Emergency caravan braking requires a learned skill!

caravan-braking-on-cornersHave you had to do a emergency caravan braking on a sharp corner? Or have you found that stray animal in the middle of the road at a bend and you have to brake and turn? If you have done this successfully you would most probably have applied the caravan or camper trailers brakes remotely from the vehicle first, then applied the vehicle brakes. Why?

If you apply the vehicle brakes hard and fast and turn the wheel, the vehicle will turn but the caravan or camper trailer is still in a straight-line. It will tend to push the rear of the vehicle out and induce a dangerous spin inertia on the vehicle.

If you apply the caravan brake hard and fast just a second or 2 before the vehicle, there is the reverse effect. The caravan or camper trailer acts like a large parachute on the rear and slows the whole turn inertia down. You feel more in control to get out of a difficult predicament.

Platinum offroad camper trailer

Platinum offroad camper trailer

For this to happen, you need 2 things:

  1. The brake controller in your vehicle has to be so close to where you normally keep your left or right hand. You need to be able to locate and slide/activate it fully without taking your eyes off the road.
  2. You need very good brakes on the caravan or camper trailer  that can apply fully braking and not fade.

For the first point, there are many electric brake controller installers that want to install the manual controller “out of the way” or on a dummy dash position that has minimum impact on how the vehicle looks. Please say “no thanks” unless it is the perfect position. If looks are a concern, here is an alternative: On a fairly expensive Range Rover, the author has a “hard shell velcro strip” on the top of the brake controller and this presses up on a discrete metal bracket with the matching “hard plastic” velcro. This sits just under the dash 100-150mm from where the left hand is on the wheel. It can be applied as fast as a flash. Several practice runs are made at the start of every trip to get the reflexes and “feel” just right. On every trip so far it has been used at least once!

Compliance-to-ADR-rules-for-brakingThe second point is the most important. The Australian Standard on braking stipulates a measurement of the effectiveness of the braking with a tow vehicle. The problem with this measurement is if you have a powerful tow vehicle, the caravan or camper trailer braking test will probably pass every time. The 6 pot disc brakes on the Range Range will even pull up an un-braked trailer within the standards. So this doesn’t give good assurances for emergency caravan braking when you are applying JUST the caravan brakes.

offroad-camper-trailer-air-suspension-2862-600x400-resized-600.jpgA simple way to measure how effective your brakes are is by doing an emergency “pit stop” at a low controlled speed and then measuring the distance covered. This is broadly how the Australian Design Rules describe the testing of Caravan and camper trailer brakes. Rule 128 stipulates the exact testing process. Manufacturers should do this on each model to ensure that they comply. Then do this on the caravan brakes only and you can compare it to our findings below. Please do this in a safe section of private road with no traffic. Use a maximum speed of 35klm/hr. No faster please!

Brake manufacturers issue guidelines from what they estimate their brakes should be able to achieve but we have never seen these documents state compliance to the Australian standard brake tests. Why not?

There are 9 factors that link the braking capability of your caravan or camper trailer with the braking outcome as described by the standard:

  1. The size of the wheels and tyres: a larger rolling diameter requires higher braking capacity
  2. The weight of the caravan or camper trailer: the heavier the weight, the higher capacity required
  3. The weight of the vehicle: The heavier the vehicle, the stronger the stopping capacity if the vehicles brakes are more effective
  4. The matched balance between the drivers and passenger’s side braking components and/or the electric signalling system: Any imbalance and the caravan or camper trailer will push to one side regardless which can be dangerous.
  5. The speed of the vehicle: the faster the speed the greater the braking capacity need. For double the speed, it is 4 times the capacity required.
  6. The road conditions: Uneven loose stones give less grip
  7. The weather, specifically if it has been or is raining: water can cause aquaplaning and brake fading
  8. The vehicle’s braking ability: How many pots and what size on the vehicle?
  9. The change in drawbar weight when the braking is applied; and the effect this has on the rear brakes of the vehicle: if the nose goes down because the caravan or camper trailer brakes are highly effective, there is more pressure on the rear of the vehicle for potentially a better result.

Given these factors, it is impossible for a braking component supplier to make a compliant statement with respect to the standard without a practical test. It is the caravan or camper trailer manufacturer that should do a practical test for the peace of mind of their users!

The test describes a precise way to calculate the braking deceleration of the combined vehicle and caravan or camper trailer. There is a standard of braking level of 3.8 metres per second per second that has to be complied with. Don’t be concerned with this number, we will give you practical meter distances in this article for you to compare with.

Before looking at some data, consider again the impact of your vehicle size.

At Kimberley we use a Hilux Diesel with a GVW of 1650kgs and a Toyota 200 Series with a GVW of 2650kgs. Both vehicles are at least 5 years old and fairly represent a “typical” tow vehicle in their class. Neither have been modified nor have non-standard braking systems. This gives a fair range of results and representation for users.

The results are in meters apply brakes with an off-road camper trailer or off-road caravan.

