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Last Post 26 May 2009 04:27 PM by  Primetime Glick
tow dolly + tire rack?
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Primetime Glick
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11 May 2009 02:28 PM

    This may sound crazy but I'm wondering if this is a viable alternative to a big heavy open trailer with a tirerack.

    Idea: dolly with fabricated H-frame welded to pole tongue with something like a 5' wide x 2.5' long x 4' high 4-tire rack/storage box? Finish it off with diamondplate sheets, padlocked elbow latches, side access, and some sort of V-fairing.

    Benefits- it's still a dolly, with the storage advantages, lighter weight, and lower purchase cost over a conventional open steel trailer. I live in a tight congested urban environment and don't have a lot of parking spaces to play with. Being able to stow the trailer and car in the same space is appealing. Being able to tow with small truck/suv with a Class II or III hitch is appealing.

    Disadvantages - the physics of it all - is this way too much weight to put on the tongue of a little polestick dolly? 4 tires + fab'd rack/box + maybe a gas can and some other gear, like trailer tie-downs.... you're looking about 300 extra pounds on the tongue. Anybody ever thought about this? Would this thing be like a see-saw that would tilt all the wrong ways for loading/unloading? Should I just call up a trailer place that does fabrication and ask 'em?

    Further, am I risking all of my cost savings in fabrication of this beast? In comparison, I know if I spent a day in the back parking lot with some 2x4's, PVC pipe, and diamondplate sheeting I could bolt together something myself for an 20' open, wood-deck trailer ... and wouldn't have to pay a welder.

    chaos4
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    14 May 2009 09:15 AM

    "I know if I spent a day in the back parking lot with some 2x4's, PVC pipe, and diamondplate sheeting I could bolt together something myself for an 20' open, wood-deck trailer"

    You are completely nuts! I will feel much safer if you stay South of the Mason-Dixon!

    Primetime Glick
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    14 May 2009 12:25 PM

    Ummm... a tire rack isn't a super complicated thing to fabricate, at least when you have room and a solid surface to mount it (i.e. a big heavy long 20' trailer). ...?

    I'm pretty sure Miami-Dade county is situated in a 3rd-world country near the equator, so I guess I'm doing you one better on the latter point.

    Patrick Washburn
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    14 May 2009 05:31 PM

    I think his initial reaction, as was mine, was based on the thought that you were going to build a 20' car trailer with 2x4's and PVC pipe. That's the way it came out anyway. I would still not attempt a tire carrier with anything other than welded steel tubing. I've seen what happens to things in a trailer over time. ;)

    I think your idea is probably sound. I don't see why a tire carrier could not be part of a tow dolly. There are risks that it may not balance or tow well, but it could be tweaked over time. Again...anything other than welded steel tubing would not be a good idea.

    Primetime Glick
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    15 May 2009 11:30 AM
    Patrick Washburn wrote:

    I think his initial reaction, as was mine, was based on the thought that you were going to build a 20' car trailer with 2x4's and PVC pipe. That's the way it came out anyway. I would still not attempt a tire carrier with anything other than welded steel tubing. I've seen what happens to things in a trailer over time. ;)

    I think your idea is probably sound. I don't see why a tire carrier could not be part of a tow dolly. There are risks that it may not balance or tow well, but it could be tweaked over time. Again...anything other than welded steel tubing would not be a good idea.

    The main issue I envision is tongue weight. Class II and III hitches have a max of 350# and 500# IIRC. A WDH setup may help, but (4) 45# tires + box + rack + frame + ORIGINAL tongue weight may be too much, epecially on a dolly that is "tongue biased" anyway.

    The other option is to create a vertical rack mounted between the dolly fenders. My 240 is supposedly 66.5" wide and the Mastertow 80THD dolly has 80" max towed vehicle treadwidth, so that leaves at least 6" per side to place some 4" vertical steel stock and some sort of baseplate. Since I intend to back my car on, door clearance shouldn't be an issue.

    However, I originally decided against the "over the car" type of rack because I figured there would be safety issues with loading and unloading the tires, i.e., the see-saw effect, and the added height further driving down MPG while towing. Also, I still want some sort of tongue box on there to hold safety chains, straps, gloves, a small gas can, etc. I guess I better call the two local Mastertow distributors and see if they have some skilled welders on staff...

    TeamRX8
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    16 May 2009 08:48 PM

    I have the MT 80THD, rated 5000# and has e-brakes.

