Towing behind RV - Mercedes-Benz Forum
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#1 (permalink) Old 09-25-2008, 01:27 PM
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Towing behind RV

Here's our situation. We've bought an RV (actually a bookmobile that we're converting) so my wife can do some travel nursing. We need to bring another vehicle along, but can't drive it separate (else one of us would be left alone with one or two screaming kids, if we're all in the RV then I can drive and she can take care of them). We have a 2002 E320 RWD Wagon, and a 1985 300D (which is RWD too of course).

After much thought, we've decided the 300D will most likely be the car to be towed behind the RV. It's older, not worth as much (so if it fell off, transmission is destroyed, etc. we're not out as much $$$), and of course it's my car (the wagon is my wife's, of course she's more willing to risk my car).

Anyways...things aren't completely straightforward with this car. It's an automatic transmission, so can't just tow it 4-down and leave it in neutral. It's also a RWD so can't just use a car dolly and drive the front up on it. I could use a dolly and drive the rear up on it, but that's not optimal. For one, the steering wheel would have to be tied (can't rely just on the steering lock), plus it'd put more stress on the front wheels/suspension/etc. (I had the stabilizer bar break on one side, used a torsion bar saver, the way it's designed it only puts pressure on the welds when the front wheel is being pushed forward, which only happens when the car is traveling backwards...).

What I think I can do, is to tow it 4-down, in neutral, with the engine idling. I mean, it's a diesel, those can idle all day and night long right? It'd take a lot of gallons of diesel to pay for an alternative (transmission pumps, quick disconnects for the driveshaft, etc.). I can just put a wireless cam setup in the driver's seat so I can keep an eye on the RPM gauge. If the engine dies, I'll know in time to pull over and get it started back up.

I know someone will want to know what the owner's manual says. It states:

Quote:
The vehicle may be towed with all of the wheels on the ground and the selector lever in position "N" for distances up to 120 km / 75 miles and at a speed not to exceed 50km/h/ 30mph.

To positively avoid a possibility of damage to the transmission, however, we recommend to disconnect the drive shaft at the rear axle drive flange on any towing beyond a short tow to a nearby garage.
So, the manual does state that it could be towed a decent bit at low speeds. Am I correct in assuming that with the car idling it should be able to be towed at highway speeds (55-60mph) for much longer stretches (say, 300-400 miles at a stretch)? Am I also correct that letting the engine idle for extended periods of time won't be too bad for it?

Last question. I've been unable to find any towbars that will fit this specific car, or our other car for that matter. Does anyone have a towbar that connects to their W123 and if so, what did you use? Did you have to have the base plates custom made? Any help would be useful.

BTW, I know that ideally you'd just use a trailer. Problem with that is where do you store the trailer at the campground (or even in the hospital parking lot, as some do have RV hook-ups)? Towing 4-down is the next preferred method, followed by the car dolly (which you still have to store somewhere, plus your car isn't secured as well to it as to a towbar). Even if the only solution is to use a car dolly, I'll still probably want to tow it with the rear wheels on the ground, and thus need to know about just letting it idle the whole time.

Thanks!
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#2 (permalink) Old 09-25-2008, 01:37 PM
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Disconnect the drive shaft.
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#3 (permalink) Old 09-25-2008, 01:39 PM
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put a flat bed trailer behind the RV and put the 300D on the trailer. Thats really the only way to do it withouth hurting the tranny.

if he disconnected the DS then he would have to jack it up and attach it each time he wanted to drive it, im sure he wouldn't want to do that.

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'85 300D Turbo with 266,000 miles


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#4 (permalink) Old 09-25-2008, 01:53 PM
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put a flat bed trailer behind the RV and put the 300D on the trailer. Thats really the only way to do it withouth hurting the tranny.

if he disconnected the DS then he would have to jack it up and attach it each time he wanted to drive it, im sure he wouldn't want to do that.
I do appreciate your help (and your help with my previous threads), but like I said I just can't have a trailer. I know it's the best way to tow a car, but if you don't have a place to put the trailer at your destination, then there's no real use considering it. A dolly would be almost impossible to stow away too, but it may not be completely impossible. Towing 4-down would be the best way in this case, if it's doable (less stuff to have to stow away, and less chance of some straps breaking on a dolly and having your car become separated from you).
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#5 (permalink) Old 09-25-2008, 03:35 PM
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Wal-Mart is RV friendly, allows overnight parking. My Jeep club uses Wal-Marts all the time as 'trailer parking' We tow the Jeeps to the Wal-Mart nearest our destination and leave the tow vehicle and trailer there for the day, or overnight at times. In your case, just leaving the trailer should be fine too (with a hitch lock).

Is not that tough to find a place to leave a trailer for a bit.

Have '84 300D I bought new, 182,000 mi now.
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#6 (permalink) Old 09-25-2008, 03:46 PM
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Wal-Mart is RV friendly, allows overnight parking. My Jeep club uses Wal-Marts all the time as 'trailer parking' We tow the Jeeps to the Wal-Mart nearest our destination and leave the tow vehicle and trailer there for the day, or overnight at times. In your case, just leaving the trailer should be fine too (with a hitch lock).

Is not that tough to find a place to leave a trailer for a bit.
Ok, I guess we could just rent an extra spot at the campground. Maybe we can talk them down to $15-$20 a night for that spot since we won't be using any of the hookups, and since we'd be staying a minimum of 13 weeks. And if we stay in a hospital parking lot (again, wife's doing travel nursing, and some nurses can stay in the parking lot in their RV, if they have hookups) I'll make sure they allow an RV spot to be taken up by a trailer.

Failing that, does anyone know how to fit a towbar to a W123 car? And can a diesel idle for extended periods of time without blowing up? And will the engine idling provide enough lubrication to the automatic transmission to keep it from blowing up?
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#7 (permalink) Old 09-25-2008, 04:47 PM
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Ok, I guess we could just rent an extra spot at the campground.
In my limited camping experience, campgrounds usually have a place you could stash a trailer, probably for free, especially for a long term guest.

Have '84 300D I bought new, 182,000 mi now.
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#8 (permalink) Old 09-25-2008, 05:46 PM
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In my limited camping experience, campgrounds usually have a place you could stash a trailer, probably for free, especially for a long term guest.
I just don't think it'd work for us. A trailer would cost much more than a towbar or a dolly, unless one just falls into our lap. Some campgrounds may not let you store it for free. We might do some camping at state parks. And the ideal camping spot would be in the hospital parking lot. No commute time for my wife, just step out the door and you're there (plus there'd be no rent, might have to pay a little for electric, but still much cheaper than a campground). I just don't think a huge trailer would work in that situation. A trailer would be great in some situations, just not ours.

I do concede that a trailer is the best way to haul a car behind an RV, as far as the car's concerned. Unfortunately our car doesn't have much say. I want to tow this car 4-down. Failing that, I'd like to tow it on a dolly with the front wheels on the dolly (I'm concerned about stress on the front part of the car if I towed it with the rear wheels on the dolly). Failing THAT, I take the scooter. My wife will not be pleased. On the upside, when she kicks me out of the house I could just stay in the RV.
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#9 (permalink) Old 09-25-2008, 06:00 PM
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You could just go buy one of these RV's and problem solved


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#10 (permalink) Old 09-25-2008, 06:12 PM
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I just don't think [a trailer would] work for us.
In that case, I would scrap towing the 123 and get something small, cheap, with a manual trans. If you or the wife can't drive a standard trans, it's a perfect way to learn.

Have '84 300D I bought new, 182,000 mi now.
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