The RV Forum Community

RVing message boards => Towing and towables => Topic started by: Fatboy01 on September 15, 2017, 04:52:07 PM

Title: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: Fatboy01 on September 15, 2017, 04:52:07 PM
Warning! Blue Ox owners,
 I own an Aladdin (7500 lb) tow bar, purchased new back in 2011. My RV has just 25,000 miles on it. On a recent trip I was towing my 2011 Jeep Wrangler Sport (at 60 MPH) when I looked at my rear camera I noticed my Jeep moving back and forth. I cautiously moved off of the freeway to the side of the road. When I looked at my tow bar I could not believe my eyes, I had a locking pin shear off and the Jeep was being held on by one arm and the safety cables. After finally getting the Jeep unhooked from the tow bar, my wife drove the Jeep the rest of the way home.
I Called Blue Ox to report the incident, the gentleman I spoke to asked if I had the broken pin? I said are you kidding me, it's laying on the freeway somewhere! I stated that I had ordered new pins and a new piece that plugs into the baseplate on their website. He then stated that he would notify the appropriate people of this issue.
After I hung up the phone I searched the internet and discovered that I wasn't the first customer that had a pin shear off while towing! I was taken back how care free the Blue Ox employee was about the incident and the ‘oh well’ attitude he had towards me and my issue.
These are not plastic parts that failed but rather stainless still or hardened steel parts! If what I read on the RV forum is true (which I have no reason to believe it is not) Blue Ox should take responsibility for these failed parts!
I am very thankful that the Jeep did not break away and cause and accident or worse, kill someone…….
I now have no faith in the Blue Ox tow system and am very hesitant on towing with this system in the future for fear of losing my Jeep and injuring others.
 
Dennis Honeycutt
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: John From Detroit on September 15, 2017, 05:34:05 PM
I have heard stories about the Aladdin before.  I have the all steel 5,000 pound version of Blue Ox without the big ball joint (instead it has multiple "King pin" type joints or bolts)

Total complaints to date (12 years and change) zero.. Total problems TWO neither of which can be blamed on blue ox.. I know exactly what happned in both cases and it was not the tow bar or any part of it that failed. 
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: Tom on September 15, 2017, 05:39:41 PM
Quote from: Fatboy01
If what I read on the RV forum is true (which I have no reason to believe it is not) Blue Ox should take responsibility for these failed parts!

For clarification, any such comment would be the opinion of the poster, not the forum per se.

I suspect the reason they asked for the old pin was to confirm it was actually broken, although I understand it would be unlikely you could have found it. It could also have been due to the clevis pin coming out for one reason or another. FWIW my wife and I double-check each other's installation to ensure, for example, that the clevis pins have been inserted correctly.
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: Fatboy01 on September 15, 2017, 06:18:07 PM
As do my wife and I double check all connection.

Thanks for your reply
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: Tom on September 15, 2017, 06:23:11 PM
I think I'd call Blue Ox again and escalate to a higher level. I'd also document and send a letter up the chain.
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: BRex on September 15, 2017, 06:54:24 PM

How do you know the pin sheared off? Were you able to find any of the pieces?
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: kudzu on September 15, 2017, 08:11:48 PM
FWIW, there is a thread on the TiffinRVNetwork (http://www.tiffinrvnetwork.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=122&t=94164) on this subject, reporting a couple of additional failures. If you persist, I expect Blue Ox will make good on your situation. As you pointed out, your relatively minor incident could have been a disaster.
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: Kevin Means on September 15, 2017, 09:52:03 PM
I'm also curious as to how the OP was able to determine that the locking pin sheered vs. fell out of the locking hole. I'm not saying it didn't sheer, I'm just wondering how that determination was made if the remains of the pin aren't present. I was hooking up our Jeep last week when one of the oval clevis pins fell to the ground. It had somehow become bent, and was able to slide right out of the hole.

