Trailers & Dunes...

Submitted: Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 10:42
ThreadID: 101957 Views:2972 Replies:15 FollowUps:16
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One topic that causes much angst on EO is that of trailers being used on tracks such
as the Simpson & CSR. Having no experience in the dunes, I would like to clarify
what exactly causes the damage. My assumption is that the extra load creates more
wheelslip, therefore more gouging of the wheel track . Is this the problem or am I
overlooking something ?. If the same load is distributed over 3 axles instead of 2,
does this reduce the effect ?. Why is dropping the pressure in trailer tyres the go ?
Wouldnt this increase rolling resistance , making the trailer heavier to pull ?
No, not planning to take one to such places, just looking to expand my limited
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Reply By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 10:58

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 10:58
A good question Baz.

We have only been in the Simpson once but we saw a couple of trailers get stuck and saw the holes they dug getting deeper with the next bogged vehicle. The non towing vehicles just glided over the holes.

But to get to the nitty gritty of "why", I will leave it to the more experienced and follow this thread with interest. Provided it doesn't get into a slinging match.

AnswerID: 510113

Reply By: Alan S (WA) - Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 11:32

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 11:32

I reckon there are several issues at play,

The load is spread over more wheels and theroretically each wheel should have less load if the same load was spread out. However the space rule applies, and generally because there is a trailer you carry more gear. Which means each wheel is still has the same as before or more.

Tyre pressures, with all wheels driving there is more room for error in tyre pressures. Once you add a set of wheels that aren't beening driven the margin for error in tyre pressures increases.
Reducing the pressure in the trailer means that they are floating more so there is less effort required to pull them, otherwise you would be dragging them sand.

Drivers abiliy or attitude also is an other variable.

AnswerID: 510114

Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 12:21

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 12:21
Alan, I suggest that travellers who are towing through the desert are not spreading the same weight over three axles. They are carrying things like more comfortable beds and other furniture. They are carrying in effect a larger and more comfortable tent and kitchen. They will also be tempted to carry more water, food and bigger fridges plus the battery installations needed to drive them.

They also will not be using a standard box trailer which weighs around 300 kg, it will be a much heavier and sturdier trailer. There will thus be some transfer of weight from the tug but a hell of an increase in mass behind them. Any transfer of weight will also mean less traction to tow the extra mass.
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 13:11

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 13:11
Hi Alan and Peter

We travel with a car full of recovery gear, food, clothes and a bunch of tools and spares. We could also have a fridge or if a long trip and second fridge in the back. We normally sleep in a 80Kg (I think) roof top tent.

I had a thought.

If we had a trailer, which we do not, any kind of camper trailer, and changed to using a trailer then one fridge would go out of the car and the rooftop, a whole 80Kg, would be removed. Lightening the car by around 100-120 Kgs. Estimates guys don't kill me. Now hook up a 1 ton trailer, putting 100-150 Kgs on the towbar. Did not lose any weight from the car and gained a dead weight behind it.

I would say that the main problem is pulling that dead weight up the soft sand dune. Piece of cake on a smooth hard surface. But the dunes were far from a smooth straight and hard hill when we went through. They were pockmarked with big holes and bumps located randomly all over the track. No chance of a good strong run up. We were approaching some of the dunes at a slow 5KPH. Blowed if I am going to purposely shake the car around. But I didn't have to. It just flowed over and through the holes and bumps. No problems.

I do not care what tyre pressures are set at. This trailer would be like a millstone. Just imagine the drag from that dead weight would put on the car in front. And add a heap more because the undriven trailer tyres themselves would also produce more drag. And no run up to get some momentum. Nope almost from a dead stop. It was too rough.

Nah It has to cause damage. You cannot tell me that every trailer goes through the Simpson without getting stuck. Not if it was in the condition that we saw.


PS Doesn't a "tug" go on water! Just stirring.

