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Old 04-03-2012, 07:02 PM   #1
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Protect-a-Tow system

I've got some questions regarding the Protect-a-Tow device that connects between the RV and the toad:
  • Does it use bungee cord on all 4 sides of the fabric?
  • When the car and RV are in-line does the cord on the sides of the fabric have any tension on it?
  • When in a turn does the center of the fabric sag at all?
Thanks for any answers!
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Old 04-03-2012, 07:17 PM   #2
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OK - ON MINE yes bungee goes all around the edge of the fabric and yes there is tension on it all the time. On mine the center of the fabric is I think held up by a short bungee in the middle that goes over a side to side PVC that gives the middle support.
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Old 04-03-2012, 07:32 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan_Hepburn View Post
I've got some questions regarding the Protect-a-Tow device that connects between the RV and the toad:
  • Does it use bungee cord on all 4 sides of the fabric?
  • When the car and RV are in-line does the cord on the sides of the fabric have any tension on it?
  • When in a turn does the center of the fabric sag at all?
Thanks for any answers!
.Yes, it has a cord all the way around. The cord has hooks that attach at all four corners engaged into eyes installed on both vehicle's bumpers(two at the bumper corners of the towed and four across the rear of the RV.
.Yes, tension is fairly equal.
.The side cord on the inside of the turn is loose but the pvc cross rod has a hook on each side that holds the cord (and fabric) off the road...does not drag. The center of the fabric is held up by a cord that is attached to the cross rod. In any angle of turn, the fabric or cord does not drag. Bob

Protect-a-Tow
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Old 04-03-2012, 08:33 PM   #4
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Thanks, guys - I'm trying to decide if I want to buy one, or make my own. I've got a lot more time than money and it doesn't look to difficult to construct one. It'll be a lot less expensive than buying one!
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Old 04-05-2012, 12:45 PM   #5
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Alan - let us know if you DIY would be interested in the outcome - had the same thought but I don't have much of either time or money.
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Old 04-05-2012, 02:28 PM   #6
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I can tell you this... I've made two more or less identical trips, one without, one with.

The one without I got home I had dirt all over everywhere, Had to power wash the engine on the towed, Had to wash the windshield before I could unhook.

2nd trip (With) no such issues.
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Old 04-05-2012, 03:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan_Hepburn View Post
Thanks, guys - I'm trying to decide if I want to buy one, or make my own. I've got a lot more time than money and it doesn't look to difficult to construct one. It'll be a lot less expensive than buying one!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gma-n-Gpa View Post
Alan - let us know if you DIY would be interested in the outcome - had the same thought but I don't have much of either time or money.
We have made replacement fabric shield several times for our Protect-a-Tow (we get tears because our drop receiver drags), and it isn't that hard. We even made ours wider at the toad end and longer to accommodate the extra length the drop receiver adds to the tow bar setup. See how we did it in our blog post HERE.

Making the whole thing from scratch without anything to use as a guide would be a little more difficult, but not impossible.
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Old 04-07-2012, 07:43 PM   #8
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Thanks, Paz - that explanation looks great! I found some sources online for comparable material but nothing as inexpensive as you found. The best I could find for PVC coated polyester mesh (what Protect-A-Tow uses) was $10 a yard, in 36" width. Protect-A-Tow doesn't specify the weight of their material, so I limited my search to 18 oz material. I found some 18 oz vinyl coated polyester tarp material for $6.50 a yard, in 61" width, in various colors, but it's more solid than mesh. I also found 3/8" bungee cord for 58 cents a foot.

Then I did some more investigating and found that I don't think the system will work on my car - there is no solid attachment point on the front of the car. The smart car uses plastic body panels connected to more plastic panels with plastic fasteners. There's no metal out at the front corners to attach to and I think that when turning the tension on the bungee cord would stress the plastic panels and eventually cause a failure.

