Baseplate install seems a big deal... - Smart Car Forums
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-17-2009, 07:05 PM Thread Starter
 
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Baseplate install seems a big deal...

We're considering a change from the garage-coach hauling the Cabrio to maybe a more 'normal' diesel pusher tag axle " giant coach" type deal. I would like to mount a motorcycle lift on the rear frame of the coach ( looks like a Tiffin Bus model at this point ) and the tow bar will be on an extension under the lift.

Since this coach would be almost 48 feet long at the rear lift, I would like to limit the total length of the rig by using a vehicle with a short length if possible. The Smart is of course the shortest vehicle available, and since I already have one that works perfectly nicely in the garage-coach... I think maybe I'll just get a baseplate and wire job done and tow the little bugger...

BUT...

I was looking at what it takes to install the baseplates for either Blue Ox or Roadmaster and I became somewhat concerned that this is not a job for ME. I probably would prefer Blue Ox but to tell the truth the installations of Roadmaster might be a hair "easier" ... Can't really tell from the instructions. I don't like the cross bar deal on the Roadmaster though.

For those that have done this or had it done to tow a Smart 4-down:
Should this more realistically be done at a shop or at home?

Should it be a Smart shop trying to figure out the baseplate and wiring or should it be a RV/ hitch shop trying to figure out how to take the car apart and put it back together again?

Should one mess with a diode kit for lights or use a separate light kit? Which kit? Can the extra lamp fit into the fixtures reasonably or is it easier to just mount external lights?

What is the real world cost to have the baseplate mounted? I've heard some wild numbers in both directions.

Brakes.... I'm not even gonna go there for right now....

This all seems so much easier on a Jeep.... but my wife can't get into one with her physical limitations whilst her driving the Smart goes just peachy.
I'm recalling now why I went with a garage-coach to haul my sidecar rig instead of trailering it... on the other hand it would be nice to let ME sleep in the bedroom instead of that freakin little car! Life is such a compromise....

;-)
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-17-2009, 11:26 PM
 
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I installed my own. Everything was Roadmaster, including the wiring kit (no extra bulbs required). Did it all myself, no assistance. Baseplate installation took about twice as long as the instructions allowed. Same with the wiring. I'm a retired accountant with only the mechanical skills I picked up living life. If you choose to do it yourself, an extra set of hands would be helpful. Doing the install yourself saves about $500-$700. Otherwise, costs about $2,000 for the parts and labor to install everything at Camping World.
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 03:07 PM
 
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We used the Blue Ox baseplate and their diode-enabled light kit. No problems... we've had only Blue Ox products on this and our previous two motorcoaches and dinghys.

I'd suggest you go on their website where you can view their complete installation instructions with photos. Then you can decide on the degree of difficulty and whther you want to DIY.

Here's the link to the Smart baseplate instructions:

http://www.aemfg.com/pdfs/BX1987.pdf
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 03:53 PM
 
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We went with Blue Ox last year - after studying their installation procedure I decided that it would be better to let some professionals do the work. That way if they screwed anything up it was on their nickel, not mine. Anyway, we took it to our favorite local hitch place - they've installed about 6 hitches on our various vehicles stretching over almost 30 years and have always done a great job, so they got to do this job also.

It was the first smart they had seen, and quoted us $1600 total for all parts and labor for the Blue Ox system. The parts included the base plate, the tow bar, the safety cables, the 8" drop extension, the wiring kit, and the wiring "pigtail" to connect to the RV. The job took them a full 8 hours and when they were done it looked and worked great.

They are now the preferred shop for the San Jose smart Center - anybody needing a tow bar gets referred to them. I don't know if they're still doing it for $1600 or not, but I felt it was well worth the money at the time.
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 04:41 PM Thread Starter
 
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Good information folks.

We went out and looked at what pickup truck options were available for use as a towed and to carry the cycle. Nothing really will work out as well as using a lift for the cycle and towing a little car I'm thinkin. I don't feel like having to tow a truck big enough for holding a full size cycle AND with some storage or small back seats. What a behemoth. My wife could drive a couple models OK but with a lot of hassle getting in and out, etc. These trucks are NOT cheap either. They don't exactly get stellar fuel economy. Screw it.

