A Frames And Tow Cars

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by M1ke, Jun 22, 2015.

  1. M1ke

    M1ke Funster

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    I am pondering a tow car for my Kontiki 679 and have tried to read everything I can on the forum about the pro's and cons. I realise that its a big grey area in Europe and you use one at your own risk , but I seem to recall somewhere that a decision was supposed to be being made this year as a definitive answer to the legality of towing with an A frame across the EU? Or did I dream that?

    I actually have no intention of using one outside the UK, where I now understand that VOSA say that it is an untested area, mainly due to the fact that there have been no serious incidents with tow cars. So my question is this, has anything changed or is likely to change in the near future which will give us a yes no answer?


    Mike
     
  2. Jaws

    Jaws Funster Life Member

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    Well there has been threats for as long as I can remember about changes..
    In fact I was handed a memo a few weeks ago at the local VOSA training centre concerning non-trailered vehicle towing ( yessss... typical govt dept, have to put everything in as long winded way as pos ! )

    Once again the situation is 'under review' .. Which basically means it is as fluid as it has been for some years..

    However..........
    Talking to one of the instructors and a bit more info was gleaned.
    Since tow bars have had to be type approved there is a rumour the type approval does not include the use of an a frame set up ( nor actually a bike rack fitted to it )

    Whilst it is unlikely to have any teeth at the present, if some jobs worth happens to want to make a name for them selves it may well be included in the specs that a tow bar must be specifically tested for a frame and or other uses to be legal.

    Lets just say I am watching from a fairly close up spot on the side lines for any info appertaining................
     
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  3. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    As you will have read already, DVSA interpret the law as the toad becomes a trailer as long as it meets trailer regulations...brake efficiency etc.

    Until a presedence is set in the law courts (someone gets nicked for towing) it will remain an acceptable, if not defined as legal, method of towing.

    Since 1998 all cars have type approval which dictates what can be fitted and A frames dont have type approval so technically cant be fitted to post 1998 cars.

    my interpretation is, a drawbar (A frame) is a front mounted towbar

    VOSA will be more concerned about weights.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2015
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  4. kalamitty

    kalamitty Funster

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    theres a lot of waffle about towing with a A-frame, i'm carrying on doing it, in this country, i heard europe got invovled because the dutch have trailers with four wheels and they were causing accidents.
     
  5. DuxDeluxe

    DuxDeluxe Funster Life Member

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    Having an A Frame fitted to Mrs Deluxe's car today........ I'll take the risk as we don't intend to tow outside UK anyway
     
  6. gus-lopez

    gus-lopez Funster

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    No , A frames were invented with one specific purpose, to remove a stranded vehicle from a main road to a place of safety as quickly & easily as possible & nothing else.
    People realised that they could take liberties & did so.
    Here, to move damaged vehicles/illegal parkers they use 'skates . You wouldn't expect to see someone using them to take his car on holiday ? :)
    They aren't legal here because trailers over 750 kgs , which is what a towed car would be classed as , require "trailer" registration along with road tax & insurance, which obviously can't be done as the trailer is registered as a car & can't be registered twice.
    Additionally it is illegal to tow a car , even a broken down one. So you've no chance. France has similar trailer regs , as do the Germans.
     
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  7. M1ke

    M1ke Funster

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    Agreed, but technology has gone a long way since then. A frames and towed cars now have automatic braking together with all lights and safety equipment in the event of an accident. As no one has yet to be prosecuted in this country, I would suggest that the police are not particularly worried about it.
     
  8. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    Yes, but it's only as good as the person connecting it up.
    Many times I have seen A frame brake cables so slack they all but drag on the tarmac, and I don't mean the breakaway cable...might as well not be connected at all.
    No matter how hard you brake that cable will never apply the cars brakes.
     
  9. simplyjimbo

    simplyjimbo Funster

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    Mike,
    Do you have a tow car already, or are you going to buy one?
    We have a Smart Cab on a 61 plate and a Brian James Smart trailer which we tow behind our Kon-Tiki 669.
    The trailer is perfectly balanced, and can be pushed about even with the car aboard.
    I looked into A frames, (they can cost as much as a decent second hand trailer too), but by the time you have messed about fitting it, connecting it up etc it is just far easier to drive onto the trailer, strap up, and go.
    Job done in about 5 mins, and the car is off the road, so the wear and tear is less while you travel round.
    Never had a problem with access on sites, even with 28 feet of M/H towing it, and ferry costs are still the same as they would be for an A frame.
    Off to France on 1st July for a month, and cant wait.....! The Smarty is known as Daisy as its small and white! Nikki Birthday 1014 and Millau 059.JPG
     
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  10. dave newell lvs

    dave newell lvs Trader-Vehicle Services

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    Not really bothered how people choose to transport a car but we did have a classic demonstration a couple of weeks ago as to why a car on A frame doesn't meet trailer legislation. The driver in question ignored the standing instruction to park in the main estate car park and was asked to go back there. He had a car on A frame behind and credit where its due he did try to reverse it but at the first camber change of the ground the front wheels of the car locked over in the opposite direction to that which he desired. At this point he gave in and had to get out and unhitch which took several minutes.

