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Author Topic: Flat Towing  (Read 329 times)

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Offline DanaD

Flat Towing
« on: September 22, 2019, 11:09:52 PM »
I have read all the post I can find on flat towing. There are several places I would like to take my CJ3A but the Interstate is the best way to get there. I don't like driving the interstate in the jeep but would not mind towing it at 50-55mph

I am only talking about a hour each way.

Has anyone tow with the jeep backwards on a tow dolly ? With the hubs unlocked, steering wheel tied off nothing should spin but the front wheels. I know I can remove the back drive shaft and tow it frontwards but I don't like taking the driveshaft off and putting it back on that often.

I have been looking for a trailer I can afford but don't really have a place to keep one and am just looking at different options and a dolly takes up less space.

Offline SteveKfl

Re: Flat Towing
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2019, 07:14:47 AM »
I fabricated a simple "driveshaft park bracket" for flat towing.  It is mounted to the cross member next to the driveshaft during normal operations.  No interference to the travel of suspension.  I take the four nuts off the yokes, move the shaft over to the bracket, use the yokes and nuts to hold the shaft and bearing cups together in one place.  Easy access and everything stays ready to go back to work at destination.  I've heard some horror stories of gear shifts popping into gear during flat-towing.  As far as "backwards towing", remember, you'll be putting a lot of "50-55MPH air force" against the normal direction of the windshield holding brackets, so should probably "drop it" and secure it too... IMO.  A soft-top may create a whole different but similar set of concerns too.  My DJ is 2WD so a second bracket could be used for the front shaft as well for CJs.  That's my $.02.
My Concept Roadster
62 DJ3A Dispatcher Half Top

Offline Rus Curtis

Re: Flat Towing
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2019, 11:59:46 AM »
My experience is when my jeep was, "new to me," flat towing was all I had available (late '70's).  I'd break down and then need a tow home or a repair was needed that I didn't understand/ couldn't perform so a flat tow to the garage was needed.  We didn't use a safety chain so I stayed in the jeep during flat tow - in case the hitch popped off (plus the steering didn't track too well on sharp turns).  I've learned since then.  Regardless of what you tow or how you tow it, make sure you have a chain!  There are horror stories where things come off and become an uncontrollable projectile on its own path!  Think about that when your closure rate with on-coming traffic is near 100mph.

IF you only go 55 mph, I suspect flat towing will be fine.  It is within the speed limits of the jeep (that posted 60mph limit is with gears and engine engaged).  The problem is, I've noticed when towing a trailer on the highway, I look down at the speedometer and I'm up to 75 mph.  While it's been done, I don't think that would be wise while flat towing.  The bearings could handle it.  The differential gears could handle it (assuming of course that maintenance is up to speed and parts are within specs, i.e. not dry, loose, etc).  I'm not sure about the transmission/transfer case gears spinning that fast though.  The output shaft "should be" the only thing turning.  From my limited experience, I can't imagine the transfer case dropping into gear on its own but I suppose it's possible. 

A dolly is okay (I've used one) but now prefer a dual axle trailer.  I think I'd load any vehicle forwards on a dolly unless there was a mechanical reason not to do it that way..  I would probably also tow with the w/s down regardless of direction.
'54 CJ-3B "Green Gruntt"
Bantam T3-C

Offline aboyandhisdog

Re: Flat Towing
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2019, 01:50:15 PM »
I've been flat towing for about 10 years.  I used to always disconnect the rear driveshaft at the diff., wrap the U-joint caps with black tape, put a sock and a bag over the end, and hang it up with a small chain or strap to the tub.  I drilled  small hole in the tub and installed an eyebolt and then just clipped the chain to the eye bolt with an S-biner.  I made it as easy and painless as I possibly could.

I also used a tow dolly a few times, but the above procedure was still necessary and the dolly just added another layer of complication.  I never tried your proposed "backwards method" but don't see why it wouldn't work and it would eliminate the need to disconnect the driveshaft.  It may increase wear in your steering however. 

Some guys will tell you they have flat towed all over the country without disconnecting the driveshaft (trans in neutral of course)  and I don't doubt this, but it just never felt right to me and will certainly add wear to the drive line.

So a couple of years ago I bought a full floater axle kit from Herm so that I could install locking hubs on the rears.  Problem solved!  No more laying in the dirt and cactus connecting and disconnecting the drive shaft, plus I can drive it in an instant.  The used axle kits were about $800 as I recall, and then the cost of the hubs.   

I still prefer flat towing.  The truck handles well with the jeep back there, there is much less weight than a trailer and you don 't have the added complications or hooking up or with a top-heavy trailer behind your TV.   Backing up short distances is possible, but you can't back up like you can with a trailer.  That is the only downside that I have found.

Offline Bob W

Re: Flat Towing
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2019, 08:57:41 PM »
When flat towing it is important to put the transfer case in neutral. In neutral the output shaft and gears are spinning and providing lubrication for the transfer case. With the transfer case in neutral the transmission gears are not turning. This is important since transmission lubrication is supplied by the cluster gear turning and slinging up the oil. When the engine is not running the cluster gear won't be moving.
Bob W

Offline DanaD

Re: Flat Towing
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2019, 09:31:46 PM »
Thanks for all the replies, I will look into the full floater axle kit.

The price would be about the same as buying a trailer but I would not the upkeep-tag and storage problem.

Thanks for the feed back. It gives me some more options to think about.