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Towing advice / guidance - 1994 Diesel, stock


Mar 14, 2016
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Hey Folks,

Before I begin - I'm completely new at the idea of towing, so apologies for the n00b questions.... so here goes:

On our recent trip to the Pyrenees, there was a couple towing a very nice trailer, which was a very good DIY copy of the Patriot Campers X3:
X3 - [Leaving Land Cruiser Club]

We were putting up and taking down our Oztent RV4 + sundries each evening & every morning. Probably cost me about 3 hrs a day, because I was the one doing it. So as a result:
- I never really got to sit in a chair and drink a cold beer
- My wife was always looking after the kids - she also didn't get to drink a cold beer either
- When it rained, which it did, we had a wet Oztent which took longer to make dry etc
- We were always eating later than everyone else at night
- We were always rushing in the morning
- I won't complain about cooking - we managed that fine off the back of the truck; but the wife did like the 80l fridges & cooking units on display...
So it was a good break from work, but I wouldn't call it relaxing in any sense.

So in order to keep my joy of going outdoors and exploring off the beaten track, I started planting the seed of:
- what if we had a trailer?
- with a tent on the top?
- which we could use as a base camp on longer trips, but also would make one night stays so much easier...

And by the end of the trip, she was in....

So now I have to figure out how to tow, before I can go anywhere near the cost of a trailer...

What I'd like to get out at the end:
- ability to tow a trailer
- ability to put use a bike rack when not towing - all 4 of us ride our bikes, so it's a part of family holidays.
- good ground clearance either way - we'll still be going offroad with the trailer/bikes
- I do want to bring the spare wheel up & out, as eventually I'd like to put a long range fuel tank in that space... over and above having the option for 35"s, as well as jerrycans for spare fuel.

What I started with:
I started with the stock towing arrangement.

What I've got now:
But then an opportunity came up to replace the rear stock bumper with a tatty, but steel & functional, rear bumper, which I thought I would get cleaned up & painted at some stage.
I put a tow ball on this, and then use it for our current bike rack.

What I think my options are:
put a JDM rear carrier on, above current steel bumper,
get the OEM towing "stuff" put back on using either original parts, or from a breaker

keep the rear steel bumper,
put a swing away arm on it somehow (which spindle do folks use for this???),
and then get the OEM towing "stuff" put back on using either original parts, or from a breaker

2) get a heavy rear bumper that is rated for towing.
As far as I can tell, the options here are limited to ARB (UK), Kaymar (AUS), Fabryka (PL), and then a few options from US/AUS/ZA.

These are the rear bumpers I've looked at over the summer which vary in cost, but seems many of them not rated/intended for towing:
80 SERIES REAR BAR | The Cruiser Company - [Leaving Land Cruiser Club]
Delta Vehicle Systems - FJ80/FZJ80 Modular Rear Bumper - [Leaving Land Cruiser Club]
80 Series GXL - Kaymar - [Leaving Land Cruiser Club]
ARB Rear Bar and Wheel Carrier - ARB Europe - [Leaving Land Cruiser Club]
WHEEL CARRIER - TOYOTA LANDCRUISER 80 SERIES (1990-1998) - ACCESSOIRES4X4.CH - [Leaving Land Cruiser Club]
80 Series Rear Bumper - [Leaving Land Cruiser Club]
80 Series Rear Bar Wheel Carrier - Rockarmor 4x4 - [Leaving Land Cruiser Club]
80 Series Land Cruiser High Clearance Rear Bumper Kit - Coastal Offroad - [Leaving Land Cruiser Club] (LOVE this design, but not rated for towing... - can I get it rated over in the UK??)
80-series Modular Off-road Rear Bumper, Supports Dual Swing-outs FJ80 - [Leaving Land Cruiser Club]
Dobinsons Rear Bumper With Swing Outs for Toyota Landcruiser 80 Series (BW80-4134) - [Leaving Land Cruiser Club]
LC80 Rear Bumper - - [Leaving Land Cruiser Club]

I really like these racks, so thinking something like this:
iSi Advanced 4x4 Bicycle Carrier Products | Cars and 4WD | Caravans and Camper Trailers - [Leaving Land Cruiser Club]
- bike rack on car
- bike rack on trailer
But it looks like the best attachment is a 2" receiver hitch.

I think that from above:
1) would be cheapest, would be but would reduce ground clearance
2) would be most fiddly, require someone who will weld it for me, but still reduces ground clearance
3) most expensive, but probably best for ground clearance and the general "mean'ness" look I'm going after in our London roads :music-rockon:

What are your thoughts?
Also, where can I learn to tow, without breaking stuff?
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Unless you have a heavy goods driving licence there is nothing to learn about towing because the size of trailer your talking about just follows your truck , just keep your rear wheel away from the curb when turning right angles . Reversing with a trailer takes practise , some have the knack and some don't but you just have to remember that your steering the trailers hitch rather than your truck .

Trying to keep the mrs happy had me build this My overland camper trailer - [Leaving Land Cruiser Club]

Then one stupid bump on a trip that should never have happened and her anxiety goes through the roof when i hook it up :icon-rolleyes:
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There is lots to know about Towing! Lots of things to consider if you don't tow. (I have built many trailers and Tow lots! I have small MX bike trailer, Large wakeboard boat and a car trailer at the moment.
You need to consider your use! Weight, connections systems, brake systems, Good heavy duty trans cooler and radiator on the wagon (3 inch exhaust to help your turbo Cool). Roads your going on and where you will keep it when not in use security of it.
Also you have to consider who builds it and quality of build. (Nice unstressed good bends on brake lines mean they don't fail half way on a trip (which I have seen way to often), Consider if your driving for long periods on faster roads do you go for durotorque, or more heavy off road use more flexible springs (Can get a little loose at motorway speeds +)
Everyone likes to add lots of stuff but don't think about making ease of use the priority! if your wife is going to use it you want everything easy!
You are probably going to end up spending a lot on the trailer so take a few months to plan the build! KISS!!!!!!!!!! Keep It Simple Stupid! is critical.

