5th Wheel Golf Cart Carrier worked Great!!!

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5th Wheel Golf Cart Carrier worked Great!!!

Postby Randy & Nancy » Sat Jul 25, 2009 11:51 am

Well guys, my winter project was finally put to the test a few weeks ago. After about 1,000 miles with the Club Car electric golf cart onboard and in tow behind the Cedar Creek, I am satisfied with my project.

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For those that may be unfamiliar with the project, here is the story in a nutshell:

Before we purchased the CC 34SATS fifth wheel we pulled travel trailers. When we went to the beach, I would put the golf cart in the bed of the GMC dually 3500 series truck. But, the fifth wheel negated that option.

This left me with three choices
1. Forget it and go without a golf cart;
2. Rent a golf cart when we got there, or;
3. Design/build something safe and hopefully legal that could carry the golf cart behind the Creek.

You would have to really know me to understand, but I went with number 3, the hardest to accomplish option - which is what I usually end up doing.

Virginia, which is my home state, does not allow a tow combination over 60 feet long. They also do not allow “double towing” as some states do. This meant that whatever I put on the back of the CC could not be called a “trailer”.

I did lots of research. I asked lots of questions of the Virginia DMV and State Troopers. I plowed through pages and pages of State Traffic Code manuals. I measured weights of the golf cart and the Creek paying close attention to tire ratings, pin weight, axle ratings, axle weights and even calculated the Creek’s rear end weight where my hitch was welded on.

Things got tricky when I started computing the weights on the front and rear of the carrier. It was only 5 feet long and since the axles are not stationary the bias shifts as the axles turn. Going fully into back-up mode turns the axles 180 degrees and really plays havoc with the computed bias and weight distribution issue. I ended up having to put the swivel wheel axles further back than I originally wanted.

The same scrutiny was applied to the tow vehicle. I even said a few prayers asking for Supreme guidance.

I already had a rearview camera on the CC with a 7” LCD monitor in the truck cab. A little tweaking of the camera position allowed me to watch the movements of the golf cart on the carrier as well as what and who was following me.

Just to be on the safer side, I added a tire pressure monitoring system for both the CC and the carrier. Now I can get real time tire pressure and temperature read-outs in the truck cab. If trouble should develop, hopefully I can see it coming before I experience a total tire failure.

When all was done I had determined that the contraption shown in the photos above and below should pass as a legal device in Virginia and would not require registration or license plates. I say “should” since there is a tiny little grey area surrounding the wording in Virginia’s definition of a “trailer”. Virginia Traffic Code section 46.2-100 defines a trailer as: “Every vehicle without motive power designed for carrying property or passenger’s wholly on its own structure and for being drawn by a motor vehicle.” My oldest son, who is a detective with our local Sheriff Department, believed I was OK since other code sections and the design of the carrier allowed the device to NOT be classified as a vehicle (requiring registration). So did the State Troopers he talked into to dropping by to see me and view the project in process and plans.

The device is called an “Extended Load Carrier” as far as Virginia DMV is concerned. But, they would not put that in writing.

Companies that make similar products commercially call them either Swivel Wheel Carriers or Swivel Wheel Trailers. Their attachment method is not the same as the one I designed. Thus, my chances of negating the trailer definition issue in Virginia are better.

No matter what you call it, the principle is the same. The wheels turn, not the body. Therefore you can back up and do not “swing out” in turns due to straight axle tracking.

Strictly by being lucky, or perhaps having one of my prayers answered, I found two Reese small truck receivers clearance priced at Lowe’s for a fraction of their original cost. This purchase gave me the needed parts to build up a really strong hitch that would be welded to the frame rails under the CC giving me the needed two 2” hitch receivers. The photo shows how I did the pre-welding layout for the hitch.

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I made the frame for the carrier bed from square tubing and angle iron. This photo shows the early stages of assembly.

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The wheel swivels were built by a company in Northern Virginia (http://doublehitch.com/index.html). Unfortunately, I ended up having to rebuild them due to what I considered poor workmanship and crappy welds. This photo shows the reworked swivel wheel axle assembly with the upper hub on and ready for bolting to the mounting plate on the carrier.

