I was tired of having to wash my toad every time I arrived at my destination while on a trip. It seems that no matter how far I was traveling, my bus would kick up a lot of dust and road debris onto my car and at the very least I would have to clean my windshield which I have done at many fuel stops.
I have also traveled to New England in the winter and picked up a lot of road salt and sand during a storm. Even for a few days after the storm, there is still road salt and sand on the edges of the road that can get kicked up onto your toad.
I don’t know about you, but I am not fond of having salt all over the nice finish on my car or on my windshield or covering my headlights either. Sometimes I had to run my windshield wipers when unhooking my toad as it was that dirty and had to clean off my headlights to see. I thought there must be a better way.
I bought my Nighthawk tow bar from Roadmaster a couple of years ago which is great as it is easy to hook up and is light for night travel. You can see more about that here. https://www.road-masterinc.com/products/towbars/nighthawk.php I liked how it worked so well, that I went to them to see what they have to offer while in Quartz-site one year. They have a booth at the big tent in Quartzsite every January and have a booth at many of the large RV rallies around the U.S. This week, while I am writing this, they are at the FMCA rally in Minot, ND.
Roadmaster has a nice unit you can mount on your toad to prevent rocks and other debris from breaking your headlights, cracking your wind-shield or just making a mess of your car. Here is one that they offer which does a great job from what I have heard.
The only problem with the Guardian 4000 and others like it is that it takes quite a bit of space to store them when they are not in use. I know because a few years ago when I was in Quartz-site someone came to me and asked if I could take someone’s rock guard back to Los Angeles with me because he forgot it when he left. I had a heck of a time trying to find a place to carry it in my MC-9 as it was so big but he was a happy camper when I brought it to him.
The Guardian also must have the older quick disconnect system which works great but means you also have to have a crossbar to disconnect each time you want to unpin everything from the car. So even though many people who have ample storage capacity may prefer these, they do take a bit more work to install each time you hook up.
A caveat. If you plan on going to Alaska or other places with either a lot of construction going on or if you will be traveling on a lot of gravel roads, then both the Guardian and the Tow Defender combination are recommended for ultimate protection. This way your headlights and windshield are protected from cars traveling in the opposite direction kicking up rocks which are aplenty on some roads. Fully protecting your toad becomes more important than worrying about finding a place to store it while parked.
Because I travel full-time in my bus, I wanted something that I could stow away and not be in the way when in a campground. So I looked at the Roadmaster Tow Defender 4750. These work with their “direct connect” baseplates where the tow bar pins directly to the arms of the base-plate. This guard is made of a screen fabric which is stretched between the bus and toad to keep rocks and other debris from kicking up from under the bus onto the front and top of your car while letting some air pass through.
The advantage of the Tow Defender is that it rolls up when not in use and can be stored on the back of your bus on the tow hitch itself. I have driven many miles with mine stored on the back of my bus without any problems at all.
When taking corners, it has a spring-loaded mechanism that allows the leading edge of the Tow Defender fabric to bend so it adjusts to your turning radius. When you straighten the bus wheels out, the unit straightens out to protecting your toad at all times.
When you are ready to leave your campsite, the Tow Defender takes less than one minute to install. Because you leave it attached to the hitch on the back of your bus when not in use, all you have to do is remove two elastic tie straps, pull it towards your toad, insert the crossbar into two U-shaped clips on your toad and insert two pins and you are ready to hit the road.
When you get to your destination, when you are ready to unhitch, the first thing you do is pull the two pins and roll it up and strap it to your hitch mounting bar with two elastic ties provided with the unit. Then you go about disconnecting your tow bar from your toad. The entire process takes less than five minutes.
I have a Roadmaster hitch, but the Tow Defender will also fit the Blue Ox and Demco brackets as well.
It is nice to arrive at your destination with a clean car and be able to see out the windshield when disconnecting from your rig instead of having to wash it when you arrive at a new destination.
To view two short videos of the Tow Defender in action, click on these two videos below.
Since July 2012, Gary Hatt has been the Publisher of Bus Conversion Magazine. Gary does most of his own work on his bus with the help of mechanic friends. He has owned tents, truck campers, travel trailers, and stick-n-staple motor-homes until he bought his first bus in 1997 which was a 1972 MCI MC-7 Combo. When he had a chance to buy a 1983 MCI MC-9 Log Cabin bus with larger windows he jumped at the chance. On Thanksgiving of 2014, Gary bought a 1967 Model 08 Eagle and has since been living and traveling full time in that.