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Old 12-29-2007, 08:01 PM   #1
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Blue Ox Base plate BX2160 DIY installation review (for 2002-2005 Explorer XLT, 4WD)
2005 Ford Explorer V6 XLT 4x4
RV PARTS OUTLET
Date Ordered: Wednesday 28 November, 2007
------------------------------------------------------
1 x BLUE OX BX2160 Baseplate CLOSEOUT () = $249.95
------------------------------------------------------
Sub-Total: $249.95
UPS3 (70 lbs) (Ground): $45.25
Total: $295.20

Tips from my experience of the installation. Overall, the design of the Blue Ox base plate is excellent. The finish of the unit is very good, and the fit was excellent. However, the installation instructions had a number of errors that resulting in second guessing and rework, and probably doubled the time of the install considering this is my 1st base plate.

To start off, a couple of items are missing from the Tools Required list. A " wrench and socket is needed, as is a torque wrench. While not mandatory, I used an " impact wrench on the very large hex bolts. Also, a 17/32" drill bit is ridiculously hard to come by Home Depot doesn't even carry this size of drill bit, but luckly a in bit does just fine the extra 1/32" is not needed for the bolt to go through into the frame.

The parts list included with the BX2160 was complete.

Here is a summary of the installation:

Step 1 says to remove 2 screws from each wheel well to "loosen" the front part of the plastic wheel well covering, and detatch it from the fascia. But you will find out during step 2 that this does not work as loosening does not give access to the [all the] fascia 10mm bolts, so all 4 screws as well as 2 plastic body screws need to be removed and the front wheel well cover needs to be removed on both sides.

Step 2 says to remove one 10mm bolt from each wheel well, but on the 2005 Exp model there are 2 10mm bolts holding the fascia in each wheel well. This is a significant error in the instructions since you cannot see the 2nd bolt if you follow the instructions given in step 1. I started to pry the fascia and then said something is wrong here, and removed the wheel well cover to see that there is in fact a 2nd bold on each side farther back to the front of the car. This 2nd bolt must be removed for the fascia to come off. I could have done some damage to the fascia had I not removed the wheel well covers.

Step 3 was fine, the 5 slots are still in the same place for the fascia, and off it popped.

Step 4 says to remove the air dam. This sounds easy but it is not. The top plastic body scews on the top of the air dam are very difficult to get out. So instead, I cut the air dam in half since it has to be trimmed back in the same place for the base plate and removed the bottom portion of the air dam. After re-installing the air dam upon trimming it, the bottom piece installation was not difficult.

Here is the big mistake on step 4 of the instructions: it say only to remove the air bag sensor for the 2002-2003 year Explorer model. So I left it right where it is and moved forward onto step 5. But this is a big mistake in that when you install the base plate and bolt it up, the sensor is only a blocking the base plate from going fully on by a small gap maybe a to inch, so as you bolt the plate on, you don't notice right way that as you get it close to tight that the plate starts to press up against the air bag sensor. Fortunately I was not using the impact wrench yet to get the bolts threaded into the inside-the-frame nuts. As I tightened the plate, and noticing that it would not completely go flush to the frame it was evident that it was pressing up against the sensor. So the plate now needed to be removed, the and the air bag sensor removed. The other danger about this omission was that the air bag sensor could have been damaged if the plate was installed with impact wrench. The sensor bracket is thin metal and would have bent if I was using the impact at this point. If the sensor was only 1/2 higher, there would be no obstruction.

Step 5 was no problem, once the air bag sensor was removed. The unit is heavy, so I used a pair of jack stands to help lift it and then hold it in place under the frame while I bolted it on. I used the impact wrench on the large 3/4" bolts, and then check them with my torque wrench. And of course, used the red loctite.

Step 6 was no problem, given that I used a " drill bit instead of 17/32" bit which is not a common bit size I have like 100+ bits and also checked with Home Depot today they don't even carry a 17/32" bit! BTW, the frame is very thick this step produces quite a bit of metal shavings and it takes a bit of time to get through the frame. I also drilled a pilot hole first using the 7/32" bit.

Step 7 which is noted only for the 2002-03 model, is needed to be done on the 2005 model. As a side note, the cross bar on the base plate is very thick metal. It took a fair amount of time to drill in the 7/32" holes needed for the air sensor.

Step 8 was no problem. But I almost forgot about the metal bumper re-installation! The base plate itself makes for a heavy duty bumper! It also says to install the fascia now, which I did, but as you will see below - that is a bad move.

Step 9 says to install item 13 the Electrical Bracket. This instruction is not good. Installing the bracket should be on Step 7. Once the fascia is installed, it is very difficult to get tools behind the fascia to install the bracket. It just added to a great deal of unnecessary time involve in the installation.

