Trailer Hitches & towing; accessories.


Capt. Mike

Moderator
Following is an article written for an AACA magazine, but might be of interest to those considering towing with their VW. The principles are the same.

Tongue Hanging Out?
Mike Soehnlein

Trailer tongue that is. There are probably as many opinions on trailer towing and loading as there are trailers plus one. When I got our 22’ United enclosed, I read all of the manuals that came with them, and couldn’t find two alike. The first thing I had to do was figure out the center of gravity (CG) of our cars to place the left hand escape door. Easier said than done. However a little research in the specs manuals and reverting to some old seagoing trim calculations, I was finally able to locate the CG of our cars and fortunately their doors open within 8” of each other. I had trailer world call United for the CG of the trailer and they said it was at longitudinal center. The wheels are slightly aft of that so my trailer has a natural tongue weight of 200 lb., or 5%. Interesting, since United says to have a tongue weight of 7-15%. Trailer World’s generic manual says 7-10%. Dodge says 10-15%.

Next thrill was trying to weigh the tongue with a bathroom scale. OK, maybe if the tongue weight is less than 250 lb., but a loaded car trailer will never be that low. All of the pipe and board tricks are a crock – they don’t work, I don’t care what they say! Fortunately there is a solution, without the stigma of low cost. Sherline makes the LoadMaster series of tongue scales. Neat little hydraulic units, the 0-2000 lb. The scale is only 7” tall on a 3” base with a direct readout gauge. Camper World has one for $99.

Sherline’s comprehensive towing manual recommends 10-15% for a single axle, 9-15% for a tandem and 15-25% for a 5th wheeler. Whatever percentage you decide is right for you, using the trailer tongue scale is easy. Just set on some blocks of wood under the ball socket and lower the tongue jack. Or, put it on a hydraulic jack pad, and just jack up the tongue at the socket. Two minutes! Tongue weight, besides the obvious effects on the height of the tow vehicle rear, has an effect on braking, sway and stability.

A few added comments: Chances are pretty good the car even has some load in it that isn’t in the specs – accessories, tools or trunk junk. Most of us also carry a lot of extra ‘essentials’ in our car hauler, manuals, cleaning gear, tools, spare parts and often some of the luggage. These all weigh something, usually a lot, and we invariably put them at one end of the trailer or other. Bad news for tongue weight. When I loaded the Porsche (2100 lb.) at the CG, my tongue weight went from 250 to 700 lb., far more than I expected, though still within limits. Of course I had over a hundred pounds of lawn chairs, manuals and cleaning gear located, naturally, at the very front of the trailer. The trailer's spare tire, hitch stuff and battery are all well forward on my trailer, too. My master plan is to load up, including all of the extras, and then position the car for that perfect 10%. Soon as I get a new supply of ‘round-to-it.' I’d be glad to help other NC Region AACA members with weighing. Give me a call.
 

corkystclair

New member
This was asked earlier, but I've not seen a reply.

Does anyone have info on wiring a flat 4 plug for a trailer?

thanks

chuck d

chuck duvall
1990 Westy "Corky St. Clair"
 

icarus

Moderator
See my post on the bike rack section, but I put a nice hitch on my syncro (Ridge Hitch, Burnsville Mn.) Simple bolt on to the tow hooks. I'm don't want to tow a huge trailer, but it works great for the bike rack mentioned in the bike rack section.

Icarus
 

SRemains

New member
After having looked at all the options I could find for a suitable and safe towing solution for my 89 Westy Syncro, I concluded that the Tow Bar sold by Peter at Tii Co was the best. It is approved by VW in South Africa and it is heavy-duty.

Installation was a snap. I removed the bumper as well as unbolted the "tow-loops" from the frame. The tow bar installs by sliding into the frame where the tow-loops were. There is no need for drilling. The holes for each of the three bolts per side are already in place.

The only hang-up is that in South Africa, they use a printle type hitch and tow system, much like loop and clamp you see on large trucks connecting double or triple trailers. Therefore, I had a welder fashion a plate to bolt on in place of the printle hitch. I now have a 2" receiver that is out of the way and removable.

The whole setup cost me less than $300 dollars and it is very stout.
 
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Capt. Mike

Moderator
Transferred to consolidate similar topics.

KenS Member posted July 05, 2004 12:56 PM
Hello All,

I hope I am not duplicating a post from somewhere else. I looked and couldn't find anything on this topic.

I don't know about everybody else, but, I am growing weary of having to unpack the whole back of my Westy everytime we stop for the night somewhere.

I'm considering buying a cargo carrier to put into a trailer hitch receiver on the back bumper. I'm hoping it will work well for things like lawnchairs, fishing gear, lantern, tarps, bbq, etc.

Anyone have any experience with any of the cargo carriers and attaching them to your Westy? Mines an '84.

Thanks a bunch, happy camping.

Ken
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Almost all of the receiver mounted carriers use the 2" receiver, not exactly plentiful for Westies. Receivers smaller than 2" have an awful lot of 'torque' effect on a pretty small square pipe.

All of the above still applies -- max weight of cargo carrier and all cargo is still limited to 165#, same as trailer tongue weight.

Some discussion of carriers for the factory roof rack in that topic under EXTERIOR forum. Also see "Aftermarket roof rack" topic in ACCESSORIES forum.
 

judlandis

New member
"Anyone have any experience with any of the cargo carriers and attaching them to your Westy? Mines an '84."

