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Old 08-18-2022, 10:02 AM   #1
Winnebago Camper
thefinchnest's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 13
Roadmaster System install on 2019 Chevy Traverse

The Players:
2000 Winnebago Journey WKP36L
2019 Chevy Traverse AWD
Roadmaster Falcon All Terrain Non-Binding Tow Bar
Roadmaster InvisiBrake Auxiliary Braking System
ME 52 y.o., 147lb, male DV w/ above average mech skills

I did it and I did it successfully with no post install failures. I had some bruised knuckles and a tapestry of foul language still lingers in our truck, but what do you expect from a DIY project like this one.

My wife and I decided to join the rest of the RV community and start towing our truck during our travels. Truth is, she demanded it as she grew tired of being the chase truck and loathes driving. On several occasions, we had opted to have our system installed by a pro who knew what he was doing. The more we searched for an installer, the more we found that the installers were just as new to this as we were.

Before anyone gets uptight, yes, there are great mechs who have a lot of experience and knowledge, but they are few and far between.

With every new phase of the install, I decided to do it myself. The big advantage is understanding the system and how it works in the event of a break down or necessary adjustments. The disadvantage is, well, use your imagination. I'm not here to dissuade anyone from trying.

This is a major project. There are no bones about it and it must be done as right as possible, so this DIY project is not for someone who considers themselves less than mechanically inclined. We're talking about dragging an investment around by the nose and it turning into a 4000lb missile if things go wrong. Okay, so maybe I just dissuaded a few of you.
I elected to put this system together in phases. It is important to note, I was accomplishing this work during our stays in campgrounds and some of them do frown upon this. We were also on the other side of the continent so no garages or family and friends to lend a tool or a hand. I did a lot of research on the individual components referencing the install manuals, Youtube videos and other various sources. I didn't find a lot of reference on the `19 Traverse that we owned, but the sources I did find helped to guide me through our vehicle and to anticipate courses of action. I will say that Roadmaster does an excellent job at guiding you through the base plate installation via their included instructions. There were only minor discrepancies due to the various options available on our vehicle model. I also found the eTrailer website helpful at times. So here is how I broke down the installation, Phase I: Base plate Installation, Phase II: Auxiliary Brake & Brake Light Electrical Harnesses, Phase III: Tow Bar Installation, Phase IV: Auxiliary Braking Systems.
I can't go into a lot of detail as there is SO MUCH to cover, but I will try to break down the note worthy points in each phase.

Phase I: Base plate Installation
The base plate was the meat of this project. Like I said, great instructions by Roadmaster, but there was a lot of heavy drilling into the frame of the vehicle. My advice, prepare to buy some heavy duty drill bits as I trashed a number of tips on the bits. Dismantling of the front clip will be daunting for some. You might even try to install this without removing the front clip, however, if you follow the instructions to the letter, you'll find that front clip going back together like it had never been taken off. I removed it several times and got pretty good at it. Plan on making some modifications to the front shroud to accommodate the receiver sockets. I got pretty fancy with mine but you can eliminate covers all together if you elect to do so. The base plates are heavy to hold into position while trying to mark the holes. You may need a friend to do the positioning while you mark it up. A hacksaw will be needed to create a space in the louvers for the break-away switch and the electrical mount. Some bits and pieces will also require some removal to make room for the plates(All described in the instructions). You'll also want to find a torque wrench that measures FOOT pounds to torque the base plate bolts. Knowing how to remove the front clip will help down the road as the bolts need to be check torqued 3000 miles down the road. It was a tough install for this wimpy kid from NY, but I muscled through and got it done in the Arizona sun.

Phase II: Auxiliary Brake & Brake Light Electrical Harnesses
This job was somewhat simple and knowing how to remove the front clip made it easy to get the wiring where I needed it. These wiring harnesses were mainly for activating or signaling other components of the system since newer vehicle work on a completely different set of rules than the vehicle of the 20th century. The Brake Light harness draws power from your coach to operate the rear lights only. This harness also sends a signal to the Auxiliary Brake system. You be merging these two harnesses together. This part of the installation will be a good time to route the Emergency Break-Away wiring and the Brake Signal Indicator wiring. Initially, this part of the project was about routing wires for future phases and getting the rear brake lights hooked up.

Phase III: Tow Bar Installation
There doesn't seem to be a lot involved in this phase. Just stick the peg in the hole and you're basically done. It is, however, more involved than that but it is the simplest part of this project. Yes, of course, you insert the tow bar into your rig's receiver hitch. At this point there are safety cables to route and an electrical cord to plan out and assemble. Based on particular models, manufacturers and your own personal preferences the electrical cord that connects from your rig to your toad can be assembled to fit your needs, like eliminating that odd brake light switch wire and wiring it directly through the plug. One less thing to hook up, eh? Once you're finished wiring and cabling, this is a great time to hook up the towed vehicle to your rig and test out the work you've already performed.

