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Hello, my husband and I bought our first Class A this summer, and have almost completed our first 10k miles.  Its a 2005 Winnebago Journey.  We think we want to learn to tow a vehicle.  We have a 2003 Chevy Silverado 4x4 truck, and have read that it can be flat towed.  From what I've read, we would need a tow bar and a plate on the truck.  We have questions about how to connect the brake lights, if we should or have to have auxiliary brakes, and what we do to the truck to tow it.  What else should we know to start to tow a vehicle?  Thank you!

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Roadmaster (as well as Blue Ox and others) will have light kits and instructions for your vehicle's lights and also custom base plate for your particular vehicle.  I prefer Roadmaster, but that's purely a personal choice.   With regards to auxillary braking, in most states it is required.  IMO, you'd be foolish not to have it.  I use SMI braking system which, once installed initially, does not require setup and takedown every time you tow.  I have the SMI Duo, but if you have air brakes, I'd opt for the Air Force One.

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pjfromny,

Welcome to the forum.  You are on the right track.  Once you determine if the vehicle you have is towable (owners manual & FMCA Towing Guide for the year of your vehicle).  You will need a baseplate for your vehicle, tow bar that connects the vehicle to your coach, lights either auxiliary or wired into your truck's system and finally, a braking system for your pickup (a must have).

We use a Blue Ox System which has worked fine for us.

You'll hear from some of others that they prefer M&G brakes.

Blake

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Blake.  Like me, I have tried them all and prefer the M&G.

pjfromny.  Welcome to the Forum!  

Is your 4x4 a diesel or gas?  Check your receiver on coach and make sure it's rated for 10,000 pounds, I don't remember what the tow capacity for your coach is, but your potential toad is over 5,000!

Carl  

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I am more in the Blue Ox camp as I like that when I am not towing the car it is hard to see it is a toad as the tow bar stays on the coach and not the front of the car or truck.

http://blueox.com/recreational-commercial-flat-towing/

I added the led lights to my tail lights so there is no electrical connection to my CR-V electrical system.

You will also need a auxiliary braking system.

"what we do to the truck to tow it." 

I would look in the owner's manual under recreational towing. I think it is in section 4-56.

Bill

 

 

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Carl......M&G conversion is on my "blake list" as soon as I get some downtime and after my "honey do's" get whittled down.  I've done a bit of reading on them at the behest of you all and feel a change-out from Blue Ox to M&G is an upgrade that is needed.

pjfromny.......here's the 2003 Towing Guide.  http://www.fmca.com/images/stories/pdf/towing_03.pdf  remember to check your owner's manual and get specifics.

I, like most others, will not leave home without a braking system on my toad (including break-away).

Blake

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pj,  

Your 2003 4x4 is very towable. The nice thing is that it has no steering wheel locking pin.

My 08 Silverado is set up this way.

Tow Bar is Blue Ox with removable pins. I installed them myself. 

I installed diodes in the lights myself.

I have the M&G braking unit. I had it installed on another vehicle and installed the one on my truck myself. 

What is nice is all I have to do is hook up,  put the truck in 4x4 neutral, put transmission in park. Remove the key and lock the doors. And away we go.

Herman 

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I've not used all possible solutions.  When we started full timing we had a vehicle that could be towed on a tow dolly.  Tried that, went to four wheel down towing, would never go back.  If I had a car that couldn't be towed, I'd put it in a trailer instead of on a tow dolly.  You didn't mention this as an option but thought I'd register an opinion on other possible techniques.

When we abandoned the tow dolly we purchased a 2002 Chevrolet Trailblazer, 4WD, probably tows much like your 2003 Chevy Truck.  We had to pull two fuses and put the 4WD selector in neutral.  The transmission was put in park and as Wayne mentions, that didn't lock the steering wheel on the vehicle in those model years.  There were no limits on speed or time or number of miles towed once this was done.  We could go for days without having to do more than check all the connections from coach to car.  This becomes routine at any stop, rest stop, lunch stop, overnight stop, etc.  Never pass up an opportunity to walk around the coach and check all those connections before continuing on your way.

