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Old 02-06-2009, 02:13 PM   #1
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And Frustrated, I want to be a SAFE tow'er but I'm finding it difficult to know what "safe" is. Sorry for the following dissertation, and from a new member too...

I've been seeing lots of posts talking about safety cables rated at 5000 or 10000 pounds. Most of these are some form of vinyl covered wire rope. Well the '02 4WD Envoy I'm towing is a relatively large toad, so I thought I certainly want to use 10K rated safety cables. Simple, right? But while looking at the materials to put this together I've gotten to wondering where those 5K and 10K ratings come from on those PUNY cables and hooks (swage fittings are even worse)?? Even when I look at chain, which I know is stronger than cable, I need to go to a grade 70 or better, 3/8 chain to get over even a 5000 pound safe working load, forget 10K, just not going to happen. Worse than that, given that humongous heavy chain, now I can't find any end termination hardware that even approaches a 5000 pound safe working load except for lifting hooks and those I think would come loose in a tow application. Those little "S" curved hooks that are on the 5K rated cables from one of the two major venders have something like a 1500 lb (or less) safe working load. Even a ridiculously large 1/2 threaded connectors like these are only rated at 3250 lbs safe working load. Near as I can tell, the wire rope that's being sold as 5K or 10K rated has safe working loads probably in the 1000 lb (5K) or 2000 lb (10K) range, maybe even less depending on the design factor used. And that's new when they leave the factory, not after a few years of use. I don't get it....but probably does explain how something like this could happen:

"... recently lost their toad when their Blue Ox Aladdin hitch bracket broke. This caused the break away cable to come unplugged which applied the toad brakes which broke the safety cables. The toad drifted ... " from this thread

Applying the brakes in toad broke the safety cables???NO WAY that should ever be able to happen.

After all that, here's the question. Does one not use the "Safe Working Load" when specifying safety cables?

Ultimate BREAKING strength may be 5K or 10K on those little wire rope cables, brand new, in a straight even pull, but I've always thought it's the safe WORKING load that determines the suitability for the application. And the safe working load is at least 3 to 5 times SMALLER than the breaking strength. And that's supposed to be if your application is not demanding (as in steady straight line force). I pretty much assume that if I get in a situation where my safety cables have come into play, its probably going to be a VERY demanding application.

What am I missing? I don't WANT to lug around 50lbs or more of safety chains and terminals, but to get even a 5K safe working load I don't see an alternative.
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Old 02-06-2009, 02:49 PM   #2
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You're overthinking this. I think.

The safety cables aren't meant for continuous use. They're a fallback to the tow bar. So you don't need "Safe Working Load" rating. There IS no working load, unless you're in a breakaway situation, after which you're welcome to replace the cables. Also, EACH cable is rated for that load, and you're using two of them. So for a fairly heavy toad you're probably looking at a 10k tow bar and 2 x 10k cables. Chain is way overkill for this.

The breakaway switch is an interesting question. Do I really want the brakes on my toad to try to stop my 25 ton coach? I don't think so. So I either need to accept that the safety cables are going to separate, or I need to make sure the breakaway doesn't release unless the safety cables have already given up. I honestly don't know which is better (or correct).

Obviously, if you lost both the tow bar and the cables, you really do need the toad brakes to come on to prevent a runaway. But if I just lost the tow bar, I still have some control over the toad. If the brakes don't come on right away, I'm risking some damage to the back of the coach. With my proportional toad braking system, I'm pretty sure it's going to be minimal, because the toad is probably going to stretch out the cables once I put a little pressure on the coach brakes.

OTOH, I'm pretty sure the setup as installed will activate the breakaway if the tow bar lets go. The breakaway cable is shorter than the safety cables. Guess I better hope I notice the jerk on the cables, or see the toad move in the camera, in time to get on the brakes before the cables let go.

joe
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Old 02-06-2009, 03:29 PM   #3
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The breakaway braking system on the Toad should be rigged so that it will deploy only after the safety chains have broken. I.E. the Toad is completely separated from the coach.
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Old 02-06-2009, 03:57 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by Eddie Foy:
The breakaway braking system on the Toad should be rigged so that it will deploy only after the safety chains have broken. I.E. the Toad is completely separated from the coach.
That was what I was thinking, but I'm sure the cable I'm using isn't that long. I'll have to look into getting a longer breakaway cable.

joe
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Old 02-06-2009, 06:07 PM   #5
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Quote:
You're overthinking this. I think.
You're probably right. I have a tendency to do that especially when I donít fully understand something.

Quote:
The breakaway braking system on the Toad should be rigged so that it will deploy only after the safety chains have broken. I.E. the Toad is completely separated from the coach.
I have the Air Force One aux brake system, the breakaway cable they supply is clearly longer than any safety chain would be, so it seems they agree with you.
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Old 02-07-2009, 07:51 AM   #6
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The Blue Ox 10k cables, part #BX88197, have a massive steel hook with spring clip on the end - it's the third photo down at this link.

Blue Ox 10k cable

You may or may not like the way the hooks are attached, but they look pretty rugged.

