Thursday, July 27, 2023

Learning about the Blue OX BX88100 Universal AutoStop Hitch Connector

Some background:  When we bought the '87 Suzuki Samurai, one of the things that made it so attractive to me was that it came with Blue Ox Aladdin Tow Bars (7500lb capacity), the Sammy had a tow plate installed on it and it also had a Brake Assist device, the BX88100, to engage the Sammy's brakes when the towing vehicle's brakes are engaged, this to help both vehicles stop quickly and smoothly.

However, the PO had told me he never used the brake assist as the Sammy was so light (2000lbs +).  I also ended up never using the brake assist with the Sammy and it all functioned as expected, no problems there.

Of course, now that the Sammy is history, it was time to outfit Martha's 2014 Honda CR-V for flat towing aka all four wheels on the ground.

This week we finally got serious about testing the towing of the CR-V with the VRRV.  Several test sessions resulted in serious doubts about the performance of the brake assist device!  The VRRV seems more than capable of stopping safely with the CR-V in tow so not a huge problem, but the law in most states says that towed vehicles weighing more than 3000 lbs must have brake assistance of some sort.  The Honda CR-V weighs about 3500 lbs!

Several consultations with the ever patient and knowledgeable RichardM, finally drove the concept of how the brake assist is supposed to function into my thick head.  I had it all wrong you see, I thought it was supposed to work one way but it turns out to be completely different.  So, not knowing, I didn't know what to look for during testing.

Just for your edification and mine:  here's a pic of the vehicles hooked together from a previous posting: LINK

In the pic above, the silver colored piece, located on the tow bar right below the orange sand ramps, is the Brake Assist aka AutoStop.

Concept of operation so that others don't have my mistaken beliefs re how this device works!

As the towing vehicle slows , the towed vehicle pushes on the tow bars because of its inertia, the tow bars push on the Brake Assist, which then is supposed to move forward slightly.  There's a spring inside you see, which compresses forward pushing on one of two sets of pulleys, which in turn as they rotate/move, pull back on the cable that's connected to the towed vehicle's brake pedal, actuating it, and causing the towed vehicles brakes to actuate proportionally, helping to slow things down.

As soon as the pressure stops and the towing vehicle moves forward again, inertia forces the auto stop's inner pulley components backward; which then release the cable amount they'd pulled in, which relieves the pulling pressure on the brake pedal's cable on the towed vehicle.  The towed vehicle's brakes are now off till the next stop.

Some thorough reading/studying of the BX88100's owners/service manual (with many patient answers and explanations from RichardM via phone/textig); finally allowed me to understand how to take it apart, service it and put it back together correctly!

Let's just say, I discovered whomever had last assembled the brake assist aka auto stop, didn't do it correctly and the pulley mechanisms were stuck/binding!

Here's a closer look at the Brake Assist device.  Note: the cable conduit shown below on drive's side of the device had been mistakenly mounted on the passenger side!

Here's how the pulley components came out, with the device oriented as shown above:

I eventually figured out, using the manual and RichardM's patient help, that the above components weren't in the right order. The cable anchor (rectangular piece on the right side pulley above) should have been on the opposite side!  

I also found part of the cable off the pulley, probably causing binding.  Also the dividers have to be oriented correctly as the sides aren't equal and will bind if forced in during assembly.

I did some cleanup of the components and managed to assemble things correctly.  RichardM had said it was a pretty simple device and I managed to overcome my doubts to find that he was, as usual, quite correct.

Below pics show correct orientation of the cable, pulleys and dividers.

The picture above shows the brake assist's body in the upside down position.  This is a key point in terms of orientation when assembling the pulley components and running the wire cable!

I got everything assembled with no real issues, verified the pulleys rotated freely  and then set up for a test.

As the VRRV was now in storage, I used the tow hitch on Martha's car as the anchor point.  I simulated the pushing forward by a towed vehicle using a ratchet strap.  In the video: you can see the brake assist device moving forward slightly as I apply pressure via the strap.  

