Lessons learned - setting up a JL as a TOAD - long read

Whaler27

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I’ve been looking at the Maximus-3 tow loops as well and really do like the looks of them, however there could be a couple of issues when using the Roadmaster adapters #rm-035. The first one being they are made to fit a 3/4” lug and the Maximus-3 tow loops are only 5/8”. Could be rectified with some spacers. The second issue is the adapters look to come up against the bumper when the tow bar travels upward as in this photo. But definitely like the looks of those Maximus-3 tow loops

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They fit pretty snugly. I wouldn’t want the adaptors to be any tighter. In theory there’s 1/8” of extra space — so about 1/16th on each side of the bracket, but the epoxy/paint thickness on the brackets may vary a bit. They slide over and mount up easily, but I don’t see any evidence of excessive movement or wear from towing.

I have the Roadmaster tow bar that’s designed for towing over uneven terrain. I think it’s more tolerant than some, but I’m still set up so, with the Jeep lifted as it is, the tow bar is very close to horizontal when both vehicles are on flat ground. I haven’t gone through any significant ditches or obstacles, but we did travel the interstate through Salt Lake City last year. (Utah interstate included lots of unexpected dips, drops, and twists... Drops big enough to bottom-out the suspension HARD three times in fifty miles, and we were driving 10-15 mph below the speed limit. Utah roads made Michigan, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey roads look great, and we used to think THEY were the worst roads the country had to offer.) We’ve put about 5,000 miles on the Tow set up so far, with lots of trips over speed bumps and in and out of parking lots. We‘ve also gone over some drainage cuts that rolled the coach enough to throw all the food out of the fridge at less than 5 mph. So far, none of the drops or deflections has been enough to bind the tow bar or rub it against the bumper. Our coach won’t tolerate much more than it saw last summer, so I think the tow bar is probably okay.





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Bruceter

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They fit pretty snugly. I wouldn’t want the adaptors to be any tighter. In theory there’s 1/8” of extra space — so about 1/16th on each side of the bracket, but the epoxy/paint thickness on the brackets may vary a bit. They slide over and mount up easily, but I don’t see any evidence of excessive movement or wear from towing.

I have the Roadmaster tow bar that’s designed for towing over uneven terrain. I think it’s more tolerant than some, but I’m still set up so, with the Jeep lifted as it is, the tow bar is very close to horizontal When both vehicles are on flat ground. I haven’t gone through any significant ditches or obstacles, but we did travel the interstate through Salt Lake City last year. (Utah interstate included lots of unexpected dips, drops, and twists... Drops big enough to bottom-out the suspension HARD three times in fifty miles, and we were driving 10-15 mph below the speed limit. Utah roads made Michigan, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey roads look great, and we used to think THEY were the worst roads the country had to offer.) We’ve put about 5,000 miles on the Tow set up so far, with lots of trips over speed bumps and in and out of parking lots. We‘ve also gone over some drainage cuts that rolled the coach enough to throw all the food out of the fridge at less than 5 mph. So far, none of the drops or deflections has been enough to bind the tow bar or rub it against the bumper. Our coach won’t tolerate much more than it saw last summer, so I think the tow bar is probably okay.
Whaler, thanks for responding on those possible issues I had read about. I have the Roadmaster Nighthawk tow bar which is supposed to be an all terrain tow bar as well. I may have to have another look at the Maximus-3 tow loops

thanks
Bruce
 
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Captain Skip

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Looks like a set of .50 cal machine guns! Helps keep the riff raff out of your way!! All kidding aside, nice job setting it up with the skid shield. Very clean looking install, it looks much better than the other ones I've seen.
 
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IrnBear

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Looks like a set of .50 cal machine guns! Helps keep the riff raff out of your way!! All kidding aside, nice job setting it up with the skid shield. Very clean looking install, it looks much better than the other ones I've seen.
Thnaks, I'm really happy with the way it turned out.. It was pretty simple to install. There are usually caps on the holes (they're in the MH at the moment :)
That's the Demco baseplate
I like the look, now I like it even better with the .50 cal image in my head :LOL:
 

fredT

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Fred, I'm the type of person who due to my OCD personality researches the living sh&t out of everything before I buy it. When I got the JK and wanted to set it up as a TOAD I first figured out what I didn't want. I didn't want a supplemental brake system that was a box sitting on the floor under the steering wheel that would have to be taken out to use the vehicle. There are other systems that permanently mount a box under the driver's seat but they have a bar that attaches to the brake arm too. Same thing, more stuff to unhook before driving the Jeep.

