Detached caravans

37 posts in this topic

Posted

I think the problem with clubs is the fact that they (think) they know everything... "this is the way we do it, have always done it and everyone else should do it the same" and they don't like being wrong :;):

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Posted

:wine:

Some security locks restrict the articulation of the coupling - however if mine didn't I'd fit it !

 

:wine::wine::wine:

:England:

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Posted (edited)

I can never make my mind up about this, a part of me thinks that if something happened I would rather it became detached.

But I consider myself a novice when compared to 50 years :2thumbsup:

On another note the title of this thread confused me at first reading when I saw it on email I thought what detached, semi-detached! :)

Edited by markf

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Posted

We collected our van a few years ago after having it serviced . They had hitched it onto car for us . As I towed it out and around the first corner the van became detached . I couldn't believe it . We have never trusted them or anyone else again . We always make sure . 

I was just glad we hadn't joined a main road . The front a frame was cracked and break away cable snapped otherwise it was ok . 

 

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Posted

Hi

The reason they come of is down to the person attaching the Van.

I have always connected then wound down Jocky wheel and watch that the car starts to rise. I put on my alko hitch lock. I think if you do this you will be ok.

Happy Caravanning

Monty

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Posted

I've always preferred the American set-up of using safety chains that actually keep the caravan trailer attached to the towing vehicle rather than letting it break away.

On site I see so many people not checking by winding the jockey wheel down after coupling the caravan to the car.  I always do this, I also feel for the latch part of the hitch and make sure it is properly engaged onto the ball.

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Posted

I've always preferred the American set-up of using safety chains that actually keep the caravan trailer attached to the towing vehicle rather than letting it break away.

On site I see so many people not checking by winding the jockey wheel down after coupling the caravan to the car.  I always do this, I also feel for the latch part of the hitch and make sure it is properly engaged onto the ball.

In South Africa they also use chains and to the best of my knowledge in all the years I lived there I do not recall a caravan coming detached and moving away from the towing vehicle.  Friends also confirm that they have not heard of it either even though there probably have been cases where the caravan has become unhitched.  Not sure why they do no use chains here as a lot safer than a breakaway cable which may allow the caravan to career into oncoming traffic?

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Posted

I suspect a caravan that is detached but trailed by chains is more of a risk to the tow vehicle and all around than one that is no longer connected and has its brakes full applied.

The tow vehicle certainly is not going to be thrown about and the van is unlikely to flail about. With its brakes applied the van should be stable and at least its energy is being destroyed into the brakes. One trailing on chains is not losing much energy until it hits something, which could easily be its towing vehicle and that has a person onboard.

If the SA  caravan's don't come detached then the chains are not helping, I can only see them having a role if the van becomes detached. As said above, IMO then it is questionable if trailing a detached van is a good idea or not, plus that will vary from situation to situation. Only if something else is about that can be hit could they then help make things less a hazard.

I have yet to come across a decoupling where we are confident the jockey wheel jack had been used to significantly lift the rear suspension of the tow car, but I know of several where it has come adrift but was not so checked.

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Posted

In SA if the caravan becomes unhitched, the chains stop the caravan from dropping onto the floor and the caravan stays behind the towing vehicle instead of the caravan running into oncoming traffic as the chain is looped over the towball on the car similar to how many brake cables are fitted onto the towing vehicle.

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Posted

How does the caravan stay behind the towing vehicle?

As pointed out there are situations where if coupled by chains it can flail sideways and can overhaul the tow vehicle.

One has to decide if that presents more or less risk than it being left with its brakes full on, it will vary case to case.

In Europe with its congestion I belive the authorities have chosen the better techque for our roads to leave a van braking hard rather than drag it about till you can slow it down and gain stability.

 

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Posted (edited)

How does the caravan stay behind the towing vehicle?

As pointed out there are situations where if coupled by chains it can flail sideways and can overhaul the tow vehicle.

One has to decide if that presents more or less risk than it being left with its brakes full on, it will vary case to case.

In Europe with its congestion I belive the authorities have chosen the better technique for our roads to leave a van braking hard rather than drag it about till you can slow it down and gain stability.

 

Edited by Ocsid

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Posted

If I remember correctly, the chain is welded onto the A frame and then looped over the towball so if the hitch became detached the caravan would remain attached to the towing vehicle as it would still be over the towball.

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Posted (edited)

It appears I touched a nerve with this subject,I thought I would be flamed for my stance on this.

Edited by Rodders

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Posted

How does the caravan stay behind the towing vehicle?

As pointed out there are situations where if coupled by chains it can flail sideways and can overhaul the tow vehicle.

One has to decide if that presents more or less risk than it being left with its brakes full on, it will vary case to case.

In Europe with its congestion I belive the authorities have chosen the better technique for our roads to leave a van braking hard rather than drag it about till you can slow it down and gain stability.

 

If the brakes actually work on a caravan (which is rarely the case) Just how many caravans have their brakes checked as motor vehicles have to have done for the MOT?

