Originally Posted by rssnape
I inherited a Falcon 2 tow bar when I bought my first coach. I can't tell if it has been bent or needs good cleaning. Both arms are very difficult to slide at the ends of their travel. I tried removing one of the arms to clean it and couldn't get it past the plate for the other arm at the center pin. Also did not have a hex wrench large enough to fit into the center pin bolt.
Since the previous owner wanted to keep his brake buddy but "threw in" the tow bar I am thinking it might be bent. I guess that I need to disassemble the rods to clean them to verify that's not the issue. Would prefer not to do that work if it will be useless.
What are the symtoms of a bent bar vs one that needs cleaning?
It's possible it's bent, but it should be easy to make that determination. With the arms fully extended lay a ruler or straight edge along the arm in several places. You shouldn't see any daylight between the straght edge and the bar at any point.
It's more likely there has been a serious amount of crud accumulating causing the bars to get stiff. I've found spraying the bars liberally with WD40 occasionally dissolves a lot of the tar and other road debris that has accumulated.
I hold the bars fully extended in the vertical position and spray them liberally. Wiat a few seconds then try to move the bar. In most cases the bar will move freely and you'll see a lot of black gunk accumulating on the rod as it extends from the housing. Take some paper towels and remove as much as possible before working them in and out again.
After a few repititions of spraying, moving and wiping down the bars they usually move as smooth as glass. Once you get them moving freely take some Fantastic or other similar household cleaner, spray them down liberally, work them several times and rinse them with fresh water. Repeat this a few times to remove any remaining crud and the WD40.
Once all the crud and solvent are removed dry them with a cloth or paper towel. Then spray them with a non petroleum based silicone spray and work them a few more times.
The WD40 is a great solvent and will disolve most crud an road tar. However since it's petroleum based it'll leave a thin film even after it's been wiped off. This film will attract and hold more dirt, making it necessary to clean them again in a short time.
By cleaning it down with a soap type solution you remove the film. Then by spraying them with a non petroleum based silicone you'll once again have the lubricating properties without attracting and holding more dirt.
I've done this process to our Sterling towbar several times over the years. It has towed our jeep over 75,000 miles and works as good as it did the day we installed it.