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Technical Flat towing

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by ROBERT JAM, Mar 28, 2018.

  1. Most pickups and cars weigh about 4000 pounds. Back when I was in my 40"s I was a heavy hauler . I drove a semi and hauled all kinds of over weight and oversized loads. I hauled the dual engine earth movers up and down the Boston mountians In western ark. grossing 160,000 pounds with a truck designed for 80,000 gross weight. and no jake brakes. There is something called Know How & Experience that makes a huge difference. When I was a kid I had a summer job driving a Euclid pit truck. hauling rock from the blast site to the crusher. 671 Detroit road ranger trans. and not a sign of brakes. No doors. beat up WWII army surplus rig. It had been rolled over before. The minium wage w$1.80 and jobs where scarce. And they paid me $2.10 because no one else could handle that pile of junk. I came out to where they where clearing for the pit. driving my 46 ford log truck. and was getting the logs. And the foreman needed some huge stumps hauled and hired me to drive that POS.
  2. Those cars are actually going to Guatemala not Mexico. Legally importing/exporting a car to Mexico is a rather expensive proposition. I lived on the Isthmus right on the Pan American Highway for several years and it was a common thing to see cars on their way to central America. I have seen as many as 4 cars in a string (nutz). Back in the '90s the guys that ferried cars got the equivalent of 5-700 dollars American per trip and back then the bulk of the cars were actually coming from Minnesota. ;)
  3. Back in the sixties it was common for car dealers to go to St Louis and buy vehicles and tow them back. we would try and get a Lincoln of caddy or some big car and attach at least two and maybe three behind with tow bars and drag them back. there was a scale at Corning Ark. and the scale man a big guy like Andy Divine nicknamed Jingles. He would come out and check your paper work and look to see that you had safety chains. Back then 67 was narrow and steep. You stopped at the top of every grade and checked all the connections. Then you creeped down the hill at 5 MPH and when you got near the bottom you let off the brakes and built up speed to get a run at the next hill. We usually ran with two drivers. and on one really steep curvy hill a guy would get in the rear vehicle and use its brakes. Once I was by myself. And I came to the dreaded hill. Pulled over and let the built up traffic pass by. and went back and stuck the rear vehicle in low gear. It was a stick and I had placed it in the rear on purpose. And that worked ok. Ive also pulled those stacks of semi trucks. Drive one and have three stacked up.
    nochop and Johnny Gee like this.
  4. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,234

    from Quincy, IL

    The figures above where the basis of my estimated combined weight of
    12,000 (6000 + 3000 +3000) up to 14,000 (6000 + 4000 +4000).

    I respect the very hard work and harsh conditions you describe in your post. I have also driven the Boston Mountains in W. Arkansas, several times, most recently about a year ago, so I have some idea of the terrain you dealt with. Also drove Hwy 67 from mid-Arkansas to St Louis occasionally from the late '60s until as recently as last year. As it also happens, during the late '60s thru mid '70s when I worked in the St Louis automobile market, I sold quite few used vehicles to used car dealers from Arkansas, some of whom owned tractor trailers and others flat owed. With absolutely no disrespect intended, some those practices you described are best left in the past and I am thankful that you were skilled enough to pull it off and survived to tell about it.

    You are correct in saying life is doubt about it. Seems to me though, that when we have a choice, risk management makes a lot of sense in tilting the odds in our favor.

    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
    Old wolf likes this.
  5. Ebbsspeed
    Joined: Nov 11, 2005
    Posts: 4,937


    I don't know of any automotive or trailer brakes that aren't.
  6. The road thru the Boston mountains is vastly improved from what it was like thirty years ago.
    Hnstray likes this.
  7. 4wd1936
    Joined: Mar 16, 2009
    Posts: 814

    from NY

    For a good read check out Smokeys' biography, that guy was something else, a real American treasure. It will have you shaking your head one moment and laughing your ass off the next. He talks about the early days of Nascar in depth and describes how they used to flat tow pretty much non-stop from Indiana to Florida to make a race at outrageous speeds. In the early 70s I did it all the time but not at speeds in that range. Getting the first trailer was quite a moment.
    Old wolf likes this.
  8. denis4x4
    Joined: Apr 23, 2005
    Posts: 3,421