I hope you also noticed the brake assist springing back slightly when I released the ratchet strap.  That's how it's supposed to work!  I'm pretty confident now that when we next do testing with the VRRV towing the CR-V, I'll get more dependable results!

More on this when we get a chance to do actual testing.

Update: August 2.

Another disassembly and  checking of the AutoStop was required.  I didn't put the primary pulley wheels on correctly it seems.  I also needed to check the cable routing and the installation of components was done under RichardM's watchful eye via Facetime courtesy of my loving wife and camera woman, Martha.

Subsequent checks showed a retraction of the cable of at least 3 inches when the AutoStop was actuated under pressure.  This is the desired effect.

Some more testing, adjusting of the brake cable link between the AutoStop and the CR-V's brake cable end (we're at 24.5" for now) resulted in successful tests.  The brake lights on the CR-V now come on when the VRRV brakes.  

I did have to add a small bungie (Rok strap) to pull back the brake pedal as there was some slight slack on the cable.  Just enough slack to keep the brake lights activated on the CR-V which of course isn't desired.

I think we're good for towing now.  I also added a small LED light bar that should show up on the VRRV's rear view camera.  When I see it shine, I know that the brakes on the CR-V are activating.  I did this by tapping into the blue wire at the connection to the brake sensor on the top of the brake pedal.

Friday, July 21, 2023

Boondocking along Rule Creek Road, Near Westcreek, CO

 I displaced yesterday to check out camping conditions in the area I'd reconned before.

I lucked out and grabbed one of the "prime" spots that are located in the first mile from the junction of Painted Rock Road and Rule Creek Rd.

Thunder Butte to the left of Uma

Uma with Devil's Head in the background

I'd spotted an interesting road in the distance, having noticed a small white square object.  I found the road, which is an OHV road, and found the object, a weather station.

Here's a view of Uma and my campsite from the weather station, with Pikes Peak in the background.

Here's the "white square" that lead to the finding of the weather station viewpoint:

Here's some pics take after the thunder storms which passed to the south of my campsite.  Got a bit of pea-sized hail, the winds weren't bad and the rain definitely made things noisy inside the VRRV!

Today, I made a run to nearby Woodland Park for some condiments for tonight's dinner.  Once I returned, I put stuff away and the spent about an hour or so on a slow pootle on FR 357 aka Rule Creek Road all the way till pavement started again that would lead to Divide, CO I believe.

The road was enjoyable in terms of technical riding, all of which was within my low ability levels!  Lots of puddles to dodge, one I couldn't dodge and resulted in getting my feet wet on the outbound ride, not so much on the inbound ride.

As I neared my campsite, got this nice view of Uma, again with Devil's Head in the background.

My view from under the deployed awning on the VRRV, now that things have warmed up again.

Dinner tonight was "Butter Steak", I call it that because the recipe which I found through Instagram calls for a half a stick of butter in the steak's cooking.  Yummy.

Pretty good sunset this Friday.  The weekenders have been arriving all afternoon, it should be interesting to see how crowded things get.  I know the southern end of Rule Creek Road was infested with campers this morning!

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

T-Dub'ing to find new Campsites

Spent last couple of days exploring the area around my campsite and then doing some exploration of the National Forest area south of Westcreek, CO.

Pikes Peak in the late afternoon

Rode Yagi, my TW200 Dualsport in a big loop comprising FR 323 and 324.  The highlight being a repeat visit to the rock formations at what I believe is Scorpio Dome.

Today, I spent the morning exploring a portion of the Pike National Forest south of Westcreek, CO.  I'd been told of Rule Creek Road by Bob W., a neighborhood friend who'd camped there before.

Nice area, but my VRRV is limited to the first two miles as the road gets progressively worse and not doable by Uma.

I returned towards Woodland Park using Painted Rocks Road.  There were some cool rocks on the north side of the road just before CO 67.  No way to get closer, I suspect it's National Forest Land but could see no way in.

So I contended myself with pictures from the road:

I checked out possible campsites to the south of my present camp, along Rampart Range Road but didn't find many.

It rained pretty hard after lunch and I was glad I was back safe at my campsite.  The lightning was hitting pretty close too!

