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Towing a trailer with an antique Dodge


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This thread is not about the Dodge ON the trailer, I want to PULL the trailer with it. 

 

My four year old daughter does car shows with me in our 28 Dodge. Last season she entered her power wheels along side the real car and had a blast. I want to be able to tow her power wheels to the show with the old Dodge, a 28 standard six. 

 

I'm looking at an early 1900s wood wagon with wood spoked wheels. Two axles and I think the front turns. Weight won't be an issue. As it will be pretty much empty all the time.

 

I'm curious what would have passed for a trailer hitch back in the day? With a split bumper and a fuel tank in the back, how would one go about attaching one?

 

If you a curious about the power wheels, it's a pink Cadillac Escalade. I'm outfitting it with functioning lights, underglow, 7" touch screen multimedia recieved, upgraded speakers, upholstered seats, gauges, anything a real car has, plus a bunch more battery power to run the electronics

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It's great that you're that engaged in her life and admirable that you want to do such things but I agree... for the sake of her safety and everyone else around you on the roads I would think there has to be a better way to go about getting her pink caddy to the shows. 

 

 

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Good to get her involved. I see early cars pulling early trailers, like Mullins campers. Google it. Most attach to the rear bumper. I missed a chance at an early cargo trailer I wish I would have bought. It was about 4 X 4 with about one foot high sides and only had one wheel. It attached at two places on the bumper with clamps and the one wheel pivoted to turn. It would be easy and cheap to build. 

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Cool idea and wonderful to get your daughter involved--this will really get her excited. But what about the axles and hubs on the trailer? What kind of hitch? Does it have a suspension of any kind? A trailer designed to be pulled around by a horse or tractor may not be strong enough to be pulled even at moderate speeds on a roadway. There's a lot more force there than you'd expect and if it's bouncing along at 35 MPH, a simple wooden trailer is going to take a pounding that might knock it to pieces. Think of how we bounce along in our old cars on even the best roads--a trailer without a suspension is going to bet beat up pretty badly. The hitch will probably attract the attention of the local constabulary unless it is some kind of approved locking design.

 

While it might be an interesting artifact, I bet one of those inexpensive lawn mower trailers perhaps dressed up with vintage-looking wheels would be a safer solution or, as someone said, perhaps a Mullins or other vintage trailer. We just sold a '40 Ford with a Mullins trailer and it had a modern-ish hitch ball, trailer lights, and safety chains, all of which I would consider to be the minimum for safe trailering, regardless of age or size. We also have a hot rod that has a fiberglass trailer behind it that could easily be modified to haul a small ride-on truck like your daughter's. They both use receiver hitches and typical hitch balls--the one on the '40 is bolted to the frame and can be removed, the receiver on the red '31 is welded in place like on a modern truck. When the hitch balls are removed, both are virtually invisible.

 

I'm sort of with the others in thinking that a 4-wheeled farm cart, even one that's only 4x8, will probably not pass muster with the police and may not be robust enough for even 35 MPH speeds on modern roads. It's the kind of thing that it seems OK until it's not and then the fallout is terrible. So much can go wrong with trailers, and even little ones can be a challenge behind an ancient car.

 

Being safe is #1, especially if your daughter is involved!

 

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Enough of the oppinions on pulling the traler. It has suspension, it has pneumatic tires, it has steel axles with spindles and bearings, i will be building a new frame, it is safe. Does anyone have anything helpful to add on what would have been used for a trailer hitch with a split rear bumper and rear mounted fuel tank with spare tire

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You aren't honestly angry at us for trying to help, are you? This is the exact description you gave of your setup:  early 1900s wood wagon with wood spoked wheels. Two axles and I think the front turns.

 

What did you expect us to say about trying to drag that kind of rig down the road with an ancient car? If you had indicated that the trailer has tires and a suspension and a metal frame, the answers you received would have been much different. But given what you told us, it wasn't unreasonable for anyone to assume you were trying to pull a rickety 100-year-old wood wagon with your Dodge, which everyone figured was a bad idea. And, as is the tendency here, everyone wanted to help you do it safely. You didn't even know if the front axle turns--how can we possibly work with that and give you a useful answer? Remember that the questions you ask frame the answers you get. More detail is always better.

 

Anyway, I'm sure you'll figure it out. Good luck.

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1 hour ago, David_Leech said:

Does anyone have anything helpful to add on what would have been used for a trailer hitch with a split rear bumper and rear mounted fuel tank with spare tire

I don't have a picture but I made an hitch made that had a channel iron yoke that went from the ball forward under the gas tank and mounted to the frame just ahead of the  front shackle of the rear springs.  A channel iron yoke came down to the middle to support the yoke from under the car.  This was attached to the rear of the frame where the Bumperettes mounted.  With this set up I towed Packards and Studebakers many miles with a tow bar as well as 20 to 30 foot parade floats with as many as 30 people on board.

