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Old 10-09-2013, 09:33 AM   #1
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Roadmaster Tow Defender

I have been experiencing multiple rock chips and even a broken aulixiary light on our Jeep after last years flat-towing. This year we decided to haul the Jeep in our enclosed trailer. I prefer towing the trailer as it allows the Jeep to stay clean, less wear on the tires/drivetrain, we can haul our Harley and I like having my workshop with us. That said, hauling the Jeep in an enclosed trailer can be a bit of a nuisance for quick trips or trips where we bounce from campground to campground a lot. Probably the biggest downside is finding a campground that can accomodate a 72' long rig (because I don't like dropping the trailer and unhooking). Booking well in advance helps because the larger sites go first but the spur of the moment trips mean flat-towing the Jeep. Plus the wife and I have noticed that we may be overlooking some very nice campgrounds merely because they don't have the super large sites.

That said, I have been giving the Tow Defender a serious look after a good friend of mine went on his Alaska trip a few years ago. He had experienced multiple rock chips and even many small pebbles being deposited onto the cowling/hood of his Explorer toad. This was fairly early on his trip and didn't want to have a shield/guard sent to him on his trip. He found a local ACE Hardware store and made a makeshift screen using PVC pipe and screen door screen. He said it worked great the remaining 8k plus miles of the trip although it was a pain to attach and detach when he wanted to unhook the toad.

I really don't know what the underlying issue is here as we have flat-towed two other Jeeps in the 20+ years of RVing and well over 100k miles combined yet this Jeep with only about 4k miles of being towed last year has more chips than the last two Jeeps combined. The first Jeep, a 1992 XJ, was bone stock and we towed it for approx. 20k miles in the four+ years we had it. The second Jeep, a 1996 ZJ, was lifted 2" with 31" tires and we towed it for about 15+ years and well over 80k miles with hardly a chip on it. Our current Jeep, 2011 Wrangler Unlimited, is lifted 4" and running 35" tires, sits well above where the other two did yet is more susceptible to chips/damage.

I decided to purchase the Tow Defender by Roadmaster but I had to do a little more research. Roadmaster makes two models. The model 4700 is there standard unit measuring 45" in length which fits the Roadmaster towbars with the Roadmaster brackets on the toad. The model 4750 is 39" in length and is more of a universal shield. It fits Blue Ox and Demco towbars or units that do not use Roadmaster toad brackets. Although I have the Standard Sterling towbar I do not use the Roadmaster brackets. I fabricated a towbar crossmember attachment that fits slightly below and behind my custom front winch bumper in which I also fabricated.

I chose to use the model 4750 for this reason as well as the fact that I wanted the crossbar to clear my roller fairlead for my winch. The fit was perfect. The initial installation took approx. 45-minutes to assemble and adjust. After that it is mere seconds more than just the towbar itself. Simply unhook two pins, roll it up against the coach, install four elastic straps to keep it rolled up and then detach the towbar from the Jeep.

After one trip so far I am overall very happy and impressed with the results. I will know more after our Moab trip next week as we will be making a quick trip and not taking the trailer.

Mike.

Here are a few pictures of the finished installation.


Here you can see how well it clears the roller fairlead as well as how it attaches to the towbar brackets.


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Old 10-09-2013, 11:24 AM   #2
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Very nice job, but its a shame you didn't find the Protect-a-Tow before you went to all that effort. The PaT is a very simple initial install, requires no fabrication, adds about 5 sec to your hookup time, and mounts beneath your towbar, so it would not conflict with your winch, and also protects your tow bar and other accessories.
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Old 10-09-2013, 11:44 AM   #3
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Thank you. I actually looked at the Protecta-Tow but liked the Tow Defender a little more.

Mike.
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Old 10-09-2013, 07:11 PM   #4
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How low is your rear mud flap to the ground. I ask because ours was too low and picked up everything and threw it back onto the toad, even with a protector. Our problem was finally solved when I cut 4" off the bottom of that mud flap.
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Old 10-09-2013, 08:07 PM   #5
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Lots of posts about folks worrying about chips on their toads, and protect a tow and full width mud flaps (et al).

2012 Wrangler. 28K miles on the odometer, another 21K as a toad. 2 chips from off-road. From being a toad, none. Just standard mud flaps.

According to DuraFlap, "For the most part the rear mud flap simply adds a little bit more protection."

