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Old 07-10-2016, 09:29 PM   #1
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Default Tow bar breaks on interstate

Thought this was interesting and want to get input on recommendations for a new tow bar less likely to fail. Posted this on Irv2 truck forum as well:

Just wondered if anyone has had this experience. I'm driving a 45' Showhauler on a Cascadia chassis and so I did't feel much out of the ordinary, but I did notice through my driver's mirror a black rubicon that appeared to be tailgating me and swerving back and forth; then it occurred to me that it was my jeep. I turned on the rear camera and saw that one of the arms on my towbar was broken as it had pulled straight apart out of the shaft. I have a roughly 5 year old blue ox aventa lx with a 10K rating. My safety chains did their job and along with the one remaining arm which was holding onto the jeep from the passenger side, I was able to modulate my speed and get the receiver to wedge up tight to the jeep front bumper and slow to a stop on the shoulder. Amazing as it was, the jeep didn't hit the rear body of the truck, it didn't take out any other 4 wheelers, and because the jeep has an aftermarket bumper/winch combo the last owner put on it, I can't say for sure that it even scratched the bumper. The bumper still has hair on the front of the winch assembly where my wife clipped a deer with it a few weeks ago, and the deer did no damage to it either. Only one of the safety chains got pinched between the bumper and receiver and needs replaced.
I hope this is a freak occurrence, but as I'm shopping for another tow bar in the next couple days, I thought I would see what others suggested for a more bulletproof tow bar. FYI, although I lube the towbar well and keep the hardware tight, I don't run brakes on the Toad and I drive faster than I should drive most of the time I'm behind the wheel. The jeep occasionally has a dirt bike or two on the hitch carrier and some gear in it so can be as heavy as 5500 lbs loaded. I use the aftermarket blue ox two prong claw instead of the standard 3 prong claw because I hook directly to my tow recovery hook single tabs in lieu of having a base plate with the two smaller tabs on each side.Thanks for your input!
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Old 07-10-2016, 10:25 PM   #2
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Wow, glad the safety backup worked. Sorry I don't have any knowledge of tow bars. I pull an enclosed trailer. Good luck though.
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Old 07-11-2016, 01:07 AM   #3
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Wow, glad to hear everything is okay. I got exactly the same tow bar, so keep us informed on what you find. Any chance the tow bar was damaged by backing up the toad? Maybe I should start towing the toad on a trailer at least that I can back up.
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Old 07-11-2016, 01:49 AM   #4
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id be contacting blue-ox to get their input - seem like a great company, they rebuild any owners tow bar for free as i understand it.

i have the Aventa XL (alum) too, only ONCE have i had a problem - coming out of ABQ balloon fest after fueling up one of the bars didn't lock and the jeep/toad was skewed going down i-10...i pulled over, pushed the jeep back & locked the bar, never had another issue.

I did just damage my aventa (my fault) - it jumped out of the folded position holder and i ended up dragging the bar behind the coach (no toad) and damaged one of the aluminum (roadmaster) connection points - i couldn't get replacement parts & managed to pick up TWO Roadmaster falcon bars off of CraigsList cheap.

My offer to you - i'd be happy to make you a deal on the blue-ox aventa so you can piece yours back together (mine uses a different connection point from yours - so you could even take the toad connections off of yours and put it on mine and be done/good to go).

OR ill sell you one of the roadmaster falcon bars for what i have in it (250 bucks).
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Old 07-11-2016, 01:45 PM   #5
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Default Blue ox

Thanks and I may take you up on that offer; I'll see what blue ox says, but I'm leaning towards something type of tow bar that may be overkill, but is rated for over 10K. Might just get one fabricated.
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Old 07-11-2016, 01:48 PM   #6
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Gordy, in years past I've backed the toad up for a couple feet at the most, but I can't remember doing that since i was driving the first RV I owned. On my third one now, and I've probably towed 30-40K with that tow bar since then. I suppose it's possible.
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Old 07-11-2016, 02:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RBowman View Post
Thanks and I may take you up on that offer; I'll see what blue ox says, but I'm leaning towards something type of tow bar that may be overkill, but is rated for over 10K. Might just get one fabricated.
The Roadmaster Blackhawk is rated for 10k.

