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We Have a Toad – Our Towing Set Up

Been asked about the specifics of what we use to tow our Honda CR-V behind the Home d’Pug RV.  So I thought I would take this opportunity to explain our set up in some detail.  First, what is a TOAD?

As in most worlds, there are numerous slang terms.  The RV world is no different.  The vehicle being towed behind a motor home is often referred to as a toad or dingy.

There are a couple of different ways to tow a vehicle behind your RV (we will save that whole discussion for another day).  Our 2001 Honda can be towed 4-down.  This means that all four tires are on the ground.

There are several items required to safely tow a vehicle behind your motorhome.  Our equipment includes a trailer hitch on the RV, tow bar, base plate on the Honda, safety cables, tow lights and supplemental braking system.  The first step was to select a manufacturer of the base plate and tow bar.  It is important to note that most manufacturers have proprietary methods of hooking the tow bar to the base plate on the toad.  We decided to use the Blue Ox system.

We decided to use the Blue Ox system.  This was based on numerous customer reviews and comments in several different RV discussion boards.

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Trailer Hitch

Trailer hitch device attached to the chassis of a vehicle for towing.  Trailer hitches come in two main configurations: receiver type and fixed-drawbar type. Receiver-type hitches consist of a portion that mounts to the frame of the vehicle that has a rearward-facing opening that accepts removable ball mounts, hitch bike racks, cargo carriers, or other hitch mounted accessories.  Fixed-drawbar hitches are typically built as one piece, have an integrated hole for the trailer ball, and are generally not compatible with aftermarket hitch accessories.

The trailer hitch was already installed on the 1989 Allegro when we purchased her.  The receiver has a 2″ square opening that receives the tow bar.

Tow Bar and Safety Cables

The tow bar is the most recognizable part of a towing system. It is designed to link your car to your tow vehicle (RV) so that it can be safely flat towed. The function of the tow bar is the same regardless of model or manufacturer. The differences lie in the type of mount, towing capacity and basic design.  Beyond those aspects, there are a wide variety of features associated with the various models (we will not go into that here).

Blue Ox Aladdin Tow Bar

After doing an extensive amount of research on the different manufacturers and models we selected the Blue Ox BX4325 Aladdin 7,500lb Tow Bar**.  The Honda weighs a little more than 3,000 pounds GVW.  Figured a 7,500-pound tow bar would give us a nice safety margin.

The tow bar slips into the receiver and is held in place by a hitch lock.  The two “arms” then are connected to the base plate’s attachment tabs and secured with tow bar pins.

Blue Ox BX4325 Aladdin 7,500lb Tow Bar** tow bar also has telescoping arms as opposed to fixed arms.Tow bars with adjustable arms are easier to hook up. You do not have to drive your toad into an exact position to connect your towing system rather; you pull the telescoping arm out or push it back in, to get the length you need.

A pair of safety cables is used in case the connection between the RV and vehicle being towed fails.  On either side of the hitch receiver, there are “loops” to which you can secure the safety cable to.  The base plate has two corresponding “loops” to connect the other end of the safety cables to the toad.  It is a good practice to cross the cables so the vehicle does not sway across lanes of traffic in case of a failure.

Base Plate

Blue Ox Base Plate for 2001 Honda CR-V

A vehicle that is being towed requires custom-designed base plates that specifically fit its frame. Once installed on your car’s frame, the base plates provide attachment points for your tow bar.  This is the only piece in the system that is specific to the vehicle being towed.

Since we are towing a 2001 Honda CR-V we needed the Blue Ox Blue Ox BX2221 Base Plate**.  The manufacturer’s web site will help you select the right base plate for your vehicle.  Since a base plate is attached directly to the frame of the car, we had our mechanic do the installation.

Tow Lights

It is the law in every state that a towed vehicle have indicator lights.  In our opinion, it just makes common sense.  Tow lights let drivers around you know when you are braking or want to turn – YES, you should always be using your turn signals.

One type of system is to have a system installed in your vehicle that will use the existing lights on the vehicle being towed.  The system we choose has magnetically mounted lights that we stick to the roof of the Honda.  In either type of system, the motorhome provides the power and inputs from a connection point on the motorhome.  This connection point is usually located near the trailer hitch.

You must make sure that the connector to your tow light system matches the connector on your RV.  The most common types of connectors are 4-pin flat connector, 4-pin round connector, 6-pin round connector, 7-pin round connector, and 7-pin flat connector.  The connector on our Allegro is a 6-pin round connector.

We decided to go with magnetically mounted lights.  Our choice was the Larson LED Tow Lights With Magnetic Base** with the 6-pin round connector, model HDTL-LED-2X-M-30.   The Larson Electronics describes the HDTL-LED-2X-M-30, “a wired magnetic tow light consisting of (2) round 2lb tow lights, (2) 90# temporary magnetic mounts, a 30ft standard cable ending in a customizable trailer plug, and 7” of wire space between the two tow lights. The durable LED lights on this unit are stop, trail and turn capable and emit a very visible red light that is very clearly signaled to other drivers, helping prevent rear end accidents and other potential road oversights.”

