View original topic: Tow Ready Tow Bar - install and use Page: 1, 2  Next
Gary0302 Sun Oct 23, 2016 2:40 pm

Earlier this year I sold my trailer (I needed the $$$), so it was time to come up with an alternative way to move my dune buggy from point A to point B; the 2016 Manx On The Banx was right around the corner and I needed to be ready. Because my front end attaches to the chassis by way of front beam chassis clamps instead of the traditional VW bolt-on method, using the standard VW tow bar was out of the question, unless the spread was modified to fit. Even though that was a possibility, I decided to go into a different direction. My goal was to also come up with a system that I could completely install and remove on my own.

I purchased a Tow Ready Tow Bar (part #63181), along with an extra pair of front beam chassis clamps. Because the tow bar’s factory bumper bracket adapters would not be the optimum way to go for my application, a friend of mine was able cut down some U channel that he happened to have laying around and weld them on to the chassis clamps. We were fortunate that the inside measurement of the U channel was what we needed. He was also able to drill perfect holes to allow for the included ½” wire-lock pins.

Once I painted and installed the modified chassis clamps, it was time to assemble and attempt to install the Tow Ready tow bar. In order not to need an extra set hands, I decided to find something to use that would give me the correct height as I attached the tow bar to the brackets. I was lucky to have 3 foam shipping blocks that I could use as risers. At one point I thought that I was going to have to remove my front bumper, but once I decided to switch the positions of the ½“ bolts and the ½” wire-lock pins, my clearance issue was resolved; although just barely. (Because this is not the way the system is designed, I am not saying that I recommend this for anyone else; but in my case the modification fit my needs). I was also fortunate that my front turn signal mounts are actually made of rubber; this allowed me to easily drop the wire-lock pins into the mounting holes. As you can also see by the photo, I added nylon ties to the wire-lock pins to act as pull tabs so that I could engage/disengage them with less effort.

Once the tow bar was installed, the next challenge was to come up with a way to suspend the A frame coupler of the tow bar so that I could maneuver it over the hitch ball (a 2” ball is required with this Tow Ready Tow Bar setup). This actually ended up being easier than I anticipated. I attached a ratchet strap to the A frame coupler; it ran over the windshield and back to the roll bar. I ratcheted the coupler up a couple of inches higher than the ball, and with that setup I was able to literally drive up to position the coupler over the ball. Just as a precaution, I decided to add padding to the hitch, just in case I got too aggressive with my positioning.

At that point, if I was not in the exact position needed, I was able put the dune buggy in neutral in order to roll it slightly back and forth to allow for complete engagement. I really thought this part was going to be more difficult.

As far as trailer lighting was concerned, I decided to mount a set in a PVC tube and temporarily attach it to the roll bar using nylon ties. My wiring layout was more functional than cosmetic; I may rewire the tube at a later date so that more of the runs are hidden. I also added a 4 prong splice between the PVC tube and the tow bar so that they would be 2 separate units. I may even tap into the rear taillight wiring on my dune buggy so that I could eliminate the PVC lighting tube entirely.

Now, what I am about to tell you is only based on one trip, to Manx on the Banx and back; approximately 3 hours each way. Knock on wood; it was literally a breeze. The overall length of the tow bar is 42”, so it easily fit behind the backseat of my 4Runner after removal. I did not have to find a place to keep a trailer when it was not in use. I do not have a locking steering column, so that was not a factor. Front end should be in good alignment. As we also know, gearing must be (and stay) in neutral. Anticipate where you park; backing up is not an option. Please let me know if you have any questions.

IowaRedManx Mon Oct 24, 2016 10:07 am

Gary, Great idea on making a towbar setup for a non VW front suspension. This looks almost foolproof. You may have solved the towbar problem I have with Jayne's KickOut. Thank you.

Is there a reason that the safety chains do not attach the actual buggy frame. It appears that the only thing that is protected is the towbar. From experience, it is necessary that the safety chains/cables be attached directly to a solid mount on the chassis. This also requires that the safety chains/cables bypass all of the hitch and towbar attachment locations.

