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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
REQUEST for input: Have you installed RoadMaster (or similar) Tow Bar + Base Plates on GEN-1 RAV4? My parts list nearly complete-- will post TOOLS LIST + PART NUMBERS for anyone who wants to tow RAV4 behind Class A Motorhome. Researching this extensively-- never dinghy-towed (all 4-wheels down) a car. RV community loathes Tow Dollies (...dolly must be street licensed/registered; can be stolen; RV Parks frequently charge $5/day & require dollies to be stored "not at your RV site"; pertinent to me: dolly adds weight to towing configuration, of note as I'm 1/ Only 24-ft. RV 2/ gasoline, not diesel; etc.).

SPECIAL REQUEST: 1// I'd benefit from input on electrical wiring job. E.g., my 1998 Safari Trek rear tow hitch wiring pigtail is 4-POLE but RoadMASTER is 7-Pole. I'm aware of 4-POLE-->7-POLE Adapters. 2// ''Where" exactly do Base Plates attach? RoadMaster sent photos that look like mystery maps of Arctic tundra to me. 3// Ideas how to attach my IronHorse Grille Guard after Base Plates are installed?!

TENTATIVE PARTS LIST: based on my research this week:

  • TOW BAR: ​ RoadMaster #522 Falcon All Terrain 6000-Lb. Capacity $738
  • BASE PLATES: ​RoadMaster #1142-3 Removable Arms XL $321
  • ​COMBO KIT: RoadMaster #9243-1 (Josh) Tow Bar Combo Kit $235
  • Blue Ox BRK2016 Patriot Ii portable Auxiliary Braking System $1,064.95
If anyone knows where to obtain these parts cheaper: please advise. Local RV and truck hitch shops have quoted $3,250-$4,100 for this job-- another reason to DIY. Also, all hardware pieces must be attached w/ Red LocTite and Torqued-to-Spec-- which I can't guarantee these shops "would execute properly."
 

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Don't do the blue ox or any of the ones that you have to install and remove everytime you tow or want to use the vehicle. Get a permanently installed aux braking system like the SMI STAY-IN-PLAY DUO or the SMI Air Force One, one time install and all is good anytime you want to quickly disconnect and use your car.
 

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I already gave you my parts list that I used, but here it is again.
- Motorhome RAV4 wheels down (dinghy or TOAD) tow project. And yes she can be towed wheels down as long as it's a manual transmission, see TSB Number: AX001-00 Bulletin Title: TOYOTA "DINGHY" TOWING GUIDE Release Date: March 17, 2000 Applicable Year(s): 1996-2000
-- SMI STAY-IN-PLAY DUO 9599006, (rvupgradestore.com). A supplemental and breakaway braking system for towed vehicles and trailers are required by most states and it just makes good sense.
-- Toyota RAV4 1999, XL Baseplate Bracket by Roadmaster, (CARiD.com) - allows the tow bar to connect to the RAV4, working, requires the brush guard mounts to be modified and welded to the baseplate brackets if I want to keep the brush guard which I definitely do.
-- Hopkins 47185 Multi-Tow Adapter, 7 way, (amazon.com), Mar 2018. I installed this on my brush guard so I could easily plug the pigtail between my RV and ¡Ay, Caramba!
-- Roadmaster 154 Universal Wiring Kit, (amazon.com), Mar 2018 - with this kit the RAV4 signal and parking lamps are used by the motorhome
-- Pigtail (power cord) between motorhome and Ay Caramba, Mar 2018
--- MICTUNING Heavy Duty 7 Way Plug Inline Trailer Cord with Double Prongs Connector, 8 Feet, Weatherproof (amazon.com). This cord only has one connector because it is intended to be hardwired to a trailer but I want it to be removable so I added the following connector.
--- Reese Towpower 74127 Plastic 7-Way Flat Blade Trailer End Connector (amazon.com)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
eodgator,
In all fairness, I did look at Demco SMI Stay-in-Play Duo Towed Vehicle Braking System on Amazon, where -0- reviews always gives me pause. Also, SMI had no instructional video on Amazon + only one photo posted. SMI's Amazon presentation made me edgy-- doesn't show any electronics, air lines, attachments: just a ''black box" (!) (making me nervous that their Instructions would be equally sketchy). I do like that SMI is c. $300 cheaper than Patriot.

