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RE: new towed vehicle - Jeep Wrangler

We setup our 2011 Wrangler up this summer, at the time I didn't go with the Cooltech as I looked up the wrong part (for the new JL) and didn't care to deal with it. But now that I know I had the wrong part I'm ordering it and will be ditching the the magnetic lights. I'm going to link to my full write up I did last August; Jeep Wrangler ReadyBrake Elite II Setup I opted to get a new bumper that used pass through bolts and bought the Rock Hard 4x4 Blue Ox Tow Bar Bracket Kit (RH-8000-BO) as the connection point for the tow bars. All the parts I used are at the bottom of the page. I did link to some video's that I used to guide me during the install. Yeah, I read your write-up, knew about your setup. I was one of the ones that mentioned in that thread about not running wires across bare paint for the magnetic lights. Glad to see you ditching that approach. I know you used the Rugged Ridge Spartan front bumper. Have you had any issues with it like I mentioned above, with bolting on the blue ox brackets causing the bumper to deform, or powder coat to peel off? I read some reviews indicating they had that problem, which is why I was hesitant to go that route. I will be curious to hear how your experience goes with the Cooltech harness with a JK model, as I am really on the fence still as far as what to do with the tail light wiring. Really leaning toward separate bulbs, but we'll see.
willald 01/28/22 09:08am Dinghy Towing
RE: new towed vehicle - Jeep Wrangler

For me, the hardest part about installing the Ready Brute cables was getting up the courage to poke the holes in the firewall in a brand new vehicle. Once I got that under control it was a simple task to install the cables. Well, this one isn't new, technically, its 4 years old. And, there is considerably more room down there on the firewall than there was on the last two vehicles I installed the Readybrake cable. Sooo, I'm not worried about that part. :) Similarly with the wiring: I liked the CoolTech harness, but didn't like the price so I sourced my own wire and switch and built my own version. I put the switch in the dash rather than under the passenger seat so it's more convenient to reach from the driver's seat, but it required routing the wire up behind the dash. I think I spent less than $30 for everything for that harness. Yeah, I'm seeing that the Cooltech harness is pretty expensive. I'm now debating between a Hopkins custom kit that plugs directly into factory wiring harnesses at each tail light (cost about $84), or maybe a separate bulb kit, as it seems the Jeep taillight assembly has plenty of room to put in separate tail lights. Not sure yet. On my Gladiator I went with the Rugged Ridge Spartan bumper. It won't add too much weight up front because it's replacing the OEM bumper, not adding to it. I don't recall the actual weight of the bumper, but it wasn't much more than the OEM one - I had no problem installing it by myself. Hmmm.....I read some bad reviews on that one, saying that when they bolted the blue ox brackets on, it deformed the bumper and cause the powder coat to flake off. That was other reason I was a bit afraid of that one. Have you not had any issues with that? That, and I read where the company that made it openly admitted their bumper was not designed to do such. On my wife's old Wrangler (2107 JKU) we used the Blue Ox base plate - it did hang down from the front and while we never had it impact the ground the thought was always there because it DOES reduce your approach angle a bit. Indeed so, although I'm leaning more and more that direction, as I don't see us doing any really hard core offroading where approach angle would be a factor. Other good thing about the Blue Ox base plate, is there is already a place right there on it for the 6 way wiring connector and the readybrake cable. Otherwise, would have to figure out another place to put those. ...on my wife's new 2022 Wrangler we're going with the Maximus 3 Tow loops - they hang below the bumper, but not as far as the Blue Ox base plate. She decided she didn't want to change out the bumper... Hadn't seen those, but looking at it, not sure how you'd attach Blue ox style Clevis attachments to it?
willald 01/27/22 02:48pm Dinghy Towing
new towed vehicle - Jeep Wrangler

