simpson desert

Submitted: Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 10:36
ThreadID: 109459 Views:3009 Replies:10 FollowUps:4
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hi is it fine to cross east to west towing 6x4 trailer 600KG behind a 80 series
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Reply By: Les PK Ranger - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 11:34

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 11:34
Mate you will get a heap of replies either way, really IF you can do it depends on if the trailer is up to it, heavy duty, good springing, clearance, tyres, assume it's just a trailer, not a camper.

Then you have to asses will it be an issue with dunes, cresting, draw bar causing damage / limiting ability to cross dunes reasonably easy each time (well over 1000 times !).

East - West you are taking on the biggest dunes at the start, with full load of fuel, food, water, etc too.

Can trailer tyres can be deflated to say 15psi and take the pressure of conditions ?
Ie. good AT tyres, preferably LT construction.
Good spare, or compatible with the 80 wheels / tyres ?

I used to think that trailers should not be crossing the simmo, but then families would not be able to enjoy that part of our country . . . and FOR SURE, a well set up, suitable trailer and tow vehicle, coupled with proper tyre pressures and driver skills, it is no probs to do such a trip.

The problem comes with any of the above not being present, then it can cause issues for you and others out there.

When are you planning of doing going ?
Have a great trip, just planning my crossing same way for July '15.
AnswerID: 538897

Reply By: Mikee5 - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 13:29

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 13:29
To quote from page 24 of the Desert Parks Handbook given out when you buy your Desert Parks Pass. ' It is strongly recommended that you leave your trailer at may be experienced....but you will cause detrimental environmental and track damage...'
As Les said East to West you will encounter the steepest dunes early while you are heaviest loaded. The Eastern face of most dunes is usually steeper too.
When you say 6x4 trailer I hope it is a seriously well built off road trailer, ideally with wheels to match the tow vehicle and high ground clearance.
AnswerID: 538903

Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 21:15

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 21:15
Plus an off-road hitch.

J and V
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FollowupID: 823502

Reply By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 13:57

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 13:57
I'm sure many have done it with varying degrees of success.

In 2007, a dry year with loose sand, there were three of us on the easier west to east crossing, one with a Tvan behind a 2007 120 D4D manual Prado. To get enough momentum he had to do pretty hard run-ups in sand scalloped by previous traffic, very hard on both vehicle and trailer as they bounced severely with suspension bottoming hard on most dunes. We other two had to get him unstuck at least 12 times, some forward recoveries, some reverse.

He made it but at a cost - both sides of his Prado had cracked front inner guards (no bar or winch to add weight, just a second battery), a very smelly clutch that somehow kept going, and stuffed shocks.

As Les PK Ranger has pointed out, there was a cost to the track as well, with more scalloping from wheelspin and recoveries.

OTOH, you read about easier crossings on firmer sand.

So yes, you can do it, but whether or not it's advisable is a different matter that will largely be determined by seasonal conditions.


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AnswerID: 538905

Follow Up By: Alan S (WA) - Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 22:14

Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 22:14
Hi Frank,
Just a quick question was your mates problem caused be caused he was towing, or was it because other people towing using incorrect setups had caused damage to the track which then caused problems for your mate.

FollowupID: 823569

Reply By: Rangiephil - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 15:29

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 15:29
You had better be with another car preferable with a winch and some long extension straps.

It would not be fun trying to back down a zig zag dune for a second go with a trailer.

Regards Philip A

AnswerID: 538910

Reply By: Member - Duncan W (WA) - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 16:41

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 16:41
Craig we did a west to east crossing in July and we were not towing, but we saw the damage caused during the school holidays. What I can tell you is that the tracks up the dunes from the east tend to be flatter, longer, more bends in them and bouncier. The problem will be that you can't really get much of a run up as the woopsie do's as I call them will cause you to bounce all over the shop and cause you to really drain the speed and power . We found coming from the west that it was best to change down to 1st gear high at the base of the dune and then slowly drive up the humps and bumps.

Ensure that your tyre pressures are well down and as others have said travel with a mate or 2 so that if you do get stuck they can pull you out.


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AnswerID: 538914

Reply By: DmaxQld - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 17:35

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 17:35
See a couple of comments suggesting run ups. I believe too much speed is the reason for a lot of the damage to the dunes. If you take it easy, select the correct gear, or better still have an auto in the sand, select 4WD, we found high range best, drop your tyre pressures right down, say 12 but no more than 15 cold, and take it nice and steady, you will get over the dunes without causing any scolloping. Speed is what causes this due to excessive wheel spin. Saw it time after time when doing our west to east in June this year.

Then on top of that, because the fools have flown over the dune, they have to brake down the face of the dune on the other side. This is a well known cause of scolloping also. You again need to use the correct gear and let engine braking take you down the other side.

Steady, steady will get you there without any damage to your vehicle. We didn't bounce or bottom out once.

Oh, and BTW, we towed a heavy camper across solo. Didn't get stuck once but had to reverse down 4 dunes to have a second go. It is difficult to do and unless you are an experienced trailer user, I wouldn't recommend it. Lao helps to have a high clearance trailer with offroad tyres let down to the same pressures as your vehicle.

Good luck
AnswerID: 538918

Reply By: Member - Scrubby (VIC) - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 20:11

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 20:11
Take plenty of money, if the sh-- really happens and you need to be rescued, the cost back to Birdsville the last time I asked was from a minimum of $4,000 up to $12,000, depending upon where you are. You are not allowed to leave a vehicle or trailer on the desert.

AnswerID: 538928

Reply By: Barney GC - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 20:56

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 20:56
Hi craig s2,

Here are a couple of videos of vehicles with trailers on Big Red.
The first attempt they both failed. Eventually they both made it but with a lot of engine revs.

Big Red Almost

Big Red with cute trailer

I was not with this group, I just met them. They were a lovely young family who had just finished crossing the desert with three very young kids.

When I went up Big Red, I went much slower (without a trailer).

It is possible with trailer.
There will be extra wear and tear.

All the best,
Barney GC
AnswerID: 538932

Follow Up By: Barney GC - Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 22:37

Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 at 22:37
Here is a video of loaded up Hilux doing it easy in 2nd low without big revs - and without trailer.
Tyre pressure was quite low, about 14 from memory. Usually I would try to have a bit higher than that if doing long distance.

Big Red low revs, slow, no worries - apart from near collision at crest.

Just noting that previously, when the Hilux did it in 3rd low and higher revs, there was a smell at the top - like clutch slip?
FollowupID: 823515

Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 23:33

Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 23:33
A Canter makes it look easy.
No screaming engine and no wheel spin.

OKA196 Motorhome.
FollowupID: 823576

Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 20:31

Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 20:31
Depends on the 80series -
3F or 1Hz motor will struggle all the way;
1HDT or 1FZ-FE will do it OK.
AnswerID: 538977

Reply By: Kyle H - Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 23:28

Thursday, Sep 11, 2014 at 23:28
I just finished an east to west and a west to east a few weeks ago..... leave your trailer at home it just ruins the experience for everybody else.
Sure you can do it if you have assistance to drag you over the dunes, but you dig up the dunes doing it.
Most who have driven the Simpson talk about the damage trailers do to the Simpson and from my discussions they are not popular
AnswerID: 538992

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