    Many people say that while the ability to reverse under sole control of driver of towing vehicle is a stipulation of trailer regs it doesn't say how far. I always think "what if you've turned down a country road that gets very narrow and an ambulance under blues and twos comes the other way, can you clear the road quickly enough if you have to uncouple, drive the car back (perhaps half a mile or more) then run back to your motorhome and reverse that out of the way?" Our customer clearly demonstrated that you simply cannot reverse a car and A frame outfit any meaningful distance under full control of the driver of the towing vehicle. If this had happened in a country lane and blocked an ambulance on an emergency run then there could well have been a fatality in the ambulance due to time lost in getting to hospital.

    D.
     
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  11. Phill D

    Phill D

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    i was under the impression ( maybe wrongly ) that as of all vehicles registered from 1 Sept 2014 the vehicle has to be type approved to be fitted with an A Frame, as per tow bar.
    therefore eventually ( as pre sept 2014 cars fall by the wayside)there will be no supply of potential TOADs as none will be type approved.

    therefore technically the problem goes away in X years time
     
  12. M1ke

    M1ke Funster

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    Yes reversing is a problem and a trailer on the rear of a motorhome would be a living nightmare to reverse IMHO. I was looking around various A frame suppliers and was impressed with the reversing capabilities of this lot....
     
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  13. vwalan

    vwalan Funster

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    having been in the garage trade and using a frames dollies etc for recovery since the 70,s . i say a fifth wheeler is the way. . they can be reversed . you have your vehicle when parked up. i used to use my aframe alot . but for pleasure purposes i,m glad i got my outfit 15 yrs ago. changed the tow vehicle but cant see a better system . have had numerous campers buses , trucks , caravans . but 5er or mini artic suits me fine . have 20 ft of living space . a seven seater tow vehicle . yet total length is only ten metres . so cheap ferries as most allow eleven metres as car and caravan . not everyones idea but works for me .
     
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  14. dave newell lvs

    dave newell lvs Trader-Vehicle Services

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    Reversing a conventional trailer on the rear of any vehicle, whether it be a Land Rover, a John Deere tractor or a motorhome is simply a matter of training and practice. I have reversed from the gates of our estate all the way into the workshop and parked trailers alongside the lift, a total distance of around 70 metres I think and involving going uphill to the right, then straightening up before turning left through a 12 foot wide doorway and turning even further left, then right to parallel park alongside the lift which is in line with the doorway. I have done this several times with different trailers ranging from a little over 2 metres length to just over 5 metres with twin axles and my motorhome has over 6 feet from rear axle centre to towball so less than perfect. When someone can do the same with an A framed car I will happily concede that they meet trailer law!

    The vid is impressive but its all on flat ground. All cars have steering geometry which gives "self centreing", its a requirement of construction and use regs (take a kit car for SVA test and this is one of the things they check for). The self centreing action is caused by Castor angle. The downside is that when going backwards the castor angle works in reverse too so that at the first alteration of gradient, road camber or chosen direction the steering will naturally turn to full lock in that direction. My experience of life tells me that will be 8-9 times out of 10 in the wrong direction.

    Trailer law only requires the outfit to be capable of reversing under sole control of driver of towing vehicle, it doesn't require that driver to have the skill or ability.

    D.
     
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  15. M1ke

    M1ke Funster

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    Hi Jimbo

    No i don't have one yet as I have not convinced myself that it's the right thing to do. I have considered a trailer but it needs to be stored and a smart car is no good as I need a 4 seater. I think I may just get a hire car when I go away as it saves alot of hassle. :)
     
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  16. donnkim

    donnkim Funster

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    We have the A frame mentioned in the video and as also stated it will not reverse as in the video. However, if I set the steering to locked position - much more control - but then again not brilliant.
    As on the very very rare occasion of blue lights Kim can jump out 30 seconds unhitch and off while I reverse the motorhome. We can't legislate for every eventuality surely!
     
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  17. s20hymer

    s20hymer Funster

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    we have car-a-tow aframe have fitted pneumatic jocky wheel just unhitch and drive away in seconds saves so much hassle
     
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  18. M1ke

    M1ke Funster

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    That sounds interesting. Have you a pic of it?
     
  19. s20hymer

    s20hymer Funster

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    sorry been looking no photos... its the same as caravan jockey wheel but with pneumatic tyre.... they should come with bracket that bolts to side of a frame ...makes hitching up so simple can do it yourself just drive up wind handle down
     
  20. M1ke

    M1ke Funster

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    Thanks, I'll check it out. What do you think of the car-a-tow A frame?
     
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