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m4ff3w
m4ff3w Dork
2/16/10 8:42 a.m.

I've never actually used a tow bar. I always thought the bar was chained/strapped to the front bumper (after bumper cover is removed, of course) but in looking at them online, the ones I see are bolted to the vehicle being towed.

Was I just dumb before or am I being dumb searching for what I want?

m4ff3w
m4ff3w Dork
2/16/10 8:56 a.m.

Apparently uhaul did used to sell clamp tow bars, so that moves me in the right direction.

I suppose I should ask if a car with bumper shocks can be towed with a tow bar. The car in question would be a 1993 Volvo 740.

zomby woof
zomby woof HalfDork
2/16/10 8:59 a.m.

When bumpers were steel, and not fragile, tow bars were chained, or strapped to the bumper. I built one dedicated to the cars that I have, and it bolts directly to the factory tie downs, just under the front bumper, off the frame rails. Tow bars work great, as long as the car size is manageable by the vehicle pulling it. Not great for backing up. Not a problem with shocked bumpers.

mad_machine
mad_machine SuperDork
2/16/10 9:04 a.m.

if you can pull the bumper cover.. I would just go to the junk yard and pick up another internal brace. Do some serious welding and reinforcing, and bolt that in place of your bumper brace.

if you are REALLY sick.. get the cover from the junkyard too.. and modifiy it so only the hardware you need to hook to the tow car sticks through.

this way your good bumper never gets touched.. but if you are towing your car behind a motorhome, you can leave the hardware intact until you get home and not have the car look too hidious

foxtrapper
foxtrapper SuperDork
2/16/10 9:20 a.m.

I used to use them bolted on the bumpers. As mentioned, this was when bumpers were structural things. Worked fine.

Frame mount works fine also.

914Driver
914Driver SuperDork
2/16/10 9:25 a.m.

I have two.

One is pinned/bolted to mating parts welded to the frame of the car being towed (race car) and the other is a one-size-fits-all job similar to the one pictured.

The adjustable one is like the one below, but has C shaped things on the end that rest on the bumper of the car being towed. Chains run through the C thingies and hook to the car's frame. As you tighten the chains it draws the car in, pushing the Cs against the bumper. One size fits all. I've towed everything from a Crew Cab Dodge dually to a Suzuki Samurai. No problem. Just remember the basic rule to check your stuff at one, ten and a hundred miles.

Check your local listings, if the towed car has four wheels on the ground it may need to be registered to be legal. YMMV.

Dan

bludroptop
bludroptop Dork
2/16/10 10:30 a.m.
m4ff3w wrote: Apparently uhaul did used to sell clamp tow bars, so that moves me in the right direction.

Back when men were men and bumpers were chrome plated steel, U-Haul rented a "universal" tow bar that clamped to the front bumper of the car being towed with hooks, chains and (as I recall) spring-tensioned wing nuts. I remember that it weighed a ton, and I also learned that it didn't work very well on the front bumper of an air-cooled beetle.

I rented one at least three times in the mid-'70s, and even by my teenage invincibility standards at the time, it was a bogus setup.

U-Haul abandoned these in favor of the tow dolly. If you need it once, I'd recommend the dolly. If you need it regularly, then I'd look for a solution with brackets permanently bolted to the towed vehicle - like the RV guys use.

mw
mw Reader
2/16/10 10:34 a.m.

I mount mine to the factory tie downs or tow hooks. It works great and I have done 1000's of miles with a tow bar attached to those hooks on various cars.

m4ff3w
m4ff3w Dork
2/16/10 11:12 a.m.

Thanks yall.

I am planning on trying to buy broken cars, repair, sale with more regularity. The car I want to go get tonight needs a transmission.

I don't want to tow it that distance (almost 30 miles) with a strap. I might be able to tow it to a friends house about 8 miles away and leave it there until I determine how to get it home.

aussiesmg
aussiesmg SuperDork
2/16/10 3:01 p.m.

trailer

foxtrapper
foxtrapper SuperDork
2/16/10 5:16 p.m.

Agree, trailer. Automatic trannies don't like being towed. Plus you start running into interesting legal problems with 4 wheels down.

emodspitfire
emodspitfire New Reader
2/16/10 5:50 p.m.

+1 to the trailer.

I used a tow bar for several years.

Then I forgot to tighten several bolts after an Autocross and was lucky to only do body damage when the racecar came loose.

Bought a trailer prior to the next event.....

Just my $.02 worth......

Rog

SlickDizzy
SlickDizzy SuperDork
2/16/10 6:01 p.m.

I have personally towed 20+ cars with the tow bar my roommate grabbed back when he used to work for U-Haul. If you have a car with dual front tow loops (most Subarus, SA RX-7, Audis if you pull the bumper) the thing bolts on nice and snug and does a hell of a job. I always seem to own at least one Subaru EA82 so it has been a godsend many times.

I rent a dolly from the U-Haul up the street when I really need it. In a pinch, it's not that hard to "borrow" one from the lot as long as you do it after hours and return it ASAP

wlkelley3
wlkelley3 HalfDork
2/16/10 6:08 p.m.