I'm thinkin to keep the Cabrio and set it up for towing. It ain't gonna be cheap to do the car and also to get the motorcycle lift installed on the coach. I'll be happier with towing the little car and not having to deal with ramps and such or having to haul, park or drive a giant pickup truck as well as a giant motorcoach.
I'll be making some phone calls tomorrow to try to get the Cabrio set up with a baseplate and tow bar so we can be ready when if we get the new coach right away.

Thanks for the info.
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-26-2009, 03:23 PM
 
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Guys
I have a New Essex with a golf cart lift and tow an Explorer. I checked the sites for Blue-ox and Roadmaster and you have to take the whole car apart for my 2008 smart. Then if you need to carry a couple extra people you don't have room. I tried to get it on the golf cart lift but wheel base is too wide and the lift is only rated at 1000lbs. The lift converts over to a motorcycle with extra baseplate. Never have had the golf cart on it. Waste of time. Whats cart fees?? $6.
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-27-2009, 10:37 AM
 
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Have you considered a trailer large enough for the smart and the bike? It seems that would be a simpler solution than a bike lift and car conversion. Also you could back up if need be.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-27-2009, 11:05 AM Thread Starter
 
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We do NOT want to use a trailer with the motorcoach. We travel quite a lot in the coach and don't want the hassles involved with towing or finding a place to park a trailer as well as a giant motorcoach and a car , etc....

We have enjoyed carrying our Smart in our garage-coach.... but it's day is about done. We have decided to trade our fine coach for a GIANT tag-axle Tiffin and will tow the Smart. We will have the coach dealer install a Blue-Ox baseplate on the Smart and also install the diode system to use the existing lights.

We will have a Cruiserlift installed on the back of the motorcoach to carry a motorcycle well above the nose of the car at 40" off the ground. I will be able to have both the little Smart AND a nice bike with us all the time. This is a GOOD thing.
Having a bit of extra length and not being able to do stuff like back up, is not so good but we have decided to just suck it up and deal with it.

A class-A garage-coach as an RV is a very nice option for folks that do a lot of travel and like a Smart. They fit together very well and the coach carries it easily. We just want to have a large floor level bedroom along with a 1 1/2 bath floorplan AND have both vehicles. The big tag-axle Tiffin and the Smart will fill the mission requirements which have changed over the last couple years mostly due to us just having way more fun out on road trips than we thought we ever would. I have liked the Damon coach very much though , and would recommend it to anybody looking for a toy-hauler style coach with the capacity to carry a good load AND a Smart car up it's butt ....

We expect to have our Smart get it's baseplate and have the coach ready to go in about 3 weeks or so. I'll post on how it goes, but I don't foresee any major problems other than maybe me trying to find the Smart in the rear camera ....

;-)
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-27-2009, 11:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kannonvaggon View Post
I have liked the Damon coach very much though , and would recommend it to anybody looking for a toy-hauler style coach with the capacity to carry a good load AND a Smart car up it's butt ....
i've been looking at the outlaw since before getting my smart. i'd love to trade my little winnebago minnie (class c) for one of those bad boys! garaging it sure beats flat towing.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-21-2009, 08:58 PM
 
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FYI, just had a Blue Ox base plate intalled on my 2009 Passion. Purchased the car at the Smart Center in Cincinati, OH. Dealer took care of having tow package installed at Colerain RV in Colerain, OH. This was their first Smart Car and were anxious to do the install. They had the car for 2 1/2 days. That was ok since it was there first but they stated they would re-think the cost to install. Cost around 2K. Blue Ox uses a time frame around 5hr.'s i think.
Got the car back and found a few problems with the install. The installer failed to install the permanet base plate safety cables and did not re-install the grill. Tech. says cables not needed. If not, why does Blue Ox say to and ships them with the plate. And how hard can it be to cut out the grill to fit back in place around the base plate...My Suggestion, Don't use Colerain RV!!!!

After reviewing install directions from Blue Ox, Smart Dealer says they may have their shop do the work. After all they are famalier with how the car comes apart and where the wiring goes. They weren't real happy with Colerain RV either..

Haven't towed the car yet, looking forward to doing so. Will post results after doing so.

Last edited by chester; 07-21-2009 at 09:02 PM. Reason: additional info
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