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May 24, 2020, 11:46:50 PM

Towing your Buggy (A-frames etc.)

This is a discussion for the topic Towing your Buggy (A-frames etc.) on the board Beach Buggy General Help.

Author Topic: Towing your Buggy (A-frames etc.)  (Read 22906 times)

this user is offline apmaman

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Reply #15 on: November 25, 2016, 10:20:31 AM
Well going by the Post 1997 I could tow a 990kg trailer using my Landy Discovery 1 as its MAM is 2510kg as it would not exceed the 3500kg......So, if a buggy is circa 800kg I could get away with it on a towaframe..... or a very light trailer!

I think anyway.
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this user is offline Manxdavid

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Reply #16 on: November 25, 2016, 10:55:38 AM
Well going by the Post 1997 I could tow a 990kg trailer using my Landy Discovery 1 as its MAM is 2510kg as it would not exceed the 3500kg......So, if a buggy is circa 800kg I could get away with it on a towaframe..... or a very light trailer!

I think anyway.

No, if its got brakes they need to work with the tow vehicles.
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this user is offline AndyRobinson

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Reply #17 on: November 25, 2016, 11:16:07 AM
Agreed with David (got brakes etc.)


BUT if it was on a very light trailer (i.e. all buggy wheels are off the road) then I guess it could be unbraked  :-\
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this user is offline apmaman

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Reply #18 on: November 25, 2016, 12:21:36 PM
Yeah on a towaframe it would need to be able to brake. I am shamelessly waiting for the few on here to post how they have managed to do it  ;D

I doubt i could get a 200kg trailer. Would need to be made from carbon fibre haha!
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Reply #19 on: November 25, 2016, 01:40:32 PM
Yeah on a towaframe it would need to be able to brake. I am shamelessly waiting for the few on here to post how they have managed to do it

That's an easy one, just buy one.

http://www.armitagetrailers.com/Aframes.htm

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this user is offline apmaman

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Reply #20 on: November 25, 2016, 02:48:14 PM
Thats a cool bit of kit! I wonder if they do a black friday discount!
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Reply #21 on: November 27, 2016, 11:22:20 AM
Well going by the Post 1997 I could tow a 990kg trailer using my Landy Discovery 1 as its MAM is 2510kg as it would not exceed the 3500kg......So, if a buggy is circa 800kg I could get away with it on a towaframe..... or a very light trailer!

I think anyway.

Yep thats correct!



In fact there wasn't actually that much of a change in 1997.

prior to 1997 the standard test awarded you with categories B & BE.
post 1997 you only get category B, and an extra test is needed for BE.

so what do the categories B and BE allow you to do?

B - vehicle up to 3500kg with a trailer up to 750kg
       or trailers over 750kg if trailer + vehicle isn't over 3500kg and trailer doesn't weight more than vehicle

BE - trailers + vehicle over 3500kg


so as long as your buggy+ a frame is less than 750kg nothing changes.
 


this user is offline Dave DND

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Reply #22 on: February 10, 2017, 04:30:04 PM
For the last few years, I have usually had a trailer tent on the back of my Buggy when we go camping and it has been great, but as Lisa is now struggling a little bit with the tent after her various operations, we decided a while back to join the growing number of you that tow your Buggy to some of the shows behind a camper. Just to be awkwardly different, we bought an American Day Van as our tow vehicle instead of the usual VW T5/6, and fitted a conventional tow bar to it, so that we could drag the Buggy behind us.

If only it were that easy.   ::)


In the good old days, in fact, not that many moons ago, if you wanted to tow a Buggy anywhere, you used what was called an A-Frame. The name obviously given by its shape. They were crudely built, they attached with nothing more than a couple of straps or chains to the lower torsion bar in less time than it took me to write that bit, you could pick them up for about fifty quid and after you had moved you car, you sold them on again for fifty quid. They were brilliant, they were perfect, they were pretty safe to use, and above all else they towed fantastically. But now there is a distinct downside to them, and that is that they are deemed illegal to use.



