tow bar extensions and adjustable height hitch

Submitted: Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 17:04
ThreadID: 119313 Views:6403 Replies:5 FollowUps:5
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My daughter has a camper van and when the van is attached she cannot open the door of her XTrail
I want to add a " Tow bar extension" which will bring the ball further away from the rear of the car PLUS I want to add to the extension bar a height adjustable tow hitch .
Any comments from anyone that has done the same
Cheers mike11
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Reply By: Member - ACD 1 - Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 17:33

Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 17:33
Hi Mike

I have done this to my Landcruiser since I added twin wheel carriers on the back.

I got mine from a local tow bar dealer. The name on the sticker has now worn of, but I have seen similar at supercheap etc. (ARC brand I think).

Mine has an extended Length on the square tube, and has a bolt on face plate that can be shifted to give about 6-7 differing heights.

No notice in the difference in the way it feels when you are towing, only when you forget the bloody thing is there and crack your shins on it getting stuff out the back.


AnswerID: 556415

Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 17:43

Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 17:43
Should have been Ark not Arc

This is similar to the one I have. It can be inverted to get additional height adjustments.

Look at page 12 of ARK Catalouge


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Reply By: Ross M - Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 19:38

Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 19:38
I would be very careful with adding tow tongue length to an Xtrail. They are not a long wheelbase vehicle and any addition to the tow ball position from the rear axle will affect the vehicle handling and add additional downforce to the rear suspension.

The Xtrail doesn't have a highly secure towbar to frame fix as in a chassis, in fact no frame at all and the towbar is bolted to the sheetmetal subframe.
I have seen one, towbar and tandem trailer completely ripped off an Xtrail after a jackknife from sudden instability.

If there is another way to provide door access, as in modifying the camper tow hitch arrangement it would be preferrable to any tow bar mods.
Perhaps look at lengthening the camper A frame as is done on some Tvans campers so rear door Paj/Xtrail/Discovery can use them without fuss.

The safest vehicles are the ones which have the towball as close to the rear axle as is possible.
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Follow Up By: TCM - Sunday, Jun 28, 2015 at 13:11

Sunday, Jun 28, 2015 at 13:11
I definitely agree with Ross M. I was told by an ISP tow specialist that for every inche the tow tongue extends from the tow bar you lose 100 kg towing capacity. Have a look around at other vehicles and do the sums.
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Sunday, Jun 28, 2015 at 20:27

Sunday, Jun 28, 2015 at 20:27
Agreed, The X-Trail is the only vehicle I know of where Hayman Reese say do not use WDH with their tow bar.
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FollowupID: 842639

Reply By: 671 - Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 21:28

Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 21:28

You can do all kind of things to cars to get them to do what you want but you will always alter something else in the process and more often than not it will not be for the better.

First of all lengthening the tow bar will place the camper van on the end of a longer lever i.e the distance between the rear axle and the tow ball. This will make it easier for the trailer to swing the end of the car around or jerk it up and down on uneven surfaces. Swinging is dangerous while jerking is both dangerous and liable to break things.

It will also increase the load on the rear axle and possibly make the car prone to swinging its tail out (oversteer) in corners instead of running wider at the front (understeer) as the factory designed it to do. An indication of how much extra weight will go onto the axle can be seen in the Land Rover Defender specifications on Land Rover's web site. 150 kg on the tow ball puts 206 kg onto the rear axle.

Ross is 100% right when he said the tow ball should be as close as possible to the rear axle. The ideal location is directly above the axle like a fifth wheeler design or a semi trailer. The trucking industry gave up on trailers with axles mounted a little back from the centre and tow couplings well back behind the tow vehicle axle in the early 1920s due to instability problems.

If you look up all the recent research around the world on van/trailer stability you will find it all points to the ideal tow vehicle being at least as heavy as whatever it is towing and preferably about 20 to 30% higher. The wheelbase should be as long as possible and it should have the shortest possible rear overhang back to the tow ball.
AnswerID: 556422

Follow Up By: lindsay - Sunday, Jun 28, 2015 at 07:31

Sunday, Jun 28, 2015 at 07:31
Don't extend your tow bar. I have a defender and a cub camper and had the same problem that I could not fully open the rear door with the camper attached. The cub had a silly bracket that bolts to the towbar tongue that converts it to a trigg hitch which places the pivot point even further behind the rear axle. I had a new towbar tongue made that already had the trigg coupling incorporated in it, this shortened the hitch by 200 mm. I then had the "A" frame on the cub lengthened to allow the rear door to open, this resulted on less stress and load on the rear axle and a better ride due to the shortened hitch and the longer "A" frame. I think we only extended the frame about 250mm to allow door to open after for allowing for shorter tow tongue. Has been to Cape York , Hay River and lots of places without problems. Of course if you are worried about the legalities you should get it engineered .
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Reply By: Erad - Sunday, Jun 28, 2015 at 09:32

Sunday, Jun 28, 2015 at 09:32
Not sure of the hitch arrangement on the camper, but I had a similar problem with my Jayco caravan and my NW Pajero. The rear door hit the coupling handle when I tried to open it. The standard cure for this was to raise the spare wheel, but I am different.

I cut the top off the handle, but then found it a bit difficult to lift it to uncouple. So I then welded some lugs onto the sides of the handle top, and drilled and tapped the remaining handle. The handle top now folds down when not in use and the door passes over it without obstruction. It is awkward to explain - I cannot work out how to post images, so if you are interested, I can email them to you.
AnswerID: 556436

Follow Up By: Member - Phil 'n Jill (WA) - Sunday, Jun 28, 2015 at 10:08

Sunday, Jun 28, 2015 at 10:08
Sounds a clever solution Erad.

Being mechanically challenged, I took the easy option on my NW Pajero and purchased the plate to raise the rear tyre - extremely simple, painless solution.

I have read where others have created their own plate to do the job.

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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Sunday, Jun 28, 2015 at 09:52

Sunday, Jun 28, 2015 at 09:52

I use a height adjustable Hayman Reece coupling like the far right hand one in This Link

You can mount them in either an up or down configuration.
The important issue is to ensure the trailer/van A frame is as level as possible.
I use mine with a low profile DO35 offroad coupling so that I can lower the tailgate fully on my dual cab ute and still have a level coupling.


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