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Last Post 01 Jan 2009 04:42 PM by  JKOBD
towing long distance w/ a Dolly
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first350
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27 Nov 2008 04:35 PM

    I have an '06 Honda CR-V that I'm planning to tow my STS2 Miata with...The CR-V has a relatively low towing capacity, so I'm thinking of getting a tow dolly (the other option would be an aluminum trailer...which is a bit too $$) - is there anything I should watch out for??

    -I'd plan to tow the miata backwards (lock the steering wheel) and put some all seasons on the front.

    -the CR-V max towing weight is 2,500 lbs...the miata weight 2,000 and most dollys are 500 lbs.

    *I'd plan to tow from Seattle to Lincoln NE, as well as other local events.

    Thanks!!

    snaponbob
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    27 Nov 2008 07:03 PM

    Have you considered towing the Miata forwards and just removing the drive shaft? Why do I ask? The front may get banged up if you hit some rough spots are drive into parking lot. You would need to find a suitable plug for the transmission output shaft so you don't lose fluid. Another concern would be the terrible results of the steering lock failing !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee ......................)

    I own a 16' metal trailer and have towed my Saturn Sky on it with a 2wd Saturn Outlook. The Outlook has a 4500 pound limit. The trailer/car combo was at least that much. I could barely tell it was there!!!!!!!!!!! The CR-V should be fine as long as you are easy on it up and DOWN mountainous terrain.

    HTH some.

    wrchas
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    27 Nov 2008 07:40 PM

    The problem w/ tow dollies are stopping them.  I've pulled one many times with a Dodge Ram 1500.  I've had 2 close calls - both involved stopping.  You want to stop and the tow dolly wants to keep going.  Be sure to plan ahead.

    I've towed backwards once.  I'm never doing that again.   

    snaponbob
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    27 Nov 2008 08:01 PM
    wrchas wrote:

    The problem w/ tow dollies are stopping them. I've pulled one many times with a Dodge Ram 1500. I've had 2 close calls - both involved stopping. You want to stop and the tow dolly wants to keep going. Be sure to plan ahead.

    I've towed backwards once. I'm never doing that again.

    I had forgotten about that extra 2500 pounds of dead weight. You're right -- that would be ugly.

    Here's another idea. Somebody in your Region must have a pick up and trailer they would rent to you for a week !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    marka
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    27 Nov 2008 09:01 PM

    Howdy,

    wrchas wrote:

    The problem w/ tow dollies are stopping them. I've pulled one many times with a Dodge Ram 1500. I've had 2 close calls - both involved stopping. You want to stop and the tow dolly wants to keep going. Be sure to plan ahead.

    Did you have brakes on the dolly? I'll probably be picking one of these up for our motor home, but I was figuring on getting one with brakes to help with this problem..

    Mark

    snaponbob
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    27 Nov 2008 09:15 PM
    marka wrote:

    Howdy,

    wrchas wrote:

    The problem w/ tow dollies are stopping them. I've pulled one many times with a Dodge Ram 1500. I've had 2 close calls - both involved stopping. You want to stop and the tow dolly wants to keep going. Be sure to plan ahead.

    Did you have brakes on the dolly? I'll probably be picking one of these up for our motor home, but I was figuring on getting one with brakes to help with this problem..

    Mark

    Do they exist?

    first350
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    28 Nov 2008 12:27 AM

    Some Dolly's come w/ electric brakes - if I end up going through route, I'd get that option.

    I wouldn't mind removing the driveshaft for the trip to NE, but I also plan to tow to some of the local events (3hrs 1-way) and removing/installing the drive shaft doesn't sound too fun.

    One of the main reasons I'm looking into this is b/c my wife will be autoXing w/ me next yr and wants to bring our 2 dogs...maybe I'll just leave the dogs at home[:O]

    Dave Hardy
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    28 Nov 2008 09:28 AM

    No way in hell I'd do any distance towing with something as light as a CRV. Too many ways to mess up.

    Steve Hoelscher
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    Posts:831


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    28 Nov 2008 09:43 AM
    first350 wrote:

    -I'd plan to tow the miata backwards (lock the steering wheel) and put some all seasons on the front.

    -the CR-V max towing weight is 2,500 lbs...the miata weight 2,000 and most dollys are 500 lbs.

