Why tow dolly's are bad...

Discussion in 'Tow Rigs and Trailers' started by OBX Fisherman, May 10, 2005.

  1. OBX Fisherman

    OBX Fisherman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Location:
    Winston-Salem
    Cliffs notes version:
    towing XJ on a dolly with an SJ
    XJ fish-tailed uncontrolably on interstate
    lost control
    crashed into guard rails
    jeep buddy got me fixed up

    Long version:

    This is what it looked like before hand:
    [​IMG]

    THE ORDEAL: Sam was following behind me and we just started down the hill past the Pinnacle exit on highway 52. I had to move over to the left lane to allow a bob-tail semi to merge on to the highway. I was running about 60. The XJ started fish tailing and got progressively worse. Braking would only worsen the situation so I gave it some gas to try and straighten the XJ back up. The fishtailing got so bad it started pushing the back end of the waggy around. I was at the bottom of the hill and finally lost control. The waggy headed for the right side of the highway where I crashed into the guardrail and ricocheted off toward the left side of the road. The waggy plowed into the guardrail on the front right corner while the XJ and dolly jack-knifed behind me. The waggy has swamper prints on the driver’s side wood paneling from the XJ. Both jeeps were side-by-side, each pointing the opposite direction.

    Sam got over in the left lane and block traffic. A couple people asked if we were Ok. I didn't suffer any injuries, but I'm a little sore now, probably from tensing up and bracing for impact. Fire and EMS arrived on scene along with a Stokes county sheriff. Had to sign a bunch of stuff saying I wasn't injured. We got word from the Highway patrol that we could move the vehicles to get them off the highway. I put the XJ, which suffered a bent drag link and busted out tail-light, in 4 low and drove over top the tow dolly to the amazement of the sheriff and local Fire-Rescue. The dolly got mangled pretty badly. The driver’s side tire of the XJ came loose from the straps probably when I jack knifed.

    I drove the XJ back over to the right side of the highway facing traffic. We then went back and hooked the dolly up to the waggy. The waggy dumped all it's coolant on the road. We had to unhook the dolly from the waggy to get the XJ off. I fired up the waggy and drove to the other side of the road while the sheriff stopped traffic. Sam pulled his rig father down the road and over to the right side.

    The highway patrol arrived and wrote a report. After signing more papers for the HP we waited until traffic subsided somewhat and I turned the XJ around and drove it down to Sam's rig. The HP picked me up and we had to drive to the Pilot mtn exit to double back. When we got back to the waggy we decided to try the same thing, only this time drive the waggy to the Pilot Mtn exit, about 2 miles away. The HP followed behind me as I drove a very dented in waggy. Remember I don’t have any coolant in this. I watched the temperature keep rising as the exit approached. We got to the exit just as the temperature reached the critical point. Sam drove his rig down there also.

    We decided to unload BUG from Sam’s trailer and load the waggy up on it and take it over to Bills shop. While Sam unloaded BUG I walked 2 miles back to get the XJ. We got the waggy loaded up and tied down on the trailer and left the XJ and BUG at the exit. Took the waggy over to the shop and unloaded it. Got back to the exit and I hooked up the dolly to the XJ for the ride home. Sam got BUG loaded up and headed on to Windrock after tempting me to ride with him. Wish I could have gone, but I needed to take care of business here.

    Since the neck of the dolly is bent it dog track to the right about 2 feet. I was able to limp back home via back roads. The drag link on the XJ is severely bent, and the back quarter panel on the passenger side is pushed in from the first collision with the guard rail. I'm going to get a new drag link and taillight hosing and the XJ should be good. Also need a new sway bar. The sway bar eye where the disconnect attaches shattered during the wreck.

    I'm very happy/lucky/thankful that no one else was involved and that I escaped without injury. After colliding with the first guardrail I was worried about the bob-trail semi plowing into me as I crossed the interstate. Sam said the semi realized what was happening and slowed down.