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Follow Up By: Alan S (WA) - Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 21:56

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 21:56

I agree thats the Space rule, "what you carry will always grow to fill the unoccupied space"

FollowupID: 788219

Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 22:27

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 22:27
A good one Peter. And so true.

My wife and I were just talking about it. We both for a recent week in the Vic High country packed our clothes bags and then tossed out half of them.

We have never really done that to the car. Except for now as it's in the panel beaters and home on Friday we hope. I wonder how many do pack for the current trip. We have until now left it all in the car. It's not used apart from trips. Maybe to go and get a bottle of milk but that's all.

Your post triggered an chat about two sets of plastic boxes that fit neatly into the drawers. One set for a long trip and one set for a short or weekend trip. It's harder for the recovery gear though. Especially as most of our trips are single vehicle remote trips and we like to be self reliant and not rely on passing traffic. There may not be any.


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Reply By: Member - Michael P (QLD) - Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 11:44

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 11:44
Oldbaz HI,
If the track width on the trailer is the same as the tow vehicle, there is plenty of ground clearance (no bits dragging through the sand) and the trailer is towed through the sand in a straight line There should be very little difference. One would imagine that there would be less weight in the tow vehicle offsetting the extra drag but guess most would carry more.
The trailer axle is lazy & only creates drag. Then try and reverse down a dune with a couple of bends.
Dropping the tyre pressure increases the "footprint". As the tyre pressure is decreased the amount of tyre contact with the ground increase, Front to Rear more so than sideways.

AnswerID: 510115

Reply By: Skulldug - Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 11:45

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 11:45

Good question which I have wondered about myself. I assume that lowering the trailer tyre pressure would increase the area of rubber in contact with the ground, thus decreasing the weight per square cm of rubber. This should help the trailer stay on top of the sand. I believe reducing tyre pressure increases the length of the tyre on the ground so this doesn't increase the little wave of sand that forms in front of the tyre.

Apologies in advance if I'm mistaken, wrong or just plain stupid.

My interest is in beach driving which means just getting the trailer to a campsite.

AnswerID: 510116

Reply By: pop2jocem - Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 12:08

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 12:08
Hi Oldbaz,

While lowering tyre pressures on driven or undriven wheels/tyres enables the tyre to spread the load over a much larger "footprint" and therefore reduces the amount of effort needed to travel on soft (sand) surfaces any non driven wheel will increase the amount of drag on the towing vehicle. I guess a simple example of this is a 4WD with selectable 2WD/4WD mode. You usually get much further in 4WD because all wheels are driving. In 2WD 2 wheels are creating drag instead of drive.
Many years ago Landrover, and maybe other makes, had a driven trailer developed by a company called Rubery-Owen or something like that. They had a driveshaft from the PTO of the transfer case that took drive to the trailer wheels. I think the complexity and weight of the system outweighed the advantages so the idea never took off. I suppose in theory you now didn't have the trailer wheels dragging but actually assisting.

AnswerID: 510118

Reply By: olcoolone - Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 13:25

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 13:25
I don't see a problem towing trailers along tracks as in my view they cause less damage than the vehicle towing trailer.

It all comes down to experience and an experienced person towing a good trailer will more then likely cause less damage than a 4x4 by itself with a less experienced driver.

We have towed our camper is places the average 4x4er would have second thoughts about.

A debate like this is always going to be two sided...... those who are experts but never done it and those who have done it, we have towed through the Simpson a far few times and never had a problem, knowing what speed and when to stop are the two biggest things you need to know.

About four years ago we did a trip west to east at the start of the Simpson season opening for the year with four ultimate campers and none of us had any difficulties except big red...... behind us was a group who we would hear every 15 minutes come over the radio say "mate I'm stuck" and in their group would be the reply "yeah hang on I'll come and snatch you..... we can do a double snatch on this one", this went on for about 4 hours until we lost comms with them..... we were lost for words!

Any thing will wreck roads and tracks that are not hard capped and most of these tracks are not hard capped except for the peak of the dunes...... hard capping was mostly done to stop mining vehicles getting stuck and capping is an expensive exercise.

