Monthly Archives: January 2013

Choosing the Best Coupling Hitch for your Offroad Camper Trailer

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Travelling to remote places in Australia with a camper trailer means tackling some pretty rough terrain. Your vehicle and camper trailer might be ready for this but is your hitch up to the task? Here is our guide to choosing the best coupling hitch for your offroad camper trailer.

 

coupling hitch off-road camper trailerConsider the road and terrain you will be driving on
Do you plan to tow your camper trailer primarily on the bitumen or are you going to head down badly corrugated gravel roads? How about heading off those gravel roads and squeezing into narrow tracks, plunging into river crossings, arching over fireroad water bars or even lining up for an attempt at the famous Cape York ‘Gunshot’ creek crossing?

If you are only going to stay on the bitumen then a standard on-road ball coupling may be all that you need. However, most genuine offroad camper trailers are equipped with a poly-block style coupling – this will cover both types of terrain well. Below is a table of where you can go with these two types of couplings.

Table 1: Trailer Coupling Ability vs Terrain
Coupling Type Terrain
On-road Graded Gravel Roads Rugged Fire Roads
& Narrow Tracks off road
(steep water bars, ruts and ledges)
Support for Stability When towing
On-road Ball Coupling Y Y – but noisy N – not enough articulation Limited and far less if lubricated
Off-road Pintle Style Coupling Y Y Y very poor as there is limited friction on the vetical axis
Off-road Poly Block Coupling Y Y Y Y

The benefits of a Poly-block coupling
One of the most popular poly-block couplings around is the TREG Poly-Block Offroad coupling made in Adelaide, South Australia. This is used on many offroad camper trailers in Australia. When looking to buy any off-road camper trailer make sure the coupling you are looking at is as good as the TREG Poly-block coupling. Consider the following;

Make sure it is easy to dis-connect the poly-block coupling.
Yes, disconnect is more important than “connect”. Consider this: you are stuck in a dry sandy creek bed and you need to “extract” the off toad camper or caravan from the bed as well as the vehicle. You apply the parking brake to the off road camper trailer or caravan (one touch is ideal) and drive or winch the vehicle out. To do this easily, the hitch that separates without having to lift it is by far the easiest to use! Just disconnect the poly-block coupling. and return to the rear of the off road camper trailer of caravan to complete a rear end recovery using the standard extraction recovery points.

Enhanced Stability with a friction hitch.
Whilst minor to the other recommendations for stability, a dampened hitch with rubber is far better than a smooth pintle. University tests found that there was a slight advantage in caravan “sway” by using a hitch that had “friction” between the components. The poly block coupling has the rubber from the poly block “rubbing” on the base of the “U” piece on the vehicle. For this reason, we only use and recommend Treg hitches. The slight safety benefit and ease of instant disconnect without lifting, overrides any extra time to connect.

Make sure it is easy to connect the poly-block coupling.

TREG poly-block couplings use a simple heavy-duty steel pin to connect trailer to the vehicle. Simply push this through holding the built-in ‘T’ handle and secure with linchpin. DONE. Disconnecting is just as simple.

Ensure it has great articulation for offroad adventure.
When you are dropping down ‘Gunshot’ and your camper trailer is still on the bank it’s good to know that you are not going to get stuck because of your camper trailer hitch! To cope with this kind of terrain your camper trailer needs to go up-and-down, side-to-side and be able to roll side-to-side to cope with the terrain. This requires great articulation between vehicle and camper trailer in three axis’ of rotation.

The ‘up-and-down’ and ‘side-to-side’ articulation of a TREG is provided by a pin rotating inside the poly-block. Rolling ‘side-to-side’ is achieved where the poly-block section rotates on a shaft inside the fixed half of the coupling. What this means for you is a low-maintanence hitch with great smooth articulation (the articulation motions work together).

Look for a quiet and smooth ride.
A great feauture of the TREG is that you are connected to your offroad camper trailer with heavy-duty poly material. This material is great at absorbing and dampening vibration so you enjoy a smooth ride. With these vibrations dampened the coupling also provides a quieter ride.

Look for a low-maintenance hitch with minimal moving parts.
Everything that travels offroad requires some kind of maintenance. More moving parts means more maintenance and the chance of something going wrong when you are in the middle of nowhere. A TREG offroad coupling has a minimal number of parts and only requires greasing on the main shaft – and this is easy with the integrated grease nipples.

More-than-adequate Tow Rating
The forces experienced by a coupling when you travel off-road can be far higher than on sealed roads. It is a good idea to have a coupling that is rated well above what is required to tow your off-road camper trailer. The TREG poly-block coupling is rated at 300kg tow rating.

For more helpful information about offroad camper trailers download our FREE guide below:




DOWNLOAD a 44 Page Design Guide for Off Road Camper Trailers
This is not a product Brochure





Download: Guide to Towing Stability
with off-road caravansA complete report with recommendations


Cameron Johnston | Kimberley Group

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3 Handy Tips for Transporting Bicycles with an Offroad Camper Trailer

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Bicycles are a great way to explore your favourite remote Australian camping destinations. But taking bicycles while you are towing a camper trailer creates a unique set of challenges that require some creative thinking. Some camper trailer manufacturers offer solutions and the internet is full of forum posts for the DIYers. So, before you trawl the forum posts and head off to your local hardware store, please consider our ‘3 Handy Tips for Transporting Bicycles with an Offroad Camper Trailer’

Transporting Bicycles with an Offroad CamperTip 1: Consider how often you will be riding your bicycles.
Do you plan to ride your bicycles every time you set up camp? Or, will you use them less frequently? Knowing this helps choose where you would like to transport them on your camper trailer. You may grow tired of removing the bicycles every time you make camp if you are only staying overnight.

