A couple of years ago while attending the National Rally the Blue Ox tech inspected my tow bar and told me that I had not properly maintained it since the legs were dry.
Well; I wasn't going to let that happen to me again since (I bet) the same Blue Ox tech is going to be in Sevierville for our National Rally.
Although I could have taken pictures of this whole process, working with grease and cameras just doesn't work that well so I will describe as best as I can what I accomplished.
I am working with an Aladdin Towbar that has not been serviced since the last National Rally in Urbanna, VA.
The tow bar should be covered when not in use so I removed the cover. Each arm of the tow bar has an expanding bellows that covers the arm that extends out of the piston. Toward the piston there is a larger 1/4" wide tie wrap and away from the piston toward the vehicle there's a 1/8" tie wrap. I carefully cut the tie wraps off of the ends of the bellows. Once the tie wraps are cut the bellows can be moved off of the races that accommodate the tie wraps.
I pushed down on the release locks and pulled the arms out to the extent of their travel. In the tow bar service notes, it says to use silicone spray or carburetor cleaner to clean the arms. I thought I would use a product just as effective which I believed worked just fine, WD-40. WD-40 cleans grease off very well and it evaporates and does not leave a contaminant residue. I used paper shop towels to completely wipe and clean the pistons. All that is needed is a small quantity of WD-40 and I did not let it run into the piston bore.
Using an extreme pressure chassis grease, I applied a bead across the top of the piston. With my gloved hand, I spread the grease around the circumference and length of the piston from one end to the other. I then moved the bellows down toward the Y and pushed the end over the piston land. I fitted a 1/4" tie wrap over the boot and slowly tightened the tie making sure that it was centered over the land. Verifying the position, I yanked out any additional slack and cut the tie to fit.
I released the lock and pushed the arm in and out a few times to distribute the grease. I left the arm at about the half way position and pulled the boot over the lands on the vehicle side. Observe that the arrow on the fingers is pointing in the proper direction, I believe it says "UP." Install a 1/8" tie wrap over the boot locating the land and slowly tighten and check the position of the tie wrap.
Confirming the position, remove any slack in the tie wrap and cut the tie. I then moved the arm in and out of the bore and half dozen times assuring that the boot would stay in place. Using a paper shop towel, wipe any excess grease that may have squeezed out of the ends of the boot.
Multiply times 2 and you're done.
While you are working on the tow bar, make sure that all the roll pins are in place make sure that there's a medium heavy drag between the arms and make sure that the tow bar has a heavy drag at the retainer (pivot bolt).
That's it for the annual maintenance of the typical Blue Ox tow bar.
I restored the cover of the tow bar and that was it for the day. Total time to do the maintenance on the tow bar, approximately 30 minutes or less. Before you start make sure that you have the 2 different size tie wraps and don't use a 1/8" wrap on the cylinder land.
Don't get caught at the National Rally with a dry tow bar.
During your on-site service, the Blue Ox tech will grease the arms and check all the fasteners and tighten all the bolts. I can't remember what they charged last year but it was worth it. They even fixed a bad connection in my umbilical cord