AnswerID: 510122

Reply By: Alloy c/t - Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 13:57

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 13:57
The problem is not trailers as such , the biggest problem is overloading , take your current crop of 4x4 , add a bulbar ,roof rack ,drawer system , long range tank , fridge , recovery gear , and so on and then add your clothes, swags ,tent,food ect ect and most are at their legal weight carrying limit even before the driver and passenger/s get in ,, using a well thought out light [but well built] trailer at least lets you spread the same load out over 6 wheels causing LESS damage.
AnswerID: 510123

Reply By: mikehzz - Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 14:02

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 14:02
From what I have seen, it totally depends on who is driving, what type of trailer it is and how they have set it up. Lower tyre pressures all around decreases the psi exerted on the sand so the tyres will not push into it as far. That's why you hear the term 'floating' used. Whether there is increased or decreased drag is simple on a hard surface, but on sand is very complex do to the higher pressure tyres digging further into the sand than the lower pressure tyres and that might increase the drag more than if they had lower pressures.
One thing is for certain, if the driver is bad, the trailer is sub standard or the tyres are too high, then the potential for damage is much higher with a trailer. The good rigs and drivers are penalized by the ineptness of the others. The authorities tend to take the easy route and call for a blanket ban to avoid the issue.
AnswerID: 510124

Reply By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 14:57

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 14:57
Just forget about tyre pressures etc for a second. And remember that it's the dunes, not the interdune strips, that they say get damaged to excess with trailers and unskilled drivers even in just 4WDs. Even at low pressures you will produce an indentation in the slopes of the dunes.

About weights. If we got a trailer our rooftop would go, fridge would go and some food would go effectively into the trailer. In hooking up a trailer we could even put up to 150-200 Kg on the towbar. There is the weight back into the car. Yes, no gain for the car apart from a big 1 ton mass behind that has to be pulled up each of the hundreds of dunes. (never counted them).

When we went through the WAA line there was very little chance of a run up at any of the dunes. We even approached the heavily rutted dunes at as slow as 5KPH. We even remarked that it was lucky that we were not in a hurry. So it's a slow slog looking for the best traction that you can get.

The error margin for a towed combination must, by plain old physics, be much narrower for a towed combination.

I am yet to be convinced that the extra drag does not increase the size of the indentations in the upward slopes of the dunes. A car will produce an indentation, I agree, but the trailer with undriven wheels and the towing car with the extra effort being sent to the driven wheels, must surely make a bigger indentation. And if a hole or ridge is encounted then the effect is much bigger in that they will dig the hole out just that much further.

Now lets put tyre pressures down low. But the error margin for a trailer combination must surely be narrower than for just a 4WD. And that is where the issue really is. A trailer combination has more risk of damaging the dunes that a car only setup. Greater risk and narrower error margins are the important factors.

I think that it's also a matter of minimising the damage that we all do.

I will be the first to admit that especially after having to swerve off track wt the tops of dunes when bikes appear in front of at a great rate of speed. But that is OT.

AnswerID: 510132

Follow Up By: Member - Duncs - Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 21:42

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 21:42

GVM is about what you take not how you take it. When I did the trip to Cape York I met at least 1 vehicle that, by the drivers admission had a GVM of at least 4 tonne. I came across a couple of others that had to be close to that. All carried on just 2 axles. I had about 3.5 tonne spread over 3 axles.

What causes the big holes on the approach side of dunes is wheelspin. This is caused mainly by poor driving, going too fast, trying to "power" up the hill rather than drive up while maintaining traction.

I have towed my Trak Shak across the Simpson. We did a combination of the three main tracks and travelled west to east. I had no trouble climbing any of the dunes except Big Red. Even on Big Red I did not spin a wheel. When I lost forward momentum I lifted my foot off the throttle and backed down. Once you have lost traction in the sand you won't magically find it by using more power. So stop and try something different.

