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#1433449 Tue Dec 14 2021 12:56 AM
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,052
Leo Offline OP
The thread asking about towing got me to thinking about some of my past experiences. It used to be about saving a few dollars and being young and foolish. It was still legal to simply pull the vehicle with a chain or even a rope as long as you stayed off the big freeways.
My college roommate purchased a 1946 Power Wagon that had been sitting out for many years. It was a cool truck but it wouldn't run and the brakes were poor, at best. Our tow vehicle was a 1957 Pontiac that was almost 20 years old then. It was also less than half the weight of the Power Wagon. I towed, my buddy simply steered. We kept the chain short to avoid a hard hit from behind. We went home, about 15 miles, no damage other than a broken tail light. You couldn't pay me enough to do this today.

Leo #1433456 Tue Dec 14 2021 02:04 AM
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 24,750
Kettle Custodian (pot stirrer)
Running the chain through a piece of steel pipe was the favorite way to tow a "no brake" vehicle without running it into the guy in front. It still required somebody to steer the towed vehicle, and sometimes they took an exciting ride if the chain broke. I actually steered a broken-down 3-axle Freightliner all the way from the central San Joaquin valley to Los Angeles that way- - - - -around 300 miles. We did have an air line stretched between the two vehicles along with the tow chain, so the air brakes on the dead rig worked!

Back when vehicles actually had bumpers, we preferred to push rather than tow the ones with good steering and brakes for short distances- - - - - -with an old tire tied to the front bumper of the push rig as a cushion!

"Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose"
Kris Kristofferson

Cringe and wail in fear, Eloi- - - - -we Morlocks are on the hunt!

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.
Ernest Hemingway

Leo #1433468 Tue Dec 14 2021 03:45 AM
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 15,898
My dad taught me the chain thru the pipe when i was just a kid .....and had me steering. I'll never forget that first day "driving"!

1937 Chevy Pickup []

1952 Chevy Panel []
1952 Chevy Panel []

1950 Chevy Coupe

I'd rather walk and carry a Chevy hub cap than ride in a Ferd.
I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you smile
Leo #1433480 Tue Dec 14 2021 06:03 AM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 5,638
Housekeeping (Moderator) Making a Stovebolt Bed & Paint and Body Shop Forums
I was involved in towing a dead VW bus with a slightly modded (V8 Engine) Jeep Station Wagon back in the late 60's from South of Ensenada back to the Santa Barbara area. What we did was lash two old tires between the bumpers in a "V" shape. Kind of a poor man's tow bar. Worked well for that ~400 mile trip. We had someone riding in the VW the whole trip to "steer" but he didn't even need to touch the wheel.

Newest Project - 51 Chevy 3100 work truck. Photos []
#2 - '29 Ford pickup restored from the ground up.
First car '29 Ford Special Coupe
Busting rust since the mid-60's
Leo #1433492 Tue Dec 14 2021 02:37 PM
Joined: Sep 2013
Posts: 1,421
One of the scarier things I've experienced was being towed behind a bud's pickup with a long chain. Back in the mid '70s the Duster in my tagline was running 12's at 105 thru the quarter. It was pretty quick for a street car at that point in time. Well one hot summer day Jim (a loyal Chevy guy who always gave me grief over driving a Mopar) was riding shotgun a few miles from his house. He made some derogatory comment about NoPower cars as we were pulling out on a narrow two lane highway. Nothing to do but petal to the metal, power shift 2nd, hit third.....front driveshaft yoke breaks. Driveshift starts digging into the road. Car winds up in the woods sitting sideways against a tree, luckliy no major damage.

Pride, pride was damaged and for some reason friend was mad about almost dying (his words as I recall). The front motor mounts broke allowing the engine to shift causing the distributor cap to shatter.

We walked the mile or so back to his house, got his truck and a 20' chain, pulled the Duster out and he starts towing me home. The scary part was the last 5 miles to my house was gravel with lots of curves. The road still today is only 20' wide in many places.

Mad Jim decided to take me on a ride and his 6 cylinder Chevy pulled us about as fast as possible while we were on gravel. No amount of horn blowing or brake would slow us down. It was like being on the end of whip (or so it seemed) for 5 miles. Although I did get in the ditch, no problem since he pulled us out (likely only going 40 or 50mph, seemed like 100).

When we did get home I was the one mad, he thought it was hilarious. It did take a while for me to laugh it off. Now when our paths cross it's good for a laugh as stories just get bigger and better.

1951 3600 with Clark flatbed, T5, 4.10 rear
1970 340 Duster
1990 5.0 V8 Miata (1990 Mustang Gt Drivetrain)
1951 Farmall Super A

Leo #1433498 Tue Dec 14 2021 03:18 PM
Joined: Nov 1995
Posts: 5,481
Unrepentant VW Lover
Here's mine from back in the "early days" of my hauling.

