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Old 12-03-2020, 09:02 AM   #1
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Alert - Tow bar - Near Miss - Lesson Learned

Last week I traveled from Mississippi to St. Louis stopping overnight in Southaven TN

I have a 40' class A and pull a tow car with a Roadmaster Falcon All Terrain tow bar. I have used this many times with no problem

The tow bar arm collar that connects to the base plate, is angled and can be connected via the base pin/linch pin two ways. I have found it is difficult to invert the collar so there is a right side up to the collar. I have never connected it wrong .... until this trip.

When I was connecting the car on leaving MS there were several people with me and I was getting a lot of "help."

When I stopped in Southhaven, I parked in a pull thru, the RV pad was level but the access to the pad angled up. My toad was on the angle and the RV was on the level pad.

I went to disconnect the Toad to go to a restaurant and the collar pin was too tight to remove. I assumed because of the angle and need the car to be level so I had food delivered and abandoned the effort.

upon arriving in St. Louis, when on level ground, I had great trouble removing the collar pin. I had to disassemble the baseplate disconnect to get the collar pin out. I realized that the angled collar on one side of the tow bar was inverted relative to the other side of the tow bar.

You can invert both collars and easily connect the tow bar but apparently you can invert one side and connect the tow bar. The collar is not marked with THIS SIDE UP.

I will carefully inspect the tow bar to ensure there is no damage, cracks or bending from this. But this was definitely a near miss, where the stress from misalignment could have broken the tow bar.

Root Cause: connection isn't fool proof (Poka-Yoke) or marked

Lessons Learned:
1) Label angled tow bar collars "THIS SIDE UP"
2) Don't allow distractions when connecting car up
3) Don't make assumptions and move on, when you find something amiss (Southaven couldn't disconnect tow bar)
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File Type: pdf tow bar parts.pdf (178.8 KB, 9 views)
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Old 12-03-2020, 09:30 AM   #2
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You sure enough dodged a bullet on that one! Maybe you could spray the top with red paint!
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Old 12-03-2020, 09:35 AM   #3
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Our attachment points on our Blue Ox are marked "This side up".
Now I know the reason for that. Thanks.
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Old 12-03-2020, 01:11 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swduns View Post
1) Label angled tow bar collars "THIS SIDE UP"
I spray painted the WRONG/BOTTOM side of the collars RED.

IF it's RED, it's WRONG!

Tim
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Old 12-03-2020, 01:58 PM   #5
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Well,
If by "Collars", you mean the connecting brackets to the tow points on the toad, then ours too ARE LABELED *UP*. But, just because ours and others are labeled, doesn't mean ALL are labeled, as the OP found out. And, speaking of the OP, yes, about 99.999% of the tow bars out there in existence, need to be at least somewhat close to both level and, at least somewhat straight behind the coach.

The CEO and I have watched, many, many times, folks that we think, may be new to RVing, pull up into a camp spot, RV site etc. in an odd, unlevel and TWEAKED angle (between the toad and coach) and then try and try, to unhook the toad when there is soooooooo much bind that, even Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his prime, could not separate them.

If we know in advance, the properties of a camp spot/RV site, and that it's gonna be a pain to disconnect if we pull into the spot BEFORE we disconnect, we disconnect anywhere we can, where it's much easier, prior to pulling into the camp spot. We've got the system down to the point where it takes us, in a coordinated effort, to disconnect our toads in about 45 seconds or so. So, even if our only place to *easily* disconnect is in roadway of a campground, we're not in the way for very long, that's for sure.
Scott
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Old 12-03-2020, 03:23 PM   #6
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I forgot to install the pics of our "collars" or connectors or brackets, whatever they're called.
Scott
Attached Thumbnails
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Old 12-03-2020, 04:02 PM   #7
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This is the arm/connector that the OP is talking about. You can see that it angles one way. If you put it on wrong, it can be a bear to disconnect. I only did it once. I just bought a new Roadmaster tow bar and they changed that end to work either way.

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Now you would think it would have been difficult to disconnect this one, but it came right off.

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Old 12-03-2020, 07:49 PM   #8
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Hey Don,
I don't think that tow bar arm is supposed to look like that is it?
Scott
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Old 12-03-2020, 09:42 PM   #9
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Yep.....hit a dip that I didn't see and the coach bottomed out. When I looked, the drag bars destroyed my mud flap and that bend was actually out to the side. I spoke to Roadmaster, admitting that it was my mistake. The theory.....I tow a Raptor with 13" of front end travel. It's opined by them and me that when I hit the dip, the Raptor really went up and down, bending the arm.

