If you’re a fulltime RVer, you’re probably going to tow something. You’ll either drive a truck and tow a travel trailer or fifth wheel, or else you’ll drive a motorhome and tow a car, SUV, or pickup, which RVers commonly call a toad or dingy.
When it comes to towing a car, there are four basic options; towing on a flatbed trailer, towing in an enclosed trailer, towing with a tow dolly that raises the car’s front wheels off the ground, and towing with all four wheels on the ground.
Towing on a flatbed trailer is probably the least popular option, and only makes sense if you have a rear wheel drive car or truck that cannot be towed four wheels down or on a dolly. Besides the added cost of purchasing the trailer itself and its associated maintenance costs, the main problem with a flatbed trailer is that once you get to your destination you have to find someplace to store it. Some campgrounds have a storage area you can use, which there may be an extra charge for. Smaller campgrounds may not have room for storing a trailer and may require you to pay for a second site to park the trailer on.
We have known several fulltimers who used a large enclosed cargo trailer, and we have even considered that option ourselves. Depending on its size, besides your car, a cargo trailer can also carry a motorcycle, ATVs, bicycles, or be used as a shop. However, all of the problems associated with cost and storage of a flatbed trailer are compounded by the size of a cargo trailer. We realized that while having such a trailer had some benefits, the negatives far outweighed them for us and would prevent us from going to many of our favorite campgrounds.
I am not a fan of tow dollies for many reasons, this being one of them. The people who owned this dolly were unaware that a wheel bearing had locked up until somebody passed them blowing his horn and pointing. The dolly’s tire was shredded, the fender was destroyed, and it if you look carefully you can see how deep the rut it carved into the road’s shoulder was. They were mere moments away from a fire or major accident. And as with trailers, once you arrive at your destination, you then have to find a place to store the dolly.
In our 15 years of fulltiming, everybody we have known who started out with a trailer or tow dolly has switched to flat towing before too long. It just makes life much easier. We started out using a Roadmaster Falcon 5250 tow bar and cussed it every time we needed to unhook our dinghy. It was heavy, the release buttons were hard to use, and it tended to bind up and require a lot of effort to get it off the toad. We switched to a Blue Ox Aventa tow bar and the difference was like night and day. The Aventa is lighter, much easier to hook up, and the release levers are a cinch to use. It is a far superior product.
Here’s a tip we learned from the nice folks at Blue Ox – if you tow four wheels down, you will occasionally find yourself stopped not quite straight and the connection between the tow bar and dinghy will be misaligned enough that the connection pins are too tight to pull out. When this happens, start the toad and crank the steering wheel all the way in one direction or the other and it will usually shift things around enough to easily pull the pins free.
As I mentioned in Friday’s blog, if you tow four wheels down, you must have an auxiliary braking system. Many states require them, and to tow without one is foolish at best. If you get into a serious accident and don’t have an auxiliary braking system, you can bet the other guy’s lawyer or insurance company will make a case for the fact that your negligence in not doing so was a contributing factor, no matter who’s at fault.
We used a Brake Buddy for a while and were not happy with it, and switched to an SMI Air Force One. This is a fine unit, reliable, easy to hook up and unhook, and trouble free. SMI makes auxiliary brake units for both gas and diesel power motorhomes.
As you can see, there are a lot of options available. How about you? What’s your choice for towing your dinghy?
Today is your last chance to enter this week’s Free Drawing, courtesy of John and Kathy Huggins of the Living the RV Dream podcast, who have donated one of their current Christmas Specials, which includes all of their current podcasts of Living the RV Dream as well as the Radio Days podcasts (257 in all) as well as PDF copies of their books So, You Want to be an RVer, So, You Want to be a Workamper, and their guide How to Survive an RV Show…and Make it a Great Experience, all on an 8GB flash drive. John and Kathy usually sell just the podcasts, without the books, for $65. All you have to do to enter is click this Free Drawing link and enter your name in the comments section below. Only one entry per person per drawing please! The winner will be chosen this evening.
Thought For The Day – What should not be heard by little ears should not be said by big mouths.