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Old 10-05-2019, 01:36 PM   #1
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How is a Tow Bar supposed to work?

I inherited a Blue Ox tow bar when I bought the coach, and have recently completed fabricating a base plate, and installing an Invisibrake system, so ready for the road test! hmmm, not good.

The right base plate tab bent down about 60 degrees. I straightened it out and tried it again, but the tab bent with the car being towed out of the driveway (right hand turn). Here is what I noticed:

The arms on the tow bar lock in the extended position and stay that way. Is this the way they're supposed to be?

The hitch height is 16" and the tow eyes are 11" high. I thought I read that a 6" difference was acceptable, but is this correct?

Any other causes of high stress while turning?
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Old 10-05-2019, 01:44 PM   #2
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Rick
6Ē is WAY to much, generally 2Ē to 3 ď max difference. How did you fabricate the base plates that the tow bar can pivot down, pictures would be helpful.
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Old 10-05-2019, 01:54 PM   #3
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I have a hitch that will lower the height to 12"; just didn't think it made a difference because I was within that 6" window. Thanks for the tip.


Are the arms supposed to lock fully extended?
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Old 10-05-2019, 01:54 PM   #4
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Yes, the tow bar arms should lock in the extended position. Is the steering wheel in toad is unlocked?

Need photos. Nothing should be bending. you should be able to pull the car sideways with the tow bar and nothing bends...
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Old 10-05-2019, 02:15 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by bamaboy473 View Post
The right base plate tab bent down about 60 degrees. I straightened it out and tried it again, but the tab bent with the car being towed out of the driveway (right hand turn).
What tab? Blue Ox baseplates don't have tabs except for where the safety cables connect. They use removable pins that extend from the baseplate that you connect the tow bar to.

Need pictures.
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Old 10-05-2019, 02:43 PM   #6
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The setup base plate was fabricated by a body shop out of 1/2" plate and that was attached to the two large bolts that hold the heavy bumper backing plate to the frame.
The tabs are welded to that steel and they extend out from the grill

It's amazing to me that the tab bent after one turn, and I'll take the car back on Monday to see if he can add gussets to the tabs.

Tomorrow I'll try towing again, with the new hitch extender being less than 2" difference from the tab height.
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Old 10-05-2019, 02:58 PM   #7
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I see what happened. First, the pin is not lined up with the tab, so any compression on the two arm (like in a turn) was not transmitted directly to the baseplate. It was pushing slightly down. Add in the height difference, and that meant there was a significant downward angle to the load on the baseplate tab.

Poorly designed attachment point, IMO. Out of alignment load points, with no bracing for vertical loads.
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Old 10-05-2019, 03:04 PM   #8
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I'll post more photos tomorrow that will show the two pieces of the tab as well as how the tow bar connects to them.

Agreed on a lack of vertical load support because nobody expected them, so a short piece of 1/2" welded to the box was thought to be more than sufficient.

Live and learn.

Any suggestions for a re-design or strengthening can get done, so I'm game to change things if needed.
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Old 10-05-2019, 03:33 PM   #9
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The hard part is going to be getting a tall enough stiffener on there without trimming some of that fascia away. You really want a complete C channel or box. And better if you can redo the bracket end so the pin lines up with the middle of the channel/box.
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Old 10-05-2019, 05:45 PM   #10
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In addition to what has already been said, and itís all good advise, I would personally like to see the mounts maybe flipped over to get them higher, it looks like nothing but trouble the way itís designed.
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Old 10-05-2019, 07:12 PM   #11
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In addition to what has already been said, and itís all good advise, I would personally like to see the mounts maybe flipped over to get them higher, it looks like nothing but trouble the way itís designed.
I totally agree, but the tabs coming out from behind the bumper were made a certain length by the fabricator and they ended up being too short when I needed to add the second piece that has ears.

Flipping that second piece won't allow the bolts to pass, and the weld at the gusset doesn't work, either.

R&D is money spent, and I may end up re-doing them, but it isn't cheap and I'm using this forum to try to decide whether it's needed. If I do it again, the box section is good, but the tab section would be a box as well.

Photos in the AM
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Old 10-05-2019, 07:15 PM   #12
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BTW - what model BMW is it that can be towed 4-down? Or did you put in a disconnect?
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Old 10-05-2019, 08:05 PM   #13
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I mentioned in your other thread that what you have built isn't properly designed or engineered. There are many things wrong with this design including but not limited to: bolts in single shear, safety chains connected to towbar hitch points.

You bent 1/2" plate steel on a very short tow. The vertical difference between the Toad and Tow Vehicle isn't what caused your problems today. Among many other things, a properly designed baseplate has a cross member connecting the left and right hitch points only a couple of inches back from the hitch pin. This crossmember is critical. It helps transfer the load equally between the two hitch points on the toad.

Your current configurations isn't safe to operate like it is and it will take a complete redesign before it is even close to safe.
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Old 10-05-2019, 08:19 PM   #14
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BTW - what model BMW is it that can be towed 4-down? Or did you put in a disconnect?

1999 528 5-speed manual.

Tranny in Neutral, and key in ignition to allow steering wheel movement.
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