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Old 04-03-2022, 04:27 PM   #1
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Tow bar for Cherokee Trailhawk

So, I should have the Jeep in a couple of weeks. I'm trying to source everything I need for flat towing.
I want an installed brake system, so I'm leaning to an RVibrake shadow for the braking system, but I'm not sure what tow bar to use. I like Blue Ox, and since they don't require an external cross bar, they should be easier to set up. Looking at the specs, they still weigh almost 50lbs, so I have some questions.
Do you just leave the tow bar locked to the hitch all of the time when you're at your destination? Are you able to drive the MH with the hitch folded up if not towing? I can see it just staying on if it can lock in the folded position.

Also, for those who have set up Jeeps, how did you set up your tail and brake lights? Most of the suppliers just sell a complete harness that you have to run all the way to the rear of the vehicle, and the necessary diodes. I believe they do this as a sure fire way to guarantee that your setup won't interfere with vehicle electronics, and it's a one size fits all solution. when I set up my Malibu, I just verified via the wiring diagram that the BC module wouldn't allow the 2 different sources to connect, and tapped into the appropriate wires.
I'm thinking that there has to be a way to tap into the Jeep wiring without running a complete separate harness.
The only place I found that has complete setups are E-trailer, but I don't care for the Roadmaster setup, especially the way the base plate installs on the Cherokee. Is there anyone else who sells complete setups?
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Old 04-03-2022, 04:46 PM   #2
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Yes. NSA sells a complete package, including the braking system. $1,900 for everything, including the braking system.

https://nsatowbars.com/
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Old 04-03-2022, 05:10 PM   #3
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Thanks for that. I really like the simplicity of the surge brake system on my tow dolly, but out here in the west we have a lot of long downhills out of the mountains, and you can't back off of them. I've smelled them a few times after a long downgrade, and the brakes only lasted about 9000, but they are really small brakes. That's the only downside of that system. The BIG plus is that I wouldn't have to hack into the vehicle system nearly as much.
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Old 04-03-2022, 05:23 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by n1acguy View Post
So, I like Blue Ox, and since they don't require an external cross bar, they should be easier to set up. Looking at the specs, they still weigh almost 50lbs, so I have some questions.
Do you just leave the tow bar locked to the hitch all of the time when you're at your destination? Are you able to drive the MH with the hitch folded up if not towing? I can see it just staying on if it can lock in the folded position.
Yes, you can just fold up your MH mounted tow bar and drive around. Just make sure your particular make and model tow bar can. My Blue Ox Ascent can. Btw, it's aluminum and weighs in under 40 lbs. It's still heavy enough to reckon with though, even attached to the MH you don't want to drop an arm on your foot! I like mine alot, had to unhook in less than level real world situations and it's pretty easy by releasing the levers.

I bought a locking hitch pin, a Blue Ox accessory, to make it difficult to steal.

IF I had it to do all over again, I'd seriously consider an NSA or equivalent make tow bar with the built in braking capability thereby eliminating the need for a stand alone supplemental braking system. Key thing with those models is knowing you can get access to your brake pedal through the engine compartment but they say it can be done.

I like my Patriot ii though, and it's quite easy and quick to setup.
Attachment 270999
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Old 04-03-2022, 05:57 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by n1acguy View Post
Thanks for that. I really like the simplicity of the surge brake system on my tow dolly, but out here in the west we have a lot of long downhills out of the mountains, and you can't back off of them. I've smelled them a few times after a long downgrade, and the brakes only lasted about 9000, but they are really small brakes. That's the only downside of that system. The BIG plus is that I wouldn't have to hack into the vehicle system nearly as much.
The NSA comes with a connector that turns on a red light any time the surge brake lever moves the slightest bit. In over 15,000 miles of towing 4,600 pounds of Jeep Iíve never saw it activate unless I had my foot on the brake pedal. Engine braking wonít activate it. Even the new Gladiator with a scaled tow weight of 5,200 pounds doesnít push enough to activate the surge when coasting downhill.
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Old 04-03-2022, 06:34 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by emm-dee View Post
The NSA comes with a connector that turns on a red light any time the surge brake lever moves the slightest bit. In over 15,000 miles of towing 4,600 pounds of Jeep Iíve never saw it activate unless I had my foot on the brake pedal. Engine braking wonít activate it. Even the new Gladiator with a scaled tow weight of 5,200 pounds doesnít push enough to activate the surge when coasting downhill.
Thanks again. With that information I'm really interested in that system.
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Old 04-03-2022, 06:53 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by emm-dee View Post
The NSA comes with a connector that turns on a red light any time the surge brake lever moves the slightest bit. In over 15,000 miles of towing 4,600 pounds of Jeep Iíve never saw it activate unless I had my foot on the brake pedal. Engine braking wonít activate it. Even the new Gladiator with a scaled tow weight of 5,200 pounds doesnít push enough to activate the surge when coasting downhill.
While I like the idea of the NSA, my Blue Ox Patriot ii has a dash monitor with a gradient scale of braking force applied.

