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Tow bars

Posted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 3:23 pm
by osholt
Hi all,

As my car is currently up in the air and apart for other upgrades, including having the fuel tank out, I was considering adding a tow bar for the odd occasion I need to tow a small trailer or maybe a small caravan in the future.

I have seen the TSSC sell what appears to be a "bolt on" tow bar produced by Watling. I haven't seen a picture of one installed on a car and wanted to see how it looks / interferes with the bumper with and without the tow ball installed.

Are there any other options for tow bars I should be aware of?

When it's finished the car will have a 2.5 pi spec engine but with a modern EFI system, 3.45 diff and the front brakes upgraded to 4 pot Wilwoods so hopefully the going and stopping power will be adequate.

Thanks,

Oliver

Re: Tow bars

Posted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 8:54 pm
by johnnydog
Having fitted a towbar to every Mk2 2000 /2.5 saloon I have owned (and that's quite a few :lol:), the general design is basically the same - a curved piece of angle iron profiled to the shape of the rear panel, with a drop plate for the flange type towball in the centre, supported by one or two bars to the boot floor from directly behind the drop plate mounting directly to the boot floor behind the spare wheel well. The angle iron cross section utilises the two centre bumper mounting holes.
I only use the type that has the angle iron cross section mounted directly behind the centre bumper; there are some that sit below the bumper rather than behind it, and imho, they look very unsightly. I have had one that had a tubular steel cross section rather than L shaped angle iron, but this type isn't as common.
The drop plate for the towball can be similar to an 'S' shape to position the ball correctly away from the bumper, or sometimes it can be a straight drop plate, but then has a a larger spacer block to correctly position the towbar; the former again, imho, looks far neater.
Some have the drop plate welded to the cross angle iron section; sometimes behind it and sometimes in front of it. Some are bolted - I prefer the bolted type as the towbars of the day weren't perhaps as accurately manufactured as today, and it allowed a certain amount of 'jiggle' room. Sometimes the drop plate is very close to the rear panel, and having the option to position it either in front or behind the angle iron, and also to be able to put the bolts in forward or rearward facing can make quite difference to avoid any slight flexing of the towbar under load damaging or marking the rear panel.
Also, any fittings should include spacers for the support bars from the rear of the towball / drop plate flange mounting points, to the boot floor behind the spare wheel well - without these, the lip of the join between the rear valance to boot floor will be crushed when the mounting bolts are tightened.
The original towbars used longer bolts into the original cage nuts on the bumper - if the bumper comes off with these intact, then I would recommend high tensile unf bolts to accommodate the thickness of the towbar angle iron. If the cage and bolts have to be cut off due to the corroded bumper bolts, you can either use longer bolts fitted from the inside of the bumper into the car with nuts in the boot, which I find easier to fit, or bolts from the boot through the rear panel and towbar, with nuts inside the bumper, but this way is awkward to get the nut and washers on the bolts.
And finally, don't forget to refit the fibre washers between the mounting points of the bumper - the towbar fits directly against the bodywork between the bumper, and without these washers, the towbar rubs the paint off the mounting points and causes rusting.
I have towed trailers and caravans with the majority of them; they were all standard spec, except the fitting of estate or heavy duty rear springs.
Hope this helps!

Re: Tow bars

Posted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 11:18 pm
by Dave B
I quite like the look of the Australian style tongue towbar which uses a bolt-on pin rather than a cranked tow ball.
Having said that, I've never seen one in the UK, not on a Triumph anyway.
https://www.unicorntrays.com/products/c ... -bars.html
Couldn't find a pic of one on a Triumph, sorry

Re: Tow bars

Posted: Mon Oct 12, 2020 9:08 am
by johnnydog
Further to the above, Rimmers advertise the Watling GTT607 tow bar for the 2000 Mk2 saloon range.
My only observation is that the support bracket from the towball flange to the boot floor appears to bolt through the underside of the spare wheel well, rather than the actual boot floor near to the join with the rear valence. This causes two issues - the spare wheel is resting on the heads of the fastening bolts which over time leaves marks in the spare tyre, and secondly, the depth of the bracket when mounted in the spare wheel well effectively lowers the clearance at the back end. I have one similar to this on my late model Mk1 with the flat spare wheel well, and it does make things more difficult for inserting a trolley jack etc. It works ok, but I dont prefer this type of mounting.
On the Mk2, there is no cutting or modification required of the rear bumper incidentally.
Here's a picture of it and of a 2000 with the type I have (although this has an additional plate to stop any towball damage to the rear bumper)
https://rimmerbros.com/Item--i-GTT607
3547664.jpg

Re: Tow bars

Posted: Mon Oct 12, 2020 10:05 am
by johnnydog
Here's a couple of pictures that may be of help -
1 - a ratty one on EBay which gives an idea of its shape, although this would no doubt be ok with shot blasting and then powder coating. It is constructed however with welded sections to form the drop plate flange which doesn't look as neat as a curved one piece section, but it gives an idea of my preferred mounting to the boot floor.
Screenshot_20201012-103834.png
The other is one of my own car - a side view so you can see how neat it all is behind the bumper although mine does have a stabilizer bracket fitted.
Screenshot_20201012-105531.png

Re: Tow bars

Posted: Thu Oct 15, 2020 8:34 pm
by osholt
Thanks all for the advice, suggestions and pictures! A tow bar is definitely on my wish list of parts; I will keep the fitting and mounting advice in mind. I will look into ordering one!

Oliver

Re: Tow bars

Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 10:47 am
by johnnydog
No problem! If you need any more info, just ask!

Re: Tow bars

Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 12:05 pm
by Charles H
Why not put a wanted ad on here. Some people can't even give them away! You may be lucky!

Re: Tow bars

Posted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 6:34 am
by Clifford Pope
I fitted one to an early Mark 1 once. Three observations:

1) Test the angle iron against to bodywork carefully, and adjust the curvature if necessary to ensure that there is a clear gap all the way across.
2) Fitting the angle iron behind the bumper inevitably moves the whole bumper assembly backwards. I found problems fitting the side bumpers because the holes didn't align up. I can't now remember the solution - probably enlarging the holes into slots.
3) The attachment to the boot floor is not going to provide much actual towing strength - it's only a thin panel. I think the purpose is really to counteract any tendency for the rear angle iron to twist.

Re: Tow bars

Posted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 8:44 am
by Charles H
Looks like Oliver has a Mk2. The Mk2 corner bumpers have slotted cage nuts to allow for the extra when a tow bar is fitted.