Blue Ox Towbar Failures

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Ron

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One of the Framily experienced a case in which his Blue Ox tow bar broke while towing a Saturn.? I took photos but thought this was a one time occurrance since I had never heard of this happening before.? Well while in Yuma I had the opportunity to see another occurrance just like the first case.? The only difference I noted was this individual was towing a Tracker or Grand Vitara size vehicle.? I did not have my camera with me so I could mnot get a photo of the second occurrance.? After seeing the sencond broken tow bar I decided it would be best to share this info so others using this type tow bar might want to inspect theirs for signs of possible stress that could lead to breakage.? In both cases the car being towed did not become separated and the condition was found when they went to disconnect the toad.

Attached is a photo taken of the first case mentioned above.? Signs of fatigue was evident on in the same area the other side of the broken piece.
 

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Tom

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That's scary Ron., and a good reason for all of us to regularly check our tow bars irrespective of brand.
 

Ron

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Tom said:
That's scary Ron., and a good reason for all of us to regularly check our tow bars irrespective of brand.

You can bet that since I seen that failure I have been much better at inspecting our tow bar even though it isn't a Blue Ox.
 

Ron

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I looked very closely at the breaks in both cases and it looked to me very much like metal fatigue.  I do not believe there were any contibuting factors such as sharp turns or backing up.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Hard to tell. Metal fatigue is a result of accumulated stress over time, so it is possible the tow bar was pushed to near limits many times.

We were amazed to watch a guy a few weeks ago force his toad backwards into a campsite.  He did a fair job of backing it initially but eventually the wheels cramped and he knew it (wife was outside watching and giving directions). After a pause, he decided to just shove it a few more feet, dragging the wheels ideways and who knows how much stress on the tow bar, toad steering, etc. Still couldn't get all the way into the site, so raher than unhook he puller forward a bit and repeated!  Finally she got in the car and steered it a bit. All in all they spent more time and effort than unhitching would have been.
 

Smoky

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Ron:

What kind of tow hitch do you have?

My plan is to get the Roadmaster Falcon all terrain (6000 lb rating) if I go the M&G route.

And the Blue Ox (don't know what ratings they have) if I go the brake buddy route.

and what rating was on the Blue Oxes that blew up?
 

Ron

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Smoky,

What kind of tow hitch do you have?
We have a Roadmaster Falcon II  and use the Brake Buddy.

My plan is to get the Roadmaster Falcon all terrain (6000 lb rating) if I go the M&G route.

And the Blue Ox (don't know what ratings they have) if I go the brake buddy route.

What differnence does the make of towbar have to do with the auxillery brake system you choose?  Personally if we were shopping for an new Tow bar it would be a Roadmaster Falcon All Terrian.

and what rating was on the Blue Oxes that blew up?

I am not sure but I suspect the rating was at least 6000 lbs.
 

Smoky

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Thanks Ron. 

Well the difference is trying to limit the number of different third parties I have to visit to get the work done.  If I go the M&G route my coach dealer cannot do it.  My coach dealer only carries Blue Ox and Brake Buddy.  If I go M&G that dealer does not carry Blue Ox.

Keep in mind between my surgery, closing a home, closing a land deal,  moving to Montana, selling all my possessions, getting Montana licenses, etc I just do not have the time to run back and forth if fewer dealers can get the job done.  It has nothing to do with matching a brake to a towbar system. I feel equally confident between Roadmaster and Blue Ox. 

But time is running out if I am going to meet my Direcway dealer sometime in July in Montana.  :D
 

caltex

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After looking at the pictures of the failed tow bar, I went out to check mine out.  As usual there are details we never see until someone or something forces our attention on it.  The picture that I have listed is a Roadmaster bracket.  The interesting difference from the one that failed is the extra welded bar across the top and bottom of the U shaped bracket.  Would that be a stronger bracket than the one that failed?  I don't know, but it is different.
 

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Ron

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caltex said:
After looking at the pictures of the failed tow bar, I went out to check mine out.? As usual there are details we never see until someone or something forces our attention on it.? The picture that I have listed is a Roadmaster bracket.? The interesting difference from the one that failed is the extra welded bar across the top and bottom of the U shaped bracket.? Would that be a stronger bracket than the one that failed?? I don't know, but it is different.

I would think that the addition of the welded bar would surely improve the strength of the U bracket.  Roadmast must have a reason for doing this.
 

Tom

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One thing I didn't realize until talking with Ron today is that the failed bracket was aluminum. I'd previously thought it was steel.
 

Steve CDN

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Ron,

Are you aware of what if anything Blue OX  did to correct this situation?  Di the owner of the hitch replace parts or get a new hitch or did Blue Ox get involved in a settlement?
 

Ned

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I only know of two Blue Ox tow bars that have broken in use and both were due to excessive forces being applied that would have damaged any similar tow bar.  Neither was due to a manufacturing defect.  In our case, we broke the receiver tube completely off and Blue Ox sent us a new tow bar to use.  When we returned the broken unit to the factory, they told us to keep the new one as a warranty replacement.  This was long after the original warranty had expired.

I'd say that Blue Ox has a very fair replacement policy.  You can call it a settlement if you like, but how many manufacturers would offer a free replacement for a part broken because of abuse?
 

Tom

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Ned said:
.....both were due to excessive forces being applied that would have damaged any similar tow bar....In our case, we broke the receiver tube completely off ....

Ned, what caused the excessive force that led to the break?
 

Ned

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In our case, we skidded the motor home and that caused the toad (a Ford Ranger) to whipsaw back and forth.  On the back, it hit a concrete wall causing considerable damage to the truck (totalled :) ) and the subsequent swings placed extraordindary side loads on the tow bar that it was never designed to sustain in normal use.  Even 3" tubing will only take so much abuse :)  The safety chains held however.  I use real chains, not cable nor swaged fittings.
 

Ron

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Steve said:
Ron,

Are you aware of what if anything Blue OX? did to correct this situation?? Di the owner of the hitch replace parts or get a new hitch or did Blue Ox get involved in a settlement?

In the first case the owner replaced the failed towbar by purchasing  a new Roadmaster Falcon tow. This I am sure of since he has been using the Roadmaster ever since.  Personally I think I would have the same thing for piece of mind.  I have no information as to if Blue Ox was even contacted in either case.  In the second case that I seen he indicated they were also going to get the Roadmaster as a replacement but he did indicate he was going to report his experience to Blue Ox.  Since I have not talked to this individual since I have no knowledge what he actually did.


 

Tom

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Thanks for sharing Ned. That would sure put unintended stresses on the tow bar and brackets.

Interesting comment re chains vs cables. I always used chains when towing a boat/trailer, but didn't give any thought to the subject when my Roadmaster & Kit came with cables. Might be time to re-think the subject.
 

Ron

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Ned,

In your case I would never questioned the towbar.  It was very good for Blue Ox to replace the damaged towbar since in your case the towbar was subjected to very abnormal stress.

In the first case I seen I doubt very much the towbar was subjected anything but normal use.  In the second case I had never met the individual before and have no idea what stresses the towbar may have been subjected to except the failure looked like the first one I had seen.
 
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