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 Post subject: Tow Bar Options
PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 5:00 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:21 pm
Posts: 57
Location: Beaverton, OR
I wanted to ask everyone's opinions on tow bar options. We just bought an 03 Explorer Sport Trac that I will eventually be getting set up to flat tow. I found the instructions on how to wire up the LED and get the computer flashed to allow Neutral in the Transfer case. But I otherwise know nothing about the different setups. I have seen setups from Blue Ox, Roadmaster, and Demco. What experiences do you seasoned "toaders" have with the different bars? Thanks in advance.

~Dorian

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1993 Born Free President 24' Rear Bunk, 7.3L ATS Turbo Diesel, 10K Trans Cooler, EGT & Trans Temp Gauges, 77K "Elsa"


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 5:20 pm 
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Joined: Tue May 30, 2006 1:38 pm
Posts: 591
Location: Monroe, NJ
I have a Blue Ox tow bar that is probably 12 years old. I believe it is the Aventa model; steel not the newer aluminum one. I have used it to tow 4 different Jeeps without a problem.

I was at an FMCA rally several years ago where Blue Ox was a vendor. At that time they had changed the "tabs" on the end of the arms from a 2 tab to a 3 tab design which made the connection stronger. They had techs at the rally who would change them out. I think I paid some small fee for the parts, but the techs swapped them out, cleaned and lubricated the arms and made me a happy camper. Very good product, but again, it's the only I have ever used so nothing to compare it with.

I also have one of the original Brake Buddy's that has also been used in each of the Jeeps. Since there is no permanent installation, it's easy to move from one vehicle to another. Pretty simple to install for use also.

Again, it's the first and only one I bought, so nothing to compare it to.

Good luck.

John

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John and Maureen O'Brien
and our 2 German Shepherds
2006 RSB - sold
2008 Jeep Wrangler X


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 6:08 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:21 pm
Posts: 57
Location: Beaverton, OR
Thanks for the replies so far. I had forgot actually that it would probably be wise to also get a brake buddy to brake the Explorer as well so the motorhome isn't all of a sudden stopping close to 16000 pounds...I've already added an extra 10K-rated trans cooler in line with the stock cooler along with a mechanical trans temp gauge, so that will certainly help with the life of the transmission. I may have to turn up the Injector pump a couple flats and adjust the wastegate to give me another couple pounds of boost, but it will probably still be slow going up the big hills. Here is our new addition to the family:

2003 True Blue Metallic Sport Trac XLT Plus 4X4. Leather, heated seats, moonroof, Pioneer audio, and 4.10LS axles.
Image

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1993 Born Free President 24' Rear Bunk, 7.3L ATS Turbo Diesel, 10K Trans Cooler, EGT & Trans Temp Gauges, 77K "Elsa"


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 7:40 pm 
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Joined: Mon Aug 15, 2005 8:05 pm
Posts: 2018
Location: Spencer, IA
The Libals,

I am also a fan of Blue Ox tow bar systems. I have the same Blue Ox tow bar that I bought new back in 1999 (14 years) and I will estimate that it has survived close to 60,000 miles of towing. Like John above, mine is also their Aventa model since discontinued and replaced by their current Aventa LX model which is even easier to disconnect on uneven terrain.

Not saying that Roadmaster and Demco don't make good tow bars just that I am relating my experience with the Blue Ox product.

I also have used my original model Brake Buddy for the same 14 years and it has never failed me.