For frequent bicycle usage with a hard floor flip-over offroad camper trailer consider transporting the bicycles on top of the offroad camper trailer using QR axle mounts attached directly to the roof rack and lash the rear wheels to the roof rack. This keeps the bicycles up and out of harms way with a smooth ride but you will need to remove them every time you make camp. You’ll also need to consider securing the bicycles with tie-downs for offroad travel.

A better solution is to use a swing over boat loader frame with a roof mount bike carrier system. This way you can carry up to 5 bicycles (on a Kimberley Kamper) and when you make camp you simply swing the whole arrangement over and out of the way. No need to remove the bicycles! Transporting Bicycles with an Offroad Camper roof rackNow just picture yourself making camp each day, removing bicycles, securing them before you even open the camper trailer. And don’t forget the next morning you’ll need to replace the bikes and secure them again before travelling for the day. Or just swing them out of the way… I know which way I’d prefer to travel!

Tip 2:  Will you want to take your bicycles on your 4WD vehicle away from your camp site?
Transporting Bicycles with an Offroad Camper trailer bike rackSometimes you might like to do a day trip away from camp, take the bicycles and explore this other destination with them. In this instance you’ll need a bike rack that can be mounted on the camper trailer then switched to your 4WD easily. To do this, you’ll need a camper trailer that is equipped with a swing away carrier frame that accommodates a standard heavy duty aftermarket bicycle carrier rack. Just mount the bicycle rack to the swing away frame, load up the bikes and hit the road. When you make camp simply swing the bicycles out of the way and open your hard floor camper trailer with ease.

When you want to take a trip with your bicycles away from camp just switch the bicycle carrier rack over and off you go!

Tip 3: Transport your bicycles without needing to move them at all to make camp
The A-frame of your offroad camper trailer is another great place to store your bicycles if you want to set up camp without touching your bicycles at all. You may be limited in the number of bicycles you can carry in this position and it will need to swing out of the way for storage box access. A great solution is offered by iSi Advanced Bicycle Carrier Systems in Melbourne, Australia.

For more helpful information about offroad camper trailers download our FREE guide below:




DOWNLOAD a 44 Page Design Guide for Off Road Camper Trailers
This is not a product Brochure


Cameron Johnston | Kimberley Group  

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Are your camper trailer tyre pressures in tune?

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Tuning your camper trailer tyres to the correct pressure is essential to safe offroad travel. With tuned tyre pressures you’ll save money with improved fuel consumption and prolonged tyre life.  There are also benefits in matching your camper trailer and 4WDs wheels and tyres but let’s start with helping you answer this question: ‘Are your camper trailer tyre pressures in tune?’

offroad camper trailer tyre pressure tuningTyre pressures vary for every vehicle and camper trailer depending on weight loads, size etc.  An easy do-it-yourself method for checking you have the correct tyre pressure for your vehicle and camper trailer is known as the ‘4 psi rule’. You can use this rule to tune the tyres of your camper trailer for the conditions and loading.

Firstly you need to inflate all tyres to the pressure recommended by the manufacturer, for a ‘cold tyre’ reading and then tow your camper trailer for say a distance of 100km on bitumen (or 1 hour). You’ll find the camper trailer tyre pressure information in your owner’s manual.

Upon stopping, immediately recheck your tyre pressures while the tyre is still warm.

If the tyre pressure reading is LESS than 4 psi from the ‘cold tyre’ reading you took at the beginning of your trip, then your starting tyre pressure was TOO HIGH.  You will need to run the test again (once the tyre has completely cooled) with less pressure until you find the right balance.

If your tyre pressure reading is GREATER than 4 psi from the ‘cold tyre’ reading you took at the beginning of your trip, then the tyres are getting too hot and your starting tyre pressure was TOO LOW.  Under inflated tyres wear unevenly and lead to increased fuel consumption.  They can also impair the handling of the vehicle in the areas of braking and handling.

It is acceptable for larger 4WD’s to have a 6 psi difference between the pressure at the commencement of the trip, and after 100km (or 1 hour) of travel.

Remember to use the same accurate gauge for all pressure readings and always carry a gauge with you when possible.

As mentioned previously, matching your camper trailer and 4WDs wheels and tyres has many benefits.

If Vehicle Track and Trailer Track are very similar:

  1. Reduced fuel consumption because towed trailer wheel track is same as Vehicle Tracking.
  2. Reduced incidence of damaged trailer tyres as they are travelling on same track as vehicle. With less “ground width” being travelled there is less chance of staking tyres.
  3. Improved travel in soft sand with less risk of bogging.
  4. Vehicle wheels and Tyres have already compacted sand and trailer wheels follow on compacted material.

If Vehicle Tyre and Trailer Tyre have similar rolling diameter:

  1. Reduced vibration on corrugations as rolling diameter is same.
  2. A Compatible additional Spare for the vehicle.
    By having the same exact Tyre, the Tyres can be interchanged. If the wheel is also exactly the same, then the wheels and tyres can be interchanged. This means the trailer spare can be used easily as a second spare for the vehicle.

For more helpful information about wheels, tyres, tyre pressures for offroad camper trailers download our FREE guide below:




Download Guide to Interchangeable Wheels and Tyres
between your vehicle and camper trailer or caravan


Cameron Johnston | Kimberley Group  

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