"A" frame nightmare

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by sugarplum, Oct 30, 2009.

  1. sugarplum

    sugarplum Read Only Funster

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    Hi all
    Had an "A" frame fitted last year by Towtal at Stoke on Trent. We are towing a Citroen Berlingo. All issues to do with towing were discussed at great length with Towtal before the purchase and fitting.

    Not used it a great deal as last winter we were in NZ. So, mainly on 1 or 2 week breaks in Uk or Nth France.

    This week away, we arrived at the campsite and as we were unhitching the car from the RV we realised to our utter horror, that the frame had come away at one side. We immediately began to imagine the worst scenario..... on the m/w.... car comes loose...... doesn't bear thinking about.

    This was Sat so no repy from Towtal. Rang Mon morn and arranged to bring it up to Stoke today [we're in worcs]. My husband has just phoned me and ............

    Wait for this............they are trying to say it is our fault?????
    First 'cos we've got an RV.... "You knew this when you fitted it!"
    Then it must have pulled sideways......."How, exactly?"

    I will know more later when he comes home, but basically he has had to do a very "Mouthy sit in" demanding it be fixed FOC and disgusted with their non-existent customer service.

    This is such a serious matter.. as someone or more lives could have been at risk. I feel sick just thinking about it.

    It doesn't inspire a lot of confindence as we are leaving on 20 dec ferry for Santander for the 4 mths touring EU.

    I am so angry at this point, I just think people should warned about this danger and know how we are being treated through no fault of our own.

    thanks for listening

    Alice and George
     
  2. Geo

    Geo Trader - Funster

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    Wow!!! thats a first and doesn't bode well for a company that I have recommended to many

    It would be a great help if George could get pics,or if he came back with a full description of what actually failed was it the vehicle panels or the Tow bar mountings

    I'm sure there are very many engineering type folk on here who would be very interested in the outcome. my self in particular as Ive taken to converting my own vehicles:Eeek:
    I would rather learn from Towtals mistakes than my own
    Geo
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2009
  3. madbluemad

    madbluemad

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    It will be very interesting to find out what is said and done. I hope you get satisfaction, please keep us informed.

    Jim
    :Smile:
     
  4. takeaflight

    takeaflight Read Only Funster

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    I believe this may have happened before to someone when one of the towing eyes snapped.

    Also if you look on facts there is someone who as issues with the standard of wiring off a tow bar.

    My own experience, some years ago, with our first motorhome and I was to timid to go any where near it with a cordless drill :Eeek:

    Towtall fitted a reversing camera and tow bar. They did me a great favor, after seeing the standard of their work, I have since undertaken all work myself.

    With regard to customer service, after a few months the camera failed, I removed it and drove to Stoke, even though they knew I was going, on arriving the response from an older man who I think was the owner at time was not a pleasant experience.

    To cut a long story short, after being keeped waiting for nearly an hour, while clearly finding other things to do, he produced what looked to be a second hand one. Which incidentally failed shortly after, I then brought a Camos from Roadpro which was perfect.

    Best of luck.

    Type "towtall aframe failure" into google
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2009
  5. sugarplum

    sugarplum Read Only Funster

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    thanks for the input...

    Update is..... things have calmed down a bit now. Apparently when my husband got there they were on the defensive and firing all sorts of reasons for the failure, even though he had gone with an open mind abut it all, hence the heated verbals!

    Someone more diplomatic is dealing with it now....... and they are in the process of replacing the bar and fixings in the car, and making it as good as new.

    The latest reason given is that if you turn too tightly, it puts pressure on the opposite fixings?

    Yes, but enough to shear off the bolts? [Which I gather is what happened].......And should we have have been warned beforehand?

    Still not convinced, but will hear the whole story later.

    cheers Alice and George
     
  6. madbluemad

    madbluemad

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    Glad things are getting sorted. This sort of faliure shoudnt be possible.

    Would be interested to hear any upated news.

    Its not the sought of thing that fills you with confidence. I have been winding myself up to getting an a frame fitted by them for a while now, its just been a case of finding the time.

    It may now be a while longer.

    Jim
    :Smile:
     
  7. moandick

    moandick Read Only Funster

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    OK Folks - may be time to remind you all of the "American" way of A Framing - which I am totally convinced is fail-safe!

    We have a 'blue-Ox' frame and we tow a Volvo V70 estate so you can be assured that we tow closer to 2 tons than 1 - but the A Frame is good for 3 tons anyway!

    The Americans have two steel wire ropes that connect to both the car and the RV - AS WELL AS THE A FRAME!

    The ropes are attached to separate eyes on the RV located just under the A frame hitch - and they cross under the A frame to be attached to the car - again on separate eyelets located just under the A frame fittings.

    So it doesn't matter if the A frame fails on one side or the other - the steel wire ropes will act as an A frame until such times as we draw to a stop.

    That should be easy enough to replicate on an English Frame - if you are too much worried about frame failure.
     
  8. vwalan

    vwalan Funster

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    seems like abit of unfortunate mishap . bolts do break , i,m sure towtal use the right grade. things happen. lets hope they fix it for you. as i have said before i use an intertrade a frame fixed with chains to either chassis or a strong place underneath . it as towed well over its weight limit of 3.500kg and been used for about 27/28 years . i,m sure the newstyle are upto more than they give wt limits for. it does sound like a very unfortunate misshap. i,m sure in a few years time op will be laughing around a campfire saying how lucky they were. i once had a roof rack fall off the roof of a beetle cost me a few quid to the bloke behind to not call the police, but thats another story. it,ll all come out in the wash. keep your fingers crossed. cheers alan.
     