Well, for various reasons, we have decided to pull the trigger, and trade one of our older vehicles for a Jeep Wrangler. Wife and I both have always loved Jeeps, wanted to one day own one, and now we going to make that happen. :) Part of what motivated this as well was the fact that we live way out in the country where it is very hilly, and are finding that when it snows here, they do not plow or salt any of the roads. Hilly roads, unplowed and unsalted when it snows means, without a 4x4, you aren't getting out when it snows or roads get bad. We went with this silver 2018 Unlimited Sport model (JK). I wanted one that was built on a ladder frame (not unibody), so that was why we didn't look for anything newer than 2018, and wanted a JK model. We already have the Ford Taurus we tow behind the RV (4 down), and it is working fine. However, I definitely am planning on setting the new Jeep up to flat tow as well, as there are places we go where we'll want the Jeep instead of the Taurus. At any rate, that brings us to what I wanted to talk about here: Setting up a Jeep Wrangler for flat towing. We use the Readybrute/Readybrake on the Taurus, so will be setting up the Jeep with the Readybrake and Readystop cables. I will probably get a Cooltech wiring harness and wire in the Jeep tailights for flat towing. Any hints, suggestions on installing the wiring harness and readybrake cable, would be welcome. :) What I'm mostly struggling with right now has to do with the base plate set up in the front. I see a couple options: 1. Replace front bumper with one that allows you to bolt the Blue Ox brackets directly to the front, like the Rock Hard 4x4 Patriot or Rugged Ridge Spartan bumper. Really like this idea, but problem is, unless you spend a ton of $$ on an aluminum bumper, you are looking at a steel bumper that is very, very heavy. Don't want to make this jeep any heavier than it already is if I can avoid it. Are there any bumper options out there, that you can connect blue ox brackets to, aren't so heavy, and not so hard on the wallet? 2. Blue Ox base plate, installed right under the bumper - Really leaning this direction, but hate that it sits so low under the bumper, and vulnerable to a rock or something hitting it, as we do plan to do some off-roading now and then. 3. Currie Rock Jock tow bar mounting kit - This one replaces front air dam/chin under the bumper with a steel piece that has tow hooks incorporated into it, that tow bar would attach to. Like this one, too, and its definitely the least expensive, but questioning how strong it'd be, given the way it attaches. Its just bolted on top to the stock bumper, and on bottom to frame cross member. Doesn't bolt directly to frame rails like other ones do, so not sure if it'd be as solid. That, and the position of the tow hooks has me concerned it'd make the tow bar clevises rub up against bottom of the (stock) bumper. Soooo, Jeep owners that flat tow: What recommendations do you have, as far as how to set it up for towing? Anything else I need to know? We pick up the Jeep Saturday (can't wait!), would like to have it ready to flat tow by April for upcoming trip to the beach, so need to start ordering stuff fairly soon.
willald 01/27/22 07:57am Dinghy Towing
RE: Searching for the new motorhome

Like already said, you just gonna have to pound some pavement, and do some test driving, checking out, and decide what fits best for you. You definitely owe it to yourself to test drive a Class A built on the new F53 chassis with the big block 7.3 V8. Ford made some huge improvements to the chassis. Ford also now offers that same 7.3 V8 in the Class C chassis, so that would be worth checking out, too. We also went back and forth between class C and class A this last time when we downsized to the Newmar last August. The F550 based super C units are really nice, but we really, really prefer the cab of the A much better. Between that, and the fact I don't want no diesel, pretty much made it a no brainer. But, like already said and to answer your other question: No, there is no 'perfect', one size fits all RV. Everybody's needs, wants are different, and you just gotta figure out what works best for you.
willald 12/24/21 07:29am Class A Motorhomes
RE: Leveling Jack Pads/Slide Out Supports