Then there is a lot to know about towing itself. (nice perfect weight distribution with a little bit more on the draw bar. (you have to play with this) you don't want to loose staring because you had to much weight on the draw bar or have the back come around because its on the back of the trailer. Reversing is an art (longer Trailer is easier), When to turn the trailer brakes on and off, you will have to learn to turn latter into bends carrying speed for hills keep more distance and you will have to be far more aware of everything. Set your mirrors so you can see the trailer wheels, on long trips when i stop to gas up I touch the wheels to see if they are hot usually a sign off brakes/bearings. learn how to change the pads so you can know how to get stones out of them sometimes or you were just stupid and left the trailer handbrake on. :)
If its large and heavy I advise to use electric brakes and redarc system which has a emergency brake button which applies trailer brakes to stop tail whip.
2500kg and under Trojan gear is great (everyone has parts) the hitch with the handle to switch ball size. It's hard to find the one with locking hole through it but It is a must! So easy to lock onto the car
Good luck on your build :)


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What weight can you drive on a UK licence?

You can drive vehicles up to 3,500kg MAM with up to 8 passenger seats (with a trailer up to 750kg). You can also tow heavier trailers if the total MAM of the vehicle and trailer is not more than 3,500kg

Further training/tests required for 7500kg and more again for over and articulated .
Look at Sankey trailers for ideas and the nato hitch , unless you have grander plans ?
When you passed your test has a bearing on towing trailers, and what entitlements you may have, details are on the back of a UK license.
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They changed and back dated the law sometime during the lockdown logistics nightmare , I can't remember exactly but if you have had your licence maybe 10 maybe less years then the above 3500 + 750 now applies .

On reading that i'm surprised to learn myself that i can legally tow about 2500kg with my 80 . I wouldn't want a camp trailer that i couldn't move by hand though that would be a biblical ball ache .
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Travelling with kids a trailer makes alot of sence. Much easier to set up. We have a roof tent on the 80 and a trailer to sleep inside
Towing if you’ve never towed before, I wouldn’t want to hitch up a new/ built camping trailer and learn that way. Maybe pick up a shanky older thing just to get the hang of it. Personally I started off with a tiny hobby trailer, then picked up a 8x5 twin axle, now I have a 8x5 tipper and a 16ft 3.5 tonne car transporter. Practice reversing it in a large open space. The longer the trailer the easier it is to reverse.

Tow bar setup, just be careful with what ever you fabricate yourself. I’m not sure what the legality of home made tow bars is, there’s probably something somewhere saying it has to have a certification sticker on it.

Just bolting a tow ball to the rear cross member or a fancy bumper is a no no. It might feel solid but it will flex. The single point cross member mounted tow balls used on the discovery 3/4 were outlawed and require a bracing kit to be fitted.

Also keep in mind the height of the tow ball from the ground. Most trailers hitches are around the same height. If your truck is raised enough you’ll need a drop plate.
I would firstly get yourself some training with an instructor or mate who is willing to teach you to actually see if you like towing find an industrial estate with open spaces roundabouts long and tight corners you can hire a trailer and use that I would not suggest a short trailer for first time attempt as it will jacknife very easily and frustrate you to hell I would say use a trailer with a twin axle and ten foot bed plus the drawbar this will give you time to think which direction and how much to turn the wheel if and when you are out and about near some industrial estates take a drive round and look for some artics reversing into goods yards watch the tractor units steering wheels and the trailer to see what the driver is doing you should get the idea of what to do go on get yourself trained up one keep Mrs one and the one kids happy
I know I exist can't voucher for the other bloke there is nothing to fear but failure
Nah nothing to get het up about slow and easy does it like I said get some training to start with except for mountain climbing going forward is easy
Tow bar rules are dated as well , again i can't remember but i think an 80 outdates the rule so is exempt ?

Can't remember how old i was but i must have been able to reach the pedals when i was told to hook up the trailer to the tractor and take it to the next farm "if you break anything i will break your head" was the be all and end all of my training :lol:
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5. Coupling devices (Tow Bars)
Any coupling device fitted to a passenger carrying vehicle with up to eight seats plus the driver that:

  • a) has European Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA) and
  • b) that the manufacturer has authorised to tow a trailer and
  • c) is first registered on or after 1 August 1998

There is one exemption to this rule. If you are fitting a tow bar to a vehicle which was first driven before 1st August 1998, your tow bar can be of any design and does not legally have to be of an approved type.
Holy crap. You’ve all instilled the fear of god in me. ;-)
Mate its really not bad to tow along as you start slow and build up. More then welcome to try one of my trailers to see if its for you.
The single most dangerous thing about towing is forgetting your towing something , its care and maintenance nothing more .
We had an Australian trailer when our son was little. The living space was vast and it was great to be able to drive off and leave everything behind in relative safety but it wasn't without issues.

I wouldn't worry too much about the driving but as a fellow city dweller I found owning a camper a bit of a chore at times. Parking, anti-theft measures, wet canvas, louts, cars boxing you in and eventually having to rent a lockup 15 mins away all led to it not being the quick and easy getaway I had in mind.
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