I learned how to back a trailer before I went bush with it. Having practised the art on the road I then went and practised on dirt and in soft sand, even on dunes before I went bush. So backing down held very little fear. Having backed down I further reduced tyre pressures an all six wheels and made another attempt.

As for tyre pressures. On road my camper runs pressures about 25% less than the car. When I leave sealed roads I have a staged approach to dropping tyre pressures. There are many reasons for this including increased traction, better puncture resistance and comfort. Tyre pressure on the trailer is never higher than the car. I travelled most of the Simpson with 18psi. For Big Red I ended up at 13psi.

I encountered a guy on the beach at Fraser who had dug massive holes on the flat of the beach and finally bogged himself below the high tide mark. He was not towing a trailer. I pulled up next to him, reduced his tyre pressure and instructed him on how to quietly drive out. 15 minutes later I watched as he returned his tyres to street pressure at a service station. I hope he never goes to the Simpson or CSR because he WILL cause track damage.

Trailers do not cause track damage; poor drivers do.

FollowupID: 788218

Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 22:11

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 22:11

Where did GVM come into it? I was just trying to show that adding a trailer would not really affect the weight of our car even taking into account what would "shift" off the car and into the trailer. Absolutely nothing to do with whats imprinted on the plate under the bonnet.

You mentioned good and bad drivers and who causes damage to the desert. Following along from your post we than have to look at who is allowed to or prohibited from taking a trailer into the Simpson.

Should we get the SA Government to edit their instructions to say that only bad drivers are recommended not to take trailers. I wonder how well that would go down. But if that's not approved by the "rights" people then we have two choices, namely to say nothing and let anyone take anything through or to leave the statement as is, that it is not recommended that trailers are taken into the desert.

What would you do to protect the desert?

FollowupID: 788223

Follow Up By: equinox - Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 22:37

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 22:37

You have said quite consistently in recent times that you have only driven the Simpson once.
You have mentioned how much you like it and put the same pictures of your trip up more than once.

That's great - I like desert country too...It's great to be out there isn't it. We share a common enthusiasm. I have driven the Simpson too, once only mind you, and on the most popular run - The French Line (and quicker than anyone on this site has ever, ever mentioned, whoops flame suit on)

You comment on pretty well every thread on this site that even mentions the Simpson Desert - however you consistently bang the same old thing - People who drive with trailers are bad - only because the Desert Parks pass or whatever it is - says so!!! It's only recommended not to take trailers, as far as I know it is not against the law.
You say even on this thread you are no expert, yet you have always something to say on the matter.

If it's not against the law, then please quit your constant reprimanding of others who chose to take there trailers with them.

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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 23:57

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 23:57
Yes we do share a common enthusiasm. The big difference is that we have seen a lot of tracks around here and over the border in Victoria locked up because of track damage and I would hate to see the Simpson locked up as well.

And yes it was our first visit and as such the damage was more noticeable. We weren’t “used” to it.

I want the desert available to all in the future. Not just for the fit who can walk in if it is closed but also for those like myself who cannot just walk in.

People complain about the tracks in the high country getting closed because of damages. Why is it that people think that the Simpson is immune. It’s not.

By all means take your trailers. According to the knowlegable ones, if you are a good driver and with propper tyre pressures, the correct gear and maybe even lockers, etc etc etc then you won’t damage the desert and thus not get the place locked. But then multiply your trip by a hundred or even a thousand or more, what then. Who is to judge. We judge ourselves. We who never have egos or believe their "truck" does not damage anything. Not bloody likely. Chuckle.

Read my last response to Duncs and ask the same question of yourself. What would you do? Shut up and let anything go through or what? Too many people shut up about the threat to the tracks in the high country. Too late now.

I don’t think that the case is closed on the Simpson as yet and I would absolutely love to be wrong. But I have not seen any evidence that even suggests so.

Is it true that on the Willuna end of the CSR those with trailers are not allowed between wells 1 and about 6 or 8. Why? You have a CSR photo in your profile. Maybe you can answer that one.


