Help - How do you reverse an A-frame towed car? - Motorhome Forums, Motorhome Discussion, Motorhome Chat

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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 22-04-2021, 20:48 Thread Starter
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Help - How do you reverse an A-frame towed car?

Hi.

I have been motorhome-ing for a few years now and before that I used to tow a rather large boat around Europe and sail that whenever I met useable water! So I'm quite happy about towing things and reversing/manoeuvring when needed.

In order to "stay safer" I have invested in a Fiat 500 and an A-Frame. Tonight I took it down to the local industrial estate and vied with the motor cycle training schools to find a quiet bit of road to practice reversing by camera.

In a straight line there was no issue. I could get up a reasonable speed. BUT to reverse around a tight-ish corner became a big issue. As I rather expected the "negative" castering on the tow car took over and slammed into opposite lock with a fair bang. To try to reverse in a more gentle fashion needed a huge turning circle. Achievable but not really practical...

is there a trick to this manoeuvre?

Do you:
a) Flick it into adopting the correct but full castered lock before trying to turn it? or
b) Do you, when taking off the overrun brakes before starting the reverse, put on some lock in the right direction and then withdraw the key to set the steering lock and keep things in the right direction?
c) or what?

Any help would be most gratefully received as I don't like to be the "P...t who can't reverse his vehicle when the need arises.
I could get Sandra to drive the Fiat 500 away while I turned the motorhome but that doesn't seem very professional!!

Thanks

Geoffrey
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 22-04-2021, 22:16
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Due to the front wheels having a caster angle it is, for all intents and purposes, impossible to reverse a car on an A frame in anything other than a perfectly straight line (as you have discovered)

A car on an A frame is, by legal definition, a trailer. Trailer regs have two very specific requirements. To be able to reverse ďa reasonable distanceĒ (whether thatís in a straight line or around a corner isnít specified) and be able to carry out that reverse without any intervention from the driver to disable the trailer brakes, the system is built into caravan and horsebox trailers, but cannot be fitted to cars. If the A frame simply operates on the over-run system then there is no way the ďtrailerĒ brakes cannot be disabled without intervention by the driver (or other vehicle occupant)

Donít be tempted to tow on an A frame in Spain, itís a big no-no and will probably result in a hefty fine AND not being able to continue without someone to drive the car.

Have a read of this
https://www.ntta.co.uk/law/trailers/brakes
Especially D
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Last edited by Mrplodd; 22-04-2021 at 22:26.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 23-04-2021, 07:26
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As Ploddy says, fine in a straight line. Otherwise not really possible.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 23-04-2021, 07:31
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There is a video of someone doing it on here somewhere.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 23-04-2021, 07:48
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 23-04-2021, 07:51
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 23-04-2021, 08:09
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Thanks Kev. Thats how NOT to do it as it will wreck the cars geometry.

Ray.

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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 23-04-2021, 09:26
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IMO the simple answer is DONíT unless itís a very short distance in a straight line.

We have a similar reversing problem behind our garden tractor with a four wheeled trailer. Due to the pivot at the front it is impossible to reverse more than 1/2 metre in any reliable direction. Much easier for me to let it jack-knife and then lift the empty trailer round where I want it, but not a task I even contemplate when it is loaded with wood......

and thatís without ANY brakes being involved....

I can reverse a car and camping trailer or car and boat or car and caravan without any problems having done it for the last 50+ years, three point turns ? No problem, reversing in straight line ? Easy. Garden tractor and two wheeled trailer ? Easy and I do it often.

But the garden tractor and four wheeled trailer is a challenge that is not worth tackling due to the physics of multiple pivots and leverage- the rear end will happily do its own thing.... so I let it.

Any typo that I make means the errorists win.

Any comments above are only MY OPINION and should be read as that.

http://www.leslezards.co.uk

Last edited by Penquin; 23-04-2021 at 10:04.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 23-04-2021, 09:56
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I think I have seen you at our 'dump' Dave. If I'm not first in line I sit and watch the antics of people trying to manoeuvre trailers behind cars who really haven't a clue and shouldn't be behind a wheel. Then after clogging the whole parking area up unhook the trailer that promptly takes over and drags them towards the shute.

Ray.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 23-04-2021, 10:13
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Or, even better, is badly loaded with all the weight at the back so as soon as they unhook it, the back end plummets and the jockey wheel goes up past their chin... just....

Good spectator sport I agree Ray. 😀

Watching people try to launch boats is just as amusing..... sometimes the boat takes over and tries to launch the car...... 😢

Recovery of heavy boats can result in the car sliding down the seaweed covered slip into the sea - panic ensues and then the driving wheels canít get the grip - life gets better and better....🤣

Meanwhile the boat is probably now sideways on across the trailer and sorting that mess out requires some real skill (often not in the armoury of Sunday boat drivers). Wearing a wet suit while watching often results in free drinks once they are given the assistance they desperately need. 😇👍. 🥂 🍷 🍺
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Any typo that I make means the errorists win.

Any comments above are only MY OPINION and should be read as that.

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