How to tow an early A?

Early A-Body Discussions

  1. BillGrissom

    BillGrissom Well-Known Member

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    Twice I have tried to tow an early A with a tow-bar, and twice it didn't work. Has anyone had success doing this?

    I first tried on my 65 Dart, with brackets bolted solidly to the bottom of the frame rails. I needed to tow it to the DMV, so tried once around the block. After each turn, the wheels decided to not follow, and went full over, making the tires skid. I later found a crushed-in rear inner fender and suspected the rear tire had been rubbing on turns, causing the problem.

    Today, I tried to tow a 64 Valiant. It will actually drive, but my son was too occupied with friends to help, so I brought the tow bar in case I bought the car (did). I removed the front bumper and attached the tow bar to the bumper brackets. Same thing, but worse. The front tires didn't want to follow, except this time rather than skidding the tires, the bumper brackets bent sideways and one even broke off (brittle cast-looking metal). This was just testing it a few feet in a gravel driveway. I now must drive the 90 miles back tomorrow for the car, and beg a son to help (no mass transit).

    I know that "caster" is the "shopping cart effect", i.e. that the pivot axis for the front tires should ideally hit the road in front of the contact patch. We don't have enough caster in our early A's since the steering was designed for bias tires which flex backward when travelling. Indeed, we often have negative caster. Positive caster isn't what makes the steering wheel straighten when you let go. It simply allows the wheels to pivot and not oppose whatever direction the front end wants to go (like a shopping cart). The feature which straightens the wheel is that whenever you turn, the front end lifts slightly, so gravity re-centers the steering. In my cases, the problem wasn't the wheels wanting to go straight, but rather to go in a different direction than I was pulling the car.

    I suspect it is due to too much negative caster. The suspension looked OK and it drove fine except for slight rattling on bumps (worn bushings?).

    BTW, I towed my 69 Dart with the same tow bar 300 miles with no problems. I have also towed my 65 Newport several times with the same tow bar.

    Any thoughts or experiences would be appreciated.
     
  2. 67Dart273

    67Dart273 FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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    ANY vehicle has enough caster to tow bar, if the front end is in fair shape, if it's aligned, and has "some kind" of tires that are aired up. Not having an engine might just be a problem.

    I don't like to towbar, you have no brakes on the "thing" which probably weighs as much as the tow vehicle, and if you EVER got into a situation such as...............

    going down an unimproved road, IE dirt, raining, and you MUST slow, the rear unit can start to push and jack knife the front vehicle.

    In this day and age of heavy traffic and impatient drivers, a towbar has no place, specially on the highway.

    Use a dolly at the minimum, or buy / borrow/ rent a trailer. I bought my first car trailer in the early 70's in San Diego. I just recently got rid of the thing and bought a nice used one for 1200 bucks.
     
  3. BillGrissom

    BillGrissom Well-Known Member

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    I know you must be careful. I was planning to use farm roads all the way home. In this attempt, the towing vehicle was my Town & Country (~4500 lbs) and the Valiant was much lighter (~2600 lbs?). Anyway, none of that was involved in the "wheels won't follow" issue in the driveway.

    Before we towed the 69 Dart, I had my wife practice on a desert road. She braked in the middle of a turn while the two cars were at an angle and the Dart slid the towing vehicle's rear end around. There was sand on the road, which made that easy. I decided she would drive the other car pulling a trailer (w/ electric brakes) and I towed the Dart.

    Well 400 miles later, her trailer was rear-ended on I-40 in the early morning, so 67Dart273's comment about erratic drivers holds, but there is no way to avoid them. I would rather have one hit a towed vehicle than the one I am in. The AZ cop said the other driver wasn't at fault because we were probably going too slow (60 mph in the right lane) and the other driver "thought he had insurance" (from prior owner!). I think the fact that he had NM plates and we had CA plates was his main basis for judgment. At least we weren't in Maricopa County or crazy Sheriff Joe might have thrown my wife in jail for looking a little Mexican (actually Asian).
     
  4. YY1

    YY1 Well-Known Member

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    You don't get much turn at all with a tow bar.
    several times I've had to get out and turn the towed vehicle's steering wheel, then get back into the towing car, move a couple feet, and repeat the process over and over.

    In fact, with the one I have, it's barely enough to go around a left hand turn from one two lane road to another.

    My tow bar was free with a 1993 dakota I bought.
    It was so much of a PITA, that I bought a car dolly and a winch.

    ...still have to be careful on turns, but not at all like the bar.
     
  5. needsaresto

    needsaresto Well-Known Member

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    This is a fortunate post for me! I've been thinking on getting a tow bar to get my Dart up to chris's place in the spring for blasting. My friends trailer is real heavy and requires a brake controller,which I dont have.

