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27 - Why Caravans Crash

Discussion in 'Podcast Episodes' started by patriot, Aug 4, 2017.

  1. Patriot

    Patriot Administrator

    Last edited: Aug 4, 2017
  2. rogerazz

    rogerazz 4x4 Earth Contributer

    Very interesting. I started towing caravans on and off since late 1969, over forty five years and would like to say.
    In early days you could tow with any vehicle and any size van, as there was no tow weight restrictions on either car or van.
    To give you an example, I towed 14 ft, however I did tow a 26 ft Wayfarer dual axle , with a 1973 auto Valiant wagon carrying four adults, two kids and heaps of gear. No electric brakes, no level riders ( now called weight distribution rods) at around 80 to 85 kph.
    This is not bragging, this is saying what was the norm back then. A well known manufacturer which I wont name, recommended you buy his level riders because it could save you from rolling over in accidents??? I guess towing with cars, put a fair weight on your tow ball and maybe level riders helped. Because the wagon had too much rear weight, I went to Henderson Springs in Melbourne and fitted a pair of leaf spring helpers which could be put on for towing and taken off when not towing, This raised the rear of the vehicle.
    I still tow a van , however now I know all my weights, tow weight , GVM of vehicle and van, GCM, tow ball weight ( bought a scale), etc. etc.
    I wonder if there is someone out there, who for a fee, would check out your set up, weights, balance, etc. and advise you as to which way to go. I reckon maybe the Towing companies might not be interested, however you never know.:)
    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.
    I do have a tekonsha prodigy p2 brake controller. I like it because it has an arm on it and to apply van brakes only you just sweep the arm to the left. The more you sweep the more the brakes are applied. 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.
    Good podcast James.
  3. dno67

    dno67 Well-Known Member

    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.
  4. rogerazz

    rogerazz 4x4 Earth Contributer

    Last edited: Aug 4, 2017
  5. Grazza

    Grazza New Member

    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.
    rogerazz likes this.
  6. Grumpy

    Grumpy Moderator

    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.
    Swaggie, billolga and rogerazz like this.
  7. rogerazz

    rogerazz 4x4 Earth Contributer

    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.
    Swaggie, MyCrazy80 and Mr Rum like this.
  8. MyCrazy80

    MyCrazy80 Well-Known Member

    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.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2017
    tankbloke likes this.
  9. Superdad

    Superdad Well-Known Member

    Great podcast. Learnt some new stuff and will buying a tow ball scale before next trip .

    Well done.
  10. Jonathan Bradshaw

    Jonathan Bradshaw New Member

    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
    tankbloke and dno67 like this.
  11. Grazza

    Grazza New Member

    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.
  12. rogerazz

    rogerazz 4x4 Earth Contributer

    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 .
    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.

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