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Camper Trailers - Part 2

Camper Trailer

 

You will firstly need to consider what purpose you mainly intend to use your camper trailer for.  The more durable the camper trailer and more ‘creature comforts’ and invariably the more it will cost. 

If you want an off-road camper trailer then you will want one with a more robust and versatile construction that provides good ground clearance. The coupling you choose may have to have maximum articulation to handle the terrain.

 

Chassis:

The quality of  the chassis is critical and for off-road use it must be able to cope with tough road and weather conditions. 

Trailer manufacturers now comply with Australian Standards (AS) and Australian Design Rules (ADR).  Camper trailer and caravan chassis manufacturers normally use hot-dip galvanising, box tubing or RHS (Rectangular Hollow Section) steel.  RHS is tough and has good wear resistance but be mindful of the wall thickness of the RHS. Check if there is a full chassis under the camper trailer. Does the chassis incorporate rear stabilizer legs and are they strong easy to set down.

There is a range of coupling choices that include the on road ball coupling and the Treg and Hyland hitches.  See article - Coupling (What is a Coupling)

 

Some later model campers come with snatch points or heavy duty hooks which enable the trailer, if bogged, to be pulled from behind with a winch or snatch strap.  If you were to get bogged you are more likely to be able to extricate the vehicle if you unhitch the trailer.  Then you can approach the trailer from the rear with your vehicle and attach the winch or snatch strap to pull it free.

Rims & Tyres:

There are options for a five or six stud pattern which means you can have rims and tyres to match your tow vehicle that can give you the benefit of interchanging the tyres as your vehicle will have a spare and the camper trailer will ordinarily have at least one spare.

A good quality tyre is essential to take the load of the camper trailer and tyres should be correctly inflated as the air in the tyre controls how much load a tyre can carry and contributes to the stability of the trailer on the road.  Inflation pressure of the tyre should be checked when the tyres are ‘cold’.  Under inflation can cause heat to build up and over time shorten the life of your tyres.    Covering the spares will protect them from exposure to the sun and UV rays which can lead to cracking. Having the wheels balanced will also reduce uneven tyre wear.  Ensure there is enough tread on the tyre for good traction.

Some manufactures of trailers will put on a standard tyre but provide an option to upgrade to a light truck or all terrain (A/T) tyre.  The difference is that the latter tyres will have a deeper tread depth, heavier side wall gauge and more belt cord wire and plies.  These features in a tyre provide longer wear life, puncture resistance, maximum inflation pressure and maximum load carrying capacity.

Always remember to check your spare tyre inflation prior to leaving on a trip.  If you are travelling on sand, stony ground or corrugations it is likely you will need to reduce the tyre pressure to suit the terrain.  The speed you travel should  also be reduced accordingly.

ARB E-Z Tyre DeflatorA set of Staun Tyre Deflators or an ARB E-Z Tyre Deflator are a handy thing to have and you can preset them to a desired pressure to enable the tyres to deflate to the set psi and stop.  So that tyres can be reinflated it would be an advantage to also own a good 12V portable air compressor.   See article - Tyre and Wheel Bearing Maintenance/

 

Suspension/Springs:

A common form of suspension is closed double eye leaf springs that can comprise several leaves stacked on top of one another in several layers that are bracketed together and fixed to a beam axel with U bolts.  The inter-leaf friction provides some dampening that avoids the need for shock absorbers with most. This type of suspension is easier to repair particularly if you are in a remote area. 

Some camper trailer manufacturers are incorporating the use of shock absorbers to leaf spring suspension whilst other manufacturers market various forms of independent suspension with heavy duty springs and shock absorbers.

Al-KO IRS axleAL-KO produce a Independent Rubber Suspension (IRS) axle which they promote as having self-dampening characteristics with options for galvanising and zinc-plating, salt-water protection and special mounting brackets that allow axle adjustment to achieve optimum balance and nose load.

If you are considering a long trip or a trip into remote areas it would be wise to have your camper trailer suspension and wheel bearings checked prior to departure. 

Stoneguard:

stoneguardStoneguards protect the front of the camper trailer from stones flicked up by the tow vehicle.  Stoneguards are usually a metal frame fixed to the draw bar with a covering usually made from a Breezeway mesh material (looks like a shadecloth but more resilient) and they help prevent chipping and dents to the body of the camper trailer.

It is best if the material is not too taunt to allow some absorption of the impact of stones and that the stoneguard is on a slight angle with the top facing in a downward direction to deflect anything flicked up and this should minimise the number of stones then deflecting onto the back windscreen of the tow vehicle.

Body:

The choice of the components of the main body of the camper trailer are wide and varied.