So, now we're trying to decide whether to go with a plastic panel similar to what Blue Ox offers or just take our chances - we just spent almost $1K replacing several plastic panels after rolling over something that jumped up and bit the front of the car. The best price I found for the Blue Ox panel was $320 - I know that's less than what we just spent but when your annual income is $0 you have to carefully manage your money!
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Old 04-08-2012, 12:27 PM   #9
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Alan, Just a thought but rather than attach it to the car you might be able to attach a PVC pipe to your base plate or the rear of the tow bar. Then attach the protect a tow to the PVC.
Bob
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Old 04-08-2012, 04:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan_Hepburn View Post
I've got some questions regarding the Protect-a-Tow device that connects between the RV and the toad:
  • Does it use bungee cord on all 4 sides of the fabric?
  • When the car and RV are in-line does the cord on the sides of the fabric have any tension on it?
  • When in a turn does the center of the fabric sag at all?
Thanks for any answers!
Tried to make a DIY protect-a-tow using bungee cords, pvc, plastic tarp. Did not hold up very well because side winds tore it up at the corners after only one trip. I decided it would work better to install large mud flaps behind my motorhome rear tires and install a 94" wide rock guard on back of motorhome. Used the Ultra Guard (from Camping World). Comes in 16" tall and 20" tall. When installed should be 4" from ground to bottom of Ultra Guard. Installed with L bracket from Lowes and stainless steel cable because did not want to drill holes in fiberglass because my motorhome has no rear bumper. If you have rear bumper, you can install below that.
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Old 04-09-2012, 10:27 AM   #11
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Check the Roadmaster website for their Protect a Tow system and how it attaches to the baseplate and tow bar. Their system stretches on top of the towbar from coach to toad. Could help with a DIY design.
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Old 04-10-2012, 08:38 PM   #12
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Checked out the Roadmaster system and I don't think it will do what I'm looking for. It mounts above the tow bar so everything that's below the bar is unprotected, and that's what got damaged on our recent trip. I think I'm going to have to just go with a good rock guard on the back of the motorhome and keep my eyes open for road 'gators so I can avoid having ANYTHING pass harmlessly under the motorhome, only to hit the toad on the way out the back!
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Old 04-11-2012, 09:05 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan_Hepburn View Post
Thanks, Paz - that explanation looks great! I found some sources online for comparable material but nothing as inexpensive as you found. The best I could find for PVC coated polyester mesh (what Protect-A-Tow uses) was $10 a yard, in 36" width. Protect-A-Tow doesn't specify the weight of their material, so I limited my search to 18 oz material. I found some 18 oz vinyl coated polyester tarp material for $6.50 a yard, in 61" width, in various colors, but it's more solid than mesh...
The fabric I used is 90% shade cloth available from Beasley's Manufacturing. They don't have much of a catalog online, but if you call or email them and ask for 90% black shade cloth and tell them the width you need, they should be able to ship material to you. Material that was 6' wide was $1.50 a linear foot. Our motorhome is 8' wide, so the fabric cost $12.

The original Protect-a-Tow fabric was perforated. I don't think you want a solid, non-porous fabric like tarp material. I think it would act like a sail. The 10% porosity of the 90% shade cloth lets some water through, but not that much. Our first attempt to remake the skirt for our Protect-a-Tow was with 80% shade cloth. It let way too much dirt through, so we went back to Beasley's and got the 90% material.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan_Hepburn View Post
Then I did some more investigating and found that I don't think the system will work on my car - there is no solid attachment point on the front of the car. The smart car uses plastic body panels connected to more plastic panels with plastic fasteners. There's no metal out at the front corners to attach to and I think that when turning the tension on the bungee cord would stress the plastic panels and eventually cause a failure...
The front of our Vue is all plastic, too. There are a few screws here and there, but Saturn also used the plastic push rivets. I backed up the screw eyes to which the bungee cord attaches with large diameter SS fender washers to keep them from pulling through the plastic. It's been 6 years, and we have had no problems with the tension of the bungee cord pulling anything apart.
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Old 04-13-2012, 06:42 PM   #14
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Since mid Nov we have traveled over 6000 miles with the protect-a tow and I was impressed that my new CRV had no oil blow by from the MH, the back of the MH was cleaner then it has ever been, my back camera didn't get covered with mud/road grime/water during wet weather and most importantly my brand new CRV has no dings at all. On my CRV I did not use the eye hooks, there is a space on each end under the bumper that the hooks fit right in to. Wished I had had the protect-a-tow on my old toad, would have saved a lot of scrubbing of oil and road dings off the poor car. Oh, BTW, we only run flaps directly behind the duals, not across the back. I think those do more harm then good. JMHO
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