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Discussion Starter #1
I have just finished the initial fit of the above product to my smart, and I can see that it will do - for now - after a few modifications.

I had done a preliminary search for smart tires along our usual routes and found that they were "thin on the ground", with virtually every vendor saying "I can get it here tomorrow or the next day." If things went wrong on a Sunday, that might stretch to three days - too long of a delay for our lifestyle, as devil may care as it is. So, it was a spare tire or leave the thing at home when going on long trips.

The spare and wheel part was easy: I bought one here. At that point, I was a fourth of the way home.

(I also bought a jack kit from Smart Madness, along with a tire plugging kit, the first of these for me since I was in the Army back in the 1970's. The puck was easy - I've got a bag of those up in the attic.)

Since there was no way that two tall people were going to store a spare behind the seats, I started looking for a trailer hitch receiver mount for my stock Passion wheel and tire, one that I could throw on when I was planning a lengthy trip, or leave at home when going local.

The hitch part was easy - install a stock Curt hitch. And, as we often take two vehicles to band jobs, I was happy to gain the ability to tow our band trailer with the "little car".

The last part was the hardest. I have read of others who have created trailer hitch mounts for their spares, but none were for a small (1.25") receiver, and no one seemed to be selling any if they had them. Finally, I tracked down a combination tire mount/load tray contraption from SmartieParts, up in the great white north. I ordered one and again had it in hand within the space of a week.

The workmanship on the kit is first rate, especially when you consider that the whole affair is a foreign-sourced (China) assembly.

There are three parts to the kit:

• The receiver post mount. This is a 1.25" square tube (emphasis added) that fits in the trailer hitch receiver. To the outer end of the mount are attached two square sockets (welded side by side at the end) to receive either the tire mount or the tray. There are two holes drilled through the sides of the mount; either can be aligned with the through pin hole in the receiver to pin the whole thing to the car.

• The tire mount, which is a square post, with the top slightly tipped towards the car, with a circular plate with three studs in the smart three hole configuration welded to the top. Over the studs and placed against the plate is a rubber disk that, when the provided lug nuts are snugged up tight, keeps the tire from chattering away on the mount.

• The tray, big enough to hold a couple of golf bags. The back of the tray is provided with a square post that drops into a socket on the mount. The tray itself is a 16" (wide) by 13" (deep) tray with flat bars for a bottom. At the back of the tray (the car side) is a vertical tie down bar.

All three of the main parts of the kit are very well finished - no jagged weld beads and plastic plugs installed in open ends of the square tubing where they are visible. All are well painted.

With the kit comes hardware, one pin that fits through the 1.25" receiver post mount, locking it to the receiver, and one clip-style pin to secure it in place. There are also two smaller pins to attach the tray or tire mount to the receiver post mount. These are provided with spring-loaded balls to retain them in the post mounts - a little iffy feeling for my tastes, but as the post is a gravity fit in the mount, the pin is not as critical as it might seem. Finally there are three 3/4" lug nuts to secure the tire to the mount.

With the exception of the chrome plated lug nuts, all of the hardware appears to be cadmium plated.

As shipped, several things bothered me about the kit:

• The first is that the tire mount, when installed, rises vertically some 6" from the vertical plane of the rear bumper. While this works just fine for carrying the tire, it looks pretty stupid when viewed from the side, and - being so far back of the wheels and suspension, it does make for a bit of a "thump" when going over certain road "features".

The solution for this is to adjust the mount into the receiver until the vertical portion about an inch or so away from the car, with plenty of clearance from the tire and bar all around, then drill a new through-and-through hole through the hollow bar.

• The second problem is the loose (as it has to be) connection between the mount and the tire mount. The securing pin isn't all that solid when installed, for that matter.

My solution here will be to weld the tire mount in place (around the top of the mount, and a plug weld in the bottom). While very nicely made, it's way too small to hold my hockey bag, and I can't see any other use that I will have for the thing.

So, the tire mount gets welded in place, perhaps with the appropriate bolt through the hole to nut on the far side. No rattle, and no way to boost the whole tire/mount assembly from the socket, should we encounter the random vandals trying to be cute and steal the "little tiny tire".

• The third problem is the chatter of the receiver post mount in the hitch receiver, and the fact that the hitch is not locked to the car.

The fix here is simple - an anti-chatter, lockable hitch pin. Slide the nut into the receiver post mount, then insert the mount into the receiver, slide the pin through the receiver until the threads engage the nut, make it up tight with a wrench, and then slip the lock on end of the pin.

• The fourth issue is a minor one, but one to be considered nonetheless. The three lug nuts furnished with the kit are, as near as I can make out, of the 45° bevel variety, while the smart wheels are made for the ball mount type.

