Towing Tips part
NEWCOMER TO CARAVANNING? NOT USED
Read on for some sound advice.
Please accept the following as a guide to some do's and dont's on
your new hobby.
This is achieved by correct loading of all your clothes
& effects into the caravan. Heavy items at floor level and as
near the axle line as possible. Kettles & teapots also. From experience
it is not a good idea to stow them at eye level. When you open the
cupboard you're assaulted by a kettle shaped missile trying to gain
revenge! If you've stowed everything properly your outfit should tow
without the dreaded snake being caused by an awning placed at the
rear of the caravan. Loading properly will also, as well as being
safer, increase you m.p.g. and important part of holiday touring.
|2. TOWING MIRRORS.
There are many types of mirror, and as many arguments
as to the best type. One thought is to use the wing mirror type seen
clamped to front wings. Others mainly use extension door mirrors.
These should extend far enough to give a clear view beyond the width
of your caravan. Some people do not bother but will receive an almighty
shock should their Insurance companies find out.
The more common type of door mirrors are those that employ lengths
of rubber to cling to the actual door mirror. Another type coming
to the fore are the type that fix to the door mirror surround. These
are claimed to have less disturbance via vibrations.
Be warned! If you intend touring abroad you will have to have extension
mirrors by law. Fines can be imposed on the spot and be costly.
This is not as difficult as some would have you believe!
The first rule is take your time. There is no rush, you've paid for
the pitch and no-one is going to steal it! Make all your steering
wheel movements small ones; this may sound daft but it is one of the
big secrets to reversing a caravan. Hold your hand on the bottom of
the wheel and turn it in the direction you want the caravan to go,
making small corrections as you move. Hand signals from a partner
help as long as you both understand the signal - this can stop divorces!
If you have a single axled caravan it will move dramatically to any
large steering movements. Many people reverse so far and then manhandle
the caravan into position.
If you have a twin axled caravan, the method is the same but there
will be less movement of the caravan when large turns of the wheel
take place. Some people believe it is easier to reverse a single axled
caravan. Having had both I do not subscribe to this belief.
Another method is to let a lady do the reversing with the man giving
instructions. At least the man can get away with ordering his wife
4. STEEP HILL STARTS.
This is exactly the same as a normal hill start, with
the proviso you remember there is a heavy weight attached to your
vehicle. It will not accelerate in any normal way and this must be
taken into account when pulling away. Be aware that front wheel drive
cars will experience slightly more difficulty due to the incline and
weight on the back wheels; so be careful of wheel spin and take this
into account also.
A snake is a sudden side to side movement of the caravan
caused either by bad loading or bow waves from passing traffic.
Pitching is the fore and aft movement caused by undulations in the
Stabilisers can not be used to offset bad initial loading (see 1).
They are to assist the caravan regain a straight line in case of a
snake. They will not make an unstable outfit into a stable one.
There are two main types. The spring stabiliser attaches to a fitment
on the car and slides into an attachment fitted to the caravan. It
works via pads similar to brake pads which attempt to keep the caravan
in a straight line. A service interval of a couple of years (depending
on usage) is recommended to keep the stabiliser in good operative
The other main type clamps directly onto the tow ball and again uses
pads to keep the caravan in line. This is the more expensive option
but doesn't need on the car or caravan. It also replaces the normal
Two others are the Straightliner which is of the leaf type but more
effective (and expensive) and the Winterhoff which not only helps
prevent snakes but also the pitching of the caravan. This also fits
directly onto the tow ball after replacing the normal head.
6. SLOWING THE UNIT.
Try to avoid using your brakes to slow the unit. Again,
this is on cost as safety considerations.
Look ahead to see what is happening and use momentum to slow you whilst
you consider your choice of action. Obviously, one can't do this all
the time but it will make a difference to both cost and temper. Use
the gear box instead of the brakes on a hill - again it may sound
daft but it will be more effective than brakes that have overheated
and stopped working!
7. TYRE BLOWOUTS.
This is just about the worst thing that can happen
to you when towing. The only recommended safety feature is Tyron Bands
which keep the tyre on the caravan whilst you slow down. These are
expensive but may save you the cost of a new car or caravan!
In the case of a blow out - DON'T
BRAKE! Simply take you foot off the pedals (I
press mine to the floor!) and wait until the snake has stopped and
slowly move onto the hard shoulder or the first place of safety. If
you can remember put on your emergency flashers as soon as possible
to let everyone know there's a problem.
8. SMOOTHLY DOES IT.
Try and keep your driving as smooth as possible, it
makes for a more enjoyable journey and again, will save money. After
all, you don't drive your car with fast accelerating and jerky movements
Tricky! This calls for good judgement and knowledge
of you car's towing/accelerating abilities. If in doubt - don't! Never
try overtaking on a downhill slope. This can cause a snake, it will
mean that when you start braking the caravan won't want to stop and
it will take you a fair amount of time to slow down safely. It is
recognised that downhill overtaking is one of the most dangerous manoeuvres
an articulated combination can make.