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My 1930 Dodge 8 has a tow bar. The car has rear fuel tank and a trunk on the luggage rack. The tow bar was fitted c. 25+ years ago to tow a pop-top camper trailer from the '20s or '30s (model T axle from memory). It consists of a curved piece of flat steel 0.5" x 3+" that goes under the fuel tank to a cross member in front of the tank. At the rear it has an upstand that bolts to the bumper centre medallion bolt (through the full width bumper iron). It has just a standard ball for the trailer attachment to lock on.

 

I also am puzzled about what exactly you will be pulling behind the car. I think what you are saying is that your trailer will be a re-imagining of a 1900s wood farm wagon but with modern undercarriage. Great idea!

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2 hours ago, Spinneyhill said:

I also am puzzled about what exactly you will be pulling behind the car. I think what you are saying is that your trailer will be a re-imagining of a 1900s wood farm wagon but with modern undercarriage. Great idea!

I don't have a picture, but what I'm looking at is the remains of a very old horse drawn wagon. Seller dates it go 1905 but I think it's quite newer than that. It has transverse leaf springs and pneumatic tires on wood spokes. Axles are steel as are the hubs. I believe they are 16x4 or 16x6 wheels. Value is basically in the axles and wheels for me to build a wooden trailer on. I will likely swap out the transverse springs for some modern trailer leafs. As a wagon it has had its day. There is little left of the body. The wooden undercarriage and spokes are still solid. It looks as if it was stored upside down. The top has had it but everything else is well preserved. I will have to see what it gets built into once I find out how much can be salvaged (if only two wheels are serviceable etc). Ideally I would use a T axle, but they aren't exactly common anymore. This picture is what I fell in love with.

 

I want a variation of the one in this picture with either one or two axles and big enough for the power wheels and a few lawn chairs.

 

The hitch (pun intended) in my plans was how to couple the two together. Thanks for the ideas on the long draw bar hitch. That bumper clamp might work with some padding. Would they have used a ball hitch or pintle back in the 20s / 30s?

ebay847438.jpg

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If you’ve ever seen a two axle wagon (with the front axle able to turn) you’ll abandon that idea in a heartbeat.  They use them around here to carry nitrogen tanks for fertilizing the farm fields.  If you’ve ever been behind one of these rigs being pulled by a tractor, wobbling all over the road at fifteen miles an hour, you’ll never forget it.  They appear to be constantly trying to steer themselves into a ditch no matter how straight the tractor is going.

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On 12/20/2018 at 3:59 PM, David_Leech said:

Would they have used a ball hitch  back in the 20s / 30s?

 

 

Yes, see my photo of a 1931 Dodge Coupe pulling a motorcycle. That's a ball hitch with a bar connecting the bike (believe it or not in winter time no less).

 

I have an idea, why not rig something up for when you get to the shows ? Meaning, take her pink caddy and your hitch idea and load it in a separate truck bed or flatbed truck. Most shows are locally so maybe someone can drive the parts to the show then you and the little one can drive in your car and hook up once you get on site for the show ? (the memories will still be long lasting for the both of you and I'm sure the judges won't mind).Then the driver of the other truck can come back for you later in the day if he/she doesn't want to stay for the show. Maybe a friend, coworker, family member that is willing to help? 

 

If you are only going few blocks at 15-30 mph tops you might get away with it and I think we can all concede, but if you exceed those limits then I would seriously reconsider.

There's a reason they put "CAUTION do not exceed" labels on trucks and trailers since they have been in production. It's not all about what it will hold or what it can do but more importantly what is safe for everyone else around us (including innocent bystanders). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by 30DodgePanel (see edit history)
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I think it’s a great idea it will look cool. 

The extra weight would only be like having  2 large adults in the back. I used to have a trailer manufacturing shop where we fitted towbars. If I was you I would just use some plate that drops straight down from the bumper mounting points of the chassis and then use some 50x50x4 mm box tube between them. Then mount a bolt on tongue of that. Would be very simple to make. You could almost utilise a premade bar with the same cross section. 

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3 hours ago, Mattml430 said:

You could use something like this and just cut the ends off 

 

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This might work well. I will have to see what is available for mounting points. I'm set in my belief that I cannot make any permanent changes to this car. I'm only it's caretaker for now, so I want it to be a reversible modification

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9 hours ago, David_Leech said:

 

This might work well. I will have to see what is available for mounting points. I'm set in my belief that I cannot make any permanent changes to this car. I'm only it's caretaker for now, so I want it to be a reversible modification

Some 3/8 or 5/16 plate with holes drilled where the bumper bolts go through the chassis would work well and be completely removable with no trace of a tow bar. You would need to lengthen your bumper bolts a little. 

