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Hooking Up The Dinghy


SpaceNorman

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My wife and I are newbies and are in the process getting our RVing ducks in order. We recently purchased a new (to us!) 2012 Holiday Rambler 43' Endeavor DFT and are now getting our dinghy needs aligned. We're planning to close the deal tomorrow on a gently used 2012 Jeep Liberty 4x4 - and are making plans to the have coach and dinghy set up for towing.

 

I've web searched myself stupid as I've researched the various designs used in supplemental braking systems. I've read all the marketing from the various manufacturers as well as whatever reviews I could find. But, based on all that I've read so far - no one setup has emerged as a clear favorite in the marketplace. I've asked my dealer for his recommendation. He has proposed the following:

 

Roadmaster Sterling All Terrain Towbar and corresponding Base Plate

SMI Air Force One supplemental braking system

 

Based on my review of the Air Force One's features and functions - I'm comfortable that the Air Force One's design and operation are a good fit for my needs.

 

This brings me to my question to the forum - does anybody with experience with either of these products - have a strong opinion regarding build quality or manufacturer's server and support?

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There are two leaders in the field of tow bars and base plates for flat towing. Those two are Blue Ox and Roadmaster and owners of either one will tell you that theirs is the best that exists. Not that far behind would be Demco. I have used Blue Ox for years so think it the best, but I have never owned a Roadmaster. :P If I were to buy such equipment today. I'd probably choose one of the first two, based upon which one I could get for the better price.

 

For axillary braking equipment it is far more complicated as there are not only many different "leading" manufacturers, but there are also several very different ways of making the brakes on the towed vehicle be applied. There too, most RV owners find one brand/model that works well and tend to stay with and recommend it.

 

My suggestion is that you need to take some time and price shop as most of that equipment can be found in a wide variety of places and for a fairly substantial range in prices, even on Amazon!

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I have had both Blue Ox and Roadmaster aluminum towbars and both run about equal in my mind. Aluminum, so my wife can also hitch or unhitch as needed. My wife being able to manage was important to us and is really important now that I am restricted for weeks on what I can do after surgery.

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Your dealer has made a good recommendation. as Kirk said for towbars its either Roadmaster or BlueOx.

I would buy whichever one was available in the capacity & baseplate that fit my toad.

I use the Roadmaster Sterling All Terrain and its a very good unit. I don't use the SMI air force brake, but I've heard nothing but good reviews on it. Since it taps into your coaches air sys, you do need to be sure you get a quality installation.

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"Since it taps into your coaches air sys, you do need to be sure you get a quality installation."

This did cause problems for some friends due to the installer not putting it all back together correctly. We also do not have an Air Force One, but have friends happy with it. I think I would have preferred it to the Roadmaster Invisibrake we have, ours took a couple shots to get working right. But, we were early adopters.

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I use a Blue Ox tow bar system and matching baseplate on my Toad. For the braking system I use the US Gear Unified braking system.

I like this system as once installed it is there permanently or until you dont use the toad anymore. I like the controller at the drvers station as I can see how much braking force is going to the toad's brakes via feedback on LED lights. I can also adjust the braking force as well as use a small hand lever to use only the toad brakes if I want although I never have so far. Once this is installed on the toad its a simple plug in with the umbilical cord for hookup to the MH.

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Spacenorman. Read about the M&G Engineering air brake system. Some friends recommended we check it out, we did, and quickly had it installed in our Jeep Grand Cherokee. It requires an air hose from MH to car, and the breakaway cable (if you choose to add the breakaway feature), that's it, you never adjust anything or even see it, as everything in under the hood.

 

 

I have an inertial braking system with my towed. Simple to hook up, and never have to worry about anything breaking.

Would that be surge brake? If so, it will continually apply the towed brakes when descending steep grades instead of the coach helping to hold it back.

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We use a blueox bar and base plate. Our breaking system in the Air Force One for our diesel. We love how it works. Shop around for the best deals. We actually order all of our equipment and took it to the dealership for installation. That saved us a bundle. Check out DyerRV for a possible hood price

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We use an NSA ReadyBrute Elite tow bar that includes an integrated surge brake system, connected to a Blue Ox base plate. The combination tow bar is all-terrain, aluminum construction, and rated to tow up to 8,000 lbs. We've towed two toads over 40,000 with this combination and have been very satisfied with it.

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  • 4 weeks later...

