In the past, I have used Blue Ox (B/O) tow bars on the motorhome and B/O base plates on the toad. The tow bar was very hard to disengage in a binding situation (I now understand that has been corrected), and I didn’t like the rubber boot on the arms. However, I really like the B/O base plate with the removable connecting pins that keep the rest of the base plate mostly hidden behind the toad grill. I now use the Roadmaster aluminum Sterling tow bar with B/0 adaptors Roadmaster provides (as an $ option) that attach the Sterling arms to the B/0 connecting pins. The safety cables for the Sterling have a molded steel ball at one end that fits into a grove in (provided) steel ‘L’ brackets that are supposed to attach to the toad bumper bracket. That wasn’t possible on my toad so I attached the brackets to the underside of the LD’s hitch receiver by the holes where the tow cables are normally attached. I used two 3/8” grade 8 bolts for this. To prevent the cables from slipping up out of the groves I attached a bolt & flat washer in the grove as a stopper. (see photo) The standard hooks on the other end of the cables attach to the B/0 base plate.
I stow the Sterling tow bar to the right looping the right cable up around the LD ladder bracket and attaching the hook back to the cable. I then attach the left cable hook to the right cable which secures everything. (see photo)
I use a seven pin truck style electrical socket on both the LD and the toad. Reason for this is that I have the SMI Stay-In-Play Duo auxiliary toad braking system in my toad that requires back up 12DC power from the LD engine. The Cherokee also requires an additional wiring harness to keep a computerized steering stabilizer active while the engine is off and it being toad. This too requires an external power supply from the LD.
To address this power issue, I ran a 10ga. wire from the LD engine battery (30amp fused) to the pin designated for electric trailer brakes in the 7-pin socket on the LD bumper. Also, a 10ga wire from the toad mounted 7-pin socket to the toad battery (30amp fused also). I got a 6’ umbilical cable with a molded 7-pin plug from Tractor Supply and attached another 7-pin plug at the other end. The cable has 10ga wires designated for the trailer brake power and ground. Smaller gauge wires are there for the brake/tail lights. While parked at an interstate rest stop for a short break, someone stole our umbilical cable. Fortunately, I found a Tractor Supply for a replacement. It just took a little while to attach the second 7-pin plug on the other end of the cable. I now secure the cable to the LD hitch with quick links (tightened with thread lock) to a galvanized solid eye bolt on the hitch plate. (see photo)
Now to address toad rock & gravel protection. Years ago I used a grass skirt across the rear motorhome bumper but this didn’t really help. Mud flaps also gave little protection. I then tried a solid Rock Guard at the rear bumper but actually made the toad scratches worse. Early last year we got a Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk for a toad, and I really wanted to avoid what scratches our CRV toads (2) had received in the past. I decided to get a Roadmaster Tow Defender fabric tow bar cover. It unrolls and lays on top of the tow bar attaching at the top of the B/0 connector. This makes it very easy to roll back up and store at the rear of the LD. After 7000+ towing miles later, NO scratches on the front of the Cherokee above the hitch level. It is very easy to roll up and stow on the motorhome hitch area.
Because the 1” square tubing hit the LD rear bumper on a tight turn, I shortened the tube ends 4” which solved that problem. As you can see in the photo, I mounted a separate (non-wired) 7-pin socket to the top of the Tow Defender hitch mount to stow the toad end of the umbilical cable when not in use. (see photo) The coiled break-away cable lays on top of the Tow Defender when in use and is easily stowed when not in use.
Since the Jeep is heavier than the stated LD hitch mount I have replaced all the LD’s grade 5 bolts with grade 8 bolts, washers & nuts. This includes the six bolts attaching the ‘C’ channel rear frame extensions to the main Ford frame. All bolts have lock washers, red thread lock and tightened with an air impact wrench. After this last two summer’s trips, one to the Rockies and the other to Newfoundland, all hitch components are still very secure. The Cherokee has posed no problems towing under all conditions of travel.
Mike Coachman 12/2018