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Jacks, hubs, wheels, tires, lights and such were sourced from Northern Tool and Tractor Supply.

The attachment of the carrier to the receiver is a true two-point bolt on using hardened grade eight 5/8” diameter bolts. No trailer couplers were used. I did not want any connection to even remotely resemble a trailer!

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We got the golf cart to Emerald Isle and back home again - safely and without incident or a ticket by a rogue trooper. It did add 1,500 pounds of weight to the total tow load. My length is 59 feet 3 inches. I have 9 inches to spare and stay under 60 feet. The '99 GMC 3500 with a modified 7.4L gas engine and reworked transmission can pull a freight train with it's 4.55 rear axle gearing. The extra weight was nothing to the beast. It locked up in overdrive on the Interstate and cruised along with no perceptable change in load. All temperatures (water, oil, trans fluid) stayed nice and cool. Who says you need a pine knot burner to pull a big rig?

The carrier turned out to be the center of attention while in the beach campground. If I had charged for Q&A I could have easily paid for our two week stay.

Oh, did I mention “Safely” and within the weight parameters allowed for both the CC and tow vehicle?

One more thing…. Yes, this is a “Brag Mod”. If it had not worked, I would never even consider telling you about it! It just goes to show you what an determined old fart with a welder, hacksaw and idea can accomplish when he has way too much time on his hands.

I love retirement! Only problem is I spend more time messing with our house on wheels than I do the one on bricks and mortar.
Randy, Nancy and Oscar.
Mechanicsville, VA (Near Richmond & Williamsburg)
2009 CC 34SATS - 2004 Volvo VNL670 Class 7, 12.1L
465 HP and 1,625 foot pounds of torque generated at 1,400 RPM!
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Re: 5th Wheel Golf Cart Carrier worked Great!!!

Postby d2reid » Sat Oct 10, 2009 9:21 pm

Job well done. I have a similar situation. We have two small motorcycles that we are going to take with us. I looked at all kinds of rigs to haul them. And like you I was concerned with weight and balance. My first thought was a light trailer on a double rig. Then I learned that it was illegal in some states. http://www.readybrake.com/cgi-local/a4-235e.cgi Ok, some of the states I could stay away from, but I would have to travel through some to get to desired spots. So no little trailer.

I looked at rigs like you put on. One of the manufacturers called it a trailer, so I decided it would not work because of the double rig laws. There are plenty of states were it is allowed, I just didn't want to risk the ones were it isn't.

Here is a partial article: "A frequent question asked is if the Swivelwheel system is legal to tow in all states. There are basically 22 states that do not allow double trailer towing, which some call "Triple Towing". These states are the entire east coast from Maine to Florida, Oregon and Washington. We consider the system an extension of the fifth wheel chassis frame. We do not consider it a trailer. The system cannot jackknife or fishtail. It is not like another ball mounted trailer swinging from side to side. Some states may not have that same view. Always check with the states that you are traveling through for details. There are numerous web sites that will give you state by state information in regards to towing laws. One of the better sites appears to be www.towingworld.com/articles/towinglaws.htm. We have found discrepancies in all of them, but this one appears to be the most complete." from http://www.cruiserlift.com/swivelwheel.html.

I started looking at hitch mounted motorcycle racks. http://www.joehauler.com/doublehaulers/ ... lers.shtml or http://www.versahaul.com/vhLG6RO.php

But I kept coming back to adding 575 pounds to the end of the CC's frame, and then sticking it out on a lever, then bouncing it up and down. I chewed on that one for a couple of months. Still couldn't take the motorcycles with us. We looked at mounting them on the cab of the truck, but then where would we put the canoe? We looked at trying to mount them on the front bumper, but got back into the 575 bouncing on the trucks front end thing. We looked at trying to mount them between the truck and the CC, no clearance. I was beginning to think maybe we made a mistake with the 5th wheel. Maybe a motor coach, then we could load the toad up with toys. Or a TT, then we could load the truck with toys...

