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Old 12-29-2012, 10:30 AM   #1
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tow dolly

Has anyone used a tow dolly behind there bus with a car on it? After I get the hitch done and my scooter racks done, I know at some point I will have to tow a car, It would be nice just to go 4 down, but then I would have to get a different car, and set it up for towing. In my mind a dolly seems better just for the fact you can have any type of car. On the rv forums 4 down is the perfered way, but those guys have $$$ to buy everything needed, and most fwd cars cant be towed 4 down unless a stick shift, and thats not going to happen (dw says no)

just thinking out loud
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Old 12-29-2012, 11:24 AM   #2
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Re: tow dolly

Like many others on this forum, I have towed just about every way you can imagine and NONE of them are without problems. I like a full on car trailer best but they are not practical for most RV sites. The tow dollies are better in the camp sites but are still a pita and nearly imposible to back up because they have two swivel points and are too short to see in the mirrors etc. Also, the webbing straps that secure the wheels of the towed vehicle to the dolly OFTEN strech and work lose so need to be frequently checked. I'm going four down this time because my old TOAD is OK with it. At least with four down you don't have to worry about backing up--because you can't--it bends even the best of the tow bars. I'm using an older model "Blue Ox" tow bar which folds away under the front bumper of the TOAD in almost no time. Four down does, however, take a little getting used to.

On a related topic, some states require fancy break mechanisms on TOADS often based on the weight of the vehicle. You can find lists of tow requirements on the net. Thats my two cents worth. Now that I think of it I have seen lists of four-down-able vehicles on the net as well. Jack
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Old 12-29-2012, 12:25 PM   #3
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Re: tow dolly

2012 dingy guide...... goes back to 2002..... 2013 list out soom

http://towingworld.com/pdfs/2012_dinghy ... _guide.pdf
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Old 12-30-2012, 04:22 AM   #4
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Re: tow dolly

Quote:
Originally Posted by GlennC
We've been traveling full time, moving frequently, in quite a few campgrounds, service stations, parking lots, etc., and I really can't imagine doing it other than 4 down. It is fast to connect and disconnect and there are no 'where to put the trailer' issues.

How would you do that with either dolly or trailer? How would you get the trailer out of the way?
Manually....... I had to do it in Gadson , AL. not all fun and games

I know, don't get in those situations....

A good tow dolly would probably cost a grand, a good trailer big enough for the whole car would be maybe 3 times that. To tow 4 down, you have to get base plates and wiring installed, too. And buy the tow bar. And if your toad has any size, you probably should get an auxiliary brake system. Hmmm, it does add up now, doesn't it? I guess it is a pricey way to go after all, eh? I suppose the convenience comes with a price tag.

Aux brakes are required for toads weighting over 3000#'s in most states. I know Tennessee does. We used the surge brake system with no problems ... once I got the cables adjusted properly..lol

I guess that not having to deal with a dolly or trailer at the campground would be my number one reason to recommend 4 down, most campsites so far barely fit the bus and maybe the car if it's parked sideways in front of the backed in bus. No way a trailer would fit. They usually won't let you park anything on the grass, meaning you'd have to leave the trailer/dolly off site at a parking lot and hope it's there the next morning. And you'd have to leave it in such a way as to be able to back up to it to reconnect. And hope no one blocks it in. That could be tricky.

There you go, my free opinion.

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Old 12-30-2012, 10:01 AM   #5
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Re: tow dolly

thanks for the enfo GlennC, I hear what your saying, I really want to go 4 down. just a small car. I think Im going to have to just end up just doing it and have DW keep her wheels. I know a just haveing a dolly kicking around my yard would be a pain in the butt, the other thing I was wondering about is how my t444e would handle pulling a car? theres not a lot of power there (full sizebus) .

thanks for the great info, I really needed to hear this from a another skoolie
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:46 PM   #6
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Re: tow dolly

One reason I built a skoolie was because school busses are meant to go lots of places... dirt section line roads, hilly neighborhoods, etc. They have the ground clerance and turning radius that class As and coach busses just can't match.

Another reason I built a skoolie is that I have kids in car seats. Moving the seats from the bus to the toad and back would suck. So would buying carseats in duplicate!

