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Towing Heavy Trailers with an Eagle

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Towing Heavy Trailers with an Eagle
Tue Oct 14, 2008 1:54 pm


Folks, I am not trying to hog this forum. Rather, I am trying to get some content and discussion going.

Over the years, on several of the boards, the subject of towing heavy trailers (over 5,000 pounds by my definition) had been discussed many times.

I have posted my concerns several times, but refrained from specifically discussing towing with Eagles. When a person wants to tow a trailer with an Eagle, my anxiety level goes up another step.

Why? The big issue is that the bus structure was not designed to have large vertical loads (tongue weight). Couple that with the fact that our frames tend to develop iron oxide in copious amounts ;) and we have the makings of a potential disaster.

What am I trying to say? Well, a new Eagle with a well designed hitch could probably tow a trailer in excess of 10,000 pounds (1,000 pounds tongue weight). Lots of folks have done it with no problem.

However, there are horror stories of engine cradle tubing that was full of holes. I have heard folks comment that they were surprised that the engine did not fall out! Any trailer hitch will have to be hung off of the engine cradle structure system. Obviously, a weak engine cradle system will not do well with the huge dynamic loads that trailers produce.

So, if you plan to haul a big trailer, the very first thing you should do is to test the engine cradle tubing. You can use a pointed punch to make sure that it does not easily penetrate the tubing (test at the bottom of the tubing). Or you can drill a small hole an look at the tubing thickness (if the drill quickly penetrates the tubing, you have a problem!).

One of the solutions is to "double the tubing" in the engine cradle system (don't forget the rear down tubes since the roof structure supports the engine cradle). Doubling the tubing is fairly easy. You simply put a second piece of tube next to the existing tube and weld it securely to the existing tube and the terminating structure. If you do this you will quickly learn how the existing tubing has been compromised when doing the welding! I have pictures of how I did that on my Eagle on my project pages (see signature)

Another way around the issue is to use some sort of dolly. I have several listed at: http://www.rvsafetysystems.com/Trailer%20Towing.htm. I also have some additional thought documented there as well.

Jim
Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
'85 Eagle 10 with Series 60 & Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission - not at all fancy, but fully functional
Bus Project pages: http://beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
Blog: http://beltguy.com/blog/
Email: jim@eaglesinternational.net (Please email me rather than use the PM process)
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beltguy
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Jim good topic as I did intrnd on mounting a hitch to tow an enclosed car trailer and now that you brought up the subject , doubling the tubing in that area most definitly seems the thing to do.I can only imagine what could happen with out it should the cradle give out under the extra load.good topic.Van
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