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Nonimouse

Campers towing cars

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Ok...so... I work on the High Speed Road Network in the UK. Yes, I'm a public servant and yes, I work for Highways England. I can't make comments about that on the internet, but I still have a question about something I see most days, whilst out on the Network in the South West. Especially now, when the Silver Surfers are so proliferate...

Campers Towing Cars on an A frame.

Now, I'm old. I passed my test in 1983. I hold an HGV licence, although no longer current. Hell I even hold an H licence. I used to teach trailer handling for Land Rover and I'm still a City and Guilds Assessor for Off Tarmac Trailer handling. Yet for the life of me I can't work out the legality of a Camper towing an un-braked vehicle on a an A frame...

I was looking at these A frames today (whilst doing some hard shoulder running on the M48 and M49) and I can't see a mechanical brake link and I'm pretty damn sure that electric brakes are still not legal over here...

So tell me what I am missing

 

 

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If the brakes aren’t linked in to operate on overrun and the car weighs more than 750kg (so basically all cars) then it’s not legal.

The a-frames I’ve had course to look at have had hydraulically linked brakes, which requires modifications to the car along with the mounting points.

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I probably saw well over forty campers towing cars today. The smallest was a Yaris, so over 750kgs

None had any form of plunger arrangement on the tow bar - so possible inertia?

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I thought A Frames were only legal to recover a broken down vehicle, not to transport a vehicle.

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This has been bugging me for years for exactly what Mr King just said

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A-frames are perfectly legal, it’s just they turn the car into a trailer and so the braking (and licensing) requirements apply as for normal trailers. Hence the need for some kind of braking of over 750kg.

The non-braked A-frames could potentially be legal for recovery under the exemption for immediate recovery to a place of safety, same as a rope or rigid bar, but only a court could tell you what that means in practice. My view would be that it is the next motorway exit/services or the next lay-by,  not all the way home or to a garage.

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" Trailers having a maximum laden weight not exceeding 750kg are not required to have brakes fitted. However, if the trailer (regardless of mass) is fitted with a braking system, then all brakes in that system must operate correctly and efficiently. This means that the braking systems of small ‘microcars’ (under 750kg in weight) must still operate, even when the vehicle is being towed. Unless the vehicle is broken down, when C&U makes special provision."

So, basically, any car being towed fitted with brakes, as most have, is being towed illegally as the brakes are not operated. The situation on the Continent, regardless of Brexit, is grey. But many get stopped and fined. Most use a small trailer these days..

So, basically, it is the "hysterical female horse owner situation" where most law enforcement officers know wiser than to stop these people as one ends up with a lot of problems and no real solutions.

I, for one, just took the time and money to have all licences and a few more to drive & tow anything...

 

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Another thing to consider is the tow bar bolted to the back of a camper .....

 

cheers

Steve b

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I read through various legislation and got a headache!

i need to transport a partly restored car from Wellington (Somerset, not Shropshire!) to home (Worcs) - it is MOT exempt, but not yet roadworthy! Unless I'm mistaken I am going to have to hire a suitable trailer. 

 

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On a trailer the only fully legal way for a untaxed, no mot, vehicle

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I had an AA a frame it had a sliding hitch and a Morse cable that attached to the hand brake cable. However I was reliably informed almost no patrol men used it because it was a pain to fit and didn't work that well hence the folding dolly arrangements now.

Mike

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Some interesting stuff there...

I'm still confused though - since when did electrically operated trailer brakes become legal in the UK?

How does a Morse cable work?

A handbrake works on the rear wheels, not all four - that's not legal...

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Last year on holiday I saw a car parked up with an attatchment by the front bumper. It looked like a brake system ofsome thought. Will check next week. I too understant that a towed car must have all brakes working if it's not being recovered

 

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In summary.

To tow a car behind a camper:

 

1) less than 3/4 tonne

2) Defective brakes.

Right?

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Hell I'd like to know what the actual rules are on all these massive campers (>3.5t or even >7.5t) you see people driving, it seems a very grey area in terms of licence requirements last I looked.

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41 minutes ago, Gazzar said:

In summary.

To tow a car behind a camper:

 

1) less than 3/4 tonne

2) Defective brakes.

Right?

Not really,can be any weight up to GTW/max towing weight of host vehicle, either way, if you have brakes (and last time I checked all cars *do*) they must be operational on all wheels.

I have heard of some that have a master cylinder at the attachment point on the A-frame, which actuates the brakes, quite simple and effective.

I don't think 'electric brakes' have ever become legal, but if a braking system works, as long as not contravening C&U somehow, it must be legal?

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Most people seem to suggest trailer laws apply.

The axiom or whatever it's called is light enough without brakes. (Little French thing with a put put engine)

For recovery you can a frame to the nearest safe place.

The ones I've seen have over run brakes on all wheels (so generally cant use a handbrake) which have to meet a certain efficiency (no idea if you need the servo to meet it, guess that depends on the car) which seem to be added to a car with a cable connecting from a frame to the front grill. I assume you also have to keep the steering lock off, correct rear numberplate, connect lights (sometimes a light board, sometimes it's the cars actual lights) and have red triangular reflectors 🤷‍♂️

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As has been said many times before on a number of forums, it is a grey area and until it is tested in court no one will know.

I am curious about insurance though when the car is "on tow"

It is certainly illegal in Spain and the police will stop you and make you detach the car, you may also get a fine.

 

Peter

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The crux of it does seem to be in the interpretation of regulation 18.....

Regulation 18 of C&U requires the braking system to be maintained in good and efficient working order. Where a remote device is used to actuate the brake pedal of a trailer (including a car and A-frame assembly), the actuation device must be properly designed to ensure that the braking performance of the towed vehicle is suitably controlled to ensure the safe and stable braking of the vehicle combination (the towing vehicle and the trailer).

The actuation device seems to be considered discrete from the braking system

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