    Why tow the Miata backwards? My experience was much the same as Charles' "I won't do that again". In fact, I only went one exit on the interstate then got off, turned the car around and continued on.

    Manual transmissions can be towed find without removing the drive shaft as long as you don't tow excessive distances and the fluid level is full. For local events you will be fine. For the tow from Seattle to Lincoln, disconnect the drive shaft at the diff and tie it securely.

    wrchas
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    28 Nov 2008 10:48 AM

    The tow dolly I used did not have brakes.

    I towed one of my RX-7's on the short trip to Nashville once - about 2 hours each way - without disconnecting the driveshaft.  The tranny started making noise after that trip. 

    snaponbob
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    28 Nov 2008 01:06 PM

    Steve Hoelscher wrote:
    Manual transmissions can be towed find without removing the drive shaft as long as you don't tow excessive distances and the fluid level is full. For local events you will be fine.

    Not always true. I have a TR8 that has an input shaft driven oil pump!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not common, but flat towing that would seize the box in a few miles. Just not a good idea to flat tow with the shaft attached.

    Steve Hoelscher
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    28 Nov 2008 01:16 PM
    wrchas wrote:

    I towed one of my RX-7's on the short trip to Nashville once - about 2 hours each way - without disconnecting the driveshaft. The tranny started making noise after that trip.

    Charles, I know you are no dummy but I would have to wonder what the consition of the transmission was before the trip. The reason I ask is the only difference in tow dolly-ing a standard front-engine/rear drive manual actually driving it is the input shaft doesn't turn. That means the pocket bearing (between the input and output shafts) spins all the time at road speed instead of the differential (between the input and output shaft rpm) speed. So maybe the pocket bearing got hot or the sleeve bearings got hot. So I don't have an explanation as to why yours would make noise afterward unless the pocket bearing or a sleeve bearing was already on the way out.

    There are cars tow dolly'ed daily behind motor homes with no issues. Of course you can't do that with an automatic because they require the pump to run to keep the unit lubed.

    Steve Hoelscher
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    28 Nov 2008 01:23 PM

    snaponbob wrote:
    Not always true. I have a TR8 that has an input shaft driven oil pump!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not common, but flat towing that would seize the box in a few miles. Just not a good idea to flat tow with the shaft attached.

    Geez Bob, that's a REALLY obscure transmission, and versions of it are still used in Land Rovers today. I have done some of these transmissions and know how that pump works. It actually circulates the gearbox oil through the cooler and oils the 5th gear set and rear bearings. Its really only there as overkill. I have seen a number of these where the pumps were broken (they strip their drive) and the transmissions continue to work just fine.

    There are tens of thousands of manual transmissions flat towed behind motor homes all over the US every day.

    Windscreen
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    28 Nov 2008 08:50 PM
    Steve Hoelscher wrote:

    The reason I ask is the only difference in tow dolly-ing a standard front-engine/rear drive manual actually driving it is the input shaft doesn't turn. That means the pocket bearing (between the input and output shafts) spins all the time at road speed instead of the differential (between the input and output shaft rpm) speed. So maybe the pocket bearing got hot or the sleeve bearings got hot.

    Really? I'm fairly certain that in most longitudinal transmissions, if the input shaft isn't turning, then the counter shaft isn't turning, and thus none of the gears are turning. That means there is no splash lubrication going on. The output shaft is still spinning inside the stationary gears, so all those bearings have no make up lube, only the lube they started with. I sure wouldn't want to tow very far that way. Yeah, they are usually all rolling element bearings, but they'll still get hot and dry without make up lube.

    -Steve

    47CP
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    28 Nov 2008 09:18 PM
    Windscreen wrote:
    Steve Hoelscher wrote:

    The reason I ask is the only difference in tow dolly-ing a standard front-engine/rear drive manual actually driving it is the input shaft doesn't turn. That means the pocket bearing (between the input and output shafts) spins all the time at road speed instead of the differential (between the input and output shaft rpm) speed. So maybe the pocket bearing got hot or the sleeve bearings got hot.