PS Do you approve of the thumbnail.
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Thursday, May 02, 2013 at 00:01

Thursday, May 02, 2013 at 00:01
I will give you a rest tomorrow. More surgery at the hospital.

FollowupID: 788231

Follow Up By: equinox - Thursday, May 02, 2013 at 00:50

Thursday, May 02, 2013 at 00:50
I don't know what I would do Phil.

The Simpson's geographic location is its worst problem. Just far enough from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to be unachievable for a long weekend trip, yet close enough for a short break away from the city to experience the peace and quiet which we both enjoy.

Already it costs quite a bit to enter, and it is closed during the summer.

It just seems a bit unfair to ban trailers for all, when you can do more damage with a single vehicle if you weren't careful.

I can't comment on the high country as I don't know much about it.

The Simpson has much more pressure on it than than any other desert in Australia, even when I went through in late 2005 I saw more people on it on the day I crossed it than you would in a week on some of the desert tracks in WA (where I generally hang out for my peace time).

Is it progress, heading towards an inevitable end?? They could always close the tracks and make some new ones - then the desert would at least seem quite pure and untouched, put a new track in every 20 years or so. It's not just people with trailers causing the problem, and that's a problem you and I together would not be able to solve.

Yes they have banned trailers at the southern end of the CSR, however that area is on pastoral land - and the pastoralists have made that decision. It is a bit tight and windy down that end though.

Don't get into miniature trains much however did used to like watching them at the Perth Royal Show when I was a kid!!!


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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Thursday, May 02, 2013 at 05:22

Thursday, May 02, 2013 at 05:22
Alan mate I do not know either. I just don't want to lose any more places where we can all go. And the more that just think about it the better. Thats all I want instead of being told its the tyres or th driver. Nah Just think about looking after it all. Hills and dale.

We were lucky on the WAA line. Only car was Jeff doing a recovery. Heaps on the rest of the drive.

"Is it progress, heading towards an inevitable end??" Lets hope not.

Here is an OT one for you and keep it a secret:Waldbrunn activity Look for "vk1dx" to find more if you want. But I note that miniature trains are not your bag. That's fine.

I actually made the simple automation processors from individual transistors and components. I "dabbled" in electronics at work for 40 years so that part was simple. Had a ball and now it's gone and all packed up for the grandkids to one day hopefully make a hobby out of it all.

The Toyota needed a comfortable and warm (its Canberra after all) place to sleep you see!!!

Speaking of sleep. Note the time of this post. I couldn't sleep worrying about this operation today. I hate the "knife". I'd rather have chemo. At least you are awake watching them "kill" you. Actually I have had enough of both.

Have a good one. Share a beer one day.

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Follow Up By: Lyn W3 - Thursday, May 02, 2013 at 08:38

Thursday, May 02, 2013 at 08:38
Don't I recall someone driving a Landcruiser across the Simpson admitting they weighed in at about 3800 with 28psi tyre pressure.

That would do a lot more damage than a properly loaded and well driven trailer combo
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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Thursday, May 02, 2013 at 09:32

Thursday, May 02, 2013 at 09:32
PJR QUOTED "Should we get the SA Government to edit their instructions to say that only bad drivers are recommended not to take trailers"

There is another reason why they don't like people taking trailers....... a trailer can be something made at home for as little as a few $$$ or in our case a 60 grand Ultimate, have a guess what is going to make it.

Can you imagine someone with a $800 trailer has it fail and the recover costs are going to be $2000+ to get it back home...... you don't have to be a rocket scientist to know what they will choose and where the trailer will end up.

Big difference in a true off road trailer and a so called off road trailer.

And trying to stipulate what type, condition and sort of trailer is OK would be a minefield for the Government, so the say "it is advisable not to take trailers"..... much easier to use 7 words than 4000.

Do you really think to government gives a %$#@ about the conditions of outback tracks..... simple answer is NO..... they have no interest at all.

