27 - Why Caravans Crash

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Caravan Crash

We talk to Mike Clayton from Clayton's Towing. Started 45 years ago on the Sunshine Coast, Clayton's now has 15 depots and 100 staff. 

Have a listen to this podcast if you ever tow a caravan, there are a lot of factors that you need to consider when planning your trip, and those factors can change between the start of your trip and the end, so knowing how to drive with a caravan is really important.  Please share with anyone who tows a caravan.

Mike drives a FJ Cruiser, goes offroad and tows a caravan - on top of that, he and his crews have seen a lot of caravan crashes, they are often one of the first people that drivers get to talk to after having a crash while towing a caravan so he is uniquely place to talk about some of the reasons why caravans crash.

Claytons Towing has seen a lot of unusual crashes, including a boat recovery off the beach, the sinkhole and aircraft crashes.  We talk about how they worked to move winch a boat of the beach and the technical difficulties they faced with that. 

Caravan crashes create a lot of mayhem on the roads and tend to get more publicity,

We discuss towball weight,the weight of vehicles, electric breaking, caravan wobbles.

Towball weight can either be too light or too heavy and the weight on the towball can change during a trip, so a good understanding of what towball weight is and how it effects the towing performance is really important.

Vehicle weight - just because a car or ute is rated to 2.5 ton, doesn't mean that you should.  Some vehicles, especially utes can be quite light when towing a large caravan.

Electric brakes need to be adjusted for different driving.  Highway driving needs more brakes than city driving.

A lot of people think that when the caravan starts to wobble you should speed up, but Mike has seen many people who have speed up and it has only made things worse.  You might be better off using the caravan brakes to straighten out the caravan and pull it straight, rather than speeding up.

Be cautious on windy roads, especially when going downhill.

Mike isn't an engineer, but his wisdom is based on years of experience in dealing with caravan crashes.

Please share this podcast with anyone who tows a caravan so that we can help more people get to their holiday and return safe and sound.

Keep an eye out on 7 Mate for their new TV Show - Towie's featuring the crew from Clayton's and some of the interesting people and jobs that they do.


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Latest Posts about 27 - Why Caravans Crash

Submitted by rogerazz rogerazz
I speak from personal experience. I have attended many Caravan/ Camping shows and looked through heaps of caravans with my missus. I have seen many posters on the vans quoting various info including price. I have also seen some mention of tow capacity required to tow a particular van. When showing interest in a particular van, I was asked by some sales people what I drive and what is it's tow capacity, Many did know my vehicle's tow capacity and told me , OK to buy this van.
However, in all my time, I have never been asked if I know or have I ever been told anything about Tare, GVM, GCM, ATM, GTM, tow ball weight, etc. etc.
Maybe a little booklet should be made by say, the Roads authorities and handed out. Remember, some years ago none of the above weights etc, were ever considered. You just drove and pulled whatever you liked and no one cared.:eek:.
Recently in Victoria, Police, Vic Roads, Caravan people , etc., had a blitz at Newmerella rest stop, near Orbost and most of the vans and trailer towers failed in some area. They were lucky that most were let off. It was a learning exercise for people towing vans and trailers .
https://www.caravancampingsales.com.au/editorial/news/2017/overweight-vans-caught-in-blitz-58605/
After that, I believe there was another blitz, however this time people were booked.
And as far as actually towing a van properly??????? Yeah, well, go read a book, or listen to this podcast :D.
Submitted by Grazza Grazza
Jonathan Bradshaw
9 minutes to wait for the headline, yawn - anywho
10% is the old rule of thumb - Its all about the 60/40 ratio
Not all salesman are slimy. A lot of them educate the drivers on their responsibilities and teach them about the weights and brakes.
GCM GVM GTM ATM are all important. So are axle loads - car manufacturers make it hard to know them tho.
We should introduce towing licences and demand more from manufacturers of vehicles inc caravans of vehicle payloads and capacities.
The right salesman will help any customer achieve what they want
Couldn't agree more Jonathan. I sell caravans for a living and would refuse to sell to someone who intends to overload or tow too heavy a caravan for their car. I believe that most of the uneducated purchasers have bought privately and there is less of a responsibility for a private seller to educate. Lets face it, if someone is standing in front of you with cash for your van you are hardly likely to question if they are capable to tow it are you? Salesmen are there to advise particularly the newcomer to caravans but disappointingly I find myself having to advise "seasoned" towers because they just never bothered to research or learn about safe towing.
Submitted by Jonathan Bradshaw Jonathan Bradshaw
9 minutes to wait for the headline, yawn - anywho
10% is the old rule of thumb - Its all about the 60/40 ratio
Not all salesman are slimy. A lot of them educate the drivers on their responsibilities and teach them about the weights and brakes.
GCM GVM GTM ATM are all important. So are axle loads - car manufacturers make it hard to know them tho.
We should introduce towing licences and demand more from manufacturers of vehicles inc caravans of vehicle payloads and capacities.
The right salesman will help any customer achieve what they want
Submitted by Superdad Superdad
Great podcast. Learnt some new stuff and will buying a tow ball scale before next trip .