What are you planning to tow?
Our F350 (crewcab 4wd long bed diesel) is only 8400 lbs.
I know our Wrangler (2dr Sport) is under 4500 lbs.
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Old 07-11-2016, 03:54 PM   #8
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Default Blue ox

Talked with Blue ox. They're looking at the pics and their comments were that it is an old towbar, 5-7 years old, and has a lot of miles on it. I think I've towed about 50K with it. So they felt that even though it was rated for 10K, this was likely due to metal fatigue from wear and tear. I tow a '07 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon unlimited. About 4850 dry. I would like to buy a tow bar that I could keep lubed and stored inside when not in use that would be safe for 100K or more. Maybe that's an unreasonable expectation, but I thought that having a 5K vehicle pulled by a 10K tow bar would get me 100K miles. I'll post an update after they look at the pics and see what they're final recommendations are.
Thanks
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Old 07-11-2016, 06:43 PM   #9
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i didn't realize BlueOX had a (mileage or annual) limit.
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Old 07-11-2016, 07:01 PM   #10
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I don't think that is matter of lube causing the breakage. I will get a bit metallurgical tech here:

Aluminum does not have a fatigue limit, so it is quite possible that the bar did develop a crack and it propagated until the final overload failure. If I could see the breakage fracture surface in detail it might confirm this. Could have a mfg defect that enabled a stress concentration, which makes the fatigue crack problem worse. Aluminum is not as good of a choice for a cyclic tensile loading situation. Your 50K miles would represent a lot of cycling.

Overall, I think a steel tow bar is a better choice. Bit heavier and more to wrestle when putting int he receiver, but I doubt the stresses would ever be above the fatigue limit for steel, which does have a limit (approx 50% of yield strength) whereby no fatigue cracks can initiate or propagate.
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Old 07-11-2016, 07:34 PM   #11
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my knowledge (is limited) but blue ox (and roadmaster) don't necessarily require lubrication.

blue-ox calls for silicon lube (iirc) as a means of CLEANING the dirt and (usually) sticky debris that builds up.

roadmaster calls for cleaning and DRY lubing (to prevent debris from sticking to a wet lube).
its strange (to me) but roadmaster actually recommends (or more accurately instructs) disassembly and WASHING (with water) and drying then using a silicon dry-lubing.
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Old 07-11-2016, 10:14 PM   #12
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Yeah well I am not giving BlueOx money for a replacement every 5 years. Will have to look alternate tow bars or maybe time to get a stacker and take all the toys.
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Old 07-12-2016, 09:57 PM   #13
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Default blue ox

Thanks for everyone's input. I did get a final ruling from Blue Ox. I was straightforward with them regarding the estimated mileage and usage. I called in the serial number and they reviewed the pics. It is a steel towbar. No visible cracks. 1 arm broken and the other bent. I probably have 40-50K on what is a 2012 tow bar. I think I bought it near the end of 2012 from an online blue ox authorized dealer with a one year warranty. It was sold as a NASCAR promo towbar used in some function for NASCAR. Blue ox confirmed this and their take is that NASCAR put so much wear and tear on it during the 6-12 months it was in use that (what appeared to me to be a nearly new towbar when I bought it) fatigued and broke in 2016 as a result. They conceded that even when running a 5000lb vehicle on a 10000lb towbar that I must replace the towbar every 5-10 years or 100K miles to prevent fatigue failure. They offered $150 off the suggested $895 cost of another aventa at a blue ox dealer or for about $550, two new aventa arms. No free or low cost rebuild options.
I liked the function and reluctantly picked up another lightly used aventa LX 10K towbar online for $500 w shipping and hope to get a hefty fixed steel towbar welded up this winter when time allows.
Thanks again for all the thoughts and suggestions!
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Old 07-13-2016, 11:31 PM   #14
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Default Blue ox

One final comment on this topic. I received a call today from Blue Ox. It was from a different customer service representative than the one who spoke with me yesterday. He indicated that his boss reviewed the pictures and determined that the steel tow bar should not have failed in this manner and authorized a free replacement tow bar. I was thankful and surprised. As a business owner, I am impressed with the professional manner in which both of the gentleman demonstrated on the phone and via email with me. It's been a learning experience for me, and I've come to the conclusion that more meticulous inspection and servicing of tow bars is necessary regardless of the weight rating of the tow bar relative to the tow vehicle, and while I will definitely make sure I have a set of heavy duty safety cables in case of failure, I am impressed with the customer service department at Blue Ox. They did this without me having to ask for a manager, raise my voice, or do anything that would encourage them to send a replacement just to make me go away. It's nice to see a company stand by the customer even if the failure of the product is well outside of the warranty period.
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Old 07-14-2016, 12:18 AM   #15
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Sounds like we thought exactly the same. I too bought one of the refurbished Nascar bars,why not?? Anyway glad to hear Blue Ox treated you fairly.
I was in Tampa this year and talked to Blue ox about a loose swivel on mine. They fast tracked me the next day an replaced the head at no charge.
Why would I buy any other bar?
Safe towing-truck conversions RULE.
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Old 07-14-2016, 04:02 AM   #16
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NICE! Ive always heard their service was 1st rate, glad to see it continue!

And here Ive always thought the grade 80 safety chains & clevis hooks that i built were over kill and something folks could make fun of...
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Old 07-14-2016, 08:57 PM   #17
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Thank you for your post. Made me think about my 6 yr old Blue Ox. You know we can over look the tow bar and take it for granted. Glad things worked out for you.
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