Stop me if you've heard this before.....

Stop me if you've heard this before.....

Postby Astrofarian [OP] » July 8th 2016, 12:36pm

Okay, here's a head-scratcher. Let's suppose you were going to flat-tow a vehicle by using a tow-bar attached to the front bumper. Anyone who's done this using a RWD A/S van knows how much power and fuel economy you lose when you're towing another Astro or Safari. But if the towed vehicle is mechanically intact and running could it be towed while running in DRIVE? I'm thinking for starters that you wouldn't need to remove the driveshaft for one thing and you would have the towed vehicle's charging system active to operate the hazard flashers as well as POSSIBLY easing the load on the power steering by having that system active as well.
Any thoughts, anyone? I'm mainly concerned about the towed vehicle's transmission; is this likely to fry something inside an auto trans?
I'm guessing that the LAW may have something to say about this but I'm mainly curious from a hypothetical standpoint. I can't see myself relying on a 2" trailer ball and some wimpy "safety chains" to restrain a potentially driverless projectile on an open public roadway. So any LEOs/Prosecutors out there rest easy, nukay?
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Re: Stop me if you've heard this before.....

Postby Sailing_Faith » July 8th 2016, 2:52pm

I think you hit it on the head with the "driverless vehicle" part... But I doubt the idling motor would add anything noticible anyway. Yes, you would get charging, but unless you are driving across the country, your battery can handle that anyway.

If you had to try something (like in a zombie apocolipse or something) I would think you would need to remotely controll the throttle to make it work.... Please don't try this, I am gonna have night mares thinking about following you on a twisty road!

Of course, the time you would most need it was going up steep hills... The most dangerous time. If you had too much throttle for even half a second you could / would jack-knife and have a profoundly bad day!
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Re: Stop me if you've heard this before.....

Postby Sailing_Faith » July 8th 2016, 2:54pm

Where are you going from and to? Maybe someone from the forum could help you?
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Re: Stop me if you've heard this before.....

Postby AstroWill » July 8th 2016, 4:17pm

Astrofarian wrote:But if the towed vehicle is mechanically intact and running could it be towed while running in DRIVE? I'm thinking for starters that you wouldn't need to remove the driveshaft for one thing and you would have the towed vehicle's charging system active to operate the hazard flashers as well as POSSIBLY easing the load on the power steering by having that system active as well.


I have seen people flat tow with the engine running and the vehicle in neutral quite a bit. This would eliminate the transmission running dry problem, so yes you would not have to disconnect the driveshaft. Would I want to risk ruining the transmission in case the towed vehicle had a problem and shut off while driving? No, I would disconnect the driveshaft to ensure no nasty surprises.

Hazard flashers on the towed vehicle, get a $10-20 set of magnetic tow lights and be done with it.

You would get no real benefit with the towed vehicle in drive and it would be quite the hazard if you did. The brakes on the Astro are marginal for the weight as it is, but then to add a possible runaway vehicle behind it would be insane.

Of course the best way to tow an Astro would be a proper tow vehicle and a trailer, but we all know that already.

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Re: Stop me if you've heard this before.....

Postby Meterpig » July 9th 2016, 7:03am

If you do pull the drive shaft, keep in mind the rear part helps keep the transmission fluid-in the transmission.
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Re: Stop me if you've heard this before.....

Postby Astrofarian [OP] » July 9th 2016, 12:21pm

Sailing_Faith wrote:Where are you going from and to? Maybe someone from the forum could help you?


don't have any immediate towing needs/plans. I was mainly thinking out loud for future reference as I seem to have good luck scoring vehicles on tender sales when they are located in places where no one wants to travel to get them. Insurance write offs mainly. Like the 95 that was 450 miles from here. Paid $5.00 for the van just to get it off the insurance company's books. But cost me $250 in fuel, 3 tires and a windshield (PLUS a motel room) to go get the damned thing off of a northern reservation. But what an adventure, lol.
GenII vans seem to be the easiest to rig for towing; take the bumper cover off the front, drill 2 holes in the steel bumper with a Unibit, bolt on the tow bar brackets and pull it up onto ramps to get the driveshaft off. Supposedly when a vehicle is surrendered after being totalled it's complete but people always seem to keep the battery for their next heap.
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Re: Stop me if you've heard this before.....

