Norm's Trailering bible - if you tow, read! - MR2 Owners Club Message Board
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old July 13th, 2006, 03:31 Thread Starter
RIP 8/6/1948 - 9/5/2011
 
ITA-MR2's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Little Rock, AR
Age: 68
Posts: 16,626
OldTrader Rating: (7)
Exclamation Norm's Trailering bible - if you tow, read!

Here is a basic primer for towing. It's not copied from anywhere. It's just my compilation of what I've gleaned from expert sources, coupled with real life experiences. Am I an expert? Not in the technical sense. But you don't have to have a formal education to be intelligent, either.

I have done a lot of things as far as "life experiences" in my ~40 years of adult life - some of which were neither smart nor cool. I have been a (paid if not "professional") semi driver, and have driven just about every kind of on / off road vehicle that's commonly available. I currently drive a race car, tractor, MkIIT, and 2 different trucks - plus a 32' diesel class A motorhome.

I have owned 5 trailers (still have 3 including an 18' open, 24' enclosed, and 40' 5th wheel). I have logged more miles (well over 100K) in either an "oversize" vehicle (over 8' wide) or towing than most people under 25 have driven total. l have driven (conservative estimate) over a million miles. My last vehicle accident, of any kind (knock on wood - and not counting racing incidents) was over 20 years ago.

Enuff with the history - alright!
________________________________________________
Break one rule and your chances of disaster go up, break more than one and the hazard grows exponentially, not in a linear fashion.
.................................................. .......................................

1. Unless you have a vehicle BUILT for towing (i.e. 1.5 ton truck or higher, with a factory or good aftermarket towing package) do not exceed by more than 2x (GCW, or gross combined weight) the empty tow vehicle weight, total - including passengers, cargo, trailer, car, beer, tent, and dog.

2. Under NO circumstances exceed the manufacturers' tow rating for the vehicle - even if it won't put you out of compliance with #1.

3. NEVER tow a trailer weighing more than 30% of the tow vehicle weight without good trailer brakes. (Notes: I don't like towing anything as heavy as a car on a single axle trailer, ever. Lots of people do. That doesn't make it right. They rarely have brakes, period. There's a reason for that. If one side fails, it will pivot your butt into the ditch faster than you can say "snap oversteer".)

4. While we're on brakes: Do not skimp on the controller for your tow vehicle. Overkill is better. I spent $30K trying to fix a braking problem - including replacing a whole truck, when the real truth was that (contrary to the manufacturer's claims) the controller simply could not supply the amount of current needed for the brakes I had.

A Tekonsha Voyager (at ~$60) is not a bargain compared to a Tekonsha Prodigy (~$160), if it won't do the job. Expensive (but luckily not injurious) lesson. If you can't flip the manual controller lever and lock up all of the trailer brakes with it loaded, at towing speeds, you either have a problem or you don't have enough brakes, or controller.

5. If you're towing a tag (bumper pull) trailer, and it weighs over 50% of the vehicle weight (or if the rear bumper drops more than 2" when you hook up), use a properly rated equalizer hitch. I'd recommend one, period. It makes the whole rig more stable, and improves the comfort level to you and your passengers many times over. It almost eliminates the porpoising effect, and also helps keep your headlights pointed where they belong, instead of looking like you're 'possum hunting.

6. KNOW what your vehicle weighs. Weigh each axle, individually, at a truck stop (or whatever). Then load up all your toys and your trailer, and the dog . . ., and weigh it all over again - front axle, rear axle, trailer axles. You'll be surprised. That's if you don't ____ yourself when you find out what it really weighs. (An average open 18' steel flatbed trailer, with a 2400# car - and a reasonable stock of tools, beer, etc., - will top 5000#, easy.) Don't trust the manufacturer's sticker. My 40' trailer said empty weight was 5750#. Horse crap! It was almost 9000#, as delivered!!! (Which made me have to buy yet another truck, but that's another $20K story.)

continued . . .
ITA-MR2 is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old July 13th, 2006, 03:32 Thread Starter
RIP 8/6/1948 - 9/5/2011
 
ITA-MR2's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Little Rock, AR
Age: 68
Posts: 16,626
OldTrader Rating: (7)
. . . continued

7. Never exceed the axle weight rating on anything - truck, trailer, whatever. (See #5 above - When I found out I had almost 9600# on the rear axle of my brand new, $36,000 custom-ordered D2500, with a rear axle rating of 8000#, I could'a killed somebody. See #5 above, again.)