Distance to perfect stop in a straight line from 35km/hr to zero.   Vehicle and 1.2 tonne Kimberley Kamper power assisted Disc Brakes   Vehicle and 2.1 tonne Kimberley Kruiser S Class  power assisted Disc Brakes   Vehicle and 2.8 tonne Kimberley Kruiser T Class  power assisted Disc Brakes
 With Hilux Dualcab Ute  towing (Amarok Dual Cab Ute with T Class Kruiser) (1.65 tonne)  6.05m  5.7m  4.84m
 With Land Cruiser 200 Series
(2.65 tonne)
 5.55m  5.43m  4.59m

There are some interesting points here to note. The power assisted discs are very powerful brakes. Infact the stopping power is in excess of the independent report published by “AL-KO Sensabrake TM” for their own braking system (we calculate the deceleration from their report).
The Tandem axle braking is superior to the single axle caravan because the double braking capacity outstrips the additional weight.

The other interesting thing is the Heavier single axle Kruiser is less than the Kamper with the 200 Series. Why is this? The weight distribution on the Single axle S Class is just perfect for maximum braking. The wheels don’t lock and the brakes are right on the money. This is 220% of the requirements of the Australian Design Rules!

The results in meters of applying the brakes manually on the off-road caravan or camper trailer ONLY and stopping on just these brakes.

So the vehicle brakes are not used and this is a measure for emergency caravan braking.

STOPPING USING THE CARAVAN OR CAMPER TRAILER BRAKES ONLYDistance to perfect stop in a straight line from 35km/hr to zero.   Vehicle and 1.2 tonne Kimberley Kamper
power assisted Disc Brakes
  Vehicle and 2.1 tonne Kimberley Kruiser S Class
power assisted Disc Brakes
  Vehicle and 2.8 tonne Kimberley Kruiser T Class
power assisted Disc Brakes
 With Hilux Dualcab Ute  towing (Amarok Dual Cab Ute with T Class Kruiser) (1.65 tonne)  7.95m  20.02m  14.95m
 With Land Cruiser 200 Series
(2.65 tonne)
 10.95m  21.0m  16.54m

There are some interesting points here to note. The lighter combined vehicle mass with the caravan or camper trailer gives the best result. This is to be expected.

The Tandem axle braking is superior to the single axle caravan because the double braking capacity outstrips the additional weight.

These results are at 35 km/hr. If you are going much faster you need a much longer distance. But this data gives you a practical guide of the “parachute” effect of apply the caravan or camper trailer brakes ahead of the vehicle.

Platinum offroad camper trailer with bowler wheels

Kimberley Off-road Camper Trailer with Bowler Alloy wheels

bowler off road alloy wheels for off road camper trailer

bowler off road alloy wheels for off road camper trailer

Bowler is a market leader in the production of racing and high performance all terrain vehicles, and has been since 1985. The UK pioneers in Rally Raid cars, Bowler have designed, developed and produced some of the most innovative, durable and exciting all terrain vehicles ever seen. Bowler use both technology and craftsmanship to deliver vehicles with style, strength, performance and an unrivalled spirit of adventure.”

It was no surprise then that a Kimberley customer passionate about Bowler products sourced original Bowler wheels for his new off-road camper trailer by Kimberley.

We have seen a lot of wheels at Kimberley but nothing with the strength and quality of these.

Designed and manufactured in the UK, these lightweight high strength 18 x 8 inch wheels are exclusive to Bowler and are a direct fitment to Defender hubs for matching wheels and tyres between the Land Rover Defender and the Kimberley Platinum camper trailer. Available in white, anthracite and black, they are available from Bowler in the UK at £325 each.

What else did the Kimberley customer order?

On the Kitchen side:

Master Galley Kitchen for off road camper trailer

Master galley kitchen in Platinum camper trailer

The standard Platinum features of Stainless steel Master Kitchen that pulls out on roller bearings with one hand; the stainless steel dining bench, concealed underneath means one less table to carry; the BBQ and large WOK burner; the clever split pantry that also glides with one hand; and off course the diesel hot water system plumbed right to the sink at the end of the kitchen slide.

Flipping down inside the Gullwing lid is a 22 inch TV that will show DVD’s and TV as you require plus the Smart touch energy, water tank and switching system…. Read and control all of the systems in your camper just like using a smart phone!

smart touch display

smart touch display

In the front Gullwing area of the off-road camper trailer:

Fuel cell in front gullwing pack

Fuel cell in front gullwing pack

A high capacity fuel cell; a 10L methanol cartridge, a Digital DVD, FM, AM and MP3 player, a high gain modem/router for the bush with a 6db antennae. Missing are the 2 x 20L Jerry cans. The Fuel cell automatic controller is shown on the back wall.

On the drivers side Gullwing:

Off road camper driver side systems for Platinum camper

Off road camper driver side systems

A Weber Baby Q, the diesel hot water system with visi-flow lift of 4m from a billabong or stream that bypasses the tank; the compressor of a 2.2kW split air conditioner; the 3.5L diesel tank (good for at least a month) and then look at the detail on the air suspension system:

Passenger and Driver side paddle vales so that you can get the Kamper perfectly level when at a campsite; below these is the airbag pressure and temperature monitors that display the readings on the in-dash display. This is patented by Kimberley.