    Here are some pics of the carnage. I wish the damage were trail damage instead of accident damage.

    The dented up waggy.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  2. OBX Fisherman

    OBX Fisherman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Location:
    Winston-Salem
    part 2...

    Here's the drag link for the XJ. I had a spare one in the garage, forgot I had that!! [​IMG]
    I figure that happened when the tow dolly jack knifed.

    Here's the rear damage to the XJ.
    [​IMG]
    This is when I side swiped the guard rail on the right side of the road. Interestingly the steel rim on the back is scuffed up from rubbing against the guard rail. The swamper shows no sign of damage!

    Here's the mangled tow dolly, sans fenders.
    [​IMG]
    The neck got bent on the waggy bumper I think when I jack knifed.

    Never again will I use a tow dolly. Be very careful if you do. Rember Sammy used this dolly to tow BUG around all last year with his ZJ and never had a bit of problems.

    Gary "tow dolly survivor" R
     
  3. pheery

    pheery Well-Known Member

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    Mar 21, 2005
    Location:
    High Point
    yikes. glad you are ok.

    breaking before the wheeling starts, that is rough.
     
  4. Rich

    Rich Asshole at large

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    Central PA
    Good write-up, and again, sorry to hear it happened...

    This is just my opinion, flame suit on.. if your tow rig can't handle pulling an extra 1500lbs of trailer, and can't handle 500 lbs of tongue weight, it's not enough of a vehicle to tow, maneuver, and stop a 4wd vehicle in the first place.

    Also, this is a great example of why it's good to tow in pairs, and not just do a "see ya there" deal. :beer: for ya, Sam.
     
  5. OBX Fisherman

    OBX Fisherman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Location:
    Winston-Salem
    pheery: Got the XJ patched back up Friday morning and headed to Windrock that afternoon. Got to wheel one day at least!!

    Rich: Since Sammy had success with this combination I thought I would give it a try. I tested this a week prior to the trip and didn;t have any problems. The waggy is definately heavier than the ZJ and could pull and stop the XJ. If I tow again it will be a full size vehicle and a trailer.

    Definatly travel in pairs, just like you would on the trail.

    Gary
     
  6. BRUISER

    BRUISER silent.. but deadly Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh
    Sorry to hear about that.

    But I have a fgew questions???
    Just curious was the XJ empty or loaded down with tools????
    was the waggy loaded down also with tools in back or empty??

    Reason I ask is I have used many tow dollies/trailers and have never had a problem.. but I have heard that it will tow like a trailer with to much weight in the back and it will sway all over the road, just liek yours did.. so that is why I am aksing...
     
  7. thebluyak

    thebluyak New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2005
    Location:
    Jamestown
    WOW, Im glad your alrite gary! your defiently in my prays, so is your waggy and Xj
    Ryan
     
  8. myself

    myself New Member

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    Charlotte
  9. spraypaintman

    spraypaintman Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Greensboro
    Glad to hear you guys are ok. I wonder what caused it to sway so much?
     
  10. Wwildman

    Wwildman Never Give UP

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    Apr 16, 2005
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    Garner, NC
  11. OBX Fisherman

    OBX Fisherman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Location:
    Winston-Salem
    The XJ only had the standard load of stuff I carry off road, fluilds, recovery gear, my tool box and my drink cooler which sits behind the front seats on the floor. The waggy had maybe 100lbs of camping gear, groceries, water and other stuff. I wouldn't say it's excessive.

    Unsure why it started fish tailing. maybe wind, maybe coil sprung front end (sway bar was attached) no rear sway bar, locker? Could be a combination of things.
     
  12. yager

    yager Better Faster Stronger

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    Wake Forest, NC
    Not to poke at things but could speed have been a contributing factor ? Possibly causing excessive body roll (on the XJ) and the snow balling of things...

    I know hind sight is what ever just hate to see blanket statements about anything. "dollys are bad" I've never had problems flat towing or dollying but i also go painfully slow when im uncomfotable...