Well, as the wheel is not under any strain when on the mount, and as the rubber backing provides enough "squeeze" to hold things together, this probably won't matter.

(A very minor problem with the lug nuts was that the sockets in the Smart Madness kit were not a fit for them. A quick visit to Auto Zone fixed that, with a thin-wall socket to fit the 3/4" drive on the breaker bar - into the bag it went.)

• The final problem is that the tire, even when mounted on the welded mount and locked into the hitch receiver, is still only secured with three easy to remove lug nuts. While the casual smart-vandalizing dork isn't likely to have a lug wrench in their pocket, there's one as close as the nearest parked car.

I first toyed with purchasing your standard anti-theft lug nuts. However, I ended up following my lovely wife's suggestion and locked it up with a custom-made cable and combination lock pairing.

I eyeballed the length of the cable when I first got the mount and put it together with the tire, and decided that a eye to eye length of 12", or one good ol' English foot, would be about right. (Take that, Continental-bound metric system!)

Our favorite "they're going to have it" hardware store here in Houston. Bering's Hardware is the place to visit for stuff like this. And, sure enough, the lock they had, no problem. We settled on a smaller version of the combination locks that we use on our band trailer and other equipment.

The cable was another matter. All of the stock cables for locking purposes were at least three foot long, most of them of the pre-formed "spring" type. However, a pleasant young man who was working the lock departments (they have three or four) instantly saw the way out of our dilemma.

Taking us to the rear of the hardware department, he reeled off a foot and a half of vinyl-covered 1/4" steel aircraft cable (the kind that was used for aircraft control surfaces back in the "old days" of the 1980's). That it was hard to cut was evidenced by the amount of difficulty he had doing so with a shear with three foot long handles.

Once cut to length, he measured off the amount of rope to form an eye suitable to the lock shackle's thickness, and then slipped on an aluminum swedge fitting to trap the free end to the "dead" end of the rope.

Next came the swedging device, another long handled, shear-like thing that squeezes the swedge fitting into the spaces of the wire rope, making it into a unitary whole that is very resistant to being "pulled" free. While not indestructible, the finished cable isn't likely to yield to anything short of the right tools, something that the casual (or even the dedicated) vandal isn't going to have in the trunk of their car.

(And, on top of it all, the pleasant young man who made up the custom-length cable for us also turned out to be a jazz trumpet player. Shut a window, open a door at its very best!)

All in all, the mount as configured (once I get the welding and drilling done), will almost suit me. Ideally, I would have liked to wait on all the parts of my custom mount (it's under construction in deepest, darkest Florida, even as this is being written) to come together, but we've got a trip to New Orleans coming up at the end of the month, and I'd like to do it in the smart. So, this mix-and-match solution will do until the hinged and droppable one arrives from the Sunshine State.

I'd add photos, but I have yet to figure out how to do that here.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
As for the URL for the supplier, I've found that:

SmartieParts, Smart Parts for Smart Cars

However, I apparently got the last one in the hopper. It seems that the shop's owner has moved from selling various smart items to only distributing the Area 451 cruise control, and is only trying to move the remaining non-cruise control stock at cut-rate prices. Mine was apparently the last one of these that he had, as none are now listed on the website.

He started out selling for the Canadian 450 imports back in the early 2000's, so it is possible that this kit was originally developed for that more toad-like version of the smart, rather than for the current 451 model.

That might also account for the odd offset from the rear of the car, something that I have had some trouble figuring out from a design standpoint. I've only sat in one 450, and never looked at one very closely as far as the underpinnings are concerned.

In any event, it will work well enough as an interim solution.

As it was not manufactured in Canada (the box says "Made In Taiwan", rather than in Red China), it would seem that someone should still be selling them. The information on the shipping box (we've just looked at it again) is about as descriptive as that seen on anything else from over there (like furniture or appliances) - a series of numbers and general description language, but nothing as to the source.

Who do I have to send the photos to?
 

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Terry, here's the long version: http://www.smartcarofamerica.com/forums/f28/uploading-photos-posting-threads-6576/

Basically you have to host the photos at an online site (Photobucket, Picasa, smugmug, etc.) which will provide each photo with its own url link. Copy and past that link into the "insert image" window (which you get when you click the little yellow icon with the mountain on the top line of the reply window.) Try it out. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I'll give it a try in the afternoon tomorrow. There are a couple of additional shots that will help with the overall story.
 

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Terry,

Steven(owner of smartieparts.ca) is a partial owner of Area 451 now.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
You want photos? Here's yer photos, bunkie...