That's it. Overall, a good project I had all the tools needed for the job and I was very satisfied with the quality/fit of the base plate itself. I hope Blue Ox will improve the instructions for the next DIY guy.

The other task required for the Ford Explorer is the installation of the Neutral Tow Kit which is nothing more than an indicator light from Ford which could be easily DIY installation but the problem is the computer in the car need to be changed to recognize the light and in order to put the transfer case into Neutral. So that is a 1.5 hour job for Dealer that I am not allowed to do. It is $25 part. The installation for that will run about $200 at Ford. BTW, I had to call the dealers 3 times to get the right part ordered. 1st call, they could not find someone that might know what this is. 2nd call to another dealer they had no one that knew what it was. 3rd back to the 1st dealer found someone in parts that knew what it was! Wow!. Can you beleive this - even when you give the Ford dealer the exact part no!

Now I have to re-wire the 6-wire connector on the receiver bar on the Coach. The previous owner destroyed this as it was poorly positioned on the bottom of the receiver hitch which most folks know is a drag point of the MH and had been ripped off some years ago. Since then I have installed a 4-wire connector for the boat which is working fine, but will have to go back to the 6-wire for the toad.

I need to order the tow bar now for the MH. I'd like to hear the recommendations from members. These units are expensive so I'm looking at a used Acclaim or possibly even a Adventurer unit so save some cash.

Finally, I think I will need the toad braking system since the Exp is over 4000 lbs. Another seemingly too expensive item. My boat has built-in hydraulic brakes on the trailer, that uses a surge system on the hitch. This system works great for the boat and is a simple system, but I'm not sure surge system works good on the toad like the Blue Ox AutoStop system. I want something simple. Comments suggestions?

Soon-to-be a toad'er - Jeff
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Old 12-29-2007, 08:01 PM   #2
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Blue Ox Base plate BX2160 DIY installation review (for 2002-2005 Explorer XLT, 4WD)
2005 Ford Explorer V6 XLT 4x4
RV PARTS OUTLET
Date Ordered: Wednesday 28 November, 2007
------------------------------------------------------
1 x BLUE OX BX2160 Baseplate CLOSEOUT () = $249.95
------------------------------------------------------
Sub-Total: $249.95
UPS3 (70 lbs) (Ground): $45.25
Total: $295.20

Tips from my experience of the installation. Overall, the design of the Blue Ox base plate is excellent. The finish of the unit is very good, and the fit was excellent. However, the installation instructions had a number of errors that resulting in second guessing and rework, and probably doubled the time of the install considering this is my 1st base plate.

To start off, a couple of items are missing from the Tools Required list. A " wrench and socket is needed, as is a torque wrench. While not mandatory, I used an " impact wrench on the very large hex bolts. Also, a 17/32" drill bit is ridiculously hard to come by Home Depot doesn't even carry this size of drill bit, but luckly a in bit does just fine the extra 1/32" is not needed for the bolt to go through into the frame.

The parts list included with the BX2160 was complete.

Here is a summary of the installation:

Step 1 says to remove 2 screws from each wheel well to "loosen" the front part of the plastic wheel well covering, and detatch it from the fascia. But you will find out during step 2 that this does not work as loosening does not give access to the [all the] fascia 10mm bolts, so all 4 screws as well as 2 plastic body screws need to be removed and the front wheel well cover needs to be removed on both sides.

Step 2 says to remove one 10mm bolt from each wheel well, but on the 2005 Exp model there are 2 10mm bolts holding the fascia in each wheel well. This is a significant error in the instructions since you cannot see the 2nd bolt if you follow the instructions given in step 1. I started to pry the fascia and then said something is wrong here, and removed the wheel well cover to see that there is in fact a 2nd bold on each side farther back to the front of the car. This 2nd bolt must be removed for the fascia to come off. I could have done some damage to the fascia had I not removed the wheel well covers.

Step 3 was fine, the 5 slots are still in the same place for the fascia, and off it popped.

Step 4 says to remove the air dam. This sounds easy but it is not. The top plastic body scews on the top of the air dam are very difficult to get out. So instead, I cut the air dam in half since it has to be trimmed back in the same place for the base plate and removed the bottom portion of the air dam. After re-installing the air dam upon trimming it, the bottom piece installation was not difficult.

Here is the big mistake on step 4 of the instructions: it say only to remove the air bag sensor for the 2002-2003 year Explorer model. So I left it right where it is and moved forward onto step 5. But this is a big mistake in that when you install the base plate and bolt it up, the sensor is only a blocking the base plate from going fully on by a small gap maybe a to inch, so as you bolt the plate on, you don't notice right way that as you get it close to tight that the plate starts to press up against the air bag sensor. Fortunately I was not using the impact wrench yet to get the bolts threaded into the inside-the-frame nuts. As I tightened the plate, and noticing that it would not completely go flush to the frame it was evident that it was pressing up against the sensor. So the plate now needed to be removed, the and the air bag sensor removed. The other danger about this omission was that the air bag sensor could have been damaged if the plate was installed with impact wrench. The sensor bracket is thin metal and would have bent if I was using the impact at this point. If the sensor was only 1/2 higher, there would be no obstruction.

