Decopification: Hitched! No, not that kind.
My supercharged Pontiac Vibe has a hitch. Not because I intend to tow much with it (though I have) but because I wanted a tow point from the rear. In the scary case where I would have to be pulled from the rear, or pull from the rear, there's nothing other than the rear torsion beam. Thus, hitch.
The Caprice's trunk is a mile long with a plastic spare tire tub, and thus, has similar reasons for needing one. It also has a 6.0 V8 and 6L80e transmission, and comes from a land where the locals like towing things with their Holdens.
This means the Caprice needs to get hitched. The towing kind. This could be done by paying more than $400 plus freight from Australia, or buy plans and have someone weld one up based on them. My brother-in-law is a fabricator (among other things). I went for B.
Thus, the car got packed up and we headed west to their farm!
The patient in its spot
A lot of metal that will soon be a hitch... And also a lot of metal (only 25% of this 2x3 0.25" tubing was used).
Plastic cover off, revealing the aluminum crash bar. This whole crash beam will be removed and replaced.
These four bolts secure the crash supports to the car. The rear two are M10 bolts, 110mm long. The front two are much shorter. I grabbed a couple of the long ones from some junkyard G8s to make a set of four.
Ever wondered what's inside the rear frame rails of a retired cop car?
Getting drawn up on the table, and moments* later
We have a start. At this point we need to trim the plastic bumper cover for the receiver. Thankfully, Holden has some helpful lines drawn in place.
Is it perfect? No. Was it trimmed a little better? Yes. Will it do? Yep! I also found some neat stickers still inside the cover.
'HRN' is for 'Heron White.' The date of May 6th, 2013 at assembly (Australia does month/day/year, so it's May, not June) puts it about ten years behind the Vibe, which is early May, 2003. But most interesting? It's called an 'Elwood.' Blues Brothers reference? I choose to believe.
Receiver in place
Adding some gussets for strength. The big one in the middle is because there's otherwise nothing acting as a bumper.
Hooks for safety chain d-rings added, and showing where it lies relative to the plastic cover. Making the safety chain loops bigger and horizontal means it won't fit through the hole in the plastic cover. Add paint and...
That's definitely a heavy-duty hitch, and/or a rear-mount bash bar. That should be more than enough for my needs.
We also added these plates to reinforce the top. Similar plates are included in the OEM Holden kit.
And that's a hitch! Any farther in and I won't be able to get the hitch pin in without going behind the cover. However, there's more to towing a trailer than just yanking it.
Yep, electrical! The standard four-flat harness needs a ground, parking lights, left signal/brake and right signal/brake. If you'll recall back to a previous installment I already have some connectors at the left and right brake/turn signals. Easy, right?
Yes, actually. Make a little tweener harness with the trailer wiring in-between, and you're good.
This ground was here from the (still present) secondary battery box. In the same tradition as usual, I removed some scrap wiring to use this spot. I don't know where that other ground goes, but I'll figure that out someday.
This one is a little bit different. I didn't want to cut the wire to the main taillight bulb because there wasn't much wire to it. But then I found this plug that goes to the little side marker, and it was the perfect candidate. The alligator test lead clip is there to hold the wires in place while they get melted together.
Shout out to this $7 Curt tester, without which I wouldn't have done this right. I accidentally tee'd off the turn signal wire instead of the brake/turn signal. Thankfully with how it's all wired I just had to move the t-harness to another wire.
All tied up with a loop around this trunk trim support, accessible from the battery compartment door, and sufficient length. All that's missing is the ball!
Perfect! Time to put it to the test.
That's right, the classic U-Haul 4x8. I needed to move some of my crap, plus grandma's old kitchen table, to Michigan from Minnesota.
Over three days and more than 900 miles, this car really showed that it was up for the challenge. I closely watched engine and transmission temps (via the very neat Engineering Mode), and the car ran just fine. Never breached 220F/105C for engine coolant, or 200F/93C for ATF. And when it got close I downshifted to 5th (with my tapshift that I got working previously), and let it lose 10C before letting it go back to 6th.
Also, you'll note I previously asked about fender rolling... I kind of need it, especially if the car is going to be lowered at all. With the trailer behind us, the car rubbed the fenders more than a couple times.
Trailer filled with stuff:
At least the summer 19s are a smaller diameter than the winter 18s, so it's much, much less of an issue than it could have been.
A note about Engineering Mode: You turn the key while pressing the 'enter' button on the left side of the steering wheel. Then it gives you a fun menu with various things, like throttle position and RPM. But it speaks Australian, so I had to read my engine coolant in F, but ATF in C.
Thankfully I know 200F, where Google says is the 'bad' area for ATF, is almost 212F, where water boils, so I knew above 90C is the no-no zone. And yes, Americans and imperial, blah blah...
But really, the car did great. I kept it in SPORT shift mode, which acts like Tow/Haul mode, stayed at a reasonable speed, watched my mirrors, and got home with minimal fuss. I even scored 16mpg. It's a hit from the 20-23 I can otherwise do on the highway, but I have over 1000lbs in a wind-catcher behind me, so it makes sense.
The car really impressed me with how effortless this seemed once we were on the highway. The high ambient temps and traffic were a pain, but through many podcasts, Sweettarts, and a PB sandwich from my mom, we made it home.
Now to rest and then turn around for New York in a couple weeks.... If my sanity makes it that far.
ash78 last edited by ash78
@KITT222 That's some fine
policefabrication work there, Lou!
Did I ever wonder what's inside a cop car bumper? Yes, and apparently they took it all before you bought it. Hint: HRN doesn't mean "Heron"
Also, I saw the ELWOOD placard, which for a cop car is absolute Blues Brother gold.
Keep up the amazing work, I bow before your creativity.
drVanTraveler last edited by
Mupalup last edited by
@KITT222 looks great, the cutout area in the molding was pretty dang helpful when I did mine. Was pleasantly surprised when I found it.
Shop-Teacher last edited by
@KITT222 Very nice! That's a beefy hitch!
Urambo Tauro last edited by Urambo Tauro
@Shop-Teacher It certainly is... Now someone go tell this lady that we found it.
@KITT222 consider installing airbags in your rear springs. I have them in my Vic, but they have a leak I haven't gotten around to fixing.
@NKato The independent rear suspension makes that a small challenge, but trust me, I've considered it. I'd need some shorty ones to go between my upper control arm and frame rail.
pip bip last edited by