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Towbars, Hitches and Braking Systems for your Toads, etc. Questions, concerns, or suggestions regarding what equipment to use to tow your Toad with are discussed here.

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  #1  
Old 10-09-2009
Lee Davis's Avatar
Lee Davis Lee Davis is offline
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Default Tow Bar Questions, Roadmaster vs Blue Ox

I have just purchased a new tow vehicle (Honda CRV) and the owner is including his Road-master tow bar. It's not the one that goes into the receiver on the MH but sits on a ball which goes into the MH receiver.

I currently am towing with a Blue OX (older system) and have the option of switching to this Road-master system by getting a bar with a ball that goes into my MH reciever or staying with my Blue Ox tow bar and get an adaptor bar that stays on the vehicle which will adapt it to my current Blue Ox system. Going to the Road-master will be about $100 for the receiver bar with the ball. Staying with the Blue Ox will be about $200 because the adaptor is about $100 and I will probably need to change the "drop" bar coming out of the MH reciever as the new tow vehicle sits higher than my Saturn which as I recall costs about $100. That difference is negligible.

I generally do not like having something on the front of my vehicle all the time (which is one of the reasons I like the Blue Ox), but it looks like even if I stay with the Blue Ox I will still have a lighter weight adaptor bar across the front no matter what. Going to the Road master means storing about a 50 pound tow bar on the front of the CRV at all times. I have generally liked my Blue OX (even though it is older and they have suggested it might need replacement) but, since I now have a choice, I thought I would solicit opinions on the pros and cons of each from you folks (probably a mistake as I will I'm sure unleash the masses who frequent the forum and prefer one over the other). Anyway, please let me know your considered opinions.

Thanks,
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Lee - 423-292-5767 or Jacque 423-262-9569
or lnjdavis@gmail.com Please call or email instead of private messages

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1995 BMC 37
300 HP Cummins 6CTA 8.3 Turbocharged Diesel
Boldly Going Nowhere
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  #2  
Old 10-09-2009
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My only observation is that 100% of the serious headaches I've encountered over the years with towing (trailers, cars, etc.) has been with the ball hitch. Due to that experience, I avoid ball hitches whenever and wherever I can. One of the most trouble free towing experiences I've had was with the Blue Ox Alesis receiver-type tow bar. No problems with the connection at any time in 24,000+ miles with the toad behind the coach and no problems with the base plate or other Blue Ox components.

Roadmaster makes good equipment, so that's not really the issue. Still, the potential for problems with the ball-hitch is the key area of concern. If you go that way, inspect the mechanism very carefully and ensure that it is in good physical condition and operates smoothly.

As for drop hitches/receivers. Keep in mind that the rear of the coach can drop down rather more than you may realize. After destroying a 'safety roller' and drop receiver due to a deep drainage channel (in a driveway entrance in Texas), I "rethought" the amount of drop necessary for smooth tow bar operation.

Tow bars generally come with instructions that they should be "level" between the hitch-point and the toad connection. Level tolerance is often described with a measure of inches above or below dead level that the toad or coach is allowed. Ultimately, I elected to have the coach end 3" above the toad end (limit of "acceptable tolerance") when on flat ground to reduce the size of the drop receiver used on the coach. (I was then able to use a 4" drop receiver instead of a 6" or 8" as measurements suggested.) I experienced several minor and one significant scrapes with the 6" drop receiver (with roller) -- but never had any scrapes with the 4" drop receiver (and I didn't bother with the roller).

The tow bar should be level to reduce the up-thrust against the hitch -- and to keep the toad from overriding the hitch. The tendency for this to occur probably varies with the particular vehicles involved. With a ball-hitch you need to be very careful that up-thrust be minimized, as that is the stress that tends to push the clamp off the ball, resulting in separation. (Be sure you have a supplemental braking system with breakaway switch on the toad!)