I found a Youtube video where a guy was chronicling his set up on his JK and that's where I found out about the Readybrute tow bar. I picked that one because of the simplicity of the system. There's a cable attached to the brake pedal that goes through a supplied thimble in the firewall to a mounting position under the front bumper. In my case I picked the same tow plate the guy in the Youtube video recommended, the Rockjock. It looks like a skidplate not a snowplow frame like the Blue Ox or Roadmaster towplates/frames. I drilled a hole in the towplate and mounted the end of the conduit for the brake cable there. There's a loop at the end of the cable that sticks out of the conduit. A spring clip attaches to the loop and to an arm on the towbar. When the brakes are applied on the RV the momentum of the Jeep pushes the towbar forward which due to it's design causes the arm to move forward pulling on the cable. This pulls the brake pedal on the Jeep applying the brakes. Simple, no electronics just a stainless steel aircraft grade cable. When I get to where I'm going I pull the two pins holding the towbar to the towplate, take off the safety chains, unclip the brake cable from the loop and unplug the electric umbilical cord. That's it, no boxes to move on the floor of the Jeep, no arms to disengage from the brake pedal.

If you already have a Blue Ox towbar you can use that with the Readybrake system. They sell an insert that is just the brake lever portion that would go between your Blue Ox and the receiver hitch. https://www.readybrake.com/store/p1/ReadyBrake™_Towed_Vehicle_Supplemental_Brake_System_(2"_Receiver_Style).html

The towplate that Rockjock makes for the JL is a bit smaller than the one for the JK but it still looks more like a skid plate than a snowplow frame. There's a couple other threads about it here on the forum with photos. Rockjock is known for their heavy duty suspension products and they built the towplate the same way. I've compared it to the Blue Ox and Roadmaster towplates and there's no comparison, the Rockjock is built much more solidly. I have Blue Ox clevis connectors on the end of my towbar and they fit the Rockjock perfectly.
Captain Skip, So I cancelled the Blue Ox tow plate and opted for the Rock Jock plate. Still trying to decide on the breaking system. Question? About the Ready Brake system - Does the cable to the brake pedal remain in place? Or is that something you have to remove when driving the Jeep?
 
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Captain Skip

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Captain Skip, So I cancelled the Blue Ox tow plate and opted for the Rock Jock plate. Still trying to decide on the breaking system. Question? About the Ready Brake system - Does the cable to the brake pedal remain in place? Or is that something you have to remove when driving the Jeep?
The cable stays in place, that's the nice thing about it. The main cable moves back and forth when you apply the brakes so it's not in the way. If you stand in front of the Jeep and have someone press the brake pedal you can see the cable loop move in and out. Installation is simple, 5/16" hole directly behind the brake pedal through the firewall and attach the thimble on the cable conduit. Zip tie the conduit up to the front end and attach it there. In my case I drilled a hold in the Rockjock towplate and had the cable conduit attach there. The emergency braking cable stays in place. There's a loop in the cable under the dashboard that gets attached to the brake pedal and another loop/eye that I keep hidden just behind the bumper. Hopefully that cable will never move and if it does a scratch on the bottom of your bumper will be the least of your worries. It will only activate if your towbar disconnects letting the TOAD go. You don't need to do anything when unhooking other than unplug the umbilical/electric, unclip the brake cable and unclip the emergency breakaway cable. Hop in the driver's seat and drive away. I looked at the supplemental brake systems at Camping World and they're all cumbersome and have to be moved out of the way before driving the vehicle, that's what sold me on the Readybrake system. This video really explains the whole thing and is what convinced me to go with it.
 

fredT

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Captain Skip,

So I purchased the Curt harness 58964 that you installed on your JL. I installed it today along with the tow harness 58920 that Curt has a plug built into on the 58964 (it is a plug and play system). Anyway I tested all the lights on the trailer plug (have not finished the 6way switch on the 58964 yet). When I tested the trailer lights only the blinkers worked, both brakes and 4ways would not work. Have you had any experience with that tow harness? Any similar problems? I sent a message to Curt Manufacturing but have not heard anything yet.

