Seeking information on Camper Traiiler structure.

Submitted: Friday, Jan 06, 2012 at 20:25
ThreadID: 91057 Views:2090 Replies:6 FollowUps:3
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Have read a few of the threads on camper trailers and thought I would throw this up for some words of wisdom from the experienced.

Ovbiously there are a lot of differences in these units based on what you want in them and how basic or how optioned up they are, but a few ground zero things seem to stand out that I am interested in comments on. I do not intend to be serious off road so suspension type does not seem to be critical to me and it would seem electric brakes would be the "norm" these days.

1. 14oz vs 15oz tent material - how much real difference.

2. 45mm round, 50mm round, 50mm square axles all seem rated to about the same

3. powder coated, galvanised, aluminium

4. some have longer draw bars to make them "more manouverable"

5. there appear to be a lot of "low cost" imports hitting the market but (support local manufacturers aside) is there much difference in structural integrity of most of them.

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Reply By: Member - Josh- Friday, Jan 06, 2012 at 22:18

Friday, Jan 06, 2012 at 22:18
Hi Ken, I think you'll open a can of worms here so I'll be the first to bite. I can't answer all your questions but will throw in my 2 cents worth, I'm sure others will have different views.

1. I think 14 oz is fine. Some use 12 oz which I think is not as good. Canvas quality also depends on where it is made, not just 12, 14 or 15 oz.

2. Mmmmm don't know.

3. Aluminium is lighter. It's strength is often questioned but it can be as strong as steel when used thicker but still lighter.
It is harder to weld/repair in remote areas than steel.
Galvanised depending how it is done ia probably the best. Box or round tube should be galvanised inside and out to be properly protected.
Powder coating looks great, can crack/chip easier allowing rust.

4. A longer Draw bar makes it easier to back the trailer and generally easier to tow. It can remove some weight from the tow ball as well. It can make it harder on a tight track with tight corners.

5. I think the biggest problem with imports is getting follow up warranty help if something goes wrong (read the fine print when buying, one place selling imported trailers was only a dealer. To get a warranty you had to deal with the over seas supplier). I am making a generalisation here but they are generally less quality made, often not found out until put under stress on a trip or a year or two down the track after a few km's under the wheels. Cosmetically they look ok. Things to look for (in all trailers) are they fully seam welded or just spot welded every few inches. I have seen a trailer I could see day light through the floor as the sheets were they were only welded every 20cm and there was even a slight bow in the floor sheets.

Just one point, don't under estimate the importance of suspension even if not in serious off road conditions. Good suspension can help stop movement of gear inside the trailer or broken eggs on corregations.

AnswerID: 474246

Reply By: jenorator - Friday, Jan 06, 2012 at 22:31

Friday, Jan 06, 2012 at 22:31
Had a friend who bought a "low cost" import. On the first trip out with less than 40km of dirt road, (not 4wd track, just a dirt road), the leaf springs collapsed. Trailer was replaced without question by the business owner and our friend said he was a lot happier with the replacement trailer.

Had a chance to look over this trailer a week ago. The welding on the kitchen and tool box hinges left a lot to be desired. I've picked up a welder twice in my life and could have done a better job. Kitchen was basically held together by (very ugly and poorly done) 'tac' welds.

I understand that a persons budget has a lot to do with what they can buy, but there is a vast difference between this trailer for around $8000 brand new and my locally manufactured trailer for about $13000. In a market where the sky is the limit on features, I would have bought a more expensive and feature packed trailer myself, but again it's down to an individuals budget. I suppose both of these trailers are the bottom end of the price scale considering what is on offer these days but the difference in quality is very plain to see.

If a person is planning to keep a trailer long term, a well manufactured and locally produced unit is worth the extra expense. All I can see for my mate is a list of never ending problems. A few dollars saved short term is likely to end in a lot of headaches in the future.

AnswerID: 474251

Reply By: Jim* - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 13:36

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 13:36

I would also suggest you don’t underestimate the importance of a good suspension.

You’re bound to venture off bitumen roads and you’ll come across corrugations.
Corrugations are ‘serious’.

The more basic leaf spring and beam axle combination don’t handle corrugations well.
The resultant shock loadings go right through the structure as well as affecting all the contents (as has been mentioned).