Ultimately it will come down to your desire for either a hard top or soft top camper trailer.

There are camper trailers with a soft floor and some with hard floors. Those with a hard floor will most likely stand up better for creek crossings.  Check out how well it is sealed where the floor meets the wall and particular around hinged or slide out doors as sealing prevents water and dust getting in.

For the tent section, most manufacturers use either 10 oz, 12 oz or 15 oz canvas for durability.  For instance, they may use a combination of say a 12 oz on the roof and 10 oz on the walls.  Manufacturers also use heavy duty zippers and the windows are usually flyscreened. The canvas should be waterproof and treated so it will be mildew resistant.  Like you do for a canvas tent, give the canvas a wet down once or twice a year and let it dry out as this assists to make it more waterproof.  Make sure the canvas is always dry before storing your camper trailer.

The flooring of the tent section when folded out can be a choice of hard floor or soft floor.  The advantage of a hard floor is that it keeps the flooring up off the ground, out of any water and packs up easier. Should you choose a soft floor it should be made of PVC to keep out water.   

For more shade and cover from the weather an awning is an ideal addition.  If you have young children a screen room is ideal to shelter them from flies and insects.

The camper trailer will usually come with tent poles, ropes and tent pegs to secure the awning. The back of the awning is usually zippered onto the permanent portion of the tent on the trailer.

There is an ever changing landscape in the development and enhancements to camper trailers.  For example, Kimberley Kamper now market a Bedouin Annex which has no ropes and only 4 pegs. 

The camper trailer bed is usually Queen Size and there are gas struts that enable you to lift the bed to access the storage compartment underneath.  The mattress is normally foam or high density foam but can be upgraded to an inner spring mattress. 

The kitchen can either be the hinged type which swings out or it can be a pullout/slide out type.  The quality of the sink and cooktops also vary considerably with the more resilient being stainless steel.

At the rear of the trailer there is a choice of drop down stabiliser legs or corner stabiliser jacks.

For something different again in the camper trailer market there are the ‘Ultimate’ and ‘Tvan’ off-road campers. 

Ultimate Camper Trailer

CAMPER TRAILERS – FEATURES AND OPTIONS

There is a range of features and options, whilst not exhaustive, they include:-

Chassis & Suspension

- Various lengths, heights, trailer box depths
  & widths
-
Matching wheels and tyres to your tow vehicle
-
Galvanised hot-dip chasis
- L
eaf shackle springs or Trailing arm
  coil/independent suspension
- I
ndependent coil springs with integrated
  bump stops and travel limiters
- S
hock absorbers
- O
ff-road swivel coupling
- Extended drawbars to facilitate lockable
  compartments for such things as
  batteries/portable refrigerator/generator
- Wiring to enable charging of the battery
  from the tow vehicle whilst travelling
- Swing up jockey wheel
- Park brake
- Electric brakes/electronic disc brakes upgrade
- Rescue tow hooks

 

Ultimate Camper Trailer
Kimberley Kamper

Body

- Pole carriers
- Bicycle carriers
- Stone guard
- Spare wheel mount
- Outboard motor carriers
- Folding boat trailer carrier
- Motor bike carriers
- Tailgate and kitchen door dust/water seals
- Lockable toolboxes
- Gas bottle/s
- Jerry can holders
- Water tanks/ with lockable filler/ pump
- Boat racks
- Solar panels on hard top roof or roof rack
- Wind down jacks or drop down stabiliser legs
- Lockable swing out tailgate and kitchen or
   Slide out kitchen
- Further external storage compartments
- LED tail light and number plate light
- Mudflaps
- Fridge/freezer lock out sliding drawer system with
 
12V/230V power supply

 

Tent

- Insulated hard top roofs or Water proof
  pull on cover
- 10 oz, 12 oz or 15 oz canvas tent
- Heavy duty zippers
- ‘Free standing’ tent designs
- Canvas awnings
- Flymesh annex
- Screened windows

Inside

- Fire extinguisher
- 230V /12V power points
- Water tank level gauge
- Lighting/LED Flexi-Strip lighting
- Battery system and charger
- Steps to bed area
- Foam or inner spring mattress
- Stainless steel sink with hand pump or 12V
  electric water pump
- Cutlery drawer
- Stove top burners and grill

 

Tow Vehicle for Camper Trailer

Some lightweight camper trailer models are suitable for towing behind a car or the new growing Sports RV’s which include all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles and mid-sized 4WD vehicles.  See article - Best Tow Vehicle

You should check your vehicle manufacturer’s guide and/or compliance plate to determine the maximum towing capacity and ball weight of your vehicle.  See article – Compliance Plate 

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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