How off road is your typical "Off Road" Trailer?

Submitted: Sunday, Jun 06, 2004 at 15:08
ThreadID: 13504 Views:3131 Replies:8 FollowUps:4
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Hello folks - This is my first post, and I appologise for the sign in name - Everything else seemed to be taken! I have been 4x4ing now for a few years and love going camping and getting away. I have noted only in recent years the massive increase in the number of camper trailers around the place, and I've got to admit - I am now interested - I see a lot of advantage to not overloading and knocking the vehicle about - spread the load evenly in the vehicle and a good trailer, and score a good bed and living area at the end of the day - sounds great. I have been looking around a lot, and the type of trailer I am interested in would be a box type trailer with the camper fitted on top - this way the trailer could be used for household chores when not away. Now - nearly all the manufacturers of these trailersl indicate they have heavy duty off road models, which seem to consist of a solid chassis, fully galvanised, shackle leaf springs etc etc, but I still have to wonder - what degree of off road is "off Road"? I am in Qld, and a couple of trailers that i'm interested in cost around the $6000 - $7000 mark. Could a trailer with shackle springs, no shockers and a lazy axle be taken on a treck down the birdsville track, or over corrugated roads, or should I be really looking at the fully independantly sprung units (or Alko axle) etc - the price blows out a hell of a lot though, and usually those trailers cannot be used for trips to the tip when not in camping mode. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.
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Reply By: Tony J - Sunday, Jun 06, 2004 at 16:28

Sunday, Jun 06, 2004 at 16:28
Welcome Mattitude, I have an off road camper box type. I thought I could use it as a "garden trailer" when not camping. In reality, too much effort to remove the camper section. Not that it is technical, just bloody heavy. I have 12oz canvas and it is a bit bigger than most. It needs 4 blokes to lift it off and put it back on. Installed a hook in the shed roof and ran my winch cable through a block down to the camper but its still time consuming. Also have to take out the kitchen box and all the other camping gear that lives in the trailer. I like to leave it in there so we can take off camping at a moments notice. My thoughts - if you need a garden trailer, get a garden trailer just for the garden!

Suspension, ah! Abso-bloody-lutely FORGET box trailer leaf type suspension!! Offroad leaf may be 60mm wide instead of 45mm but the leaf packs are too short!
Believe me, I have had endless problems with mine. I don't believe there is anything wrong with the principle just that the leaf packs are too short to to 'work' effectively on really rough corrugations with or without shocks. OK for short trips, but take it on a long haul and take lots of spares. My choice would be independant coil with shocks, or if the budget wont stretch, have the trailer buit with leaf springs from the back of a falcon ute. Remove a couple of leaves from the packs and fit shocks. Good solid mounts to the chassis, greasable shackle pins and this setup will flex nicely. . I wish someone had told me this before I bought mine. Forget Alko also, if something breaks in the middle of nowhere its very difficult to jerry rig it

I would suggest galvinising. The sand and dirt/dust in the outback or up Cape York will strip paint off faster then you can blink.

Before others start tearing me to bits, this is just my opion and experience. Many will disagree with me.

Have said all that, I love my trailer. We drag it all over this wonderful country. So easy to set and break camp, so comfortable and so convenient.

See you out there someday!
AnswerID: 61943

Follow Up By: Member - Rohan K - Monday, Jun 07, 2004 at 10:45

Monday, Jun 07, 2004 at 10:45
Mattitude, I'd have to agree with Tony. We went the route, with the same idea - a dual purpose trailer. We've had it 18 months and still have not taken the top off - it's just too much hassle. Which is a bit of bugger really as I would have gone for a "purpose-built" campertrailer if not for that supposed "need".

We have a leaf srping (9 leaves plus rebound leaf) and shock suspension and the trailer goes everywhere our Pathy can haul it. We haven't had it on a trip to the Cape, or CSR or anything like that yet, but it handled the corrugated and rough outback NSW tracks of our recent (3,000+ km) trip without so much as a rattle. Having said that, I don't think there's any doubt that an independant (coils and shocks) set-up would be better.
FollowupID: 323413

Follow Up By: Coops (Pilbara) - Monday, Jun 07, 2004 at 21:28

Monday, Jun 07, 2004 at 21:28
Tony has many good points. I too built my trailer with the intention of removing camper section to use as a garden trailer. saw the light and knew that I'd never take it off so now I have a very sturdy 7x4 garden trailer fitted with gas bottles, tool box, jerry can holders, watre tank and Mud Terrain tyres. I also have a Jayco Campervan.
In my opinion Independent Coil suspension would be a bugger to fix off road and any trailer repair shop would tell you who the greater number of their customers are.
I've taken my trailer along GRR without any problems and would do so again tomorrow. How you drive will dictate any repairs required - not always true but true for the most part.
Time over again I would take the galvanising route also.
FollowupID: 323503

Reply By: crayman - Sunday, Jun 06, 2004 at 17:12

Sunday, Jun 06, 2004 at 17:12
My off road camper is now 14years old ,it started out as a medium duty 7x5 box trailer with short slipper type leaf springs , i replaced axle with a 50 mil square axle with 1/2 inch plates welded on axle another 1/2 plate on top of spring bolted together with 1/2 inch grade 8 cat bolts (no U bolts they work loose and break ) 14 inch 8 ply tyres ,done 40,000 klms on rough roads gibb river twice ,kalgoorlie darwin dirt most way Kalgoorlie exmouth 6 times, found secrect to keep trailer on road surface was to fit stabiliser bars to keep trailer from leaping 2ft of ground on bad roads( friend had similar trailer to mine not modified though on gibb trip no bars , broke u bolts center bolts blew 3 tyres , trailer up in the air as much as on the road ,nothing broken replaced tyres old and worn thats all tow car hj 60 now gq 4.2 turbo nissan Cheers
AnswerID: 61949

