Towing

Submitted: Friday, Sep 28, 2018 at 21:26
ThreadID: 137299 Views:1717 Replies:12 FollowUps:18
Is it better to tow a 6x4 trailer with a long draw bar or a short draw bar, non-brakes.

Question 2 Which is better for towing in the outback?

An aluminium trailer or a steel deck?

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Reply By: Blown4by - Friday, Sep 28, 2018 at 21:46

Friday, Sep 28, 2018 at 21:46
A long draw bar will tow better than a short draw bar because any side movement of the towing vehicle will be induced more gradually in to the trailer axle via the longer draw bar. This will result in less chance of loss of control due to sway. It will also be much easier to reverse the unit. A jack knife situation is less likely due to the extra distance between the trailer axle and the towing vehicle.
Not sure if you are asking if braked or non-braked is better. Legally you will need brakes if the loaded trailer exceeds 750Kg.
An aluminium trailer outback would be just as good as a steel trailer provided both are constructed to suit the duty.
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Reply By: IvanTheTerrible - Friday, Sep 28, 2018 at 21:49

Friday, Sep 28, 2018 at 21:49
Long drawbar will make it a lot easier to back!
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Reply By: RMD - Friday, Sep 28, 2018 at 22:43

Friday, Sep 28, 2018 at 22:43
A normal 6 x 4 isn't really suited to outback rough roads unless the suspension is improved. The short high curve leaves of most trailers don't perform well on rough stuff. Longer supple leaves with shocks is quite an improvement. Bigger section tyres help a lot too with lowered but suitable pressure for the load.
As mentioned, the longer drawbar will trail better and reverse more controlled, not in tight places though, but the longer drawbar will help if you meet slippery surfaces and the vehicle slides a bit, the trailer will really step out.
On hard clay with blown sand on it I have had my modified 6 x 4 at 45 degrees sideways on a slow normal corner without trying to be silly, far from it.
If the trailer steps out, first have your brain trained NOT TO make the vehicle brake, otherwise the unbraked trailer will decide to lead.

The A frame, depending on cross section size and wall thickness may require a full length doubler of RHS material to strengthen it. Often the A frame doesn't transfer the tow forces direct to the suspension hanger and they can break/crack near rear of A frame where it mounts/welds to body work. Best to have that gap filled with an extension to the suspension front hanger.


A long drawbar lessens weight on the towball, ie, downforce and also when negotiating dips etc. The transferred weight onto the ball will be less than a shorter A frame. The longer A frame cross section size has to be sufficient to resist bending through dips, and sudden vehicle bumps and towbar sudden change in height.

An Aluminium trailer gets damaged easily by stones and although lighter, nice as it is, if any welds or cracks or repairs ever need to be done out there a steel trailer can be much more easily patched up or repaired properly so the holiday isn't ruined.
If aluminium, to have sufficient strength it will need to be proportionately thicker in many areas and will then approach the weight of a steel one.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 11:35

Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 11:35
.
And don't fall for the trap of putting an aluminium body on a steel frame.
Any point of contact between steel and aluminium will suffer from electrolytic corrosion.
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: OutBack Wanderers - Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 22:26

Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 22:26
Thank you for that comment, most helpful, needless to say I will be bringing up these points to my engineer

Been there done that when my 6x4 trailer with 1 tonne of blue metal decided to do a charmed snake maneuver, when I looked in the rear mirror, I near shatt meself, talk about heart racing, slow down slow down, don't touch the brake, slow down slow down, don't touch the brake, takes forever and a day for it to slow down, pulled over got out and had a smoke and a stiff drink of water, and went home under 70 kph on the Bucketts Way to Stroud

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Reply By: swampy - Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 08:45

Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 08:45
HI
Longer draw bar ,far better.
Longer draw bar and going off road requires a stronger draw bar 75 x 50 x3 or 4 mm. for a 6x 4 . Connect draw bar to front spring hangers as mentioned prior .

Alloy is 1/3 the weight of steel but to acheive the same strength the use of alloy is doubled eg 2/3 weight of steel. Not everything on a trailer canbe made outta alloy so . Keep the frame steel "dura gal " and flooring, wheel guards , wheels. alloy. But u will be surprised ,on my last trailler I only saved 100kgs on a 14 x 6.5ft trailer

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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 11:38

Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 11:38
.
See my comment above re corrosion.
Cheers
Allan

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Reply By: Ron N - Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 09:22

Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 09:22
Aluminium is always regarded as a light duty product. If you want a heavy duty ute tray, you use steel.
My Hilux tray (which I built) is steel RHS all through (including 300mm spaced crossmembers), and I put 3mm chequerplate in the floor.
It's designed for serious work, because I haul heavy parts and components and heavy drums and tanks.
Aluminium bends too easily, it will also crack with constant repetitive stress loads - and you need specialised welding equipment and trained welders to repair it.