I am not a fan of snap pads, or any pad you permanently mount on the end of your jacks. They can be very expensive, and they accomplish very little in terms of added stability. They reduce your ground clearance when on the road, too. On top of that, they do nothing to help you to level things out when on a very unlevel site. I much prefer my 'dirty wood blocks' and the way you can stack them at each corner to minimize how far your jacks have to extend, and drive one side up on them when site is very unlevel. Extending the jacks less is also easier on the jacks, and makes things much more stable inside. Much cheaper this way, too. If one cracks, all I have to do is go to a local lumber store and buy another piece of 2x10 or 2x12 and cut it (or have them cut it) into squares. As to slideout supports: I've never used them, nor ever owned an RV that recommended using them. Would probably be a good idea if you were going to be parked for extended periods, but not sure if they are worth the trouble, otherwise.
willald 11/01/21 02:45pm Class A Motorhomes
RE: Gasser guys and gals ...why not a diesel ?

For us, it boils down to several things, most of which have already been stated: 1. Don't like the smell of diesel 2. Don't want the extra expense, both up front and ongoing 3. Don't like the typical diesel floorplans, with main door in front of front seat (makes RV feel like a school bus). 4. Feel more comfortable, familiar maintaining a gas engine than a diesel 5. Prefer engine up front, not underneath rear bedroom like it is with so many diesels 6. Don't want something so massive like many diesels are - 40' is way too long, prefer more like 32' or so (and almost no diesels are built that small) 7. Don't like how the diesel drives (yes I've driven both). For some specifics around the last one (how a diesel drives vs gas), as I know some won't agree: A few years ago I test drove a brand new, very powerful diesel pusher RV (had 8.3L Cummins diesel, 380 HP and around 1000 ft-lb of torque as I recall - no slouch). Was considering trading up to such. I remember walking away afterward totally disappointed with how it drove, and seriously wondering why anyone would pay soooo much more $$ for a diesel. I just couldn't see it. Yes, air suspension and engine in back make it a quieter and smoother ride. However, I found that if you step on the accelerator on a diesel, it lugs, gurgles, and sloooowly gets up to speed. You do the same on a gasser, it drops down a gear, turns a few more RPMs, and it gets going, quickly. It just seemed the diesel had very little throttle response, and was very anemic compared to the gasser V10 I had at the time (and that was compared to a stout, very powerful diesel). I much prefer the throttle response a gas engine has, even if that means its a little louder up front. When Ford came out a year or two ago with the new F53 chassis with improved handling, and the big 7.3 V8 with even more 'throat' and throttle response...It became even more of a no-brainer decision for us. Ford really narrowed the gap even more with diesel pusher based RVs, when they came out with the new F53. All that said.....I hope the original poster's intention for this was to truly understand this matter, and not to just stir up yet another 100+ page debate on this subject.
willald 10/20/21 09:32am Class A Motorhomes
RE: Non-level campsites Class A

The owners manual for our 1990 Bounder had instructions for building the three level ramps discussed earlier in this post. They worked well for me. There was a little problem, however, they were darn heavy.... Yes, they can be heavy. My thoughts on that, though, is it makes for good, forced exercise. My fat butt needs the exercise, haha. When the kids come with us, I just have them lug those large blocks of wood. The exercise sure won't hurt them, either. :) That said, all the examples here deal with FRONT of the RV being low. The manuals for the Bounder and the Winnie note that when leveling when the rear is low, that blocks must go under all the rear tires not just one on each side. I've wondered about that, too, and seem to recall some discussions some time ago about whether or not both dually tires (inner and outer) need to be supported. What I've found (through many discussions, and many years experience doing it this way) is that NO, you do not need to support both the inner and outer dually tire when pulling the back end up on blocks. The outers are enough. That is, as long as you deploy your jacks as well. Main reason being, the rear jacks will be supporting a good bit of the weight. Especially since you would typically raise it a good bit more with the jacks even after putting back end on blocks, if you are that far off level. The tires will not have the entire weight of the back end on them. The jacks will be shouldering a good bit. You are mainly using the blocks under the outer tires to provide more lateral stability. One tire on each side gives you that in the back, just like it will in the front. Now, you *DO* need to get the entire (outer) tire tread supported/covered on the block, you don't want even a little bit hanging off the edge of the block. That can cause some premature tire failure. That is true for both the rear outer tire as well as the front tire, if you're raising the front. While it wouldn't be a bad idea to support both the inner and outer dually and would make things even more solid.....Not sure it'd be worth it to lug that many heavy pieces of wood around.
willald 10/13/21 03:16pm Class A Motorhomes
RE: 2015 Ford Focus flat tow damage