Reply By: Member -Bob & Lex (Sydney) - Sunday, Jun 06, 2004 at 17:33

Sunday, Jun 06, 2004 at 17:33
The only one I have seen that converts easily is made by Heaslip in S.A. The camper part clips on top of the box trailer & you fit windup legs to remove it + it's capable of going anywhere you take the 4by well almost. Check their web site.
AnswerID: 61951

Reply By: crayman - Sunday, Jun 06, 2004 at 17:36

Sunday, Jun 06, 2004 at 17:36
Crayman Sorry should have added didnt replace origional springs just welded old section of spring leaf as wear pad to save chassis frame from wear and beefed up mounting spring location points,used grade 8 shackle pin bolts and case hardened spring bushes no grease(unless well sealed grease and dust can = valve grinding paste never been replaced as yet) longer softer falcon springs and shocks would help be care full law only alows em so long ithink
AnswerID: 61952

Follow Up By: Brian - Sunday, Jun 06, 2004 at 21:06

Sunday, Jun 06, 2004 at 21:06
I'm done something similiar. I have a slipper spring setup with beefed-up front mounts and a 45mm axle. Recently did the Strezlecki to Innamincka without any problems. Do you grease the rear slipper mount? Dust and grease can make a 'grinding paste', but what is worse, some grease or none at all? Interested in your opinion.
Brian - Sydney
FollowupID: 323370

Reply By: Mark- Sunday, Jun 06, 2004 at 18:56

Sunday, Jun 06, 2004 at 18:56
I have an ex army landrover trailer with shocks and which uses longer than normal box trailer length springs as well as a shackle (not slipper springs) but it still bounces, particularly when theres not much weight on it. I find that lowerring the tyre pressures makes a big difference - 20 psi is fine.

In QLD anyone can make a light trailer and I'm thinking of making a coil sprung off road trailer using a Range Rover rear end with A frame set up. I wont need the entire rear axle, will just weld the coil spring seats onto a heavy duty beam axle. I've seen a guy with this set up on a boat trailer and it really protects the boat on corrugated roads.
AnswerID: 61957

Reply By: The Banjo - Sunday, Jun 06, 2004 at 19:24

Sunday, Jun 06, 2004 at 19:24
I just sold a leaf sprung trailer and am moving to a coil independent, but the reason was not suspension (quite a few other issues). IMO, a solid build leaf sprung trailer, with poly block hitch and no shockers can go just slow down and take extra care where required. The corrugations play havoc with the fancy systems too I'm told. And I agree with your spreading the load over 6 wheels comment......only snag is that trailers should not go in some areas, but that doesn't detract too much from your outback trip options.......its just another trip formula...they all have plusses and minuses !
AnswerID: 61966

Follow Up By: Member - Camper (SA) - Sunday, Jun 06, 2004 at 21:43

Sunday, Jun 06, 2004 at 21:43
Yep I agree,
We've not done horrific roads yet, but slow down, let some air out of the tyres (20psi) and drive to miss the worst of the punishment seems to help .
It seems to me that the heavier your rig is and with boats, huge solar panels and even the kitchen sink on the trailer the more of a belting all the components will get, the heavier they will need to be and the more punishment the weakest link will get. It becomes a self defeating situation.

I think a slipper spring system is too light and the leaves on a shackle type system need to be the wrap around type.
Time spent on the creeper in the workshop under the trailer to check for any problems after each trip is time well spent (good for a snooze too 'cause it looks a lot like you are working).
FollowupID: 323375

Reply By: ianmc - Monday, Jun 07, 2004 at 12:35

Monday, Jun 07, 2004 at 12:35
Tony's suggestion for the Falcon ute rear springs seems v.good to me.
Shackle springs are preferable to slippers particularly the short cheap chinese ones it seems.
The Falcon leaf springs worked very well on the ute which rode quite well
even with its 7 or so leaves. The leaves are wide (extra strength) and ends are tapered for progressive ride. Remove leaves to suit your load as too hard is going to
damage stuff.
AnswerID: 62048

Reply By: Mattitude - Tuesday, Jun 08, 2004 at 20:31

Tuesday, Jun 08, 2004 at 20:31
Thanks very much for your comments. I have found what seems to be a couple of good trailers made in Brisbane. One in particular has most of the things suggested here, including a "robound suspension", which has longer leaves, hangers, and shockabsorbers. The trailer also seems to be pretty sturdy, with the drawbar going right through to the rear tail lights - meaning the drawbar also becomes the chassis etc. It seems quite well setup, and although its a bit dear, it is fully galvanised etc - so should last for Donkeys. Only trouble is - it won't be ready before we go in 4 weeks - NOOOO - anyway - I will be getting one when we get back - not having one won't affect our holiday too much! Once again - thanks for your comments - its amazing how quick education is with the interbag, No No no - ...internet ..... internet! ciao
AnswerID: 62340

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