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Old 06-05-2016, 02:37 PM   #1
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Problem towing GM pickup & RV UpGrades

We have a 2011 GMC Sierra 4x4 crew which we have towed over 50,000 miles. This spring we were traveling north on I/295E in Jacksonville when I noticed my truck mirror show, while I was checking my left mirror. I checked the rear view monitor and saw the truck was swaying back and forth. I stopped asap. The left tow bar arm was dragging and the base plate was hanging by the safety cable attached to the frame. The frame extension, which the base plate and bumper attach to the truck's frame had broken. After I disconnected the truck was drive-able. U-Haul does not rent a trailer capable of carrying the truck; so Jean had to drive it home (1200+ miles) with the golf cart in the bed (not a happy camper).
This is the first base plate I did not install myself, but it was done right using the lock-tite as required. I read, here, about the bolts loosening on this type truck; so I checked them with a wrench "once in a wile" without any problems.
The guy at the body shop said the bolts had loosened; so he reinforced the new frame extensions and welded the bolts after they were installed.
I had bought a new base plate from RV Up Grades (a sponsor here) because I have had good service from them in the past. It turned out that the base plate had no damage at all. I called RV Up Grades and sent them back the new base plate. They immediately credited my card for the full price. They did not even deduct their shipping cost. I will use RV Up Grades again!!!
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Old 06-05-2016, 04:03 PM   #2
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Sounds like a company that knows , customer service , pays dividends.
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Old 06-05-2016, 04:25 PM   #3
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First let me say I agree with the service from RV Upgrages.They give great service.
I am concerned with the frame breaking.I tow a 2013 Silverado 4 x 4.Are you saying the bolts getting loose caused it to break.
Doyle and Peggy
1999 Country Coach,2013 Silverado 4 x 4
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Old 06-05-2016, 04:39 PM   #4
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Yes, that's what the owner of the body shop said. It was the frame extension, which is much lighter than the actual frame, but that's what holds the base plate. Even though mine are now welded on I will check them more often.
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Old 06-05-2016, 04:51 PM   #5
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I installed mine myself.The bolts have stayed tight and I check them often.But I will watch them closer.
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Old 06-05-2016, 05:01 PM   #6
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I had some major problems similar to what you've described. The thread can be found at 2011 Chevy Silverado Blue Ox Base Plate.

My problem was the base plate did not come with hardened flat washers and the torque on the bolts caused the bolt heads to thin the frame pieces. My fix sounds like yours, and we've got about 35,000 tow miles on it without further problems. I documented the problem to Blue Ox with phone discussions to their engineers and a number of pictures, to no avail. Essentially, they denied responsibility and would do nothing, but I understand the kits now include washers. I did install the unit myself and the installation was EXACTLY as the instructions directed.
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Old 06-05-2016, 05:39 PM   #7
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Don't know about Blue Ox, but Roadmaster still uses split lockwashers on their baseplates. Split washers were proven useless 40 years ago by NASA and others.

When I installed my baseplate, I replaced everything I could with Grade 8 and hardened flat washers. In a couple places I had to add oversized washers due to the thin metal.

If you read the instructions you'll find a note that says "check torque on all the fasteners every 3,000 miles.". That's their escape clause, they know nobody does that so they're home free if anything goes wrong. You'll note that there are no fasteners on your car that must be checked every 3,000 miles. Also note that there are no split lockwashers on your car either.

I questioned Roadmaster about their ancient split washers and they never replied.
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Old 06-07-2016, 10:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmckinley View Post

If you read the instructions you'll find a note that says "check torque on all the fasteners every 3,000 miles.". That's their escape clause, they know nobody does that so they're home free if anything goes wrong. You'll note that there are no fasteners on your car that must be checked every 3,000 miles. Also note that there are no split lockwashers on your car either.

I questioned Roadmaster about their ancient split washers and they never replied.
I don't know if Roadmaster specifies the use of Loc-Tite or not, but if you torque to specifications using Loc-Tite, you cannot check the torque. The bolt and nut are glued together and the only way to separate them is with heat.
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Old 06-09-2016, 07:50 AM   #9
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LocTite does help, but there are two problems with bolted joints:

(1) If there isn't enough clamping force, the parts will slide in relation to each other and gradually wear metal away, eventually leading to joint failure, even if the nut and bolt are welded together. Solution is Grade 8 fasteners with hardened flat washers torqued to max. This will nearly double the clamping force holding the parts together.

(2) On newer cars, the baseplate must be bolted to some fairly thin sheet metal which is all the frame available. Over time, this sheet metal can fail. In my opinion, the backup washers provided with my baseplate were not big enough to prevent this type of failure. There have been instances of this type of failure reported on this forum.
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Old 06-13-2016, 04:07 PM   #10
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Cousin Ed,I have an update on my baseplate.I have towed my truck about 4,000 miles since installing base plate.I usually just check the bolts with a 3/4 openend.This morning I thought I would check the torque.All 4 bolts turned about 1/4 turn,so they had loosened.That makes me think something is giving.I will sure be looking at it more closely.now.
Thanks for your post.
Doyle and Peggy
1999 Country Coach 2013 Silverado 4x4 crew
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Old 06-13-2016, 04:53 PM   #11
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We have towed the Sierra over 50,000 miles; so I think now with the bolts welded on we should be OK..... but I'll be under there checking more often!
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Old 06-17-2016, 01:30 PM   #12
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welding on grade 8 fasteners is a no no, you will crystalize the fasterner that could
result in premature failure..... this is a fact
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