Barbara suggested we try and put one in the kitchen. Silliest thing I ever heard, put a motorcycle in the kitchen. Ha....

Shows you who in my family has the brains, it works great. It sets real well in the kitchen, when we pull the slides in it holds the bike in place, of course we use lots of padding. But that still left the other bike, we couldn't fit both in the kitchen. No room anywhere else when the slides are in.

By now you are wondering why we just didn’t buy a toy hauler, the answer is we didn’t want to live in a garage, we like our cushy living room with fireplace.

I finally bought the AMC-400. http://www.discountramps.com/motorcycle-carrier.htm I had two custom fitted bars of 3/8 in thick steel made to slide into the racks that came with the coach. Ok, the ones that came with the coach were pretty thin, so I had heavier ones welded on. Then bolted the rack onto them. 58’ 9” total length. If I can figure out how you posted the picture I will get it posted.

I have added 270 pounds to the back of the trailer, I will counter balance that when we get the washer/dryer installed in the BR. I have yet to get it on the scales, but the first time I pulled with it there was no change in performance. No wiggling, no jiggling, no extra bouncing. I don’t even think the CC noticed it was back there.

Of course, you research and research, think and ponder. Then you get it done you are proud of yourself and then you find another fact.

I read some of the trailer definitions etc., and found that the total trailer length cannot exceed 40’. Let’s see, 39’ 6” CC, add 3 feet, that equals forty feet by my math….

How do you post those pictures?
Dallas and Barbara
Mocha, Bandit, and Opie
2008 CC 36RD5S, 05 Chevy K3500 Diesel/Allison
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Re: 5th Wheel Golf Cart Carrier worked Great!!!

Postby d2reid » Sun Oct 11, 2009 6:19 pm

Half way through.....

Also testing upload function.
Last edited by d2reid on Fri Jan 22, 2010 2:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 5th Wheel Golf Cart Carrier worked Great!!!

Postby Randy & Nancy » Sun Oct 11, 2009 6:27 pm

d2,

Sounds like we have taken the same research path. The "carrier" continues to have a shadow attached in regard to legality.

I do put confidence in my son, who is in law enforcement. While he is no longer on patrol in a police cruiser, he did spend ten years passing out traffic tickets. His reaction to my carrier was simple; "I have too many other traffic issues to worry about than a fifth wheel with a carrier on the back and wheels underneath." "Unless there was something obviously unsafe (i.e. lights, sway, over-length, etc.) I would not waste the time to stop the vehicle and write a ticket not knowing if the judge would support the citation or not." "Of course, there are those in patrol cars that will write their mother a ticket for a burned out license plate light." "Ultimately, it is up to a traffic court judge to make the final decision."

If the carrier I built is illegal, so are these devices:

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To post photos you need to have an online photo hosting service. I use [url]http:\\photobucket.com[/url] for my photos. The service is free.

You upload .jpg images from your computer to the photo hosting service. Once on-line you can copy the photo url and insert it into a posting such as this one as an Img file. You will note there is an Img button in the Board Editor. Anyone who reads your posting will be able to see your photos as long as you maintain your hosting service account. You must limit the size of your photos to no more than 800 x 600 pixels - 640 x 480 takes less bandwidth and is easier to load for folks that are still using dial-up.

Hope this helps. BTW - I like the MC in the kitchen.
Randy, Nancy and Oscar.
Mechanicsville, VA (Near Richmond & Williamsburg)
2009 CC 34SATS - 2004 Volvo VNL670 Class 7, 12.1L
465 HP and 1,625 foot pounds of torque generated at 1,400 RPM!
ARS - WB4BZX
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Re: 5th Wheel Golf Cart Carrier worked Great!!!

Postby d2reid » Sun Oct 11, 2009 7:18 pm

I think I got the picture thing going ok, I have enough photo editing software to make "uploadable" pictures, as evidenced by my previous post, I took that with my cell phone.