    You could possibly add two V-legs at the outer axle points and bring them into a HD V-type hitch tongue with the pole cut back and running right into the V joint to make it all very strong. The tow dolly itself doesn't have much tongue weight per se, but just the weight of these mods alone will knock it up a lot, let alone your loaded box weight etc.. Put aluminum diamond plate over the three leg area for a nice deck, but it will have to be bolted down since everything else is steel. Add some sway control and a light WDH and it will work IMO. There are some nice WDH under 5000# now, but once you get to 4000# you're beyond them and the unmodded dolly weighs 500 lb. Adding a tirerack wouldn't be much of a big deal either. It would be very heavy and not easy to move around without also adding a wheeled jacking lift on the front. Anything you add to the front will be tongue weight since it is all forward of the dolly axle. The box will have to be mounted forward enough to clear the bodywork of the loaded car, which is pretty much everything from 18" forward of the axle centerline of the loaded end of the towed vehicle. A bolt-on aluminum tirerack may be preferred.

    There are challenges to tow dollys though. Mounting and securing the car is one, which can be an issue for low cars etc. Clearance for the tiedowns around the fenderwells/bumper covers. Fender/wheel clearance for fitting the hold-down straps. Body clearance driving it up on the dolly. Body clearance from the pavement for the angled rear vehicle end. If its RWD you'll want to tow it rear end first - the steering wheel will need to be secured in the straightline position for this. Technically you can't reverse with a tow dolly, which means making sure you don't drive into a place without enough room to turn or drive around. This isn't as easy as you think. The weight of the tirerack may require someone to hold the tilting ramp/deck/tirerack assy in place while you load the car onto the dolly.

    The question is, after doing all this what have you accomplished that justifies doing it over building a minimal trailer? A dolly still takes up 10 ft of length and is as wide as a trailer. I wouldn't expect any assistance from MT due to today's legal liability issues.

    Primetime Glick
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    19 May 2009 11:52 AM

    Thank you "8" for your always helpful input.

    TeamRX8 wrote:
    Clearance for the tiedowns around the fenderwells/bumper covers. Fender/wheel clearance for fitting the hold-down straps.

    This I expect. But wouldn't you have most of the same problems for a low/big tire car on an open trailer... only more room to run the straps to the trailer's D-rings?

    TeamRX8 wrote:
    Body clearance driving it up on the dolly. Body clearance from the pavement for the angled rear vehicle end.

    This you've said several times in other threads and other people have said this. Years back we had serious clearance problems getting the race car on the open trailer- the angle between the end of the ramp portion and beginning of the flat was too great, scraping the headers. But wouldn't you have this problem with just about anything short of a tilt-bed? It just depends on the length of ramps you can pack. Or is there a problem unique to dollies in this regard?

    TeamRX8 wrote:
    Technically you can't reverse with a tow dolly,

    Again this is a newbie who has not personally towed with a dolly before... but I don't see why reversing would be any harder than an open trailer. This is an issue, since I have tight gated parking lots to contend with in getting the car in and out. In fact the open trailer presents its own issues in getting it out, i.e. I don't have a straight shot or a lot of turning radius from my spot.

    Primetime Glick
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    21 May 2009 04:27 PM

    TeamRX8 wrote:
    The question is, after doing all this what have you accomplished that justifies doing it over building a minimal trailer? A dolly still takes up 10 ft of length and is as wide as a trailer.

    The justification would be

    (a) minimizing the weight so I could pull my 2650# 240 with a 3500# MTW 2.7L Toyota Tacoma PreRunner I've had my eyes on, which I guess leaves 600# for the trailer (assuming 250# of extra tires, gear, and gas),

    and

    (b) making it hand-manueverable to I can spin it around and place the tongue over my concrete parking space tie and [barely] fit the dolly and car in the same space.

    After a lot of looking, I couldn't find what I saw someone on this board haul their Mini with a few years ago (tiny 12' open trailer). Towed it with a Volvo or something (?!) In any event, if a dolly is a pain for too many reasons, maybe I should look into converting a 7x12 open motorcycle or equipment trailer like this (and have 3' of overhang to distribute somehow) .... and do a tight over-the-hood rack?

    I know ultimately I could go "safe" either with a heavy 20' open trailer or a $$$ aluminum, but considering limited space and MPG considerations I'd like to think I have other options.

    Dave Hardy
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    21 May 2009 06:37 PM
    Primetime Glick wrote:

    Again this is a newbie who has not personally towed with a dolly before... but I don't see why reversing would be any harder than an open trailer. This is an issue, since I have tight gated parking lots to contend with in getting the car in and out. In fact the open trailer presents its own issues in getting it out, i.e. I don't have a straight shot or a lot of turning radius from my spot.