    So a dolly is better?
     
  6. godspeedglen

    godspeedglen Well-Known Member

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    Don't feel bad, it happens to lots of us!
    I used a tow bar years ago to get my car to the paint shop across town. Car was stripped down to it's shell. (read extremely light). The very first corner I went around we had problems. So I had a great idea....."Oh hunny, can you give me a hand?" I have the best Mopar wife...willing to help in most any way. She was willing to sit in the car, no glass, no seat, nothin...well I gave her a milk crate to sit on. Her task was to steer the car. Pretty easy ...right.... EXCEPT..she couldn't feel how the car was tracking. So we would go around the corner and the wheels would start to go the wrong way. She would try to get them to follow and return, but she had no idea where they ended up.(no previous manual steering experience). So after the "test corners" she says..." Don't worry, I figure it out...let's go!" Mind you, were on all residential roads, nothing above 20 mph. We got about half way there, and I realized that without a windshield it was much easier to hear LOTS of cussing from back there. I stopped to check. She gulped it down and said keep going(without cussing).
    Moral of story: While we made our trip safely, I will not ever use tow bar again. I have always used a tow dolly since and never had an issue.
    And never put your wife in a car like that....we were young and stupid!
    Merry Christmas everyone!--Godspeedglen
     
  7. BillGrissom

    BillGrissom Well-Known Member

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    I didn't mention that on the cross-country trip, before resuming 4 days later, I switched to a tow dolly so my wife wouldn't have to tow the trailer (repaired). I thought of renting one in CA, but U-haul wanted $350 (1994 dollars) since everyone was leaving the state. Once in AZ, I was able to rent a dolly for $120.

    I reversed tow cars. I put the drive-shaft back in the Dart and put the Aries on the dolly since FWD. Some people can figure why I was using the FWD to tow-bar the RWD, and I know the Dart was slightly heavier than the Aries, but it worked fine. The tow dolly works fine on the interstate. You have to watch it's width on local roads, and it doesn't ride well unloaded. With a tow dolly, you can backup a little bit, which you can't do with a tow-bar. Personally, I don't like towing anything. It is un-nerving having something behind you rattling and trying to move your vehicle.

    Re brake controller, all I did on that trip was hook the electric brakes directly to the Newport's brake light, with no controller box. When I slightly pushed the brakes, I got full-on from the trailer. That is a stable situation and was fairly mild. I wouldn't use it on mountain roads since you would over-heat the e-brakes, but on the interstate drive I used the brakes about 4 times per day. I have a camping trailer I tow with my T&C. I got a brake controller. I didn't want to hack up the wiring, so for now I just use it in full-manual mode (until I get the right connectors to elegantly connect to the T&C wiring). I set it on the console and press the red button when I want to brake the trailer, like going down steep grades or for rapid stops. You can adjust the braking level. My trailer is only 2700 lbs, so works fine.
     
  8. 67Dart273

    67Dart273 FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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    As an afterthought, I've known guys who rope-tied the steering wheel to help keep things straight. I guess you just don't turn any sharper 'n you have to, and drag it around corners.
     
  9. inkjunkie

    inkjunkie Well-Known Member

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    Used a towbar on a car with a wheel lock once, had no motor in it either. Had no troubles towing it on surface roads. Course I was pulling it with a 3/4 ton Pickem up and it was a Noba.....Now with a diesel truck and a car trailer with a controller I don't mind towing that much. Unless of course I am going thru the Fourth of July & Lookout Mountain passes, them downhill high speed corners are just kind of nerve wracking....
     
  10. pettybludart

    pettybludart Well-Known Member

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  11. needsaresto

    needsaresto Well-Known Member

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    What if you towed the car backwards using a tow bar? Would it make any difference?
    Just thinking if I unlocked the steering column and towed the car backwards,the tires would track correctly until you tried to back up.

    Then again going around corners might not work as planned.
     
  12. dartfastback

    dartfastback Well-Known Member

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    Needsaresto, Check BC laws before you tow bar here.
    tow bar bracket must be welded to frame. No clamping styles aloud anymore. Also if any car wheels roll on the ground the car must be insured( applys to bars or dollies) and lastly tow vehicle must outweigh what your towing by 50% or more.
     
  13. needsaresto

    needsaresto Well-Known Member

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    Sure will! It sounds like towing with a trailer is the best bet. I went to the uhaul websight and it has a feature where you can combine your tow vehicle,tow-ee and towing method to see if it will work. I found a tow dolly or a trailer to be the best bet. Heck a vehicle trailer is only $10/day more than a dolly! Because my friends trailer is waaay too heavy I'll likely rent a u-haul for 3 days or so.
     
