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Old 10-20-2020, 07:15 AM   #1
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Blue OX Avail Failure

After 2 1/2 months on the road and at our 2nd to last stop before heading home our Avail Tow Bar broke. My wife and I were doing our final check on our Blue Ox tow bar. We already checked our brake lights, directionals and the bars had already been locked in. She was walking along side to make sure the truck rolled and was watching the tow bar as I was doing 2-3 mph. She yells into the phone STOP! At the same time I could feel it, and can see in the camera my truck broke free from the tow bar. I got out and was a little surprised to see the steel broke (see pictures). We were 2 minutes from being at highway speed and 1 hour 15 minutes from the Chesapeake Bridge Tunnel (17 miles of Bridge and 2 Tunnels).
This Blue Ox Avail is a little less than 5 years old with 60,000 miles and had been serviced 4 times by Blue OX (last time was at Tampa RV show 9 months ago). I have used it on two Dodge Ram 1500s (weighs around 5,000 pounds).
I spoke with Blue Ox and I was told they had not seen a failure like this. I was told it was out of warranty but she offered me half off on a Blue Ox Apollo (rated 15,000 pounds, 5,000 more than Avail ). I took them up on that offer. I believe my Avail is fixable which I plan on doing and keep it for a spare. I am not sure I would have seen anything wrong with the tow bar before hand but I will be looking more closely in the future. I would suggest others to keep an eye on this.
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Old 10-20-2020, 07:43 AM   #2
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Wow, thanks for posting. I have the same Tow Bar with about 11K miles towed.

Looks like bad/weak welds. Perhaps a welder on here can comment?

Have you ever backed up while in tow?
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Old 10-20-2020, 08:08 AM   #3
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Yes, thank you for posting, we have the same tow bar also. I went back and looked at pictures from last week when the tow bar got new washer kit.

Looks like the part that failed is fabricated "saddle" welded to the square tow tube, where the failure is, looks like its at the bend not on the weld. OP can confirm that

Now looking at mine, looks like I have a crack at the the top right side at the bend, yikes, going to storage and take a closer look

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Old 10-20-2020, 08:22 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by superman11 View Post
Wow, thanks for posting. I have the same Tow Bar with about 11K miles towed.

Looks like bad/weak welds. Perhaps a welder on here can comment?

Have you ever backed up while in tow?
NEVER EVER!!!! have we backed up. I know this may sound little crazy but after we hook up tow bars and truck is in neutral I can usually push the truck so the bars will lock. I am not a fan of feeling the tow bars locking in after pulling forward.
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Old 10-20-2020, 08:30 AM   #5
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I went to Blue Ox see what that part would cost. They call it a 2" shank and is designed different now. There is no bent saddle but now two straight plates welded to the 2" tow bar tube

Hmm, wonder why? The bends are cracking?

By the way price is now on sale for $320

From Blue Ox web site

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Old 10-20-2020, 08:35 AM   #6
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Looks like a bad weld to me. Before you have that repaired you might want to show that to the NTSA. Could be a safety recall issue.
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Old 10-20-2020, 08:41 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichnSue View Post
I went to Blue Ox see what that part would cost. They call it a 2" shank and is designed different now. There is no bent saddle but now two straight plates welded to the 2" tow bar tube

Hmm, wonder why? The bends are cracking?

By the way price is now on sale for $320

From Blue Ox web site

Attachment 305380
It looks like I have this newer design.
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Old 10-20-2020, 08:51 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichnSue View Post
Yes, thank you for posting, we have the same tow bar also. I went back and looked at pictures from last week when the tow bar got new washer kit.

Looks like the part that failed is fabricated "saddle" welded to the square tow tube, where the failure is, looks like its at the bend not on the weld. OP can confirm that

Now looking at mine, looks like I have a crack at the the top right side at the bend, yikes, going to storage and take a closer look

Attachment 305375
Yes it is that part
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Old 10-20-2020, 09:31 AM   #9
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Thanks for the info Iím glad it did happen when it did not at 60 mph, but you know caca pasa


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Old 10-20-2020, 09:58 AM   #10
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Just wondering but looking at your second picture, it looks like the tow bar is loose inside the motorhome hitch. That tow bar is supposed to fit a 2" x2" hitch.

In the first picture, how wide are the tow bar attachments on the toad? I think this tow bar has a maximum width of 38" or less.
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Old 10-20-2020, 11:25 AM   #11
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Having been in metals fabrication all of my 42 year carrier and a bit of a metallurgist, it looks like a couple of things are wrong here- very poor structural design-the design has a very sharp bend radius in the yoke - less than 1 1/2 metal T - thickness in CQ- commercial quality- 1020 carbon steel.. This fatigues the metal severely when bending it. That coupled with welding the square tubing so close to the outside radius of the yoke further enhances the highly fatigued bend area metal. If you blow up the bottom photo you can see fatigue cracking in the bend area of the yoke. It also appears their may be some minute crystallization in the steel near the bottom of the yoke bend area. All of this leads to possible fatigue failure. The welds are not the culprit of this failure in my professional opinion. Poor design & fabrication techniques along with higher carbon in the steel are to blame.

Blue Ox's new design is much cleaner from a structural perspective & tells me they have had issues with cracking & breaking previously in their old design.

Happy Trails
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Old 10-20-2020, 11:30 AM   #12
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Hate to ask, but I guess Iím not seeing it..... could someone put up the older design vs the new improved one, and mark the area to look at. I have this tow bar and I am unsure what I am trying to look for on mine to see if I have the one that could be prone to failure. Thanks!
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Old 10-20-2020, 01:44 PM   #13
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Capt Bill is exactly right.

I went and looked at mine, on the picture post #3 looked like there's a crack starting and is false, yeah!

There is a line marked in the metal, perhaps an alignment mark for the bend process. I will be fabricating a pair of side plates to weld on for additional strength

AZ RV'r look at the "U" shape in my picture and look at the Blue Ox picture post #5, that picture shows straight plates welded on the sides of the 2x2 tube
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Old 10-20-2020, 02:17 PM   #14
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Glad to see you did a thorough check and it broke before you hit the road. With that said, about once a year I read a story of a Blue Ox tow bar failure. I don't think I would buy another.

I've been using Roadmaster tow bars for over 10 years and never an issue. I can't recall every reading about a Roadmaster tow bar failure.
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