BEST ADVICE I CAN GIVE: Make sure if any neighbors come up while you are hooking up: Totally stop what you are doing. Don't try and keep working or you will get bumfuzzled and forget what you are doing.

 

If you are in a hurry, tell them you will be happy to talk as soon as you are finished. It is REALLY easy to mess up the process if you aren't paying total attention.

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After 40 years of towing we are switching to a motor home and are going through the same exercise. We didn't want anything we had to lug in and out of our toad so settled for a Ready Brute system with a Protect-A-Tow for the rocks. A TPMS system is also a good option all around since you will never know if your toad has a flat.

Years ago we had made at an Escapade tire covers that snap on to the trailer rather than trying to pull tire covers over the tires. I have just found a place that makes the snap/twist hook on ones, RVsunguard.com,

 

Good luck with your "new" rig.

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X2: NSA ReadyBrute Elite tow bar that includes an integrated surge brake system, connected to a Blue Ox base plate.

 

Recommend your tow bar rating be heavier than required for your vehicle. I even went heavier duty on safety chains. My theory is that a heavier rated system will hold up better over the miles.

 

After you settle on tow bar and braking system you will need to sort out how to wire your RV to your Jeep. Post in the forum for advice. Lots of knowledgable members here.

 

Good Luck!

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Brand and model? "inertial braking system" is vague.

 

 

I have the Night Shift system. If you got to www.readybrake.com it'll show you an animation of how it works. Really simple to set up. Been using it for 5yrs. without any problems at all. What I really like is that once it's set up, it stays that way. All I have to do when hooking up the towed is clip the cable to the front of the car.

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We are full believers in having many checklists and using them, no matter how many times we have done the task. We have them taped in the toad, in the MH, on access doors etc. We always do a final walk around and then review our lists one final time. With the TPMS we check the tires each day as part of the routine.

 

These little things can save you big headaches on the road.

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And once you're hooked up and start to pull out watch your towed wheels in the side mirror as you either make the first turn or do a little wiggle to make sure that the wheels are all turning. I also used to tie a white rag to the top of the steering wheel. I could see it in the rearview camera and could watch it turn as I made turns and make sure it stayed straight as I drove down the road.

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Spacenorman. Read about the M&G Engineering air brake system. Some friends recommended we check it out, we did, and quickly had it installed in our Jeep Grand Cherokee. It requires an air hose from MH to car, and the breakaway cable (if you choose to add the breakaway feature), that's it, you never adjust anything or even see it, as everything in under the hood.

 

 

Would that be surge brake? If so, it will continually apply the towed brakes when descending steep grades instead of the coach helping to hold it back.

Have used the M&G for about 12 years. That includes two different Jeeps, not real hard to install yourself. When we had our Dutch Star MH it did require tapping into the MH air brake line.

 

Onse installed in the Jeep it just requires hooking up an air hose between the tower and towee, we use a coiled line with quick disconnects, takes about 10 seconds.

 

Dave

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We ended up going with the dealer's recommendation (Road Master "Sterling" All Terrain tow bar, base plate and AirForce One Braking system). Dealership did the install. The dealership we purchased our new (to us!) coach from is roughly 160 miles from us - so we planned a two day trip to have our Jeep prepped for towing and to take actual delivery of the coach.

 

While they were working on the install ... we spent half a day "moving in" our coach (bedding and kitchen stuff that we brought with us) and spent the other half of the day meeting with various service techs going over coach systems ... then took an orientation ride/quick driving lesson with our sales guy. We spent our first night in the coach on the dealer lot - as luck would have it, parked next to the folks who were the previous owners of the coach we purchased (they were having something installed on the their new coach and were there for that!) On Saturday morning - they rolled the prepped Jeep out and we spent an hour going over how to hook / unhook the Jeep. Our adventure began in earnest around noon when we drove our coach with Jeep in tow off the lot and headed home. I can't imagine anything being much simpler in terms of hookup up than the system we purchased - and have zero complaints in how it performed on the drive back home.

 

Only thing that took me by surprise was that the plastic key in the breakaway switch needs to be remain inserted all the time - even when the Jeep is being used as my wife's "daily driver" (I didn't think that one all the way through! Doh!). Concerns about the potential for problems if a local miscreant or parking lot vandal were to notice the wire loop hanging down and steal the key - meant I had to contact the folks at SMI for a spare key to keep in the Jeep's glovebox just in case!

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