  14. cavemanmoron

    cavemanmoron Well-Known Member

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    Flatbed tow truck.
     
  15. pishta

    pishta I know I'm right....

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    Careful, 65 904's had a rear pump that will energize when towed faster than 35 ( i think, supposedly you can push start these at 35) so pull with either the driveshaft disconnected or the rear tires raised and the steering wheel seatbelted stationary.
     
  16. inkjunkie

    inkjunkie Well-Known Member

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    Just please whatever you do no dopes on a rope...
     
  17. BillGrissom

    BillGrissom Well-Known Member

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    To finish the odyssey, my other son took me and I drove the 64 Valiant back 90 miles. No top on the convertible, but sunny and 55 F. At the first stop for gas 10 miles away, I noticed the station had U-haul tow dollies. I inquired, and only $74 one way to home. I wish I had seen them yesterday since that beats the cost and time of an extra trip. I assumed I would have to drive >30 miles to get one and cost ~$150. I need a smart phone so I can search the internet.

    The trip helped me practice the trouble-shooting advice I have been giving. Car started out fine, but the engine died 10 miles later. Would fire a bit, but wouldn't run even on starter fluid. That ruled out bad gas clogging the filter or carb (my first thought). I measured nothing at coil+ with a multi-meter. I figured an erratic ignition switch, so jumpered straight from battery to coil+ and it fired up (after jumping). I also ran a jumper wire direct to "field" to get the alternator charging. 5 miles later, it started missing bad at higher throttle. I stopped, smelled plastic and found the coil was really hot (was worrying). I then jumpered in just the ballast with no other factory wires, since I had measured 2 ohms to gnd in the wiring (bad, and why I had skipped it). Ran OK the rest of the way other maybe a bit lean and maybe hot (temp gage not working). Without a few tools I always carry I would have been stuck - starter fluid, multi-meter, alligator wires, jumper cables, water, oil, coolant. My son learned how a little knowledge and planning can greatly simplify your life, though he would have just found the tow dolly on his I-phone. BTW, when I got home I removed the key switch since loose. Instead of a connector, it had electrical tape all over and when I moved the wires the starter fired.

    Re towing a ~65 and earlier. Yes, they do have a rear pump and can be push-started. My 65 Newport manual says to push it (or roll downhill) to 40 mph in N, turn on the ignition, and shift to 2 to start. I think in N, it gives no more drag than later trannys. Regardless, I would have pulled the drive-shaft rather than risk the transmission on a tow that distance. I did that once by just driving up on a curb to get under the car.
     
  18. needsaresto

    needsaresto Well-Known Member

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    Bill what a great story! I always say better off driving someting older as you can ifx it yourself. Crap if that had been a newer car breaking down on you,would have cost several thousand in repair bills! Plus towing..

    Cant beat old outdated tecnology...
     
  19. porksoda

    porksoda Well-Known Member

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    I know I am not much help but this is how I moved my 66 Dart.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  20. HEMI-ITIS

    HEMI-ITIS PRO TOW

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    You like that one:glasses7:Same as rope-a-dope:blob:
     
  21. Valiant63

    Valiant63 Early A-body Valiants

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    I have used tow bars without a problem. Actually, you have less problems on the highway then on curvey back roads. Just keep above the min speed but don't go over 55. Put the seat belt thru the bottom of the towed vehicles steering wheel with the wheels straight and tightenthe belt. The wheels will turn enough for corners, but it won't fishtail or go into a full turn lock. Just keep your speed reasonable. Drive 10 mph slower (at least) than you normally would. I bought a dolly and a come-a-long to do my towing now. I still run the seatbelt thru the steering wheel, though.
     
  22. needsaresto

    needsaresto Well-Known Member

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    The ins thing is the killer for me. I'll go with a u haul trailer for sure.
     
  23. Oldmanmopar

    Oldmanmopar Going left turning right FABO Gold Member

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    My 62 use to start a 25. I would coast down a hill and as soon as it hit 25 I would push the low gear button. Couldn't afford a battery. Those were the days.
     
  24. yellowdartdave

    yellowdartdave RIP 1-5-12 Legendary Member

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    I will never use a tow bar, as I have seen a bunch of people that have torn up both vehicles.

    Dollies are a step up. No brakes, can't back up.

    Trailers (or a wrecker) is the smart way to go.

    This is a 1 of none car.

    Bottom Picture...........

    [​IMG]

    Center Picture............

    [​IMG]
     
  25. ab7fh

    ab7fh Well-Known Member

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    Anything further is best left for the forums politics sub-forum.
     
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