Had I known when I started all of this, I probably would have passed on doing it in the first place. However, since it's done now, here you go.

This is the Smartieparts tire mount, as received from the vendor. The photo does not do justice to the high quality of finish that both of these parts carry, even if one of them was a different color than the other.



This is the hitch pin hardware received with the mount, along with the anti-chatter pin and internal nut (aftermarket purchase). When the internal nut is placed into the hollow post and then the anti-chatter pin is inserted through the hole and tightened up with a wrench, the mount is firmly locked to the car. The pin is then locked into place with a locking cylinder slipped onto the end of the pin:



Here is one of the two "snap fit" pins used to secure the tire mount to the post that fits into the hitch receiver, along with the bolt, washer and locking nut used to replace it. (Note that the bolt goes through both of the sockets, whereas the pin only goes through one (and very little of the second):



A view of the post, mounted in the Curt trailer hitch receiver on our smart. Note the one inch offset of the sockets (from center of vehicle):



Here is the tire mount, set in one of the sockets of the post and bolted up tight. Also seen here is the rubber disk that is pinched between the tire mount and wheel when the whole thing is bolted together:



One of the objectives of putting this all together was to make a holder that was relatively theft and vandal-proof. With the deep socket design of the smart wheel, normal wheel lug locks won't work. And, commercial cable tire locks have way too much cable for a neat (and silent) installation.

We overcame this by putting together a custom cable and lock system:



This shows a rear view of a tire mounted on the mount. Note the holes in the plate at the angle between the two welded tubes of the mount - the center hole is perfectly situated to take our lock hasp, with the two eyes at the end of the cable trapped by the two arms of the hasp:



A shot of the tire mounted on the car, showing the bight of cable run through the spokes of the wheel. This photo also shows the very slightly "off center" mounting of the wheel. Most can't pick it out unless it has been pointed out in advance:



To ensure that the lug nuts don't work loose from road vibrations, they are installed on the studs on the mount with a small dot of Lock-Tite compound on each stud. This locks them into place until they are broken free with the breaker bar.

This photo shows the tire mount in the hitch using the as received holes for the pin. I can't see why it is offset from the bumper by such a large amount, unless it is in some way related to the layout of the model 450.



Having the tire out this far from the car might have given a better chance of leaving the bumper undamaged in the event of a rear end collision. However, having all that weight hung way out behind the rear of the car makes for a rough ride - when you go over a bump, you really feel the weight pulling the rear of the car down.

Here's what we did to fix that problem:



Moving the location of the pin hole in on the post that goes into the receiver by about six inches not only changed the appearance to something a little more like you would want to see, it also fixed the loading on the suspension.

The shop that did the welding used a spare hitch receiver to locate the pin hole properly, drilling through it and the tube to ensure that the hole would align.

Not shown is the welding that secured the tire mount into the socket, nor the nice paint job that covered the whole thing in a shiny gloss black to match our vehicle. Also not pictured is the jack and repair kit from Smart Madness, which fits in the tailgate along with a hockey puck from the collection up in the attic.

Since this mount does not hinge downward, we cannot open the tailgate all of the way. (It opens about half of the way, with the tire bearing on the license plate.)

However, since we will only mount the spare when traveling extended distances "out of town", that's not as big of a problem as it might seem. All in all, a trim enough temporary tire mount that will serve until the one being built for us in Florida (along the line of the pivoting one done by others here on the forum) is finished and delivered.

This Smartieparts tire mount would be great for those wanting to carry a spare in the Continental fashion, if only they were still available for purchase. As the mount was manufactured in Taiwan, it would seem that it could still be made available. However, as mentioned above, the owner of Smartieparts is no longer in the parts business. Once again, a pity.

I hope that those who asked for photos enjoy these more than I did the ordeal of posting them to the forum...
 

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Discussion Starter #16
We've just finished a thousand mile trip with the spare mounted, and the only complaint about the setup was that the road vibrations very slightly loosened the anti-chatter pin that holds the mount into the receiver. I had to twice take a pull or two on the head of the pin to tighten things up - there's a box wrench onboard for just that purpose. Otherwise, the whole thing performed flawlessly.
 

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:bigthumbup: Thanks for the update. Sounds like it works like a charm. I'll have my spare solution done in a few weeks (finally).
 

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Like your hitch Terry. Here's a swing down version I saw last October.



A tow hook version I saw at the Madison Bridge trip a couple weekend ago. Fixed, and sits up higher

 

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Like your hitch Terry. Here's a swing down version I saw last October.



A tow hook version I saw at the Madison Bridge trip a couple weekend ago. Fixed, and sits up higher

I like that car...Where do you get those decals too?
 
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