Which tow bar?

May 23, 2020
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Hi
I’m new to caravanning having purchased a Bailey from the 80’s a few weeks ago and in need of some advice regarding tow bar choice for my 2016 Honda CRV please. I have already decided on a detachable option with dedicated 13 pin electrics as the car has an inbuilt auto stability gizmo which I don’t want to by pass with the universal option. My issue now is deciding between a flange or a swan neck tow bar and it seems this depends whether I need a stabiliser. I’ve done some research and I’m as confused as ever. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Most leading makes will provide a towball compatible with a Alko stabiliser. It just has a slightly longer neck under the ball to allow the stabilisers pads clearance as the van moves relative to the car. Look on the Witter-Westfalia website and you will see the options.

Make sure you ask for a Honda CRV specific wiring fitment not generic. This ensures all the cars electronics work. Also specify you tow a caravan and require battery charging and fridge whilst driving.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I suggest you definitely opt for a stabiliser coupling.

It's like a seat belts, where we know it makes sense, and most of the time they don't do anything, except when things start to go pear shaped. and you'll be glad you had it.
 
Jan 19, 2002
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First thing to ascertain is what hitch head the caravan has fitted. I imagine an 80s van will have been manufactured with a standard hitch head, but also possibly retro fitted with a hitch head stabiliser (locked into place with a large secondary handle), Alko being the most likely. You still see blade type stabilisers advertised new and second hand (try googling 'Bulldog Stabiliser') and this was what most caravaners relied upon, but I can't recall seeing any in use for years! So perhaps a replacement head would be a better option.
You might find clipping a swan neck detachable into the retainer under the edge of the bumper easier as it is less bulky. If fitting a flange type just specify an 'alko' type towball which has a different shaped neck to allow room for the stabiliser head.
Don't know what service history you have and assume that the van has been thoroughly checked over - better still serviced - remember to check the age of the tyres which should not be over 5 years old (even though viz inspection may not reveal any problems) especially if the van has been unused for a while.
Enjoy your new acquisition when we are allowed again!
 
May 7, 2012
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I assume you are looking at a Bulldog or similar type lever stabilser. You should be able to have both although the flange type should be easier as the blade holder simply fits between the tow bar section and the tow ball flange. There are clamp type adaptors for attaching the blade holder to a swan neck which cover those so you should be safe either way.
These things are now largely obsolete so make sure you can get them easily before you order your bits though. A better alternative but more costly might be to replace the hitch with the newer ALKO head and a compatible tow ball.
If you go for the first option do check the hitch, if you have an old B&B hitch, this requires a larger tow ball than an ALKO one or there is a possibility of the two halves coming adrift.
As Otherclive says do go for the makers relay as there can be problems with generic ones. Generic ones can also negate the guarantee, although that should not be a problem assuming you only get three years from Honda.
A point to watch is that the computer system may need reprogramming. In my case the fitters did try the car to see if it needed it and said it was working. In fact it seems to have affected the system to some extent, as the auto shut off does not always work, although at £60 + VAT for the programming I have not bothered.
 
May 23, 2020
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Thanks very much for your replies. I think based on your advice I will go for a detachable swan neck with dedicated electrics to start and add an Alko or similar once I have tried some towing to see if I need one.
Can you please confirm that set up will work? I’m assuming an Alko will fit on a standard swan neck?
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Thanks very much for your replies. I think based on your advice I will go for a detachable swan neck with dedicated electrics to start and add an Alko or similar once I have tried some towing to see if I need one.
Can you please confirm that set up will work? I’m assuming an Alko will fit on a standard swan neck?
If you have a towball that is compatible with an Alko stabiliser it will work with a non Alko stabiliser tow hitch. Many caravanners who have Alko stabilisers fitted to the caravan will also tow small trailers fir skip runs and these trailers which don’t have stabilisers work fine with the Alko compatible tow ball.
 
May 7, 2012
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The only point to watch there is the clearance. The ALKO needs a bit more clearance than a standard hitch and most swan necks will have that, but do check with the fitter before he does the job.
 
Jan 19, 2002
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The other difference is that the Alko Stab. head relies on friction pads that clamp to the towball when fitted. Ensure that any paint on the head from new is removed and any grease from a standard head is removed before using a stab. head. Any hitch will fit securely to the Alko towball, which has a greater offset to ensure no obstruction between the head and the bumper when using the bulkier head.
 
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Jul 18, 2017
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We had a TowTrust detachable tow bar fitted with 13 pin electrics. Although your caravan probably has two electric 12v cables you can buy the adaptor. By having the 13 pin fitted now you are future proofing yourself if you want a later model caravan. Best advice as suggested is that if you have the ALKO stabiliser fitted to the caravan for your own safety.
 
May 7, 2012
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We have have a Brink swan neck at the moment, but over the ears we have had several different makes mainly Witter and there was no real difference between them. Witter and Westfalia are owned by the same firm and I am not sure there is any difference.
 
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Jan 3, 2012
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Like Ray I also had different makes
Witter
Blink
Westalia
They all do i good job the choice is up to you to make
 

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