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General E46 Forum
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Old 06-04-2010, 09:40 AM   #1
Aaron Alexander
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Hitch/Towbar, Homemade

I've been searching for a good hitch for my 325 since I got it, and as far as I can find, there's only one type available here in the US--it's the one that attatches to the bottom of the spare tire tub. AND you can see it. I like the type they use in Europe, but I didn't want to spend an assload to get one here.

Since I don't mind a little welding, I made my own. It's totally hidden, easy to use, AND passes the "200 Pound Guy Crazily Jumping Up and Down On It" test:

Draw-Tite makes a vertically mounting hidden hitch for the Scion Xb, so I bought the ball mount for around $50.
http://www.etrailer.com/p-28451.html

I used a few posts I found here on removing the rear bumper cover which turns out to be super easy.

I Bought a 6" long 1.25" receiver from Tractor Supply (which I cut down to 5.25, then got some 1.5" O.D. heavy schedule square tubing from the local steel supplier (plus some 3/16" and 3/8" strap). I used dad's AC arc welder from the paleolithic era and an angle grinder with a cutoff wheel along with some wicked eyeballing for assembly.


The piece fits between the bumper stanchions and is secured by four 2" U-bolts through 3/8" strap that's welded to the ends. Additional attachment is to the spare tire tub with 12 inches of 3" strap welded to the vertical receiver, bent carefully to match the contour, bolted through a matching backing plate on the inside of the tub. No interference with the spare tire, there's just enough room in there for the contoured plate and bolts facing aft. About a 3.5" relief was cut in the bumper cover (cut with a jigsaw and downward cutting bit) for installing the ball mount, but it's so far down, you can't even see it.

Been hauling the sailboat around with no problems, next mission is some track days with the 675. I'm very proud of it, so be nice....
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Last edited by Aaron Alexander; 06-04-2010 at 09:43 AM.
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Old 06-04-2010, 09:59 AM   #2
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Awesome! Great job!

I love how it is totally hidden..you wouldn't mind if I "stole" your idea?
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Old 06-04-2010, 12:19 PM   #3
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Interesting. How does it compare to the Euro version?

Looks very well executed. I'd be a bit concerned about it pivoting or wiggling at the U-bolts and pulling out of the spare tire tub, but it looks like your reinforcement should take care of most of that.

Give us another update if it continues to hold up (or doesn't)... my dad has a welder, I might have him give me a hand with this.
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Old 06-04-2010, 12:28 PM   #4
mestupmonkydude
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even though its not towing anything heavy. Shouldnt the tongue weight not be on the pin?
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Old 06-04-2010, 01:16 PM   #5
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Looks like mine (euro std) only thing is the euro one has a "wider" bar and doesn't bolt to the tire-well(this is just sheet metal and will not provide any strength
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Old 06-04-2010, 01:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Alexander View Post
Since I don't mind a little welding, I made my own. It's totally hidden, easy to use, AND passes the "200 Pound Guy Crazily Jumping Up and Down On It" test:
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Old 06-04-2010, 04:16 PM   #7
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make me one! lol
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Old 06-04-2010, 04:18 PM   #8
Aaron Alexander
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Thanks for the compliments--I posted hoping I could give ideas to others who might try something similar, so if you have questions about anything I did, please ask. Not trying to patent anything...

As far as the physics of the thing are concerned, the tongue weight is transferred rotationally to the sheet metal spare tire tub (not really just the pin)--not the toughest part on the car, but spread out as far as I have it, doesn't seem to flex much at all when applying my "jump up and down" test. Besides, if I ever exceed 100lbs tongue weight, it's probably something I shouldn't be pulling in the first place...

Due to the gooseneck, the towing force is actually concentrated on the horizontal bar, much like the Euro version, though I will concede that the Euro is a beefier bar connected in place of the bumper stanchions to the car itself. My design relies on the clamping force of the U-bolts on the stanchions. A more desirable design in place of the U-bolts might be a U-strap instead. That would provide some longitudinal resistance to "pulling" against the "Ts" that are formed at the ends of the stanchions. I may still revisit that part someday.
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Old 06-04-2010, 04:36 PM   #9
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make 'em and sell one to me
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Old 06-22-2010, 07:38 PM   #10
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love this Idea, I have a buddy who does welding for a living, hope you don't mind me taking these pics to him so he can make me one
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Old 06-22-2010, 08:25 PM   #11
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Dude thats awesome, but i have one question.. those round things on either side that you U bolted the cross bar to... arent those pistons for the bumper/crushing system?
i think there supposed to be able to be pushed in, in the event of someone crushing your rear end.
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Old 06-22-2010, 08:59 PM   #12
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Old 06-25-2010, 11:53 AM   #13
Aaron Alexander
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Originally Posted by beingdevious View Post
those round things on either side that you U bolted the cross bar to... arent those pistons for the bumper/crushing system?
i think there supposed to be able to be pushed in, in the event of someone crushing your rear end.
I honestly don't know. I am operating on the assumption that those are built to collapse in, and that you shouldn't be able to pull them out (which is all I need for towing). All I really did was rap on them with a hammer (pounding them out), and it seemed there was no way they were coming out of there. Scientific, I know.

As for that absorption provided by those things, well, I suppose I've lost it. I figure any collision strong enough to employ energy-absorbing systems will probably be bad enough that I'll be effed either way.
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Old 11-01-2011, 09:52 AM   #14
Aaron Alexander
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**Latest Update**

Hitch is still holding strong, moved from KC to New Hampshire, dragged the motorcycle behind the whole way with confidence...it's even survived being "bumped" from behind by a SuperBeetle that required replacing the bumper cover, no damage to the hitch, and moreover, the hitch didn't cause any damage to the car...very happy.
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Old 11-01-2011, 10:52 AM   #15
Jmanscotch
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Appreciate the time/thought to offer an update. More people need hitches on their E46s
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Old 12-30-2011, 02:24 AM   #16
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Cool hitch idea. I have a few questions:

Is the plate to the spare well necessary? I'm trying to avoid doing any drilling.

What's the max tongue weight you have had on the hitch? I see that you have jumped on it but long drives can cause more damage.

I'm looking to make a hitch (Euro E46 hitch doesn't have a 2" reciever)) so I can mount a Yakima Holdup (50lbs) and two mtb (29lbs each) bikes, a constant 110 lbs.

I already have a roof roof setup on another car which I can swap over but I hate having to look out for trees.
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Old 01-07-2012, 06:36 PM   #17
Aaron Alexander
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"Is the plate to the spare well necessary? I'm trying to avoid doing any drilling."

So far, the heaviest weight on the hitch has been my fat ass, as far as I can tell. As far as drilling is concerned, I think you could actually get away with just a pad on the outside of the spare wheel tub. Just as long as it's big enough to spread out some weight (the tongue weight will otherwise be transferred directly to the crossbar via a twisting force).
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Old 07-15-2012, 08:49 PM   #18
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Old 09-20-2013, 04:12 PM   #19
dirtbikejunkie
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1. Where do you hook safety chains?
2. Think you could weld those plates to the bumper stops? I looked at some pics of the OEM hitch and it uses those to hold all the forces. The twisting force created by the tongue weight and the push/pull forces created by accelerating and braking.

Love the ingenuity involved in this. I cant seem to locate the OEM anywhere and the curt one is my last choice. Had the Curt on my VW and worked great!
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Old 09-20-2013, 06:46 PM   #20
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i have one for sale.... if anyone is looking for one - PM me.
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