8. Maintain the crap out of everything, especially the trailer running gear and brakes. It's all behind you - you can't see when something goes awry, you'll just feel it when it really goes to hell.

9. If you have a light tow vehicle, it probably only has a tow rating. Remember, that rating assumes an empty tow vehicle with a 180# driver. If you put grandma, the dogs, tools beer, wife, etc. in the tow vehicle, you have to deduct that weight from what you can tow. Contact the manufacturer and find out what the maximum acceptable GCWR for the vehicle and trailer is. They will also have the max axle weights on the build tag. Don't exceed that (see #5 above).

10. Heavier vehicles (3/4 ton trucks and above) will usually have a GCW posted on the vehicle build tag. Believe it. (See 5 & 8 above.)

11. Since 90% of you will be towing tag trailers: Spend the extra $20 and buy a hitch that lets the trailer sit level! (If you get a decent equalizing / leveling hitch, most are adjustable.) Never exceed the tow rating on the receiver (buy at least a class 3), and don't even think of using the "hitch ball" holes in a truck bumper. Obviously, buy the correct ball for the trailer hitch. If you're going to be towing multiple trailers over time, consider a convert-a-ball type hitch. And ALWAYS hook up the chains. They should be "Crossed" under the hitch, so that if the ball comes loose, they will cradle the tongue of the trailer off the ground until you can get it stopped.

I'm sure there are more. Now the "little" things.
Tying down:

Especially if you're towing with an open trailer, tie stuff down. (It amazes me - at least around here in redneck country - what people interpret as a "secured load". That helps explain a lot of the "WTF??" stuff you see on the side of the road, or in the middle of your lane.) My basic rule of thumb is; "Can I turn this SOB upside down and shake it without anything falling off?" If I can't, it ain't secure. If something comes out / off of your trailer and hits something, you get to pay the bill. It's the same as if you ran over somebody - and you WILL get a ticket for having an "escaping load".

Your basic 1500# "motorcycle tie down" ratchet straps won't hold a car in an emergency maneuver. And the factory tie-downs on the car are iffy. I've seen what can happen if either is ignored. Having a car drifting around on an open trailer at 60MPH in heavy traffic is not pleasant. One case (factory tie downs) was me. On a bumpy interstate, the whole subframe came off the car. The other was a friend with whom I was riding. He had to do an emergency stop in St. Louis at rush hour, and his Fiat 124 spider was kept out of the truck bed only by the bar across the front of the trailer. Neither case resulted in a disaster, but did cause minor panic and lots of screamed expletives.

Tires:

If your trailer tires are over 5 years old, and have spent most of their life outdoors (as most have), replace them. I don't give a rat if they've only got 10 miles on them. Ozone and UV destroy way more light duty trailer tires than ever wear out. Whether or not to buy special trailer (ST grade) tires is a wildly debated question. There are lots of experts on both sides of the question with valid arguments. If your trailer weight (loaded) is less than ~5000#, decent LT tires are probably OK (and lots cheaper). Over 5000#, go with the ST's. That's just my opinion. In any case, pay attention to the load rating of the tires you buy.

I'll almost surely add / edit / update this (again). But that's about all for now.

Last edited by ITA-MR2; July 13th, 2006 at 03:41.
ITA-MR2 is offline  
post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old August 19th, 2007, 13:46
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Central Florida
Age: 60
Posts: 247
OldTrader Rating: (5)
Tires, what about tires?
I tow a 2600lb 92 NA on a Featherlite 3110, 17'6", with a 2006 Tundra crew cab .