Long trailer drawbars ensure better handling and easier reversing, at the expense of a little more tare weight.
Make sure the drawbar is made of heavy enough material to withstand rough roads.
The greatest single common failure area of trailers is the drawbar area where it meets the front of the trailer. This area suffers from constant flexing.

VSB1 gives the legislative requirements for trailer construction. Make sure you follow them, or you won't be able to register it.

VSB1 - trailer building - vehicle standards

Cheers, Ron.
AnswerID: 621419

Follow Up By: Shaker - Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 10:50

Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 10:50
It would be good if all the caravan & camper manufacturers also followed them!
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Reply By: OutBack Wanderers - Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 16:43

Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 16:43
Thank you all, for the questions answered.
Aluminium has well and truly crossed off.
Yes RMD I will be building a rather stronger chassis than the crap Chinese, all those cracked trailers, made/assembled in Australia laying strewn over our landscape

I am now in a 2012 Toyota Landcruiser Prado Altitude Auto.
I don't think I'll be needing brakes because the only weight on it, will be a James Beroud roof-top tent, that weighs 60 kgs.???
Because I can't climb the ladder. So bringing it down to a lower level that I can just fall in, lmao

Strength will be formost, since I'm starting from scratch. Long draw bar it will be. How long is a piece of string? Will be putting on 4WD tyres and wheels, plus added shockies with longer leave springs

Thanx for everybodies help, much appreciated

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Follow Up By: splits - Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 21:28

Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 21:28
Will be putting on 4WD tyres and wheels, plus added shockies with longer leave springs
--------------------------------------------------------

Try and keep the unsprung weight of the suspension as low as possible. The unsprung weight is the weight that is not supported by the springs. On your trailer it will be the axle, hubs and wheels plus half the springs and shocks. Heavy suspension under a light trailer tends to throw the trailer up in the air excessively whenever the wheels hit a bump. It does the same with cars which is why manufactures try and keep it to a minimum.

I am currently building a light plywood body 1600 x 1200 x 450 trailer with a hollow axle and Holden Combo van single leaf springs along with the Combo's shocks, U bolts and plates. It will be used in the Outback as well as coastal mountains. The axle is 60.3 mm outside diameter with 4.5 mm walls. The stubs are 50 mm square bar turned down slightly to fit inside the axle. The six stud hubs and axle weigh 26 kgs. I weighed the springs last year and from memory they were 7 kgs each.

Metaland's handbook lists 45 mm square bar at 16.3 kg/m and 50 mm 27.8.

My tubular axle sounds light enough but many years ago I sent via ordinary mail an unwrapped 1947 Ford V8 forged I beam front axle to an interstate address. The young lady in the post office looked startled when I turned up with it but I assured her it was under the 10 kgs limit. She weighed it and it was so she accepted it immediately.

That shows the difference between what car manufactures use to hold up the front of a heavy V8 car and the massive amount of steel that you usually see in trailer suspensions and bodies as builders who are not all that clued up on the engineering side of things try and build in strength.

Put a lot of thought into yours and try and keep the weight down.
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Follow Up By: OutBack Wanderers - Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 22:16

Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 22:16
You've put a lot of thought into this comment, the 4WD tyres and shockies is from a trailer I saw at Mt Druitt, looked tuff with the tyres, but it was made with 3mm RHS? I want mine to be 4mm

Thanks for the input

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Follow Up By: OutBack Wanderer - Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 22:38

Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 22:38

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Follow Up By: garrycol - Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 at 11:08

Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 at 11:08
That definitely needs a longer draw bar.
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 at 13:01

Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 at 13:01
Depends where you are towing it, there are plenty of places in the High Country where the shorter the better!
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Follow Up By: OutBack Wanderer - Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 at 21:31

Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 at 21:31
Thanks for that Shaker, I was getting all excited to be making a long draw bar on a 7x5 trailer

then you came along, lmao

I'm sure as hell not building two of them, I'll just cross off the high country or go solo up them thar hills

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Follow Up By: garrycol - Monday, Oct 01, 2018 at 10:04

Monday, Oct 01, 2018 at 10:04
Overall you will be better with a longer bar rather than a shorter one. For sure in real tight spots a shorter one is better but overall how often to you find yourself in that position even in the high country - then when you do have to back up you will be thankful for a longer rather than a shorter bar - even in the high country.
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Reply By: Hoyks - Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 17:44

Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 17:44
I think you aren't giving your fellow countrymen due credit, plenty of Australians had the ability to make a crap product long before they outsourced it to China. I've repaired more than a few Australian trailers where a lot of the frame is 1.6mm sheet folded into a Z or hat section.