So, our plan is to just take the skoolie everywhere. I've gotten into a few tight spots and had a few high stress situations. Wife was able to run to the back of the bus and help me through them. I got a backup camera for Christmas so that will be going in for the 2013 season..

I've got a good friend that lives on a busy, no parking street, and his driveway is much too short to hold the bus, and I'd never dream of trying to back out of his driveway in the bus. So I'm not sure what we'll do if I want to visit him. Maybe we will park a ways a way and hoof it -- which we do a fair bit of anyhow.

But to be honest, given the hassle and fuel mileage hit of dealing with a TOAD, I think that if you ever find yourself wanting to explore a town for a while in something smaller than the bus, why not just rent a car when you get there?

On our first trip in the bus, we did drive it over the GG bridge and parked in downtown san francisco. (for free!). We took public transit everywhere to explore the city. I strongly suspect that is MUCH less hassle then dealing with a toad..even when managing littles ones and strollers on the city busses..
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:57 PM   #7
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Re: tow dolly

We are going to be getting a car dolly I think. I already have a hitch on Farold I just have to run the wiring. After our last trip, I don't think we will go for that long without having a toad. For half the trip we had my dad following us so we were able to use his van but once he went his own way it kinda sucked not having a vehicle. In regards to renting a car, we have 4 kids so we would need to rent a van and the cheapest place we could find was around $75 bucks a day. Enterprise and Hertz was around $120. With an expense like that it wouldn't take long for the dolly to pay for itself and I would expect the fuel mileage wouldn't be effected all that much?
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Old 12-30-2012, 11:57 PM   #8
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Re: tow dolly

'd be curious to learn more about what experiences or situations you want the toad for. I have only done 1 big trip in our skoolie and I'm not planning on a toad. Maybe I need to rethink my plans?

Maybe my usage profile is different than yours?

I built our skoolie last year and "finished" it 5 hours into Day 1 of our 3 week road trip We went from ND to CA, down the CA coast, and back to ND, and stopped at lots of state and national parks all along the journey, as well as a couple multi-day stops to visit with people. 3 weeks and 5000+ miles with no toad was just fine for us.

Our skoolie is just like a really big minivan.. that has a really big trunk that we can cook, play, eat, sleep, and poop in. Ours is rigged for serious driving. Things are lashed in place if they aren't screwed down permanantly. I see a lot of skoolies that look like amazing homes... and terrifying death traps once you are going above 10mph and turn the wheel or tap the brake pedal.

So we move constantly in our skoolie. We never stay in the same place for more than a day or two. Any longer then that, it's to stay with friends.

When we stop, the kids can be in bed within 15 minutes. Kitchen can be ready to cook in about 60 seconds. We don't bother hooking up to shore power and water unless it's been a while; we're built to boondock the whole family for a few days at a time, and driving down the road recharges the house batteries to some degree.

The point being -- we treat our bus just like our family vehicle when we're on the road. The difference is that we have _some_ constraints. We don't expect to be able to park it in all the normal places. I have to think about what I am doing when selecting a gas station (mostly, i am using truck stops) Sometimes we park further away then we would if we were a car, but that's fine. Obviously we don't use parking garages or drive throughs

Without a toad, I like being able to back up; I like being able to retain the maneuverability of a school bus. Towing _anything_ is a safety risk -- one that lots of people accept and manage just fine, but a risk none the less. We've all seen trailers "wag" the back of their vehicle before when heading down the road.

I do think pulling a van is going to hit your gas mileage noticably. Your bus is probalby in the 20-25,000 lb range. A van is going to be another 5000 lb. So it will add at least 20% to every time you start or stop, and you'll love it going up hills

Depending on how furnished your skoolie is, having a toad on there may put you over GVWR (i think the GVWR includes any trailers, right?)