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Posted

If the brakes actually work on a caravan (which is rarely the case) Just how many caravans have their brakes checked as motor vehicles have to have done for the MOT?

 

Really, rarely caravan brakes work?

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

In the US the chains are welded to the A-frame (one each side) they are then crossed underneath the hitch and attach to mounting points either side of the towball, as said earlier, the idea is that in the event of it becoming detached it stays behind the vehicle and the crossing of the chains stops it digging into the road. See article o safety chains here: http://www.whmentors.org/saf/trailer_survival01.html

All irrelevant as it wouldn't meet EU regulations anyway, but IMO it's a better system.  

Edited by GaryB
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Posted

Hi

Back in the days of the GLC we had to fit strong chain to trailers and weld metal ring to towing vehicles. Even though they where not legally needed. As I was a Caravaner then I was not sure if good or bad thing but we was told to do it so we did.

Happy Caravanning

Monty

 

 

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Posted

Whatever way people believe a caravan or trailer should be secured by a secondary coupling/breakaway attachment, this tragic story shows why something is needed, in this case it appears to demonstrate that while the safety cable snapped the brakes did not apply:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/11512195/Motorist-escapes-jail-after-three-year-old-is-crushed-to-death-by-his-trailer.html

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I think that fitting chains as a secondary source of security is intrinsically wrong. If the van becomes detached from the tow hook then it should move apart and the brake cable should come into action.

How can this happen if the van is still attached to the car?

What we should be looking at is the effectiveness of the brake cable - which I have advocated for years as being inadequate. It possibly be double in size so as to definitely cause the vans brakes to activate. Ok. The van would still go nose down on the road but hopefully if the brakes were fully activated then it should stop.

Possibly there could be a "skid plate" fitted? 

There could be electronic breaking when the electrics are disconnected may be through the ABS system.

But don't try to continue to have the car to be still attached. What happens when the car brakes?  This will be possibly the first immediate reaction  of the driver to emergency brake. The van still semi attached will undoubtedly over run into the back of the car with even more dire consequences.

No stick with the tried and proven method and see if it can be improved.

Maurice

Edited by maurice
spelling

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Posted

Maurice it seems that you are quite happy for our caravan to detached and cause injury or even death?  Hopefully I have misinterpreted your post?  Why should the two units separate and go on their separate ways? 

I have never heard of a caravan stopping almost immediately it detaches from the towing vehicle and it can run some distance before it comes to a halt as we all know that the brake cable is not very effective at stopping a caravan.  Even on a car the handbrake is generally not that effective as both tend to use drum brakes instead of disc brakes. 

If the caravan with a chain does become detached and the driver is foolish enough to brake hard, the caravan can only run into the back of the car for the distance that the chains will allow which will only be inches rather than feet.   The chain method is well and truly tested and proved to be effective.

I am not familiar with electronic brakes so cannot really comment but suspect that the caravan will detach and try and find its own merry way which may not be merry for a third party.

I think that the majority agree with you that something needs to be done to make the issue of a caravan detaching safer for all road suers and that should start with the driver of the towing vehicle!

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Posted

My tuppence worth is that personally I prefer Safety Chain(s) as used in Oz and summarised below, to a break-away braking cable:

Safety chains are compulsory in all States and Territories of Australia. They must be strong enough to hold the trailer and prevent the drawbar from touching the ground, should the coupling fail or be accidentally disconnected from the ball.

Trailers less than 2500kg ATM must be fitted with at least one safety chain of at least 9.5mm in diameter. Trailers over 2500kg ATM and up to 3500kg must have two safety chains. Chains must comply with AS4177-4 and have a size designation at least equal to the trailer ATM.

It is vital that the chains are attached to the main towbar framework and not to a detachable ball mount or tongue.

The chains attach the ‘A’ frame or drawbar of the trailer to the main towbar framework on the vehicle. The attachment must be fit for purpose of equivalent strength to the chains.

Safety chains must be stamped with the chain’s capacity, the manufacturer’s identification and the digits 4177.

The chains should be as short as possible, leaving only enough slack to permit tight turns.

If two are required they should be crisscrossed under the trailer tongue to prevent the forward end of the drawbar from hitting the ground if the coupling becomes disconnected. Western Australia is the only state that requires two for those under 2.5 tonnes.

From <http://www.towingguide.com/towing-parts/> 

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Posted

Thanks Andy as I could not remember all the regulations as I left SA nearly 25 years ago.

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Posted

Other considerations should be that caravan brakes don't work well in reverse, so in the (unlikely) event of a caravan coming off while moving slowly uphill, the brakes might not stop it from rolling backwards.  Also, in the event of it breaking away from the car under normal circumstances and the brakes coming on hard will give no indication to the vehicle behind as no brake lights will be illuminated.

I suppose in the future we'll see some sort of electronic warning device associated with coupling a trailer/caravan, let's face it, they exist for just about everything else in a car, so it can't be a million miles away.

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Posted

As I understand it all of Europe only require brake away chains there must be a good reason for Europe to not have fixed chains.

Happy Caravanning

Monty

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