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KeystoneMotorsports

Manual Hubs and Dollys

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So im looking for a different way to tow the pathy. I have access to a 20ft deckover which is my current tow configuration, but I want an easier and lower way to tow. 

 

I was recently presented the opportunity to buy a dolly for pennies. Now being as the pathy is 4x4 and automatic, you cant pull it as is (even with both in neutral), but you can if the rear driveshaft is removed.

 

Now I've searched more than i care for and I'm assuming my answer was probably lost.

 

Can I tow this thing on a dolly backwards if i install manual hubs? Since manual hubs disconnect the cv axle from the hub, in theory it should be possible.

 

It's about a 40mi commute, some can be done on interstate but it can be done on mostly 55mph primary and some secondary roads.

 

Someone please help me thru the bs and see if it's something I can do.

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And even if you pull the driveshaft, you’d still need a splined yoke to keep the fluid from draining out the rear output. 
 

Towing backwards on a dolly with manual hubs...I don’t see a problem with that. Should work out pretty well, actually.

Edited by hawairish
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I have manual hubs on my Pathfinder, and I have had it towed backwards (by a tow truck) before without any issues. You just need to be sure to lock the steering wheel and install magnetic tail lights on the hood of the Pathfinder while it's being towed.

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Biggest problem I see is that when I used a dolly to tow cars, you needed to have the front wheels on the dolly with the steering unlocked so you could turn around corners without having binding issues. That said the dolly's I used had no or limited pivot between the frame and wheel plates. 

 

It is only 4 nuts and bolts to undo at the pinion flange on the rear axle, then just tie the driveline up to the bottom of the car, you don't have to completely remove the driveline. 

 

How much towing are you planning for this car? If it is a lot, a trailer is the best option just to reduce wear on the car and if a tire fails, less damage is likely. 

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11 hours ago, Mr_Reverse said:

Biggest problem I see is that when I used a dolly to tow cars, you needed to have the front wheels on the dolly with the steering unlocked so you could turn around corners without having binding issues. That said the dolly's I used had no or limited pivot between the frame and wheel plates. 

 

It is only 4 nuts and bolts to undo at the pinion flange on the rear axle, then just tie the driveline up to the bottom of the car, you don't have to completely remove the driveline. 

 

How much towing are you planning for this car? If it is a lot, a trailer is the best option just to reduce wear on the car and if a tire fails, less damage is likely. 

 

This is a Stehl dolly with the limited pivot. It does need rewired so if I were to purchase, I would add another plug off the fender for magnetic lighting.

Tow distance is ~40 miles each way, from where I live to where I ride. 55mph roads but lots of slow areas too as its mostly through mountain areas. Towed twice a month at the absolute most.

I did break the flange loose at the rear with some heat and smothered it in that silver stuff that gets everywhere and takes a week to get out from your skin. So it can be done in a parking lot, I just dont really wanna do it after its covered in mud and coal slag. Although i guess at that point, im not really saving time disconnecting a driveshaft over running chains everywhere. Thats why I didnt know if with hubs it could be done. Ive never dolly towed anything, just on trailers.

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Crawling around to disconnect and reconnect the driveshaft would suck, even on dry surface.  You'd also need to make sure no one, including yourself, decides to start the truck and put it in gear when it's disconnected.  That'll make for a bad day.

 

Doing some additional light reading into the topic, though, I'm going to have to retract my prior opinion.  The locked vs. unlocked steering got me thinking...it seems doable, but potentially unsafe.  Compelling arguments read about included:

  • Locked wheels being a slight angle, causing the vehicle to be towed crooked.
  • The steering wheel lock being damaged.
  • Unlocked wheels being able to turn left or right, causing fishtailing.
  • Steering and suspension components being designed primarily for forward motion, not reverse.
  • U-Haul having specific warnings to never to a car backwards on a dollly: https://www.uhaul.com/Articles/Tips/120/Tow-Dolly-User-Instructions/
Quote

The vehicle-in-tow must be loaded facing forward (front wheels on tow dolly). Loading the vehicle-in-tow backwards can cause the tow vehicle and tow dolly “combination”  to begin WHIPPING, which is violent and uncontrollable sway.

 

So, given that, while it seems mechanically possible to do what's proposed, I'd say it's advised not to...which leaves disconnecting the driveshaft as the winning option.  Carry a blanket to throw on the ground, and some big warning flag to throw on the steering wheel to prevent starting (perhaps in addition to disconnecting the battery once it's on the dolly).

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My 93 Pathfinder is very unhappy on the street, though due to life events has spent most of the last year as my daily driver. That said, it has been driven to and from all trails it has run since I bought it 22 years ago. Used to do annual trips to Moab for vacation in better days, though those were only about 300 miles each way. If your ride is a trail only machine, that is another reason for a trailer to transport it. That way getting home when something serious breaks is a lot easier. A small tandem axle flat bed can be found for not too much money and will be much more practical than a dolly or flat towing. However that is just one old guys opinion and we all know about opinions. 

 

To me, manual hubs were a no-brainer, but my truck came with autos. Yours has the drive flanges that are bullet proof, but sometimes being able to detach the front wheels from the drivetrain has advantages. I do recall a few years ago when I worked at my local Nissan dealership a customer had an Xterra that was set up to be towed. He had a rear drive shaft disconnect at the rear axle that all he had to do was pull a lever to disconnect the axle from the driveshaft. Perhaps look into something like that. 

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https://www.remcodsc.com/coupling/

 

I'd never heard of such a thing, and now seeing it, I'm completely intrigued.  A very neat concept...but something about trying to attach a contraption to the snout of an H233B just doesn't sit well with me...it's such an irregular shape, but I see how notching some of the ribs would help.  I think I'd just be content reaching under and flipping the collar by hand, but I'd really love to see something like that in person.  That'd surely simplify towing, although it looks like a pretty expensive option between the kit and driveshaft modification.

 

Since it uses Dana 1310-series u-joints, just need to find an outside-clip flange yoke for the H233B.  I think all the R50s used some non-standard inside-clip u-joint, but there's a 1310 OE unit; just used one the other week for my H190A-->H233B swap.  I wrote down the Spicer p/n for it somewhere, and I think it's still available new.

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I worked on a Chevy Tracker with one of those driveshaft disconnects a while ago. It was a toad (towed behind an RV, though it did also somewhat resemble a toad). Seemed fine for that purpose, but I'm not sure how far I'd trust it off-road, because all the moving parts were exposed to the elements. Shouldn't be an issue on the highway, but I wouldn't bet on its longevity if you added mud, snow, sand, and low-range to the list of things it had to deal with.

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Thanks for the input guys. I might still buy that dolly, unsure of yet, but I think I will save myself the hassle and just keep transporting it on the deckover. Too many what-ifs involved trying to make it work. Maybe I will get lucky and find a cheaper used car trailer and try to get that lower center of gravity im looking for.

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