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Towing a big coach - what NOT to do...
#1
Not sure where the best place is for this LONG post but will let the moderators decide...
Our 1998 Newell had engine overheating problems and rather than risk blowing an engine decided we would get a tow.  We called Coach-Net and told them the problem. After several hours talking with different people and tow truck companies Coach-Net suggested that they had many coaches towed successfully on a 'dolly' style truck - one that has a large extending arm on the rear that rests the coach on a cradle.  They informed us that there would be no lowboy that could tow us even though we were willing to pay the difference in cost (the driver reiterated that the other problem would be height since the lowboy would add about 3 ft to the total height and make overpasses very difficult).  Against our better judgement we agreed to let a large, well known company come and get our coach and tow it 60 miles back to a repair shop in Nacogdoches, TX. 
I assisted the driver and even helped him with the dolly to be sure it was secure (It was as far as I could tell).  He placed the airhose down the side of the coach through tie wraps in the door handles (my idea and it worked great!).  Newell had suggested using the little 1/2" space at the bottom of the door to put the hose into, we tried but could not make the hose stay in and get the doors down at the same time (in retrospect, maybe we were supposed to leave the door DOWN and push the hose in the crack between the door and the coach...) 
We headed out towards Nacogdoches at about 7pm - it was getting dark and had been raining on us for a while. 
About 30 minutes into the trip the tow truck made a very wide turn (a good thing) onto a freeway on-ramp.  The driver called on the radio to me that he was going to stop and adjust the straps - my wife says she noticed the strap on the driver side had popped and come loose but I did not see it.  
I pulled my Jeep (thank GOD) around to give the driver some more light and we sat in the Jeep waiting for him and trying to keep cars stopped on the ramp.  There were probably 10 to 15 cars and truck at the bottom of the ramp at this time behind us.  The driver proceeded to let down the lift holding the coach and for some reason he dropped it all the way to the ground.  As soon as the coach wheels touched the ground the coach rolled rearward and jumped over the back of the dolly.  
I jumped out of the Jeep and ran to catch the coach.  The driver had run (as you see in the video down the driver side of the coach and around thinking he would let the door come to him as the coach came down the hill).  I ran and caught the door first.  The next thing to come into my mind was 'did I LOCK the coach'???  I jumped up onto the steps which thankfully had not pulled all the way in and were sticking out some so I was able to get a decent footing on them.  I pulled myself into the coach and started heading for the front to hit the brakes.  I had no way of telling which way the coach was heading but I KNOW there were a lot of people down in their cars at the foot of the ramp and they were NOT moving!  The coach was now careening pretty much out of control.  Just as I reached the front the coach hit something and made a loud noise and shifted hard to the right and I fell over, knocking a small table over in the process. I managed to finally get to the wheel and hit the brakes!  The coach came not to a screeching halt but rather to a quiet halt.  I faintly remember some tire squeal but not much.  
Once I caught my breath and the adrenaline stopped screaming I went outside to see the damage. 
The coach was up on the embankment on the side of the freeway in a lot of grass and mud.  
Miraculously no one was any where around the coach.
The coach had crossed completely across a two lane entrance ramp and ran up into the grass and mud on the side of the freeway embankment.  
ALL of the possible outcomes were running through my mind - we could have hit all those cars at the bottom of the entrance ramp, we could have hit a road sign or a culvert.  
The tow truck driver came and checked on me and I think he was more upset than I was.  I kept saying 'no one was hurt and the bus is just a thing' it was not a big deal to me as long as everyone was safe and sound.  He kept saying "I'm going to lose my job".  I guess I should have been really angry but I wasn't.  I just wanted to get the coach to Nacogdoches and end an already highly stressful day. 
So once everyone calmed down for a while we took our time getting the coach unstuck.  The tow truck driver hooked a chain to the coach and I was in the cab steering.  He asked to let go the brakes and I guess I was still in shock because I just let my foot off the brake (which I had probably been holding the whole time!) and waited as the chain strained, the back wheels creaked a little and the chain snapped like a piece of spaghetti.  At least I know my service brakes work well.  
Once the driver got another chain on the coach he pulled the coach out (I released the service brake this time!) and I steered the coach to the side of the entrance ramp and up and over the hill to a downward sloping section off the main road.  
We re-hooked the coach up to the dolly and strapped it down good and proceeded on our way by about 10:30pm.
We arrived at the Foretravel parking lot about 11:30 or maybe midnight and backed in and hooked the coach up. 
I surveyed the damage all around the coach but will let Foretravel or Motorhomes of TX do a full PMI inspection (if they still do that) to make sure there is no further damage to the coach. 
The only damage I see is a 6-inch crack in the fiberglass near the front outer headlight on the driver side and there was a plate from the bottom of the generator that was on the side of the road at the scene (I forgot to grab it in the fray).  
The airbags are kind of wonky and maybe the leveling valves will need to be checked.  
Honestly the biggest thing worrying my wife before we started was 1) bending the coach in half 2) all the stuff inside shifting and breaking (like plates and vases with plants).  Neither of these happened at all!  Very little moved inside the coach and the tow truck driver did a good job keeping the coach balanced so the the back end never scraped the receiver hitch except once going around another turn later in the trip.  
All this made for an extremely long day (5am to past 12 midnight) and we were both exhausted but extremely thankful to be able to spend the night in our home - our beautiful Newell was home at Foretravel (which has always seemed like home to us anyway) and now was ready to go to the body shop for estimates and the engine repair shop to get the cooling system sorted out. 
The moral of this saga is: 
WAIT FOR A LAND DOLLY OR LOW BOY THAT CAN HANDLE A BUS!!!  
I will never rush that decision again - I don't care if it takes a week to get the correct truck to us - I WILL WAIT and will gladly pay whatever difference the insurance does not take care of. 
The other more important moral is to have plenty of Angels guarding over your vehicles at ALL times! 