The rest of the tow bar was fine, rebuilt two years ago. I didn't want my wife to have to drive the truck home, so I bought another Roadmaster 10K tow bar from Amazon. I got two new bars from Roadmaster and will have the old one back like new by Saturday...I'll put it on Craigslist.

Mud flap and tow bar....a $1600.00 adventure. I was more embarrassed than anything else....I debated posting the photo.
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Old 12-03-2020, 09:50 PM   #10
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SWDuns: Thx for that writeup. The DW and I have pondered doing a checklist to check and cross-check before heading out. With everything, it can easily be a couple pages but anything anywhere from a loose fridge door swinging open to a TOAD being at risk.
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Old 12-04-2020, 12:08 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dutch Star Don View Post
Yep.....hit a dip that I didn't see and the coach bottomed out. When I looked, the drag bars destroyed my mud flap and that bend was actually out to the side. I spoke to Roadmaster, admitting that it was my mistake. The theory.....I tow a Raptor with 13" of front end travel. It's opined by them and me that when I hit the dip, the Raptor really went up and down, bending the arm.

The rest of the tow bar was fine, rebuilt two years ago. I didn't want my wife to have to drive the truck home, so I bought another Roadmaster 10K tow bar from Amazon. I got two new bars from Roadmaster and will have the old one back like new by Saturday...I'll put it on Craigslist.

Mud flap and tow bar....a $1600.00 adventure. I was more embarrassed than anything else....I debated posting the photo.
Yeah Don,
Crap happens. Obviously, if you could have foreseen the potential of disaster, you'd have taken a course of action. But....., oh well, live and learn. Last year we lost a tow bar connection on one arm, TWICE! The first time was at 08:00 in the morning in Grand Junction CO, right in the middle of town. Stop light to stop light, the Jeep was sort of *bumping* us. I thought what the heck? We were only obtaining about 2 mph in the early A.M. in down town so, no momentum was achieved.
I managed to guide the whole Amtrak over to the curb and park it. What happened was, I lost one of those round *bend over* linch pins that keeps the main pins in place, that attach the tow bar to the Jeep. When the linch pin fell out, the main pin worked its way out and, one side of the tow bar dropped.

No damage to anything, other than my pride. The wife jumped in the Jeep and drove it to a place out side of town where, we hooked it back up with a reserve pin.

We camped for a few days in the Tetons and, in the morning were heading out towards Jackson. It's a 65 mph road and we were on it, again, early A.M. Guess what, the same thing happened. The round, bend-over type linch pin must have somehow, reversed itself and, fallen out. That meant the main pin fell out too. And, at 65 mph this time, the tow bar arm, SAME SIDE fell to the road and I was towing 5,000 lbs worth of Jeep JK on one tow bar arm.

This time there was no place to pull over at that immediate time. I looked up ahead and saw a pull out rapidly approaching and it was a down hill pull out. I let the Jeep kiss the the motorcycle rack on the back of the coach and when it did, I hit the brakes and, pulled into that pull out at the same exact time. Somehow, again, I'd done no damage to the remaining attached tow bar arm. The end on the one that had dropped, got ground up a bit but, was still serviceable.

I'd already purchased EXTRA main pins (7/8" D-handle pins from Tractor supply) and, I decided to use the *hair pin* style of retainment. Not only have I not had any issues since I began using that style of retainment, but, I'd also started using a bungee cord, latched to each of the D-handles on those main pins. So, even if one of the hair pin style linch pins managed to fall out, the bungee would keep the main pins securely in place.

So, the point is, things happen. My safety cables and remaining tow bar did their job, TWICE.
Scott
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Old 12-04-2020, 07:27 AM   #12
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how did your Toad brakes contribute to your stopping when you had to make the sudden stop/pull over? you would think the toad brakes would pull back on the tow bar.
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Old 12-04-2020, 10:19 AM   #13
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Quote:
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how did your Toad brakes contribute to your stopping when you had to make the sudden stop/pull over? you would think the toad brakes would pull back on the tow bar.
Well Sir,
Now, I'll more than likely get highly flamed for this but, the reason the toad brakes didn't pull back on the tow bar is because, there ISN'T ANY toad brakes! Yes, I've been contemplating setting up the M&G brake system on our Jeep like I've done on a few other toads but, just haven't got around to it yet. And, in these two cases of my tow bar issues, I'm kind-a glad they (toad brakes) weren't there. And the reason is/was, just what you stated.

Yes, I know, I know, it's the LAW and it's just pure common sense to set up a braking system in a toad. I'll get there.
Scott
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Old 12-05-2020, 07:55 AM   #14
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Blue Ox marking is helpful

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