You always want the towed part of the vehicle to remain behind you, and be controlled from it's position. You vehicle may get a ding or two, but no one will be seriously injured or killed.

Gary0302 Mon Oct 24, 2016 10:20 am

IowaRedManx, thanks for the compliment.

In the photos shown, the safety chains are not actually hooked up for travel. There are 4 separate safety chains. The set closest to the front beam actually wrap around the lower tube, and the set closest to the A frame coupler attach on either side of the receiver that is mounted on the rear of my 4Runner.

However, even though it was not designed as such, I like the idea of connecting the 2 sets of chains, using extra chain and quick connect links; I may take you up on that.

andygere Mon Oct 24, 2016 10:28 am

When towing my buggy with the typical VW tow bar, I use a set of tow chains around the beam connected to the tow bar with quick links. The bar itself has a short set of chains that connect to the tow vehicle. For the set that go around the beam, I've zip tied some split loom around them so they don't wear the paint off the beam.

Skulptorchaz Wed Oct 26, 2016 8:05 am

Looks good!
If you get the time and have the inclination, wiring to your tail lights, via under the hood, is a trick way to go. Less stuff and hassle. I just have a pigtail wrapped around front bumper that I connect to the truck.
Just a thought.
Nice job.

Gary0302 Wed Oct 26, 2016 8:12 am

Hi Skulptorchaz,

I appreciate the heads up, I already have it figured out how I want to connect to my rear taillights; it's just a matter of me getting it done.

Dale M. Wed Oct 26, 2016 8:24 am

This is what I did for flat tow lights...

Have short umbilical that is permanently attached to tow bar with connectors on both ends, on end plugs into buggy one end plugs into tow vehicle.....

Though do have a light bar for years for other tows and 'recoveries'...


Gary0302 Wed Oct 26, 2016 8:31 am

Hi Dale,

Thanks for posting detailed schematics on the proper way to tap in to existing dune buggy wiring, the isolation diodes are significant in a proper setup to prevent back feed from the tow vehicle's electrical system.

Skulptorchaz Wed Oct 26, 2016 11:05 am

Right on Gary! I know how elusive time can be.
Good luck!!!

Gary0302 Wed Oct 26, 2016 11:49 am

To be totally and 100% honest, now that I have at least a workable solution; laziness can also be factored in.

Skulptorchaz Wed Oct 26, 2016 12:19 pm

:) Truth here to my friend! :)
But, winter is a good time for me to suck it up. This winter is no exception. BIG projects.
Good luck.

prkid424 Tue Nov 08, 2016 2:24 pm

Gary0302 wrote: Hi Dale,

Thanks for posting detailed schematics on the proper way to tap in to existing dune buggy wiring, the isolation diodes are significant in a proper setup to prevent back feed from the tow vehicle's electrical system.

Could this also be bypassed by just disconnecting (via quick disconnect) the towed vehicles battery? This is what I do and I have never had issues. However the isolating diodes are also a very easy install.

Dale M. Wed Nov 09, 2016 8:56 am

Several major things about isolation diodes, they don't allow feed back voltages from tow vehicle power in to electrical system of buggy like keeping parking lights on on front of buggy or maybe dash lights and front turn signals.... Granted there is usually switch(s) in between to prevent power back into buggy electrical's, but why depend on them and this allows you to use buggy lamps for tow with out prospect of having to add separate set of towing lamps...


joescoolcustoms Fri Nov 11, 2016 7:39 pm

Dale, do you have a link or spec to a recommended Diode to use?

I have thought about wiring in a tow pigtail on the next buggy I build to sell so the seller has an option already ready for them to use.

clonebug Sat Nov 12, 2016 7:32 am

I ran separate wiring for my buggy tow lights due to the 4 and 5 wire differences in an European car verses American car.
From front plug to terminal strip then out to back of buggy.
Here I was in the middle of rewiring it on my MS-2 upgrade.
You can see the standard trailer colors of yellow, white , green and brown along with a couple extras.

I just ran 4 wires from a plug on my front bumper to the rear and plugged in two separate lights that I can remove easily or just leave in place.