I have confidence that the standard flaps behind my dualies are doing a great job and that a full-width rear flap or anything else is not required on my rig.
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Old 10-10-2013, 12:26 AM   #6
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I have the tow defender and enjoy it. Initial install was easy and it adds only a couple if minutes to deploy when attaching the tow bar.
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Old 10-10-2013, 07:06 AM   #7
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On our previous toad, a Honda FIT,I installed a bra. It protected the paintwork reasonably well, but I had a fog light broken by a stone chip. The replacement parts cost over $350 because the light was integrated with the front corner of the bumper. When we switched to a Honda CR-V I installed a Tow Defender for $399. No stone chips or broken lights in 12,000 miles of towing. I am well pleased with the Defender.
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Old 10-10-2013, 08:44 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimkate View Post
How low is your rear mud flap to the ground. I ask because ours was too low and picked up everything and threw it back onto the toad, even with a protector. Our problem was finally solved when I cut 4" off the bottom of that mud flap.
Measures 5" off of the ground. It was 4" when we purchased the coach but I raised it to where I had my 38' Beaver Contessa's flap set at for seven years and no chips. Actually I could have probably left it at the 4" because with the tag axle I get less porpoising than the previous coach and there is less distance between the tag axle and flap vs. the drive axle and flap on our previous coach.

We have had this coach for almost seven years now and have not had any damage to our previous Jeep which we towed for five of those years and approx. 15k miles. This is where I was getting stumped, our current Jeep sits higher so you would think it would be more out of harms way. The only thing I can think of is the more aggressive tires on our current Jeep may be adding to the debris/rocks flipping up because nothing has changed on the coach itself. I am just wanting to preserve the front of the Jeep and the back of the coach as much as possible and figured a screen would help.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CampDaven View Post
Lots of posts about folks worrying about chips on their toads, and protect a tow and full width mud flaps (et al).

2012 Wrangler. 28K miles on the odometer, another 21K as a toad. 2 chips from off-road. From being a toad, none. Just standard mud flaps.

According to DuraFlap, "For the most part the rear mud flap simply adds a little bit more protection."

I have confidence that the standard flaps behind my dualies are doing a great job and that a full-width rear flap or anything else is not required on my rig.
Is your Jeep @ stock height? I agree that for the most part the flaps directly behind the tires work great, it is that little extra that I want from the full-width flap and the screen, plus the fact that I like the looks of the full-width flap. Call me crazy but the asthetics of that polished stainless strip across the back of the coach appeals to me.

Mike.
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Old 10-10-2013, 08:49 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wanderso View Post
I have the tow defender and enjoy it. Initial install was easy and it adds only a couple if minutes to deploy when attaching the tow bar.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdickson View Post
On our previous toad, a Honda FIT,I installed a bra. It protected the paintwork reasonably well, but I had a fog light broken by a stone chip. The replacement parts cost over $350 because the light was integrated with the front corner of the bumper. When we switched to a Honda CR-V I installed a Tow Defender for $399. No stone chips or broken lights in 12,000 miles of towing. I am well pleased with the Defender.
Thanks guys. I am glad to hear from people who have used the Tow Defender and are happy with the results. When I first started doing some research I was having a hard time finding people who even knew what they were. You just don't see many people with them.

We were in Ouray, CO at a Jeep gathering a couple of months ago and a guy driving a Journey pulled in with one, only one I had seen this season. He was towing a two-door JK lifted about like mine. I tracked him down and asked him about it. He said this was his second year of using one and had never had the need for one in the past with several other Jeeps. He said it was working great so far and he noticed a difference immediately. Evidently he had a similar experience to us, never needed one until we lifted the Jeep with large tires.

Mike.
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Old 10-10-2013, 09:19 AM   #10
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I have a standard JK, purely stock.
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Old 10-10-2013, 10:43 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CampDaven View Post
I have a standard JK, purely stock.
Thanks. For some reason this is what I am finding, stock height Jeeps are not as succeptible to the rock chips. I am finding that the flaps on the rear of coaches are actually becoming less of a factor based on similar experiences from other Jeepers that I have talked to. Same coach after lifting the Jeep they started noticing rock chips. No changes to the coach, only the Jeep.

At one point I even thought it may have to do with front bumper design, stock vs. aftermarket where there is a gap between the front of the fender and the bumper but there is no evidence of that being a factor based off of what I have seen over the past two years now. At this point I am merely collecting/comparing data until something finally jumps out at me and points to the determining factor.

Mike.
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