Phase IV: Auxiliary Braking Systems
I chose to use the InvisiBrake system to simplify our travel days. Though it is marketed as, "Plug it in and forget about it", it does require some occasional attention. Planning and routing of cords, vacuum tubes and the unit itself is the bulk of this project. The other bulky part is installing the brake pedal actuating components. I elected to install the "brain" of this system on the left side floorboard in front of the third row seating. We almost never have passengers back there and this location keeps it out of the way of everyday activity. Some creative modifying of second row seat rail covers may be required, but this is a perfect fit for the unit. The actuating cylinder was installed along side the driver's foot rest. It is exposed with the actuator cable routed under the carpet. The cylinder is out of the way of the driver's foot and doesn't interfere. The final part, and probably the most complicated, is mounting the brake pedal cable and pulley. I ended up doing this twice, as the first mounting point I chose was too low. The second mounting point was much better but required a bit of creativity because of the folds, dips and rolls shaped into the floorboard.

A few words of advice: You will need to purchase additional, and perhaps longer, self-tapping screws. The metal floorboard is heavy gauge steel in some places and trying to use a self-tapping screw on a spot weld is futile. I found helping the self-tapping screw with a pre-drilled hole to be less frustrating. Again, you may need to purchase replacement drill bits. I ended up dulling or breaking a few. The use of thick spacers solved the problem of uneven floor shaping and those longer self-tapping screws. I felt confident, and still do, that the pulley would operate and hold in place as it is installed.
The important thing to remember is that you want the cable traveling over the pulley in the straightest line of trajectory to the pedal bracket when the pedal is depressed. A helper can assist you by applying the brakes while you fidget around on the floorboard to find that sweet spot to mount the pulley. Another thing to remember about finding that perfect line of trajectory... Your brake pedal travels in an arc pattern at a pivot point attached to the firewall or dash frame. This is why it is important to find that sweet spot. Too low or too high will make it harder for the actuating cylinder to pull on the brake pedal. I just remembered, after purchasing and installing the brake indicator bracket plate, I found it had to be modified slightly with a hammer. The bend was too sharp and caused the brake indicator switch to not fully turn off and it was also causing the brake pedal to not fully rest in place. It took a couple trials and errors to get the right adjustment, but works perfectly now.

Pulling fuses, running the engine and dancing a jig before towing
A lot of these flat towing systems require you to perform a set of procedures to ready the toad vehicle for its journey. Every vehicle has a different set of procedures. Even our 2019 Traverse had some fuse pulling and engine starting involved. After a little digging, I came across an adventurous threader trying to solve his own towing prep procedures and he found a hugely more convenient discovery. The 2019 Chevy Traverse only needed to be slipped into neutral and towed away. His thread can be found on the iRV2 forum and it includes a video of how to gain access to the shift lever switch. A great discovery and just to make me feel comfortable, I start the engine and shift through the gears to make sure the transmission gets lubricated at different stops along our travels. Just DON'T forget to put it back into neutral.

Final Thoughts
My install started in Arizona and ended in East Texas. It was a job that I would rate on a difficulty scale of 1 through 10, as an 8. On our test day, which was also a travel day, I double, triple and quadruple checked everything. We chose a short, two hour trip from New Orleans to Mobile, Alabama. I was constantly watching the rear camera angle for any signs of trouble. I had to re-educate myself on how to change lanes and maneuver because of the additional 15 feet of vehicle that I had added to my rig. After 6 months of traveling, all is well and it will soon be time for a check-up on the system to ensure the base plate bolts are torqued and the braking system is still holding firm.
If you were looking for answers to your install questions and didn't find them in this thread, drop a comment below and I'll see what I can do. The reason I wrote this thread was because of the limited forum information I found regarding the new Chevy Traverse.
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Old 08-18-2022, 10:04 AM   #2
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Okay, so I'll try, AGAIN, to post the pictures that I added to this thread before. The forum and I are having a difference of opinion.
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Old 08-18-2022, 02:44 PM   #3
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Here are the photos I was trying to add to the post before.
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Old 08-18-2022, 08:54 PM   #4
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Location: South Bend, WA
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Hi Ken,
This is an excellent description of what is a difficult task. One of my neighbors a few doors down did the same modification to his 20 year old Chevy sub-full-size truck. Just as you did, He really had to work at getting the cable actuation just right. The other thing I was a little surprised at was the need to totally remove the front facade from your Traverse. At first glance, I thought you were in a wreck and were waiting for new parts!
I am sure your instructions will prove useful to others, and a big thanks for posting the information.
2019 Minnie Winnie 22M on an E-450 frame
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