Here is a closeup of the lights....just a couple cheap universal lights from NAPA mounted on a piece of flat steel bolted on and I have a twin plugs that can be disconnected if I want to remove them.

The attaching cord stays strapped to the tow bar and is out of the way and invisible when the buggy is not towed.

No diodes to worry about, no back feed and the big plus is no converter box since I use the stock 67 wiring diagram for my buggy lights.

JCockrill Sun Jul 29, 2018 10:11 am

Trying this set up out and will let you know how it goes. Tow rite doesn't make the 63181 anymore. The 63180 is available and only seems to differ in its lack of extension on the tow arms. From your photos it seems you didn't need the extension so I am expecting to be fine with this. I will post photos of the build if any one is interested. It will be towing a '15 Manxter on a '72 pan with '74 axles/engine/tranny.

Gary0302 Sun Jul 29, 2018 10:37 am

Hi JCockrill,

Yes, please post your photos; my application is certainly not a one-size-fits-all setup. In my particular situation, it was good that I had the longer arms, but just because shorter arms may have pinched the angle at my front end attachments to the point where the ends of the U bolts may have inadvertently rubbed on my tubular aluminum bumper. Also, because the mounting points were so close to the ends of my front bumper, I chose to reverse the locations of the ½“ bolts and the ½” wire-lock pins, you may not have to do that.

If you end up using a nylon strap-type system to temporarily hold up your tow bar (just a couple of inches higher than your hitch ball height); you are really going to like how easy it is to just drive your buggy up to the hitch, it's very easy to eyeball the alignment from your driver's seat. You will also like how compact it is, relatively speaking, when you fold it up while it's not in use.

Gary0302 Wed Aug 01, 2018 9:26 am

I really should have included a photo such as this in my original post; it shows the Tow Ready Tow Bar (part #63181) collapsed at the A-frame coupler and ready for transport in my Toyota 4Runner. Overall length is 44 inches; it is important to remember to re-tighten the hex nuts at the A-frame coupler once it is installed and ready for use.

Gary0302 Tue Aug 07, 2018 8:58 am

Yesterday, Facebook user Jeffery Holt posted photos/video of his Tow Ready type tow bar attachments for his Meyers Manxter/Dave Barrett chassis. His process appeared to mimic my original setup above, however his brackets required additional steps during fabrication. Down below in the Comments section, he was asked if there was a way to incorporate this system with an original/stock VW pan. Although he replied that he was not aware of any other options, I believe the answer to be Yes; absolutely.

2 pair of chassis clamps (along with Grade 8 bolts, nuts, etc) would be needed; one on each side to be used for the actual tow bar attachment (facing forward), the other would be used on the back side to complete the attachment (facing the rear). To help achieve decent clearance from the stock Manxter front bumper, these clamps should probably be spaced out as wide as possible (which ultimately, is where my tow bar clamps are currently located on my stock ball joint front end).

Since I do not own a Manxter on a stock VW pan, I can’t 100% guarantee this setup, hopefully others will be able to chime in one way or the other. (edited to correct spelling, additional info)

JCockrill Sun Aug 26, 2018 12:15 pm


I am in the process of trying to get a tow bar set up for my Manxter right now. As for my stock pan I have to report it will not fit in the location your marked. The space between the welding and the grease fitting is just not large enough.

Unfortunately the tow bar that was used in this original post is no longer available either so you cannot achieve the length needed with the non-adjustable length tow bar from Tow-Ready.

This is what I am trying this week and will let everyone know the results. Using the same chassis clamps but placing inside the grease fittings. This makes the tow bar too thin now and it hits the manxter bumper. I am going to my welder this week to get him to place in a 3" box steel to extend it out. At the end of the steel I will have the connection bracket welded on. This will make the assembly about 6" which will be left on the vehicle. I figured some black paint and it will not be that noticable.

As soon as it is completed I will post pictures and results.

To set up I did not have the styrofoam boxes he was lucky enough to have so 1 person could attach the bar. I am happy to report that three 1 gallon paint can do just great on a stock height VW pan!

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