We are headed out for Gatlinburg TN for our first "big" trip. When I get it all packed up I will post a better picture of the final product. I really like the idea of the swivel wheel trailer. I could have put both bikes on it. I may go back to that idea later, for now I think we have a "workable" solution. Only time will tell.

Tomorrow I am taking the CC up to the dealer. I have a little list of warranty stuff and a couple of pre-travel checks I would like them to make. Lug nut torque being on the top of the list.

I fully anticipate getting stopped for "over-all" length, even though I am within limits, it just looks big. And now there is an extension. The trailer length of 40 feet may become an issue, but the literature I find indicates that is 40 feet from the back of the truck, like in a travel trailer, plus I see lots of 18 wheeler with 53' stenciled on the side of the truck. [-o<

Like you said, most law enforcement types have bigger, er, more important fish to fry....
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Re: 5th Wheel Golf Cart Carrier worked Great!!!

Postby Randy & Nancy » Mon Oct 12, 2009 8:36 am

d2,

You know, this 40 foot limit is another gray area.

Here is my take and experience on the laws. (only opinions)

If you are "out of State" there is less chance of being stopped "if" you are complying with your state's laws. If you come into VA towing a boat behind your fifth wheel - and it is legal in your state - your chances of getting across VA without a ticket are much better than if I tried to tow a boat behind my fiver with Virginia tags. I do see out of state RV rigs double towing on our highways.

Don't get caught speeding or violating other traffic laws. If you get stopped, for example, speeding and have an over length rig you will possibly get a ticket for that as well. But, if being a few feet over length is the only issue you have chances of getting stopped are much less. BTW - VA is more concerned with total combined length of the rig than the length of the trailer. Those trucks you see with 53' on the side are commercial vehicles and have different rules for length than recreational vehicles.

Turnpikes and bridges where you pay a toll seem to be more strict about size regulations.

Don't get involved in an accident!

BTW - what year and model Creek do you have?

Enjoy Gatlinburg and the Smokey Mountains. As a teen I spent way too much time there visiting a young lady who worked in one of the shops during the summer months. My home town is Oak Ridge, not too far away.
Randy, Nancy and Oscar.
Mechanicsville, VA (Near Richmond & Williamsburg)
2009 CC 34SATS - 2004 Volvo VNL670 Class 7, 12.1L
465 HP and 1,625 foot pounds of torque generated at 1,400 RPM!
ARS - WB4BZX
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Re: 5th Wheel Golf Cart Carrier worked Great!!!

Postby Marjon » Mon Oct 12, 2009 1:20 pm

Randy that's quite a carrier, but what I would like to know is where can you camp on Chesapeake Bay that you could sit and watch the ships go up and down and where is Emerld Isle?

John
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Re: 5th Wheel Golf Cart Carrier worked Great!!!

Postby d2reid » Mon Oct 12, 2009 6:00 pm

We have a 2008 Cedar Creek 36RD5S. It was leftover and the dealer was wanting to get it off the lot. So we helped. Actually we weren't going to buy one until next summer. I am eligible to retire 10/3/2010. And we plan on traveling Jan 2011. I am glad that I have some time to get the kinks out. There are a lot if integrated systems that I am learning about.

You won't find the 36RD5S in the 2008 brochures. They started making them in 2008 for the 2009 season. Then before the 2009 brochures were published they added the "10th Anniversary" package to the 36RD5S, we missed out on the really nifty 10th anniversary clock.... #-o
Dallas and Barbara
Mocha, Bandit, and Opie
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Re: 5th Wheel Golf Cart Carrier worked Great!!!

Postby Randy & Nancy » Tue Oct 13, 2009 8:46 pm

Marjon wrote:Randy that's quite a carrier, but what I would like to know is where can you camp on Chesapeake Bay that you could sit and watch the ships go up and down and where is Emerld Isle?

