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Technical: 110 Station Wagon
Tow Bar

When I first bought my TD5 110, I was quite pleased that it came already fitted with a NAS style rear step and tow bar. It needed a bit of a tidy up, but I had in mind to get it shot blasted, galvanised and re-powder coated. However, it soon became apparent that I really needed a tow bar that was, above all else, flexible. I wanted to be able to tow a trailer with an ordinary tow ball, a caravan with an Alko-hitch tow ball and, eventually, a Sankey trailer with a NATO hitch. The obvious solution to achieve all of this, whilst satisfying the legal niceties of type approval, was to fit a Dixon Bate adjustable tow bar. With a selection of alternative sliders, changing between towing equipment is as simple as pulling a pin.

With the NAS step removed, it was obvious that the rear crossmember needed a bit of care and attention before I bolted anything else to it. So I began by giving  the rear end a blast with a jet washer and removing the mudflaps. I then used a wire brush on the surface rust before cleaning the whole area with white spirit in preparation for painting.

The paint combination is one I've used before on the chassis of my Discovery I when I replaced the rear floor. It comprised a coat of zinc rich primer originally called Unidox, but now re-named Unitas, followed by an enamel top coat called Supercote. Both were supplied by Witham Oil & Paint.

The Unitas is horrible stuff to paint but it does dry extremely quickly. The high zinc content also makes the tin incredibly heavy. The Supercote is easier to work with, but does take much longer to dry.

One thing that did become apparent is that it's impossible to get to all areas of the chassis with the fuel tank in place, so I'll have to spray on some rust preventing wax to ensure complete protection.

With the paint dry, the new tow bar could then be assembled. This was very straighforward and, as everything was new and clean, also rather satisfying. Because of the tolerances of Land Rover chassis', the instructions recommend assembling all of the components loosely and when all is in place, to then tighten the bolts to the appropriate torque settings, whcih worked fine. The only slight snag that I encountered is that the original towing electrics socket turned out to be little more than a plastic encased lump of rust, so I cut it off and fitted a new one. However, this did reveal a quirk of Land Rover wiring, in that none of the wires bore any resemblance to the accepted standard colours! A bit of head scratching and careful inspection of the remains of the original socket soon had the colours deciphered though. 

I bought the new tow bar from Paddocks, which was by far the cheapest source for this particular piece of original equipment hardware.

The tow bar kit comes with a mounting plate for the electrics, which has two positions depending on whether a 12S socket is required. This is something that I do plan to fit for use with our caravan, so the mounting plate was positioned accordingly.

With all of the bolts tightened up, I could try my regular tow ball - a Dixon Bate ball and pin combination - and a NATO hitch. I need to buy another slider on which I can fit an Alko-hitch tow ball. For general day-to-day use, I won't have a slider fitted as it keeps it clean, saves shins from being bashed and also prevents it being stolen.

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Page created: 5-Oct-2011