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Old 12-19-2015, 11:57 PM   #1
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Driving to AK and toad protection

I started the recent AK caravan thread and there are some great posts and information. But some scary ones too and those deal with potential rock damages to the coach and toad. I purchased a 2015 Ford F-150 to be our toad and am concerned what kind of shape it will be in after the trip. I know it's imperative to slow down in construction areas but I can't control fast moving rock spewing vehicles coming the other way. I don't have the flat tow gear yet and have looked at the shields/deflectors available. We have used an Escape on a tow dolly previously.

So I'm wondering if it would make sense to get another vehicle like a Jeep Liberty for the AK trip. Looking online at 6-10 year old versions that I can get for under 10K. I don't want to do paint and glass damage to the new truck and it won't hurt so much on an older car.

I am wondering if the bad roads, flying rocks, and busted windshields is an over blown opinion here or a reality that has to be considered. I'm sure it's a reality but how frequent. It would be nice to take the Ford up there but I could get another vehicle and sell it when I got back if I didn't want to keep it. Yes I know the expense of the base plate will be lost but maybe I could get something out of it. That expense might be worth it in not damaging the new truck. It will go on other trips, just maybe not the AK one.

Does this make sense or am I worrying too much about it.

Thanks
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Old 12-20-2015, 07:27 AM   #2
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We traveled to AK in 2012. We also were concerned about damage. Our protection was a BlueOx shield and covered our Jeep Liberty windshield with a pilates mat stretched between the front doors. We ended with a few minor stone chips on the Jeep. The only stone issue we had was traveling from Whitehorse to Dawson City in the Yukon. A double trail truck peppered our RV windshield with many stones while we rounding the outside lane of a corner. We had the windshield replaced at Winnebago on our way home.

Sticking to the main roads in your travels you will find the roads to be similar to the lower 48. From Destruction Bay to the Alaskan boarder, about 120 miles, we encountered many frost heaves and construction. Drive slowly (sometimes 10-15 mph in this area only)and take in the scenery.

See our blog of the trip starting in Canada, up the AK Highway and back traveling on the Inter Coastal Ferry to Prince Rupert :

RVGR8escape

The highlight of our trip was a plane ride into Denali and landing on Eldridge Glacier. Mt Denali is in the background.

Safe travels and THE JOY IS IN THE RIDE
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Old 12-20-2015, 08:18 AM   #3
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First off, if you have a full width mud flap...take it off. All they do is throw everything onto the hood of your towed. All I've ever used for towed protection is a bra on our Saturn. No rock chips in the windshield, or dings in the paint. The coach also came out unscathed. Luck? Maybe, but we went up early, hardly any traffic, and came back on the Cassier, again very little traffic. We only hit construction on the way back since we went up too early for that to have started.
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Old 12-20-2015, 08:24 AM   #4
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Watch the IRV2 classifieds. You may be able to pick up a nice used toad all set up and ready to travel.
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Old 12-20-2015, 10:31 AM   #5
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I'm more worried about the peppered windshield on my RV that I am the toad. My jeep will be on top of a car hauler so it sets up pretty high.
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Old 12-20-2015, 10:42 AM   #6
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We had only driven about 30 miles north of Dawson Creek and we were on good paved road when we were hit by a stone from an uncovered load from a semi. It put a dent in the hood, cracked the windshield, and put a dent in the front cap of our 5th wheel. It was just our bad luck as we did not meet anyone else with that sort of damage. We had repairs made after returning to the lower 48 and a couple of months later, the truck windshield was again hit by a rock thrown up by a passing car on the interstate. So it could happen anywhere. I would not worry too much about possible damage and just enjoy. We loved it so much that we are returning in 2017.
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Old 12-20-2015, 10:59 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by RV735 View Post
We traveled to AK in 2012. We also were concerned about damage. Our protection was a BlueOx shield and covered our Jeep Liberty windshield with a pilates mat stretched between the front doors. We ended with a few minor stone chips on the Jeep. The only stone issue we had was traveling from Whitehorse to Dawson City in the Yukon. A double trail truck peppered our RV windshield with many stones while we rounding the outside lane of a corner. We had the windshield replaced at Winnebago on our way home.

Sticking to the main roads in your travels you will find the roads to be similar to the lower 48. From Destruction Bay to the Alaskan boarder, about 120 miles, we encountered many frost heaves and construction. Drive slowly (sometimes 10-15 mph in this area only)and take in the scenery.

See our blog of the trip starting in Canada, up the AK Highway and back traveling on the Inter Coastal Ferry to Prince Rupert :

RVGR8escape

The highlight of our trip was a plane ride into Denali and landing on Eldridge Glacier. Mt Denali is in the background.

Safe travels and THE JOY IS IN THE RIDE
We've been there in 2007 and again in 2013. In both cases we had similar experiences as RV735. We used a Roadmaster Guardian rock shield on the front of our 2004 Jeep Wrangler. The only damage on the Jeep was a rock chip in the windshield from a truck going in the opposite direction. After that incident we put a cover over the windshield and didn't have any further problems.