The weather turned nice once the storm passed over, with occasional periods of nice sunshine warming things up nicely but not hot.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Camping again!

It's only for a few days but I'll take it!

Today the company I contracted with to trim a couple of big Cottonwood trees in the backyard came by and did a nice job of removing enough leaves and branches to allow air to flow through easier.  Now I am less worried about the occasional wind storm taking out the trees and the trees taking out the roof of the house!

I left the Denver cesspool just before 4:00 p.m. and by 7:15 p.m. I was at a campsite in the South Rampart Range road area.  I have camped nearby last year in August.  

This time I managed to snag the primo spot with a view of Pikes Peak to the south.

Going to be here till at least Saturday if not Sunday. Nice to be out of the cesspool that is the Denver metro area.

Monday, July 10, 2023

Uma goes into Storage and Yagi gets her first post-top end replacement oil change

I know, it's a pretty exciting life I lead when I'm at home.

Martha and I spent part of the weekend sorting out stuff, cleaning, organizing the VRRV in preparation for storage and her next camping trip.

Stuff that wasn't needed or used got removed.  She's good to go now.

I took her to the Buckley Space Force Base RV Storage Yard and there she'll sit until the next time; which hopefully will be pretty soon.

I'd tested the storage yard's vehicle sensor before with Brigitta, my '87 R80 BMW Airhead, no problems detecting her and allowing me to ride out.  Today I found out the sensor doesn't seem to detect Yagi, my Yamaha TW200!  Luckily, there was a couple in a car leaving soon after I found this out and I tagged along.

Once home, and having overcome the Schwarzenegger-level tightness of the oil plug on Yagi, I drained her of the oil put in when she had her engine top end replaced in Henderson, NV.  

It had been almost 300 miles since the and I changed it today with no real surprises or issues.

After I put the tools away, I tore the paper element from the old oil filter to examine it for metal "swarf".  I expected to find some as the new parts on the top end worked themselves into place.  Kind of like a "break in" for the engine.

As expected, some swarf was in evidence but it was a small amount and nothing bigger than large dust sized particles:

I used a magnetic pickup tool to gather all the ferrous particles:

Not bad at all!  I've seen more swarf come out of the Ural's oil change, and that's with a "broken in" engine/transmission!

Sunday, July 09, 2023

Brakes Week!

Seems this week will be known to me as "Brakes Week".

Not only is Uma, the VRRV get new brake pads/rotors, shock absorbers, serpentine belt, new rear anti-sway bars along with associated fluid changes, servicing of rear differential, rear axle R&R along with required new inner and outer wheel bearings and finally including an oil change and chassis lube; but other vehicles too!  

As I'm not familiar at all with how Dually Wheels are put together, my regular mechanic shop is doing the work.  We got it back from the shop today.

Martha's Honda CR-V got it's rear brake pads replaced (easy peasy) by me, the rear disc rotors are almost 2mm above minimum thickness so I didn't replace them.  The inner pads on both the rear brakes were pretty close to bare metal!

I checked the front brakes on the CR-V and the brake pads were still showing the wear indicator groove so plenty of life left. The rotors were almost 2 mm above minimum thickness as well so I left them alone for now, will check in about 5,000 miles.

Thing 2 came by for Thing 1's birthday and we troubleshot reported weak brakes on Thing 2's pickup truck.  We determined that there was no brake fluid in the reservoir.  Doh!  Insert heavy sighing here by me.

So, we installed Speedbleeders on the front brakes, the rear brakes are drum brakes.  Then, we bled a lot of air out of the front brake circuits!  Truly, a lot of air.  Thing 2 is also going to order brake pads and rotors  for the front brakes and those will be installed soonest after they get here from Amazon.  The local auto parts store didn't have the appropriate pads in stock for the 1999 Toyota Pickup you see.

Last but not least, I replaced the brake pads on the sidecar wheel for Scarlett, my 2014 Ural Patrol Sidecar Rig.  There was some "meat" left but both pads were worn past the wear indicator.

I'm loving the new brake piston retractor tool by the way.