Left Hand Turn Only!

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January 27, 2011

by Good Sam Club Members Dennis & Gayle Valy

In May of 2008, Gayle and I were leaving a campground in northern Illinois when our motorhome started to “shimmy.” We were on a small county road with no shoulders. I slowed down and it stopped shimmying so I continued on. It started again so I made the mistake of pulling over withhalf the motorhome on the shoulder.

The right side on the motorhome immediately sunk in the dirt shoulder. It would not move so we unhooked the toad and tried to move it again. It didn’t move an inch.

I called roadside assistance and asked for a tow. The tow truck that showed up was the same size you see towing cars. I told the operator I needed a bigger tow truck. but he thought he could do the job.

He backed the tow truck in front of the motorhome and put some sort of “chock” at the rear of the tires. As he went under the motorhome to attach the cable, he told me to get in the motorhome and start the engine.

As he attempted to pull us out, the first thing that happened was the tow truck was pulled backwards about 10 feet. Then, much to my surprise, it dug in and the motorhome started to move. When he had us back on the highway, he had me sign his paperwork and he was on his way. Gayle and I decided we would get off the county road and find a parking lot to find out what was wrong with the motorhome.

I drove about 5 miles before I could find a lot large enough to pull in and be able to get out. During the drive, after all the mud flew off, I was amazed that at no time I was able to feel the problem that started the whole ordeal. After walking around and looking at everything,   we decided that we would hook up the toad and try again.

The rest of the day was uneventful. I am still baffled as to what caused the shimmy, but it never came back. We drove to Kentucky and found a campground to spend the night.

The road to the campground was full of curves with the last one being what I would call a “hairpin” to the right. As I started the right turn, the steering wheel turned about one-half a turn and stopped dead. I tried a couple more times, then hit the brakes so we didn’t go in the ditch across the road. We got out and disconnected the toad. It took several attempts to jockey around the turn as the steering wheel never turned any further to the right. As we pulled up to the campground office, I told Gayle to find a site that took all left turns to get to.

After parking, I slid under the motorhome to try and find the problem. It didn’t take long to find it. There is a large shaft that goes between the steering box and the front axle. About two-thirds of the way back the length of the shaft, the shaft  goes through a hole in a frame member. The tow truck operator hooked his cable to this shaft to pull us out. The bend must have taken the ridged strength out of the shaft and as we drove it kept bending more until it could not clear the hole in the frame when turning to the right.

The repair part of the story is a long one for another time but I warn anyone reading this to make sure they know what is being hooked to if you’re being towed.

If there is any funny part of this story it would be Gayle telling people about me telling her to find a site that would take only left-hand turns.

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Leave a Reply


  1. Vince Mee

    I ahd a similar experience with the shimmy and it was caused because the dingy was not in neutral. You probably “fixed it” when you disconnected and then properly put it in neutral when you hooked back up.
    My thoughts, Happy motoring,

  2. Mark Walsh

    If I might make a suggestion it would be that after you have this last repair done, you drive the motor home without the toad and see if the shimmy occurs. If nothing was evident on the MH, the toad or towing it might be the problem particularly if the road was uneven and not properly sloped on turns. You toad might have been steering in a different direction than the mh.

  3. Mike Padore

    My guess is that the initial shimmy was caused by an acute angled turn on either uneven and/or a sloping portion of the roadbed. This type of problem will cause the front wheels of the dingy to turn in the opposite direction from the intended path of the RV. Severe damage can accrue to the dingy front end and attachment gear.

  4. Mark "Sarge' Hutchens

    There is one problem I see with this story,, They had the vibration before they called the tow truck. Now the only being able to turn left as a result of the tow drivers lack of knowledge and he should have known what he was hooking too, and what he should have properly hooked too. So that means there is still a problem waiting to occur that has not been addressed.


  5. Wayne E. Bales

    The Left Hand Turn Only confirms my thinking. All RV’s should have a sturdy tow hook easily accessible attached to front frame like most pickups.

    I have a Ford E450 B T Cruiser, fortunately I havn’t had to be towed. I see no where to hook up in front without ripping the front lower valance off.

    Thank you,
    Wayne E. Bales