For years the owners of Hamilton Station and I believe Dave from Mt Dare has be in heated discussions with the S.A Government over the lack of maintenance and lost income from travelers due to neglected tracks and roads.
FollowupID: 788243

Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Thursday, May 02, 2013 at 14:00

Thursday, May 02, 2013 at 14:00
Hi Lyn

I think that it was as advised by Dean at Oodnadatta (correct the name if I am wrong AGAIN) with 26 rear and 20 front, from there to the Simpson via Finke, Lambert center, Chambers and Mt Dare until we stopped and aired down when the dunes and soft sand came up. 3800 PSI? I hope that you quoted me because I cannot recall saying that. But I also do not deny it. However I told the forum on more than one occasion that the chemo has stuffed my recollection so please go away and play with something else. I admit all the time that I can make mistakes. Apparently you don't.

I bet that you totally enjoyed having a go at me. Gee I love you NOT


We agree on something at last, that we must take care of these places. Not just the Simpson though. Just my point.

FollowupID: 788261

Follow Up By: Member - Duncs - Thursday, May 02, 2013 at 21:17

Thursday, May 02, 2013 at 21:17

I am simply trying to point out that there is more to the track damage question than trailers.

I mention GVM (the total weight of vehicle and load) because elsewhere in this thread people suggest that people with trailers take more stuff. Implying that this contributes to the damage the trailer is already causing.

Yes I did mention good and bad drivers, because I believe driver skill and attitude have a greater influence on track damage than any other factor. I think rather than look at who should or shouldn't be allowed to take a trailer we should look at who should or shouldn't be allowed to own a 4wd. I would like to ban idiots. But I know that it would be too hard to enforce and way too hard to define.

As for protecting the track, I actually agree with the advice not to take trailers. But everyone needs to remember it is an advice not a law. Like you I would not like to see the Desert restricted to walkers, I think it is important that families get to see it too, not just people who are two up in a 4wd. If you ban trailers you will ban many families.

I met a ranger at a national park in another sand dune area who only charged the park entry fee of people who had tyre pressures set too high because they are the ones who damage the dunes. Perhaps SA could implement something similar. It would not be hard to police as there are limited entry and exit points for the Simpson. Maybe even have a ranger drive through from time to time to check on driver behaviour. Years ago I used to camp in the Royal National Park. Rangers would come around and incpect campsites even offering advice on how to improve our camp set up.

People towing trailers are a soft target in this debate, but they are not the only culprits and not all are guilty.

Do some people with trailers cause track damage? Yes some do but so do some people without trailers. If this point ins not made then trailers will be banned everywhere.

FollowupID: 788291

Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Friday, May 03, 2013 at 10:36

Friday, May 03, 2013 at 10:36

Calm down mate. The very last line in my post (788261) before you states "we must take care of these places. Not just the Simpson". Just my point.

Whats more important. Being able to drive through the Simpson or keep it open.

I let my tyres down primarily so that I don't dig big holes in the place. Not to just get over the dune, but to get over the dune or through the mud with minimal impact. And am still learning.

There are two issues in the thread as I see it, namely damage to the desert and driver skills.

On damage: I just want the place protected from us and kept open for everyone. Not like in the Victorian high country near here that is getting tracks closed too frequently.

On vehicles: If some vehicle combinations are damaging the tracks then who is to judge who is a good driver and be allowed through. Do we stop people and ask for evidence of sand driving courses.

And you addressed the "damage" nicely at the end of your post. But didn't say who is to judge who is a good or bad driver. And I don't blame you as it's a minefield of discrimination verses ego etc. The current status proves that.

FollowupID: 788309

Reply By: Member - Duncan W (WA) - Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 15:23

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 15:23
Observation only as I very rarely have a need to tow and to date not in sand.

But damage will be caused to the track by the tow vehicle having too high a tyre pressure for the sand conditions, load of the vehicle and weight of the trailer. Trailer tyres don't spin as a rule just roll with the flow so to speak. It is the tow vehicle that is doing the work.

