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Old 03-19-2007, 11:50 PM   #1
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Towing tandems

Ok, I know, I know. I plan to stop by the State Patrol office tomorrow to get an opinion from them, but....

It won't happen often, but at some point I would like to tow my truck behind my bus with my ATV on a trailer behind that or my duck boat behind that. While I COULD make the ATV or boat fit in the truck, it is a less than ideal solution given the already excessive height of the truck. Couple that with the fact that my Chevy half ton springs are actually of a LOWER spring rate than the stock Toyota leafs were and well....I just don't feel comfortable.

The regulations in Minnesota say a combination can be no longer than 70 feet overall. I will be close with a bus that is 36 from tip to tail, a tow bar, 20.5 feet of truck, and the trailer for either my 14 or 16 foot boat. I can fit a 16 foot boat on my 14 footer's trailer if I move the axle and front post, but it's not a great fit so I'd prefer to use the trailer for the bigger boat with the bigger boat.

I am legal in terms of not needing aux. brakes according to weight and I don't think it will be an issue with the bus brakes. I am also ok on the weight issue for my drawbar, hitches, etc although the drawbar will be close. I will just have to remove extra weight and put it in the bus. If push came to shove I could run a set of 235-75-15 radials on the truck to reduce weight, but that will cost me the stability of width and it would look just plain goofy. Super Swampers are mighty heavy to lift into the bus too! All those logistics aside, I'm sure I can make it work.

So here's the problem....

Everything I read online says that Minnesota allows you to pull tandems assuming the weights and everything are fine, and that the middle vehicle is no more than 28 feet long. However, everything also says that the middle vehicle must be a fiver. I did some research on this and pulled up the actual statutes. They are here

Am I missing something or does it NOT mention that the second vehicle must be a fiver and that the third trailer be anything in particular? I've been reading and reading and I can't seem to find that clause.

Also, any thoughts from someone who has pulled a combo like this?
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Old 03-20-2007, 12:34 AM   #2
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Ugh.....I think I may have found it.

Subd. 78. Recreational vehicle combination. (a) "Recreational vehicle combination"
means a combination of vehicles consisting of a pickup truck as defined in section 168.011,
subdivision 29 , attached by means of a fifth-wheel coupling to a camper-semitrailer which
has hitched to it a trailer carrying a watercraft as defined in section 86B.005, subdivision 18;
off-highway motorcycle as defined in section 84.787, subdivision 7; motorcycle; motorized
bicycle; snowmobile as defined in section 84.81, subdivision 3; all-terrain vehicle as defined in
section 84.92, subdivision 8; motorized golf cart; or equestrian equipment or supplies.


Time to start looking for other solutions...

What fries me about this is that I'm trying to tow in tandem to be MORE safe. I want to keep my center of gravity down low. Any other solution that falls within the boundaries of the law is going to be a compromise. I just fail to see how a fifth wheel is somehow "more secure" than a regular ball hitch or a gooseneck for that matter. Sure, you're going to know if a fifth wheel isn't properly coupled because as soon as you pull ahead your tailgate is going to get smacked, but why is it any more important that a hitch be PROPERLY secured in a tandem towing arrangement than in a single trailer arrangement. Personally, I think it should be secured properly in both instances. Am I just missing something here? It might be time to call my legislators.....
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Old 03-20-2007, 12:46 AM   #3
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Old 03-20-2007, 01:15 AM   #4
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Check these guys out too http://www.builtrite.net/product_info.html

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Old 03-20-2007, 01:35 AM   #5
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Yeah I'm thinking rack for the boat in the back of the truck or a set of ramps for the wheeler, some small radial tires and some swaybars with disconnects so the truck retains its offroad prowess.
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Old 03-21-2007, 01:28 PM   #6
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Re: Towing tandems

Also, it seems to me that the rest of the question is somewhat of a moot point if the total length is in violation.

Bus ......................... 36ft
Tow Bar ................... 3 ft (minimum)
Pickup ..................... 20.5 ft
Trailer w/14' boat ..... 16' (minimum)
=======================
Total combined length 75.5 feet (minimum)
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Old 03-21-2007, 02:56 PM   #7
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Yeah I screwed up. The truck is 15.5 feet long....I gave myself a 5 foot window for the tow bar and the outboard motor which is probably more than I need anyway. I should have left out "tow bar" from my list.
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Old 03-21-2007, 10:19 PM   #8
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The restriction to use on fifth wheels is really about control, stability and sway; not much about which hitch system is more secure (i.e. - won't come apart).
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Old 03-21-2007, 10:44 PM   #9
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That's what I figure. A fifth wheel puts the connection point over or in front of the axle reducing its moment arm on the truck should things get out of line. Towing on the ball means a long moment arm and the trailer might steer the truck instead of the other way around.

Tomorrow I'm hopefully (if I can get an appointment) taking my written test for a Class B CDL with airbrakes, passenger, and school bus endorsement. Someday in the future I might go for a class A with a tandem/triples endorsement. Then I might be legal if I keep a logbook since tandems and triples use a dolly that has a regular pintle hitch on it.

The truth of the matter is it's never going to happen the way I'd hoped. I know I don't need to worry about my bus being steered by the truck, but I understand that there needs to be blanket policies to insure the safety of everyone on the road and I'm just going to have to work within the bounds of that.
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