    Really? I'm fairly certain that in most longitudinal transmissions, if the input shaft isn't turning, then the counter shaft isn't turning, and thus none of the gears are turning. That means there is no splash lubrication going on. The output shaft is still spinning inside the stationary gears, so all those bearings have no make up lube, only the lube they started with. I sure wouldn't want to tow very far that way. Yeah, they are usually all rolling element bearings, but they'll still get hot and dry without make up lube.

    -Steve

    Trying to think through this with no transmission in front of me....the gears are always engaged with the countershaft, aren't they?

    DaveW

    wrchas
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    28 Nov 2008 09:24 PM
    I'm sure it could be coincidence.  As you know, I tow an open trailer now so it really doesn't make me any difference anymore.  As a bonus, I can back up now ;) 
    Patrick Washburn
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    29 Nov 2008 12:37 AM

    Ha, ha...just remembered when I was towing my A2 V Dub on a dolly behind my parents 35 foot motorhome. Parked it at a relatives overnight before setting off on our vacation. Forgot to do in a way so I wouldn't have to back up. Holy crap....just TRY and back out a small car on a tow dolly with a long motorhome! I ran out of cuss words, so I started making up new ones! (My kids still use some of them to this day) :)

    BTW I would be a little apprehensive about towing a car behind a CR-V. Can be done, but towing anything that weighs almost as much as the tow vehicle = bad idea in my book and increases your chances of bad things happening eventually.

    Steve Hoelscher
    Advanced Member
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    29 Nov 2008 09:31 AM

    Yes, in a longitudal manual transmission the input shaft and transfer gear do not turn unless the engine is running. The output shaft turns inside the individual gears. But because there is no load, they don't require a lot of lubrication.

    Transverse transaxles, as used in most FWD cars are somewhat different. In most cases, the output shaft is the lower shaft and run in the oil bath most of the time. In addition, the ring gear acts as an oil pump to circulate the oil up and over the entire gearset.

    Windscreen
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    29 Nov 2008 10:33 AM
    47CP wrote:

    Trying to think through this with no transmission in front of me....the gears are always engaged with the countershaft, aren't they?

    DaveW

    Dave: in your illustration, when towing in neutral, all the gears are stationary. The yellow output shaft will be spinning inside the stationary gears, with rolling element bearings between the shaft OD and gear IDs. Most manual transmissions are splash lubricated, and depend on the countershaft (silver, here) to be turning in order to get oil to all the bearings.

    Yes, the loads are low, since the trans isn't carrying any engine torque. Even then, all those roller bearings still need some replenishment of their lubricant, as they will continue to dry out as they spin around with no splash lube. It doesn't take much load to hurt a dry roller bearing. I've seen roller bearings get scored simply by drying them with compressed air and letting the bearing spin around on the race at high speed.

    Here's a list of manufacturer approved cars for flat towing, which basically covers the discussion here about towing with drive wheels on the ground. List. Other than 4WD vehicles (presumably with a transfer case disconnect) there are very few longitudinal trans cars on that list. Of note are the Nissans, which say to idle the engine in neutral for several minutes every 500 miles. These are the manufacturer recommendations.

    -Steve

    47CP
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    29 Nov 2008 10:39 AM
    Windscreen wrote:
    47CP wrote:

    Trying to think through this with no transmission in front of me....the gears are always engaged with the countershaft, aren't they?

    DaveW

    Dave: in your illustration, when towing in neutral, all the gears are stationary. The yellow output shaft will be spinning inside the stationary gears, with rolling element bearings between the shaft OD and gear IDs. Most manual transmissions are splash lubricated, and depend on the countershaft (silver, here) to be turning in order to get oil to all the bearings.

    Yes, the loads are low, since the trans isn't carrying any engine torque. Even then, all those roller bearings still need some replenishment of their lubricant, as they will continue to dry out as they spin around with no splash lube. It doesn't take much load to hurt a dry roller bearing. I've seen roller bearings get scored simply by drying them with compressed air and letting the bearing spin around on the race at high speed.

    Here's a list of manufacturer approved cars for flat towing, which basically covers the discussion here about towing with drive wheels on the ground. List. Other than 4WD vehicles (presumably with a transfer case disconnect) there are very few longitudinal trans cars on that list. Of note are the Nissans, which say to idle the engine in neutral for several minutes every 500 miles. These are the manufacturer recommendations.

    -Steve

    Yes, I was thinking backwards. Sorry for the derail.

    DaveW

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