Kev
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: Fatboy01 on September 16, 2017, 09:18:16 AM

I am the OP of the blue ox issue, several have asked how do I know the pin sheared? I don’t. It could have been the locking ring failed and worked its way out and dropped on the highway. In either case, I had a failure of the Blue Ox system which could have been a complete disaster! I hooked up the tow system, my wife doubled checked the system prior to us leaving the RV resort and this incident occurred an hour later while on the interstate.
Thanks for your replies.
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: Gary RV_Wizard on September 16, 2017, 09:54:10 AM
I think blaming Blue Ox is premature, though perhaps they could be more proactive in warning people to take care of the pins. First of all the pins are a wear & tear part and tow bar users cannot afford to be oblivious to that fact. Occasional inspection for wear (grooves, rust, etc.) is a must for a critical part, no matter how sturdy it may be. Second, it is only conjecture that the part broke. Human error is all too possible and examples of human failure are at least as frequent as mechanical failure.  My wife and I double check each other on our tow hook-ups and have occasionally found that one of us messed up. And on one memorable occasion, we both missed a pin that was not locked in position. Fortunately another RVer flagged us down when they saw the car pulling at an angle with just one side of the tow bar attached.
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: NY_Dutch on September 16, 2017, 10:11:30 AM
I learned early on with our Blue Ox base plate and ReadyBrute Elite tow bar that the arm pins would always move towards the same side of the clevis while traveling. If they moved in the direction of the retainer clip, the clip would start showing significant wear, potentially allowing the pins to slide out if the clips broke. I marked which way to insert the pins as a reminder, and now the retainer clips always ride away from the clevis and show no wear at all. I also keep a spare set of pins and retainer clips on board, just in case...
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: wstuart on September 17, 2017, 02:30:21 AM
Dutch, I am trying to figure out in my tired mind what you mean.  I just don't get it, can you try again.  I have the same system so I am interested.  Thanks!
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: NY_Dutch on September 17, 2017, 07:01:13 AM
Dutch, I am trying to figure out in my tired mind what you mean.  I just don't get it, can you try again.  I have the same system so I am interested.  Thanks!

Ok, I'll try again. If I install the pins through the arm clevis and base plate "horns" from the outside towards the center, and secure it with a "hairpin" retainer clip in the small hole at the end of the pin, while underway the pin will work its way back out towards the outside until the retainer clip hits the side of the clevis. As it pushes against the side of the clevis, the clip will start to show wear that could eventually cause it to fail, allowing the pin to continue working its way out and the arm to disconnect. Since the pins always work towards the outside in my setup, I started installing them from the center with the retainer clip on the outside where it moves away from the clevis instead of towards it. That way, even if the retainer clips were left out, the pin would likely still stay in place. I don't know if that situation exists with all tow bar/base plate setups or not, but it could be worth checking to see if does on yours to help prevent an unexpected failure. It's a simple "fix" that could avoid a disaster.
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: Tom on September 17, 2017, 07:09:29 AM
Quote
I don't know if that situation exists with all tow bar/base plate setups

Must be a Blue Ox thing  ???   The tow pins on our Roadmaster can only be inserted from one direction, and the clevis/locking pins go through a small hole (in the receiver extensions) that prevents them moving the way you described.
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: SPSchaller on September 17, 2017, 08:15:56 AM
We use a Blue-Ox Aventa tow system and have always inserted the tow pins from the outside with the locking pins towards the middle. Not sure why but when we got the system 12 years ago, the installation tech who showed us how to hook up did it that way, and, well, we assumed that was how it was done (blind faith...) We've not had any real issue with the set up (lost a locking pin once but that was my fault... placed it on the bumper of the MH while disconnecting and forgot to put it back in the tow pin when putting the equipment away.) Occasionally, one tow pin will be hard to get out when disconnecting, like the arm isn't releasing, but never noticed the pins moving or getting overly worn.
This is interesting... 
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: Chet18013 on September 17, 2017, 10:02:46 AM
If you want to be sure it won't happen again, go to Harbor Freight and buy a package of plastic zip ties. When you hook up, put a zip  tie on the pin and tighten it to the hitch. When you unhook, you'll  have to cut the tie, but they are cheap.
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: NY_Dutch on September 17, 2017, 07:09:27 PM
Must be a Blue Ox thing  ???   The tow pins on our Roadmaster can only be inserted from one direction, and the clevis/locking pins go through a small hole (in the receiver extensions) that prevents them moving the way you described.