The Road Safety Bureaucrats that cannot leave anything alone, passed a law a while back about brakes having to operate from the towed vehicle and if you look on the net you will find so much mis-information and confusion about this and what can and cannot be done legally. Some websites claim that a car being towed is now a trailer and that changes things (it doesn`t) and some say that various configurations of car towing dollies are subject to different rules (they aren`t). The rules can actually be very easily understood if simplified, and in reality there are only 2 of them.

The first rule is that the car that is being towed must have its brakes operated via the car that is towing it. Easy enough to understand.

The second rule, (and the one that causes most confusion), is that ANY WHEEL that touches the road, must have its brakes operated by the towing vehicle, so long as the wheel has brakes fitted.

Now unlike trailers, cars are legally obliged to have brakes on each corner, so it does mean that if we tow a car, then all of the brakes must be activated from the towing vehicle. Its a pretty simple concept to grasp and understand, and you can see why the A-Frame above falls foul of this, as there is no means to operate the brakes.

To show where the confusion comes from, have a look at this quite expensive towing dolly. Now this does not have any brakes fitted. It is classed as a trailer and does not require brakes to be fitted nor operated by the towing vehicle. If you tow this behind your car as it is, then it is legal to do so. However, if you plonk your front wheels on top of the dolly things change, but not where you think. 



The wheels of the dolly do not have brakes and do not need them. The front wheels of your car are not touching the road, so can be excluded from this discussion. The rear wheels of your car that are now being dragged along the road are now subject to rule 2, and the brakes need to be operated from the towing vehicle. Like the original A-Frame there is no means to do this, so as you can now appreciate, these dollies are therefore no longer legal to use.

Simple enough to understand ?  ;-)up



Ok then.
Thats enough of the doom and gloom, lets now look at the solution that we need to get our heads around, and that came from something that we also see on the road every day. The Caravan.

Virtually all Caravans on the road these days have cable operated brakes, and if you look at the tow hitch of one, you will see a small handbrake lever that operates them when they are parked. What you may not know is that the big rubber bellows contains a sliding tow hitch mechanism that also allows the brakes to operate whilst they are being towed. As the tow vehicle slows down, the weight of the caravan now trying to crash into the back of you compresses a mechanism that operates the brakes. It is very simple and extremely effective. All we need to do is make this operate our Buggy brakes and you can see a solution forming itself. In fact the solution is so simple. Instead of this cable pulling on the caravan brakes, we could just attach it to our brake pedal and have it pull that instead.

If you are now thinking along the lines of "can we attach one of these caravan hitches to the old A-Frame and connect it to the brake pedal" then you are not far off where the solution is. But hang on a minute, things have moved on a long way since the old A-Frame, and these Motorhomers that are dragging small cars behind their Gin-Palaces are certainly not going to be lying down on the floor getting dirty and messing with straps now, are they?

No, they have a much slicker solution that we should now take a closer look at.
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this user is offline Dave DND

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Reply #23 on: February 10, 2017, 04:30:17 PM
What the Motorhomers do, is to permanently attach a discreet quick release bracket to the front of the car being towed, and then use an A-Frame that can be folded up and stowed away when not in use. There are various types on the market, and if you are towing something modern, then the brackets are readily available off the shelf for you to buy and fit.

The problem we have is that nobody as yet makes an off the shelf solution for a Buggy, and everything I have seen so far is completely bespoke. So I thought I would take a closer look at the brilliant solutions that some of you have come up with - and then try and cobble something together that may work for me.

Now whilst there are loads of different types on the market, they usually conform to one of two designs, with this type certainly the most common. The Folding A-Frame is on the right, (and I`ll talk about electrics and brakes later, at the moment I am just looking at physical fittings). On the left is a bracket that permanently fits to the vehicle with two protruding eyelets and a long bar that goes between them To attach the A-Frame you literally slide the bar through the eyelets and the frame holes and thats it.





This picture of MickyB`s Buggy shows the bar and frame fitted. I have not asked him this yet, but I do wonder looking at that picture if the wheels need to be turned to allow enough room for that bar to be slid out fully. Its certainly not a problem if it is, but its something you may want to factor in when trying to position where the eyelets end up.





