Monday, August 22, 2011

Stone Shields & Mud Flaps to Protect Toad

A lot of LD'ers tow a vehicle behind them and are concerned about damage to the "toad" from dirt and rocks kicked up by the LD. Without any sort of protection, you are likely to find small pits, dings and scrapes in the bumper and hood of the
"toad". There are several different types of protective devices that can be used.
Most common are various types of full-width skirts or flaps that hang from the rear of the LD down to almost ground level. These can be made of solid, stiff rubber, some sort of stiff bristles (a "hula skirt"), or even metal, such as you find on some high-end Diesel pushers. Another type used by a lot of people is a shield that mounts on the tow-bar and stands up in front of the "toad". Another tow-bar mounted system lies flat on the tow-bar between the rear of the RV and front bumper of the toad. There are also car protectors made of various flexible materials that cover the front, hood and sometimes even the windshield of the towed vehicle. These can be a problem if not very securely fastened; they can flap and cause abrasion of the paint. Common mud-flaps that are mounted behind each set of rear wheels can be quite effective.

Solid rubber shield mounted beneath rear bumper

"Hula skirt" mounted beneath rear

Rubber strip-style shield mounted beneath rear bumper

Shield mounted on towbar or front bumper of "toad"

Vinyl car protector

Protect-A-Tow tow-bar mounted shield

Truck-style flaps mounted on Lazy Daze, showing the metal reinforcement inside the storage compartment

If you use a mudflap or similar device ("hula skirt," etc.), be very certain that it won't drag on the ground when the front of the rig goes over a hump or the rear hits a depression in the road. If it does, it will kick up stones and throw them at your toad. The further the flap/skirt is from the rear axle, the more likely this is to occur.

If you choose to install mudflaps you might consider individual mudflaps mounted just behind the rear wheels. You'll have to do a little work to put them there (such as adding reinforcements to the storage compartments behind the wheels, so you can mount the flaps to their front ends), but the danger of dragging will be eliminated.

For behind-the-wheels mud-flaps, owners have used truck-style heavy rubber flaps. They may need to be cut down a bit to properly fit. Be sure to use stainless steel screws when mounting them.

If you're looking for some heavy material with which to make some custom size mud flaps, here's a suggestion: A local big truck dealer often has take-off flaps that they pile up for recycling. These are ones that are used by the transport company when they deliver new trucks from the factory, or removed when a dealer installs his own name branded flaps. A chat with the service manager may be all it takes.

Another possible source for truck flaps is an unclaimed freight store, where one LD'er found some for $5.00 apiece. Might look in surplus junk store also. The hardware to mount them will definitely cost a lot more than the flaps.

Contributors: Andy Baird, Andrea Eagles, Lloyd Evarts, Jim

Revised 29 Nov 2011