    from Colorado

    The Zipper is set up to flat tow and I use it when I take a car in for service so my wife doesn’t have to pick me up or take me to the dealer. Tow bar folds up and comes in handy when something goes wrong on the road
    Hnstray and Old wolf like this.
  9. phat rat
    Joined: Mar 18, 2001
    Posts: 4,317

    phat rat

    For me it's a trailer no question about it. I use to flat tow a drag car back in the 60's but nowadays I'm usually hauling bodies or non ops. It always amazes me how many people are leery of pulling a trailer. In my searching for parts and such I've pulled my 34' bumper pull over 30K since 13. The only time I had a problem was the first trip and having a blowout. I thought I could get at least one trip out of the tires that were on it when I bought it. Boy was I wrong. As said keep up on the maintenance and it won't be breaking down.
  10. Bib Overalls
    Joined: Aug 3, 2001
    Posts: 4,069

    Bib Overalls

    I flat tow my 32 roadster all the time. I live in the Northeast corner of Arkansa and I have towed to the Lone Star roundup and a year ago I towed from Jonesboro to Branson Missouri and from there to Denton Texas (Pistons and Paint) and home. That is about 3,500 miles. The only thing you need to remember is you can not back up.
    Old wolf likes this.
  11. Sheep Dip
    Joined: Dec 29, 2010
    Posts: 1,572

    Sheep Dip
    from Central Ca

    I have carved up the mountain highways for over 30 years flat towing this OT with never an issue. IMG_0012.JPG
    Old wolf likes this.
  12. 1946caddy
    Joined: Dec 18, 2013
    Posts: 1,590

    from washington

    I bought a good running 76 Cadillac for the drive train and frame. I built a towbar and proceeded to disconnect all the wires, hoses, bolts and everything so the body could be removed. I towed the car down to the junk yard where they used a big forklift to lift the body of the frame. When I tried to drive away, the wheels would instantly lock one way of the other and I had to get a friend to come over with a trailer and tow the frame with the complete running gear. The weight of the body somehow allowed the car to be towed.
  13. HOTFR8
    Joined: Nov 30, 2010
    Posts: 2,082


  14. Sheep Dip
    Joined: Dec 29, 2010
    Posts: 1,572

    Sheep Dip
    from Central Ca

    Probably not enough weight to make the caster function as it should.
    Old wolf and Hnstray like this.
  15. I got to thinking. I flat towed two Pickups last year. I went to a estate auction at Bono Ar. and bought three OT Pickups. None had been ran in several years. first I flat towed a 75 ford 1/2 ton 4 wheel drive. no problems. Next I flat Towed a 86 chevy 2 wheel drive 3/4 ton. and the radial tires on the front blew out. one at Sedgwick Ar and the next a few miles down the road at Walnut ridge. I had spares so no biggie. The third was a 74 chevy 1/2 ton. It had a locked up rear end so I hauled it on my tilt top trailer. Got the Ford running and sold it for more than I have in all of them. Got the 3/4 running and am using it a bit. The 74 aint any good locked engine frozen trans and locked rear end. It appears to have been under water in the past. You cant win them all.
  16. I've flat towed thousands of miles with an old U-Haul tow bar and Harbor Freight tow lights.

    As noted heavy cars will push lighter ones around; cars with no engine usually will not follow on turns - the '64 Riviera I got a couple years ago I ended up tying off the wheel and just dragging it around corners so I didn't have to stop every turn and correct the steering.

    And they all want to behave differently, sometimes you get over a certain speed and they want to wander or sway side to side. On the other hand I towed one Hudson about 200 miles and it was like it wasn't even there, I could do 70 with it if I wanted.
    Old wolf likes this.
  17. model B 32
    Joined: Dec 11, 2009
    Posts: 45

    model B 32

    a question; 1986 Caprice with automatic transmission; I have to tow it 8 mls/ 12 km.
    Can I flat tow it at low speed without dismantling the drive-shaft ?
    As you can see, the 32 is still growing. 20181105_212418.jpg 20181106_083954.jpg DSC_5272123.jpg
  18. Phil P
    Joined: Jan 1, 2018
    Posts: 262

    Phil P

    You can but you risk doing damage to the transmission. It takes little time to disconnect the drive shaft. Phil
  19. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 16,919


    Check your local laws.