I'm definitely not trying to attack your decisions or anything like that -- just explaining why I've tried to avoid a toad so far. Hopefully I can make it work
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Old 12-31-2012, 08:20 AM   #9
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Re: tow dolly

a bus can back up with a trailer as long as you watch the trailer whilst backing up. And a tow dolly can be backed up behind a bus, but its a lot harder. i have a 40' bus, and i have no problem backing up when i can see the trailer, which is easy cause of my mirrors and the camera. I have also had a tow dolly for almost 20 yrs, and have used it behind the bus, but it is much harder for me to back the thing up...and i have also flat towed a festiva for lots of years, and that was hard to back up when attached also... all this fwiw..

btw, there are lots of automatic cars that can be flat towed.. lists are online.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:17 AM   #10
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Re: tow dolly

Quote:
Originally Posted by thrash
One reason I built a skoolie was because school busses are meant to go lots of places... dirt section line roads, hilly neighborhoods, etc. They have the ground clerance and turning radius that class As and coach busses just can't match.

Another reason I built a skoolie is that I have kids in car seats. Moving the seats from the bus to the toad and back would suck. So would buying carseats in duplicate!

So, our plan is to just take the skoolie everywhere. I've gotten into a few tight spots and had a few high stress situations. Wife was able to run to the back of the bus and help me through them. I got a backup camera for Christmas so that will be going in for the 2013 season..

I've got a good friend that lives on a busy, no parking street, and his driveway is much too short to hold the bus, and I'd never dream of trying to back out of his driveway in the bus. So I'm not sure what we'll do if I want to visit him. Maybe we will park a ways a way and hoof it -- which we do a fair bit of anyhow.

But to be honest, given the hassle and fuel mileage hit of dealing with a TOAD, I think that if you ever find yourself wanting to explore a town for a while in something smaller than the bus, why not just rent a car when you get there?

On our first trip in the bus, we did drive it over the GG bridge and parked in downtown san francisco. (for free!). We took public transit everywhere to explore the city. I strongly suspect that is MUCH less hassle then dealing with a toad..even when managing littles ones and strollers on the city busses..

I don't know how big your bus is but if you had a 40 footer, you'd feel a little different about your experience in SF.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:42 AM   #11
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Re: tow dolly

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Old 12-31-2012, 12:51 PM   #12
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Re: tow dolly

Fulltime in a 40 footer. We rarely move since I hold down a job. Coming out west, David towed my Jeep (1995 Grand Cherokee, Quadra-trac AWD) 4 down. He didn't feel it at all behind him. He also didn't feel it when the front tire blew out either. Note: make sure you take the vehicle out of gear to travel before leaving any where you've spent the night. Don't trust that just because it was set up for towing when you the night before, that your significant other didn't "change things" (like the Jeep was going to pull the bus backwards into the lake?). No, I haven't let him forget that yet. We use a safety cable with LOCKS on it since we have heard stories about pins being pulled while you are parked. Driving from Socorro to Roswell, we pulled the food cart with the bus and I drove the Jeep. Next time we move, we might not have the cart unless we decide to turn it into a mobile storage shed. The food cart is 5W X 6L, with the tongue it's 10 ft long. Keeping it on site is a pain. We have to look for sites that will handle the extra. While in Corpus Christi, we had to park it in an "overflow" lot (where it flooded). When we changed parks, we got a spot that was extra wide so we could park it next to the Class C.

BTW, we do not have "lots of money". Actually we have very little (we's po'.... can't afford the "or"). I watched RV forums, Craigslist, Iwanna and Hitch Trader "for sale" ads until I found what I needed. Took almost a year to get both pieces. Both the Stowmaster tow bar and the hidden brackets were off of Hitch Trader. If you get a tow bar, get one that is designed for one person hookup. That way you don't need to be perfectly aligned to get hooked up. Saves lots of time. I wanted one that a single person could hook up since I've needed to move the RV while David was at work, so I held out for one. We also "store" the tow bar on the Jeep. Came in handy the time we broke down on our way back from food vending for the auction in Albuquerque. We called our daughter and she came and towed the food cart home with her Jeep and then came back and towed our Jeep home. Her Jeep can't be towed 4 down with out a transmission pump & disconnect. We've used her Jeep (Claudia.... it's Black) to tow our Jeep ("R"-Jeep) a couple of times. My Grand Cherokee weighs 500 lbs more than her slightly larger Grand Cherokee.