Setup allows adjusting brqking force by toad weight and there's a button on the monitor to apply the brakes manually.

A red light showing lever movement? Is there more information than that available to the driver and an ability to control and monitor braking force?
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Old 04-03-2022, 08:50 PM   #8
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The portables sure seem easy except for the initial break away switch installation. It just seems wrong to me to have a device continually using the force necessary to apply brakes without power assist.
I think it's fairly easy to add a vacuum pump to a vacuum operated brake system. The difference in the force required to actuate brakes is significant between power assisted and not. Even the cable operated systems will be stressed a lot less with power assist.

Will the Patriot work with power assist?
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Old 04-03-2022, 09:32 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ChrisParise View Post
While I like the idea of the NSA, my Blue Ox Patriot ii has a dash monitor with a gradient scale of braking force applied.

Setup allows adjusting brqking force by toad weight and there's a button on the monitor to apply the brakes manually.

A red light showing lever movement? Is there more information than that available to the driver and an ability to control and monitor braking force?
I do like the Patriot system and believe it to be the best available. However I donít want to spend $1500 extra.

Unless youíre backing up surge brakes are the simplest and I feel the most reliable system available. No electricity required. The indicator light is only there to tell you the brakes at working. No manual operation.
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Old 04-03-2022, 10:08 PM   #10
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I actually have backed up the tow dolly by putting the brake lockout stop in the surge brake activator. That might be the one advantage of a tow dolly. You can back up a few feet since the dolly wheels don't turn, as long as it doesn't start to cut. Other than having built in brakes, the advantage ends there.
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Old 04-03-2022, 10:23 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by n1acguy View Post
The portables sure seem easy except for the initial break away switch installation. It just seems wrong to me to have a device continually using the force necessary to apply brakes without power assist.
I think it's fairly easy to add a vacuum pump to a vacuum operated brake system. The difference in the force required to actuate brakes is significant between power assisted and not. Even the cable operated systems will be stressed a lot less with power assist.

Will the Patriot work with power assist?
The way I look at is the towed vehicle is not stopping the motorhome, it's designed to not make it any harder to slow or stop with a vehicle in tow.

My 5140 lb GMC Acadia Denali doesn't push my Class C while stopping or slowing and doesn't hold it back by being grabby when pulling away from a stop.

And with adjustable braking force based on your towed vehicle weight you can dial in the braking force you desire.

Setup to tow includes pushing a button once which pushes pretty hard on the brake pedal and since it's all electric there's no need to worry about sore leg muscles.

Not discouraging you from NSA, like I said if I had it to do all over again I'd look more closely at it. I do think it's worth doing what you're doing and digging into the details! I think there's very little buyers remorse with towing equipment so whatever you decide will be great for you.

Here's info from Blue Ox

https://www.blueox.com/product/brk2019-patriot-3-brake/
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Old 04-04-2022, 07:18 AM   #12
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I bought the NSA so I wouldn't have to mess around with putting a robobrake in the footwell every time, worry about running down the towed's battery, or having to chase down electrical gremlins.
It's simple, it works, and it was a lot less than other systems on the market.
Good luck with your search!
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Old 04-04-2022, 08:42 AM   #13
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I bought the NSA so I wouldn't have to mess around with putting a robobrake in the footwell every time, worry about running down the towed's battery, or having to chase down electrical gremlins.
It's simple, it works, and it was a lot less than other systems on the market.
Good luck with your search!
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Old 04-04-2022, 08:48 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by mbutts View Post
I bought the NSA so I wouldn't have to mess around with putting a robobrake in the footwell every time, worry about running down the towed's battery, or having to chase down electrical gremlins.
It's simple, it works, and it was a lot less than other systems on the market.
Good luck with your search!
Good points. Addressing electrical is the big one. A charge line properly installed may be needed,, but not a guarantee against gremlins - they can really make you feel alone.