As mentioned the main (and just about only) roads in Alaska aren't much different than those in the lower 48. Around Destruction Bay there are still areas of frost heaves that require some slow going. Other than that it's a normal days drive.
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Old 12-20-2015, 03:50 PM   #8
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We also went for the summer with our motorhome towing our Jeep Liberty. Honestly, we did not get any damage to either. We did get a broken windshield on the Jeep later on in Wyoming from a thrown rock.

We didn't do anything special to protect either one. As stated, take off your rear stiff rock shield and we have seen the damage they do. Folks in Whitehorse were removing them.

Also, take your time and drive below the speed limit in most cases. The roads aren't crowded so if you see an oncoming vehicle, especially a semi truck, pull over as far as you can to the side of the road. In fact, we pulled over and came to a complete stop if no one was behind us. However, we only had to do this a couple times. It's not an ongoing problem. The roads are in great shape but they do construction work - just as you'll find in the lower 48.

If you have the financial means to get an older car rather than taking your 2015, that would give you peace of mind, for sure.

Have a great trip. It's like no other!
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Old 12-20-2015, 05:41 PM   #9
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We had paint protection film "clear bra" (by 3M) installed on the front of our 2013 Jeep Wrangler when we purchased it. We traveled from New England to Alaska this year (2015), on the road for almost 4 months and never experienced any damage. Just lucky I guess. We pull the Jeep, 4 down with a 2011 Class C Jayco. Like everyone says, drive slow on those dirt, gravel, washed out roads! We hit Destruction Bay area after a two day rain storm and the road was beyond awful! Many bigger RVs passed us, and at the end we saw those RVs pulled off the side of the road with obvious damage. Not saying the film protected us but gave us a sense of some protection on the tow vehicle. Enjoy!
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Old 12-20-2015, 06:15 PM   #10
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My brother and I did a two-rig caravan to Alaska in 2013. He got a couple rock chips in his RV windshield and I also got a couple in mine. I chalked it up to part of the expense of going to Alaska. You really have no control over the rocks coming at you from oncoming vehicles, and even worse from vehicles that pass you. Pulling over to the side might help but unless you luck out and happen to be at a pullout - there's no room on the shoulders to pull over. Enjoy Alaska!
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Old 12-21-2015, 08:09 AM   #11
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I use Protect-a-Tow between my MH and Toad. I have about 16K mile on it now and no rock chips on the front of my Fiat. It's not expensive and easy to install. I think it would be a good investment for your trip to Alaska. There's really not much you can do about rocks flying off other vehicles. It either happens or it doesn't so worrying about it won't help. Have a safe trip.
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Old 12-21-2015, 08:16 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drwwicks View Post
I started the recent AK caravan thread and there are some great posts and information. But some scary ones too and those deal with potential rock damages to the coach and toad. I purchased a 2015 Ford F-150 to be our toad and am concerned what kind of shape it will be in after the trip. I know it's imperative to slow down in construction areas but I can't control fast moving rock spewing vehicles coming the other way. I don't have the flat tow gear yet and have looked at the shields/deflectors available. We have used an Escape on a tow dolly previously.

So I'm wondering if it would make sense to get another vehicle like a Jeep Liberty for the AK trip. Looking online at 6-10 year old versions that I can get for under 10K. I don't want to do paint and glass damage to the new truck and it won't hurt so much on an older car.

I am wondering if the bad roads, flying rocks, and busted windshields is an over blown opinion here or a reality that has to be considered. I'm sure it's a reality but how frequent. It would be nice to take the Ford up there but I could get another vehicle and sell it when I got back if I didn't want to keep it. Yes I know the expense of the base plate will be lost but maybe I could get something out of it. That expense might be worth it in not damaging the new truck. It will go on other trips, just maybe not the AK one.

Does this make sense or am I worrying too much about it.

Thanks
If I had it to do over again I would use the Roadmaster setup. They have a rock guard and a shield. The shield stores on the back of the coach when not in use.
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Old 12-23-2015, 06:55 AM   #13
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Thanks for the replies. I haven't made any decisions about an extra toad or type bars yet. I was leaning towards an older Jeep Liberty but it seems that reliability is an issue. Yes I am sure that many have had success but windows that fall out, poor gas tank location/protection, and in general issues, are documented. Then again, if one survived a decade maybe the worst is behind. I have a few months to put it all together.
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Old 12-31-2015, 07:15 PM   #14
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Driving to AK and toad protection

Check the offering from Roadmaster, the hitches are good and the accessories are great. They have a Tow Guard that protects the front of the vehicle, additionally their Tow Defender is a shield that covers from the coach to the car. Last year when we went to Alaska we had both and we put a shield on the windshield. I went to Lowes and got a roll of their silver foil insulation, I cut a piece to fit across the windshield with about 12" sticking inside each of the doors to hold it down and about 6" under the hood. We had no damage in over13k miles. I also use their Even Brake for braking, it took me under 5 minutes to get the toad ready to go. And when we pulled in to a site the Tow Defender rolls up on the hitch and the Tow Guard stores on a bracket right on the hitch, neat package.


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