    With a trailer you only have one pivot point, which can be backed predictably. With a dolly you have two pivot points - one at the hitch and one at the front axle of the car. Ever seen what a train wreck does when it stacks up cars? That's what backing a dolly does.

    mleach
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    21 May 2009 09:33 PM
    +1 backing up a dolly is hell.
    PCalhoun
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    21 May 2009 09:58 PM

    Do NOT even think of putting a car on this trailer. Most likely the axle is rated at 1990# or possibly 2990# GVWR in addition to not having brakes. You also must check the load capacity of the 13" or 14" tires, which should be compatabile w/ the axle, but still pushing the limit. Take out the weight of the trailer and there is not amble capacity for a 240 in the total GVWR.

    This thread is getting down right scary. If you want to tow, get a proper tow vehicle and trailer and it will make the experience not only safer, but more enjoyable. In flat FL you could get by w/ almost any a 1/2 ton p/u.

    Primetime Glick
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    22 May 2009 09:32 AM

    PCalhoun wrote:
    Do NOT even think of putting a car on this trailer. Most likely the axle is rated at 1990#

    Ya me stupid, found out that this morning before checking in here, the max payload for a typical single axle 7x12 is 1990# not the nominal "3500#" axle rating.

    This custom Loudo 7x12 has slideouts and a 14,000# rating. Maybe made for a forklift or some other heavy, low, and short piece of equipment. I could forsee retrofitting it with an over the hood tirerack, shaving off the front angle iron so the nose can overhang, and swapping the tracked slideouts for car ones.

    PCalhoun wrote:
    get a proper tow vehicle and trailer and it will make the experience not only safer, but more enjoyable. In flat FL you could get by w/ almost any a 1/2 ton p/u.

    Yeah I know a 1/2-ton PU is the safe way to go. But as I've had several 1/2 ton PU's, and even a van, I know they get old in the tight parking lots, parallel parking, and U-turn-into-45mph-oncoming-traffic situations I'm constantly dealing with. So does 12 - 15 mpg.

    Primetime Glick
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    22 May 2009 09:42 AM

    DILYSI Dave wrote:
    With a trailer you only have one pivot point, which can be backed predictably. With a dolly you have two pivot points - one at the hitch and one at the front axle of the car. Ever seen what a train wreck does when it stacks up cars? That's what backing a dolly does.

    The relative ease of backing up the trailer is nice, but I don't think I'm going to have room to back in ANY trailer or dolly into my spot in 1 step without the use of a forklift or crane. Since I don't have either, whether trailer or dolly, I'm going to have to pull in, disembark, and separate and move the car/trailer in a different area anyway. It'll be like a 4 step process for coming in or coming back.

    Being able to hand-maneuver the dolly is nice, if not critical, though adding 250# of tires and steel to a 550# dolly may make that harder than I think. I'll just have to deal with the dolly's other compromises in terms of loading and securing the car.

    Ultimately this weekend I'm going to have to draft up a little set of "plans" for the tirerack and see if my local Mastertow dealers will fab it atop a 80THD. If they won't, then I need to get a ~2000# tandem open trailer, and can't use a tow vehicle rated for only 3500# of MTW. As if anybody cares, I'll post the response.

    Davard
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    22 May 2009 10:30 AM
    Primetime Glick wrote:

    DILYSI Dave wrote:
    With a trailer you only have one pivot point, which can be backed predictably. With a dolly you have two pivot points - one at the hitch and one at the front axle of the car. Ever seen what a train wreck does when it stacks up cars? That's what backing a dolly does.

    So the further apart the effective "axles" of the towed vehicle/trailer are, the harder it is to back up? This is important, but I don't think I'm going to have room to back in ANY trailer to my spot without the use of a forklift or crane. Since I don't have either, whether trailer or dolly, I'm going to have to pull in, disembark, and separate the car/trailer in a different area anyway. Why does racing have to be so complicated?? [^o)]

    I think that the hardest things I've ever backed up were a tow dolly and one of those little 4x4 (ft) trailers. Short little ball to axle distance means they change direction rapidly.

    The problem with backing a dolly is that rather than having one pivot point (the trailer ball), you have two. With a trailer, when you move the front end of the vehicle, the trailer moves opposite (too early to figure that out precisely, but if you've backed up a trailer, you know what it means). Now, with a dolly, the dolly moves the way a trailer does, just faster, but the car moves the opposite direction. It's not impossible to back up with a dolly, just REALLY difficult to do for more than a few feet. The likelyhood of jackknifing the dolly into the car are high.