Supplemental Braking System

What is a supplemental braking system and why do I need one?  A supplemental or auxiliary braking system helps shorten the overall stopping distance and keeps your legal with all North American towing laws.  Most states require that any towed vehicle have its own braking system.

We purchased the Hopkins 9499 BrakeBuddy Classic Braking Package**.  The package includes the brake actuary, breakaway system, and alert system.  The brake actuary sits the floor between the driver’s seat and the brake pedal.  The actuary is then clipped to the brake pedal.  When the system senses that the RV is slowing, it will “push” the brake pedal and help slow the toad.

The breakaway system will apply the brake to the towed vehicle should it become separated from your motorhome.  The alert system will provide you an audible notification in the RV should you have it installed.  Installation of the alert system is simple.  A transmitter is connected to the BrakeBuddy in the towed vehicle.  The corresponding receiver is plugged into a cigarette lighter or other powered 12v socket.  A cord is connected between a pull-pin on the front of the toad and the RV.  Should the pull-pin get pulled out, the transmitter sends a signal to the receiver that gives the driver an audible alarm.

This part of the overall system is not only the law but helps everyone on the road to travel safely.

In a future post we will talk about how all of this fit together and some lessons we learned.

**Affiliate Link

 

On Tour – What A Long Strange Trip

Back from seeing Dead and Company and time to catch everyone up on our goings on.  Here are some highlights and misadventures.

On Tour with Dead & Company (Kind of)

dead-company-2017-tour band pictureAs mentioned in a very earlier post, one of our goals with our RV was to travel to see concerts and music festivals.  If you don’t recall, let’s get you up to speed.

In December 2016 Dead & Company announced a summer tour.  As longtime Deadheads, we decided that our holiday gifts this year would be tickets to see several shows.  We got tickets to six shows.  The RV would be our home on the road and we would tow our 2001 Honda CR-V.  That was the plan anyway.

Towing the Honda CR-V

In order to make the plan work, we had to setup the Honda with a base plate, get a towbar, supplemental braking system, and towing lights.  After much research, we selected the Blue-Ox equipment.  All of the equipment was ordered, base plate installed (that is a story all by itself) and we were ready to hit the road.

NOT SO FAST THERE SON!!!

The one thing that I forgot to check was the towbar fitting into the hitch on the back of the Allegro.  As (our) luck would have it, it did not fit due to a large amount of rust in the receiver of the hitch.   Therefore, we had to resort to plan B.  Plan B was to leave the RV at our site in the Poconos and drive the Honda to the first threes shows in Burgettstown, PA, and Boston, MA.  On our way home from Boston we picked up the RV and took it to our regular mechanic in Philly to get the hitch fixed in time to take the RV towing the Honda to Bristow, VA.  Thankfully, it was done in time.

Back to the plan

Left Thursday morning with the Honda in tow for the show that night in Bristow, VA at Jiffy Lube Live.  Life was great again!!!  This until we got into the Washington, D.C. area.  Let me just say, traffic is a nightmare.  Don’t know how people do it to commute on a daily basis.  The worst part is trying to change lanes in a 31′ RV with a car being towed behind.  Most people just would not give us a break.  Next time we travel this part of the country will find a different route or plan on going through in the middle of the night.

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We spent Thursday night at the Prince William Forest RV Campground in Dumfries, Virginia.  We choose this campground because it was only about 30 minutes away for Jiffy Lube Live and a very easy drive.  For the little time we spent there, it seems like a very nice place.  Very quiet.  Not a lot of kids evident.  You are right on the edge of the forest and close to hiking trails.  The staff was very friendly, courteous and helpful.  Will have to return when we can spend a little time – of course avoiding the D.C. traffic nightmare.

Back to the Poconos

Friday was our travel day.  We drove the RV towing the Honda through some of the worst traffic I have been in ever.  In trying to get around Washington D.C. we could not make one of the left lane exits and was forced into downtown D.C. traffic.  All in all, it was not as bad as it could have been.  Finally, made it back to I-95 North.  Our next traffic nightmare was a couple of miles South the Baltimore Harbor tunnels.  Traffic was moving at a snail’s pace.  We finally got through the tunnel and traffic moved at a “normal” pace again.

Hit the Delaware state line and decided it was time to stretch our legs and grab a quick bite to eat.  Once we got going again it was not long until traffic returned to a snail’s pace.  Later on, we learned that there is construction on I-295 that backed up onto I-95.  After the split between I-295 and I-95 traffic moved smoothly again.

After more than 12 hours (including stops for gas and food) we finally made it back to our seasonal spot.  Had a little difficulty getting into our site there were several cars parked around it.  This prevented me from having the room swing the rig around and back into our site.  Once the cars finally moved I was able to back the rig in “like a boss” as one of the tent campers near us said.

Back on tour

Once we got everything setup we crashed.  Spent Saturday morning just chilling.  Early in the afternoon, we drove the Honda into Queens, NY to see the show at Citi Field.  After the show, we headed back to Home d’Pug RV in the Poconos.

Sunday afternoon we left the Poconos for our final stop on the Dead & Company 2017 Summer tour in Camden, NJ.  After the show, we headed “Back home, sit down and patch (our) bones, and get back truckin’ on.”

 

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