Thursday, April 9, 2020

Fixes and Fails - TOAD

TOAD = TOwing All Down or towing a vehicle with all four wheels on the ground as opposed to on a trailer or dolly.  Also referred to as Dingy, since it follows along like a Dingy on a boat.

When we started researching RVs and decided that we would purchase a Motorhome, I wanted to get a tow bar that would attach to the RV and not connect to a typical trailer ball.  Ann's parents towed their vehicle with a ball mounted tow bar and lost it once in a construction zone. 😬

After much research, I decided to go with the Blue Ox BX7365 Alpha 6,500lb Tow Bar, which attaches directly to the motor-home.
Blue Ox Tow Bar
Now for a car to tow.  We had a 2012 Subaru Outback, but according to Motor-Home magazine's Dingy towing guide, it was not tow-able 4 down. We also had a 2007 Chevy Malibu LT and after consulting the guide it was tow-able.  So, here is what we needed to connect it to the RV.

Blue Ox BX1666 Base Plate - This attaches to the front of the car and connects to the BX7365 tow bar. This is what allows it to be towed.
Blue Ox BX8869 Bulb and Socket Tail Light Wiring Kit - With this, you run wires from the front of the car to the rear tail lights, where a hole is drilled and a 2nd bulb is installed.  Keeps it totally separate from the cars original wiring.
Blue Ox BX88206 Coiled Cable with Female Receptor - This connects between the RV trailer power connector and the wiring connector on the car.
Blue Ox BX88272 ATM Fuse Bypass Switch with Long Lead - In order to properly tow the car, without draining the battery, you need to remove a fuse.  This converts the fuse to a switch, which is mounted on the dash.

In most States you are required to have a braking system in the car to help with braking.  Since we have a diesel coach, I decided to go with the SMI MFG. 99243 AIR Force ONE Braking System, which connects to the Air Brakes in the RV and provides proportional braking in the car.

We also wanted to be able to carry our bikes and since we already had a hitch mounted bike rack, it just made sense to install a hitch on the car. Draw-Tite 36317 Class II Frame Hitch with 1-1/4" Square Receiver Tube Opening

Driving down the highway with a 300 hp diesel engine towing a 3500 lb car, you would probably never know you had blown a tire on the car, until it was too late, so we opted for the TST 507rv Tire Monitor System - Monitors PSI and Temperature -Flow Through System Model, and an expansion pack that allows us to monitor all 10 tires (6 on RV and 4 on car)

When we purchased the RV, we asked Camping World of Houston to install the Air Force One Braking system, but since they did not have the car, they could only install the parts that connected to the motor-home, so we need to determine how we would get the rest installed.

Now, I wanted to install these things on the car myself.  I had watched the YouTube videos, how hard could it be?  Ann insisted that I find a mechanic, so after a lot of calling around we had one who would install everything we needed.  It took about 3 days, but only $900.  I guess that wasn't too bad.

Everything installed on the 2007 Malibu
Tire Pressure Monitor on the car
So, in July of 2019, we started traveling while towing the car.  Fast forward to February of 2020 after the car was Rear-Ended while at a stop light in Iowa and the steering was making a serious clunking noise (power steering quit totally once or twice too), we decided it was time to get a new TOAD.

Started looking around and decided it might be good to go with an even smaller car.  So, our choices boiled down to the Ford Focus and Chevy Sonic.  After asking around, we heard that some Focus owners were reporting problems with the transmission, so we went with the Sonic.  We looked at used, but new was literally only a few hundred dollars more, so we bought one from a dealer in New Orleans and setup an appointment with Berryland Camper to move anything salvageable from the Malibu and install everything we needed on the Sonic needed to tow it.

They called back and said they could not find a hitch, which is what we used to carry our bikes.  Turns out that when I checked, I did not pay attention to the fact that the hitch is only available on the hatchback Sonic.  Well, we can't take the car back and get a hatchback, so major fail!

We thought about our options and the fact that we spent most of our time taking the bikes on and off the rack, but rarely riding them.  So we gave Ann's bike to a Granddaughter (Other Grandparents were traveling right past us the next day with their fifth-wheel) and sold my bike and the rack.
Everything installed on the Sonic

This is what it looks like with everything connected..Mostly

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