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Towbar Unbound! “How It’s Made” – RV Edition!

Towbar Unbound! “How It’s Made” – RV Edition!

We’ve been towing our Honda CR-V with the same towbar for over 13 years. All that time we’ve dealt with binding issues when trying to disconnect on curves or facing downhill. We figured that was just a part of RV life. A recent conversation with fellow full-timing friends led to a major change; further proof that you (or at least “we”) are never too old to learn new things!

We mentioned to our friends that we were planning to make a video about the techniques needed to release a towbar on hills and curves. They looked at us like we were crazy, telling us they’d never dealt with that issue before.

It turns out that the brand of towbar they were using, a Roadmaster, is an all-terrain, non-binding design that releases easily under almost any conditions, not just on the straight & level.

We were on our way to visit Tough Top Awnings in Vancouver, WA, and Roadmaster just happens to be right down the street from them. So we stopped by to find out what secret we’d been missing out on all these years. We not only took a tour, but actually saw Sterling towbars being made (the top-of-the-line aluminum model our friends have). It was like an episode of one of our favorite shows – How It’s Made – come to life!

Roadmaster has asked us to put one of their all-terrain towbars to the test. While we now have the same Sterling model our friends use, they have a whole series of “All-Terrain” bars designed to release at any angle.

It was great to see that this type of industry is alive and well in the USA, and we’re eager to try out this impressive piece of equipment for ourselves. After some initial testing, happily unbound, we’re off to a great start!

While our Blue Ox gave us many years of reliable service, we look forward to improving our RVing experience, free of a nuisance that we didn’t even know there was a solution for.


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Richard Voyles

Saturday 18th of November 2017

Do you have experience with / or a video of 5th Wheel Landing Gear motor / gear box replacement with how to instructions and/or ideas ?

TheRVgeeks

Saturday 18th of November 2017

Hi Richard! Sorry we can't be of much help with 5th-wheel-specific tasks, as we have no experience with them. The only thing we've ever done with 5th wheels is replace awnings and slide toppers, which of course isn't specific to them. We'd suggest the user forums at iRV2.com. It's free to join and post questions, and there are tons of RVers experienced in every aspect of RVing who are eager to help.

Steven L. Cekutis

Sunday 12th of November 2017

Call Me Crazy... I'm looking to buy my 1st Tow bar and Base Plate ever !! But I kinda want to Buy the Blue Ox Base Plate and the Road Master Tow Bar.( like you have) I like the look of the removable Pegs of Blue Ox, rather than then removable peg with Flange look of Road master.....??? Wooooo is Meeee..... But, If I buy the Blue Ox base plate; In the Future I can use either of the Tow bar Systems..... If I buy the RoadMaster Base Plate .... I can Only buy RoadMaster in the Future ... Call Me Crazy; Please ;-)

TheRVgeeks

Monday 13th of November 2017

Hi Steven! You're not crazy... there's just so many options out there it can get quite confusing. And while we love how hidden our Blue Ox base plate is when we remove the connecting pins from it, we would prefer to have a complete Roadmaster system, instead of a "hybrid". At the time we bought our system, Roadmaster ONLY had the type of baseplate that had the flange and even a crossbar, and we didn't want that amount of clutter on the front of our towed. Since those days, however, Roadmaster has come out with their new "Direct Connect" baseplates which have the same kind of clean look to them that the Blue Ox does. You can check to be sure they have a match for your towed car by looking at their FitMaster tool here: https://fitmaster.roadmasterinc.com

And keep one other thing in mind: pretty much all towbar companies offer adapters to convert other-brand towbars to their baseplates, and vice versa. So if you have a Blue Ox baseplate, but a Roadmaster towbar... there are adapters for that. And vice versa. You'd never be "stuck" with one brand. But our experience with Roadmaster has been so much better than Blue Ox that we would never go back, as long as they offer equivalent equipment to meet our needs!

Hope this helps!

alan goss

Monday 2nd of October 2017

We are getting ready to purchase a new tow bar for our new to us 2012 CR-V. The tow bar we will be getting is the Roadmaster A/T. I noticed on your video that after connecting the tow bar to your vehicle you backed the vehicle up to lock in the arm releases. With our other tow bar we pulled forward in the MH to lock the releases. With the Roadmaster A/T can the releases be set either way (backing the tow car or pulling forward in the MH)?

TheRVgeeks

Monday 2nd of October 2017

Hi Alan! Congratulations on your new-to-you Honda (we love our CR-V!) and your upcoming tow bar purchase. Not sure what brand or model tow bar you had, but in all the years we've had both Blue Ox and now Roadmaster tow bars, we've never heard of using the RV to lock BOTH arms. Locking the SECOND arm, yes, but only if both don't lock when hooking up, and backing up, the car.

