One of our requirements for our van, was a Towbar, we needed this to fit a bicycle carrier that will our hold four bikes, and also tow a small trailer, should I ever get around to doing another track day on my bike (if I ever get time to fix it)
We wanted one that had a removable hitch, so it looked neater when not in use, PFJones was a company that had good reviews on the forums, so we ordered a Westfalia removable hitch Towbar kit.
The info on the website told us there were four different parts that we would have to purchase from VW, in order for the bumper to fit back on properly. So we ordered these while we were waiting for the Tow bar to come.
The wiring for the Towbar seemed to be a lot more complicated than I remember, the last time i fitted one, it was a couple of cheap connectors tapped into the rear light wiring, not quite the same now with these newfangled electronics.
Some of the transporters came with ‘TrailerPrep’ which means there is a dedicated plug behind the N/S rear light ready to plug the electrics into and the vehicle was programmed to take a trailer.
You can find this out by looking at the sticker inside the cover of the service book, if you see ‘IDO’ in the list of options, you do not have the ‘Trailerprep’, and of course we didn’t have it. So we had to buy a dedicated wiring loom for the van, which we will need to connect in various places and then take it to a VW dealer to get them to re-code the van to change the way the foglight and reversing sensors work, when the trailer is fitted, however connecting the wiring is for another day, so lets get on with fitting the Towbar.
Removing the rear bumper is very straightforward, there are two screws in each rear wheel arch and three trim clips underneath and then it just unclips, more troublesome though was disconnecting the reversing sensors while holding the bumper close enough not to stretch the wires, but far enough away so you get your hand onto the plug.
Once the bumper is removed, you can see the large plastic energy absorber, this will need to be removed to make way for the tow bar, firstly unclip the reversing sensor loom from this. Then unbolt this large piece of plastic and dispose of it, as a new one is required, this is one of the parts ordered from VW.
Before you fit this, you need to insert these small plastic cups into the holes in the back panel.
The website tells you to buy eight of these, which we did, however we found that four of our holes already had them in. You then offer up the new piece of plastic and fit them in with the standard panel clips. Anyone converting a van, will have some of these left over, but as we didn’t know what they were as the website only gives a part number we ordered them in.
The small plastic cups make these quite tight to fit in, so some persuasion was required, but once in, they hold the trim very tight, the downside, is there is nowhere to clip on the parking sensor wiring.
You need to remove the spare wheel from underneath, and the trim panel above the spare wheel, this is quite easy to do and once done, you will have easy access to the holes, through which the Towbar is bolted.
The Towbar has two legs that slide inside the chassis rails, and then you bolt through from underneath the van, these are done up very tight.
The website also asks you to buy two of these, however I did not see these mentioned in the instructions.
So I took a guess and stuck them on the Towbar itself as I guessed they were there to help support the bumper and they looked in about the right place.
While the bumper was off, we drilled a hole and fitted our reversing camera, ready for when we upgrade the head unit, we bought a cheap wireless one from fleabay, which included a hole saw.
We marked up the middle of the bumper and drilled a hole in line with the reversing sensors, and the camera plugged in quite snuggly, we ran the wires up into the O/S wheel arch for connecting into the reversing light .
Refitting the bumper was quite straightforward, apart from the wires for the reversing sensors, so we used some more cable tie bases, and riveted them on. The reversing sensor does stand out a bit, so I may try and paint it at some point in the future.
Once this was done, we needed to run the wiring into the cab, , this is the loom that we need to fit, it was a bit of a shock when i first saw it, but after we went through and labelled up the connectors as per the diagram, it doesn’t look to onerous.
This will run from the Towbar to up under the passenger seat, so, first of all, get the van up in the air.
Then remove all the plastic under trays down the N/S, to enable access to cable tie up the loom. This has to be fed out from inside, under the passenger seat, so the first job was to remove the passenger seat and the swivel base, if your doing this yourself, fit the Towbar before you fit the swivel seat base.
The instructions say to feed the loom down through this existing grommet or to remove a blanking plug further under the mat and fit a new grommet that was supplied in the kit, this was the route we were going to take, but the new supplied grommet was too small in diameter, so we modified the existing one and fed the cable through that.
The instructions are quite clear about where to run the loom under the van, so we loosely cable tied it in position at the appropriate points, so that we could adjust it, as we wanted as much cable as possible inside the van, to ensure the swivel seat base sits flat.
The instructions did not give any detail about where to tun the loom, once you had got past the shock absorber mount, so we used the grommet that was too small and fed ours through this hole in the chassis.
This then exited neatly not to far away form where the plug is located, we pushed about an extra foot of cable in there, so the plug can be removed and inspected if required.
Wiring the plug is quite straightforward (if you can see the minute numbers), just follow the instructions for the colours to pin relationship, and bolt the plug on.
Once the plug was wired up and bolted on, we worked backwards, pulling the cable taught(ish) making sure it did not chaff against any sharp edges, and tightening up the cable ties and snipping off the excess.
The loom was curled up inside and the swivel seat base refitted, until I can pluck up the courage to start pulling wires out of connectors and replacing them with wires from the loom.