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My DA has a pretty sturdy towbar which works fairly well. Looks like it's been on there forever (although definitely not factory!). It consists of a good piece of angle iron welded across the spare wheel carrier plus supports up to the 'rim' holding the spare wheel. Of course it's not bolted on and would have to be carefully cut off to restore to original, but it might give you some ideas. (The carrier folds up over it).

It sits quite a bit higher than a modern towball, but the trailer I use is wartime so has high 16" wheels, and it could have step formed in it to get the desired height anyway. 

 

Hope that helps a bit. 

 

(Merry Christmas etc!)

towbar1 DA.jpg

towbar2 DA.jpg

Edited by Dodgenz (see edit history)
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We used to pull a 1932 Gilkie camper around with a 1931 Chrysler cm6. We had a weld shop fab up a ball mount that utilized the bolts that held the bumper to the frame. It was made from angle iron and as substantial as the metal holding the receiver of a Reese hitch to a modern truck. This ball mount just reached around the bumper. Adding tubular air shocks to the rear axle helped with stability and was the largest modification to the car (aside from tapping into the wiring harness for trailer lights). 

 

There are some very neat looking hitches that show up on eBay from time to time that will make the trailer pass as more period correct. We may have one floating around but a lot of reorganization has gone on in the years since I worried about towing with an old car!

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Obviously needs a ton of work, but it's all there. 90% of the wood is solid enough to reuse if I can find a way to incorporate it. Value is in wheels, axles and suspension. The seller is bought it from the original owner 45 years ago to restore and never did. Has been in dry storage ever since. It was built in 1905 and everything is original. Hubs have bearings, spokes are solid, wheels turn. Anyways, lots of possibilities. Will need to take everything apart and assess how much can be reused. At least one axle worth of parts and two spare wheels. I'm sure there are better starting points but not local to me.

 

Just need to get it dug out from its resting place. It's pretty burried right now

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Personally I like your idea but just not with that trailer I think you would be far better off using a pair of dodge wheels and maybe axle as well and build the rest( sounds easy when you say it quick😁). That way you can get the hieght and dimensions right. I also like the old farm trailer but that’s exactly what it is a farm trailer may be if I was into tractor treks I would restore it to tow behind a vintage tractor but not a car. 

The other advantage to using the same undercarriage as your tow vehicle is the interchangeability of spare parts(tyres, bearings etc) Anyway just a couple of thoughts will be interested to see how the project unfolds 

Cheers Ben

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It’s all really about load carrying capacity. To many fixed axles will put to much load on the axle Stubbs when turning. A front steer axle will also follow the towing truck or vehicle a lot better without cutting the corner as much. You don’t see them on general purpose type trailers because the towing capacity of a car can generally be carried on a single or tandem axle. 

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3 hours ago, nearchoclatetown said:

when they zig-zag.

So what makes them zig-zag? Load distribution? I know single axle trailers will snake and can tip you over if there is not enough weight on the drawbar. I was nearly hit by a caravan doing that one time when they passed me.

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51 minutes ago, Spinneyhill said:

So what makes them zig-zag? Load distribution? I know single axle trailers will snake and can tip you over if there is not enough weight on the drawbar. I was nearly hit by a caravan doing that one time when they passed me.

Your pretty spot on there. Draw bar weight is important. The golden rule is in the range of 5-10% of the trailers weight on the ball. All my trailers are built with the axle behind centre of the body of the trailer. The bigger the trailer the further behind centre it goes. So if I build a 5.5metre trailer the axle centres would be placed about 150mm behind centre.  If a trailer ever starts to wobble you just take your foot of the accelerator and slow down. Don’t ever try speeding up to pull the wobble out. Manually applying the brakes through the controller if they are electric is the best option. 

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This type of trailer is still used, it's frequently used in heavy trucks, Google "type A convertor dolly". This rear trailer with convertor is essentially the same as a farm wagon with steerable front axle, just hauling quite a bit more weight at quite a bit higher speed. They don't sway if the weight is distributed correctly. Tongue weight theory still applies here. If one of the trailers start to sway, it becomes amplified through the second. 

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Edited by David_Leech (see edit history)
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OK, let me put it another way. Before he wastes any time restoring this trailer he better hook it up and take a video of trying to back it up. I'd like to see that. Triple trailers like David Leech shows are only used on the highway here in the US and in  very few states. Only doubles are allowed in PA. at this time and only on certain highways. The car  the OP described for his daughter probably weighs about 30 pounds so weight is not an issue. 

Edited by nearchoclatetown (see edit history)
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The wagon fell through. Old guy selling it decided to keep it and restore it. Just picked up a complete front end from a model T with beautiful wood wheels. How'd I do on price? $150 Canadian. The spokes don't have so much as  a crack in the grain. All strong and tight. It's too dark now for a picture, but this is from the ad. The steering is already locked, I think it has been a trailer in the past

Screenshot_20181231-155339_Facebook.jpg

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