A Jeep Wrangler or a base model 1/2 ton 4X4 will be under 5k lbs. Right, but as I said in my post, 'unless you want a small SUV or pickup...'. Everything you mention here is just that, either a SUV or pickup.
willald 10/13/21 08:04am Dinghy Towing
RE: HOW did you choose your Class A ? ....

This is our 2nd Class A, and 5th RV overall. For us this time, it came down to a couple things: 1. Quality - I've spent enough time fixing shoddy construction and poor materials on our last RV, this time we decided to spend the extra $$ to get a quality built unit and hopefully avoid some of that. Newmar was about the best quality we could find anywhere without spending tons more on a diesel pusher (and we want nothing to do with diesel). 2. Floorplan - We have learned over the years camping, a couple things we really wanted in a floorplan that hadn't had before - dinette on camping side, bed facing toward camping side with plenty of windows for ventilation, residential refrigerator, larger shower, fantastic fans for ventilation. The Newmar 3014 unit seemed to fit all that better than any we looked at, and in a smaller size like we wanted (see below). 3. Size - We wanted something fairly smaller this time,32' or less. Kids no longer camp with us so we don't need bunks or so much space anymore, and we wanted to be able to get into more remote, rustic sites. Also, we do a good bit of 'boondocking', and a smaller unit makes it easier to do that. As to what I'd do different: Honestly, can't really think of anything. We took our time with this one, did our homework, and got just exactly what we wanted, needed. ...As you're probably going to see from the responses on this, everybody's needs, wants are different, and there is no one size fits all when it comes to RVs.
willald 10/13/21 07:52am Class A Motorhomes
RE: Non-level campsites Class A

The blocks I built where for Dad's trailer. He had made some (I re-used the boards) He had laid out the holes, drove inch long screws drove halfway in and then holes for the heads to fit in. They bothered me because I know boards split, and wood screws, with their points, can flatten a tire. The carriage bolts, if split out of wood will have a round head on 1 end, and a nut on the other. If it does go thru a tire, tire is ruined, but the ends are large enough not likely to stick in tread. Yes, I know all too well how boards can split, and how the sharp pointy side of a wood screw could flatten a tire. I thought about that a lot, when I was figuring out how to build these boards/ramps several years ago. That was why I made sure all wood screws holding it together have pretty large, flat heads, and are pointing DOWN. Also, they are all located near the outside edges of the boards. This way, even if a board cracks, its very, very unlikely a screw would find its way into a tire. Been using these boards for several years with two different Motorhomes now, never had a problem yet. Welll, except for the groaning and complaining I get from teenage kids whenever I ask them to help me get them out, and put them away when we leave. :) .... Another idea would be sandwich rubber belt (Mud flap?) between the bottom 2 layers, with a tongue sticking out long enough to be under the tire before it hits the ramp. This would make sure they did not slide as you pull on. Hey, I like that idea! Sometimes I do have a problem with the board sliding out when driving up onto it. Rubber flap sandwiched in like you describe here would definitely fix that problem. Just might have to look into doing that.
willald 10/13/21 07:17am Class A Motorhomes
RE: Non-level campsites Class A

