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Old 04-27-2013, 10:46 PM   #1
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Recent catastrophic Blue Ox towbar failure

The Blue Ox Aladdin towbar we have been using for a number of years, which I purchased used, recently decided to completely fail. This particular product, which it turned out had a 1990's vintage SN, was made of an alloy and was advertised with a 8,000 pound rating yet light weight compared to the competition. The breakage occurred without warning and resulted in both sides of the swivel yoke totally failing, apparently the result of metal fatigue. We were fortunate a severe and costly accident did not result when our toad and MH departed company.

I post this because perhaps others like me take their towbar for granted and expect it is designed adequately for the intended purpose. Though I did not routinely inspect mine for cracks and the like, I doubt I would have caught it before the failure. Blue Ox claimed the unit was old and had out lived it's design life, which I feel was a cop out. In the end I got a new towbar from them at a "discount", and wish I did not have to worry about matching my base plate or I would have gotten another brand. Bottomline their customer service was poor at best, and like most such interactions the part that upset me most was their lack of concern and their failure to even say they were sorry for what I experienced.

BTW a search found a number of similar failure of this product so this is not the first nor, unfortunately, will it be the last.

Russ and Anita
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Old 04-28-2013, 12:02 AM   #2
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Thank you for the sharing. Glad it didn't cause an accident when it happened. This reminds me checking my tow bar periodically and closely from now on.

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Old 04-28-2013, 12:11 AM   #3
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If you ever go to rallies, you may find Blue Ox there, as they do offer a $25 inspection and refurb service in a lot of these places.

We had ours done in Quartzsite this year - $25 well spend.
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Old 04-28-2013, 04:29 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by colo.kids View Post
when our toad and MH departed company.
TOTALLY departed??? What happened to the emergency chains/cables? Did the automatic toad brake work?
Good idea from The Dane - We had ours inspected at Quartzite as well.
Hal & Ginny Miller '04 Beaver Santiam PRT40
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Old 04-28-2013, 05:13 AM   #5
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Towbar failure

I didn't know a towbar had a design life. I never saw one posted in the literature.
Dave & Debbie
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Old 04-28-2013, 05:34 AM   #6
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Glad everyone is safe. Here is another post of a failure that happened a couple of months ago.

Everyone should inspect theirs a couple of time a year, although it is not a guarantee you might find something that looks like it could be a issue in the future.

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Old 04-28-2013, 05:48 AM   #7
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Everything has a design life, but it's never published except in a few industries, like aircraft.

Originally Posted by hogdriver View Post
I didn't know a towbar had a design life. I never saw one posted in the literature.
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Old 04-28-2013, 05:58 AM   #8
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Designed life

Originally Posted by Route 66 View Post
Everything has a design life, but it's never published except in a few industries, like aircraft.
Tow hitches, tow balls, equalizer hitches, and drawbar pins are all under similar loads and stresses yet they do not have a stated design life. I am saying if Blue Ox publicly said there product reached it's lifetime, said lifetime should be stated on the product literature or stamped on it. I realize you can wear a hammer out but that hammer has a lifespan longer than any person wants to use it.
Dave & Debbie
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Old 04-28-2013, 06:14 AM   #9
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From the Blue Ox website

Tow Bar Life Expectancy

Mandy Johnson
Product & Markets Coordinator
Blue Ox
How long will my towbar last? How do I know when it's time to upgrade?
These are some of the most common questions that we hear from our customers. While there is no black and white answer, there are a few things you can check out to help you decide.

Life of a towbar is similar to that of an automobile. There is no tried and true time period at which the towbar becomes unusable. Just like with cars, some are good for 200,000 miles while others donít make it to the first 100K. It all depends on a variety of factors, such as how well the bar is maintained, what type of vehicle you are pulling, are you pulling level, conditions in which the towbar has been used, does the towbar remain covered when not in use, and many many more.

A good general rule of thumb is to carefully examine all the welded areas and insure the metal has not begun to fatigue. Also, look at all of the holes, if they are beginning to elongate or wallow out it is time to trade the towbar. Finally when the towbar is in the extended position if you were to pull on the legs both at the vehicle end and up near the receiver there should not be any more than 1/8Ē of play. If the play is greater than this, than it is a sign the interior holes are wallowed out and the towbar should be replaced.

Fortunately if it is time to trade the towbar, Blue Ox offers a trade in of $150 for your current towbar toward the purchase of a new motorhome mount towbar. If the play is just due to the plastic spacers, throughout being worn down, you could purchase new plastic spacers for the entire towbar for about $20 including shipping & handling. However, if any of the above rings true for you, then the holes are probably elongated and spacers will not help you as the towbar is in need of trading.
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Old 04-28-2013, 06:27 AM   #10
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Speaking for myself, as ours is generally so trouble free, I tend to ignore it! Reminded of the potential for failure, I'll likely give ours a past due going over...

Thanks for posting!

1997 37' HR Endeavor, 275hp Cat, Freightliner
03 CR-V Blue Ox, Ready Brake
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Old 04-28-2013, 06:41 AM   #11
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Thanks for sharing that story. Good reminder to all of us to be checking those things. So glad there were no injuries or serious damage.
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Old 04-28-2013, 07:36 AM   #12
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Thanks to the OP about posting a reminder to all of us to be checking our tow bars and things regularly. I am having a hard time, however, understanding why the bitterness to the manufacturer. The tow bar was purchased used, with no way of knowing how it was used/abused before purchasing. No inspections were done. The bar is more than 20 years old. Where did the manufacturer fail to provide service. Should we expect lifetime free replacements?
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Old 04-28-2013, 09:19 AM   #13
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In addition to all of the previous post, let's not forget that we are not allowed to back up while the tow bar is attached to the toad. This would be my biggest fear if buying used.

Just last month, I have a complete Blue Ox system installed on my CRV, and really wanted the Aladdin set up because of the lighter weight aluminum and nicer look, but was talked out of it by the dealer because it did have a shorter life span than the steel Aventa. Was told that the aluminum holes will elongate over time and could not be repaired.
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Old 04-29-2013, 05:08 PM   #14
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Just had new Roadmaster base plate and Falcon All Terrain installed on CRV. Technician told me absolutely never, ever backup while you are connected. He said he has seen his fair share of damaged tow bars and many times you can't tell if the metal has fractured or been damaged from visual inspection. That's why they sell tow bar insurance. Most people "bend them up" in the first few years.

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