Back in the late 70s and early 80s, my wife and I traveled quite a bit in our TR3A. We were young, our needs were few and it was a great way to travel. But then along came the kids and that put an end to that kind of traveling. Now that the kids are out of the house we’ve started traveling again. But now for some strange reason we need suitcases, coolers, and more spare parts.
I’ve seen motorcycles hitching up trailers. If they do it, certainly the TR3 could. All kinds of small trailers are available in prices ranging from about $400 to $5000 and up, made in all kinds of materials and designs. As for the hitch itself, you do not need a “swivel hitch”—if your car leans like a motorcycle, a trailer isn’t what you should be shopping for.
I went down to our local muffler shop that installs hitches and asked about the smallest lightest duty hitch available, preferably one that has been sitting around the shop for a long time where we might be able to make some kind of deal. Sure enough, I walked out of there with a small hitch that had years of dust, along with a matching ball mount and a 2-inch ball.
I took the hitch home and cut it apart keeping the receiver section (the center square tube, with the steel loops for the safety chain) along with another section of square tube. I cleaned it up and prepped the ends and took it to a welder who put the two pieces together. Basically, you end up with a square tube about 16-inches long.
The Triumph has two cross members between the frame rails near the back of the car. I drilled a half-inch hole in the center of each one (careful not to puncture the spare tire compartment!), and drilled matching holes in the new hitch. I bought some grade 8 bolts at a local hardware distributer (I didn’t want to take a chance with the typical grade 2 normally available) with matching nuts and bolted it up. There is just enough room to squeeze a nut between the tops of the cross members and the spare tire tray (with just a little flexing), so the bolts had to be trimmed to the exact length needed. I also added a couple of steel shim plates to level the two cross members which are not at the same elevation. A little Loctite just to be sure nothing would loosen up, and I was all set.
When the trailer came in (truck freight) I unpacked it and grabbed the car side of the wiring harness. You will want to get a 6-pin wiring harness for separate brake and turn signal lights. I drilled a half-inch hole in the trunk under the left directional signal to pass the harness through (using a rubber grommet) and drilled a one-inch hole in the bottom of the spare tire compartment to pass the connector through. When I use the trailer, I pass the connector through the bottom hole (with its own grommet). When the trailer is not in use, I pass the connector and grommet into the spare tire compartment and put a blank rubber grommet in the hole.
The trailer is small enough that I can unhitch it, spin it 90 degrees and put it in the back of a parking space, then back the car up to it, so the car with trailer will fit in a single parking space. This comes in handy when parking in a parking garage where there are rules excluding trailers. I’ve never been refused.
The engine was rebuilt a few years ago, so it pulls so well you hardly know the trailer is there. We’ve never had an overheating problem, though I do have a new aluminum radiator. If the trailer is full, I do notice it on braking. I have to push a little harder on the brake pedal, and I leave a little extra room for stopping. The gross trailer weight is only 350 Lbs, so it’s not terribly heavy.
We’ve made several trips to Canada with the trailer. One trip was following the St. Lawrence river all the way up to Montreal, where we stayed in the “Old Port” area for a few days, then crossed over the river and followed the St. Lawrence on the US side all the way back home. We also took it on vacation down to Cape May, New Jersey, and came back up by way of the Blue Ridge Highway in the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia. What a great way to see the country!
Neal & Linda Johnson