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In the summer of 2015 we had a towbar fitted to our motorhome by LNB, of Bristol, as well as having our Smart car adapted for towing by A-Frame. LNB also supplied the A-Frame.
While we were in France, on 25 September, we had left the motorway and were descending a hill on the way to our campsite at Grimaud. I had slowed from 50-55mph to 40-41mph to go around a slight bend in the road when we heard, and felt, a thud/thunk. A quick look in the monitor attached to my rearview mirror confirmed that the Smart car we were towing was attempting an ill-advised overtake. Luckily, the car had moved to the nearside (right side) and, keeping an eye on the car and the Armco barrier, I was able to bring us all to a halt without leaving a white smear down the said barrier.
I discovered that the socket into which the offside (UK offside) connector was screwed had sheared from the crossmember. The weld had failed. Examination showed that the weld had only taken on less than half the circumference of the threaded cylinder. The rest was rusty.
We deployed two warning triangles (one of which was run over by a careless driver) while I separated the vehicles and detached the remaining arm of the A-Frame. There was little damage to the Smart, although new wings will be required to bring it back to pristine condition. The damage to the van was also minimal, but panels have been split and will need replacing. I always carry duct tape with me, and after taping the van up, we were able to drive, separately, to the campsite.
I telephoned LNB who were appalled that the weld had failed. They sent out a replacement crossmember to us and we had it fitted at a garage in Frejus. Thus, we were able to continue but decided not to venture any further from home. Françoise was far from relaxed and sensitive to every bump in the road, or unexplained sound.
This was another reason for the visit to the NEC that we made, as everyone we needed to speak to was at the show. LNB has been supportive but cannot take the matter further until after the show. We need to take the car, faulty crossmember and A-Frame to them in Bristol, so they can see exactly what happened. I have sent pictures, and even have the recording taken from the Dash Cam at the time of the incident. Meanwhile, I am waiting for a call from someone, also at the show, recommended by Hobby (I spoke to John Hindle and Craig Robinson on the Hobby stand), so we can take the van to be assessed/repaired.
For the moment I have no reason to believe that everything will not be sorted out by LNB. They told me that all the welding was done by a third party “specialist”, intended to make the units as safe as possible. Obviously something has gone wrong in our case, but LNB are fully insured.
I will report on progress later.
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