We're confused about how well leaving both arms unlocked until pulling the RV forward would work in a downhill situation, since the car, when connected and fully ready to tow, is, by definition, in neutral, and rolling freely. If you were facing even the slightest bit downhill, without at least one of the two arms locked (by backing the car up), the car would roll forward toward the motorhome, fully or mostly compressing the arms. Then, when you begin driving the RV, still facing downhill, the car will just sit against the back of the rig until you reach an uphill, or at least more level, spot.

The correct way to attach the car is to back it up until at least one of the arms lock (or both, if you get it nice and straight.... which we make it a bit of a game to attempt each time! LOL). If they both lock, you're 100% good to go. If only one locks, you simply need to stay aware (in the back-up camera) of the unlocked arm until it does lock. If, for example, we gently back up the car and get the driver's side arm locked, and the curb-side doesn't, we'll take it very easy until we get a chance to make a gentle curve to the left (typically still at parking lot speeds) until we see the curb-side arm extend and lock in. Then we're good to roll.

It's important to be aware of that unlocked arm, as a sudden acceleration or turn to the left could rapidly extend the arm from fully collapsed to fully extended, with a BANG at the end as the arm slams extends rapidly all the way out. This would put a lot of unnecessary stress on all of the components, especially the arm that slammed out, and the baseplate on that side.

CAN you pull the motorhome forward to lock both arms? We suppose so. But it's not the right way to do it, and not sure why you'd want to. When you're hooking up, you're standing right there with the car anyway, and backing it up on the bar is just part of hooking up.

Jerry Smith

Thursday 13th of July 2017

I noticed you indicate that the 645 safety cables come with the Sterling all terrain tow bar. I ordered that item but the cables have a hook at one end and a soldered ball at the other end and not a loop. Can you explain.

TheRVgeeks

Thursday 13th of July 2017

Hi Jerry! This Roadmaster towbar comes standard with safety cables designed to connect to Roadmaster base plates using their special “EZ Hook" system with a steel ball end. If you have another make or model base plate (like our Blue Ox), you can order the optional safety cables with regular hooks on both ends, like we did, that can be connected to any type of baseplate, even those without the special EX Hook connections. These are the cables we ordered to allow us to use our old Blue Ox base plate: http://amzn.to/2ED1k5H

Steve

Wednesday 13th of July 2016

Great video! I bought the Blue Ox baseplate for my 2012 CRV about a moth ago and was waiting to get my RV before I got the towbar. I was going to get the Blue Ox that you replaced with the Roadmaster, but seeing this I ordered the Roadmaster. Question on the bracket at the toad side. The safety cables that came with the tow bar have the little ball end that is suppose to attach to the mounting bracket on the toad. This would not be the case with adapter to the Blue Ox baseplate. Did you have to get different safety cables for this install? Which adapter did you get for the baseplate? I think it is the 031-5, but not sure.

TheRVgeeks

Wednesday 13th of July 2016

Hi Steve! Excellent! We're super happy with our Sterling. We've been really putting it through its paces, and no matter what we do, we cannot get it to bind! It's such a breath of fresh air not to have to fight with it when we're not disconnecting on the straight and level. We've been shooting a follow-up video with more detail and hope to have that edited over the next several weeks.

So... safety cables. We got these ones, available on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2EEtA8e

These are the straight Roadmaster cables, and the beauty of them is that the ends without the spring-loaded clips permanently attached are designed to be small enough to slide through the channels on the arms. All you do is remove the oval-shaped rings (unscrew them) from the small ends of the cables, slide that end of the cables through the channels from the car side of the arms toward the RV, and then use the oval clips to attach the cables to the RV, where they stay. Now you just clip/un-clip the spring-loaded hooks from the front of the car when connecting/disconnecting, and the cables stay neatly in the towbar. Beautiful design.

Of course the use of a Roadmaster towbar with a Blue Ox baseplate does indeed require the Blue Ox adapters at the car side of the bar, as we mentioned in the video. You are correct that we use 031-5 to connect our new Sterling to our Blue Ox baseplate.

Hope you love your bar as much as we do. We think our follow-up video will really show it well, as we'll be explaining why we think some people think their towbar is "binding" when it's not. Hint.... NO towbar can bind on fairly steep, straight uphill slopes, but some people think theirs does. It's the downhills and tight angles between the RV and the toad that separate the men from the boys (so to speak) when it comes to towbars. ;)

Safe Travels, Steve! Peter & John

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