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Post Info TOPIC: Towing in the Mountains, Help!


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Towing in the Mountains, Help!


 


We searched diligently before the first time we towed in the mountains, and we found very little information.

We made a YouTube video about what we learned, but we truly want more information. If you have suggestions or ideas, please leave comments.



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TwoTiredTeachers


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Always start down one gear lower than what you used for the climb. Easier to up shift when coming down than it is to down shift. Stop at the top of the pass, if possible, and give yourself a break. If you have a diesel truck, consider adding an exhaust brake. Worth every penny coming down long high passes.

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Thanks so much for the suggestion.  We tow with a Ram 2500 that runs on gas.   No one had mentioned shifting up.



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TwoTiredTeachers


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Also use sporadic braking when going down mountain passes.  Sporadic braking is reaching a point of speed at which one wants to brake and applying the brakes to slow ones speed down by 10 or 15 mph and then let up off of the brakes.  When the rig then reaches that point of speed going down the pass, repeat and then let off.  That allows one's brakes to not be applied all that often or for all that long, thus not overheating.

Terry



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Good advice.  Will include that in the comments section of the video.



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TwoTiredTeachers


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I disagree with your video advice regarding "alternate" braking. Trailer brakes are for stopping the trailer. Trailer brakes alone should never be asked to slow or stop both units.

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When going downhill and you are in tow/haul you mentioned that the engine will rev up. That is true as engine back pressure is used to help slow you down, but remember, keep an eye on your RPM's and do not exceed the redline. If you are approaching redline, use your brakes to slow everything down (use the technique Terry suggested).  Go slow (less than 50 mph) when going downhill, just put on your 4 way flashers and stay in the slow lane. When you buy a new truck, get a diesel. They are a much better towing vehicle. They have more power at lower RPM's, so they are less stressful to drive. Since 2015, all the big 3 have an effective exhaust brake, which is very helpful going downhill.



-- Edited by RonC on Monday 17th of April 2017 04:15:19 PM

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Larry, all we knew in the video was advice we'd been given by others.  Using the trailer brakes was one of those pieces of advice.  Do you recommend going with what Terry and Jo and Barbaraok have suggested?



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TwoTiredTeachers


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Thanks, Ron.  We'll keep an eye on the RPMs.



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TwoTiredTeachers


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Yes, i use sporadic braking and downshifting but I am not an expert and therefore don't recommend braking techniques. I commented on your alternate braking advice only because I had never heard that idea expressed by anyone I believe knowledgable including Winnebago. In fact Winnebago recommends against it.

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Thanks, Larry.  Like I said, we basically know nothing except what others have told us.  I appreciate your help.



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TwoTiredTeachers


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All advice given, so far, is good.

Just to add a little clarification to the sporadic breaking technique ... when applying the brakes, don't be too gentle.  You want to be fairly aggressive to slow down to your lower speed in as short a period of time as you can WITHOUT locking up the brakes. If in slippery conditions be less aggressive with the brakes and be very careful with this technique.  If you are too gentle you will cause the brakes to heat up more than if you are a little more aggressive.

To give an example: let's say you've chosen to go down the mountain at 45 mph in 2nd gear, the rig will probably gain speed so allow it to rise up to 50 mph (assuming this does not exceed rpm redline) then firmly brake down to 40 mph.  Allow the speed to gradually rise again until it gets to 50 mph, then repeat the process.  You can pick the speed you feel is safe and the gear that works best for your set up.  The speeds and gear that I used are not suggestions, I only used them to explain the technique of sporadic braking.

Slower is always better.  Old saying is you can go down the mountain too slow many times, but you can go down the mountain too fast only once.

Be Safe.



-- Edited by RonC on Thursday 20th of April 2017 09:45:36 AM

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We simply engage Jake brake and relax. The advantage of a hdt

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Glenn West, you diesel owners have that advantage. However, with GM's grade braking system we gasoline people have something similar.

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Larry,
Grade Braking is marketing talk for downshifting. Glenn's HDT has a jake brake that is very powerful ... whole different beast. The newer diesel pickups have Grade Shifting and an Exhaust Brake ... not as effective as the jake break, but pretty good. The best weapon in your "down the mountain" arsenal is judgement ... which allows you to pick a safe manageable speed. This is different for most everybody because it is a combination of the grade, length of the grade, weight of the rig, equipment on the rig, and finally experience. I learned to drive in the mountains by doing it and being very conservative in my approach to downhills. I tend to be one of those 40 mph guys with the 4 way flashers going.