    TeamRX8
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    25 May 2009 05:24 PM

    Yes, it's possible to back one up, if you're not careful you can damage the dolly and be SOL. That's why it's not recommended. More than once I got myself into a predicament. Even though they're pivoting you still can't turn as tight of a radius as a trailer without pulling the dolly tires sideways-slipping. You get to a hotel you've never been to before and it's a tight, closed-end lot etc. It doesn't matter if you drive the car to the event, tow it on a dolly, or tow it on a trailer. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. IMO one isn't any less complicated than the other. I had the dolly while living at an apartment complex - it worked for the situation. You can always store the trailer at an open strage area for a reasonable rate if you don't have the room.

    Why don't you just haul the wheels/tires in the towed car?

    IMO you can custom build a lightweight steel trailer if designed properly. Most of the people who sell them just build something that works. I seriously doubt anyone builds one from an outright engineering perspective. They build something big and heavy because it's simple and works. You should check out the trailer Andy Hollis uses.

    Davard
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    25 May 2009 06:25 PM
    TeamRX8 wrote:

    You should check out the trailer Andy Hollis uses.

    If he could only keep tires under/on his. :)

    Primetime Glick
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    26 May 2009 04:27 PM

    TeamRX8 wrote:
    You can always store the trailer at an open strage area for a reasonable rate if you don't have the room.

    Good point, but not entirely true around here. There is a waiting list for parking at the only storage facility that is close my condo and I pass every day. Once in, a space is like $120/mo and the gate is only open 6A - 10PM, which is outside of many of the times I would be hitching up and returning. All "lit" storage facilities in town are like that. There is another yard close by, but it's got a padlock, rabies-filled guard dogs, and a bunch of rusty, beat-up heavy equipment on overgrown dirt and grass. Not sure that would work out but I admit haven't inquired... Besides, around here, nothing beats the convenience and security of having the parking space BE where you live.

    TeamRX8 wrote:
    Why don't you just haul the wheels/tires in the towed car?

    Good point. And that may be the answer. But here's why I've looked for ways around it.

    1) Stinking/greasing up the car -- yeah, even with the Totes, it happens-- the sole saving grace of this rusty 240 is its nice leather interior. And Miami has a little thing called heat and humidity...

    2) when the car is sorted and I want to drive it to work, take out some friends, etc., I'll have zero ground-level place to securly store the tires.

    a) I guess I could buy a commercial tire caddy and someonehow try to stuff them in my tiny condo's tiny closet or tiny balcony, but getting anything approaching big and heavy in and out of my archaic building is a difficult, time-consuming, and totally inconvenient process.

    b) Maybe I could throw them in the tow vehicle/DD, but anything outside of a full size van I wouldn't have the space in the cargo compartment, and now you stink up that vehicle, and have the tires packed in haphazard. A truck could work, but the tires would need to be on a proper rack (i.e., keeping the tires vertical, not touching anything and making flat spots, nor scratching the rim lips). And, a $2,000 cap would be needed to keep the tires out of the sun and arms-length of knife-wielding hoods. FWIW, ever tried climbing in and out a truck's cap?

    c) Maybe I could gang-chain the tires to the nearby fence, but I doubt my resident condo nazi nor the local knife-wielding hoods would approve.

    d) Guess I could just move into a house with an acre of land and a garage, but oops I bought during the boom and I'll be "underwater" and stuck with this turd of a condo until 2012 or later, I'm sure.

    So I GUESS I have options....[:|]

    More to the point, I spent a few hours doing a simple 3D model of my 240 in ACAD over the weekend. Now I gotta find time to try to model the trailer rack around it --given Mastertow's limited published trailer specs -- then dimension it, print it, and send it to my local mastertow distributors, see if they'll build it AFTER I buy.

    Ultimately, the only reasons this is coming up is that there's a good possibility my daily beater is going to NEED-need replacement well before I actually have the car done and ready and need a trailer. I'd like to think there's the possibility I could go from 21 mpg (current 2.4L Tacoma) to an 17-18 mpg 2.7L 3500# MTW PreRunner Tacoma, not an 11mpg cargo van. Plus, I'd like to know whether I have to budget or finagle for another, more accessible parking space, if the dolly doesn't work out. See how many things the tire rack affects?? [:S]

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