Saturday, July 14, 2012

Install Blue Ox Tow baseplate, '09 HONDA CRV

After locating online and ordering by phone call (had questions) from, the Blue Ox tow bar Base Plate BX2246 arrived, to be installed on the 09 Honda CRV, that we traded away the 'heavy Pig' Jeep GC (4,300 lbs) for. '06 V-8 Jeep GC seldom got over 12 mpg around town, not much more on hwy. Jeep towed like a block of lead up Western States mountain passes, but was easy to set electronic 'neutral' for tow, and had 'Low' range for serious 4x4. It could and did PUSH the motor coach in an emergency.

 Tow-able Honda gets in excess of 20 mpg at all times, and weighs several hundreds of lbs less than Jeep GC. All-wheel drive is not for serious terrain. Not sure about the 'Push' ability, if ever required. Blue Ox quality is excellent. Trailers, tow dollys always involve another 'Thing' to store away and manhandle. Campgrounds are not spacious in the parks and forests we visit.

Base Plate arrived FedEX within 3 days as claimed. Katherine Hoette (sounds pretty 'Interesting' :>) sent email asking about etrailor's service

  • I began the job on 11 July and finished on 14 July. The instructions are fairly well described with a few exceptions. This is not quite as easy as it was on the last 2 Jeep Grand Cherokees. Lots of metal cutting on the Honda.

     Experience from last two Jeeps, including 2 base plate installations, says have on hand, a 'creeper', Red Locktite. 'All' the correct wrenches, wheeled floor jack. Heavy duty 1/2" drill, extension cord and several sharp bits. 4" hand held grinder with several cut-off discs and one grinder disc. Recip saw and several blades,.... if you want to follow instructions to the letter. Heavy hammer and 'drift' rod. Screw drivers or lever to 'pop' out the push pins (they break sometimes), containers to keep separate the parts from each step. Important, Review the parts list,laying out the bolts/nuts in order.

    Figure 1 on BX2246 Instructions points out the pushpins holding radiator cover in place. Figure 2 shows driver's side bumper fascia screws/pins. Unscrew/unpin both sides of cover per figure 3. Figure 4 shows bottom push pins removal. Fascia cover (grill included) can then be pulled forward after a spreading of the left and right side. It seems like the plastic will break, as it 'rips' out from under the headlight assemblies. Somehow it survives the viscous yanking and prying.

    Figure 5 depicts 'air baffle box' (lower half only) removal from Driver's side. Fig 6 shows removal of coolant line clips/bolts. Fig 7 center bolt for lines. Fig 8 driver's side clip for lines. after which line assy can be swung to passenger side and out of way. Figure 9, 10, 11 begins the 'surgical procedure'.

    Take apart is easy, except they failed to mention the difficulty of then 'cutting' the metal. High Speed steel is used on Frame tubes, so the cutting and drilling is difficult. High Sped Steel is what most drill bits are made of, so they are evenly matched on those frame horns. Same with the 'bumper'. Have on hand several drill bits or sharpen often. Use Pilot drills or you will be on the 'smoking' drill for long periods of time. Fig 12, 13, the washer fluid reservoir (must be pulled aside) does actually mate to the last 4" of the filler top. I loosened the headlight assy by removing screws, for clearance, before I got it unstuck. This is an 09 Honda CRV, so it may have been tighter from 3 years of 'bonding'.

    They describe cutting with a Reciprocating Saw. Good luck there as well, due to the High Speed hardened steel on frame tubes, you Will eat blades. Many blades later you will wish you had a 4" grinder with a few 'Cutoff' blades. Matter of fact I would say it is imperative to have a 4" grinder, to make the cuts as described. Wear safety goggles, and long sleeve shirts and gloves, as the grinding gets intense. Watch for the disc, or saw blade so it does Not cut something you don't really want cut. It could spoil your fun.

    Hammering flat the described flanges, requires a 'drift' to get the power of the heavy hammer onto the 1/4" flanges remaining after the cuts. I bent them forward with a large Vise Grip pliers first. Same for the lower flanges on front frame horns which was cut straight, to allow another 1/4" lower metal for reference on base plate lower edge. Cutoff the 'bumper' ends and wing flanges enough (1/2" on each end) to prevent wedging on re-install. 1/4" as they ideally mention, did Not clear. I had to re-cut and grind off the edges more than 1/4".