Finally, the driving of a toad with a 50# weight on the front bumper is probably somewhat undesirable. Placed at the far end of the vehicle, that weight will have much more impact than a similar weight within the vehicle or in the cargo area. It may adversely affect the handling and will shift more weight onto the front brakes during stops, with resulting increased front brake wear. It's a consideration to keep in your decision process.
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  #3  
Old 10-09-2009
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sfedeli sfedeli is offline
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Hi Lee,

I've been pulling a Honda Pilot for about 45K miles using a Blue Ox Aventa II (without the ball) and Blue Ox baseplate. I can only say that we've been on some really rough roads all over the country and never had a problem with the towbar. Our only issue was with the installer's failure to use loctite on the mounting bolts when we first purchased the baseplate. I like the discreet look of the receiver mounts on the toad as well and would stick with a blue ox baseplate if at all possible. The appearance and reliability are worth a few hundred $$ in my opinion. Be sure to rebuild the tow bar when the washers and pivots become loose and lube the two shafts with white lithium grease annually. If you are going to "Q" this year, they have a tent there and will rebuild the towbar and make it function "like new" for around $15.
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  #4  
Old 10-09-2009
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I also have a Blue Ox towbar. I have hit some real rough spots without any problems. Recently we went through an intersection at around 45 mph, and the road we crossed had a significant crown. As I felt the front of the coach rise way too high, I knew we were in for a nose dive on the other side. The Blue Ox and the Jeep toad survived without an issue, my wife, on the other hand, was a little shaken up.

I also had a problem with the initial toad bracket install. After discovering it was tearing the frame metal and was about to pull off the toad, I made some modifications to correct the problem. I asked my lawyer if I could sue the installer for damages, but he indicated that suing myself would not be covered by my umbrella policy. ( The problem was my fault, not Blue Ox's)
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  #5  
Old 10-10-2009
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Gardner,

You're not the only one with Blue Ox/Jeep base plate problems. On the one I'm very well acquainted with, the base plates bolt to the front of the vehicle with 1 (yes, one!) bolt. This is also the safety chain attachment, all on 1 bolt. And it doesn't really bolt to the frame, just front end sheet metal. Very poor design for this vehicle.
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  #6  
Old 10-10-2009
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I've always made my own toad vehicle base plates. Just hate to pay for the commercial expensive base plates, and poorly designed for the most part. I usually look up the base plates on the net and down load a copy and work from there. I'm fortunate that I have the steel here at the home front, and the equipment here to make it work.
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  #7  
Old 10-10-2009
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This was the result of my failure to understand that there was a 4th bolt in the rear that prevented the twisting motion. I thought it was only for the tow hook, which I didn.t have. I had to add steel spacers between the frame and the rear mount. I also added an angle iron internal support to spread out the force on the thin frame metal. It has held very well since. The unused hole in the picture was ovaled out so I drilled a new hole which passed through the new internal angle iron'. I also welded a plate on the front where the lower holes were pulled thorugh.
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Last edited by gcyeaw; 10-10-2009 at 10:58 AM.
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  #8  
Old 10-10-2009
rhardesty rhardesty is offline
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Over the years, we have owned several models of Roadmaster, with the last one being the Sterling. If the Bird and the Jeep were not lined up straight when I unhooked [on a bind] I had to use a punch and hammer to get the pins out. The we got a 07 Jeep and I bought the Blue Ox Aventa LX. I did have to get a drop receiver to keep the tow bar level. So far, we have not had any problem unhooking, even on a bind.
DO make sure that the snap rings [round ring that snaps down on the receiver pin] is good and strong. We had one break this summer and I didn't discover it until we pulled into a camp ground and got ready to unhook. Luckly the pin was still in there. It could have been a disaster if the Jeep came loose on one side.

I VOTE FOR THE BLUE OX.
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  #9  
Old 10-10-2009
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Richard,
I do agree that it is tough to remove the pins on my Blue Ox when you are not flat and level.

P.S. I added a picture of the fourth bolt above.
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  #10  
Old 10-10-2009
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Lee Davis Lee Davis is offline
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Default New Roadmaster All Terrain Tow bars?

In my shopping for tow bars, before upgrading my Blue Ox to a newer one, I thought I'd evaluate the various Roadmaster Models since I have those base plates on my newer tow car and would not need a Blue Ox adaptors.

Road-master's new Sterling All Terrain models are touting the fact that they have a non-binding lever system now that allows you to unhook it in places that normally would put their previous models and Blue Oxs in a bind. They actually look pretty good and are competitive price-wise. They mount on the motor home like Blue Ox does so that would solve the problem of all that stuff hanging on the front of the car (which I do not like)

I was looking at the 6000 lb version. Anyone have any experience with these new Road-master models?
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Lee and Jacque Davis - Full Timers

Lee - 423-292-5767 or Jacque 423-262-9569
or lnjdavis@gmail.com Please call or email instead of private messages

Website - www.5starselling.com
1995 BMC 37
300 HP Cummins 6CTA 8.3 Turbocharged Diesel
Boldly Going Nowhere
http://www.bbirdmaps.com/index.cfm #117
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