Reason Why not to tow accross the Simpson - A point of view from a different ang

Submitted: Tuesday, Jul 13, 2010 at 16:43
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I have never towed a trailer across the Simpson - Wanted to point that out before I gave this view :-)

When in the Simpson a couple of years ago we did not have time to cross, so just had a play on a few of the dunes. I had the Rodeo with the slide on Camper and we were at max GVM. Found when we went to 18psi and used low 3rd we had no issues with the dunes in the middle of the day (August).

I have found the silica sand near Cape Flattery to be much the same as the desert sand. Very fine sand and when heated by the day, very hard to drive on.

The first I have taken the boat to Flattery was this weekend and all the posts as to why not to take a trailer into the desert were made obvious.

With the sand damp and 18psi in car and trailer I took on the hill and made it about an 1/8th of the way using moderate revs.

Back down, put the tyres to 14psi and hit it again at moderate revs, made it 1/4of the way.

Back down and hit it again at peak revs - this time made it to the top with a few sections that were a just.

Now just imagine having to hit 1100 sand dunes at peak car performance, rather than going at it a bit easy.

Your car will have to work a heck of a lot harder all day every day your out there and to me that would be a chore more than the fun to be gained :-) Cheers Tony
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Reply By: Tonyfish#58 - Tuesday, Jul 13, 2010 at 16:45

Tuesday, Jul 13, 2010 at 16:45
Reason Why not to tow across the Simpson - A point of view from a different angle.

Woops! - Put too much heading on the page
AnswerID: 423915

Follow Up By: Member - Christopher P (NSW) - Tuesday, Jul 13, 2010 at 17:01

Tuesday, Jul 13, 2010 at 17:01
Thanks for the heads up Tony.
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Reply By: Jumankum - Tuesday, Jul 13, 2010 at 17:43

Tuesday, Jul 13, 2010 at 17:43
August last year we were out at Birdsville and like you did not have the time to cross but wanted to spend a night in the simpson.
Camped at Birdsville and headed out to take a look, just the vehicle, to see what was what. Drove about thirty klms in had some lunch, drove up and down Big Red a couple of times headed back to camp. Tires at 18 and 22
We found big red very easy and tried it in several different gears. However we watched a number of vehicles not make it with a few really hammering their vehicles in manic determination. The next dune in from big red was more challenging (while heading west).

Next day, hooked up the camper dropped tires to 12 and 18 and drove about 20klms and set up camp. While it was obviously harder on the car with the camper attached I still did not have to push it very hard apart from the next dune in from Big red. While camped we heard a lot of chatter on the UHF eg "backing down" "oops didnt make it " etc and figured there must have been a convoy coming dragging ship anchors, but no, none of them were towing. And remember they were heading west to east the "easy way"

Point is, what one person considers easy another may find hard and yet another impossible. Personally I would like to tow my trailer across the Simpson because I like to travel with a trailer and I enjoy the extra challenge it provides me. However if I were to do it I would travel with another like minded soul, I would also consider it my responsibility to get myself out if anything were to go wrong as should all travellers towing or not.

Do you mean Cape Flattery on The Cape York Peninsula? If you do, well done getting a boat up there, we had a look at that dune and decided not to go down as getting out looked a bit hairy.

Cheers Jim
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Follow Up By: Tonyfish#58 - Tuesday, Jul 13, 2010 at 18:06

Tuesday, Jul 13, 2010 at 18:06
Jim yes that's the one - I had got it down to a fine art with just the car, add the trailer and woops! better give that a heck of a lot more :-)

This year we do the Simpson in two weeks time - been looking forward to doing it for the last 2 years after out play with big red.

As you say it is done with trailers and you fine it rewarding so go for it :-)

The idea of the post was to make the reader prepared to how hard the car will have to work all day.

I would say at least 25% more?

The Rodeo I could do the flattery dune at 2500rpm in 3rd low tyres at 18psi

With trailer 3000 (At max rpm) rpm tyres at 14psi

Cheers Tony
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Follow Up By: Member - Christopher P (NSW) - Tuesday, Jul 13, 2010 at 18:36

Tuesday, Jul 13, 2010 at 18:36
I think the saying is of some pommy show i saw a couple of years back,

" Give it a bit more feeling"

I'll leave it up to your imagination!!!!

Not! basically this guy was being instructed on how to drive his land/ range rover through mud, and the guy driving didn't giveit that many revs, stalled the rangy, had to reverseup for a bit, then the instructor said "ok, this time give it a bit more feeling this time", they managed to get the rangy thru the second time.
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Follow Up By: Jumankum - Tuesday, Jul 13, 2010 at 19:00

Tuesday, Jul 13, 2010 at 19:00
In my case at least 25% more, but sometimes less sometimes more.