If I can just say, the footwell "hassle" is a valid point worth discussion and not shying away from it.

If towed vehicle has limited storage or high passenger count, space to store could be a problem.

Taking into account handling and extra step of installing and removing, that's quite easy adding a minute or two each time (not rushing) - brake system manufacturers have made it pretty simple and easy..

As far as power to the brake system, maybe I lucked out here, but my GMC Acadias cigarette lighter, which powers the brake system,, stays hot even after my battery is switch off (via BO fuse bypass switches), and I've got a non proprietary charge line. So brake system power issue can be avoided - caveat- if the vehicle cooperates!
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Old 04-05-2022, 02:19 PM   #15
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Love my Blue Ox towbar

I had a Blue Ox towbar installed for flat towing my Jeep Grand Cherokee last year. About 5K miles so far and I love it, works great. I always have to hook up solo but it's quick and easy. I just fold it up and leave it (locked) on receiver (with Blue Ox cover) most of the time.
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Old 04-05-2022, 04:47 PM   #16
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I have been very happy with my 2016 Cherokee Trailhawk setup.
Blue Ox tow bar and baseplate kit. Base plate is a straight swap out with the tow hook hardware. Looks like my tow bar has been discontinued so I can't comment on what I see in their website now. However, I have had no problems with mine.

I chose the Stay and Play duo for braking. I like the hookup to the vacuum on the master cylinder that gives smooth control to the braking. I also like the permanent installation even though the install cost ends up higher than the portable systems.

My 2016 Cherokee needed the aftermarket shimmy prevention kit from Jeep. This kit keeps the power steering powered to prevent shimmy. Jeep may have fixed this problem in later models. Check your user manual. I found out from FMCA forums and negotiated a price share with Jeep since the dealer did not reveal this issue when I purchased the vehicle and made it very clear it would be flat towed.
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Old 04-06-2022, 02:20 PM   #17
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Flat Towing Question

I'm thinking of flat towing a Ford Focus. In the car's owner manual it specifies disconnecting the car's battery during towing. What's the best way to power the brake system in the toad?

I could run a line from the disconnected battery which is a simple solution. What I don't know is how much power a typical braking system uses. I would not want to deplete the toad's battery in a days driving. The other option would be to run a power line vie the 7 pin connector on the towing vehicle. What do you recommend?
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Old 04-06-2022, 08:32 PM   #18
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I'm thinking of flat towing a Ford Focus. In the car's owner manual it specifies disconnecting the car's battery during towing. What's the best way to power the brake system in the toad?

I could run a line from the disconnected battery which is a simple solution. What I don't know is how much power a typical braking system uses. I would not want to deplete the toad's battery in a days driving. The other option would be to run a power line vie the 7 pin connector on the towing vehicle. What do you recommend?

You might want to start your own thread to get more answers as this thread is for tow bar and the Cherokee.

Assuming you're getting a supplemental braking system like the Blue Ox Patriot, it gets its power from the cigarette lighter. Since your battery is disconnected to tow, you still need 12v power for the supplemental braking system.

To me, one solution would be as you suggested - use the 12v charge line from the MH 7 pin to the 6 pin on your toad and then connect it to a separate cigarette lighter accessory. Plug your portable supplemental braking system power cord into the separate cigarette lighter accessory.

You'll need a solution for the running, brake and turn signals too, not sure how magnetic light bars are wired but probably need another cigarette lighter accessory for that too
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Old 04-06-2022, 08:51 PM   #19
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I'm thinking of flat towing a Ford Focus. In the car's owner manual it specifies disconnecting the car's battery during towing. What's the best way to power the brake system in the toad?



I could run a line from the disconnected battery which is a simple solution. What I don't know is how much power a typical braking system uses. I would not want to deplete the toad's battery in a days driving. The other option would be to run a power line vie the 7 pin connector on the towing vehicle. What do you recommend?
Ugh, my apologizes to everyone about the above reply formatting and not making it clear the reply is to Gilo1954.
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