly, I have always hooked up and loaded by myself. Just hook the dolly to the tow vehicle, get the vehicle to be towed lined up, get out and look, then drive the vehicle onto the dolly slowly and carefully. I have always been able to tell when the wheels drop into the depressions on the dolly so I never had a problem with going too far. Then get out and look again. If it isn't right, back off and do it over
Practice makes perfect!
But, you have to do what works for you. If the camera makes the process easier and safer for you, go for it!


CM1, USN (RET)
2002 Fleetwood Southwind 32V, Ford V10
Toad 1: '06 PT Cruiser, Kar Kaddy dolly
Toy (and Toad 2): 2001 Dodge QC SWB, 360 Magnum, Auto, 4X4
"When seconds count, help is only minutes away!"

ronfisherman

SE Michigan

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Posted: 02/16/12 07:36am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

When loading my car/minivan on our dolly
1. Pull up to dolly ramps.
2. Check to make sure car is aligned to ramps. Adjust as necessary.
3. Drive up ramps unto stops.
4. Check alignment.
5. If alignment is off. I turn wheels to right or left as needed.
6. Back up car to rear stops.
7. Straighten steering wheel.
8. Drive forward to front stops. This usually gets me aligned on center of dolly.
No need for a camera that adds to the process.
I have heard stories about driving car over front stops. Not good. Clamping a small stick to dolly tow arm will give better alignment and give a indication of how far car is forward on dolly.
Try the loading process a couple of times before do anything. You may find it is not a problem doing the loading yourself.


2004 Gulf Stream Endura 6340 D/A
TST tire pressure monitor system
2012 Chevy Captiva Toad

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VintageRacer

Tatamagouche Nova Scotia

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Posted: 02/16/12 07:37am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have never had assistance loading my car onto my tow dolly, and never even thought about getting anyone to help. Maybe it's just me, but I don't see why getting out to look and check the approach is a bad thing. You get lined up, you drive up, when the ramps rock up you stop and check, then you roll forward to lean the tires against the stops. Easier with an automatic transmission than a standard, with my standard transmission car not spinning the tires on the ramp was sometimes a bit of an issue.

A bit tricky the first few times, but that's all. Getting the straps and such done up is the bit I would like to get someone else to do...

Brian


2005 F250 Supercab, Powerstroke, 5 speed automatic, 3.73 gears.
20 ft race car hauler, Lola T440 Formula Ford, NTM MK4 Sports Racer
1980 MCI MC-5C highway coach conversion
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Bobbo

Wherever I park

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Posted: 02/16/12 07:55am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

After loading the car on the dolly a few times, I had it down where I didn't need a spotter. It just takes experience.


Bobbo, Linda and the furry kids (1&1/2 German Shepherds)
2007 Winnebago Outlook WF331C on a Ford E450 Super Duty Chassis
2010 Subaru Forester w/BlueOx baseplate & Ready Brute Elite towbar


willald

NC

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Posted: 02/16/12 07:55am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for the responses. Sounds like I may have been 'making a mountain out of a mole hill', and loading a dolly by yourself isn't really that hard. Good to know, really did not want to give up doing hitch up duties myself.

Not that DW wouldnt want to help, she is more than willing, and she did with our current setup before I installed the backup camera. However, with all the stuff she's busy with when we're getting ready to leave, I didn't want to anything to her list.

Think I'll hold off on buying the cool little camera until we've had a chance to try the hitch up process a few times. May well not be needed.

Will

dbates

Marion, Indiana

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Posted: 02/16/12 08:45am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I do about the same as VintageRacer's suggested above except I DON’T pull all the way forward to the front stop. I found that with the wheel against the front stop the straps will not slide over the tires as you tighten them leaving less tension behind the wheel. I leave about an inch so that as you tighten the straps the wheels will roll forward and equalize the tension on the front and back of the wheel. You should also tighten them down until the tires squish down. In over 35,000 I’ve never had a loose strap since I started doing this.

I also found that it was faster & created less discord with my DW if I load by myself. She wouldn’t point which direction to go if I was in the wrong place. She would just shake her head.

Dave


Plus New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island & Nova Scotia


willald

NC

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Posted: 02/16/12 09:33am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

dbates wrote:

I also found that it was faster & created less discord with my DW if I load by myself.....


Exactly. No way to 'miscommunicate' with yourself if you do the hitching up by yourself. Makes for much easier, peaceful camping.

Will

Nomadac

Columbus, IN

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Posted: 02/16/12 10:24am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

When I had a dolly, I lined up the front wheels to the bottom of the ramp. Then used a magic marker and used a straight edge to draw line up the ramp to the stop along the outside edge of the LF tire. I would roll my window down and lean out the window to keep the front wheel along this line, without any assistance.
This worked great for me.

I also have a line made with tape from the ramp to the front of my enclosed car trailer, with a 12" wide by 4'tall mirror that is fastened to the front wall of my car trailer that I use to load my car by myself. I can see the tape and when I reach the inside floor can see the front wheel in the mirror in relation to the tape on the floor. Both work great.


Arnie
2003 Travel Supreme MH
38KSO1 Cummins ISC 350HP
2004 Honda Pilot w/SMI Air Force One Brake Sys.
1963 Pontiac Grand Prix 20' Enclosed Car Trailer

Leeblev

Pinole, CA

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Posted: 02/16/12 10:29am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We have towed with a dolly for 10 years.
First of all, I put a collapsible wheel just behind the hitch so that I can wheel the dolly around.
I use the backup camera in my coach to back almost to the hitch. I then wheel the dolly a foot or so to the ball and connect. After connecting the safety chains, electric, etc., I drop my ramps, remove the pin and get ready to drive the car onto the ramps. I have located a spot on the rear of the coach that I aim for that places my wheels in the middle of the ramps. Drive up and onto the ramps until they lock in place. I then tie down the car, put on safety chains and electrical hookup, MAKE SURE the parking brake is off, check the lights, and I am off.
I highly recommend putting the wheel on the dolly so I can wheel it by hand. I also put a hitch on the back of my Honda and I use the car to back the dolly into places when it is difficult to move the dolly by hand. Works well.


Lee
2001 36' Kountry Star DP


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