And when the A-Frame is removed, all you are left with are the 2 eyelets showing, and I think that where MickyB has positioned them makes them look quite discreet.





Another very similar variation on a theme, and you can see that the eyelets can look quite subtle and fairly inconspicuous.





You may also have noticed by now that we are no longer attaching anything directly to the lower torsion tube like we used to with the older style A-Frame. I know the tubes are strong, but there was always something in my mind that suggested that they may bend with the constant pulling and pushing. The whole front end of our Buggies is held together with the four very strong bolts that go through the front beam and into the frame head and its these four bolts that everybody now seems to be using to support the extra towing bracket. Many years ago, there was a trend of clamping a stabilizing bar around the lower torsion tube and connecting it to the floor pan in an attempt to add some extra rigidity to the front suspension, and if you look closely at Paddy`s Buggy here, you will see that he has also added these bars to his bracket for extra strength.





Just as a quick note of caution if you are designing anything to fit in this area, and that is to watch out for that protrusion on the Pitman Arm on the bottom of the steering box. I got caught out a few years ago by that one. Make sure you operate the steering at full lock from one side to another and watch that the arm doesn`t catch on anything





Some of these brackets are physically very wide as you can see and in reality are intended to be used with a modern car with a big metal cross member or bumper to bolt them to. Most of the eyelet brackets I have seen to date are attached to some form of flat plate, and you can see from this picture that whilst the strength comes from the middle bolts, you are actually pulling on the ends of the plate where it could flex if not careful. MickyB has overcome this by adding some extra support clamps at each end that attach to the torsion bar.





The other common type of setup is to mount the round bar on the car, and have the eyelets on the A-Frame instead. These are then secured in place with a pin. These do appear to be significantly heavier in construction and appearance and in most cases they can look a little ugly due to their size. However, Carl overcame that one though by painting them in the same metallic green as the rest of his chassis, and I personally think it looks awesome and as though that bar was just meant to be there.





One of the biggest differences though is the way that this bracket "pulls" on the car. Because there is no flat vertical plate going from one side of the car to the other, this bracket focuses its pull on the center where the frame head bolts are rather than the edges. Carl has quite a lot going on here with his Subaru Powered Buggy, but there appear to be no extra supports used or required. Carl has over engineered this Buggy to a very high standard, so if he did not feel that extra supports were needed, then it can be pretty much taken as read that the four frame head bolts should suffice.





And this is my own one





If you tow your Buggy with something similar, then why not show us a picture of your own solution   ;-)up
« Last Edit: February 22, 2017, 10:55:40 PM by Dave DND »
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Reply #24 on: February 25, 2017, 12:39:29 PM
The braking system on these A-frames is actually very simplistic. Modern vehicles with servo assistance or electric brakes do have some very complex means of attachment, but for us, its just a matter of pulling on the brake pedal.

This picture of MickyB's setup show it all going on. On the previous pictures you may have noticed a small cable protruding through the front of the car with a metal fork that has a hole through it. This cable is permanently attached to the Buggy, and when clipping on the A-Frame, we also clip on the brake cable using quick release connectors. As the towing car slows down, the inertia of the Buggy following it causes the braking mechanism inside the bellows to compress, and this in turn pulls on the brake cable that is now attached to the front of the Buggy.





When you see the other end of the cable, you should start to understand just how simple this is. As the cable is pulled, so is the brake pedal.







A top tip that some do here is to wrap a bungee strap around the pedal to make sure that the brakes are never binding as you are being pulled along and that they only operate when you need them to.




« Last Edit: February 26, 2017, 08:40:49 AM by Dave DND »
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Reply #25 on: February 26, 2017, 05:42:43 PM
There are some other aspects we need to comply with when towing. You must show the number plate of the towing vehicle at the rear, and technically speaking, you are not permitted to display two number plates, so best to cover up the Buggy one when its not under its own steam. Another one that catches a lot of people out, is that anything being towed must also display reflective red triangles. And finally, of course, we need to display some rear lights.