Step 5 was no problem, once the air bag sensor was removed. The unit is heavy, so I used a pair of jack stands to help lift it and then hold it in place under the frame while I bolted it on. I used the impact wrench on the large 3/4" bolts, and then check them with my torque wrench. And of course, used the red loctite.

Step 6 was no problem, given that I used a " drill bit instead of 17/32" bit which is not a common bit size I have like 100+ bits and also checked with Home Depot today they don't even carry a 17/32" bit! BTW, the frame is very thick this step produces quite a bit of metal shavings and it takes a bit of time to get through the frame. I also drilled a pilot hole first using the 7/32" bit.

Step 7 which is noted only for the 2002-03 model, is needed to be done on the 2005 model. As a side note, the cross bar on the base plate is very thick metal. It took a fair amount of time to drill in the 7/32" holes needed for the air sensor.

Step 8 was no problem. But I almost forgot about the metal bumper re-installation! The base plate itself makes for a heavy duty bumper! It also says to install the fascia now, which I did, but as you will see below - that is a bad move.

Step 9 says to install item 13 the Electrical Bracket. This instruction is not good. Installing the bracket should be on Step 7. Once the fascia is installed, it is very difficult to get tools behind the fascia to install the bracket. It just added to a great deal of unnecessary time involve in the installation.

That's it. Overall, a good project I had all the tools needed for the job and I was very satisfied with the quality/fit of the base plate itself. I hope Blue Ox will improve the instructions for the next DIY guy.

The other task required for the Ford Explorer is the installation of the Neutral Tow Kit which is nothing more than an indicator light from Ford which could be easily DIY installation but the problem is the computer in the car need to be changed to recognize the light and in order to put the transfer case into Neutral. So that is a 1.5 hour job for Dealer that I am not allowed to do. It is $25 part. The installation for that will run about $200 at Ford. BTW, I had to call the dealers 3 times to get the right part ordered. 1st call, they could not find someone that might know what this is. 2nd call to another dealer they had no one that knew what it was. 3rd back to the 1st dealer found someone in parts that knew what it was! Wow!. Can you beleive this - even when you give the Ford dealer the exact part no!

Now I have to re-wire the 6-wire connector on the receiver bar on the Coach. The previous owner destroyed this as it was poorly positioned on the bottom of the receiver hitch which most folks know is a drag point of the MH and had been ripped off some years ago. Since then I have installed a 4-wire connector for the boat which is working fine, but will have to go back to the 6-wire for the toad.

I need to order the tow bar now for the MH. I'd like to hear the recommendations from members. These units are expensive so I'm looking at a used Acclaim or possibly even a Adventurer unit so save some cash.

Finally, I think I will need the toad braking system since the Exp is over 4000 lbs. Another seemingly too expensive item. My boat has built-in hydraulic brakes on the trailer, that uses a surge system on the hitch. This system works great for the boat and is a simple system, but I'm not sure surge system works good on the toad like the Blue Ox AutoStop system. I want something simple. Comments suggestions?

Soon-to-be a toad'er - Jeff
__________________

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More Toads: 6x12 enclosed, KTM250XC, Regal LSR 2100
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Old 12-30-2007, 03:58 AM   #3
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First, I'm a Blue Ox fan and I'm quite satisfied with my baseplate after installation.

I found the Blue Ox instructions almost useless and misleading. It was quite clear that no one at Blue Ox ever installed a baseplate on an '08 Yukon by following their own instructions.

I found better instructions on the Roadmaster website. It was easier to apply the Roadmaster instructions to the Blue Ox baseplate than to follow the Blue Ox instructions.

I also like Blue Ox tow bars.

As far as supplemental braking, I'm not a fan of surge type brakes, as many have had problems with them.

For a totally portable system, I like and use the Brake Buddy, but there are many good systems available, both portable and permanent.

I've also linked this thread to the Product Evaluation forum.
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Old 12-30-2007, 06:02 PM   #4
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I on the other hand LOVE my surge brake system installed on my RV for applying the brakes on my toad. The system is simple and fool proof. You slow, the toad slows. You go, so does the toad. I have owned many trailers with surge brakes, and the only trouble I had with those was when my own neglect caused the issue.

But the surge system on my RV has none of those issues, since the brakes on the toad are well maintained.