When I saw the Dune at Cape Flattery it was littered with sticks rubber matts and sacks stuffed with sand, howling onshore winds as well.

On our last trip which included Googs track and the Canning we found 1st high from the bottom to be the best. On the Canning there are some run ups that are so long the mind boggles. We have a diesel as well (patrol)

Enjoy your trip!
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Reply By: Crackles - Tuesday, Jul 13, 2010 at 18:34

Tuesday, Jul 13, 2010 at 18:34
I think your theory on towing in the Simpson Tony is a little off the mark on a couple of fronts. Firstly while there may be 1100 odd dunes only 40 to 50 on a normal crossing would need anything over 2500 rpm & only then for the last 20 metres or so over the crests. For an experienced driver he may have to back up on 4 or 5 times at most if caught out. Our last crossing with trailers saw the convoy drive the enire desert without reversing once until they got to Big Red. Here they backed up & simply drove around the chicken route.
In the Simpson if you are revving at "peak car performance" (even with a trailer) you are approaching the dune the wrong way. It is simply not required & often you will get less distance up if you hit it hard.
I don't believe comparing a sand hill at Cape Flattery is neccesarlily the best way to judge the difficulty of towing in the Simspson.
I gree that it can be alot harder on a vehicle when towing but then I'd argue that pulling a 2.5 tonne van around Oz would stress a car far more & for far longer than a 1.2 tonne camper trailer accross the desert & I certainly haven't noticed anyone standing up suggesting we shouldn't do that.
Cheers Craig............
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Follow Up By: Member - Vince M (NSW) - Tuesday, Jul 13, 2010 at 20:39

Tuesday, Jul 13, 2010 at 20:39
Crackles, I agree & there are several ways across, Rig Road, French line etc.., hey I ve been across in a 540cc Suzuki 4wd in 1977, in a Denning bus in the early eighties, a Austin champ 4wd (& no water about), a 3 speed Nissan & 3 speed Toyota as well as my 6x4 all 4 plus tonne of it, the Combie club drove across, ford did it in a ford falcon 2x4 late 70's to early 80,s to advertise it & they hold a bicycle ride across it every year in late October/November so a modern 4wd & trailer set up right with a expreranced driver should not be a problem as it is a hell of a lot easier now, but I'm not saying you won't get stuck as every crossing has its challenges.
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Reply By: Member - Duncs - Tuesday, Jul 13, 2010 at 22:01

Tuesday, Jul 13, 2010 at 22:01
I drove across the Simpson with my camper, 5 people on board and gear for an extended trip. I started off dropping tyre pressures to around 20 psi but by the time I got into the desert proper I was at about 17psi.

I filled up at Mt Dare and carried 40l of diesel in jerry cans just in case. We took an indirect route including sections of the three major east west tracks. In a total trip of about 600km I used about 125l of the 130 that the Patrol carries in its standard tanks, about 25% more than I would expect to use at high speed on the highway with the same load. When you consider that I was mostly in low range with the AC on I don't think that is too bad.

On the way across I never backed down a dune until I got to Big Red. The only place I had any trouble was crossing a lake which was softer than we had thought. I lowered tyre pressures got the family to walk and drove out unassisted.

You are right though, my car did work harder than it would have without the trailer. Mine is a 4.2l Turbo diesel, you know the one that overheats, well the temp needle never moved so I don't think it worked too hard.

As for it being a chore, I had a ball, I would do it all again in heartbeat.

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Reply By: Member - Serendipity(WA) - Wednesday, Jul 14, 2010 at 08:21

Wednesday, Jul 14, 2010 at 08:21
One thing a lot do not consider when towing a heavy camp trailer in soft sand is to let the tyres down on the camp trailer as well. It makes a big difference when the sand is truly soft and the car is struggling.


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Reply By: splits - Wednesday, Jul 14, 2010 at 13:24

Wednesday, Jul 14, 2010 at 13:24
My one and only sand towing experience was many years ago when I towed a Holden station wagon up a long steep soft and dry sand hill leading off a beach. It was as easy as can be but I was driving a 6x6 Inter. I think had I used a Cruiser or Patrol that day I would still be there regardless of the tyre pressures..

Maybe the key to having an easy stress free towing trip over the Simpson is to use a Unimog!
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Reply By: Steve and Viv - Wednesday, Jul 14, 2010 at 14:34

Wednesday, Jul 14, 2010 at 14:34
I have also towed our camper accross the Simpson. We had our story in Issue 5 of 4WD action camper touring. It was not all that hard. There are a fe dunes that require a bit more care but all in all a great trip.

Have a look hereSteve and Viv's blog
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