I have a 2" receiver hitch on my '89. I borrowed a cargo carrier once. I carried 2 coolers and my levelers. Worked OK, but to me not worth it. 3 disadvantages: 1) it created a lot of overhang out past the rear wheels, thus it scraped occasionally on the rough roads we tend to travel. 2) It was a hassle when we dropped in on friends in a major city - my theft fears forced me to remove all the cargo and the carrier overnight (we had to park on the street). 3) it was harder to check the oil and coolant levels.

Now I just try to pack less. I'm getting better at it, and my engine thanks me. (It still looks like we're heading to South America every time we load up, though.)
 

KenS

New member
Ya, that all makes sense. The more I look into it, the more difficult it all seems to become. The adds for cargo carriers make them look like they would improve your quality of life exponentially, and that an infant could put them on the van.

Tongue weight is a big issue as well.

Thanks again,

Ken
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Forgive the old sailor in my reverting back to stability & trim, but 165 lb. hanging out the back end has a tremendous leverage and will cause steering and other handling problems. You get some of it back with the trailer because it supports the main load and restores some equilibrium because it then becomes a damper for jounce -- something missing with just a rear hang-on.

Look at the ULTIMATE TRIP CHECKLIST forum -- there's a ton of suggestions in there for loading to capacity without having it all in the boot. And it allows a balanced load at the same time. Despite flirting with the GVWR (and I won't mention from which side), my boot is relatively empty and what gets unloaded was going to be unloaded for setting up camp anyway. The few times we need to bed down without unloading (extreme weather or sleep in a reststop) then we just pop the top and crawl up there, to unpack in the morning or get back on the road.
 

KenS

New member
Sailors know what they are talking about when it comes to cargo and long trips, Mike. Stability and trim are important. I've decided against getting a cargo rack. I will look into a small utility trailer to pull on more local trips, but for the longer trips will just pack the van with what will fit. I do a pretty good job already. I have checked out the ULTIMATE TRIP CHECKLIST previously. Good tips.

The issue isn't really storage space in the van, it's the 3.5 and 1.5 year old kids that are owly (sp) after being strapped in car seats for 3 plus hours. g. We will adapt, and continue to enjoy our outdoor experiences.

Thanks for the discussion.
 
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icarus

Moderator
I just put together a Sportsrig trailer sold indirectly through Gowesty, for my sister. This is a way cool rig for towing light loads, such as bicycles, kayaks, extra gear etc. The trailer itself runs on motorcycle tires, rather than the tiny tires on most small trailers, so the tires aren't spinning at dizzying speeds.

The trailer is very well put together. The tounge can be extended or retracted depending on the length of the load. The gvw of the trailer is 450lbs, unloaded it might weigh 150lbs or so. It comes with load bars that match Yakima racks so that Yakima accys will fit on them.

I have not towed it behind a Westy, but I would have no problem doing so. I suspect that it would be much more effcient to tow large (light items like canoes or kayaks) behind out of the wind than to strap them on top. It is light enough and well enough balanced, so that if you are scared to back it up, you can simply unhook it and push it like a garden cart, even loaded.

They are not cheap, but it is the only trailer that I think would be safe and sane to pull behind a Westy. We often travel cross country with so much stuff cluttering up the cabin it is a production to set up to camp. The idea of putting some of the cargo that is not needed to camp on the trailer has some appeal. Maybe if I'm real nice she will let me borrow it!

I put it together for my sister who has a '91 Westy Multivan. She got it to carry her small row boat. She is too short to reach to put it on top. I edit this after we have pulled it a bit to tell you how it tows.

Icarus

Ps. Now I have to wire the MV for trailer lights.
 

Carolyn

New member
We bought a "sportsrig" trailer about a year ago and love it. It tows great behind our '84 Westy. We have the double decker version and have towed bikes/surf boards/kayaks simultaneously with no problem.

Happy trails!
 
Towing & towing weights

Several months ago, I got embroiled on another site about the safety and legality of towing weights for braked and unbraked trailers, in Great Britain (i.e. my home country), Europe, Canada and the USA, on the following topic thread:

I was concerned to discover, that many were involved in unsafe towing practices, particularly with regard to the trailer weights of unbraked and braked trailers, which significantly exceeded Volkswagen's specified 600*kg and 800*kg respectively, for the 1973 VW 1600 & 1700 Type 2.

In Great Britain and Europe, the maximum permitted gross weight (i.e. trailer's own weight + its maximum rated payload) of an unbraked trailer, must not exceed 750 kg or half the unladen weight of the towing vehicle, which ever is the smaller.

[Moderator Note: A useful guideline, even if in an area not subject to European law. The principle is valid!]
 
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cotswoldiver

New member
Photos/Drawings of westy tow bar set up

I am trying to find out information of a westy towbar set up for a 1971 westy. I have the main tow bar, but need some help on how this was originally attached to the camper ie picture of brackets etc
Any help greatly appreciated
Thank you
 

DANALEXANDER

New member
tow bar attachment

I am trying to find out information of a westy towbar set up for a 1971 westy. I have the main tow bar, but need some help on how this was originally attached to the camper ie picture of brackets etc
Any help greatly appreciated
Thank you

Greetings from Portland,
My 1982 Westfalia came with a tow bar. It is attached to the tie down loops of the bumper brackets that slide in the framework. The tow bar uses a 3/8 plate to sandwich the bolts going through the loops. I had removed my bumper to strip and refinish, and had to remove the tow bar and the brackets in order to clean and repaint. Right now the tow bar and parts are in my garage as I am waiting for the new impact strip clips are in the mail. If our Oregon weather holds I will take a picture and send it along, Dan
 

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