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Old 10-16-2016, 01:18 PM   #1
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Exclamation Warning Blue Ox Issue

We have the Blue Ox Patriot braking system and the Blue Ox tow bar. While traveling I-95 north of Jacksonville I get a panic call from friends following us in their MH. "pull over quick, fire". Pulled over, jumped out with fire extinguisher in hand. Both front wheel wells were on fire. Driver's side wheel temp. reached over 500 degrees and the tire exploded.

Replaced entire brake system on 2011 5-speed Honda and suspension, axles, wheels and tires. $6500 total repair cost luckily covered by insurance. Also lucky we had friends behind us because I travel with the camera pointed at the toad but didn't see anything. We do have TPMS on the coach but not the toad. We now have monitors on the toad wheels also to monitor temps. Found the actuator error codes A01 and A02 that meant the actuator circuit board had failed. Sent unit in for repair, 2 months beyond the 2 year warranty but was repaired at no charge.

Apparently when the Blue Ox failed it failed in a partial brake down position. I don't know why if a failure happens it doesn't fail in a brake off position.

Bottom line, get temperature monitoring for your toad before you burn up your toad and coach.
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Old 10-17-2016, 09:26 AM   #2
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I'm sorry for your trouble with this. I don't understand something. Was the brake overheating problem due to the tow bar or the braking assist unit? I have a Blue Ox tow bar like yours but a different brake assist unit. Thanks!
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Old 10-17-2016, 10:10 AM   #3
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As bad as it was there's no need to say it could have been worse. I'm happy it seems to have worked out well for you.
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Old 10-17-2016, 10:32 AM   #4
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WOW! That's SCARY! But as John said, it could have been a LOT worse! Glad your insurance stepped up to the plate!
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Old 10-17-2016, 12:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Full.Monte View Post
I'm sorry for your trouble with this. I don't understand something. Was the brake overheating problem due to the tow bar or the braking assist unit? I have a Blue Ox tow bar like yours but a different brake assist unit. Thanks!
Tow bar is fine. The Patriot brake system had an actuator circuit failure so the brakes were partially applied and over heated then caught on fire. I'm at 40K pounds pulling a 3K pound Honda and didn't feel or see anything. Now with monitors on the toad I'll be able to see temps rise if this happens again.
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Old 10-17-2016, 12:42 PM   #6
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WOW! That's SCARY! But as John said, it could have been a LOT worse! Glad your insurance stepped up to the plate!

Thanks, your right..I've seen pictures of toad fires jumping to the coach. At that point all you can do is get a big bag of marshmallows and try to enjoy yourself.
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Old 10-17-2016, 12:51 PM   #7
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Glad it wasn't worse. Every time ours has had an error it goes into no brake mode and alerts me on the dash monitor.
Do you have the dash monitor?
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Old 10-17-2016, 01:02 PM   #8
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Glad it wasn't worse. Every time ours has had an error it goes into no brake mode and alerts me on the dash monitor.
Do you have the dash monitor?
Yes but all I got was the error message which has happened many times before. Blue Ox mentioned several times that I must send the dash unit back with the brake system.

Maybe these units have an effect on each other beyond just information about pressure applied.
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Old 10-17-2016, 01:03 PM   #9
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One reason I decided to buy an M&G system years ago. No electronics to go south and only one moving part that is practically fail safe. Besides, it hooks up in 5 seconds or less.
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Old 10-17-2016, 02:08 PM   #10
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One reason I decided to buy an M&G system years ago. No electronics to go south and only one moving part that is practically fail safe. Besides, it hooks up in 5 seconds or less.
I agree with you BigSkyBob. I switched from a BlueOx Patriot to the M&G system myself. I wasn't particularly afraid of fires or malfunctions, but I just appreciated truly proportional braking more, and didn't feel like the Patriot's design was really doing enough to slow down my toad for anything except for emergency stopping. I really love my M&G system's performance, AND the ease of connecting and disconnecting.

Having said that, I have had my M&G freeze up on me too, and it applied my Jeep brakes all by itself. I have a red LED light on my RV dash that lets me know when the M&G is applied, so I had a warning and was able to pull over and inspect.

This happened while driving in a fluke winter storm at the end of December near Big Bend National Park. I had a sheet of ice covering the front and side of my RV and Jeep, and quite a build-up on the Jeep's front bumper, apparently from what the RV kicked up from the road.

I disconnected the M&G airline during that trip to get to my final destination (literally just a few minutes down the road), and after things warmed up and the ice fell off of everything, the M&G worked fine for the trip back home.

I had my installation guy inspect the system after returning home, and the best we could tell, either water that was already in the RV's air lines froze up, causing the M&G to behave badly, or maybe there was enough ice caked up around the break-away switch that it shorted the break-away switch, making the system think that the Jeep separated from the RV, requiring Jeep brakes.

I personally think it was the latter (elec. short), but who knows?! The point is that even with "the best" braking system available, fluke occurrences can happen. I'm glad I had the illuminating pressure switch installed with my M&G so that I get a red light whenever it is being applied. It's a little annoying in stop and go traffic, with that red LED going on every time I hit the brakes, but it's worth the annoyance to know that the system is working. Unlike other air-powered toad brake systems that move the brake pedal in the toad, there's no visible moving parts in a toad that has the M&G installed, so if you don't install the optional pressure switch with the M&G, you just have to trust that it is working.

Incidentally, the temp sensors on my TPMS front tires of the Jeep did not get too high. The brakes were HOT but I guess I got to it before that heat dissipated to the tires themselves, where the TPMS would have had a chance to respond.
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Old 10-19-2016, 03:10 PM   #11
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doesnt your coach have a air dryer?? if so i just dont understand but hoses do condense and have to be taken care of i suppose, i dont have one so dont know but am wondering
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Old 10-19-2016, 04:29 PM   #12
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I have a RVi brake system. It was always concerning to me that the brake could be dragging and I wouldn't know it.
I wired a small LED light bar that illuminates when the toad brakes are applied. I place the light on the dash and it is visible from the rear camera in the coach. Now I can see when the toads brakes are applied and released. $20 project = peace of mind.
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Old 10-19-2016, 07:00 PM   #13
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The Blue Ox system is proportional braking and doesn't have any air or other contact with the coach's brake system. The coach has air brakes on all three axles with pressure/temp monitoring on all 8 wheels. I usually pull out my temp. gun and test each wheel at every stop. Coach and toad usually run just 5-10 degrees above ambient temps. When we put the fire out and just after the tire blew I aimed the gun on the driver's side wheel and read temperatures just above 550 degrees. With the new pressure/temp TPMS on each toad wheel I should be able to see any issues very quickly before there is an issue and pull over if necessary.
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Old 10-20-2016, 08:15 AM   #14
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doesnt your coach have a air dryer?? if so i just dont understand but hoses do condense and have to be taken care of i suppose, i dont have one so dont know but am wondering
All of the DP's that I've seen with air brakes, and certainly mine, have 2 or more "pull-strings" (I'm sure that's not the correct term!) that the driver is supposed to yank every so often to allow built up water to spray out of drains that are located in the bottom of each air tank. My RV has two of these--one per air tank--and they are located in the wheel well of the front passenger wheel.

I admit that I don't really yank these very often, and when this happened, I was living near Houston, TX, which is a very humid place. I should have been emptying my air tanks more often, for sure, though I agree that it seems unusual that enough water would build up so as to cause this behavior.

Since we are making the diagnosis after-the-fact, it's all speculation at this point. I can tell you that my installer spent half of a day going through the entire system again and did not find any issues. I had him replace the break-away switch just in case. Ultimately we found no smoking gun.
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