I have traveled 12 of those 14 years to the Phoenix, AZ and Las Vegas, NV areas each spring from Iowa so have quite a bit of experience towing up and down the hills on I-40, I-10 & I-15 in NM, AZ, NV and CA. My coach has the gas V10 engine rated at 305 HP equipped with the Ford factory OEM transmission cooler. With my 2005 Chevrolet Malibu toad, total weight is 16,650 lbs. Going up any grade at all will cause the transmission to shift down out of over-drive into 3rd. Also, if the grade is 6 degree (pretty typical hill on those interstates), the transmission will need to shift out of 3rd down to 2nd. My coach is on a E450 chassis that comes standard with a 4.56 rear axle ratio. In 2nd gear, I can pull up a 6 degree hill at 55 mph at 4500 rpm. The V10 is an over-head cam engine and can easily rev that high but it sounds like it is really screaming at 4500 rpm. My Born Free currently has over 77,000 miles on it.

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Bill Hemme - Spencer, Iowa
E-mail: whemme@earthlink.net
2002 Born Free (Ford E-450 V10) 26' RSB
2016 VW Golf GTI - toad


Last edited by whemme on Mon Aug 19, 2013 8:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 7:47 pm 
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Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2005 6:55 pm
Posts: 1290
Location: Escondido. CA
~Dorian, are you inquiring more about the base plate installed on the towed vehicle, or do you mean the tow bar itself? Most tow bars are interchangeable/usable between manufacturers base plates with the appropriate connectors. I chose a Roadmaster baseplate because I had decided to do the install myself and after researching istallation instructions for the various manufacturers, the Roadmaster looked to be the simplest and required the least amount of vehicle modification.

As an aside, all base plates and tow bars made for my ~1,800lb. Smart Car are overkill since they are of the same design/build as those for towing full sized sedans, SUVs, anf trucks.

Bill

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Barb & Bill
2004 Born Free 22' Built for Two (Sold)
no longer towing a 2008 Smart ForTwo

Escondido, CA


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 7:56 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:21 pm
Posts: 57
Location: Beaverton, OR
I was mainly referring to the tow bars, although I did not know that the base plates would interchange. I know the widths are more than likely identical because of frame width, but I don't know if there are differences in how the different tow bars work. It sounds like I can't go wrong with a Blue Ox. The whole system is going to be rather spendy though...We were pretty disappointed when we missed out on one Sport Trac that had the whole system already installed with bars included. Granted it was 3 grand more than we paid for this one, but it was ready to tow and it was absolutely pristine.

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1993 Born Free President 24' Rear Bunk, 7.3L ATS Turbo Diesel, 10K Trans Cooler, EGT & Trans Temp Gauges, 77K "Elsa"


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 Post subject: Ready Brute Elite
PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 8:03 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2012 2:10 pm
Posts: 116
Location: North Webster, IN
I recently went thru this whole process. If starting from "scratch". finding the right tow car is the first choice, then base plate / tow bar and then a braking system.

I purchased a 2007 HHR that had a Blue Ox base plate already installed. I then went with a Ready Brute Elite 8,000 lb tow bar which also incorporates a brake system. I chose this combination as it is simple, does not involve electricity or electronics and the tow bar with brake can be bought for under $900 which is much less then you will pay for any other system.

Ready Brute or Ready Brake can work with any base plate such as Blue Ox, Roadmaster, etc.


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Looking for 2011 or newer RSB

2008 27' RB. SOLD,
2007 Chevy HHR "toad"
ReadyBrute Elite tow bar with Ready Brake
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 8:07 pm 
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Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2005 6:55 pm
Posts: 1290
Location: Escondido. CA
~Dorian, you might want to factor into your decision that the folks that make the Roadmaster towing systems are 18 miles up the road from you in Vancouver, WA. :D

Roadmaster, Inc.
6110 NE 127th Ave.
Vancouver, WA 98682

Phone: 360-896-0407
Toll Free: 800-669-9690

http://roadmasterinc.com/

Bill


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_________________
Barb & Bill
2004 Born Free 22' Built for Two (Sold)
no longer towing a 2008 Smart ForTwo

Escondido, CA


Last edited by bcope01 on Mon Aug 19, 2013 8:32 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 8:09 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 2:39 pm
Posts: 617
Location: North Scituate, RI
We have used the Blue Ox systems since the 80s and been very satisfied. Also, they excell in their customer relations when it comes to help and advice. Per the following from Blue Ox, the height of the connection to the tow vehicle is very important for safety.

