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Snowbird Safety Towing Checklist

The Freightliner Chassis Owners Club had an article in their Winter 2017 publication of RV Soul on the importance of having a towing checklist. They credit the list to Blue Ox, a company that specializes in products for motorhome owners to flat tow their vehicles.

Here is the list:

  • Inspect the tow bar, dolly or trailer for loose bolts and worn part – tighten or replace before hooking up. If you have bolts that are consistently coming loose, use Loctite® or put on a double nut to keep them tight.
  • Hook up on a flat, smooth surface.
  • If you have a coupler-style tow bar, check the fit of the coupler on the ball. Adjust if necessary.
  • Hook up the tow bar.
  • Set up the towed vehicle’s steering and transmission to tow.
  • Check your parking brake to ensure it is off and disengaged.
  • Latch the legs on a self-aligning tow bar.
  • Attach the safety cables. Cross the cables between the vehicles and wrap the cables around the tow bar legs to keep from dragging.
  • Attach the electrical cable and tow brake system connections.
  • Check the function of all lights on both vehicles.
  • Locate your spare key and lock the towed vehicle’s doors.
  • Drive with care and remember your vehicle will be about 25 feet longer while towing.
  • Each time you stop, make sure to check the tow bar, baseplate and safety cables to ensure they are still properly attached. Pay particular attention to the hitch clips and pins that secure your tow bar or drop hitch to the motorhome hitch. Many breakaways occur because a pin clip has been removed and the pin drops out, allowing the toad to be dragged on the safety cables. Check the tires of the towed vehicle to make sure they are not going flat. If you are using a dolly or trailer, check the wheels to make sure they are not hot to the touch. If the wheels are hot, it may indicate a brake or bearing problem.
  • Before you start each day, check the lights to make sure they are working properly.
  • Between trips, clean the tow bar and cables to keep them in good shape. Also, clean and lubricate the tow bar as recommended by the manufacturer’s instructions (usually by applying spray silicone lubricant).
  • Have a checklist. It’s just too easy to get distracted and forget something (like ignition position, emergency brake, breakaway hook-up, transmission in wrong position, etc.).
  • Make sure you have a second key to the tow vehicle. That way you can leave your rig parked and hooked up without having to worry about unlocked doors.
  • Check all the connections every time you fuel up or make a rest stop.
  • Never let yourself be interrupted when hooking up. Keep your mind on your work.

There were a few items that stood out for me. Making sure that we have a second key to the tow vehicle safely stowed. Checking hitch clips and pins. And having a thorough checklist.

I remember reading about Nina and Paul, the couple behind the popular Wheeling It blog, when they had their first RV accident in 2016: their tow car came loose while in transit. They avoided a potentially devastating accident although they did incur a fair amount of damage to their toad and some damage to the rear of their coach. One of the big lessons that they learned through the experience:

More Regular Checks On The Road: It’s possible we could have avoided all this by implementing more checks on the road. When we first hook-up we follow a pretty rigorous process where both of us double-check each others’ work (4x check), so we know without a doubt that the cotter pins were firmly on there when we started driving. But once we start driving we generally don’t check again. In this case we took a ferry (we were stopped for a while) and then had some bumpy driving thereafter and admittedly we did not double-check the tow connections after either of those events. I honestly have no idea if this would have helped (we really don’t know exactly when we lost the cotter pin), but I think that getting into the habit of walking around the rig and doing a double-check of tow connections whenever you are stopped (or things significantly change) is a good idea.

One thing I do think about when getting ready to travel is to treat every trip as a new trip and to be disciplined in running through our circle checks. Sometimes I just want to hop in and get started as quickly as possible. Easy to do in a car. Not safe to do in a large motorhome.

RV Blogs We Follow

Follow

Well, it turns out that our blog is not the only one focused on the RV lifestyle. Thank heavens.

I have been blogging since 2004, which seems like such a long time ago now, and my personal blog gets a lot of traffic. The RV Castaways site, being new, is just starting to build. If you are visiting us for the first time, welcome!

We have been following a lot of blogs since we started our journey into retirement. There are, of course, many sites that we visit every once in a while and, no doubt, a vast number of them that we have never visited at all.

Here are a few of our favourites.

Gone With The Wynns

A very impressive website created by a very impressive couple. In one sense, they almost singlehandedly convinced us to make our dream of travelling extensively in an RV a reality. Jason and Nikki have left the RV community to explore somewhere else, something to do with water I think, and we do miss their RV stories however the spirit of adventure still continues. One of our favourite sites and we continue to follow them on their new adventures.

RV Love

Marc and Julie fulltime in their RV even though they are still working. And they have really upped their game with their newly designed website. I know how much work it takes to build a quality website and to produce quality videos. They put a lot of effort into creating great content and their videos have helped us with a lot of our questions about the RV lifestyle.

RV Geeks

Peter and John have a wide following due, in part, to their wonderful how-to videos. We have learned so much from this website. Everything from how to empty our black tanks to leveling our coach.

Wheeling It

It was this post, 10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Fulltime RVing, that introduced us to Nina and Paul. Nina posts regularly about their travels and she does an amazing job reviewing the campsites they visit as well as the process they follow to plan their travels here, here and here.

Outside Our Bubble

Well, what can I say? David and Brenda do march to the beat of a different drummer! Highly energetic and passionate, we have gained a lot of insight from them on both the technical and non-technical aspects of the RV lifestyle. And David had founded AVS Forum many years back, a site I used to visit all the time. A guy who is passionate about technology and audio? Of course I love his website.

iRV2.com

I go here every day. I spend most of my time on the Newmar Owner’s Forum. Such a great community of people here. Although, for now, I have been lurking. Still a bit shy to post.

Life In The Slow Lane

I’m not sure how I stumbled onto Mike’s blog but he seemed to be in a very similar place in life to me. He was nearing retirement, looking at purchasing a Newmar Dutch Star to go travel fulltime, and his approach to blogging was very helpful to us particularly with his journey to purchase his RV. We’ve traded a few emails and he does post from time to time on the iRV forums. He always has lots of great content to share.

The Good, The Bad and the RV

Mike and Karla have created a really great website. They also travel in a Newmar Dutch Star. Mike has taught me a lot about how to plan for and equip an RV. Check out some of his thoughts on How To’s and Gear and Gadgets.