So lowering pressures accordingly on the vehicle and trailer and not going like a bull at a gate will, in most cases, reduce damage and make for an enjoyable hassle free trip.

I recently watched Peter Iken's DVD on his CSR tag-a-along and it was a very good lesson in the affects of tyre pressures and ability to crest dunes without doing damage or reducing damage, whether towing or not.

Make sure you give back more than you take

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AnswerID: 510134

Reply By: cookie1 - Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 19:52

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 19:52
Just a thought, let's run a simple exercise

strap a load, say a bag of cement or 2, onto a sack truck and put a rope at the top so it goes around your shoulders and walk with that load on flat ground.

Now lets go up a hill - harder or easier?

Now let's go across sand noting the footprints - harder or easier?

Now the final test

Across sand up hill noting the footprints - harder or easier?

I reckon that the last one will not only be harder than all of the others but that my footprints will be deeper

I suggest that the above should be a prime indicator of the effort required in towing across dunes


AnswerID: 510153

Reply By: Olsen's 4WD Tours and Training - Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 20:10

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 20:10
It is not as simple as the extra load. The load is a long way behind the vehicle which creates issues at the top of the dune, because you need to get the whole combination over the crest versus just the car. While it is true that a person who is experienced and willing to adjust tyre pressures to give the best possible result, in my experience most people I encounter are unwilling to drop tyre pressures far enough even without a trailer.

At Big red every year I encounter many people who have come only from Birdsville and done no other desert driving. They insist they have dropped their tyres far enough (with no trailer in tow) but cannot get up the dune. When I tell them to drop their tyre pressures further they insist that they have gone as low as they are willing (eg 27 pis) when my tyres are clearly at much less. They inset the reason my 7 or 8 vehicles made it up the dune is because we know what gear to use or we know the "driving secret." My favourite way to demonstrate this is false, is to set my hand throttle to 1800 rpm put the car in 1st gear low range (not the best choice for a dune) and shut the door, riding on the sidestep outside the cabin -not something I recommend anyone do but it gets the message across.

Some years ago I assisted for many days a group of three vehicles towing trailers across the Simpson in a pretty tough year with dry loose sand. Some of them had given up on getting across. I helped them with tyre pressures and driving advice at many difficult dunes. when they got to Birdsville they said "we will never ever tow a trailer across there again." Granted it was a very dry year- but my own feeling is- it isn't worth the trouble.
AnswerID: 510155

Reply By: AlbyNSW - Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 21:27

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 21:27
On a hard surface disconnect a trailer and push it manually and then do the same with lowered tyre pressures on soft sand and feel the extra resistance / load
That is what you are asking of your tow vehicle, the trailer is not doing any damage it it the tow vehicle trying to maintain traction
AnswerID: 510164

Reply By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Thursday, May 02, 2013 at 14:21

Thursday, May 02, 2013 at 14:21
Thanks to those that actually responded to my queries..I'm a wiser man. I wasnt
particularly interested in the pro/anti trailer debate..was looking for advice on the physical cause of the damage...but..what the"s all grist for the mill ,I suppose.
AnswerID: 510196

Reply By: garrycol - Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 12:42

Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 12:42
Just watched an episode of Pat Callinans 4wd show where he crosses the Simpson - and takes a camper and even did a segment on taking a trailer into the Simpson. Irrespective of whether you like Pat's shoes or not - he is one of the more sensible 4wd media types out there.

He makes the point and he is spot on - take your trailer but know how to use it. There were also lots of other vehicles with trailers - Pat has made the point in other shows (the Bendethra one comes to mind) that authorities often 'recommend' not to use trailers for their own reasons and where allowed take them as long as you know how to use them.

He also had a good segment on tyres pressures where he tries towing his camper up Big Red at 25kph starting speed at different pressures and marking how far he gets - started off at 30psi - dropping down to 15psi - he only managed to get to the top at 15psi - a very appropriate demonstration of reducing tyre pressures.

AnswerID: 511303

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