So, yes, a longer draw bar is better. A draw bar that also runs back under the trailer to become part of the front spring hangar is good too.
AnswerID: 621423

Reply By: Batt's - Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 20:37

Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 20:37
I had an 8 x 5 trailer yrs ago it followed the wheel tracks of my cruiser better and the extra width makes it a lot easier to see when reversing. Probably bigger than what your after but you can also get 7 x 5 which would give you extra storage space.

The type of vehicle you have may be good with a long or short draw bar depending on your vehicles wheel base and how far the tow ball is behind the rear axle.
AnswerID: 621425

Reply By: OutBack Wanderers - Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 22:08

Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 22:08
I will be showing this thread to my engineer, so we get it right the 1st time, now thinking of 7x5, damn you ppl are good for advice

Thank you again

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Follow Up By: IvanTheTerrible - Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 22:12

Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 22:12
pretty sure an real engineer will know a sight more than a group keyboard engineers.
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Follow Up By: OutBack Wanderer - Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 22:55

Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 at 22:55
I've sure learnt a lot from these keyboard 4Wdrivers over the last 8-10 yrs, I've even got myself a spiral notepad in my computer draw, everything that I think I'll need or use, goes into my book.

I don't profess to be a gung-ho 4Wdriver, I've got a 4WD only because where I want to go only allows 4WD and not AWD which I had in the KIA Sportage. I won't be doing stuff that involves getting down an dirty, mainly because I'm like a turtle on it's back, stuffed until some-one comes along, I can get down OK, it's getting back up the problem, so digging out my fourbie out of the question, I've got too many medical problems and one of them is climbing ladders

so every-ones thoughts from keyboard engineers is fine by me, between my engineer and some suggested ideas from this community, I shall endeavour to build one top-notched trailer to serve my purpose

I could write a book with all the stuff I've gathered over the years

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Follow Up By: Batt's - Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 at 11:49

Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 at 11:49
The difference between some engineers and your regular keyboard engineers is one puts theory into practice in the real world something you can't simulate with pen and paper.
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Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 at 14:34

Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 at 14:34
There are a lot of aluminium trailers out there in transport land with over 2 million K's on them.

Built properly they are great. Boats suffered cracking, but once the correct grade aluminium and design are used all the problems go away durability wise.

Long drawbar great stability, short drawbar great maneuverability.


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Reply By: Frank P (NSW) - Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 at 12:23

Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 at 12:23
Amongst the replies above there seems to be a fair consensus that a longer drawbar is desirable. I agree and perhaps you might like to consider a design that gives you enough clearances so you can deliberately jack knife your trailer 90 degrees to your vehicle. This allows greatly increased maneuverability in tight spaces.

It may not be so important with a smaller trailer such as yours, and I don't know what you'll be towing with, but with my rig (Kimberley Karavan behind a BT50) I have found it indispensable.
AnswerID: 621431

Follow Up By: OutBack Wanderer - Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 at 21:23

Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 at 21:23
12 comments up

2012 Toyota Landcruiser Prado Altitude

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Reply By: ian.g - Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 at 14:26

Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 at 14:26
My personal preference would be 7x5, long draw bar, eye to eye springs, and shocks, and running as large a size tyre that you can fit under your guards. This type of trailer runs very true is easy to tow and reverse, and stands up to rough roads very well. Stay clear of sliding springs as the wear factor on rough roads is high. I would steer clear of alloy as they tend to shake to bits on rough roads. Best of luck with your build.
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Follow Up By: OutBack Wanderer - Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 at 21:24

Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 at 21:24
Thank you, very helpful, will take on your advice

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Follow Up By: Batt's - Monday, Oct 01, 2018 at 17:29

Monday, Oct 01, 2018 at 17:29
Another smart thing to do is use the same size tyres, rims and stud pattern as the tow vehicle so their interchangeable between the two.
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 at 14:43

Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 at 14:43
I have an "off road" Treg trailer that is about 20+ years old.

I converted it to a tilt trailer (to make it more useful for gravel, sand, firewood etc). The operation of the tilt is via a dolly wheel screw mechanism operated via a battery drill. The dolly wheel adjustment is also via a battery drill.

It uses the same wheels and tyres as the OKA. Essential for the bush.

I extended the A frame as a single bar (like a boat) by about 1m. That means that I can jack knife it by over 90 degrees without it hitting the back of the vehicle. That is what determined the extension length, for me.

Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
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