We went with a tow system from RoadmasterBrakemaster is the brake operating system.  The tow bar and base plate should be a matched pair.  We simply ordered them from a local merchant who did the entire install for us.  On the car side, I've seen some of the work involved which includes removing the front bumper of the vehicle to be towed.  Way beyond what I wanted to tackle.  The attachment for the tow bar is basically just inserting it into the receiver on the coach.  You will need a very strong pin for that connection.  Be sure the pin is rated as strong enough for the weight of your toad.  Likewise, tow bars themselves have weight ratings.  Be sure the weight ratings for your tow bar is greater than the weight of your toad.  If you tow the truck empty, you can use the weight on the vehicle information.  If you haul something like a motorcycle, golf cart or other toy in your pickup while towing, you need to add that weight into the calculations for the tow bar and its securing pin.  We use the Sterling tow bar which stays attached to the coach and the external connections on the toad can be removed leaving the front of the car with only the attachment points showing.

The Brakemaster system can be connected to the air brakes on your coach if your coach is a diesel.  Connecting the brake in our system is a matter of snap connections for the hose from the coach to the car.  Inside we have an air cylinder that must be attached to the brake pedal.  That cylinder is anchored on the floor under the front seat.  When you step on the brakes in the coach, air pressure activates the brakes in the toad.  Hit the brakes hard, the brakes in the toad are applied hard, if just a light braking in the coach, the toad is also lightly braked.  This type of supplemental braking is called proportional braking. 

Our system also includes a breakaway system which will stop the toad if the tow bar breaks.  In the event of a break in the tow bar connection, a wire cable from the coach to the car pulls the plug on an electronic connection which then discharges the content of a small pressure container, charged by the coach to car air line.  This applies the brakes to the toad to stop it, ideally, before it hits another vehicle. 

There are brake in a box kits which might be suitable for casual use and are well designed if you tow a variety of different vehicles.  If you are towing the same vehicle all the time, I'd opt for the built in systems.  Many of the brake in a box systems use an initerial system to apply the brakes,  Any time the vehicle slows down the system will activate the brakes.  You can set the sensitivity to prevent some of this but it can be a problem if you are using the engine brake to control speed on a long mountain grade and the toad brakes are on constantly during that time. 

Finally, you might want to consider some kind of protection for the toad.  Hooking a car or truck to the back end of your coach is like following a large truck very closely constantly.  Your coach will throw up a lot of debris, some small and inconsequential and occasionally something that can chip the paint or crack the windshield.  Even at slow speeds, on gravel or chip seal roads I've found small rocks on the windshield wipers or on the roof of the vehicle.  With an older vehicle you may not be so concerned about this but a broken headlight can be quite expensive to replace.  Brakemaster markets a solid barrier, the Guardian, that fits on the tow bar attachment at the front of the car.  They also have a curtain that fits below the tow bar between the coach and the car and keeps debris below the front of the car.  Nothing is perfect but these kinds of things do help. 

I've used Brakemaster as an example because that is all we have ever used for 14 years.  I've been very satisfied with the system, it has been dependable and cost to install and operate is reasonable.  During this period of time we've replaced the coach once and the toad once.  We replaced the original tow bar one time, due in part to my penchant to try to back up just a tiny bit to maneuver the coach.  When towing 4WD, you can not back up!  It will damage the tow bar. 

Almost everything I've mentioned can be purchased from other suppliers, BlueOx is the other major supplier of complete systems.  You can mix and match some components without a problem.  Tow bars are purchased as a package unless you want to do some serious modification which may involve some seat of the pants engineering decisions.  People do it but I'd rather trust the designers and their engineering staff to ensure they are strong and perform as designed.

