Tow Bar

Flat Tow Bar Instructions

 

First off let me say that flat towing a mini is easy and affordable.  It really beats having to continually rent a dolly or trailer, or spending lots of money to buy one.  What I decided to do after looking at other tow bar designs and flat towing over 5 thousand miles myself, was to design something that is different (and hopefully better) than the rest.  Strength of the design is what is important to keep your car and yourself safe.  So here are the instructions to make and install a tow bar. 
 

When attaching the tow bar to the front of the mini you have two options, either use the stock 3/8" sized bolts or drill it out to 1/2" for better strength.   For illustration purposes I will be using a 3/8" bolt.  The bolt lengths are 4 1/2" long and a piece of angle iron has been modified for the cross brace.  The tow bar is commonly bought at Harbor Freight and then modified as follows:   


After the eye bolt holes have been drilled out you then take the 1/2" grade 8 bolt, put a lock washer on first, then a washer and slide it through from the back.  Now slide the tube steel spacers (found at Lowes) over the bolt and into the front end slot of the mini. 


As a reminder the bolt here is 3/8".  The 1/2" bolt fits snug inside the tube spacers, giving additional strength and less chance for bolt flexing.  An optional sleeve that fits 3/8" bolts can used, but its recommended you use the larger bolt for strength.


Now that you have the bolts and steel tube spacers into place, its probably a good time to go ahead and put on the two steel square spacers and check tolerances from the cross brace to the front valance.


Slide the cross brace behind the license plate brackets and place the bolts into the center holes on each end.  This cross brace will help the tow bar setup become more rigid and sturdy.


Push the cross brace toward the front valance to make sure it isn't touching.  You should have between 1/8" and 1/4" of space between the brace and valance.  The advantage with having the cross brace behind the license plate brackets and this close to the valance is the strength and stability gained by having shorter bolts and spacers.  Not to mention if all else failed you'd still be hooked in by your license plate bracket.


If you need more space you can add the spare washers as needed, but typically two of the square spacers will make everything work just fine.


Now you are ready to attach the brackets.  Align the 3 holes and place bolts on each end and a washer in the center.



Tighten down all the nuts.  The ends bolts use locking nuts, while the center bolt should provide enough space to double nut for security and strength.  On 1/2" grade 8 bolts 70-80ft lbs of torque should be sufficient, while on a 3/8" grade 8 bolt 50ft lbs should be used.


You may want to take another look to double check clearances.  The cross brace shouldn't be touching anywhere.



Here is a view looking downward on the bracket once the tow bar has been attached.  You can see there are enough threads to double nut the center bolt, which I did here.  If for some reason the bolt is too long, not allowing you to get the tow bar attached, you may want to consider using a 4" long grade 8 bolt.  Of course you could flip the bolt around as well or simply use an additional washer or two somewhere inline to provide the needed space.  Personally I find it easier to install, tighten the nuts from this side, and to keep an eye on things when inspecting during any long trips.


Double check all your hardware is tightened down, all cotter pins are in place, and your safety chains are hooked up.  Ideally you want your tow bar to be as parallel to the ground as possible.  There are a variety of hitches to choose from that you may want to use depending on your towing vehicle.  Be sure to put the car in neutral and have the key in the ignition so your steering wheel is unlocked! 


Lastly, I hope this has been helpful if you decide to build your own tow bar.  If you need additional help or information please contact me at 94touring@gmail.com.  Tools required for installation are a torque wrench with one 3/4" deep socket and one 3/4" wrench.   

Drive Safe!!