Saturday, June 9, 2012

Ready For Towing

We are now set up for dingy towing, which is great since Misty and the kids can now ride with me in the RV and not have to follow behind.  Our "toad" is ready for the road.

Just so you know the vehicle you tow with your RV is referred to as a toad.

We came from WV to TX driving two vehicles, which was not fun and will not be missed.

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, we had to have a drive shaft disconnect put on our Yukon since it had a single stage transfer case which could not be put into neutral.  So the only way to tow it all wheels down was to disable the drive shaft so the transmission would not turn.

We had the job done at Smitty's RV and Welding located in Houston, TX.  They are a family owned business, very friendly, and answered all of my questions.  They made it easy to get the Yukon set up for dingy towing and installed one of the best combinations for the job.

 Tow brackets.

The drive shaft disconnect is manufactured by REMCO and was the answer to how we would tow the Yukon.  The Yukon user manual states that our model has to be dolly towed with the rear wheels up and the front wheels down.  First off, I could not find a dolly big enough for our Yukon.  Second off, our steering column does not lock, so the vehicle would sway back forth if we did not find a way to stabilize or lock down the steering wheel to keep the front tires straight. 

Drive shaft disconnect at the rear of the drive shaft on the Yukon. 

To use it, you have to either pull out on the control knob (located in the driver's compartment) to disengage the drive shaft and then push it in to engage the drive shaft.  Pulling it out is pretty easy, but you have to have some coordination to get it to engage.  After some practice though, it becomes pretty easy. 

 Drive shaft disconnect control knob.  Pull it to disengage and push it to engage the drive shaft.

Smitty's RV and Welding also installed an air brake system on the Yukon that is one of the best available.  All you have to do is hook up an air hose from the RV to the Yukon and your brakes are enabled.  You do not have to put a brake buddy or anything in the driver's compartment and hook it to the brake pedal.  

The brake system they used on the Yukon is manufactured by M&G Engineering out of Athens, TX.  It is their air brake system with a patented air cylinder that applies the Yukon's brakes the same time the RV's brakes are applied.  It is very efficient with the manufacture claiming that it will reduce the towed vehicle's stopping distance by one-third.
Air hose hookup on the Yukon for the air brakes. 

Air cylinder installed on Yukon.

Vacuum cylinder used with air brake system.

Another option that was installed on the Yukon was the wiring of its lights so that I could hook up the Yukon to the RV through its seven pin trailer light plug and have the Yukon's tail lights work off of the RV's tail lights.  This way I do not have to have the removable signal light systems used on some towed vehicles.

Tail light plug on Yukon. 

Now that all this is done, we can easily tow our Yukon using our Blue Ox Aventa LX tow bar and know that we are doing it safely.  It will also be nice for all of the family to travel in the RV now, rather than being split up between two vehicles. Our son Ethan said, "Now, no matter where we drive, we are always home!" 

Blue Ox Aventa LX tow bar, air line, break away line, safety cables, and wiring harness. 

Of course I was a little nervous about driving the RV with the Yukon being pulled behind, but it really is not that hard and the only time I feel the Yukon is when it hits a big bump or something similar in the road.  Other than that I can not tell any difference in driving the RV with or without the Yukon.  I do have to allow for more room when changing lanes on the highway, but I will get used to that too.

Yukon viewed in rear view camera from inside RV.

Another thing that I learned very quickly when unhitching your vehicle from the RV or tow bar is to make sure you either set the emergency brake or re-engage the drive shaft so that the vehicle does not roll away.  Luckily we were not on a hill and there were no other vehicles close to us.  I just hope there was no one else watching.

Don unhitching the Yukon for the first time.

We will finally leave Houston on 14 June and drive over to Galveston Bay RV Resort and stay for a week.  We are pretty excited since we will be on the bay with our lot facing the water and there will be plenty of sites to see to include the Space Center Houston

I hope you enjoyed today's blog and that you keep coming back to see what we are up to next.


Home is where the slides are out.


  1. Seems like a pretty steep learning curve on some of this equipment. How long did you do research before deciding on the parts? I really like the idea of the air break system on the Yukon.


    1. I researched it for a good year or so, off and on. I found the place in TX and never did hear anything bad about them. Some other campers I met in TX told me their work was top notch along with the price. I was very happy with the results and components. So far they are still working great without any issues.

      I too was afraid of the learning curve, but it is simple once you do it a couple of times. The worse thing I did was unhook the Yukon without engaging the drive shaft or setting the break and it started to roll away when I unhooked. Luckily no one was hurt, but it could have been bad if the Yukon would have pinched me to the RV or the incline was steeper.


  2. Hello; I read your blog and I am curious whether any issues have shown themselves now that about two years have passed. I am considering the same modification to my Suburban 4WD. I get through Houston often so that part would be easy. I thought it was interesting that your Yukon steering did not lock. Was that due to you having the ignition in another position to power something? I know that in the off position it would lock on that model. Thanks,


    1. Donald,

      We sold our Yukon about eight months ago for a Nissan NV 3500 van which we have not modified yet.

      The only issue we had with the Yukon and the drive shaft disconnect was that you have to keep it lubricated or it would not work. I found this out the hard way after not using it for about three months while in northern Virginia during the winter. After I sprayed it with WD-40 it worked fine again.

      Other than that we did not have any other issues with any of the other modifications like the air brake tank.

      One day we will have our Nissan modified the same way, but just have not done it yet and so drive it following the RV. Probably after we get our tax refund this year, we will get it done.

      As far as the Yukon not locking, it did not lock when the key was out of the ignition on our model. I remember thinking that it did, but then realized it did not after we had the modifications made to it and it was made apparent.


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