A number of brake systems have been mentioned above, each has it's own advantages.  Look them over, pick the one that fits your needs and budget.  You will find further discussion of the factors that I've mentioned on any of the sites you visit in your quest for the right system.  Take time to read and learn about these systems before making a decision.

 

 

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I have towed for 19 years and, for me, regardless of state laws, an auxiliary brake system is mandatory. You will only need it once to justify the cost. I know of at least 3 times in all those years that I am convinced a collision would have resulted without aux brakes. None would have been my fault - there are crazy, inconsiderate, drivers out there that you sometimes cannot predict their actions no matter how alert you are.

But, who is at fault is not the issue. Avoiding an accident is.

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turbostealth.  Welcome to the Forum! :)

Too true...it's not who's right, it's who's left!  Have a small trailer at home, between it's weight and what I can carry, about 1,600 pounds..I got after market brake.  A good brake system on a toad is mandatory in my humble opinion, even if your toad is a shoe box (Smart car)! :P

Carl

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We had a 2004 Chev 2500hd 4X4 Diesel that the manual and dealer said could NOT be flat towed as it had the electric push button 4X4  selection.

We sold it and bought a 2008 Honda CRV and installed the blu-ox base plate and tow bar. I installed the Invisibrake and light conversion.

The Honda weighs 1/2 that of the PU. You hardly know that it is back there. Of course I keep my rear camera on to watch it.

Make sure that your pickup can be towed. The Manual is very clear about if it can or can't be towed.

 

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PJ --

From one newbie to another welcome to the forum!  One year ago tomorrow (October 6) my wife and I graduated from several years of owing a 32 foot travel trailer to a diesel pusher motorhome for our ever growing family.  One thing I quickly learned from the forum was to learn the tow rating of a motorhome and assure the "curb weight" does not exceed the motorhome's tow rating.  The tow rating for my Damon Astoria motorhome is 5,000 lbs. max meaning I could not tow my 2011 Chevrolet Silverado crew cab 4x4 which has a curb weight of 5,300 lbs.   After good guidance from this forum and talking to other motorhome owners, we decided to trade the Silverado for a 2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (4 door) which has a curb weight of 4,200 lbs.  The Wrangler tows very easily behind the motorhome (except for the rear camera I wouldn't know the Jeep is behind me!).   The Wrangler is designed for towing behind a motorhome -- put the transfer case in neutral, put the transmission in park and attach the tow bar and umbilical wire and it's ready to go.

For the tow system I opted for the Roadmaster aluminum "Sterling All Terrain" tow bar with Combo Kit (wires, diodes for rear tail lights, safety cables, etc.), EZ5 bracket (base plate) for the Jeep and the Roadmaster Invisibrake supplemental brake system.  Thus far the tow bar and Invisibrake have performed extremely well with zero problems.  My research showed Roadmaster and Blue Ox are equally good tow system good products.  My reasoning for purchasing the Roadmaster system was simply a "on stop shop" convenience for purchase and installation at an RV dealership near my home.   The Roadmaster web site has good info about these products --> http://roadmasterinc.com/index.php

Best wishes to you and your family for many enjoyable years of motorhome use!

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427600.  I towed a 2007 Chevy 2500 Silverado. 4x4, Duramax with Allison for 18 months all over the US and had no problem with it.  I pulled it with a Allegro Bus 36' DP 2011, Blue Ox 10K, Brake master, Blue Ox base plate!

Carl

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Thanks so much for all of the input!  Our RV is a diesel.  I checked the hitch, and it is rated for 10k#.  I checked our truck, and it is good for flat towing.

Our towing may be different than some.  We drive about 40k a year, using our RV to travel to work projects around the country.  We do 1-2 trips each month, sometimes as long as 3 weeks, others are a few days.  We won't need the truck for all our trips, but more likely on the extended trips of 2-3k miles,  We typically are in one location for only a few days, so ease of attaching and unattaching will be critical.

Apart from not being able to back up, are there any other limitations?  Anything else we should know?

Thanks for all your help!