I am still debating about legal actions but not sure what I would sue for other than damages to the coach.  They did RUIN a perfectly good vacation and disabled our coach to the point that we cannot use it for work.  I use the coach in Atlanta to work out of when I am there as my office or my home away from home instead of renting an apartment so it DOES cost me money not to have use of it since it is much cheaper for an RV Park for the months I am there. 

Here is a quick glimpse into what happened YouTube style... this was the scariest moment of my life and then it got worse...
Just remember there is NO one in the coach and the coach is in Neutral with the axle pulled for towing.  Posted on YouTube  
Karen & Adrian Abshire 
1998 2 slide 45' Newell towing a 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited and a 2006 Mercedes SLK320 for wifey. 
Prior: 1985 Foretravel ORED 35, 1988 38' Foretravel U280, 2000 Foretravel 42' U320, 1990 Bluebird Wanderlodge WB40
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#2
Scary!! Glad that there was no more damage than you described. That could have easily been a total disaster.
Michael Day
1992 Newell 43.5' #281
NewellOwner.com
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#3
That was a hair raising story! Made for a great post, with many lessons.

At least you are in Nacogdoches. So hopefully it is all just a minor problem with the overheat and now the torn headlight skirt (and gen set piece o' metal?) . I bet that is enough excitement to last a while ....
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#4
.... so while reading the saga to my dear wife, when I read where you were in Texas -- she asked if Foretravel, or MOT or that mechanic whose name starts with a B .... well, if any of them use lowboys or other safe means of conveyance to move rigs around down there??
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#5
At the end of another long and exhausting day the mechanics at Bernd's came through! The little 'L'-shaped fitting was the issue. All along we thought the engine or radiator pressure was causing the problems. One of the mechanics was with me at FT, he closed the rear gate and noticed that the door was not flush (I had noticed this also) like it normally was. Then he noticed some coolant coming out over the exhaust pipe. We looked at the little fitting and then one of them noticed that when the rear gate came down it was hitting the fitting and breaking it! After a few opens and shuts of the rear gate we all agreed, went to the store and got another L fitting, removed the broken piece (again) and inserted the new one. This time we routed the hose from the top rather than into the side of the fitting. Problem solved. We still are going to pull the valve covers and check the torque on (I think it is the heads) tomorrow - if they are tight then no problem, if they are loose then there is a big problem $$$$$... 

Thank you ALL for your advice and help during this ordeal - I don't know what I would do without your support (moral and mechanical)!
Not sure why the pictures below came out sideways - they were straight when I took them... so you may have to turn your screen to the right :-)   :-(  
You have to really look but you can see the fitting has the hose coming in from the right-hand (passenger) side but then once we figured out the issue with the door we ran it from the top (mechanic said it could have come over the air intake pipe thingamadoodle)... it is now held on with a large zip tie (the way all things should be held on unless already in place with bailing wire, duck tape, zip-lock bag, or velcro)...  I'll get a 'P' clamp to hold it down... it's on my list... 


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Karen & Adrian Abshire 
1998 2 slide 45' Newell towing a 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited and a 2006 Mercedes SLK320 for wifey. 
Prior: 1985 Foretravel ORED 35, 1988 38' Foretravel U280, 2000 Foretravel 42' U320, 1990 Bluebird Wanderlodge WB40
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#6
    This isnhow mine is routed.  Glad it was as simple
Richard and Rhonda Entrekin
99 Newell, 512
Subaru Outback Toad
Inverness, FL (when we're home Cool )
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