Instant hook up, no electrical requirements to go bad or wiggle loose, and costs WAY less. Yep,I love it......
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Old 12-31-2007, 08:19 AM   #5
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Sarge,
Good write up. That's disappointing about the Blue Ox directions. I am considering a Ford Edge as a replacement toad and the base plate for this vehicle is very complex and requires some vehicle modification to install. May need to let someone else install it provided I can find someone with Blue Ox experience.
On the RVNet board there is a lot of info on the Nightshift Auto tow bar and surge brake. Most of the comments are very postive and the simplicity is praised. The lack of breakaway was an issue for their surge brake but I think they have a solution now. Could be wrong.

mark
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Old 01-01-2008, 04:50 PM   #6
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Mark,

The ReadyBrake that I use comes with a break-away cable that sets the break in the case of a tow bar or baseplate failure.
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Old 01-05-2008, 07:31 PM   #7
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Sarge --- Great write up. I installed a Blue Ox baseplate on a new 2007 Ford Focus with the street appearance package. The instructions provided by Blue Ox were incorrect as to how to remove the headlights (have to be removed to get to the frame) -- Ford changed the design on the 2007. I also had to fully remove the air cleaner (Blue Ox instructions did not have this in the instructions). There were some other instructions that did not match up with the car. Overall I am very pleased with the install but, the time to do was much longer than I expected -- by just reading the instructions. To put the baseplate on, I ended up with all of the front end appearance package off, both grills, the headlights, the air cleaner, the air dams -- my wife was having a "heart attack" as I had dismanteled the car in the garage and it was only 10 days off the dealer lot when I did this. It took about 8 hours from start to finish to do the job.

Oh by the way I did have the 17/32" drill bit. I did like you -- drilled smaller hole first and then started to enlarge it -- a little at a time. I did have the torque wrench for the 80 foot pound tightening, etc.

After all said and done -- I love the install. I did use their light kit where you drill the holes in the brake lights at the back and install the supplemental lights and run the wires to the front of the vehicle so I did not touch the factory wiring on the Focus.
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Old 01-05-2008, 08:21 PM   #8
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Great work Dave! I hate to have anyone do any work for me that I can do for myself. That way I know it's right, and if it's not right, I know who to blame!!
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Old 01-06-2008, 05:13 AM   #9
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I've installed Blue Ox base plates on both a 2002 Ford Focus SVT and a 2004 Explorer. While the instructions were helpful, they did have errors and omissions. However, it wasn't too hard to work around it.

Agree with Dave, the Focus was much more involved and difficult than the Explorer.
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Old 01-06-2008, 04:11 PM   #10
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by SargeW:
I on the other hand LOVE my surge brake system Yep,I love it...... </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Thanks everyone for the feedback and inputs. Just got back from trip to Big Bend and Lake Amistad - no internet at either place and I don't have Datastorm.

We did a quick overnight in the little town of Marathon on the way to Big Bend (btw, got down to about 20 deg F!). There I kicked up a discussion with my neighboor who was in a new 08 Tiffin 40 footer quad-slide pulling a new 07 4-door Jeep with a major 4x4 package. Nice setup! So I asked if he was using a brake system on the Jeep. He said yes, and it was based on an air pressure ratio system connected to the Tiffin's air brake system. He complained that the system was not calibrated correctly and burned up all 4 brakes on the Jeep - total rebuild required. A trip back to the factory to re-do the system did not work - on testing, touching the breaks in the MH resulted in the breaks going to the floor on the Jeep, so for now this full-timer is running without a break system on the Jeep!

I think I'm partial to Surge since it is on my Boat now - I understand how it works, and the cost is lower to get started on the toad system.
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Old 01-06-2008, 05:10 PM   #11
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Yep, gotta love the simplicity.........
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Old 01-06-2008, 05:14 PM   #12
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by David K:
Oh by the way I did have the 17/32" drill bit. I did like you -- drilled smaller hole first and then started to enlarge it -- a little at a time. I did have the torque wrench for the 80 foot pound tightening, etc.
</div></BLOCKQUOTE>

You have the 17/32" bit?! Wow, must have a big set of bits. Funny, my DW was also giving me hard time when I had all the front-end plastic peices and the metal bumper out on the garage floor - wonder if I would get it back together again - I said no problem - my job was 1/2 the time of your Ford Focus! I feel a little better about it now.
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Old 01-09-2008, 05:12 PM   #13
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I used to have a friend who worked at a government ship yard (to remain un-named) who would bring me home his "worn out" drill bits when he got some new ones. I ended up with a complete nominal size set, a complete alpha size set. It is amazing what the government buys and then does not use -- I feel like I got some of my tax money back and it was only the bits that were "surplused out of stock." I still say that some of them had never touched anything.
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Old 01-18-2008, 09:46 AM   #14
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I had one installed on my 2003 Ford Focus, works great, of course it cost a arm and a leg to get it and have it installed.
Should have bought a Saturn.
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