Before the trucks, there was the muscle car -- the 1970 Malibu convertible (with a performance built 350 and a Chevelle SS hood and paintjob). I had stored it in my parents' barn in Maine while I was stationed in Okinawa for three years. When we came home (ordered to Ft Benjamin Harrison in Indiana), I drove up to Maine in our new S-10 Blazer 4-door (whopping 4.2L and a manual trans). I loaded the Blazer with other things I had stored, and I started out for Indy with the car on a tow dolly behind the S-10 (didn't have a receiver hitch, just the bumper ball ...). I did know enough to drop the driveshaft. I checked tires and greased things. Even checked the oil in the diff. I did everything right ... Except ... I had the wrong tow vehicle. I'm pretty sure the car outweighed the S-10 by a significant margin. I had done lots of flat towing of VW's on tow bars behind that S-10 so I figured the Malibu on the dolly would be similar, just a touch (A touch????) heavier. Well ... I would very soon be divested of THAT erroneous notion.

All went reasonably well... until we were on I-90 heading west somewhere in Western Mass. Might have been eastern NY ... Not sure. But ... I had picked up some speed (I was feeling confident by then) going down a hill. At the bottom of the downgrade, naturally, was a bridge. Not the first bridge (think bridge joints ...) we had negotiated... but as I soon found out, the bumpiest ones I had crossed at 65 MPH with an extremely heavy chunk of steel attached to a flimsy bit of bumper. We hit those joints and everything got ... bouncy. And just when things seemed to start settling, we hit the far end joints and that was the end of me being in control of *anything* Physics took over (Newton's laws, centripetal acceleration, etc) and for the next 3 hours (it was only 2 or 3 seconds, actually) I got treated to a nice view of one complete side of the car in one mirror followed by a complete view of the other side of the car in the other mirror. It was a nice view compared to what I saw out the windshield which was alternating views of the highway, median and woods. When all motion stopped and the dust cloud that had enveloped us settled ... we were facing back toward the bridge. We had come to a stop in the median. The car was perfectly straight behind the S-10, despite both vehicles being faced 180 degrees from the original direction of travel. The skid marks on the highway were hard to decipher as to whether we had just skidded around, done a 180 or had accomplished multiple 180's. I truly didn't want to know.

Amazingly, the car came through unscathed. T S-10 was relatively undamaged. The goofy trailer hitch arrangement was pretty mangled and twisted ... but still solid and still attached. I didn't want to stick around so we jumped back in and took off. The rest of the trip I do not remember so I assume it went well.

I had initially rejected the idea of renting a trailer as the S-10 was clearly too small a vehicle to tow that way. The tow dolly gave me some idea of feasibility and overconfidence that I now see was in error. Bottom line: I had received a really good basic education in Towing *very* cheaply. The significant of that has not been lost on me. I do not tow *anything* any more with anything less than a 1-ton. And I tow trailers professionally now with a Peterbilt 359 (yes, *with* the "Corvette dash, 13-speed RR and the "Big Cam" 400 Cummins, thanks for asking). And I the only thing I can think of that I find tow dollies useful for is adding them to your scrap metal pile.

I sold the car a year or so later to buy the '39 and fund its restoration (and that was the beginning of meeting Barry Weeks and starting this web site). The S-10 got traded in 4 years later on a Dodge Ram 3500 which was ... an improvement in the towing department.

Looking back, I miss neither the S-10 (the manual trans did make it fun to drive, though) nor the Malibu.

Cisgendered heteronormative aggressor perpetrating problematic toxic ideas of Chevrolet normativity smile

'49 Chevrolet 3804

Leo #1433510 Tue Dec 14 2021 04:53 PM
Joined: Sep 2013
Posts: 1,421
Sometimes, not only does it just seem we're not in control, we truly are not! Good thing someone is.

The most hilarious towing thing I've ever seen was last year heading East on I-40 on the edge of West Memphis. Just in front of us a Jeep CJ was towing a empty single axle trailer. 40 is three lanes east at that point and we were in the left hand lane behind the Jeep, two big truck were in the right hand lanes all running about 70.

All of a sudden the Jeep's trailer starts fish tailing slightly, well rather than hitting the gas a bit, the Jeep driver hit the brakes a bit. The trailer goes from a bit of fishtail to doing what John so elegantly described above. The trailer is whipping the Jeep and going violently from side to side. Until it comes off the ball (no safety chains). Then it straightens out, still at speed it changes lanes. The Jeep driver is slowing down fast, the trailer passes, sparks flying from the coupler on the road. We've slowed way down as have the two trucks to the right and we're just all watching the show.