    I had some serious body sway going on when i hauld jessies burb back from jersey, short of straping the body to the trailer, the only simple fix was to add toung weight and go easy... no faster than 65 and less if needed on bridges and curves...

    Glad everyone is safe.

    edit: oh ya, Kudos to Sam for being alert and aware enough to handle the traffic. It sucks to have people with you who don't understand and be able to act if needed... Good job sam..
     
  13. Rich

    Rich Asshole at large

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    Location:
    Central PA
    maybe the locker bound up slightly as you began changing lanes then released, rocking the XJ, and setting it off?
     
  14. upnover

    upnover Grumpy, decrepit Old Man Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2005
    Location:
    Morganton NC
    A tow dolly or a tow bar, either one, makes the towed vehicle a wagon with multiple pivot points. All spell trouble. A trailor yes, does have two axles as well, the difference being the axles are close together, making them basically ONE pivot point. With the axles spread 100 or so inches apart, and the basic lack of tongue weight, it spells tragidy. Glad all were OK.
     
  15. SHINTON

    SHINTON Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    Triad area of NC
    We were talking about this all weekend as you can imagine, and trying to "compare" his towing setup vs mine.

    Him: Wagoneer with Leafs on all 4 corners (would guess that is better than my ZJ with coils on all 4)

    Him, XJ with 4.5" lift coils in the front [my personal guess is they were a large contributor], me, leafs on all 4 corners.

    Both of us have Detroits in rear

    Him: Swamper LTB bias 33s, inflated evenly, he knows the psi, ME, 35 BFG M/T Radials, again 30ish psi

    Him: Longer Wheelbase than me (we would guess that would be a postive on his side? However I got to thinking somehow BUG's front end maybe put more tongue weight on the dolly somehow?)

    IF you add those up, there are 2 or 3 items that probably added up to make the difference. I wonder if he had been able to compress the front suspension on the XJ, if it would have kept it from "rolling" as much and thus reduced the sway as well?

    One of those, we will never know for sure kinda deals.... :(
     
  16. Exploderpilot

    Exploderpilot Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2005
    Location:
    Winston Salem, NC
    when my uncle tow dollies stuff he has anit-sway stabilizer bars on the dolly and he cinches the frame down to the dolly to keep the suspension as still as possible on the dolly... never had a problem towing anythign yet, but once again his truck has much more power than the SJ in question being a Chevy 3500.
     
  17. Rich

    Rich Asshole at large

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    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    Central PA
    His stability has nothing to do with the engine... He's towing with a 1-ton truck. THAT makes the difference.. ;)
     
  18. thecarman

    thecarman Well-Known Member

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    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    Apex, NC
    I don't think leafs on a tow vehicle are inherently better than coils. For instance - there are 3/4-ton and 1-ton trucks that have coil spring front suspension or torsion bars. Are you going to tell Rob Sitze that his 2005 F350 dually is not going to tow that great because he has coil springs in his front suspension? :)

    As far as tow vehicle suspension is concerned, it's the result of the design and spring rate that makes a difference - not the type of spring used.
     
  19. yager

    yager Better Faster Stronger

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    Location:
    Wake Forest, NC
    I just did :D
     
  20. Rob

    Rob Administrator Administrator

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    Sanford, NC
    Damn, guess I need to dump the new tow rig. The wife's going to be angry. :driver:
     
  21. hobie

    hobie Sub-par Moderator

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    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    Dibs!
     
  22. Wolfpack OffRoad

    Wolfpack OffRoad New Member

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    Location:
    Trinity
    i'll give you fifty bucks for it. :)
     
  23. Rob

    Rob Administrator Administrator

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    $50k :flipoff2:
     
  24. Legal Eagle

    Legal Eagle Well-Known Member Moderator

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    Location:
    Sanford, NC
    yeah right, you dump the tow rig you'll be walking! ;)
     
  25. BRUISER

    BRUISER silent.. but deadly Moderator

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Raleigh

    ROFLMAO
     

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