One other thing about towbars. Keep the mounts straight to allow the bar to pivot up & down. If it's not allowed to hinge then it will bind and something will break. Cost me a another bumper mount on my Opel GT that I flat towed from CA to TN. Thought I'd cheat after I took the bumper off and saw that there is a bar mount for it that was slightly pointed. The car tried to pass me the first time it broke. Had it welded up and then it ran into the back of my truck when it completely broke. Then had a "real" towbar mount made to fit the GT and never had any problems again. Even flat towed it from TN to AL and then later to the painter with now issues.

shadetree30
shadetree30 Dork
2/16/10 7:49 p.m.
foxtrapper wrote: I used to use them bolted on the bumpers. As mentioned, this was when bumpers were structural things. Worked fine.

I towed a GTI to two seasons of hillclimbs. One mount on either side bolted through the bumper and bracket, attaches (double shear) to towbar. Took the bar off and left the mounting brackets on.

And as mentioned directly above, "keep the mounts straight to allow the bar to hinge up and down".

NGTD
NGTD HalfDork
2/16/10 9:26 p.m.
m4ff3w wrote: Apparently uhaul did used to sell clamp tow bars, so that moves me in the right direction. I suppose I should ask if a car with bumper shocks can be towed with a tow bar. The car in question would be a 1993 Volvo 740.

I plan on towing my 82 Volvo 240 with a tow bar. It is going to be for rally-x and TSD rallying once I get it licensed. It has real steel bumpers and bumper shocks. I have removed the bumper shocks from a 240, I am pretty sure you could lift the car off the ground with them!

The tow bar I have is a bolt on. I am just going to bolt a couple of brackets directly to the steel bumpers.

As long as you have a manual transmission, you are okay to flat tow or dolly with the rear end on the ground. Auto-boxes - you have to drop the driveshaft.

Hal
Hal HalfDork
2/16/10 9:57 p.m.

I made a bar to replace the bumper on my Morris that the tow bar hooked to. I had different bars for different cars and used the same homemade tow bar on several different cars.

4eyes
4eyes Reader
2/16/10 11:10 p.m.

If you tow a car with the engine gone, it will tear itself loose, dart across oncoming traffic, bound through a white rail fence and emotionally traumatise some very expensive horses. You will then spend the rest of the weekend building fence in 105deg weather and apologizing. Get a trailer!

SlickDizzy
SlickDizzy SuperDork
2/16/10 11:33 p.m.
4eyes wrote: If you tow a car with the engine gone, it will tear itself loose, dart across oncoming traffic, bound through a white rail fence and emotionally traumatise some very expensive horses. You will then spend the rest of the weekend building fence in 105deg weather and apologizing. Get a trailer!

Er, what? I've tow-barred many cars with absent engines and it's never been a problem. Sounds like you overloaded your setup.

EDIT: Upon further reading, I'm not even sure I fully understand the above comment.

Trans_Maro
Trans_Maro HalfDork
2/16/10 11:51 p.m.
4eyes wrote: If you tow a car with the engine gone, it will tear itself loose, dart across oncoming traffic, bound through a white rail fence and emotionally traumatise some very expensive horses. You will then spend the rest of the weekend building fence in 105deg weather and apologizing. Get a trailer!

You know that you're supposed to lock that trailer coupler, right?

Safety chains might help too.

Shawn

joepaluch
joepaluch Reader
2/17/10 9:49 a.m.

flat towing with a tow bar has become the popular cheap way to get to the track with 944-spec race car. The 944 has a thick aluminum bumper with bumper shocks. Strong enough to lift the front of the car with the engine in place and pull it off track if the front wheels don't roll. Some guy get a spare bumper and mount the hardware and other fab a special bar to attach to the bumper shocks or frame. They all seem to work very well.

The big downside is that if your car gets damage and can't roll at the track you have a hard time taking it home.

zomby woof
zomby woof HalfDork
2/17/10 9:53 a.m.

Love that Morris (and helmet), BTW.

pete240z
pete240z Dork
2/17/10 12:08 p.m.

You can flat tow anything.

I see these guys all over as I travel. It is always cars needing body work towing another needing body work and they always travel in packs. This was an eight pack and they are always heading South. Yes, that is a sedan flat towing that blue pickup truck.

zomby woof
zomby woof HalfDork
2/17/10 12:46 p.m.

This is mine. It has 1000's of miles of use on it

RealMiniDriver
RealMiniDriver Dork
2/17/10 4:38 p.m.
m4ff3w wrote: I am planning on trying to buy broken cars, repair, sale with more regularity.

That right there is reason enough to warrant the expense of a proper trailer, or at the very least, a dolly.

After flat-towing the Mini a few times and then using a dolly once (it didn't fit well), I broke down and got a tilt-bed ultility trailer. Granted, it's sized for a 5'x10' car, but it's fitted with fold-down, tie-down rings in the floor to strap it down. Being a utility trailer, it also has the added benefit of stake pockets around the frame, so I can put wooden sides on it to get a load of gravel/mulch/etc.

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