Posts

Blue Ox Tow Bar Over Or Under?

In a post earlier today I had shared a video of the Blue Ox Tow Bar installation. The technician walked me through the process of connecting the tow bar. In that video, he had all of the cables under the tow bar.

I had already done some research beforehand and there are different views on whether all of the cables should be over or under the tow bar. Generally, the prevailing view is to place the lighting and breakaway cables above the tow bar and the safety lines below. The rationale is that the lighting and breakaway cables will be better protected from potential road debris.

The Gadget Guru had a Blue Ox representative run through the process and you can see in Andy’s video that the Blue Ox representative does place the lighting and breakaway cables over the tow bar.

I decided to contact Blue Ox directly and I asked them for their specific recommendation.

Here was their response:

Richard,

We only recommend that the breakaway cable be above the tow bar. The safety cables and electrical cables should be under the tow bar that way they avoid the latch handles on the tow bar. The chance that either the safety cables or electrical cable would cause the latch handles to push down and unlock the leg while towing is very small but there is a chance. The breakaway cable is small enough where it doesn’t have enough weight to affect the latch handle. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thank you and have a great day!

Blue Ox Tow Bar

A little over a month ago we went to the dealer to have our new tow bar system installed on our coach.

We expected to be at the dealer for only two days and we wound up being stranded there for a few weeks due to a series of accidents. A punctured oil pan followed by a damaged awning. We are still waiting on the parts for the awning and we hope to be on our way as scheduled for November 1st although we did leave the dealer last week to spend a few weeks shivering in the cold at Sherkston Shores.

Winter is coming in early this year.

I put a video together on our tow bar system. It shows how to connect the tow bar, the car guard and the supplementary braking system.

I have put a few hours against the tow bar system since it was installed and all works well. The Lincoln tracks perfectly behind the coach and I am pleased with the Blue Ox product so far. It seems very well engineered and it is very straightforward to use.

The Long Weekend

This is home for the Thanksgiving weekend. Not exactly as per plan.

No status on our timeline. The parts have been ordered but we do not know when they will arrive. Obviously not today. Hopefully sometime next week.

Here are a couple of shots of our current site. We are nestled amongst the trees with a large, open area that, for most of our time here, has been ours alone.

There have been a few coaches that have set up beside us for an overnight stay here and there. Four coaches over three nights. Otherwise, it has been a very private spot at the Hitch House.

Here is a shot of the baseplate on our Lincoln.

We were supposed to be here for two days to have this base plate installed for our Blue Ox tow bar system. We will have spent at least three or perhaps four weeks before resuming our journey due to a series of unexpected issues which you can read about here.

The base plate on our car is discrete. From a few feet away you would hardly know that it is there.

We have a Blue Ox Patriot II as our supplemental braking system.

To legally tow a vehicle behind a motorhome, in any State or Province, the following is required: a base plate bracket to connect to a tow bar, a tow bar with safety cables, a supplemental braking system, a break away system and the ability to display stop, turn and running lights on the towed vehicle.

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.