    In many jurisdictions, whatever you are towing has to be registered and insured, and road legal.
    Joined: Jan 13, 2004
    Posts: 2,758


    I flat tow my race car. It worked when I was 16 years old and still does ( I'm 72 now) I bought a set of tow hubs from Butch/56sedandelivery a couple of years ago and now I don't have to mess with the driveshaft. On the question of towing without taking the driveshaft out, I have done it a few times by putting 3 or 4 extra quarts of fluid in . I think the extra helps to keep lubrication on the clutches and keeps the heat down. Don't forget to drain it out before you drive it.
  21. model B 32
    Joined: Dec 11, 2009
    Posts: 45

    model B 32

    thank you for the advice.
  22. fiftyv8
    Joined: Mar 11, 2007
    Posts: 4,942

    from CO & WA

    I towed a Falcon Ranchero without an engine installed and as the front sat up higher than normal, when towed just locally the front shimmied and wobbled all over the place, just did not want to track correctly.
    Yet towing a old style 30's Ford chassis with or without engine or body it seems to run OK and tracked perfectly.
    I suspect it is all about IFS not sitting at ride height when total vehicle weight is in play.
  23. sunbeam
    Joined: Oct 22, 2010
    Posts: 4,686


    Cars with positive caster toe better. Back in the 60s a lot of race cars were flat towed if over 200 miles I would recommend dropping the drive shaft because of lack of main shaft lube. Loose road materal and it can get interesting.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2018
  24. I flat-tow my 52 GMC pickup behind my toterhome. GMC has a 700R4 auto, so not able to tow in neutral. So I put a Remco driveshaft disconnect, as that enables the rearend pinion to freewheel and not turn the driveshaft. I do have the tow bar mounts on the front bumper, look similar to what denis4x4 showed. With my truck being very low, those tow bar mounts are shin killers........

    I do have a brake buddy I put in, although my motorhome does not really need it, the law says I do. Truck tracks great and no issues towing at 70-75 mph. Just don't back up with tow bar, it does not work more than about 5 ft max, and that is straight back, not in a turning curve.
  25. Someone had a stolen rental tow bar years ago that everyone used. Just painted over the rental company name... any car I bought from '73 to '79 needed to be towed for some reason and I never had the $$ to have it done right, until I worked for a towing company. It was a little dicey at times in bad weather especially if the car being towed had no driver.. I flat towed my stock car one season and that was hairy at times even though I was 5 miles from the track. Get into a tight turn entering the pits and the stock car steering would jam up and need to be turned before it would move again. All I'll say is never again to flat towing. If we had a disabled car to get home, we would strap an old tire to the front of one car and push the dead car, much better than towing with a rope or tow bar. The last one I did was my brother's '75 Ford with a split radiator from Grumman to my house, about 21 miles.
  26. Fireball Five
    Joined: Oct 5, 2018
    Posts: 55

    Fireball Five

    When a man owns a trailer, he may only use it 1% of his time, However, He will work on the lights and wiring
    about 50 % of his time.
    Fireball 5
    Old wolf likes this.
  27. And that is why I do not lend my trailer out anymore. Sometimes I will use my truck and trailer for someone but the trailer doesn't go off by itself. I won't bore you with the horror stories.
  28. rwrj
    Joined: Jan 30, 2009
    Posts: 614

    from SW Ga

    I've done that with manual transmissions, too. Just fill them from the top with fluid to keep the main shaft lubricated, then drain it back down when you get there.
  29. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 9,937

    Atwater Mike

    Saw some 'racers' flat towing from Ely, Nev. toward salt recommended by Tow Car Operators' manual, engines in towed cars were idling, (neutral) although ONE was overheating with large clouds of steam...we warned operator of forward vehicle...he just waved us off.
    Money to burn, apparently...
  30. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 9,937

    Atwater Mike

    Eldest Son now has vehicle trailer, stores it ON ITS SIDE against East outer wall of shop. ON ITS SIDE.
    Common sense. Smart kid. :cool:

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