Time for me to replace my Goodyear Marathons. I was checking epinions and so many folks complained about them. Mine only had about 3K on them but the trailer was always outside and is 5 years old. The tread just started pealing off of them.

There are wheel and tire combos at Lowes, Northern Tools and various boat trailer stores. Load star, Green Ball, etc, tires.

I discovered that some places will not mount a trailer tire.

What load C rated 205/75-15 tires would folks recommend, I already have 2 of the Load Star 6ply that I will, at least, use as spares but wonder where to go for and what to get for a decent trailer tire to mount on my old wheels or a recommendation for a decent wheel and tire combo.

Also, I have recently gone to covering up the trailer tires, what is your opinion on these things: cotton canvas wheel covers . Honestly, the sun looks like it goes right through these things. It does have a unique design that holds the cover to the tire though, I was thinking about attaching some other kind of material over the cotton canvas. Just don't know what would help to keep UV and heat out.

Last edited by bluestreak; August 19th, 2007 at 14:02.
bluestreak is offline  
 
post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old September 5th, 2007, 19:17 Thread Starter
RIP 8/6/1948 - 9/5/2011
 
ITA-MR2's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Little Rock, AR
Age: 68
Posts: 16,626
OldTrader Rating: (7)
I really apologize for not answering this earlier . . . sorry.

I'm a big fan of "ST" rated tires - especially for tandem axle trailers. The well built ones are specifically designed to survive the squirming action of turning, and they usually have an extra heavy dose of UV inhibitors built into the compound. They are also designed for lower rolling friction and better fuel economy.

Probably less than 5% of all light trailer tires ever actually wear out - most die from weather / sun damage. The best thing you can do is to protect them from UV and ozone, but short of parking indoors that can be tricky. If you do park for extended periods, it's a good idea not to park on dirt / grass - as there are bacterial agents that will actually eat the rubber. In a worst case and cheap scenario, it helps to just lean some sheets of plywood against the tires to keep the sun off them. Putting covers on a mounted tire is a PITA.

In my opinion, the best trailer tire in the world, for our type of use, is the Michelin XPA2-Energy. Sadly, the smallest tire size is for a 17.5" wheel - and they are expensive (as much for a set as a you'd pay for a cheap new trailer).

For more information about ITA-MR2 and his passing, please visit
http://www.mr2oc.com/showthread.php?t=430943

Last edited by ITA-MR2; September 5th, 2007 at 19:30.
ITA-MR2 is offline  
post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old September 5th, 2007, 21:32
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Central Florida
Age: 60
Posts: 247
OldTrader Rating: (5)
Thanks for the info. I already purchased tires so that point is moot but I will take your suggestion and build a platform of some kind to park on as I do park in the grass/dirt. Also a good idea just leaning a piece of plywood on the side.
bluestreak is offline  
post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old January 23rd, 2008, 09:39
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: SLO County, CA.
Posts: 61
OldTrader Rating: (2)
Thanks for the information on trailer/load rating. I was going to drive 3 hrs to pu a 91 turbo with my Tundra with air overloads - using my double axle trailer, no brakes, ten year old tired, using my motorcycle tie downs. I though it was a little ifffy but now see the error in my thinking. Now taking a second driver, and looking forward to my first mr2 safely home.
twnpipe is offline  
post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old February 24th, 2015, 19:09
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Westmont, IL
Age: 43
Posts: 4,054
OldTrader Rating: (19)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Norm
5. If you're towing a tag (bumper pull) trailer, and it weighs over 50% of the vehicle weight (or if the rear bumper drops more than 2" when you hook up), use a properly rated equalizer hitch. I'd recommend one, period. It makes the whole rig more stable, and improves the comfort level to you and your passengers many times over. It almost eliminates the porpoising effect, and also helps keep your headlights pointed where they belong, instead of looking like you're 'possum hunting.
I know this is 'the Bible' and it's intended to be conservative for safety, but to me, this one is over the top.