This guy seemed to have no problem for past two days where Im at. This particular spot was the worst in the entire park. All kinds of roots busting up the asphalt. Camp host said it is only used when someone is desperate and all slots are taken. I wasnt here when he was leveling but my wife and our friends cringed as he was trying to get things level. At one point they swore it was going to tip over Mike Wow. I bet it felt like walking on a swinging bridge inside that Motorhome, with one end raised that high on just jacks. Looks like a real good way to bend a jack and have a very inconvenient and expensive repair bill. I would've just drove the front end up onto the third level of the wood blocks I've built for this that was just discussing. If that wasn't enough, in some extreme cases I've been known to also whip out the portable shovel, and dig a hole for the tires on the high side, and drive them into it.
willald 10/13/21 07:04am Class A Motorhomes
RE: Non-level campsites Class A

Go to a lumber store, buy you a 2x12 or two, and cut it up into a bunch of squares. Throw a bunch of them in your outside storage. I'm not real smart. Instead of cutting squares, would it be better to cut different lengths so you can stack short on long, drive up a ramp? Good point. I should have been more specific about how I cut up the boards. I actually bolted a total of 3 pieces of 2x12 together, stacked 3 high. Top piece is about 12” long, 2nd piece is about 24” long, and bottom piece is about 3’ long. Provides stair steps to drive up, basically - 3 different steps/levels I can drive the wheels up on, depending on how far off level. I built two of them, carry those as well as a handful of square pieces for the jacks. I cut some 2X8s with 6 inches different lengths. Then drilled pilot holes thru the stack for alinement. Used 7/8 paddle bit top of half the holes, and 3/8 thru the others. I put carriage bolts thru with nuts and washers. Decide how tall stack, the nuts drop in the large holes to keep boards in line. Now plastic blocks use similar idea. But I have never seen plastic long enough for a tandem. Yeah, I quit using the plastic blocks when we got the motorhome. Those plastic one work OK for towable RVs, but don’t trust them to handle the weight of a class A. Good idea on the carriage bolts. I just screwed all 3 on mine together somewhat permanent, with long wood screws.
willald 10/12/21 06:40pm Class A Motorhomes
RE: Non-level campsites Class A

Go to a lumber store, buy you a 2x12 or two, and cut it up into a bunch of squares. Throw a bunch of them in your outside storage. I'm not real smart. Instead of cutting squares, would it be better to cut different lengths so you can stack short on long, drive up a ramp? Good point. I should have been more specific about how I cut up the boards. I actually bolted a total of 3 pieces of 2x12 together, stacked 3 high. Top piece is about 12” long, 2nd piece is about 24” long, and bottom piece is about 3’ long. Provides stair steps to drive up, basically - 3 different steps/levels I can drive the wheels up on, depending on how far off level. I built two of them, carry those as well as a handful of square pieces for the jacks.
willald 10/12/21 04:14pm Class A Motorhomes
RE: Non-level campsites Class A

Go to a lumber store, buy you a 2x12 or two, and cut it up into a bunch of squares. Throw a bunch of them in your outside storage. When you first get to a site, check how level you are before turning on the hydraulic jacks. If you are way off level, set some blocks up and drive whichever side is lowest onto some blocks. Get it as close to level as you can with blocks, first. Use rest of the blocks under the jacks to limit how far they have to extend. I don’t like to ever lift any wheel off the ground, front or back. Can put too much lateral stress on jacks, and makes the RV more shaky inside. Tires (all of them) being on the ground (or on blocks) gives you more lateral stability. Oh, and expect that every so often, your blocks will crack and become firewood. That’s why you cut up several blocks, so you have some spares when that happens.
willald 10/10/21 05:32pm Class A Motorhomes
RE: 2015 Ford Focus flat tow damage

After reading all the post . It looks like if you have a unibody car you are on your own when you have any base plate installed to it . The only sure way is not to tow a unibody unless you you know the stresses points on your car . A full frame car would be the best way to go . How many cars are still made that way, with a full frame, flat towable, and fit within the 5k towing limit many have? Unless you want a small SUV or pickup, I’m thinking, none.
willald 10/09/21 01:23pm Dinghy Towing
RE: 2015 Ford Focus flat tow damage