It may even be unique to our particular Blue Ox/ReadyBrute combination, Tom. It's been that way on two toads so far using two different Blue Ox base plates, but the same ReadyBrute tow bar. Just something for folks to watch for with similar setups. If they don't have the problem, then obviously they don't need to take any action.
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: Tom on September 17, 2017, 07:17:55 PM
I must admit to being surprised by this issue. Based on members' reports, I always held Blue Ox in high regard.
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: wstuart on September 17, 2017, 07:21:17 PM
Thank you Dutch!  Now I got it!  When I put my pins in I put them in from the outside, with the cotter pin on the inside.  The only reason I do it this way is I find it easier to pull them out to the outside, dont smack my fingers as much.  Thanks for the explanation.  I think I will pick up a couple more of the cotter pins just in case.  I guess I could get a couple extra pins from blue ox.
Thanks again
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: wstuart on September 17, 2017, 07:22:40 PM
I have never had any problems with my tow bar.  As long as I park more or less straight and level.  Then it is easy to unhook.
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: TonyDtorch on September 17, 2017, 07:29:43 PM
Clevis pins are common things you see laying along the side of the freeway,  they lose their spring value and fall off.
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: NY_Dutch on September 17, 2017, 07:42:40 PM
Thank you Dutch!  Now I got it!  When I put my pins in I put them in from the outside, with the cotter pin on the inside.  The only reason I do it this way is I find it easier to pull them out to the outside, dont smack my fingers as much.  Thanks for the explanation.  I think I will pick up a couple more of the cotter pins just in case.  I guess I could get a couple extra pins from blue ox.
Thanks again

My spare pins came from Tractor Supply, and my extra clips from a local hardware store. I added a couple of small welded rings to the clips to make them easier to remove.
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: Tom on September 17, 2017, 07:43:51 PM
Quote from: TonyDtorch
Clevis pins are common things you see laying along the side of the freeway,  they lose their spring value and fall off.

Maybe I should buy replacements and change them periodically  ???
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: Stephen S. on September 17, 2017, 08:22:23 PM
Huh... took me a while to realize you all are using the "hairpin" type retainers on your hitch. My BlueOx came with the lynch pin type that has a spring loaded ring that snaps over the main pin. The only way it is coming off is if I don't put in on the correct way. It is plainly visible from a distance if it is on correctly.

The pin itself is sturdier than the hairpin type. It will be decades before it wears out.

[edit] dropping in a pic of the hitch on the VW.

Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: NY_Dutch on September 17, 2017, 08:36:55 PM
I would have to drill out the holes in the ends of my pins to fit the smallest lynch pins I've seen. That might not be a bad idea though...
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: ramblinbob on September 18, 2017, 05:25:45 AM
Here is a story of interest to this subject.

http://wheelingit.us/2016/10/28/our-first-rv-accident-tow-comes-loose-in-nc/
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: Tom on September 18, 2017, 07:15:31 AM
Thanks for the link. Their photos clearly show the difference between the cotter pin on the Blue Ox and the clevis pin (aka linch pin) on the Roadmaster. They also show the difference in the two tow pins. Just curious what they have at the coach end of the tow bar  ???

I suspect that many folks have towed boats, trailers and cars with a cotter pin to keep the tow pin in place. I know we towed boats that way until we switched to a locking  style of tow pin.
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: NY_Dutch on September 18, 2017, 07:59:50 AM
I see that Blue Ox does offer pins with lynch pin keepers for $15/pr. I don't recall now whether our pins originally came with our Blue Ox base plate, or our NSA ReadyBrute tow bar.

http://www.blueox.com/towing-accessories/84-0140/
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: PAPA BARE on September 18, 2017, 09:11:54 AM
I lost one of the pins that came with my blue ox but i caught it before the pin worked out. I replaced with pins from tractor supply. Have not had a problem after switching.
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: Tom on September 18, 2017, 09:15:32 AM
Tractor Supply is a good source if you have one near you. (We had one open a year or so ago.)
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: jubileee on September 18, 2017, 11:13:43 AM
Learned the hard way 50 years ago that all pins should be installed pointing to ditch or low side of road in case of locking failure. Low side of road will Keep pin worked in that direction and keep pressure off locking device. Not always possible. With my Roadmaster hooked to tow, I have one pin that points the wrong direction and that pin is drilled out and gets a paddle lock.
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: TonyDtorch on September 18, 2017, 11:42:50 AM
many of the hitch receiver-pins,  are held in place with that simple cotter pin....(that occasionally falls off) 
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: NY_Dutch on September 18, 2017, 11:53:34 AM
Learned the hard way 50 years ago that all pins should be installed pointing to ditch or low side of road in case of locking failure. Low side of road will Keep pin worked in that direction and keep pressure off locking device. Not always possible. With my Roadmaster hooked to tow, I have one pin that points the wrong direction and that pin is drilled out and gets a paddle lock.

