Tow Bar?

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Re: Tow Bar?

Postby mikeydude » Sat 25.02.2012, 12:59

I propose a lightweight trailer made from a large thule topbox.

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Re: Tow Bar?

Postby Stef » Mon 05.06.2017, 11:16

Hello
Resurrecting this thread for latest advice please.

Ideally looking for a detachable tow bar, for obvious reasons, but does anyone know what options I have both legally and availability

It seems my Smart ForTwo (2004) is NOT legal to tow even though I have seen them tow. Entered a minefield here I think...
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Re: Tow Bar?

Postby Fredjohn » Mon 05.06.2017, 23:15

Any towbar would need to be fastened to the chassis, and that finishes in front of the boot. You'd be unlikely to find such a fitting. And I would not recommend trying to fit it to the boot floor unless you want to rip it off.....

I do seem to recall seeing an Elan towing an Elan rear end as a trailer though. Personally would suggest that you don't do it.
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Re: Tow Bar?

Postby lotusflasherman » Tue 06.06.2017, 02:22

Apart from the difficulty in engineering a towbar for the Elan I think the EU Bureaucrats don't like the idea anyway ...
The old DOT information said...
Towing capacity/weight.
1. How can I find out the towing capacity of my car?

A car that has EC Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA) will have a Vehicle Identification Number plate (VIN plate) bearing the vehicle manufacturer's name, chassis number and an approval number including the letter "e" in a small rectangle. This plate is usually located under the car's bonnet, but it can sometimes be located in other positions, for example near the driver's door.

The plate will look something like this:
VIN No (This is sometimes called the chassis number and it is unique to that specific vehicle)
XXXX KG (The maximum vehicle weight, e.g. the total weight, it does not include any trailer weight)
XXXX KG (The maximum train weight, vehicle plus trailer)
XXXX KG (maximum load front axle)
XXXX KG (maximum load rear axle)
So if for example you have a car with a maximum weight of 2180 kg and a train weight of 3980 kg the maximum towing capacity will be 3980 kg minus 2180 kg which gives a towing capacity of 1800kg
This information may also be found in the vehicle handbook, or from a vehicle specification sheet supplied by the manufacturer.

2. I have a type approved car, but no train weight is shown on the VIN plate, may I still tow with it?
If the manufacturer has not authorised the towing of a trailer by declaration during the type approval process, no train weight will be shown and it is not permitted to fit a coupling device or tow a trailer.
For example the Ford KA has no declared train weight, and no mounting points for a tow bar. There are a number of other vehicles which do not have a declared train weight and are not able to tow a trailer.


The Elan has a VIN Plate but doesn't show a Train Weight so falls in the Category of Not Allowed to Tow.
My Eclat has a towbar fitted by the previous owner to tow a camping trailer but that has a Chassis Plate, not a VIN Plate, so is allowed ...
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Re: Tow Bar?

Postby simonbuk » Tue 06.06.2017, 14:53

With another 2 tyres on the tarmac - would it improve the handling ? :smt102
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Re: Tow Bar?

Postby hodge » Tue 06.06.2017, 16:13

I knew I'd seen one before, here's a tow bar in use on an Elan with which Albert towed a trailer over from Germany iirc.
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viewtopic.php?f=28&t=19579&start=20&hilit=LOTUS+TRAILER
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Re: Tow Bar?

Postby Simon_P » Tue 06.06.2017, 18:38

The Elan predates the EU vehicle type approval and there is no reason you can't fit a towbar.

The weight is on the label on the suspension turret (S2) but not that helpful as they are both the same which would imply zero. The label looks like the EU one but only looks similar in preparation for compliance.
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Re: Tow Bar?

Postby dapinky » Tue 06.06.2017, 18:57

Fitting a towbar is the easy bit.....

..... finding a light enough trailer to tow is the hard part.

As the vehicle weight is the same as the train weight it limits you to 1270Kg (albeit that the VIN plate lists it as Max Vehicle Weight & Max Combined Weight).

What this means is that the car is designed to carry 1270Kg Max - either on the 4 wheels as it stands, or with a trailer attached....

...so, theoretically, you can tow something, but the whole lot can't be any heavier than if it were all loaded in the car.

So, it *may* be okay for something too large to fit in the boot but very light.

The German one refered to above *just about* fits into the legislation when it is driven with one occupant and an empty trailer (so we have to ignore the fact that there were 2 guys in it when it arrived at Donny - but we did help to lighten the load by emptying the beer kegs in the trailer!)
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Re: Tow Bar?

Postby Simon_P » Tue 06.06.2017, 20:20

Hi Dave,

I don't think the legislation or concepts contained in it are retrospective, so the type approval did not come into effect until 1998... After the elan.

85% is considered max trailer weight.
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Re: Tow Bar?

Postby dapinky » Tue 06.06.2017, 20:45

Simon,

retrospective or otherwise, if the VIN plate gives a Gross Train Weight the same as the Gross vehicle weight, then it is absolute.

I am purely going on the figure on my own VIN plate, and appreciate that other elans will vary (NA, S2, Fed etc are all a bit different due to OE equipment carried).

Either way, it seems that the car is only rated for 1270Kg, with or without any trailer - so as stated, it would need to be a small/light trailer to fit under that figure.

As the kerb weight varies between 997Kg and 1110Kg, it would suggest that any trailer would be better off behind an NA than aTurbo, and even then, could only be a couple of hundred Kg if you have a passenger in the car.