  9. ArenqueRojo

    ArenqueRojo Read Only Funster

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    Seems to me there is an important bit of physics to consider with all A-frame rigs.
    Going forward is not a problem as the front wheels are free to turn using the castor effect (ie. they will point in the direction of travel with a tendency towards the straight).
    However, when going backwards, the castor effect would require the front wheels to be able to turn through more than 90 degrees, which they can't on a car.
    If reversed in a straight line, the problem won't be apparent but, the moment you reverse off the straight line vector, the castor effect is counter to the direction of travel and there is pressure on the arms of the A-frame to drag the front wheels sideways.
    OK, we don't expect to reverse A-frames round corners but it will happen to some, albeit minor, extent when going backwards.
    This will put strain on the bolts.

    Now, as I understand it, the law requires that you be able to reverse a trailer.
    If Towtal's rig cannot be reversed, it isn't legal.
    If it can be reversed, it must be strong enough to cope with the lateral drag on the front wheels that such a manouver implies.

    Ergo, they can't say it must not be reversed and therefore can't say that it is the users fault if the strain on the frame bolts is insufficient to cope with lateral drag.

    Thats my penny'orth!
    Patrick
     
  10. vwalan

    vwalan Funster

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    hi patrick , the rules say be reversed ,dont say how far or if under control .lets not go there though. just an unfortunate incidence. nobody hurt !some pride bruised. many miles left to cover dont be put off things happen.
     
  11. ArenqueRojo

    ArenqueRojo Read Only Funster

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    Ouch, Alan
    Hope the frame stood up to it though:Wink:
    Is my theory right? You would know, I suspect.
    Patrick
     
  12. vwalan

    vwalan Funster

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    yes. i would say you are about right. we used to play in the backyard of the garage reverse on an a frame . it can be done sometimes. i have towed lorries with mine. as to reversing i would like to see any one with a large truck/ m,home reverse a 3ft x 4ft trailer behind it. no camera,s . its all abit daft. but back on thread . its little slip ups like this that causes alot of grief. i may have not said anything if it was me. i,m sure towtal will be very nice n make it all secure. we/they are human, things go wrong. thousands of miles have been driven by thousands of people using a frames. perhaps we should ban cars. more deaths caused by cars than aframes in use!. it used to be ok to recover trucks on a big aframe ,dont no much about when but it was frowned upon for many a year. we used to put a connection in the front of trucks so you could hook up to let the brakes off. still needed for suspended tow. cheers alan.
     
  13. takeaflight

    takeaflight Read Only Funster

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    Things can and do go wrong .

    Its the way in which the problem is sorted that counts. :Doh:
     
  14. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    The latest reason given is that if you turn too tightly, it puts pressure on the opposite fixings?

    rubbish!!!! the front of a smallish car unladen will be around 1/2 ton and you will drag that sideways with no problem plus the A frame will stand a lot more than that

    Yes, but enough to shear off the bolts?

    if they fitted proper high tensile steel bolts then they shouldnt shear with the forces involved in towing.
    think of the forces involved in a steel framed sky scraper...twisting and bending...and the bolts holding them together dont shear off.
    OK its on a different scale but they have many hundreds of tons pushing/pulling on the bolts.

    chances are the fabricated mounting plate welds on the toad have failed or the body panel has split.

    fitted mine myself and its bolted directly to the front crossmember, no flimsy brackets here, so if mine comes adrift it means a new front crossmember.:Eek!:
     
  15. olley

    olley Funster

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    Hi wasn't one of the "A" frame manufactures using standard "eye bolts" which are only designed for tension loads not lateral. A poster had one shear off, possibly on the "other" site.

    Olley
     
  16. Forestboy

    Forestboy Funster Life Member

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    Have to say I agree with Dick.
    We've towed a jeep over 30'000 miles without a single mishap.
    BlueOx is the only way to tow, the yanks do know how to make proper A frames.
    Hope you get it sorted:thumb:
     
  17. peter marshall

    peter marshall

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    Hi Alice & George
    I did no see this incident in Narbonne last year, I was on La Nautique and got talking to a couple who like us was towing a trailer & smart car, his friends who was using the A frame system (I don't know the make) had overturned the car on a roundabout, fortunately no injuries but extensive damage to the vehicle that finished upside down on the roundabout, which meant he would have to leave it with the repairers and travel back to Narbonne at a later date. at least you did not have that to deal with. Pete:Angry::Angry::Angry:
     
  18. schojac

    schojac Read Only Funster

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    Been towing a seicento behind a Mohican for the best part of this year. Had one issue that concerned me apart from reversing :Angry:

    Taking a fairly sharp(full lock) and downward gradient bend I experienced a thud from the rear; enough to make me stop. Inspected everything from rear grounding to A frame connection. Didn't find anything but thought it might be worth mentioning on the forum. Something I will watch out for in the future. I wondered if, due to overhang, that the movement was greatly magnified and caused the problem???

    I have a car a tow by the way.
     
  19. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    nothing to worry about.

    its just the hydraulic damper in the hitch reaching the end of its travel and would be more noticable going downhill with the extra weight on the damper.

    mine does it under sudden and heavy braking.
     
  20. vwalan

    vwalan Funster

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    could have been caused by the brake mechanism on the a frame as you turned and went forward the brake jerked off and transmitted a noise from the sliding hitch. only a guess but i think it makes sense. i hope you were going slowly as full lock is very sharp. open to other suggestions . cheers alan.
     
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