Driving thru Main Street Roswell would be a major nightmare in the bus. We did it twice. From Hwy 380/Second Street north to Wal-Mart & Sam's Club to park overnight, then reversed the trip to get back on Hwy 380. We later discovered the West Relief Route for Trucks and used that ever since. Small town roads/traffic aren't that great for a long bus. Just passing thru once (and I look for truck routes anyway) isn't too bad, but I am familiar with several small and tiny downtowns that I would be looking for an alternative route. I wouldn't want to take the bus thru downtown Albany (GA). Chatsworth (GA) isn't what I would call "spacious". S. Pittsburg "beautified" their downtown, which made it big rig unfriendly. Colquit has a truck route that we took in the little 22 ft Class C since we had been thru that town in a pickup truck (the "square" is tight with all the onstreet parking). That's just a few of the towns we have been thru that would not be fun in a large vehicle. We like a towed. It would be nice to have a little 250cc scooter to use in good weather for short trips and exploring... in addition to the Jeep.

Of course everyone needs to look at how they use their bus and what they might need. I've been in a lot of towns that have public transportation. There's even a bus stop very close to us. They just don't run at 3:30 AM which is when I need to go to work. In Corpus Christi, we took the public transportation several times. We mostly stayed on Flour Bluff. It was handy but I would have hated to do all my grocery shopping using the bus.
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Old 12-31-2012, 02:22 PM   #13
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Re: tow dolly

I think this is one area where I want options, 1 will be towing a small car Im going for the 4 down, this will be needed when we go south for the winter, and leaving the bus in 1 spot. 2 will be the rack for the back of the bus to hold my honda 90 and the little jazz(wish I could bring the bigger hondas) with these it gives you the option of running into town, or even around the park, or trail rideing when boondocking , I will be building the rack(deck) this winter for use in spring, we want them for our next big trip, and the little 90 is needed to get to a fishing hole where we boondock.
So does everyone think that my t444e with 545 (full size) would have any trouble pulling a small car?
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Old 01-01-2013, 01:24 AM   #14
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Re: tow dolly

Quote:
Originally Posted by crazycal
I don't know how big your bus is but if you had a 40 footer, you'd feel a little different about your experience in SF.
It's a conventional front, 77 passenger setup. I tell everyone its a 39 footer, since not everyone allows 40 ft setups

I adapted a technique I read from someone named, i think, "rv girl" on how to park your rig in SF for free:

I went south into the city over the GG bridge, and then drove west on Greary until it forked to Point Lobos, then followed that around south along the water front
i turned east onto lincoln and then immediately entered golden gate park on MLK. I parked the bus on MLK inside the park.

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Golden+Ga ... a&t=m&z=15

From there, we were on foot (well, some of us were in a stroller ) and public transit for a day of sight seeing. When we were all done, we went back to the bus and left SF via downtown arterials -- during rush hour. I missed the secret way to get directly on Hwy1 from inside the park, so I had to do some surface street magic to work my way over there. I made a few strategic and redundant turns to avoid having to make turns that the bus wouldn't likely make in heavy traffic. We managed

Left town the same way we came in-- GG bridge. We were spending the night at a KOA way north.. in Petaluma perhaps?

The following day we visited a friend in Mountain View. We had a few tricky moments in mountain view, we had to go several blocks before i could find a place to turn around, etc.
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Old 01-01-2013, 06:00 AM   #15
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Re: tow dolly

Sounds like you had a great time, but parking in GG park is not quite the same as downtown. You could park a 747 in the park and no one would notice. I'm not trying to change your mind. What worked for you is all that matters. I could have given you a list of 3 dozen things and places to see in the city that you could not have seen in a bus or public transportation.

When I bought my first bus in AZ, I wanted to stop in Quartzite for breakfast. I was in a 40 foot BB. Every placed I passed, I couldn't find parking. That was when I decided that I would have some OTHER means of transportation on/with the bus. That way I could park in the outskirts and drive back in with a small car or scooter and not break a sweat. That is my story and I'm sticking to it.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:00 PM   #16
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Re: tow dolly

GlennC
that looks like a blast to putt around in, wonder what kind of price tag is on something like that,
How are you enjoying the full timing? did u keep a home base some where? how are u finding living in the bus? are u finding it small?

just wondering if you want share some info (its fine if you dont)

all the best to you in the new year

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