Case Study: ‘Tow Right’ Detachable Tow Hitch

Client:
East Coast Engineering Ltd (‘Tow Right’)

Challenge:
To design and manufacture a detachable tow hitch that was unique and could be patented by the client 

Outcome:
FabTek worked with East Coast Engineering to successfully develop, prototype and ultimately patent a successful detachable tow hitch. After the initial production run of 50 units, they regularly run small production runs of 100 – 200 units which the client sells through their towbar company, Tow Right. 

The Story:
Noel Dolamore of East Coast Engineering approached FabTek with some specific ideas about designing a detachable tow hitch. With a conventional tow bar assembly, the tow ball and tongue are welded to a steel bracket that bolts to the chassis of the vehicle and protrudes from the rear of the car or truck. With a detachable tow hitch, the ball and tongue can easily be removed, which offers several advantages:

  1. Safety – no protruding bar to bump shins on when walking between vehicles or loading and unloading goods
  2. The vehicle takes up less room when parked in a garage
  3. Other detachable accessories such as bike racks can be fitted in place of the towbar

There were existing designs available for detachable tow hitches, but they generally use the concept of having one RHS section slide inside another larger RHS section with a removable pin linking the two parts. 

“We wanted something that was more user friendly and simpler to use, with no removable pins or other parts that might get lost. We were also looking for a unique design that we could patent, and that presented a neater cosmetic appearance and provided tighter tolerances to reduce rattle,” Noel said. 

Before coming to FabTek he had approached another metal fabrication company who had created a design and made a prototype. Noel was not happy with the result, so approached FabTek for assistance. 

FabTek managing director Bevan Templeton says, “We worked closely with Noel to ensure his requirements were met and also to get the full benefit of his industry experience. Once we arrived at a design concept Noel was happy with, we drew all the components up on CAD and made some prototypes for evaluation and testing. After approval, we then produced an initial run of 50 units.” 

FabTek has subsequently designed another three variants of the initial design to cater for different local applications, all of which the company manufactures for East Coast Engineering in runs of 100 to 200 units. 

Noel holds copies of all the relevant design and production drawings and files, and FabTek has also supplied line drawings and operational descriptions to his patent attorney to assist in the patent application process.