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Malcolm_M

Towing Tips?

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Last fall when gas hit $4 a gallon I did the responsible thing and bought a new full sized truck and a 18' trailer. I'm going to put this rig to use to pull my Buick to CO for the BCA meet but have not really pulled much before other than a small fishing boat so I've got some questions/concerns. The trailer is a wood deck, tandem axle with electric brakes on both axles and I have a brake controller on the truck. Its a frame hitch, Class IV and the truck although a 1500 has the tow package. Do I need sway control bars on the trailer? The truck has that fancy electronic system that is supposed to help keep the tail from wagging the dog but the Buick on the trailer will be 6250 lb. Do folks run weight distribution hitches? I've got a Sherline tonque scale coming in the mail and my thought was to load the Buick on the trailer and then weigh the tongue with this and just adjust the car back or forth on the trailer to acheive my 10% tongue weight. Any other tips, hints or suggestions? The truck pulled the empty trailer 2000lbs just fine and I'm not one that expects to still be pulling a Buick and drive 85 mph so it will be a nice 60 all the way there.

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I have never used weight distribution hitches or swap bars on an open trailer; however, I always use them on an enclosed one. If you load your trailer properly you shoudln't need them .

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Malcolm,

I am by no means an expert on towing, but I tow our '59 and '63 Buicks on an open trailer with a 2006 Chev 2500 HD 3/4 ton truck and I have to use a weight distribution hitch so I would highly recommend using one on a 1/2 ton truck. If nothing else, it will give you peace of mind and the extra margin of safety is well worth the additional expense. I do not use a sway control and have not had a problem. I have been told they are more of a necessity on enclosed trailers due to the large flat surface area.

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As long as your trailer is properly sized for the load and you adjust the tongue weight, you do not need a weight distributing hitch for a 6250lb load.

It sounds like you invested in a nice setup. Make SURE you have a spare wheel/tire for the trailer. Usually thats optional when you buy a trailer. Even new trailer tires have been known to fail.

Common sense stuff that goes without saying but I'll say it anyway.

Make sure you have the correct drop on your ball hitch so the trailer is level when loaded.

Test the emergency breakaway braking system if the trailer is so equipped.

Invest in heavy duty, high quality ratchet tie downs and axle straps. I have a tendency to overkill in this area. Doesn't take much to keep the car on the trailer under normal driving but if you are forced into an emergency maneuver situation, you want to feel warm and fuzzy the car is staying put. Check the tie-downs for loosness after driving the first 50 miles and/or after a hard braking event.

Of course even the best tow vehicle and equipment is no substitue for sensible driving habits.

Good Luck and enjoy what is certain to be a great meet.

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You already got some good info from other forum members, but I will add my 2 cents.....

I tow both my open and closed trailers with a 1/2 ton Z71 Silverado with the tow package. The maximum tow rating is 8,200 lbs. Verify that you do not exceed the rating on the tag in your truck.

When you connect the safety chains, make sure you cross them to catch the tongue if it detaches from the hitch.

Although you don't really need a hitch with draw bars, this type of hitch will add stability to your rig and distribute the load more evenly on all four wheels of the tow vehicle. This also improves breaking for emergency stops.

Finally, don't leave home without a lug wrenches that fit both the truck and trailer lugs. And carry a bottle jack and a 2 X 6 board to jack up the trailer. Your truck jack may not work on the trailer and bottle jacks tend to bury themselves in the soft shoulder of the road.

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I agree with everything Mark mentioned just wanted to add the plastic ramp someone makes to aid in the removal of a flat tire from a trailer with dual axles.Sure coulda used it that day in the rain on Rt.79 outside of Pittsburgh with the 39 Zephyr coupe in the 24' enclosed trailer and my GOOD 5 ton floor jack that wasn't even thinkin about pickin the left side up.If your lucky you will never need it but the time you do NOTHIN works better.diz

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The trailer was ordered with a spare on the trailer. I've been looking at these tracks that you can mount to the wood deck that then allow you to adjust the tie down positions to varying places since I have 5 cars. Are the the axles the best place to tie down?

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I use axle straps around my axles and then ratchet tie downs connected to them and to my tie down points.

Be sure you don't crush any brake lines when you go around the axles, etc.

BOB

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If you install a track set up to the floor of your trailer make sure the track and all the attachments are load rated heavy enough. E track as its called is a great thing but was also used to hold cargo upright in semi trailers. The load rating and also insuring good mounting to your floor are important. Into steel cross members is best.

We also use axle straps and ratchets. Cross your straps in an X pattern side to side to insure no sideways movement. Always recheck load straps as they all stretch a bit.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Malcolm_M</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> Are the the axles the best place to tie down? </div></div>

Generally speaking yes the axles are best in my experience. Tie downs to the frame or suspended part of a car can cause the strap to come undone due to relaxing of the strap from suspension bounce as the trailer goes over dips and bumps in the road. Tying to the frame can be done safely but typically its better if a more elaborate ratcheting chain system is used such as what you see on semi car haulers, the chains must be cinched down really tight so the suspension is not able compress any further when hitting a dip or bump in the road. You can avoid all that worry by going to the axles.

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Lots of really great advice above, and most of it is on the mark.