Now the easiest way to do this is by using what is known as a trailer board. You will all have seen them before, and it is nothing more than a board with lights, reflectors and a number plate that is hung on to the rear of the Buggy with a great long cable that plugs into the towing vehicle. Dead easy to do.





But why not use the lights that are already in place on the Buggy? A common practice is to fit another trailer socket at the front of the Buggy which is spliced into the Buggy electrics, so that when the towing vehicles lights are operated, so are the lights on the Buggy. Some of the trailer sockets can be quite discreetly hidden.







You will also need to attach a rear number plate and a couple of warning triangles, but there can also be a couple of unforseen drawbacks when towing with a modern car. Most cars nowadays have bulb failure warnings and if you have a modern vehicle with CAN-BUS technology, then it will also be monitoring the lights of the Buggy to see if they are working. This may prove to be an issue if your Buggy uses LED lighting, as the low resistance of the LED's can sometimes display a slight flickering as the CAN-BUS data runs through them. The easiest remedy to this one is to tow with your lights switched on, and that way any flickering is masked to anyone following.

The other issue is a legislative one, for which I cannot find an answer as yet.

If your modern tow vehicle is equipped with rear fog lights, then any trailer board and trailer must also display a fog light as well. If you have an old tow car without fog lights, then your trailer does not require a fog light. That was simple enough to  understand, and in the good old days of using the agricultural A-Frame, the car being towed was always classed as a trailer and therefore you followed the rules from the car towing it.

However, I cannot find confirmation about towing an old car with no fog lights by a car with fog lights. The car being towed is no longer classed as a trailer, it is now classed as a car, and old cars do not require them to be fitted. If you follow the rules of the car that is towing, then you are effectively classing the Buggy as a trailer, which is no longer the case. It seems to be a very grey area of the law and legislation has changed with the assumption that any car now being towed behind a motorhome is also going to be a modern car and they haven't actually thought about us lot with our old cars.

If anyone could clarify that one for me, then I would indeed be most grateful

 ;-)up
« Last Edit: February 26, 2017, 05:44:46 PM by Dave DND »
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Reply #26 on: February 27, 2017, 02:33:21 PM
From what I see you have a few options Dave.

  • Fit a fog light to your buggy and make it work
  • Contact the DVLA/tame police officer and after for written clarification on headed paper.
  • If it's foggy pull over until the conditions clear
  • If it's foggy get someone else to drive the tow vehicle or buggy and unhitch it
  • Suck it and see, if you can't find the answer then it is unlikely that any bobby will have the answer either


this user is offline apmaman

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Reply #27 on: February 27, 2017, 03:29:27 PM
Personally if it was me I would continue to use a board, I know they are not the prettiest but it does have everything in one package. Even if its butt-ugly.

There is nothing to stop you making a fancy green flaked board with some warning triangles, or do they have to be white?
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Reply #28 on: March 22, 2017, 12:55:30 PM
It looks like the towing laws have changed again, to allow everyone the permission to tow up to a total vehicle and trailer weight of 3500kg.
(Updated 17th March 2017)


https://www.gov.uk/towing-with-car/what-you-can-tow

Licences issued from 1 January 1997
If you passed your car driving test on or after 1 January 1997 you can:

drive a car or van up to 3,500kg maximum authorised mass (MAM) towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM
tow a trailer over 750kg MAM as long as the combined MAM of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500kg
MAM is the limit on how much the vehicle can weigh when it’s loaded.

You have to pass the car and trailer driving test if you want to tow anything heavier.

Licences issued before 1 January 1997
If you passed your car test before 1 January 1997 you’re usually allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250kg MAM. View your driving licence information to check.

You’re also allowed to drive a minibus with a trailer over 750kg MAM.


this user is offline Brookster

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Reply #29 on: August 07, 2017, 02:30:04 PM
Great info cheers  :)

Got mine booked in at Armitage trailers for the A Frame kit fitting  ;-)up
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