    Fig 14 be sure to follow instructions for positioning. Study the picture to locate end plates CORRECTLY before drilling any holes. A rolling Floor Jack is imperative for one person. No way I could have held the heavy base plate in position for drilling as depicted in Fig 15. Vice Grips (2) are also recommended at each end of base plate, to prevent shifting while drilling I used a slightly smaller drill than they listed, so that I did not have to drill the base plate ends. As they mentioned, beware of the Torque as the large drill seizes in the frame steel on breakthrough, which it will..

    The instructions are important. Follow them or you will have to re-due the work. Experience over the years with tech career, did not save me. I had to re-due a couple of items. When they say 'Do not tighten' the bolts, they mean it. The 4 'bumper' screws may bind, damaging the threads if you tighten the four base plate mount bolts first. The heavy base plate overpowers the frame horns. If the red Locktite sets before you finish, the removal is not easy. I had to have one rod re-welded on the little nut plate after it broke off.

    Tip: test the 3'8" bolts for easy threading into the nut plates... before assy. Do not forget the red Lock-tite on these '8 total' , frame mounting bolts (note two different lengths). I did not use red Lock-Tite on the first base plate I ever installed, and the bolts came loose from the thousands of miles of twisting and endless shock. Fortunately I always check the entire assy for any looseness, by vigorously shaking up and down on each connect and disconnect. Yup, had to remove fascia, red Locktite , tighten and reinstall fascia.

    Fig 16, they mention re-drilling the little bracket in center of the Cooler line that loops across the lower front, to mount it lower. In my installation, I had no clearance to drill a new matching hole. I used four black automotive ty-wraps in place of the 10mm screw. They fastened the bracket assy holding top and bottom tube, securly to the bottom of the base plate bar. Note: Bend the lower end of bracket back under bumper so it does not block fascia from getting into position on reinstall. The drivers side snap clip on the tube loop, broke off it's retaining tangs on removal. Two more of the black ty-wraps re-mounted the looped tube retainer, securely through the metal frame hole.

    Figure 17 depicts the dream/nightmare scenario of a social studies major 'Bureaucrat', employed by the US DOT. I am assuming the 'bureaucrat' has a phobia imagining a potentially deadly 'breakaway'..... of the base plate.... from the tow vehicle? Massive Base plate is mounted to HHS frame horns with a total of 8, 3/8" bolts, Lock-tite'd and torqued in place. The noticeably weaker bumper is held to the front of frame horns by only 4 smaller bolts. Somehow the DOT? imagination is that the auxiliary permanent cables provided, will magically hold on to something much weaker in mounting (bumper), in case the 8 larger bolts 'break' or fall loose?.... "It Could Happen", is maybe their Official ruling...?

    Fig 19, 20, 21 depicts 'breakaway' brackets for additional auxiliary breaking sensors if used. 'Brake Buddy' etc.
    Installing the front cover Fascia is last. Best if done with a helper to prevent scratching the paint and finish. If no helper, I used a chair with a piece of carpet on it. On the '09, I did not have to cut  clearance for the safety cable horns. I slid the cover to one side first, then the other. The only small cuts were for the lower cooler tube clearance. Re-installation of the radiator cover, tops off the installation.
  •  Fig 22, 23 Cutting the relief notches for the base plate while checking clearance, can be done using the reciprocating saw, or even a small trim saw or knife. Careful not to cut yourself after all of this 'fun'. Remember that Recip saws have a 'nervous' long pointy nose, poking at things that can ruin your day. 
  • I seem to have a few 'push pins' left over...hmmm?
  • Note: during Tow, I always now use a separately wired set of easily removable, roof mounted trailer type LED lights, on magnets (Harbor Freight stuff) rather than the bulb and socket installation kit shown in first figure on installation Instructions.  My wiring on the SUV's we prefer as 'Toads',  follows the interior floor, out over the door opening (taped in place) and into the engine compartment, through the fender openings by front door hinge post. I always use crossed safety cables with the Aladdin  Blue Ox Tow Bar we have utilized for many years, with 3 Tow cars.

    The routine hook up 'Test' is on your next trip (don't forget to 'Test' the light kit Before each Tow). Follow the transmission procedure 'for Tow' in vehicle manual. Don't inadvertently 'Lock' the steering wheel on the Toad, tires are expensive. Please enjoy this Great Nation, "One Nation Under GOD" The United States of America. See you on the highways sometime...maybe..."It Could Happen". :>)

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