M still thinking this is from operator error. There are hundreds of people towing a Focus with no issues. I asked before but no answer. Are you making sure the steering wheel is unlocked? Yes, he did answer this, in the very next post after you asked such. He stated, the steering is unlocked, and he watched as he went around turns to make sure wheels were turning. Does seem odd that he experienced such a horrible failure here, yet nobody else towing Focuses had this problem. Makes me think, like I said before, this was more of issues with this one particular Focus when it was built, and not indicative of a problem all Focuses necessarily have or will have.
willald 09/28/21 01:58pm Dinghy Towing
RE: Charging a towed vehicle's battery

It is true that the MH will have an 'always hot' pin in the back, usually part of the 7 pin connector back there. HOWEVER, as someone previously stated, do NOT assume that said pin is indeed hot. Check it with your voltmeter! On Ford's F53 chassis, they do NOT wire that pin to 12V power from the factory. Neither do most RV manufacturers. We learned this with our Newmar we just bought a few months ago. On ours, Newmar *did* run the wire from up under the dashboard, right out to the 7 pin connector at the back; They just didn't connect it at either end. I had to do that, before the charge wire would work. Sooo, whether you use a simple charge wire or some kind of charger...Don't assume the wire thats supposed to be always hot, is. Check it with the voltmeter first.
willald 09/28/21 01:42pm Dinghy Towing
RE: Spouse left behind after death at a Campsite, what to do?

As one that lived through (survived) two wives passing away already (and I'm only 52)..... I've dealt with a lot of the brutal emotions, heartache, and chaos of losing someone close to you. And, all the difficult things you have to do as the surviving spouse afterward. When it feels like your life is shattered to pieces and you are stuck in neutral while everyone else is moving on around you like nothing happened. Been there, hope I never have to go through that again. Granted, I never had it happen while camping, that would be a whole nother story. Cheryl (wife) pretty well knows how everything works with our Class A, and is fine with driving it (and she does quite a bit). She wanted to learn, know from day 1 how it all worked when we first got married 2 years ago. I have complete confidence that she could easily break camp completely and get the rig home, if something was to happen to me. She might need a little help here and there, but she would handle it. But, man, oh man, I don't want to even think about her having to go through that. I've told her many times how brutal losing someone that close to you is, I don't wish that on my worst enemy. I never, ever want her to have to go through that. We gonna have to leave this world together at the same time, or she gonna have to go first.
willald 09/20/21 09:46am General RVing Issues
RE: Onan’s New Inverter Based Generators - Mike Mas

Hmmm, interesting discussion. Not going to get into the debate of just how long Onan has had inverter style diesel generators. I'll just say this: When Onan comes out with a fuel injected, inverter version of their 5500 watt gas generator used in many gas class A motorhomes.....THAT, would be a huge, very welcome improvement. I could be tempted to do a genny upgrade for something like that, one day.
willald 09/20/21 09:16am Class A Motorhomes
RE: “Pathetic quality”: RV dealers are fed up...

Quality and inexpensive do not fit in the same sentence - ever. We can sometimes choose one or the other, but not both....... Personally, I'd rather cry about price, buy a product once, and have it last more than two days beyond warranty. This is exactly right, and is the reason why last month when we finally decided to downsize to a somewhat smaller RV, we went with a Newmar coach (see signature, although haven't updated the picture yet). I was tired of making repairs and finding cheap and shoddy construction on the last rig we owned. Decided this time, we'd pony up a few more $$ and get one known for better quality. So far, we've found it is just that. Hmmmmmm...."Downsizing" - you went from (?......?) to a 30' Newmar with a sticker price of $156K. Not picking on you, but some folks just might consider that serious "up-sizing" & "out of their league" from what *they* have now! :W Downsizing, in the sense that we went from a 36’ bunkhouse coach to a 31’ unit that’s designed more for just 2, since kids outgrew the bunks and don’t camp with us anymore. You right, though, was not a down size in terms of $$$ at all, haha.
willald 09/15/21 09:36pm General RVing Issues
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