(thinking about it, as the UK legislation allows for a full tank of fuel and a 75Kg driver in the kerb weight, if you dropped 40L of fuel {assuming it to be 40Kg}, you may just about get away with a 300Kg trailer/load in an NA with an 85Kg driver and nowt else. BUT in an SE, with a 100Kg driver and 100Kg passenger, with a few bits and bobs in the boot and a full tank of fuel, you are pretty close to the maximum limit anyway.)
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Re: Tow Bar?

Postby Dave Eds » Tue 06.06.2017, 20:52

A rope around your neck ?
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Re: Tow Bar?

Postby GeoffSmith » Tue 06.06.2017, 21:42

Dave Eds wrote:A rope around your neck ?

That would have the advantage of being detachable and usable in either the Elan or the Smart ForTwo.
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Re: Tow Bar?

Postby Giniw » Tue 06.06.2017, 22:08

:lol: (and even on a bike!)
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Re: Tow Bar?

Postby Simon_P » Wed 07.06.2017, 18:13

Dave,
Not retrospective the EU type approval didn't come into effect until 1998 so it doesn't matter what it says on the label.
As I understand it before 1998 there is no definition in law of the maximum towing weight other than the 85% rule being accepted as reasonable maximum. So about 1000 kg
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Re: Tow Bar?

Postby dapinky » Wed 07.06.2017, 19:17

Simon,

I'm a tad confused as to what the EU directive you mention has to do with this?

When the car was made, in 1991 (or thereabouts), Lotus stuck a set of numbers on the VIN plate suggesting (or indeed, stating) that the Combination Weight is the same as the Vehicle Weight.....

.... as such, the whole lot (either just the car on it's own + luggage etc, or with a trailer and load etc) cannot exceed 1270Kg.

Any EU Directive has to be adopted into UK Legislation before it has any bearing on anything, other than just 'guidance'.

The 'Old' suggestion that you can tow up to 85% of the vehicle weight is a bit of an old wives tale, and was purely 'advice', never written into Legislation....

....and now adds to confusion as many people don't understand what Driving Licence Class you need to hold before you can tow anything at all, anything over 3.5T Gross Combination Weight, anything where the trailer is heavier than the towing vehicle etc etc etc.

The whole shebang is a nightmare to get your head round at the best of times, and I'd love to be pointed to a definative set of rules.
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Re: Tow Bar?

Postby Simon_P » Thu 08.06.2017, 01:03

All of the things you describe came into law with EU type approval in 1998. That is when the law for tow bars came into force. Before then there was no requirement for tow bar fitting points, without which the discussion is academic and consequently the weights are equal.

As far as I can tell there is no law covering this prior to 1998, and the accepted practice is 85%
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Re: Tow Bar?

Postby lotusflasherman » Thu 08.06.2017, 01:36

dapinky wrote:The 'Old' suggestion that you can tow up to 85% of the vehicle weight is a bit of an old wives tale, and was purely 'advice', never written into Legislation....
The whole shebang is a nightmare to get your head round at the best of times, and I'd love to be pointed to a definitive set of rules.


:agree: - it's a veritable 'can of worms' and totally illogical ....

There are clear rules published by DVSA for Towing with a Motorbike ..." 66% of kerb weight or 150Kg whichever is lighter" - https://www.gov.uk/towing-with-motorcycle

Elan SE VIN Plate, which is what the DVSA guys will be looking at when they put it on the weighbridge, shows it has Max Combined Weight of 1270 kg
axwtM100.jpg

Lotus state SE Kerb Weight is 1085 kg and with driver 1150 kg so even a 150 kg motorbike trailer would be too much..

Subaru Forester is the other extreme and has a 'Euro Plate' that states Maximum Permissible Weight of 2,000 kg and Maximum Train Weight of 4,000 kg
axwtforester.jpg

So this allows for 2,000 kg of Trailer Weight, 100% of M.P.W., but Kerb Weight is actually published as 1,460 kg so that's 136% of Kerb Weight and leaves even more available for Trailer Weight .... crazy!
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Re: Tow Bar?

Postby lotusflasherman » Thu 08.06.2017, 02:07

Simon_P wrote:All of the things you describe came into law with EU type approval in 1998. That is when the law for tow bars came into force. Before then there was no requirement for tow bar fitting points, without which the discussion is academic and consequently the weights are equal.

As far as I can tell there is no law covering this prior to 1998, and the accepted practice is 85%


I've been looking but If you can find anything that says the date of the vehicle on this 'you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din' :lol: ...https://www.gov.uk/guidance/tow-a-trailer-with-a-car-safety-checks#load-and-weight-limit

I think the problem is the Elan has a VIN Plate with 4 weights shown and 1 & 2 are the same, when it was built appears to be irrelevant..

Weight 1 Maximum weight of the car on its own
Weight 2 Maximum weight of the car and trailer combined
Weight 3 Maximum weight for the front axle of the car
Weight 4 Maximum weight for the rear axle of the car
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Re: Tow Bar?

Postby Simon_P » Thu 08.06.2017, 02:48

Phil,
If you could show me the legislation that says that information has any significance in UK law, that would be great.
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Re: Tow Bar?

Postby rip » Thu 08.06.2017, 08:44

gov.uk's website looks pretty official to me.
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