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Towing—a GREAT story for a change!


vanwill52
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On Jun 3 2020, I had to be towed from an RV park in Dillard, GA to a repair shop I trusted in Cumming, GA.  The shop was MTR Fleet Services.  That is approximately 94 miles.

I called Coach-Net.  I’ve been a member for many years, but have never used them.  I explained that my problem was with the ECM of the coach and there was no point in towing it to any shop that did not have INSITE (Cummins Engine Diagnostics) software.  They agreed, which pleasantly surprised me.

The towing company was United Towing from Alpharetta, GA.  I spoke to them and gave them all pertinent information—coach length, weight, height, number of axles, air suspension, air brakes, automatic transmission.  The most important thing I stressed to them was that NOTHING less than a Class 8 wrecker could do this job, and that it must have a stinger at least 7’ long with “cradles” for the coach’s wheels.  I did not want it towed by attaching anything to the front axle.  I had heard too many horror stories that resulted from that method of securing the coach to the wrecker’s stinger.

Raymond was the driver.  He was a pleasant, professional fellow who obviously had a great deal of experience towing very heavy vehicles.  He crawled under the coach and “caged” the parking brakes.  The driveshaft had cap bolts that were difficult to remove, so he promptly removed an axle.  In no time, Raymond had the front tires in the cradles and was ready to leave.

The long drive was uneventful.  I followed in my tow vehicle to the destination.  Jason Martin, owner of MTR Fleet Services, greeted Raymond as he pulled in with my coach.  It was obvious they knew each other well.  Jason later told me I had “one of the best and the safest” wrecker operators he had ever known.

My thanks to Coach-Net, Raymond from United Towing, and Jason Martin of MTR Fleet Services.  There is much more to say about the excellent, above-and-beyond service I got from MTR.  I’ll do that in another post.

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Bruce, the rear hubs on all large trucks are "full-floating".  The drive axle supports no weight.  If you remove a drive axle,  it has the same effect as uncoupling the driveshaft--the pinion does not turn.  It is common accepted practice that doing either (remove axle or uncouple driveshaft) is sufficient to keep from damaging a transmission.  Picture is after removing the axle and prior to bolting on a "dummy" plastic cap to keep the oil from running out.

 

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If you're going to remove axles to tow, be sure to remove BOTH axles.
Removing only one axle will result in the spider gears spinning MUCH MUCH FASTER than they were ever designed to do, and with no lubrication to boot.
The spider gears and cross shaft will quickly be damaged by this practice, necessitating a complete differential tear-down for repair. $$$

Plus, once a spider gear seizes to the cross shaft, it's going to start spinning your driveshaft, and probably damage your transmission as well.

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5 hours ago, dl_racing427 said:

If you're going to remove axles to tow, be sure to remove BOTH axles.
Removing only one axle will result in the spider gears spinning MUCH MUCH FASTER than they were ever designed to do, and with no lubrication to boot.
The spider gears and cross shaft will quickly be damaged by this practice, necessitating a complete differential tear-down for repair. $$$

Plus, once a spider gear seizes to the cross shaft, it's going to start spinning your driveshaft, and probably damage your transmission as well.

I've heard that same thing on another forum.  I think it is a "1% probability" thing.  I've read hundreds of posts about people being towed, and no one ever mentioned having any difficulty towing with one axle removed.  Is it true that the spider gears spin faster?  Yes.  Is it likely to cause a problem?  No.  The fellow that towed me had a large collection of axle caps, but not TWO of any one of them.

I would like to hear from those who have had their coaches towed with an axle removed--"Did you have any problems resulting from the single axle removal?"

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Guest Cruzbill

Would someone describe the correct tow procedure for tag axle coaches? I've read that the only way is all wheels on a lowboy, no dolly. 

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40 minutes ago, Cruzbill said:

Would someone describe the correct tow procedure for tag axle coaches? I've read that the only way is all wheels on a lowboy, no dolly. 

In deference to my mentor and good friend Bill Duckwitz, I will begin by stating, “I have no personal experience with towing a motor home on a lowboy.  I have never done it, nor do I personally know anyone  who has.”

That being said, it is my OPINION that towing a tag axle coach by a conventional Class 8 wrecker differs little from towing any other non-tag coach.  You PROBABLY need to be sure your tag axle has an air supply during the towing, so that your tag axle continues to support the weight it should.  Someone else with more PERSONAL experience might chime in with other things to consider.

But as to using a lowboy, it does seem as if it would be the “ultimately safe” solution.  I just SUSPECT the difficulties and expense of securing that kind of tow would be formidable.  For starters, neither Coach-Net nor anyone else is going to offer you that “option”.  They might pay a “deductible” type amount towards your cost.  However expensive towing by even a large conventional wrecker might be, towing on a lowboy would dwarf that amount.  And there is no telling how many days you might have to wait for that option to be available.

Advice from folks with PERSONAL experience on this forum might be your best bet.  But always be able to tell the towing company the weights and dimensions they need to tow your coach without damage.  And from my PERSONAL experience, I think the most important thing you will tell them is that you REQUIRE a Class 8 wrecker with a suitable stinger and cradles for your wheels…NOTHING less.

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Tag axle coaches can be safely towed.  However on tag axle coaches and coaches with air leveling systems it's critical that the leveling system be turned on and set to travel mode while being towed.  If the system is turned off (or your battery goes dead), the air suspension will default to level mode and you run the risk of twisting the chassis and cracking the windshield.  The air supplied from the wrecker to release the parking brakes will also supply air for the suspension. 

It would be good to review the towing procedure options in your coach owners manual.

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4 minutes ago, Ivan K said:

Van, have they hooked up an airline for the leveling? It sounds like they would not since he caged the brakes instead?

Ivan, I told the wrecker operator it was unnecessary.  I do not have air leveling and my bags will stay inflated for well over a week.  Probably should have done so, just as a precaution since the coach jostled quite a bit in transit and might have activate the Hadley air leveling valves.  But when he dropped it off at the truck shop, coach was still level and tanks both had over 90 PSI.

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Guest Cruzbill

Owners manual says if damage is to rear axle, use a lowboy. Also cautions to turn on air suspension. And if damage is other than to rear axle, use dollys on rear wheels. Don't tow from rear. So has anyone had a tag axle motorcoach towed? (heaven forbid!) 

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26 minutes ago, Cruzbill said:

Owners manual says if damage is to rear axle, use a lowboy. Also cautions to turn on air suspension. And if damage is other than to rear axle, use dollys on rear wheels. Don't tow from rear. So has anyone had a tag axle motorcoach towed? (heaven forbid!) 

Dollies on REAR wheels but towed from the front?  Anyone have a pix of that?

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5 minutes ago, Cruzbill said:

Isnt that how yours was towed? 

NO.  My pix clearly shows "cradles" on FRONT wheels.  (In wrecker slang, the wrecker that towed me was a cradle-snatcher.) "Dollies" have wheels of their own--tow dollies to tow a car, for instance, have wheels of their own.  Perhaps you meant something other than "dollies" on the rear? 

Your post: "And if damage is other than to rear axle, use dollys on rear wheels. Don't tow from rear. "--this statement did not make sense to me.  Is it possible you misquoted your manual, or mis-typed it?  I'm not trying to be argumentative.  I have never encountered that advice, nor have I ever heard of any coach being towed with its rear wheels on a dolly.

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding your question, but look at the pix again.

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