Thus, I read reviews of a similar (i.e., permanently installed) system: RoadMaster's InvisiBrake, whose Amazon reviews = 8% 1-Star, beyond my upper limit of 7%. InvisiBrake reviewers commented that it was "hard" (an aircraft mechanic!) to install-- in frustration, some returned the units to Amazon. Advantage to portable systems, e.g., Blue Ox Patriot: 1/ No firewall involvement; 2/ No installing air lines; 3/ It's proportional; 4/ Portable, so I can transfer it to another dinghy; 5/ Easy set-up-- I don't mind removing it when I'm done towing; 6/ Doesn't requite tapping into my brake lines-- I turned GREEN when I read that!
You know I'm open-minded. You know I research everything to the nth-Degree. Will look again at SMI or InvisiBrake if presented w/ good reason. Shop I was going to "hire" to R&R tow package claims they get fewest Cust. complaints w/ Blue Ox Patriot. Other RVers said "Get BrakeBuddy"-- that it preceded Patriot; both are portables, which appeals to me.
 

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If you take a look at etrailer for their reviews and it is overwhelmingly positive for the SMI Stay-IN-Play DUO and SMI Air Force One. I have found from experience that a lot of negative reviews on items that require installation are because people with little or no mechanical skills buy things they couldn't hope to install themselves, bungle it and write poor reviews. On the internet everyone is an engineer or some kind of expert, I also work with engineers and being an engineer does not mean that they know anything about actually working with tools.

This is why I won't do a portable system again. It was dark, cold, and heavy blowing rain when I pulled over and stopped for fuel at a truckstop; while filling a tractor trailer rig hit another blocking me from pulling forward. To back up I had to disconnect my TOAD so I could reverse. Needless to say disconnecting power, breakaway, and the tow bar was bad enough but then I had to disconnect and move the portable aux brake so now the interior of my car is wet as well. Now I'm not too happy, wet, and cold but I get backed out, and now I have to reconnect everything so I could get going again. After that no more portables, one less thing to have to worry about.

A quick search on youtube has many installation videos for the SMI products, many made by etrailer.com.

You don't actually tap into the brake lines, just the vacuum lines to actuate the brake booster for the car. You do cut into the air brake lines on the RV, however, worst case scenario, if there is a catastrophic failure of the aux brake system, the worst that will happen is that the air brakes will engage. Air brakes release with pressurized air and release with loss of pressure.

This is just my opinion everyone has one and go with what you trust.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Update. Purchased Acme Tow Dolly. Comes standard w/ surge (inertia) brake actuator operating dual disc brakes. Wasn't comfortable towing 4-down. Was it eodgator who said our vehicles were never truly engineered to be towed all-down? In any event, dolly towing removes front end from equation. Price (I bought used unit manufactured 01/2018) was 1/2 to 1/3 the cost of tow-bar system. Resale value of dollies (wide applications) much higher than tow bars (narrow applications). From practice of tracking down RAV4 parts, I found (after several hours research) an esoteric exterior dust-cap cover for brake reservoir --one Vendor wanted to charge me $41.xx, another tried selling me a dust cover for the axle hub. Another supplier was without clue. Hunted the part down 10-mi. up the road: $4.00. The power of dogged persistence.

P.S. Will figure out a way to safety-wire the wafer-thin, plastic dust cap to subvert recurring disappearances.
 

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It wasn't me who said the manual 1st generation RAV4 wasn't meant to be towed 4 wheels down. Glad you found a solution.

Don't forget to get a rock shield for your RAV.

The biggest issue with dolly towing is that if or more like when you get into that position where you have to disconnect your tow car to reverse out of a situation, it takes quite a while to do so. The only advantage is that you can tow pretty much tow any front wheel drive car that will fit the dolly.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
As always eodgator thank you for your insightful input.

1. Ideas on where to obtain rock guard for this Acme dolly? All I've found so far-- one that fits RoadMaster dolly.
2. My motorhome mud guards effectively reach the ground & run entire width of rear end: would I still need a rock guard?

3. I have a car cover -- would it get ripped to shreds if I traveled on highway w/ that installed on RAV4?


Again, thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
eodgator

Rock Guard installed on rear of my motorhome: do you deem this sufficient protection for RAV4? Thank you as always--

 

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The tow dolly is your cheapest way to go. I have a 4 down towing setup on my 2009, 2WD, 4 speed auto, and have towed about 30,000 miles. This transmission must have a lube pump (Remco) to circulate the tranny fluid. I use the the SMI Stay N Play brake system. My base plate and tow bar is Roadmaster and their initial design was inadequate and broke, pulling my entire front bumper fascia off along with a lot of damage. After a 3 month investigation, Roadmaster determined it was a design fault. They went out and purchased an older RAV (Gen 3), redesigned the base plate attachment points, reimbursed me for all the damage, and provided me a new base plate and tow bar. No worries now, but we had a potentially dangerous; even potentially fatal, incident. Roadmaster is a good company that cares about their customers' safety. I believe 2012 was the last year that any RAV4 or any variety could be towed 4 down without potential damage to the drive train.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
jbwood5,
Thanks for your upbeat input. I am in-progress of detailing the used Acme dolly I bought 15MAY2019. Today installed a StowAway Hitch Tightener and a locking trailer hitch pin.
 

