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Old 08-16-2004, 17:38   #1 (permalink)
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towing advice

G'day all.

I am going to buy myself a campervan. What i woiuld like to know is: although I have done a search of the site, there doesn't seem to be any threads about towing advice.

I have heard that one should only tow in 3, not in D, and I have also heard that one should only tow in "power", not in "economy".

I guess that one should take each situation as it arises, and if the car is fine in "econ" leave it there, such as driving up to Coober Pedy. (Flat and boring), but if u r going thro the Blue Mountains, use the gearbox.

Anybody out there with extensive towing experience that could maybe offer advice, or even point me to a thread about this?
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Old 08-16-2004, 18:20   #2 (permalink)
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Re: towing advice

the towbar manual for the official ford towbar (to suit ea at least) says that one should use the gearbox to assist controlled descent instead of heavy braking (no fade, or lockups etc)...

I can imagine it would be more beneficial to run the car in 3 than Drive because 3rd gear is 1:1 ratio with the engine output... - this means you wont be putting any huge stress on the engine...

power is recommended because it means the engine doesn't have too much load in the higher gears...

main thing is to watch the temperatures - and if it starts to overheat, stop the car but leave it running in neutral.

Power mode also allows torque converter lockup in 3rd gear I believe..
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Old 08-16-2004, 19:52   #3 (permalink)
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Re: towing advice

The most important thing about towing is to load the trailer/campervan/whatever properly. Ensure that only 10% of the weight of the towed apparatus is on the towball. Make sure that if you need electric brakes, get a controller fitted and set it up correctly. Don't speed or make erratic steering movements. Consider using load levellers if the trailer weight is uneven or the back of the car sags or your towed weight is above 1500kgs.

When loaded - your trailer and vehicle should still be level, not pitched toward the ground at the towhitch - this is very important. I cannot stress it enough. I regularly tow an 1800kg car and trailer and it's very easy to get in trouble but a lot harder to get out of it. Good luck.
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Old 08-16-2004, 22:43   #4 (permalink)
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Re: towing advice

Good thread. I'm about to buy myself a boat and also appreciate any input. I too have heard about driving in 3rd thing, prevents the box from changing back and forth, preventing heat build up i guess...
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Old 08-17-2004, 02:26   #5 (permalink)
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Re: towing advice

a transmission cooler is a must for automatic vehicles which are going to be used for towing, also dont tow anything greater than what the tow bar is rated for, i think genuine ford tow bars are rated at 1100kg, with 110kg on the ball. the main thing to remember is to have the trailer loaded so that the load weight is evenly distributed over the axle/s.

tandem axle trailers are also easier to tow (and reverse) than single axle trailers and are more balanced aswell.

lowered cars aren't the best for towing either.

most of all take your time and keep a good eye on the gauges and keep a safe distance from vehicles in front of you.
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Old 08-17-2004, 02:32   #6 (permalink)
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Re: towing advice

another point to ad is some trailers have hydraulic brakes, use the brake lock out latch ONLY for reversing, and dont forget to flip it back over after you have reversed, incase you forget and drive off, let the trailer help the car to stop you aswell, the trailer brakes have saved me a few times from jackniving. if you are in a situation when the trailer starts swaying dangerously either accelerate as hard aas you can to pull it straight then slowly back off once straight, or back off slowly and let the trailer brakes work, dont touch your cars brakes in this situation. you will only find that this will happen if the trailer doesn't have a sway bar, if you aare planning on doing long distance fitting a sway bar to the trailer and leveling bars is a greta idea.
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Old 08-17-2004, 06:50   #7 (permalink)
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Re: towing advice

Good stuff in this thread.

My 2 cents is "Better late than never", like, I would hate to arrive DEAD on time... I really hate the fact it is almost impossible to get trailer instruction at driving schools.

Suss the car thoroughly before you go. You're putting it through major stress, and this will expose any weak points like you wouldn't believe. Don't be afraid to spend up big on sway bars & etc (don't forget the trailer tyres!!!!) -- you've probably got a neat & tidy limo, so why not the trailer?

Oh, and PLEASE, if you have to stop, PLEASE pull OFF the road -- it sounds so silly, I know, but so many crashes and other disasters have happened as other drivers pull out to go round a parked caravan/trailer/whatever.
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Old 08-17-2004, 07:45   #8 (permalink)
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Re: towing advice

IMO, at the most when towing don't go over 90km/h for extended periods. Instead of using power up hills, manually select the gears. Dad uses our ED to tow our 17 foot haines hunter boat, and when we go up ranges and leave it in power for the box to sort out, she overheats, but manually shift, no problems.

A definate is to fit a transmission cooler. Our local mechanic said he'd fit one for just day to day driving without load to enhance longetivity.

Fit brakes to the trailer. If you can't afford a hydrolic system, get an override, they might be a bit harsh when you pull up, but will get you safely out of a sticky situation.

When reversing take it SLOW!!! A box trailer can jacknife bloody quick. Get the wheels, car and trailer in straight line if possible, and remember, what you do to the wheel on the car, is reversed on the trailer.

When driving in trafic be sure to at least double your braking distances, and watch lane merges etc, because there is always some twit that's going to try and undertake you at the last minute, and think of every other user as an absolute dick, harsh, but you'll be prepared for nearly anything.

Get one of those mirror extensions that just fit onto the side vision mirror. They are great, because you can't rely on the rear vision to see what's behind you.

Drive in the early mornings and late afternoon so that your in the cool, as most radiators aren't designed with towing in mind.

Plan your trip in advance. Common sense to avoid ranges and high trafic areas if possible.

Load up your trailer so that it has about a 10-15% down angle on the towball. If you have too much weight on the back, the tail will wag the dog so to speak. I have seen this many times and its bloody dangerous.

Finally don't overestimate the power of your car. Take it easy up the hills, I saw a vk wagon blow an engine towing a tinny up a range, the guy was revving the piss out of the poor ole gal. Stick to a sensible speed, and try to avoid overtaking as much as possible. When a semi or large vehicle oncomming, get right over, a caravan has a huge surface area and will throw you alot.

Well I spose I had better say I have no had that much experience towing, after all I'm only 19, just a few 500km trips with tandem axle rental trailers, and most of this advice I have gotten off my father over the years. So if I have said anything stupid, please correct me.
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Old 08-17-2004, 15:33   #9 (permalink)
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Re: towing advice

Thanks for all the advice. It seems that the best way is to use the 'box manualy, and simply take it easy. I definitely will get an oil cooler. It has the factory "tow pack" on at the moment, but I will fit a better cooler. I am also going to get fitted a Reece hitch. Although the camper is not big or really heavy, I will feel more secure with that.

I am still used to the 351 ZK I used to drive. That thing was a real stump puller
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Old 08-18-2004, 06:30   #10 (permalink)
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Re: towing advice

donno, your Dad sounds like a bloody nice bloke.

But don't expect jacknifing only in reverse -- it can happen faster than light if you brake too quick on a wet day -- or if the trailer starts fishtailing violently.

creature3, you seem to have picked the best advice from everyone on this thread: "take it easy".

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