Towing 144" Sprinter with a U-Haul Part 1

MillionMileSprinter

Formerly Type2Teach
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This is me upon arriving at my new Sprinter (notice the cheerful glow) early Thursday morning.
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This is me and my buddy who worked like a dog to help me out. He's a doctor, so he's used to pulling 18 hour shifts for days at a time, which is what we did for three days straight as we tried to get this baby up and running.
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This is a 4Runner we found in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Auburn AL, down the road from where the Sprinter was. If you follow college football (I don't) you might know that Auburn won some national game or something. We just couldn't resist passing up a photo opportunity with the decorated car. :rad:
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This is Saturday afternoon around 4. We were using the come-along to crank the van up onto the trailer and wondering if it would actually fit.

*edit* the pictures don't go with the descriptions. I don't know why they got switched up when I uploaded them. Look at them all and you will figure out which description goes with which picture.
 
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MillionMileSprinter

Formerly Type2Teach
I can't seem to attach the files the same way I did last time, so you will have to bear with me.
Photo1- here you see the 2 ton come-along we used to ratchet the van up onto the trailer AND hold it on there while we drove. It is attached to the passenger side of the rear axle. If you look carefully, you will also see a long yellow strap. That's a 25ft 3000lb strap we had wrapped around the driver's side of the rear axle. We had the duct tape on the come-along just in case.

Photo2- Here you can see WHY we had the two straps on the rear axle, pulling the van forward. Notice that the tire hangs OVER the back edge of the trailer. That's not part of the trailer under 75% of the tire. That's the loading ramp that should be totally out of sight, pushed into the frame of the trailer. The strap we have on there is a 1000lb strap and it's attached to the rear of the shackles on the leaf springs. Somewhere along the way we lost one. Either it broke or somehow came loose, but nothing bad happened because of it. After I took this picture, I deflated the tire some so it would just barely rest on the ramp to help keep it in place.

Photo3- Another picture of the straps we had wrapped around the rear axle. This baby wasn't going anywhere.

Photo4- to give us an extra inch or so in back, we deflated the front tires. Even so, those stupid sidewalls sure were stiff and it didn't want to give much.

Photo5- There she is, all ready to go. Notice how the Sprinter is as big as the UHaul? This caused us some problems at speeds higher than 60mph. Any gust of wind from a semi or natural cause or bumpy road would cause the trailer to swing wildly from side to side. Three times it happened and three times I thought we were going to loose it. When it happens, you can't step on the brakes. There are two things you can do: take your foot off the gas and slow down naturally or speed up.

Boy, what an adventure it was. When the UHaul guys asked what size sprinter I was going to put on the trailer, I told them "the small one". Otherwise they wouldn't have rented me the trailer.
I do not encourage anyone to do this. If you do, you are :crazy: I just wanted to let you know it can be done. :eek:
Joel in Philly
 

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icarus

Well-known member
Not something I would recommend! Reminds me of the time I tried to haul a 1938 Mack fire engine ~#12,000 behind a Ford F-250 from NJ to Wisc. Got about 10 miles before I realized that it was insane. Going down a hill was very scary, even with trailer brakes! Borrowed a tractor and flat deck and used that instead.

Icarus
 

MillionMileSprinter

Formerly Type2Teach
Reminds me of the time I tried to haul a 1938 Mack fire engine ~#12,000 behind a Ford F-250 from NJ to Wisc. Got about 10 miles before I realized that it was insane.
Icarus
Naw, it wasn't THAT crazy. This actually worked. We went from Auburn AL, to Philly, PA. More than 800 miles. :smirk:
 

mackconsult

New member
Uhaul would have frowned upon that ....

Naw, it wasn't THAT crazy. This actually worked. We went from Auburn AL, to Philly, PA. More than 800 miles. :smirk:
 

icarus

Well-known member
Sorry, but "not crazy" is not always safe!

I'm glad you made it without incident, but the risks to you and others was considerable.

Icarus
 

mackconsult

New member
Why didn't you just rent a dolly?

Naw, it wasn't THAT crazy. This actually worked. We went from Auburn AL, to Philly, PA. More than 800 miles. :smirk:
 

MillionMileSprinter

Formerly Type2Teach
Why didn't you just rent a dolly?
I didn't think it would fit. One of the first things I did when I got on this forum was find out about towing. I didn't find any posts that clearly said a sprinter would fit on a dolly. In fact, I remember seeing one post about someone who was considering making his own extra large dolly.
Uhaul didn't have any dollies on the lot, so I couldn't even try it out if I had wanted to.
 

MillionMileSprinter

Formerly Type2Teach
Sorry, but "not crazy" is not always safe!

I'm glad you made it without incident, but the risks to you and others was considerable.

Icarus
It was within reason, as long as we kept the speed around 55mph. More than anything, it was just a L O N G day.
 
I bought a used E350 hi roof. The rear wheels just barely fit on the trailer. I tried to rent a longer trailer, no luck. Or at least that is what I was told. When I took the rented trailer back to the U-haul dealer, he saw my Sprinter and told me that my Sprinter would not be safe pulling that load down the road. I sent one of my guys and his wife to Portland to drive the new-to-me Ford home They did take in a show in Portland, a night in a motel and the meals, put it all on my credit card too.

The next Ford I bought, my girlfriend drove back. She likes my Spinter better than the Ford.
 

nebep

Member
I would certainly make the claim that steering and braking had to be sketchy at times/grades.....

Tow capacity formula.....I've foamed it at the mouth so you guys could have something to go by in situations like this to insure your safety. Telling a judge you knocked on wood before you left doesn't sit well with a jury when involuntary manslaughter is involved.

This one scenario where i might have suggested putting the sprinter on the trailer backwards to reduce tongue weight, thereby possibly making braking and steering a bit more reliable....looks like there was overhang room between the tow vehicle and the trailer to get the engine close to over the wheels of the trailer. This may have made a much more pleasant ride. (i do acknowledge what you were working with to get it loaded though....might been worth an hour of a wreckers time to come by and lend a hand to try both ways before departure....)
 
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mackconsult

New member
How would I find out the CG point for a non-loaded 140" wheelbase? Is the weight distribution like 60/30? I am considering putting the sprinter on backwards if I go that route. But you have to make sure there is at least some tongue weight, negative tongue weight is very bad.

This would make it a lot easier when unloading in my driveway to get the engine compartment closer to the garage.
 

jdcaples

Not Suitable w/220v Gen
Center of Gravity Info: View attachment T1N-Center-of-Gravity-Calculations-MB-BodyBuilderInfoPortal.pdf

The above is from

https://bb-portal.mercedes-benz.com/portal/kat_aa.0.html?&L=en

I'm not sure that'll help you, but I hope it helps.

The full document is titled, "arl_sprinter_uk_20040617.pdf" and its description is:

Sprinter 901-905 (ab 2000) 17.06.2004 Body/equipment mounting directives Sprinter

I haven't looked for this particular PDF in on Sprinter-Source. If it's not in T1N Database, I can post a copy to the forum.

-Jon

PS: I glanced at this material. I don't understand the math cited within, at all.
 
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