50% of the vehicle weight is not much. For a standard half-ton pickup (mine weighs ~5700 lb), like many of us probably have, that's around 2500-3000 pounds... which is nothing. That's an open trailer and tools... without even an MR2 on it. Towing that without a WD hitch is no problem at all. I, and many many others, have towed cars on open trailers in the ballpark of 4-5k lb without weight distribution and without issue.

My current trailer (20' enclosed) is around 7,000 lb loaded, and yes, at that weight ( ~120% of the truck ) a WD hitch is useful. I have towed this setup with and without WD, and it's noticable, and safer with ( although it does nothing to combat porpoising, not sure what Norm was talking about there ).

The downsides to a WD hitch are generally minor -- time-consuming to hook and unhook, cost, and additional fun trying to back up on non-level ground -- but I would not bother with one for a trailer in the neighborhood of 50% of truck weight. Hardly anyone does... I'm not sure I've ever seen one used to tow something that light. I don't use the one I already have in that situation, in fact, since it isn't worth the time to hook it up.

I would suggest that a more appropriate threshold would be around 80-100% of truck weight. And if you do go with WD, make sure you spend some time figuring out the appropriate tension to use. Just one less link on the chains makes a huge difference on mine.

Also, the 2" drop is not a great key, either. Some trucks, like mine, are designed with a soft top-end of suspension travel in the rear, I guess for passenger comfort. It drops quite a bit even just with some cargo in the bed, by design.
hillman is offline  
post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old February 25th, 2015, 11:17
Moroccan Gold Imports
 
rwheelz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: MT
Age: 40
Posts: 1,591
OldTrader Rating: (30)
Quote:
Originally Posted by ITA-MR2 View Post

5. If you're towing a tag (bumper pull) trailer, and it weighs over 50% of the vehicle weight (or if the rear bumper drops more than 2" when you hook up), use a properly rated equalizer hitch. I'd recommend one, period. It makes the whole rig more stable, and improves the comfort level to you and your passengers many times over. It almost eliminates the porpoising effect, and also helps keep your headlights pointed where they belong, instead of looking like you're 'possum hunting.
.
I agree with him on this. It is worth the extra time it takes to hook up. Even empty, my featherweight car hauler tows better with the WD hitch and anti-sway kit and it weighs next to nothing.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Where Excess Meets Extreme
rwheelz is offline  
post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old February 25th, 2015, 14:27
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Westmont, IL
Age: 43
Posts: 4,054
OldTrader Rating: (19)
Quote:
Originally Posted by rwheelz View Post
I agree with him on this. It is worth the extra time it takes to hook up. Even empty, my featherweight car hauler tows better with the WD hitch and anti-sway kit and it weighs next to nothing.
Our rigs and opinions obviously differ. For what it's worth, all three domestic truck makers use a 5,000 pound trailer weight as the threshold where a WD hitch is required. That's in the 80-100% of tow-vehicle weight neighborhood, depending on how your truck is equipped.

No one even makes spring bars that would be appropriate to use with a 2500 pound trailer. I guess your only choice would be to use 500 lb bars, and have ~twice as much tension as required. That would actually detract from the ride quality compared to not using the WD setup at all.

To each his own, I guess.
hillman is offline  
post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old February 26th, 2015, 16:44
Moroccan Gold Imports
 
rwheelz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: MT
Age: 40
Posts: 1,591
OldTrader Rating: (30)
I should have stated, I do not do this professionally in any capacity, nor do I pretend to on TV! Just relaying my one man/two tow vehicle/two trailers worth of experience. I got a lot of helpful advice from people right in this forum, Norm included.

I will say that it makes a TREMENDOUS difference towing with my now Dodge 3500 Cummins vs our old Lexus LX470. Personally, I would prefer that everybody around me err on the side of overkill when it comes to towing safety.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Where Excess Meets Extreme
rwheelz is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the MR2 Owners Club Message Board forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in









Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.




Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: (0 members)
 
Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome