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NEED A/FRAME (CAR-A-TOW)


tinkledrum

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Tnkledrum, You will be DEFINITELY be breaking the law if you use an unbraked A-frame. There is no question of doubt about this as the law clearly states that if a trailer is fitted with brakes, then they must work. Also any trailer with a Maximum Authorised Mass of over 750 Kgs must have a full braking system complying with trailer law, and the Smart MAM is well over 750 Kgs - it is the MAM and NOT the actual weight that counts. A separate point is to politely point out that this is a forum and not a 'For Sale' or 'Wanted' site: if such postings became common practice the forum would soon get lost in a welter of such postings.
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Mel I have a few vehicles that I have towed behind an a-frame, many unbraked as they were under 750kg. The general consensus (and that includes towtal) is that a smart fortwo can be towed unbraked behind a vehicle as it weighs under 750kg. A smart roadster weighs 795kg and a smart brabus roadster weighs 865kg and both as a consequence need to be braked. I am unsure if you are correct about the fact that if a vehicle is being towed that its brakes have to work if the vehicle weighs under 750kg. I am sure that the law is very grey regarding this - and that a policeman would not pull you for having an unbraked vehicle. If it was the case that the vehicle had to be braked then I am sure that towtal and the other manufacturers that sell unbraked a-frames would also be in breach of their insurance and liable for a major public liability suit if the worst happened. I was under the impression that a trailer that weighed under 750kg in total (at the time of being checked) did not need to be braked. Obviously, you'd expect a half ton trailer with a half ton payload to be braked but I know that in recent times I have towed my messerschmitt (weight 365kg) on an a-frame for thousands of miles in the UK and abroad with no problems (legal or otherwise). I would clarify the weight of a fortwo Brabus before buying one but the standard fortwo pure, pulse or passion should not need brakes. As an aside, my fortwo cdi diesel is for sale if anyone is interested (free tax, 85mpg) Campbell
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There is also the subject I've seen, some time ago on this forum, that a Smart cannot be towed with the drive wheels on the ground as this will severely damage the automatic gearbox. I would also politely point out to Tinkledrum that typing in upper case is classed as shouting.
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alright - the smart does not have an automatic box - it has a getrag six speed manual box with an electronically controlled clutch - totally, totally different thing! Smart say it cannot be towed more than 30 miles on its wheels but getrag say there are no reasons why it cannot be towed indefinitely on its driven wheels - in fact, the lack of a steering lock makes it much easier to tow as all you have to do is ensure the vehicle is in neutral - like mel, I too have researched this slightly more than a little bit and can go dig up many comments on the smart forums about it. There are many people who have towed smarts thousands of miles on a frames with no ill effects whatsoever - a bit like my Bond Minicar and Messerschmitt which I have towed thousands of miles on a frames, ditto Fiat 126s and numerous other cars. I'll bow to her superior knowledge on MAM but would love to have the point of law clarified because towtal say it is fine! Campbell
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The Department for Transport have said that they consider a car being towed on an A frame to be a trailer and as long as it meets current trailer law then its OK. Trailer law quite specifically says that if a trailer has brakes then they must work on a mechanically or hydraulically operated over-run device and reach a minimum 50% braking efficiency. UNBRAKED A FRAMES ARE ILLEGAL! CATEGORICALLY! for what its worth I totally agree with Mel, any kind of A frame towing is illegal (except for recovery of a broken down vehicle in which case strict speed restrictions apply) because no car on an A frame can meet current trailer law. D.
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So what about brake buddy-type arrangements that press down on the brake pedal on a towed vehicle - surely, if they satisfy the braking efficiency, then ergo they must be legal. This is all interesting - thanks for informing me! It does remind me of the fact that my Messerschmitt has to be MoT'd using a Tapley meter to test its brake efficiency and when told to pull the handbrake on when driving along (the only way it can be tested), I (because of the design of the brakes) have to press on the footbrake to activate the handbrake, thereby making a mockery of that element of the test. If the footbrake works, then by default the handbrake works as the handbrake pulls on the brake pedal using a rod. It does mean that the handbrake works on all the rolling wheels though!
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Brake buddy doesn't meet current trailer law as it clearly states the brakes must be operated by mechanical or hydraulic means or direct connection to the braking system of the towing vehicle. Brake buddy may have a mechanical connection to the pedal but it is electrcially operated and therefore doesn't meet current trailer law. D.
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I feel that tinkledrum may be slightly mesmerised by these answers, he/she only asked (I suspect rather mischievously) if anybody was willing to sell an A frame; but all of a sudden there is a tumult of answers as to legality or otherwise of using one. Whilst such information may be useful in a philosophical sense (I doubt in any other); it doesn’t actually answer the question. But for my part, no, I don’t have one for sale. Frank
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Frank, I think we were all just trying to be helpful and avoid Tinkledrum wasting money on something that will not be legal. If you'll bear with me some more, I'll cover it all for the future. Messerschmidt, 1. The weights you quote are not the MAMs. I believe the only cars sold in the UK with a MAM of under 750 Kgs are the Arcam/Ligier one cylinder diesels which are sold in France as 4-wheel motobikes not requiring a driving licence; they are mobile chicanes! 2. In any case, even they have to have a braked A-frame as they have brakes fitted so they must work. 3. The two regulations I quoted to you are contained in the Road Vehicles Construction and Use Regulations 1986, as amended by over 100 subsequent changes. There is nothing 'grey' about them, I'm afraid. 4. I have spoken to Towtal and their attitude seems to be one of 'It's up to the buyer.' The Brake Buddy is approved in many USA states (but not all), but does not have EU approval and, as Dave points out, it fails to meet the trailer braking rules embedded in RVC&U Regs 1986. 5. However, there is nothing specific in the C&U Regs that BANS A-frame towing. There are quite a number of bits of the C&U Regs that a car on an A-frame almost certainly cannot meet, but, as yet, nobody has been taken to court for failure to comply with the law, so there are no precedents. As Dave says, it is specifically permitted for vehicle recovery but then only at very low maximum speeds (20mph except on M'Ways where it's 40 mph). 6. If you do decide to tow on an A-frame, please make sure that your tow vehicle insurer will continue to provide Third Party cover for the 'Trailer', and that the car insurer will cover the car whilst towed and get the insurance certificate endorsed to say so - many will not and you may have to change insurers. 7. Also be aware that it is definitely illegal in most other EU countries and, even though you are supposed to be able to drive a UK-legal vehicle in any other EU country for up to 6 months, police in Spain and Germany in particular are quite likely to fine you on the spot.
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Mel many thanks I have mainly towed my Messerschmitt on an A frame (and have informed the insurance company about it). It was built well before we had MAMs or even GVWs and does indeed come under the 750kg weight limit - I'm sure that one could quite easily make the brakes work (they're cable-operated after all) and you've given me good cause for thought - which is great! I like a challenge!! I think, ultimately, that a trailer is always the preferable option - and it would have been for my Smart Roadster, but I have genuinely learned something new. I did once tow a Bond Minicar on a straight bar (Mel B will confirm this, as she has done similar with their old 'Basildon' Bond), from Scotland through Europe to South Eastern Germany and, despite passing many police cars, was never questioned or stopped about it (in about six countries). It was easy on the Bond, as the straight bar bolted to the front swing arm and you disconnected the final drive chain. How times have changed. I did know that there had never been a test case - and I'll use the information to inform my Smart friends that the Law is definitely not on their side while towing. Campbell
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Hi Campbell (remember the wonderful Shortbread rallies?!?!?!) "I'll bow to her superior knowledge" referring to Mel E ... er, he's a boy!!! As for towing a car on a bar - yes we did do it with our Bond Minicar (see picture of car below), but we eventually stopped doing this as it kept damaging the worm and sector steering, so changed to a purpose made trailer - much easier and safer to do.
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It also looks just like the one I had to repair when I was an apprentice metal worker in late 1950s. I lay on my back and front for about three days on the inside of the floor strengthening and re-attaching the frame which held the front wheel and the engine. Although I think that one may have had a more rounded front, would this have been and earlier model? And I had to repair a Messerschmitt about the same time which had rolled over. I also remember another type of "Bubble car" where the door was on the front and the steering wheel opened with it. These had no reverse gear and if you parked too close to the vehicle in front (or the garage wall) you couldn't get out! The good old days!
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hi messerschmitt owner, another mate had a berkeley 3 cylinder went like hell, well it seemed to (lol) I think somebody used to do a conversion to fit a royal enfield 750 in them, now that must have been a flyer. (lol) (lol) Olley
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[QUOTE]RoyH - 2006-11-29 8:42 PM Although I think that one may have had a more rounded front, would this have been and earlier model? [/QUOTE] Sounds like you might have had a Mark C or D - the one pictured is a Mark G which was the last of them before 'Reliant' got involved and went on to produce the Bond Bug - yes, the big orange cheese wedge! Our car was called Basildon Bond (my husband works in the stationery trade!) and was totally original, up until we sold it about 3 years ago, it was in extremely good condition indeed - seeing as it was made in 1965 that was quite a feat I'm sure you'll agree, the picture was taken the day it left us. The editor of our car club magazine used to own an Isetta - as he's 6'8" it was a bit low and his head used to rub the sunroof material so most of the time he drove around with it open. It used to be great fun to watch people's reactions as he stepped out of the car and unfolded himself ... especially as he has a close resemblence to John Cleese and can do a corker of an impression of him!!! You all do realise of course that we've in trouble don't you? We're off topic again!!!!! Fun ain't it! (lol)
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[QUOTE]RoyH - 2006-11-29 8:42 PM It also looks just like the one I had to repair when I was an apprentice metal worker in late 1950s. I lay on my back and front for about three days on the inside of the floor strengthening and re-attaching the frame which held the front wheel and the engine. Although I think that one may have had a more rounded front, would this have been and earlier model? And I had to repair a Messerschmitt about the same time which had rolled over. I also remember another type of "Bubble car" where the door was on the front and the steering wheel opened with it. These had no reverse gear and if you parked too close to the vehicle in front (or the garage wall) you couldn't get out! The good old days![/QUOTE] Roy, If I remember correctly you just picked the front up 8-) and walked it out. Don :-D
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