My two tow bar arm pins actually move in opposite directions while underway, both towards the outside away from the center. With the clips on the outsides they never touch anything, and could literally fall off with likely no damage since the pins would still stay in place. Not that I plan to test that though. ;)
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: John Beard on September 18, 2017, 03:01:40 PM
I have a Roadmaster Sterling All Terrain system. I learned a thing in this thread, thanks NY_Dutch
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: Bill N on September 18, 2017, 04:54:32 PM
I am the OP of the blue ox issue, several have asked how do I know the pin sheared? I don’t. It could have been the locking ring failed and worked its way out and dropped on the highway. In either case, I had a failure of the Blue Ox system which could have been a complete disaster! I hooked up the tow system, my wife doubled checked the system prior to us leaving the RV resort and this incident occurred an hour later while on the interstate.
Thanks for your replies.

I had the same thing happen but the clevis pin did not fall completely  out.  I happened to notice at a rest stop where I always check over the tow bar that the safety clip on the clevis pin was  missing and the pin itself was about half way out.  My tow bar is also a Blue Ox and I think it is an Aladdin or the  5000 lb model.  Anyway I decided I had to figure a way to keep the safety clip from coming out of the clevis pin.  To do this I simply use one of those short elastic cords that come in a loop with a ball  on the end.  On each arm, I install the clevis and safety clip as normal and then snake  the cord around the safety clip and entire connection to keep it in place.  No problems since then.  But I can see where what you encountered can happen very easily with the system they use.  It is the safety clip that is the culprit.  I doubt your clevis pin sheared   - it probably just worked its way out after the safety clip came out.  Hope this helps.

PS:  I now carry an extra set of clevis and safety pins that I picked up at Camping World or got from Blue Ox - not sure which. But a farm supply store could probably also provide suitable parts.

Bill
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: Stephen S. on September 18, 2017, 10:40:11 PM
I see that Blue Ox does offer pins with lynch pin keepers for $15/pr. I don't recall now whether our pins originally came with our Blue Ox base plate, or our NSA ReadyBrute tow bar.

http://www.blueox.com/towing-accessories/84-0140/

My Blue Ox came with the lynch pins. I check the towbar every time I get out of the RV. Gas station, restaurant, any reason I'm away from the RV I do a walkaround before getting back in the drivers seat.
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: Bill N on September 19, 2017, 06:21:53 AM
My Blue Ox came with the lynch pins. I check the towbar every time I get out of the RV. Gas station, restaurant, any reason I'm away from the RV I do a walkaround before getting back in the drivers seat.
When you say 'lynch pins' are you talking about the pin that goes through the clevis and has a circular spring loaded loop on the end that flips over to hold it in place?  If so that is the style that I have and lost one.  Now I just loop that little stretch cord with the ball through the loop and then around the whole connection and snap the ball into the loop to hold it all in place.  I am making it sound more complicated than it really it. BUT, like you Stephen, I still check those clevis pin connections at every stop.

Bill
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: NY_Dutch on September 19, 2017, 08:03:49 AM
My Blue Ox came with the lynch pins. I check the towbar every time I get out of the RV. Gas station, restaurant, any reason I'm away from the RV I do a walkaround before getting back in the drivers seat.

In thinking it through, I believe my pins came with our ReadyBrute tow bar, not our Blue Ox base plate. I say that, because I've had two base plates, and while I have the pairs of removable horns from the two, I only have one set of original pins, and a second set I bought at Tractor Supply. Both sets of pins use a "hairpin" retainer clip though.
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: Gary RV_Wizard on September 19, 2017, 08:13:51 AM
Quote
When you say 'lynch pins' are you talking about the pin that goes through the clevis and has a circular spring loaded loop on the end that flips over to hold it in place?

Yes - that is the device known as a lynch pin. They should be pretty much failure-proof if the spring is flipped over the right way but have been know to snap back if the loop is flipped the opposite way. The loop will lie tightly against the shaft when oriented the right way (as shown in the photo below).
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: Bill N on September 20, 2017, 05:47:19 AM
Yes - that is the device known as a lynch pin. They should be pretty much failure-proof if the spring is flipped over the right way but have been know to snap back if the loop is flipped the opposite way. The loop will lie tightly against the shaft when oriented the right way (as shown in the photo below).

Yep, that is the one Gary and I always took care to position it the right way on the clevis pin but still managed to lose one.  I think that would be a rare case.  I loop my small circular stretch cord through the loop and then encircle the rest of the connection to give a second safety feature to keep it in place.  Thanks for the photo.

