By Greg Illes
My RV is a 2003 Itasca model, and it came equipped with some simple skid bumpers bolted to the back ends of the frame rails. I would often notice the horrific Wham! of the skids hitting solid pavement while negotiating a driveway, drainage or other significant ground undulation. I learned to approach those disturbances slowly and “bash” the chassis as gently as I could.
Despite my care and caution, the skids were nearly ground away in less than two years and 20,000 miles of wandering. In addition, I noticed that my driveway (sharp deflection at the bottom) was showing some scarring. The skids were pretty narrow, only about 1.5 inches wide, and sharply pointed. So they would tend to dig into any softer surface and cause a lot of drag when I least needed it.
Along my travels, I also noticed that not every RV was equipped with any skids at all. The lower-cost units would usually show the consequences of lack of skids with various degrees of damage to chassis, body, bumper, hitch and even tow bar.
The “proper” solution came to me after a diligent hunt across Amazon, eBay, and quite a few RV suppliers. Various manufacturers produce roller-skids for just the purpose of protecting the rear ends of heavy vehicles. These rollers range from small 2.5-inch diameter units, some of which can attach to a tow hitch, to big 6-inch and larger wheels like you see on the back of dumpsters and cargo trucks.
Being a proud extremist, I chose a pair of 6-inch wheels rated at 5,000 pounds each, and welded their brackets up onto the ends of my tow hitch. The wheels are heavy-duty enough to support the entire weight of the rear end, although of course if this happened the rear wheels would be off the ground and I’d be going only downhill. But the idea is to be fail-proof, and that’s what they are. I’ve added only about 15 pounds to the back of my rig, and there is no longer any driveway or drainage culvert that causes me any grief.
Whether you decide on a simple, single roller on your tow hitch or an aggressive setup like mine, you’ll be happy to “hear the silence” from the back of your rig when next you go through a V-shaped road.
photo: Greg Illes