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The tow dolly is your cheapest way to go. I have a 4 down towing setup on my 2009, 2WD, 4 speed auto, and have towed about 30,000 miles. This transmission must have a lube pump (Remco) to circulate the tranny fluid. I use the the SMI Stay N Play brake system. My base plate and tow bar is Roadmaster and their initial design was inadequate and broke, pulling my entire front bumper fascia off along with a lot of damage. After a 3 month investigation, Roadmaster determined it was a design fault. They went out and purchased an older RAV (Gen 3), redesigned the base plate attachment points, reimbursed me for all the damage, and provided me a new base plate and tow bar. No worries now, but we had a potentially dangerous; even potentially fatal, incident. Roadmaster is a good company that cares about their customers' safety. I believe 2012 was the last year that any RAV4 or any variety could be towed 4 down without potential damage to the drive train.
Are you saying that the manual transmission 1st generation RAV4 requires a lube pump? It isn't mentioned in TSB Number: AX001-00 Bulletin Title: TOYOTA "DINGHY" TOWING GUIDE Release Date: March 17, 2000 Applicable Year(s): 1996-2000.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
eodgator,
I caught that too. Had to consider option that JBWOOD5 has manual transmission-- but double-checked post, which clearly states it's a ''4-speed auto" automatic transmission.
 

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eodgator

Rock Guard installed on rear of my motorhome: do you deem this sufficient protection for RAV4? Thank you as always--


Yes, that should work.
 

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As always eodgator thank you for your insightful input.

1. Ideas on where to obtain rock guard for this Acme dolly? All I've found so far-- one that fits RoadMaster dolly.
2. My motorhome mud guards effectively reach the ground & run entire width of rear end: would I still need a rock guard?
3. I have a car cover -- would it get ripped to shreds if I traveled on highway w/ that installed on RAV4?

Again, thanks.
1 & 2. The one you have should be fine.
3. A car cover wouldn't take the punishment and could be a hazard.
 

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I'm glad you got some input on this from someone other than just me, I asked about this a while back and got no input from anyone. So I referred to friends that tow other brand cars and based my decisions on their inputs.

Does the dolly have a breakaway brake? It's necessary in many states.

I'm glad you found a suitable solution to towing your RAV4. It looks like you thought it out and have all the bases covered.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
eodgator,
I appreciate your quick replies. When I grow up, I want to be just like you, and trick out my RAV4 as you have.

Good to know that the stiff rock guard flaps on rear of my motorhome will (help) protect RAV4-on-dolly. Thank you again for making this transition into the motorhome-towing-car lifestyle more enjoyable. A BEAR in Arizona & Florida being sans-RAV4, w/ expense of those goofy rental cars. And not having the RAV4 nigh to tinker on.

Cheers, friend.
 

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eodgator,
I caught that too. Had to consider option that JBWOOD5 has manual transmission-- but double-checked post, which clearly states it's a ''4-speed auto" automatic transmission.
Guys, it is an automatic, and in my application it requires a lube pump. I realize we are in a different generation of RAV, but just wanted to share what I was doing. Now that the towing will be by a tow dolly, most of what I posted is not pertinent to this case. It may help others though. The RAV is a fairly rare vehicle to tow behind a motorhome although I got my ideas from someone who had (I believe it was on the IRV2 board) and I already had the vehicle. Setup was not easy, but the vehicle tows good and tracks very good. As with all 4 down towing applications, you can not back up much without causing damage. With the tow dolly, backing is possible with care and lots of practice.

Good luck with the project and happy RVing.
 

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eodgator,
I appreciate your quick replies. When I grow up, I want to be just like you, and trick out my RAV4 as you have.

Good to know that the stiff rock guard flaps on rear of my motorhome will (help) protect RAV4-on-dolly. Thank you again for making this transition into the motorhome-towing-car lifestyle more enjoyable. A BEAR in Arizona & Florida being sans-RAV4, w/ expense of those goofy rental cars. And not having the RAV4 nigh to tinker on.

Cheers, friend.
Thanks friend. :cheers:

Techsus you need to start a garage and post all your maintenance and upgrades.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
eodgator,
Yes, my 2018 Acme tow dolly (referenced above, purchased 15MAY2019) has both 1/ Breakaway Brake & 2/ Surge (Inertia) Disc Brakes.
 
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