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Full Version: Done with Blue Ox - a cautionary tale
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Well, 2500 miles into an extended trip was pretty uneventful until Sunday. After only about 40-50 miles, I had to pull over for a passenger issue. Motorist following us pulls up and screams “you need to check your toad, rear wheels smoking bad, about to catch fire!” Thanks!

No, the brake calipers ARE ON FIRE when I run back. Brake fluid leaking and burning. Looks like a Saturday nite short track NASCAR event. Hit them with a fire extinguisher, borrow neighbor’s water and quench the rear wheels, rotors, calipers with water until cool enough to touch with bare hand. Now that’s under control, what happened to cause this? First thought, forgot to release parking brake after hooking up? Nope, parking brake off. But - mystery solved - Blue Ox Brake Buddy is in full on mode trying to break the seat base off! WTH? Rip it out of position and disconnect it. Ask bystander to see if there is any noise as I try to move forward. Nope, no noise, wheels turning freely. Continmue on trip, stooping and checking about every 5-10 miles for the next thirty miles. Everything good, continue with trip, worry about fix later.

About 30 miles later, about 10 miles from destination for the day(!), we hit a construction area. Slow to about 20-25 mph and continue riding the brakes. Hit last bump. Much worse than expected. Bus bumps, Hummer bumps so that I can see the whole Hummer grill in the rear view camera and monitor! Well that can’t be good! Brake softly immediately while steering to shoulder waiting for the hit. Feel one soft issue but then see Hummer in the monitor. Stop in probably 50-75 feet past some guard rails. Run back to inspect the mess.

Well, there used to be a Blue Ox tow bar here. No longer!
Major organ failure on the Blue Ox hitch assembly shown. [attachment=2123][attachment=2124]
That major clevis connector was cast aluminum! Only good news is the arms flipped under the Hummer and acted as a brake against the 10,000 lb safety straps.[attachment=2125][attachment=2126] So minimal damage to the Bird (probably about $2k of fiberglass and paint work)

24 hours and many $$$ later, Hummer is in a shop awaiting arrival of all new brake calipers, rotors, pads, rear grease seals, and maybe new e-brake parts, as needed. New DEMCO tow bar (all steel and 10,500 lb rated) on order from Tweety’s, due by end of day Monday. Hope to be back under way on Wednesday of next week. Then to Texas Custom Coach for rear bumper and corner fiberglass repair from minor impact and off road adventure during tow bar break (huge rear overhang was also not tolerant of arched shoulder, but no real choices there!)

Needless to say, not a good Sunday. And, needless to say, I have sworn off Blue Ox products.

check that the air shocks in the hummer didnt go brittle with the heat. the rubber is way thin. I use blueox cast iron setup not sure which one it is. I welded up baseplates and have twisted one bad when the h2 came over the hitch and got lifted. Tim lost the hummer on a 88pt he was bringing home to help some one out with repairs not a good day. glad it worked out with no injury.
Here's Mike's pictures: [attachment=2131][attachment=2130][attachment=2127][attachment=2128][attachment=2129]

Mike, glad no one was injured and that the damages are minimal. Thankfully you were able to stop and extinguish the fire before it grew. Some aren't so lucky; I've seen coaches burn because of fires started in toads. I guess if you're in this game long enough you'll see it all. Glad you're safe. I hope your new bar is made of steel. Smile
Did you try to contact Blue Ox about this?
here is a could be????
bus went into a steep dip,rear end of bus in lowest dip angle, front of hummer atop of dip, tow bar vertical, bumper of hummer lifted 3 feet
-or a more likely reason for effed pivot joint-
bus went over a hump, wheels of bus atop hump, towbar vertical, hummer lower, bus come off the bump, puts bus ass weifht on front of hummer.
then brak-away brake systems acts as designed, fire starts as hummer attempts to stop a 52,000 lb bus
Sounds plausible Greg. The whole mess could be solved with a longer tow bar. That's my biggest complaint about the Blue Ox equipment: it's too short. How does the competition compare length wise? Give us another foot or two and the forces on the baseplate fall off dramatically.
Greg’s out-of-synch porpoising description is pretty much what happened. Bus rear was going down as Hummer was coming up. When I saw the Hummer grill in the rear view monitor, I knew real bad stuff was coming. And it did.

However, one point of order, the failure of the Brake Buddy happened 30 miles prior. The Hummer was in free wheeling mode at the jump. The tow truck driver said his colleagues referred to it as the launching ramp. Apparently it keeps them in clients. Hmmm, I wonder if there’s a liability claim here?

The new Demco is spec’ed as all steel with a lifetime warranty for the original purchaser. At 10,500 lb rating, it was the highest that I found.

I find it unacceptable that Blue Ox had a cast aluminum piece at a major stress point, and a single point of failure location. They have a 3 year warranty. I have not called them yet. Too busy arranging repairs, ordering new tow bar, and just generally re-couping. I will call, but expect nothing, so have concentrated on recovery. Looking at different braking systems now, rather than the inertia driven Brake Buddy, which will merely be a non-activated placeholder for the rest of the trip. Ironically, I had tried to buy a new version of that aluminum clevis when I rebuilt the tow bar with all the Blue Ox rebuild kits. I was told it “was not available for individual purchase”. Good plan!

Shipping delays on everything so far. Thanks UPS! Stuck here until mid next week at this point. Oh well, it’s the only place in the world that you can buy “Michigan” hot dogs and maple walnut ice cream, so I’m ODing on those while I wait out the debacle.

one of the problems with aluminum parts is it is hard to see cracks because the primer paint seems to stick better and there is no rust to show during a walk around. aluminum also lacks rebound like seel. you can bend steel out of shape and back several times but aluminum just fails.
I have had luck requesting re-manufactured m and g units. and where they did not have a unit for my GMC Savana 3500 box van I cross referenced the master cylinder of the box van with the other units match they carry in stock. problem with the van was room so I needed to cut a bit of radiator cowling to make room for install and a couple of inches to keep it safe in minor front end collisions.
(06-07-2018 13:17)RainbowrvGreg Wrote: [ -> ]one of the problems with aluminum parts is it is hard to see cracks because the primer paint seems to stick better and there is no rust to show during a walk around. aluminum also lacks rebound like seel. you can bend steel out of shape and back several times but aluminum just fails.

In a different thread I asked about Blue Ox discontinuing my Aventa LX tow bar. The Aventa LX has steel arms, but that ball and socket gizmo is aluminum, Sad. Luckily it's not painted or powder coated so I can inspect it for cracks. I found this reasonably priced aluminum crack detection kit on amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dye-Penetrant-Cra...B00XLW4BRC; it consists of a cleaner, a dye penetrant, and a developer, no back light needed. Magnaflux also makes a kit but it's twice the money. True, if you keep steel stresses below around 30,000 psi it'll never fatigue; whereas, aluminum is always fatiguing no matter how low the stress.
12,000# tow bar


I know nothing about it, just remember seeing it advertised.
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