-- Edited by RonC on Thursday 27th of April 2017 12:50:03 PM

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2017 K-Z Durango Gold 381REF (41 ft, 5 slides), MORryde IS, 8K Disc brakes, GY G114  LR H Tires, 26,890 lbs CGVW

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With you going 40 mph downhill, RonC, we will be neck and neck all the way to the flats. Then I set the cruise at 55...complies with CA law and let's me see the country.



-- Edited by LarryW21 on Friday 21st of April 2017 02:34:22 PM

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That sounds like a very good plan😀



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2016 Ford F350, King Ranch, DRW, 3.73's, 4x4, CC, 6.7 Powerstroke, remote control air lift system

2017 K-Z Durango Gold 381REF (41 ft, 5 slides), MORryde IS, 8K Disc brakes, GY G114  LR H Tires, 26,890 lbs CGVW

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So, this is an innocent question, say I choose to go down at 40 mph with four way flashing and the next thing I see is a tractor trailer right behind me wanting to do 55 mph. On a four lane no problem he can pass, but on a two lane that semi looks a bit intimidating. Should I always assume (within reason) that the semi behind has the equipment and knowledge to keep it at 40 mph behind me?

...and thanks Two Tired Teachers, I found your video quite informative.  Hope to see more.

 



-- Edited by Dave and Denise on Wednesday 26th of April 2017 09:00:11 AM

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I believe that the semi has both the equipment and knowledge. Having the will and judgement is a completely different question.

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2016 Ford F350, King Ranch, DRW, 3.73's, 4x4, CC, 6.7 Powerstroke, remote control air lift system

2017 K-Z Durango Gold 381REF (41 ft, 5 slides), MORryde IS, 8K Disc brakes, GY G114  LR H Tires, 26,890 lbs CGVW

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Just to add levity to the subject...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjGXn249Fc0

 



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Dave and Denise-

IMHO you drive your RV and let the 18 wheeler driver drive his/her's. On the other hand if you are continually passed by 18 wheelers and highway signs are not saying you are going too fast, you may well be going too slow. Learned that lesson on a snowy day in Texas headed for Ft. Benning at age 21. As a shavetail, that's what I was supposed to do...learn.



-- Edited by LarryW21 on Wednesday 26th of April 2017 06:32:45 PM

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Thank you all for the valuable information.  Because you have offered such great information, I want to show you the follow-up video with the summary tips we added in the comments section.

First the summary:

A followup to our "How to Tow in Mountains" video. This includes information & suggestions offered on various forums. Thanks to everyone who contributed.

#1 Stay within all tow ratings
#2 Make sure your brakes are in good condition
#3 Please correctly adjust your TTs brakes to match TVs, don't forget this is number one cause of brake fade.
#4 Descend a hill in the same gear you used to climb it and start out slow from top.
#5 Stop at the top of a long downgrade and do a quick walk around, you'll notice most loaded truckers do this. (Check all connections and tire pressure and any unusual smells) great time to stretch your legs.
#6 Going down slowly is going to cover for most any weakness in your system. Brakes seldom get hot if the driver goes down slowly​.

Take it slow and everything it's usually fine.

 



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TwoTiredTeachers


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Dave and Denise wrote:

Should I always assume (within reason) that the semi behind has the equipment and knowledge to keep it at 40 mph behind me?

-- Edited by Dave and Denise on Wednesday 26th of April 2017 09:00:11 AM


 I think that would be a poor assumption. It would be great assuming he's competent, not overloaded, and doesn't either have a mechanical issue or has overheated his brakes from improperly using them. Most truckers are competent in my experience…but mechanical or loading issues are frequently beyond his control. 

If a truck was catching up to me on the way downhill on a 2 lane I would try to speed up some if I could. On a 4 lane I would move to the left and get out of its way.



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I would never speed up going downhill. I'm going at the speed I've determined is safe for my rig. And I would never pull into the left lane, that's the passing lane. If a truck needs to pause me on a 4 lane, he's free to use the passing lane.

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In almost 3 years of full time RVing, we have towed down a number of steep grades. Very rarely do we have reason to be concerned about the tractor trailers (they are normally courteous, leave sufficient distance, and pass on the left). A bigger concern has been other RVs (both motorhomes and trucks towing trailers). We see many RVs coming down steep grades in the fast lane at fairly high speed (at least compared to us), trailing the car in front of them at a close distance (with toad or trailer bouncing behind them). We will slow down a little more, to try and put distance between us. You just never know if they have good brakes, if they have too much trailer for their truck, or if they have the skills to stop quickly and safely.

The recommendations above have worked well for us. The engine brake and gears, are a great combination to keep a Rig under control.

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