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Old 07-11-2006, 06:12 PM   #1
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Bus Tow Rigs

Hi there!
I just purchased an '87 Blue Bird 33' bus, so I immediately joined the group. Hope to share some info as I go about converting the bus.

So we made this rash decision because we're moving from steamy Florida up to Vermont, and didn't want to throw away a couple grand in moving truck rental. Might as well put it towards our bus!

We need to be able to tow our car behind the bus, a VW Golf (also a diesel). I've found a local place that sounds confident over the phone about installing a "universal" RV hitch. The place also has the tow arm and the bracket to attach to the VW.

Anything I should look out for? Those tow arms seem to vary wildly in price.

Thanks!
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Old 07-11-2006, 08:09 PM   #2
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I have a "Aventa II" tow bar and it is an easy to use one. It is rated to tow up to 10,000. So if you havn't bought one yet that would be my pick. You can easily find them on ebay for a good price if you can wait a week or two. If you VW Golf is a manual transmission you shouldn'd have no worries. An auto trans you may have to have the Golf running while in tow. And make sure when towing it to leave the steering unlocked so it will track behind you.
I pulled my truck 600 miles behind my bus with no issues. Since I have a manual transfer case I just had to put it in neutral.
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Old 07-11-2006, 11:34 PM   #3
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Make sure the universal hitch is rated for atleast 500o lbs. A lot of them are only rated for 3500. Also, the rating you can use is for with a weight districuting hitch (the higher one) since a tow bar doesn't apply any tongue weight.
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Old 07-12-2006, 05:50 AM   #4
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2 things to watch out for there were not already mentioned....

first, if the bus hitch is way higher than the car, it may apply some undesirable forces to the car when decelerating rapidly. I had this problem....

2nd thing is backing up. I would estimate that at least 9 out of 10 times the car backs up ok when attached to the bus. IT's that 10% that'll kill ya though. Occasionally the steer tires on the car turn the opposite direction you want them to go. Since the car is really small, it's difficult to see behind the bus. If the tires turn the wrong direction, and you keep backing up, very bad things will happen!

I personally had a very bad expierence pulling my vw fox from michigan to cali and back. I would much rather pull a trailer than i would tow a car with a towbar. But a towbar is much much cheaper, and a lot easier to store.
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Old 07-12-2006, 09:26 AM   #5
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I would also look in your local yellow pages for welding shops. My local hitch installers wouldnt touch my bus. This guy gave me a custom hitch that looked like it came from the factory and installed it with enough drop that I only needed a 6" drop on the ball. When I told him I needed a hitch he asked me how much weight I wanted it to carry. I said 20,000lbs minimum and the price was about what you would pay for a class IV hitch from a regular installer.
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Old 07-12-2006, 09:29 AM   #6
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Wow!

Thans for all of the rapid replies. Some good points brought up- I'd already planned on the 5K# hitch, and the place that I plan to take it sells the full kit, so hopefully the entire deal will work together. I'll make sure to get a drop tongue hitch to minimize the angle.

The soot problem should be addressed, as the exhaust sticks straight out of a hole in the rear bumper. The shields that I've seen on various websites look pretty simple, yet cost a bunch. Maybe a cloth dropcloth from Home Depot? Eventually, maybe I'd construct a bracket to hold a hunk of plywood, but with trying to finish off this house, and then move, tie is short.

What about lights? Do you folks rig up a pair of lights on the rear of the towed car?
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Old 07-12-2006, 12:12 PM   #7
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Tow bars

Pulling a VW is very easy. The hitch on the back of the bus should be made for that application by a competent welding/fabrication shop. Tow bar assemblies seem to work very well if the bus hitch ball is level or slightly belos the towed car connection. The exhaust can easily be directed to the traffic sid of the bus with a simple 90 degree ell of the same pipe size. This is the cheapest and quickest solution. If both vehicles are of the same voltage, a little bit of wiring will allow the bus to power the towed car lites. I find the best disconnect between vehicles is the small 6 conductor moulded rubber plug. They are good connections, cheap, and found every where. Be sure to use the plug with the # 12 wire and buy several. Don't back up with a towed car unless there isa person to steer the towed car for thattime. One problem in backing can lead to lots of wasted time and money. Try to plan each fuel up and stop along the trip. Frank
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Old 07-12-2006, 01:25 PM   #8
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I did get that soot all over the one side of my truck when pulling it. I was thinking about redoing the bus exhaust to point down and maybe to the side. One of them sheild might be a good idea for me too. I cleaned the truck off using a degreaser and dish soap.
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Old 07-12-2006, 03:16 PM   #9
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About the welded hitch... the RV guy said that in some states it was illegal. Sounds like hooey to me, but what do I know? I did think about welding on a hitch, as I have a nice wire-feed welder. But time isn't on my side right now.

I think that going with a 6-connector trailer plug for the wiring is the way for me, as I also have a utility/storage trailer that I might want to tow.

I'll talk to the installer guy about going straight into the VW lighting system, but that car (2000 Golf TDI Diesel) has so many relays and switches and cut-outs that it might be a bear to get it to work. I couldn't start the car because the door lock actuator was intermittent!

Sacrificing an old 50' extension cord (cut in half) with a couple of universal stop lights has its appeal!
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Old 07-12-2006, 03:28 PM   #10
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The welder that did mine gave me the option of having it welded or bolted onto the frame.

My personal preference would be to go with the 7 pin plug and use a converter to bring it down to a 6. I didnt think I would use a 7 but bought it anyway only to find that most of the trailers I towed used a 7 pin. But thats just my experience.
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