Category Archives: Technical details

The Buggy – Experience so far!

A Toad for Sunny Seasons

A Toad for Sunny Seasons

    FAQs

Everywhere we go we seem to get asked lots of questions. This ranges from motorhomers on campsite; small boys in the street and drivers pulled up at traffic lights.
I have decided that a hand-out is the best way of dealing with this and here is the text of it:

It is a Quadzilla RL300.
It is made in China.
It weighs just under 300Kg
It has a 300cc single cylinder 4-stroke petrol engine.
It has a top speed of 45mph/70Kmh.
It is technically a “quadracycle” and is road legal in Europe.
The gearbox is an elastic band automatic.
We use it to tow behind a campingcar.
It is towed using a conventional tow coupling lifting the front wheels off the ground so that it can be reversed.
If it were a trailer, it would not need to be braked but because it is a car and has brakes, they must work mechanically or hydraulically when towed.
We have fitted a link from the over-run tow coupling brake to the foot brake.
Insurance is £495/E620 Third Party, Fire and Theft.
It can be driven on a motorcycle licence but a car licence is OK too.
The drive is fixed diff so tends to “scrub” on corners.
Because the speedo is electronic, it doesn’t register towed miles.
It cost about £3000/E3750 new but without windscreen and towing equipment so about £3500/E4375 as it is.
We have a quick-release steering wheel and wheel clamp for security.
The nose weight is around 80Kg.
It does about 35mpg/12.5Km/Litre.

    Fun to drive…

No that we have got the basic questions out of the way, I can ramble on a bit more easily.
We love it. It makes each journey to the supermarket an adventure and gets us lots of fresh air…
When being towed you hardly know it is there. So much so that Liz insists we keep the rear view camera trained on it just to make sure it is there! Given that we weigh nearly three and half tons and we only have a 1.9 litre petrol engine, it is surprising how little it drags. We are a bit slower on the uphill climbs but nothing that would cause a drop in gear.
The other big plus for us is that it is not a problem to reverse it. With my navigational skills, we have had plenty of occasions to do so.

    Tow hitch

Getting ready to tow it is a little more fraught. The tow coupling is heavy at around 75Kg. This is mainly due to the modern regulations for couplings which are bound to be heavy and the fact that no-one makes one rated at less than 900Kg.

Bradley's smallest braked coupling

Bradley's smallest braked coupling


The first bit involves poking the bar under from the front to engage two hooks just between the front seats.
Hooked end ready to fit under buggy

Hooked end ready to fit under buggy

Point between seats for hook location

Point between seats for hook location


Once hooked in place. we use the jockey wheel to raise the threaded locating pin into the front hich plate on the front of the buggy – because we are wimps and can’t be bothered to lift it. The T-bar holding the nut can then be easily screwed tight to hold it in position.
Hitch plate welded to front of buggy

Hitch plate welded to front of buggy


The over-run brake is fitted with a quick release shackle that shortens as it closes.
Marine-type quick release shackle on over-run brake linkage of coupling.

Marine-type quick release shackle on over-run brake linkage of coupling.


The brake peddle has a steel cable leading to a carabiner or crab by way of a hole under the front of the floor.
Cable attached to brake peddle

Cable attached to brake peddle

The shackle links to the caribiner to make the brake linkage.
Cable from brake peddle terminated by carabiner

Cable from brake peddle terminated by carabiner

Although we have never had to do so, if you were reversing up a steep incline, the over-run brake could apply the buggy brake. It is a simple matter to release the shackle and thereby diasable the brake for reversing.

    The lifting on bit for wimps

The most difficult bit is lifting the buggy coupling unto the tow hitch of the van. Since we are not into weight lifting, we start by using the jockey wheel to raise the front of the buggy off the ground. Sadly, this does not give enough height to take it over the tow hitch and so we use a bit of wood to prop it while we drop the jockey wheel for a second lift.
Because we have a large back box there is a little problem with raising the tow hitch handle at the appropriate time. We have overcome this by using a small block & tackle which goes between the back box and the van to a ring and another carabiner. This does the job nicely.
Disconnecting the tow is just a matter of reversing the process…

    Lighting

We have fitted lighting sockets on both back and front of the buggy. This enables a short cable to connect the van to the buggy and gets all the buggy lights working.
Because we haven’t yet got a van number plate for the buggy, we also use a towing board on the back of the buggy. This plugs into the back socket.
The towing board is also useful without the buggy. The back box could be said to, if not obscure, make the number plate of the van less easy to read. Especially if you are as tall as those wretched speed cameras! The towboard bolts on to the back of the back box and we have yet another lighting socket fitted on the lid of the box. This may seem odd but the effort and crouching to take the board lead all the way round the lid of the back box to the tow hitch socket just got to be a nuisance. This way the towboard only needs about 2ft of lead and no crouching is required.

    What boot?

We quickly found that trips to the supermarket and days out required some storage space. This wheeled box cost 14 Euros in a Casino supermarket and is almost made-for-purpose.

What other car has a detachable wheeled boot that takes your shopping right into the kitchen?

What other car has a detachable wheeled boot that takes your shopping right into the kitchen?

Since taking the photo, I have abandoned the strap and fitted one throgh the floor of the box. Much easier to use…

    My Take on the Law

My understanding is that a trailer weighing (MAM) of less than 750Kg does not need to be braked UNLESS it is a vehicle fitted with brakes. In which case those brakes must be used when towing. Further, the means of activating the brakes must be either mechanically or hydraulically operated. The principle, as I understand it, is that you should not be at risk of the brakes failing through a battery going flat or an air tank becoming exhausted. In other words, the brake system must be indefinitely sustainable.
Again in my reading, the vehicle trailor must be reversable. There has been some suggestion that this must be possible without the driver haing to leave the cab of the towing vehicle. I cannot find any evidence in support of this theory – but, of course, I stand to be corrected.
If my understanding is correct, an A-frame, whilst not illegal in itself, cannot by configured in such a way to make it conform to the law with regard to the braking and reversing issues.
Hence the buggy!

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The Refit

Take one 19 year old Pilote R470 and strip out everything but the loo and wardrobe. Now start again! The job took much of three months to do but at least we have what we wanted…
Looking forward. We replaced the front seats with swivel arm chairs (Toyota HiAce) and made the steering wheel removable so the drivers seat can turn all the way. The salon seats are also HiAce donations. All re-upholstered.

The old Pilote with dinette

The old Pilote with dinette


The front section became
Toyota HiAce seats with removable steering wheel makes more room

Toyota HiAce seats with removable steering wheel makes more room

3 burners, small fridge, no oven and no worktop...

3 burners, small fridge, no oven and no worktop...

New full cooker with the essential “proper oven”; new larger fridge;
New automatic fridge, self-lighting cooker with two ovens and worktop

New automatic fridge, self-lighting cooker with two ovens and worktop


Pity I didn’t have the guts to move the bulkhead really…
This was the fifth (single) bed with mini-dinette

This was the fifth (single) bed with mini-dinette


This became the “office” with the drivers seat from an MR2!
Desktop PC under the desk which can be expanded

Desktop PC under the desk which can be expanded


In fact the only thing left inside was the wardrobe and the lavatory!

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