Finally an on the road view showing the airconditioner on top…

Platinum camper trailer with bowler wheels

Platinum camper trailer with bowler wheels

Rear view with the “selecta-swing-away” – that takes an additional Jerry can and a second spare wheel! Excuse the test vehicle which isn’t a “Defender”…

Platinum offroad camper trailer

Platinum offroad camper trailer

The performance features of this off-road camper trailer are that it can travel at better speed over difficult conditions, thanks to the air-suspension and superior assisted disc braking.

For a similar specification, Kimberley is 200kgs lighter than any other in its class. It is hard to beat this low weight distribution.

Best Outside Kitchen in an off-road Camper Trailer

kimberley offroad camper trailers header

best outside kitchen for off road camper trailer

This is a big statement, so what makes for the “best outside kitchen” in an off-road camper trailer? Well firstly, one that has been designed by a woman. Yes guys, we can design great suspension but when it comes to kitchens, work flow and layout, you have to engage the masters of multi-tasking. So at Kimberley we took this seriously and after extensive interviews and trial layouts came up with these requirements, courtesy of the fairer sex.

Requirements for a best outside kitchen:

  1. Safety first with no gas connections inside or near a “front storage box”. Gas bottles have to be well stored and clear of the cooking space.
  2. Have a “U shaped” cooking layout that positions you in the centre and the family around the outside of the “U”.
  3. Have a pull out dining table so that up to 3 kids can sit and eat while you continue cooking and can keep and eye on them. Preferably have this built in as stainless steel so it cant be knocked over and is easy to clean and wipe and slide away.
  4. Have this dining bench away from the gas cooktopglideout master kitchen with drawers and stainless steel preparation area
  5. Have a large food prep area in stainless steel
  6. Have the food prep area away from the cooker/ cooktop so the food prep area does not get to the dangeous “warm condition” that promotes bacteria growth
  7. Have the cooking area away from canvas and the canvas side of the trailer to avoid a buildup of residue on the canvas and for safety. (most Australian canvas is flamable, all Chinese canvas is flamable))
  8. Have drawers for plates, knives and forks, cups
  9. Have hot water “on demand” at the sink for easy washing up and cleaning
  10. Have a filter on at least the cold or drinking water.
  11. Have the sink on the “end” or “outside” edge of a pull out kitchen so your partner can washup while you are still in the cooking area.
  12. Have an exceptional LED light at the sink for washing up (and quality control inspection)
  13. Have a separate “fire pit” or “fire BBQ plate” utensil drawer as these will get dirty and black. This has to be as long as possible.
  14. Have the fridge on a roller slide that can be locked back into position with one hand or even a bump of the hip.dual split pantry in outside kitchen
  15. Overhead lighting is essential but has to be the non UV LED’s that minimise the number of insects.
  16. For cooking, there is a need for a high capacity burner for a large frying pan
  17. There is a need for at least 2 more burners for billy/ pasta boiling
  18. Some prefer a griller for toast, some prefer a BBQ plate
    Kimberley offer a choice of 4 different cooker combinations.
    A note on the number of gas bottles and gas lines. The regulations limit the amount of energy on any one gas line. So if you want to operate a high capacity large single burner you will need 2 gas lines and 2 gas bottles! The is safer and gives better management of gas refills.
  19. Pantry access to be easy and well lit at night.
  20. Need all the above for a road side stop so that the kitchen can be used within a minute of stopping.
  21. Wind protection of cooker gas rings is best done with special round wind ring protectors right at the flame point under the pot OR with side protection on a BBQ.
  22. Ideal to have an overhead “cover” for wind and weather for roadside stop.
  23. Kitchen must be easily packed away in less than a minute so “camp vermin” do not have access overnight. (apologies to visiting emu’s)easy place to dry the tea towels
  24. An easy place to dry at least 2 tea towels and/or kitchen cloths
  25. An easy place to hang a rubbish bag away from vermin on the ground
  26. A sealable rubbish container for overnight storage away from vermin
  27. Place for a fan for those hot nights that cools the cook but not the food.
  28. Easy draught skirt on backside of camper trailer in event of storage under the kitchen area.
  29. Easy wind protection from a Quick to erect awning and side wall.
  30. No “steel”; just stainless steel and powder coated alloy materials that are easy to clean and look good ten years later!
  31. Add a weber BBQ for the slow cooking roasts or easy BBQ.camper trailer weberq em
  32. If you want “no LPG” for safety or just cleanliness, Kimberley has a diesel cooker with a glass ceramic cooktop for the outside kitchen.Platinum USA diesel cooktop 3059 e
  33. And finally, open it up after a dusty trip and find it clean and easy to use straight away inside!clean kitchen after mud and dust in cape trip
  34. roadside stop with glide out kitchen




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