Ideas & Information
Our caravanning is very much on a budget, so if there is a cheap, simple but effective way of doing things let me know!
The case for Weight distribution Hitches
This was a topic I personally found quite confusing so here is my attempt at an explanation.
When you drop the caravan hitch onto the towball the back of the tow vehicle drops. The instant thought is if you put heavy duty springs on the back wheels then you will restore the vehicle to level and all will be well, this is what I thought initially. It may look fine but actually all is not well.
If you consider the diagram, downward pressure (red arrow) on the drawbar means the vehicle will pivot around the back wheels (green arrow).
It follows then that the front of the vehicle (blue arrow) will come up because of the seesaw principle.
Ignore springs in this argument as they actually have no impact on the physics of the situation.
If the front has come up then weight has been removed from the steering, braking and traction.
Not a good idea as this means less control, especially when you need it in an emergency situation.
A weight distribution hitch redistributes the weight to the front wheels, something that heavier springs cannot do.
Heavier springs deal with the extra weight inside the vehicle, they cannot redistribute weight to the front wheels.
(Edit 2015) Having said all that our new car and towbar specifically prohibit using a weight distribution hitch which initially concerned me.
I have since redistributed equipment to the rear of the van to reduce the ball weight and have been successful in keeping
the ball weight fully laden below 90kg. The car has no problems sofar and I must say it's a lot less hassle!
The following is from the NRMA caravan info site:
We had quite a saga with everything in the van
rattling around. I did a bit of research on what was the optimum
tyre pressure for our small van and came across the "4psi rule". (scroll down to "Tyre pressures - do-it-yourself check")
Tyre pressures - do-it-yourself check
It is impossible to list the correct pressures for every caravan, due to variation in size, load, etc. This easy check will help you find the best pressure for your caravan tyres.
1: First inflate the tyres to the pressure recommended by the manufacturer of the trailer or the tyre you are using. Secondly, tow your trailer for a distance of 100 km, preferably on a highway.
2: Recheck the tyre pressures immediately after pulling over and compare them with the pressures you had at the start of your run. If the pressures are right, the hot readings should be 4 psi (28 kPa) higher than the cold readings.
3: If there is a greater than 4psi (28 kPa) difference between these pressures, the tyre temperature is too high and the pressure needs to be increased. If there is less than 4 psi (28 kPa) difference, the pressure needs to be lowered.
4: Large 4WD tyres will have a differential of 6 psi (42 kPa).
5: Be sure to use the same accurate gauge for both readings.
Our optimum pressures ended up being about 5psi lower than specified. I checked with the manufacturer and they confirmed that this was indeed correct for a light van.
Another way to find out approximately what pressure you should run is from a very simple formula derived from the tyre specifications:
max tyre pressure divided by max load rating times actual load per tyre
in my case (450Kpa / 950kg) x 450kg = 213kpa (30psi)
Towing with an Auto Transmission
There is always a lot of discussion as to whether you should tow in overdrive with an auto transmission, The following article is from
DRW Transmission Specialties, Inc and gives a good insight as to what happens when you labour an auto.
A worthwhile read!Trucks or Cars Towing with Automatic Overdrive Transmissions
Tainted Water from Plastic Water Tanks
Put about 20 litres of water in the tank with half a packet of bicarbonate of soda and go for a drive (eg. the first day of your trip).
Drain and refill with fresh water. Works a treat!
Always make sure you are using fittings and hoses rated for drinking water otherwise nothing will improve the taste.
Note: All this assumes that drink safe hoses/connections are used and that they are black (i.e. no light can get into the system to allow algae to grow)
I have recently fitted side and rear awnings to the van, as a consequence the pop-top is somewhat heavier and is now sagging. Short of fitting new scissor lifters it was suggested that I carry a couple of props to support the extra weight.
What I have done is to get a few window locks from the local bargain shop. When I have raised the roof to the correct height I just clip one on to the lower guide of the lifters against the roller and that holds the top up.
"The Wharehouse" Special Actual Clamps
I have hacksawed about 2mm off the back of them (see picture) and bevelled the edge of the thumbscrew. This allows them to sit snugly down in the guide and saves damaging the galvanising of the guide.