Postby Astrofarian [OP] » July 9th 2016, 12:24pm

Meterpig wrote:If you do pull the drive shaft, keep in mind the rear part helps keep the transmission fluid-in the transmission.

You 2002 must be different from the vans I've owned; on all of them, the transmission yoke was at the FRONT end of the driveshaft! :rofl: :cheers:
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Re: Stop me if you've heard this before.....

Postby PaulyFL » July 18th 2016, 2:01am

Used to flat tow with my dad a lot when I was a kid. Only difference was we were usually towing VW air cooled units and we were towing them with a 73 Ford County Squire wagon with a 429cu in it!

It was fun for me as I got to sit in the VW to make sure it did not jump into gear! They would throw you in jail for that today.

Oh, and we never had the engine running.

Sounds like somebody needs a friend with a flat bed trailer
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Re: Stop me if you've heard this before.....

Postby Astrofarian [OP] » July 21st 2016, 5:23pm

No, lol, no plans to ride in a towed vehicle that I have no control over. My main thing with tow-bar hauling is that IMHO it's marginally more efficient than trailering because I'm only hauling the payload and not a big horking trailer. Many times I go to auctions that are hours from here and don't know what, if anything, I may end up buying. I can't justify hauling a 28ft tandem trailer both ways empty if all I buy is a differential or a set of wheels that fit inside the van. My $100 tow bar has saved the day more times than I can recall just by being folded up under the back seat. As long as my new-found "treasures" have 4 half-decent tires and undamaged steering and suspension components then I'm good to go. And pulling into a rural filling station pulling an Astro train usually starts conversations that reveal the locations of more hidden treasures. People are amazed at how universal the parts are from year to year on these vans and always seem to fondly recall an A/S van somewhere in their past. And sometimes, where it went to die and who to contact about it. Trailers and dollies have their place but the vans I'm interested in grabbing can almost always be flat-towed. Just sayin......
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Re: Stop me if you've heard this before.....

Postby tedanderson » July 24th 2016, 10:27pm

If you decide to put it in gear while towing it, at least I'd figure out some kind of way to remotely kill the engine. You could probably run a 14 AWG 2-conductor wire out of the hood of the towed van and into the back door of the one you're driving all the way up to the front seats and then have a toggle switch that wires inline with the ignition coil or the ignition switch. That way if you find yourself going down hill on a slippery rain soaked surface, the van isn't pushing you downhill.

Reading your idea made me think of the time I crashed my van into a tree. It was idling kind of high and the rear brakes weren't grabbing that well so the only way I could safely stop on a wet surface was to shift to neutral and get all of that extra power off of the rear wheels. My situation happened so quickly that I didn't have time to shift to neutral and my only inclination was to slam on the brakes. The front locked up while the back kept pushing.

So given that scenario, I imagine that if you went over some wet leaves or something and you attempted to slow down while someone was stopped in the middle of a 2 lane road, the towed van will probably want to keep pushing.
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Re: Stop me if you've heard this before.....

Postby markmitch » July 24th 2016, 11:15pm

do what they did on mythbusters take someone with you to use a remote control on the towed vehicle. lol probably cost more to do it that way though.
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Re: Stop me if you've heard this before.....

Postby Astrofarian [OP] » July 25th 2016, 2:56am

markmitch wrote:do what they did on mythbusters take someone with you to use a remote control on the towed vehicle. lol probably cost more to do it that way though.


...Because if they did it on Mythbusters, it MUST be valid, right?

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Re: Stop me if you've heard this before.....

Postby chevymaher » July 25th 2016, 3:24am

Astrofarian wrote:
markmitch wrote:do what they did on mythbusters take someone with you to use a remote control on the towed vehicle. lol probably cost more to do it that way though.


...Because if they did it on Mythbusters, it MUST be valid, right?

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It must be true I saw it on the internet.
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