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Dead defender - mountain tow


adyb88
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Hi I have found a '98 110 defender with a dead engine and bought it for my next project - the problem is its in the middle of nowhere in the French alps. I need to shift it about 100km but the first 20 or so are v steep over a big pass with lots of tight hairpins - up and down. All the steep stuff is paved.

Tow truck/trailer v expensive and difficult anyway because of narrow bridges so plan is to use a longish towrope and take it v v easy.

Tow vehicle is a RR V8 so got the gas for it. Brakes and steering seem serviceable, have fluid etc.

Any tips/warnings please? done plenty of tows before but not like this - will test of course.

Thanks

Adam

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When my 109 died on the PO (timing belt went) on Devils staircase, he was recovered with a 110 pulling on a rope and a 90 pushing on a bar...made for an interesting recovery!

I'd be very tempted to do similar to give you extra braking. Radio communication a help, solo recovery a definite NO NO!!!

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Thanks all for the points raised. Yes indeed braking my biggest concern. Fresh batteries will not be a problem so following up servo pump suggestion.

I've been discussing a bar vs rope with local accomplice and we went for a rope due to the very tight corners and places where you really need to get the tow car out of the way...

I'm thinking that a 4x4 (or tractor) no 3 bringing up the rear is indeed the safest bet if any doubts about brakes onboard....

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Dead engine = no brake assistance AND no PAS (if it has it). I'd be checking the handbrake is functional before setting off as it can get very wearing holding a vehicle on the brakes for a long time whilst rigging is going on.

If it's ALL downhill you'd almost be better off with the RR behind it acting as the brakes, depending on the state of both vehicles it can always give it a shove from behind (or if you're using a sturdy tow-pole it can push).

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No one has mentioned using a towing A-frame yet...

This would have the advantage of a solid connection between the two vehicles, and much safer than a single towing pole. Also there would be no need for anyone to be steering in the towed motor, although any braking effort would be useful.

If the hairpins can be driven without a shunt, a trailed vehicle on an A-frame should also make the corner.

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I would also go for an A-frame, and take it really slow down the hill, using low range to slow you down, taking a pause every now and again if you are at all worried about the tow vehicle getting brake fade.

I have towed big 15t + 4x4 trucks with dead engines and made a plan with air lines to the back vehicle to "ensure" brakes, and I know from experience just when you need the brakes you have jury rigged the system will fail on you, your vacuum pump won't keep up or the terminal running it will overheat or something similar.

a good solid A-frame and a slow tow cannot be beaten, we use this for recoveries out of the africa bush and it works very well.

if you have a passenger during this phase they can help by applying brakes in the rear vehicle, whilst the brakes won't be very effective at all they will certainly still help (this person needs a strong right thigh)

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The towing vehicle needs to be well ballasted as either single pole or A frame runs the risk of pushing the back of the RR sideways

Ideal would be A frame on front and solid bar linking recovered vehicle to third vehicle. To be honest tho such a set up for recovering a 110 is a bit over the top , your biggest requirement is people who know what they are doing rather than what you are using, also speed is a big factor.

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Does the engine turn over ? depending on whats wrong with it you can stick it in gear from time to time, it only takes a short while every so often to get some vacuum for the servo

one other thing no one has mentioned here, IF the engine will turn over, ie cambelt gone, then some engine braking can be expected, in low range, can it not? also charging up the servo, plus gentle application of h/brake.

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A 110 won't push a RR Around on an A-Frame unless the speeds you trying at are too high, at a too high speed it won't matter how heavy the towing vehicle is it will be pushed around, but with an A-frame the push will be central and not lopsided. The secret is to start really slowly, I mean really slowly, first gear, using the engine to brake and get a feel for it, then go to second and do the same. You will save a lot of time going down the hill slowly rather than trying to pull two broken vehicles out the ditch. As other members have pointed out the easiest would be a proper vehicle trailer, then you have brakes and no fiddling to try fix towbars etc to the 110

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A RR will be pushed around by a solid connection , I have used a 110 connected to a 90 by a solid bar in deep snow off road, for traction reasons and it requires very careful driving by the second driver , i have also experienced a RR being pushed by a heavy trailer at quite a low speed on a wet downhill bitumen road due to the push lifting the rear end . Its also surprising the amount of traction needed to tow a disabled 110 uphill by a another 4wd with double diff locks :( , the solution required the other 4wd having to

climb solo and then the 110 winching itself upto it and repeat.

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