Homemade caravan update

Submitted: Saturday, May 14, 2016 at 19:58
ThreadID: 132413 Views:3062 Replies:7 FollowUps:2
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Time to fill you all in on our trip from Central Victoria to Darwin.

First is the economy from our manual Hyundai 130 2008 diesel towing the 450kg tare 650kg gross 3.2mtr long caravan. Ranges from 8.5 to 9.2 L/100km cruising at 95-98kph.

The caravan has performed well except the drawbar. Regular readers will recall the van was originally built very lightweight for a trike and went overweight. This meant the drawbar was made from only 50x25x2.5mm RHS with 3 trusses under it. We got to Tambo after that horror long stretch from before Roma where the road gets you sea sick, to find the bended section of the drawbar was cracked. It was repaired with another section of 50x25x2.5mm RHS under it.

That might have done ok but in effect the welder cut it one side and just welded it on not really making it fool proof.
At Cloncurry a team of experienced welders (thanks WW) welded thick plate each side (fishtail welding) and it isn't going to break. Very good job.

At Isa we purchased a 90W folding solar panel. The 120W roof mounted one couldn't cope running the CF18 small chest fridge in the heat as well as my CPAP etc. Does ok now but am planning another roof top one in the future. More the merrier.

So you learn every day something new. This time its - never skimp on a drawbar. Don't put a bend in a drawbar.

The van creates a lot of interest.

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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, May 14, 2016 at 22:45

Saturday, May 14, 2016 at 22:45
Hi Eaglefree

Appart from those issues, I bet you are having a ball.

All the best.


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AnswerID: 600060

Reply By: Member - brucek - Saturday, May 14, 2016 at 23:29

Saturday, May 14, 2016 at 23:29
Well done. It was good you noticed the crack in time. Its a good reminder to us all to check our equipment. That's fuel consumption is also good I'm thinking, since our Citroen with the pod and tyre on top is doing about 8l/100k.
AnswerID: 600061

Reply By: Member - Rob 49 - Sunday, May 15, 2016 at 10:48

Sunday, May 15, 2016 at 10:48
Hi eaglefree,
I have followed your build program almost from the start. Good to get some feed back on how the van is performing. Look forward to more posts. Go out and enjoy.

I took the road less travelled........ and didn't see any-one.

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AnswerID: 600076

Reply By: Ron N - Sunday, May 15, 2016 at 11:08

Sunday, May 15, 2016 at 11:08
Eaglefree - Good to hear the feedback and glad to hear all is going well despite the drawbar failure.
I reckon I could be a wealthy man if I had $10 for every 'van and trailer drawbar failure and bad design I've seen.

Very few trailer builders understand the hammering that 'van and trailer drawbars get. You need to imagine one giant hand holding the 'van or trailer down, while the other giant hand reefs the towbar end of the drawbar up and down, like someone twisting a piece of wire in an attempt to break it.

That's exactly what is happening to 'van and trailer drawbars on rough roads and even on "good" roads.
They are working up and down constantly, as the vehicle moves up or down at different times to the 'van or trailer.

9 times out of 10, the tow vehicle is bouncing up, while the 'van or trailer is bouncing down - or vice versa.
That's why VSB1 states there must be calculated drawbar strengths in the trailer-building National Code of Practice.

VSB1 - National Code of Practice - trailer building

AFAIC, the bulletin doesn't go far enough, and it should outline drawbar designs and practices that are unsatisfactory and poor strength.
There are still a lot of 'vans and trailers in existence with dodgy drawbar design and strength.

Cheers, Ron.
AnswerID: 600079

Follow Up By: eaglefree - Sunday, May 15, 2016 at 17:04

Sunday, May 15, 2016 at 17:04
Thanks for that link Ron N. I'll make use of it.
FollowupID: 869399

Reply By: Member - Robyn R4 - Sunday, May 15, 2016 at 11:52

Sunday, May 15, 2016 at 11:52
Good thing the draw bar only brought attention to itself in "more populated" areas-ours came almost unstuck near Billiluna on the Tanami! And we had thought our draw bar was the mother of all draw bars before we set out. Ya live and learn, eh?!
Don't you just love the number of friends you suddenly have when you romp into town with something that's different? Our little trailer is even more unusual than yours and our dog is almost a clone...one day we might have to compare notes...is it the cute little dog or the van that gets the most attention?!
I hope that your trip is everything you planned it to be and more. Ours has cancelled this year due to family illness and I now absorb everyone else's adventures with a tad of envy.

AnswerID: 600082

Reply By: eaglefree - Sunday, May 15, 2016 at 12:23

Sunday, May 15, 2016 at 12:23
Yes indeed we are enjoying our time in Darwin and leave for Broome in 6 days.

As for attention with the van, small cute little vans like this aren't common at all. Eurovan I noticed have a small one now available with the option of a bathroom. Good to see because the number of people wanting a walk in van (not poptop) is remarkable and to tow with their 4 cylinder car.

We are used to attention. This trike below, a world award winner is for sale. It was to be the original tow vehicle for the van but the van ended up too heavy to tow it.

Yes our little "Miss Rosie" is adored all over.

yes we needed an aircon badly. This little one was reduced to $200 at Bunnings.

The Darwin botanical gardens were magical

AnswerID: 600084

Reply By: swampy - Monday, May 16, 2016 at 18:28

Monday, May 16, 2016 at 18:28
Gotta luv the van its great
How did the cracks come about ? Flexing I would assume .
Either in the draw bar and/ or main frame
Typically the trailers I have built have had at least 3mm wall thickness on the draw bar . The sizes of Rhs have been never smaller than
65 x 35 [small box trailer ] 3mm
Implement trailer 8x 6 ft 600kg gross 75 x50 x3mm
car trailer light weight half alloy half steel
only 14x 6 1/2 ft 2000kgs gross 100x 50 x 3
Car trailer only used at 1700 gross ,draw bar flexed a little ,next time 4mm . The draw bar was long 1800mm.

Use /weld in triangles in the corners to keep things square and reduce flexing . An idea would to be use 75x 50 x3 and to attach to as many fixing points as possible . A 3 legged draw bar and run them as far back as u can 2 sides and middle .
The wind load and inertia going over bumps same for a small van as bigger unit.
Hope this helps
AnswerID: 600158

Follow Up By: eaglefree - Monday, May 16, 2016 at 20:14

Monday, May 16, 2016 at 20:14
Thanks Swamp.

Yes it did flex regardless of the very attractive but inadequate scaffold under it.

I agree with your sizes and while at this caravan park have studied many drawbars.

I like the extra centre bar idea too.
FollowupID: 869471

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