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pj, there are a lot of people who work in your field, all over the US, some have coaches and tow, others tow a fithwheel or trailer.  Matter of taste!  Your good to go, as for hook up and off, once you have done it a couple of times...5 minutes!  Since I travel alone, takes me about 2 min to unhook and 5 to hook up!

Enjoy your freedom..

Carl 

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1 hour ago, pjfromny said:

...I checked the hitch, and it is rated for 10k#.  I checked our truck, and it is good for flat towing...

 

There is more to towing than the hitch rating:

Tow rating is the lower of:
 
1.  Coach's hitch rating.
 
2.  Coach tow rating.
 
3.  Chassis tow rating (sometimes different than the coach's).
 
4.  The difference in weight between the coach's GCWR and the coach's actual weight when ready to tow.

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PJ --

Five's response is spot on concerning the motorhome's tow rating.  While sitting at my desk eating lunch I did a quick Google search for a 2005 Winnebago Journey and discovered the original sales brochure on the Winnebago website (see link below).   Depending on which model you have and engine / transmission configuration, your motorhome may only have a max tow rating of 5,000 lbs for the Cummins 300 HP engine / Allison 2500 five speed transmission up to 10,000 lbs max tow rating for a Cummins 300 HP / 350 HP engine mated with an Allison 3000 six speed transmission.   My 2007 Damon Astoria motorhome has the 300 HP Cummins ISB engine coupled with the Allison 2500 transmission which limits my tow rating to 5,000 lbs. max which is why I had to trade my Silverado for a Jeep Wrangler.

As Five stated, it's critical to know the engine / transmission combination for your motorhome to decide if your Silverado's curb weight is within your motorhomes towing capacity.  Hope this helps!

Winnebago Journey sales brochure -->  http://winnebagoind.com/resources/brochure/2005/05-Journey-bro.pdf

 

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1 hour ago, pjfromny said:

We have a Cat 350 engine and an Allison 6 speed transmission, so I am fairly confident that we can tow 10k.  We will make sure of that.  Thank you for that "heads up."

I would be VERY surprised if it is that high.  Check with BOTH chassis maker and coach maker to verify-- again, lesser number dictates.

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PJFromny,

Hopefully you still have the data sticker in your coach.  I don't remember where Winnebago puts theirs but ours is in the bathroom stuck on the back of the medicine cabinet.  That data sticker may give you the information you need to determine tow rating.  GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating) less GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) = Tow Capacity.

Ours is: GCWR = 44,600.  GVWR = 34,600.  Tow Capacity = 10,000.

Blake

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Blake,

That MAY be true, but GCWR may not be the limiting factor.  Things like hitch rating, Rear axle carrying capacity of any tongue weight, etc.  Again, least strong determines towing capacity and I would sure recommend they contact both coach and chassis maker.  Hate to have them find out after buying a toad that won't work, or worse, after an accident when someone else's lawyer finds out.

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31 minutes ago, wolfe10 said:

Blake,

That MAY be true, but GCWR may not be the limiting factor.  Things like hitch rating, Rear axle carrying capacity of any tongue weight, etc.  Again, least strong determines towing capacity and I would sure recommend they contact both coach and chassis maker.  Hate to have them find out after buying a toad that won't work, or worse, after an accident when someone else's lawyer finds out.

I was the guy that bought the coach that couldn't pull the toad. My coach interior sticker allotted me 3500 lbs, the hitch had a sticker up under it "3000 lbs MAX TOWING WEIGHT, 100 lbs tongue weight". I called Coachmen at the time, was told do to the frame extensions and cross members 3000 was the maximum. At the time the Jeep we had was 3400lbs, not a good day. I was glad I saw the sticker behind the hula skirt hanging off of the bumper while installing roller wheels on the hitch.

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Winnebago, unless they changed it since 07, puts it in the back closet.  My 400/Allison 3000 was good for 10K and had the hitch for it.

Carl

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