For some time, I’d been thinking about improving the look of the rear cross member with the introduction of a towing assembly… but what would I want to be towing?

I have a (very) long term plan to restore an ex-British military Sankey or Penman trailer. Both look good with a Land Rover of any age…

Gracies sankey trailer… (cost me 100 quid and a tin of red paint)

… but they use a rather specific coupling, commonly referred to as a NATO hitch.



I had enquired with the strassenverkehrsamt if a NATO hitch was permitted. (The Swiss army don’t use the NATO hitch… it’s similar but not as robust)

Despite the fact that the NATO hitch comes with an E11 plate (same as any tow ball in Switzerland), the advice was… buy the trailer, import it, restore it and we’ll tell you if we like the coupling. I paraphrase but that was the gist.

So the next option would be to fit a standard 50mm tow ball. Easily done, I have a box full of them. Well, I have a small box with 3 of them… but it’s a heavy box.

I would at least be able to tow smaller trailers… handy for the winter fire wood collection etc.. I can’t see me towing a twin axle car transporter, although on paper, I’d be able too… Can you imagine the traffic jam?

Best of a bad lot. This one has a releasable pintle so I could also tow trailers with a towing eye. I had this one on my first land rover and regularly towed the firms tipper trailer.


The release mechanism was well and truly seized and needed some attention. First I tried to drive out the spring pin. In theory, once this was out, the whole release mechanism would pull free… Well that was going anywhere!


Stuck things normally free off with the application of heat… Nope.


As I couldn’t remove the release mechanism, I could either throw the hitch in the metal recycling box, go back inside, drink more tea and order a new one… or drill a hole on the opposite side of the release pin and see if I can drift it out.

First I measured roughly where the opposite end of the release pin sits in the casting and centre punched where to drill


With the hitch mounted on the pillar drill, a 4mm diameter hole is drilled until I feel it break through the casting and I touch end of the release pin.


Then with a corresponding sized draft, I’m able to tap out the release pin… which worked 🙂


With the release pin free again, the pintle can be engaged and disengaged readily. The whole thing was then given a thorough wire brushing and prepared for painting.

Ready for primer…


Red oxide primer goes off pretty quickly so I was able to apply a few liberal coats in one evening


Next came a few coats of satin black over the next few evenings


Finished article 🙂

There’s obviously more to this little project to follow. A drop plate needs be fixed and the wiring attended too.

Watch this space…