I tow both open and enclosed with several different trailers, pulling with a 2500 Series 3/4 ton Suburban (8.1 Litre engine) and ALWAYS use an equalizer/load leveler/weight-distributing hitch. I have several - some are solid, others allow for height adjustment of the hitch ball, but ALL have equalizer torsion bars.

It is more than just peace of mind -- any road surface irregularity, bump, dip, etc. is magnified by your trailer passing that item an instant later and can affect handling drastically. Without a weight-distributing hitch your trailer becomes a first class lever with the axles as the fulcrum, acting upon the trailer ball. The back of your tow vehicle is forced up and down by the trailer hitting the dip you just crossed, oscillating an instant later, and out of cycle, causing jounce-rebound, and minimizing tire-road contact. This is magnified by traffic, weather, drowziness, and a host of other conditions. Having the best equipment available is one more way toward driving safer, and is a small investment compared to your collectible car, tow vehicle, trailer, and travelling companions. It is all about maintaining control when you least expect to have to.

The weight distribution hitch not only takes away the jounce-rebound, but gives your innards a smoother ride, and makes it feel that you now have a 35 foot wheelbase -- your rough riding buckboard of a pickup with hard springs now glides down the highway feeling more refined, say like a Fleetwood or Lincoln Towncar; just ask my wife about the difference -- getting there smoothly or feeling that you've been "rode hard and put up wet" as we used to say in rural Virginia.

Don't forget to check trailer, as well as tow vehicle tire pressures regularly - I do it each morning before driving because you may not be aware of what happened in the last few miles of driving on the prior evening.

I also check the trailer lug nut torque each day; especially important with aluminum wheels, and on new trailers -- sure, these items take a couple of minutes, but a lot less time than waiting on the side of the road for assistance, parts, or a wrecker.

Grease the trailer's wheel bearings regularly - generally 5-6,000 miles, adjust the bearing free-play, and adjust the trailer brakes - they are not self adjusting like your truck.

Grease the trailer hitch ball.

Keep your speed within reason - remember that I'm out there on the road too, and probably heading to the same AACA function.

Enjoy your new toys !

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I use a J hook for my tie downs. These come in sets that attach directly to an available hole in the frame. This eliminates crawling under the car, and the springs on the suspension keeps the tie downs tight. Tow trucks use thes all the time.

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Without a doubt the best way to secure anything with wheels is by using the web straps that go over the tires. About 4 years ago I was driving across Wyoming along Hwy 85 for 15 hours in a blizzard. No place to stop as all pullouts were over filled so we kept moving at about 15-20 MPH running on the rumble strips so I knew where the edge was. Twenty miles west of Laramie a significant wind blast blew the trailer with an Amphicar on it to the side hard, we ended up doing a 270 degree spin, crushing the left 1/4 panel on the truck and the toolbox on the tongue. Got out checked out everything and moved on.

We found a room in Laramie truck stop. We got up and left early, wind blowing steady at 25+ and below zero with snow (still don't know why it wasn't closed?) Five miles down the road, yet another wind gust spun us out, stuffing the trailer into the median embankment pretty hard. Got towed out and again inspected the Amphicar and trailer, no problems at all! Why? All 4 wheels had tire webs and front/back located safety straps too. We wrecked twice in 12 hours and the car stayed put. Not just our safety, but that of everyone around us is at stake. I keep my tires new and bearings greased!

15+ years ago (also in Wy) a guy with a flatbed trailer loaded with Harleys on the way to Sturgis had used white plastic chain painted silver as safety chains. He told the police if the trailer came off he didn't want it to take him with it. The trailer came off, crossed the median and killed 5 bikers. In a sense it still took him. Five people died and he got life.

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:)Hey,Marty wrote the book in his last post and the ONLY thing i would add is to also grease up the ends of the equalizer bars where they attach to the hitch.I recently acquired a new to me tow rig and i :)LEARNED ALOT:).I was going to forgo using my adjustable head and equalizer bars cause i couldn't make the ball height work out to level the trailer when towing and the truck is stout enough to tow anything. The SMART guy at the welding shop told me to read the decal on my receiver bolted on my truck.When using the equalizer hitch and bars the load capacity:eek: DOUBLES:eek: from 5,000 to 10,000 pounds over just the ball with no equalizer hitch and bars. I ended up buying the appropriate drop that slides into the receiver and used all my old hitch with bars and its perfect,as Marty stated the equalizing hitch transfers the load through the entire frame of the tow vehicle.Bottom line is educate yourself and don't leave the curb without enough tongue weight.diz

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Hey John,THATS an UNBELIEVABLE story.Silver spray paint on:eek: plastic chains:eek:,WHAT the hell was he thinkin??????diz

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...........,as Marty stated the equalizing hitch transfers the load through the entire frame of the tow vehicle.Bottom line is educate yourself and don't leave the curb without enough tongue weight.diz

Not only loads the frame, but also puts weight back on the front steer tires, making the front brakes MUCH more effective! Ask how I know! :confused:

(OK, I blew through a back road stop sign years ago with the front wheels locked up because of my ignorance.;))

Wayne

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I had thought I had heard of about everything, but silver painted plastic chains takes the award to date, :-(

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