Well done.
Submitted by MyCrazy80 MyCrazy80
rogerazz
I do not know if a push button system works gradually or just comes full on to your setting straight away. Maybe some one who has one could explain.
Cheers.
I have a redarc electric break control that has the red button and when pressed it engages the caravan brakes instantly to the setting that its set to, I'm not completely happy with the redarc unit I have as its very touchy its set on 3\4 max setting and that's the best setting as 1 click to the left it doesn't hardly brake at all and 1 click on the dial to the right it near locks up the wheels on that setting all I have to do is slightly put my foot on the brake and the electric brakes engage and near send you through the windscreen!! But the setting I keep it on is best the 80 stops like there's nothing behind it and it doesn't lock up in the wet or on dirt roads.

I also use hayman Reece level riders (weight distribution bars) and I'm happy I got them as they have made a difference in the stability of the van and its a more comfortable ride in the 80 as the rear end isn't bouncing around and has eliminated the weird feeling of the van trying to pull the rear end of the 80 around, in my opinion its well worth the costly amount for them as towing now is a far better experience than without them.
Submitted by rogerazz rogerazz
Grumpy
What a great topic especially for those on the road all the time, not sure if it was mentioned but changing your ball for a new one every couple of years is really worth thinking about too as nowadays they are required by law to have towing capacities on them and with rugged roads and constant jerking of starting and stopping they can become fatigued.
Not sure if others do it, but I put plenty of grease on my tow ball and inside the coupling of anything I tow. I reckon it helps to stop wear on the ball under dry friction. I have seen tow balls worn out of shape.
Submitted by Grumpy Grumpy
What a great topic especially for those on the road all the time, not sure if it was mentioned but changing your ball for a new one every couple of years is really worth thinking about too as nowadays they are required by law to have towing capacities on them and with rugged roads and constant jerking of starting and stopping they can become fatigued.
Submitted by Grazza Grazza
rogerazz
Part quote "The tow ball weight will be the total weight minus the load on the axle/ axles. It's generally about 10 percent of the total weight of the loaded trailer." End of part quote... So this refers to total weight of caravan??????
Taken from https://www.carsguide.com.au/car-advice/q-and-a/calculating-tow-ball-weight-7352
In short... yes. Caravans "empty" ball weight is around 10% of the trailer mass. That is the trailer with no water in its tanks or gas in the bottles. As you load the caravan/trailer up (evenly hopefully) you should allow for 10% of the total payload to add to the empty ball mass. If in doubt weigh it, but its not too much of a concern to have a heavier than 10% of the vans weight on the ball so long as your tug can take it. Below 7% though can create instability and weighty items placed at the rear of the trailer to lighten the ball weight is just not a good idea. Buy a trailer which suits the car or vica versa is the message.
Submitted by rogerazz rogerazz
Part quote "The tow ball weight will be the total weight minus the load on the axle/ axles. It's generally about 10 percent of the total weight of the loaded trailer." End of part quote... So this refers to total weight of caravan??????
Taken from https://www.carsguide.com.au/car-advice/q-and-a/calculating-tow-ball-weight-7352
Submitted by dno67 dno67
rogerazz
Would like to hear an opinion from the experts explaining what is too much tow ball weight and what is too little tow ball weight.

Good podcast James.
Cheers.
I'm no expert. But ball weight it's simply 10% of the vehicles rated tow capacity.
So as the towed weight increases so does/should the ball weight to a max of 350kg for a 3500kg
tow capacity which is the highest I'm aware of.
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