Hook-up
Having been to several rallies over the years I've seen some strange hook-ups out there, and even some dangerous ones that I've spoken to the owners about correcting.

Tow bar angle is probably the easiest one to spot. It seems that since all of us manufacturers have moved the industry into "coupler less" towing i.e. motorhome mounted and stored tow bars…some RVers do not feel the angle of the tow bar is important. Our recommendation is no more than 4 inches higher at the motorhome side and absolutely never lower at the motorhome side. If an extension is added for say a bike rack it is even more imperative the tow bar not be at a severe angle. It's all geometry and physics. The farther back you move the pivot point of the tow bar from the rear axle of the coach, the more vertical movement you get and the more leverage is applied to the receiver hitch, tow bar and the baseplate.

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Mel & Connie


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 9:37 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:21 pm
Posts: 57
Location: Beaverton, OR
I will definitely make a trip up to Vancouver to Roadmaster. Did not realize they were so close! And I will also look into that Ready Brute. How does that brake work?

EDIT: Nevermind. I looked it up on their site. Pretty ingenious system!

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1993 Born Free President 24' Rear Bunk, 7.3L ATS Turbo Diesel, 10K Trans Cooler, EGT & Trans Temp Gauges, 77K "Elsa"


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 12:08 pm 
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Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2005 6:55 pm
Posts: 1290
Location: Escondido. CA
Below is a link to the Roadmaster base plate/bracket installation instructions for your vehicle. Since yours is a 2003 model, you don't need to remove the front end to do the install required on later models. :D

Looks pretty straight forward. Would guess that the Roadmaster folks in Vancouver could get it done in under an hour, even getting the electrics hooked up. Suggest you take your coach and Sport Trac up there at the same so they can get everything to marry up perfectly.

Bill

http://www.roadmasterinc.com/pdfinst/474-1.pdf

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Barb & Bill
2004 Born Free 22' Built for Two (Sold)
no longer towing a 2008 Smart ForTwo

Escondido, CA


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:07 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:21 pm
Posts: 57
Location: Beaverton, OR
Thanks for that, Bill! Great set of instructions. Hopefully it won't be too long before I can get everything in order.

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1993 Born Free President 24' Rear Bunk, 7.3L ATS Turbo Diesel, 10K Trans Cooler, EGT & Trans Temp Gauges, 77K "Elsa"


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:30 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2005 12:14 pm
Posts: 381
Location: Seneca, SC
I have some negatives you should be aware of.
First is the Roadmaster hitch with a ball-on-the-coach method. With this system it takes two to un-hitch, usually. Some of this problem was eliminated by a five inch drop in the ball carrier which made the hitch fairly level, although it looked quite level before. I went with the ball hitch because I was familiar with it having used ball hitches on multiple trailers and boats for 40 years. Poor excuse. Second negative: The brake buddy has to have some place to store it when not in use. We pull a Tracker convertible which does not have room to store the brake buddy. So I chose the SMI system which is permanently attached so one has only to get in and drive away once un-hitched. The control unit is thin enough to sit under the passenger seat with no problems. Check this one out.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 9:09 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2008 5:30 pm
Posts: 333
Location: Northport, Michigan
We just had a Blue Ox system and Brake Buddy installed on a 2003 Accura MdX to tow with our 2004 26 RSB. We have never towed before but the system looks pretty simple and safe. The Brake Buddy makes Chuck the most nervous. We got a new battery for the MDX. Our BF has 125,000 miles. Anything else we should be worried about regarding towing?

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Chuck and Judy Harris
Oliver and Monty, the Cavaliers at the Rainbow Bridge; Timothy Dickens, the Cavalier puppy
2004 RSB
2015 Royal Splendor
Santana tandem bicycle


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