But it gets better. With no vehicles to the right of the trailer and it's now only going 30 or 40 mph and it starts going to the right, it crosses all lanes, a exit is approaching. No traffic on the exit road. The trailer takes the exit, crosses the exit road, runs up the opposite dirt bank a few feet and rolls back onto the exit road. No Damage. We've all about come to a stop watching the show and I think everyone blew their horns as we passed the Jeep that's now stopped on the left side of 40.

What I'd have given for a dash cam. I suspected one of the truckers had one, but wasn't able to find a vid posted up anywhere.


1951 3600 with Clark flatbed, T5, 4.10 rear
1970 340 Duster
1990 5.0 V8 Miata (1990 Mustang Gt Drivetrain)
1951 Farmall Super A

Leo #1433521 Tue Dec 14 2021 05:30 PM
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 2,417
Workshop Owner
Back in 1973 I towed 1966-67 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser station wagon 60 miles with a borrowed 1949 3/4-ton Chevy pickup. The wagon was a demolition derby car my buddy was going to drive in a small-town event. It had no glass, so my buddy was steering and stopping the wagon wearing a full coverage "Bell" helmet. We also used the chain through the pipe method. At the time, we were both just 16 years old. We borrowed the truck from my 14-year-old friends dad.

The only problem we encountered on the way, was a stuck float in the carburetor on the old stovebolt six. That occurred just over the half-way point. Luckily, my friend's dad followed our same route a couple hours later and saved the day by showing us how to tap on the side of the carb to free up the sticky float.

My buddy didn't do very well in the derby, but boy it sure was fun and created some great memories.


J Lucas

1941 Chevy 1/2-Ton
1942 Chevy 1.5-Ton SWB
1959 Chevy Apache 31 Fleetside
1959 Chevy Apache 32 Fleetside
1969 Chevy C-50 Grain Truck

My Flicker Photos! []

Leo #1433539 Tue Dec 14 2021 06:51 PM
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 1,749
Crusty Old Sarge
I have a true to life story that fits this thread. In 1972 my father decided the family needed to move from Yuma Arizona to Colorado Springs. What makes this story at home on the Stovebolt is that home was a 43 ft. Spartan Mobile Home, towed this trailer with a 1960 Apache LWB 1/2 ton, 283 3 speed with a granny low. The truck was outfitted with coil springs on the rear to which Dad and Grand Pa added overloads. Mom was going to drive our 64' T-bird with my brother and sister, i got to ride with Dad in the truck.

We left Yuma on I-10 which was complete to the California State line heading east we picked up 1-40 and into New Mexico. In Albuquerque we picked up I-25 and headed north, so far the trip had bee pretty much uneventful, we managed to stay around 50-55 with the truck only slowing for the occasional climb. All that was about to change, when we got to Raton Pass it was snowing and the trucks were putting on their chains. At a truck stop near the bottom of the grade Dad put the snow chains on the truck and again we headed out. Not long after we got on the interstate the snow picked up, you could hardly see the taillights ahead of us. We were in the center lane as the truck lane was full of tractor trailers trying to get up the grade, the inside lane had trucks in it as well. I remember setting there watching the drive axles on the trucks spin in the snow and no one was going anywhere. At some point we had made it the outside lane, be now we were crawling along in granny gear with the little 283 screaming. We managed to get off at some roadside exit and wait out the storm. The next morning the snow had eased up and the plows were running, about noon we headed back out and finally made it to the top of the grade. We found mom at a gas station, seemed she had gotten stuck in a snow bank and was pulled out by two drunk kids in a Blazer.

We went on to Colorado Springs and made it our home for the next year. A year later Dad decided we needed to go back. That's another adventure.


Come, Bleed or Blister something has got to give!!!
59' Apache 31, 327 V8 (0.030 over), Muncie M20 4 Speed, GM 10 Bolt Rear... long term project (30 years and counting)
Leo #1433550 Tue Dec 14 2021 07:59 PM
Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 856
Retired Construction Worker
Leo.. pulling something heavier than what your pulling it with ,,is a bit scary ,,sounds like there were more than a few bumping going on.,,,,,,,Jerry ,,the chain thru a pipe I never heard of ,does make some sense ..I did more pushing than towing too. Alvin ,, that must of been spooky for your first day driving Kevin ,,I am not seeing how you did that with the tires ,, are you saying you hooked it up tight between the two rigs?   Ron .that sounds like sitting on the edge of the seat the whole way.
John -that was a night mare,, I have been a few wrecks and what you see when it is happening is hard to explain after everything stops . J Lucus ,,You did good ,,and it must of been a site to see a guy with helmet on in the tow car with no window,,  Tuts 59- that story is one no one would like to do over unless you had better weather for sure  
My towing was one for me (18 years old) to remember that I hooked my 39 Chevy right up to the bumper of my 56 Chevy truck and everything went so so until I came down this steep street and the 39 pushed me across the street and almost into the river. (for some reason I could not turn .lol

Directions are just another mans Opinion

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