Additionally I plan to do something similar to your motorhome dashboard light with the third brake light, plus install a small LED light behind the rear view mirror on the Jeep that will come on through the Ready Brute tow bar wiring that is built into the hitch. That way I’ll see the dash light on the RV, and at the same time be able to see when the brakes are engaged through the tow bar by looking through the rear camera. (Just as a double check).

I did install the Currie (Rock Jock) base plate to use with the NSA Ready Brute Tow Bar system, and break away. (Although in a hurry cut into the cable behind the brake pedal and have a replacement ordered). I’m hoping to get this wrapped up by late this week if everything arrives in time. Thanks for your time.
 
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Captain Skip

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Captain Skip,

So I purchased the Curt harness 58964 that you installed on your JL. I installed it today along with the tow harness 58920 that Curt has a plug built into on the 58964 (it is a plug and play system). Anyway I tested all the lights on the trailer plug (have not finished the 6way switch on the 58964 yet). When I tested the trailer lights only the blinkers worked, both brakes and 4ways would not work. Have you had any experience with that tow harness? Any similar problems? I sent a message to Curt Manufacturing but have not heard anything yet.

Additionally I plan to do something similar to your motorhome dashboard light with the third brake light, plus install a small LED light behind the rear view mirror on the Jeep that will come on through the Ready Brute tow bar wiring that is built into the hitch. That way I’ll see the dash light on the RV, and at the same time be able to see when the brakes are engaged through the tow bar by looking through the rear camera. (Just as a double check).

I did install the Currie (Rock Jock) base plate to use with the NSA Ready Brute Tow Bar system, and break away. (Although in a hurry cut into the cable behind the brake pedal and have a replacement ordered). I’m hoping to get this wrapped up by late this week if everything arrives in time. Thanks for your time.
That’s strange, mine worked fine when I checked them. Maybe double check the ground in the electronic box for the trailer lights and make sure you’ve got a good connection at the battery for the power. You can’t plug the harness in backwards because there’s a male plug and a female plug for each side. I plugged my trailer light harness in directly to the JL taillight plugs then plugged the harness that goes to the 6 way plug in between the trailer harness plug and the JL wiring. I don’t know if that has any effect on it or not. My JL lights went dead after about 5 minutes so that may be it. There’s a timer built into the system that’s shuts everything off after a couple minutes. That’s why I added the additional brake switch to power the center mounted brake light and the LED light to tell me the brakes are applied.
 

fredT

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That’s strange, mine worked fine when I checked them. Maybe double check the ground in the electronic box for the trailer lights and make sure you’ve got a good connection at the battery for the power. You can’t plug the harness in backwards because there’s a male plug and a female plug for each side. I plugged my trailer light harness in directly to the JL taillight plugs then plugged the harness that goes to the 6 way plug in between the trailer harness plug and the JL wiring. I don’t know if that has any effect on it or not. My JL lights went dead after about 5 minutes so that may be it. There’s a timer built into the system that’s shuts everything off after a couple minutes. That’s why I added the additional brake switch to power the center mounted brake light and the LED light to tell me the brakes are applied.
So I finished up the wiring for the 6way plug yesterday and tested it today. Everything there works fine. I used a 4way plug for taillight wiring in case I decide I need to replace bumper later, (will just be a plug and play). I also left two wire tales, one for a 12 volt tap and the other is for the electric brake wire which I may use for the LED light on the MH dash. Was going to set up the hitch today too but had a really long honeydew list. I used a steel spacer on the Currie base plate with the 45 degree angle to bring the brake cable out level. Additionally I cut a hole in the plastic bumper thinking it was flat against the steel backer plate, ends up there’s about a 2.5” space there with the fog light cable running right through where I cut the hole. Well guess what I had to replace? The fog light cable was spliced and reinstalled (and tested before putting the bumper back on). It looks great and is a really clean installation, I think I’ll be very happy towing this Jeep behind the motorhome. Included some photos to show the finished product.

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I wanted a aftermarket aluminum bumper for weight savings because I wanted a winch also. RockHard offers a couple bumpers that filled all my needs with flat-towing options also. A complete Blue-Ox towing system and Cooltech wiring harness made it as easy as following insturction can be. 30,000+miles and no issues, who wouldn't like that.
 

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