Motorhomes on Fiat, Mercedes, Ford, Renault, Iveco & VW original chassis that don’t have Al-Ko extensions
This is where the fun starts! As there’s a mind field of different chassis extensions fitted if any? Usual only just adequate to do the job of supporting the rear overhang as intended but not suitable to tow from. We have known chassis extensions to be different on the same brand motorhome of the same year and they are constantly changing so it’s very hard to keep up and know what to expect when they come in, all though this has improved a lot since type approval of Motorhomes came in.
This is where’s Armitages come into their own and why so many dealers and customers use us. We are engineers and fabricators by trade not just fitters so it’s nothing for us to manufacture extensions or various bespoke reinforcement systems to make the chassis suitable to tow from. Over the years we have seen so many towbars and worse still, scooter carriers fitted to extensions that are not suitable at all, it’s shocking and scary what we have witnessed over the years but unfortunately, it’s still going on. We have even witnessed one of our Bespoke towbars made for a pre-2012 model Al-Ko chassis motorhome be butchered, chopped, re-welded and fitted back on to a 2015 Burstner Ixeo motorhome that had very weak Sawiko chassis extension that required reinforcing and no reinforcement work had been carried out. To make matters worse he was about to put a 170kg Motorbike on it which is a big no go with one of these motorhomes, if it wasn’t for him calling me for a spare part for his scooter carrier and mentioning what Motorhome he had just bought, it could have been a total disaster, snapping his chassis, possibly losing his Motorbike down the road and may have even seriously hurt someone. The most unbelievable part of this is, the Dealer, a very large well-known company had this work done by a local towbar fitter, he obviously was not a Motorhome towbar specialist like us.
If you have 3 – 5mm thick channel extensions that look suitable to tow from we then need to see how well these are connected to the main base vehicle chassis i.e. a Fiat as they are often secured with a small cluster of 3 – 4 bolts on the very end of the Fiat chassis but the extensions can be anything from 800mm – 1.7m long, so hanging a towbar on these will simply break the extension at the end of the Fiat chassis, so we need to reinforce this connection. With the Fiat range we have some special 8mm thick laser cut galvanized S plates to do this as you can see in the photo on the left. This significantly reinforces the connection by going down the chassis and connecting into the holes already in the Fiat chassis further down near where the shock absorbers mount to the chassis creating a large lever effect type strengthening. If the channels are only 2mm thick or 3mm thick but very long, then we would also fit back to back chassis extensions to reinforce the existing ones making them 5-6mm thick and substantially strengthening them. You can see the original 2mm thick extensions in the photo to the right but if you look at the furthest away extension you will see the galvanized lipped channels we have added. As mentioned earlier if the extensions are 1200mm or over then they will also require the triangulation reinforcements which you can just make out in the photo that was fitted.
If we have nothing to work with and there is no way of strengthening what is already fitted, then we have complete chassis extension kits like the 3 photos below showing our complete Fiat Ducato extensions. The 1st photo is a heavy duty 6mm thick extension kit running alongside the original weak extensions then instead of fitting triangulation brackets we have tied both extensions together which achieves the same result. Photo 2 is the same process but using the lighter weight lipped extensions as the overhang wasn’t as great and photo 3 is the heavy-duty extensions simply fitted with triangulation reinforcements as there was nothing else under the motorhome just a blank space.
The Beauty of the Memo range of towbars is one of them is telescopically adjustable to take any width of chassis from 880-1420mm wide so these will fit a variety of Motorhomes. We also have a range of different drop plates to lower the towbar if the rear valance is much lower than the chassis as you can see in the photo to the left. They also have a range of fixed width versions, the most popular one is a 1280-1290mm wide version that we fit to the Al-Ko chassis / chassis extension range as they are neater in appearance especially when fitted to the slightly older Bailey range of motorhomes that have the towbar on show due to not enough spacing behind the rear valance and end of chassis to hide it, as you can see in the photo (the cut out in the body work is specifically designed for the towbar to sit in).
The legal tow ball height is 350 – 420mm to centre of the ball from the ground when vehicle is laden so for unladen vehicles it’s not out of the question to have them slightly higher up to 450 – 470mm if the vehicle is totally empty when it comes in to us. One of the biggest problems with a lot of the new range of motorhomes is ground clearance due to the Motorhome sitting so low to make them more stable on the road this can then be an issue getting the correct ball height and quite often we have seen them lower than the legal height or just within. The problem is most trailers run at around 390 – 430mm so we always do our best to set them to this height, so if the height is low, we can exchange the standard swan neck ball for one that is 50mm higher, problem solved. Sometimes the distance from the chassis end and the rear valance can be longer than usual or the rear valance is deep and continues under the motorhome several cm’s stopping the standard tow ball from protruding out at the back to get a tow coupling on, (minimum legal limit is 65mm from centre of ball to valance) then we have the answer to this also with a swan neck ball that is 50mm longer than usual. We often have to fit this extended neck when customers want our additional mirror finished stainless steel covered Under-run bumper adding to create enough distance for the bumper to sit behind the ball and still leave adequate room to get a tow coupling on to it.
We have up to 48 Memo Europe towbars in stock at any one time, mainly the adjustable and the Al-ko fixed width versions ready to be supplied or fitted from stock.
We are official Al-Ko suppliers of towbars and carrier systems also, however these need to be ordered in once you’ve supplied us with your Registration number, Vin chassis No, Make & model of motorhome to ensure correct items are supplied.
Whatever is required we will not be beaten! Give us a call today and we will set your wheels in motion!