Bill
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: mrschwarz on September 20, 2017, 09:14:59 PM
I have always used locked pins that require a key to remove. It eliminates someone playing a 'joke' on me. It also provides positive engagement. If the lock is still on the pin, I know I'm good.
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: Tom on September 20, 2017, 09:24:54 PM
Good suggestion Michael. I have the same situation with tow pins.
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: Corky on September 21, 2017, 09:11:20 AM
I too used lynch pins up until this spring when I nearly lost my Wrangler. One of the pins had decided to jump for freedom leaving the Jeep with only one attachment. Good thing we were in a position to be able to pull over and get things back in order. I now use bolts with nylock nuts instead of any type of pin. Yes - it takes a minute longer to fix or remove but I am now quit confident that everything will be in place at the end of the day.

Corky
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: Tom on September 21, 2017, 09:41:03 AM
Quote
I too used lynch pins up until ... One of the pins had decided to jump for freedom leaving the Jeep with only one attachment.

Corky, I believe that's the first report I've seen about a lynch pin coming off. A good reminder that nothing is foolproof.
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: mrschwarz on September 21, 2017, 11:54:54 AM
... A good reminder that nothing is foolproof.

To a sufficiently motivated fool! :o
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: Lou Schneider on September 21, 2017, 03:47:27 PM
When you say 'lynch pins' are you talking about the pin that goes through the clevis and has a circular spring loaded loop on the end that flips over to hold it in place?  If so that is the style that I have and lost one.  Now I just loop that little stretch cord with the ball through the loop and then around the whole connection and snap the ball into the loop to hold it all in place.  I am making it sound more complicated than it really it. BUT, like you Stephen, I still check those clevis pin connections at every stop.

Bill

I'd get a couple of replacement lynch pins instead of relying on a bungee cord to hold the clevis pin in place.  They're available at any well stocked hardware store.
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: John Beard on September 22, 2017, 07:04:47 AM
After reading the experiences of the respondents I have switched to locking hitch pins. I already had several in my shop so the switch over was painless.
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: Bill N on September 22, 2017, 08:37:20 AM
I'd get a couple of replacement lynch pins instead of relying on a bungee cord to hold the clevis pin in place.  They're available at any well stocked hardware store.

Think you misread my post or I phrased it poorly.  The bungee cords are holding the lynch pins closed - not the clevis pins but they do hold the whole shebang together the way I have them threaded.  I also carry a spare set of lynch pins.
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: NY_Dutch on September 22, 2017, 08:59:14 AM
After reading the experiences of the respondents I have switched to locking hitch pins. I already had several in my shop so the switch over was painless.

Many of those locking pins can be defeated with as little as a single hammer blow or just popping the locks off with a large screwdriver. Personally, I'd rather be able to disconnect my toad quickly if needed...
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: John Beard on September 22, 2017, 12:25:19 PM
Many of those locking pins can be defeated with as little as a single hammer blow or just popping the locks off with a large screwdriver. Personally, I'd rather be able to disconnect my toad quickly if needed...

I thought about an emergency disconnect too, so I bought a couple of hitch pins this morning that I hope is the best of both worlds. It is a 5/8" x 3 1/2" hitch pin with lynch pins attached by a small chain to the pin itself. It will be difficult losing the lynch pin, and if installed correctly should serve me well for a few years.

I've been using the same pins and clips for about 5 years on various towing platforms. I am not an expert on metallurgy but it seemed prudent to replace the used pins.

Before this topic came up here in the forum I was asking myself questions about the pins and clips, and their reliability over the long term. 
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: NY_Dutch on September 22, 2017, 06:48:22 PM
Sounds good to me, John!
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: BRex on September 23, 2017, 01:57:38 PM
Funny how nobody, after the first post, has had experience or knowledge of their pins shearing off. Maybe BlueOx isn't so bad after all?

Our set up is 10+ years old, except for a different tow plate due to buying a different car. Certainly pins can be popped off, drop off etc, but break off?
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: PAPA BARE on September 23, 2017, 02:12:20 PM
The last trip i had an emergency stop where it bent the 2" tubing on the ready brake and the blue ox system was not hurt. Ready fixed it with no problem.
Title: Re: Warning! Blue Ox owners
Post by: TonyDtorch on September 23, 2017, 05:33:39 PM
Funny how nobody, after the first post, has had experience or knowledge of their pins shearing off. Maybe BlueOx isn't so bad after all?


That's why the BlueOx guy on the phone asked him if he had any pieces of the broken pin.

A sheared pin never really happens.  lost pin,  yes.