John


On the Chesapeake Bay we were camped at Newpoint RV Resort http://www.morganrvresorts.com/pages/newpoint_directions

We have been going to Emerald Isle for decades and love the Holiday Trav-L-Park just over the bridge. It is south of Morehead City, NC and north of Jacksonville where the Marine base is located. http://www.htpresort.com/
Randy, Nancy and Oscar.
Mechanicsville, VA (Near Richmond & Williamsburg)
2009 CC 34SATS - 2004 Volvo VNL670 Class 7, 12.1L
465 HP and 1,625 foot pounds of torque generated at 1,400 RPM!
ARS - WB4BZX
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Re: 5th Wheel Golf Cart Carrier worked Great!!!

Postby Marjon » Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:51 pm

Thanks for the info Randy.

John
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Re: 5th Wheel Golf Cart Carrier worked Great!!!

Postby CumminZ » Sat Nov 14, 2009 12:32 am

Randy, Nancy and Oscar.

I see the spot for Oscar and Nancy... Randy, where do you ride??

Great job.
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Re: 5th Wheel Golf Cart Carrier worked Great!!!

Postby f150k » Sat Nov 28, 2009 6:29 am

Professor 95, I noticed you changed the placement of the wheels from your 1st photo of the frame. Do you have a close-up or measurement for the new design. I have a motorcycle I would like to trail behind our rig, looks like something I could build. The motorcycle weight is 550 #,so its not that its a large bike, I know I will have to watch my pin weight. Thank you Ken
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Re: 5th Wheel Golf Cart Carrier worked Great!!!

Postby Randy & Nancy » Sat Nov 28, 2009 9:49 am

I did have to move the wheels further toward the rear in the final design.

What happened on the first "prototype" is that when I backed up, and the wheels spun 180 toward the back of the trailer, I had a negative hitch weight that would cock the trailer up at the hitch. As much as I hated to move them rearward, which increased hitch weight in the forward mode, I had no other choice.

What you will need to do is position the vertical axle in a position that will allow "some" hitch weight when the wheels spin toward the back of the RV. In my case I have about 35# - just enough that it is balanced with a slight bias to the front. The easiest way to do this is to position the vertical axle so the wheel axle is at least 60% of the total carrier length from the hitch.

Of course, you need to factor in the weight distribution of your load. In my case I put the GC sideways, thus the weights were equally split along the center line. If I had placed the GC long-ways I would have to consider the difference in weight between front and back - which is significant due to the battery compartment under the seat of the golf cart.

BTW - it is easier to balance long ways.

I am offering my carrier and hitch for sale.
We are switching over to a HDT for a tow vehicle and plan to carry the GC on the space behind the Volvo cab. I have not decided on a price but it will be reasonable -- possibly the cost of my parts and materials.
Last edited by Randy & Nancy on Fri Feb 26, 2010 11:57 am, edited 2 times in total.
Randy, Nancy and Oscar.
Mechanicsville, VA (Near Richmond & Williamsburg)
2009 CC 34SATS - 2004 Volvo VNL670 Class 7, 12.1L
465 HP and 1,625 foot pounds of torque generated at 1,400 RPM!
ARS - WB4BZX
Region 2 Directors
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Re: 5th Wheel Golf Cart Carrier worked Great!!!

Postby CumminZ » Sat Nov 28, 2009 2:02 pm

I can see Oscar now in the driver's seat switching gears in that big Volvo. :^o
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Re: 5th Wheel Golf Cart Carrier worked Great!!!

Postby Randy & Nancy » Sat Nov 28, 2009 6:49 pm

CumminZ wrote:I can see Oscar now in the driver's seat switching gears in that big Volvo. :^o

The gear shift is in the middle. That is where we will put his jump seat. All we have to do is put a tennis ball on the gear shift lever and he will be ready to go!
Randy, Nancy and Oscar.
Mechanicsville, VA (Near Richmond & Williamsburg)
2009 CC 34SATS - 2004 Volvo VNL670 Class 7, 12.1L
465 HP and 1,625 foot pounds of torque generated at 1,400 RPM!
ARS - WB4BZX
Region 2 Directors
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Randy & Nancy
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