AS Joe says, they aren't intended for continuous use, i.e. to lift your toad into the air and suspend it for a day. They just have to survive the initial yank and that is not the full weight of the vehicle unless perhaps if its brakes locked up.
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Old 02-07-2009, 08:02 AM   #7
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Yeah, those are the one I have, to go with the Aventa LX 10k towbar. My toad is about 4800lbs, so I don't want to use the 5k rated bar.

joe
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Old 02-07-2009, 08:12 AM   #8
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I have the Blue Ox 10,000# safety cables, and hook is marked 1 1/2 TON. Go figure.
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Old 02-07-2009, 05:32 PM   #9
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Gentlemen; The Blue Ox instructions for their braking systems, all indicate the breakaway cable should be adjusted longer than the towbar and shorter than the cables. and "Check that the breakaway does not pull off in a turn." The idea is that if the towbar or bracket fails, the brakes are applied to stop the Toad while the safety cables keep it behind or near the motorhome.... . If the game plan is for the cables to break before the brakes come on, I need a much older and cheaper Toad and a lot more liability Insurance....
The tow cable rating should keep the Toad under control with the brakes applied. I agree that the cables are not rated or designed to suspend the toad as dead weight. I could not find the cable adjustment procedure for the Air Force One but it did say it was not designed to lock up the Toad brakes...
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Old 02-07-2009, 07:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Route 66:
I have the Blue Ox 10,000# safety cables, and hook is marked 1 1/2 TON. Go figure.
The 1 1/2 ton figure on the Blue Ox hook is working weight which is a 90 degree continuous load rating. I don't remember the formula or practical rules but pulling weight capacity is significantly more than vertical lift capacity for the same cable. A load on a cable pulling a car weighing 5000 lbs is not a 5000 lb working load. Even with the shock of a tow bar failure would not result in a 5000 lb working load. Tow ratings take into account a certain amount of shock load for a certain period of time. I think the tow capacity of a cable or chain is somewhere around 3 X to 4X that of the working load capacity of a cable and it components. So, the blue ox 3000 hook is legal for a 10k tow capacity. Just be mindful to the other parts of the rigging such as the quick links to connect the cable to the toad and tow vehicle. I've seen some marked with working load (WL) or sling load (SL) and see some that are not even marked (which I would not buy).
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Old 02-08-2009, 06:11 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by FlyingDiver:
Yeah, those are the one I have, to go with the Aventa LX 10k towbar. My toad is about 4800lbs, so I don't want to use the 5k rated bar.

joe
Same system I have.
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Old 02-09-2009, 04:40 AM   #12
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A load on a cable pulling a car weighing 5000 lbs is not a 5000 lb working load. Even with the shock of a tow bar failure would not result in a 5000 lb working load.
Sixpack98, I think you just nailed the root of my confusion. I've been thinking those ratings have been for what the cables could sustain in dead weight or pure pulling force. In reality the rating number must be the load they can control in the application for which they were designed, ie towing. As you (and others) pointed out a 5K toad will not have anywhere near a 5K load on the cable for towing, probably even with the brakes locked up. Makes at least SOME logical sense.

I'm still going with grade 70 5/16 (4700 WL) chain though. The whole reason I got looking at this was my 10K rated cables have a mild kink in one of them, and with the plastic coating, I was not able to confirm its integrity to my satisfaction. I feel better about the ruggedness and easy "inspect-ability" of chain, and the 5/16 is not too heavy.
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Old 02-09-2009, 03:05 PM   #13
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I use the Roadmaster Brakemaster 9160 with the Brakeaway system.

From the manual:

Make sure the cable is long enough to prevent the Breakaway pin from being pulled
out. If the cable is too short, the BRAKEAWAY system will engage even though the
car has not broken free from the motorhome.

WARNING:
The length of the Breakaway Cable must exceed the safety cable length when installed. If
the towed vehicle ever separates from the motorhome, the BRAKEAWAY will engage even
though the car is still connected to the motorhome by safety cables. This will result in severe brake wear or brake
fire since the vehicle is still being pulled by the motorhome. Make sure the Breakaway Cable is longer than safety
cables (when installed) so that the BRAKEAWAY will engage only after the towed vehicle has separated from the
motorhome. FAILURE TO FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS MAY RESULT IN PROPERTY DAMAGE, PERSONAL INJURY
OR DEATH.


Quote:
Originally posted by Hooligan:
Gentlemen; The Blue Ox instructions for their braking systems, all indicate the breakaway cable should be adjusted longer than the towbar and shorter than the cables. and "Check that the breakaway does not pull off in a turn." The idea is that if the towbar or bracket fails, the brakes are applied to stop the Toad while the safety cables keep it behind or near the motorhome.... . If the game plan is for the cables to break before the brakes come on, I need a much older and cheaper Toad and a lot more liability Insurance....
The tow cable rating should keep the Toad under control with the brakes applied. I agree that the cables are not rated or designed to suspend the toad as dead weight. I could not find the cable adjustment procedure for the Air Force One but it did say it was not designed to lock up the Toad brakes...
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