Longer drawbar? Yes.
I have an older ‘Track Trailer’ (Not a Tvan) with the ‘Type 2’ suspension (Sugarglider), which has had the drawbar extended by 250mm.

The advantages are lower towball weight and better access to the rear of the truck.
The advantages outweigh the odd time when the trailer cuts a tight corner a little more.
The reduced ramp over angle has never been a problem.
(In hindsight, I should have made the extension 300mm)

If you can find a secondhand ‘Track Trailer’ camper, with either Type 2 or Type 3 suspension, you’ll be on a winner.
You’ll probably pay as much (or more) for a secondhand ‘Track’ as many of the new cheap campers on the market now, but compare them and you’ll see that secondhand quality is better than new rubbish.

AnswerID: 474281

Follow Up By: Member - Ann D (WA) - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 16:00

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 16:00

Have a look on my,there is a lot of info re various types of campers

Cheers D
FollowupID: 749222

Follow Up By: Member - Mark E (VIC) - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 21:15

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 21:15

You have hit the nail right on the head. Exactly my thoughts... :-)

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This thing fitted all my needs, particularly robust, NO BLING, plenty of storage space and suspension that would handle the corrrugggatttioonns without shaking the cr@p out of everything.

Even though we don't do anything extreme with it, as I don't want to stuff my vehicle dragging this thing around the steep mountains of the High country, it will handle the outback touring that we like to do with ease.

When I can afford it, it will be replaced with a TVAN without a doubt.


FollowupID: 749248

Reply By: KenInPerth - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 19:23

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 19:23
Thanks so far to those that have answered. As usual good information and I take the point on suspension.

AnswerID: 474310

Reply By: KenInPerth - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 19:32

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 19:32
By the way and a little off track, I went into a local store and was asking about their various models.

The guy (the WA store manager) was telling me about one model that had no brakes and the empty weight of it - so I said "that does not give you much payload" to which he replied "oh you can load it up to 1000Kg" ......

I started to have a debate about the unbraked tow limit of 750Kg but he would have none of that - the VIN plate said you could load it up to 1000 Kg and it only depended on the rated weight of your tow vehicle. He seemed to have no idea about braked and unbraked ratings of a tow vehicle.

I ended up walking out after that ..... and later advised their head office in Qld who were goiing to hopefully follow it up.

Is the 750Kg limit a vehicle manufacturer limit or a Government regulation ??

AnswerID: 474312

Reply By: Ross M - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 22:58

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 22:58
50 mm square axles are/should be stronger, however, most will have same/same sized bearings in electric braked hubs all pretty standard.

Research the forums for camper axle failures to ID troublesome brands.
The trouble people find and reported on various 4wd forums is the welding and bracing of the axle, outboard of the spring or swing arm, but before the wheel.

Many have broken off outboard of the arm/spring because of the poor engineering and welding which causes a crack to develop and axle then fails.
I have also seen this first hand.

You usually don't find this out until you are in a remote place and the wheel breaks off.
Some planning then has to be done to rectify the situation. If I had a camper with a 50 sq axle I would have a spare, sealed in grease but stowed somewhere. Just be Irish, to be sure to be sure.
The cost of a spare piece of axle is nothing compared to the cost of having it repaired if you haven't got one. If you have one you can do something and many people will/can help. No parts = unable to help.
I saw a Jayco at Kings Canyon and the repair and travel to Alice/return was many hundreds of $$$$$$$$$/s an extra 1000km and 4days lost out of holiday. Poor buggers.

This leads on to springs.
Most camper trailers and many "OFF ROAD Jayco campers came out with a large number off short sharp highly curved springs from the factory.
The Jayco mentioned had 9 leaves and were so curved the suspension couldn't flex to absorb road shocks. It had to break the axle because of the sudden forces upon the axle. This shows Jayco and many other camper manufactures have no idea about a long leafed compliant suspension which is essential for outback travel. Tyre pressures also play a part in absorbing road shocks as do shock absorbers.

If what you buy has short very curved springs then hesitate to buy or buy something else or have them changed to long compliant springs which will hold the same weight.
Current owners of camper can wash their axles and inspect for cracks, do you ever do it?
After the wash, spray a bit of diesel on the axle around the suspension area. Let it soak in. Ha Ha it shouldn't.
Dry it off thoroughly with rag and then dust with talcum powder. If a wet line appears you may be about to break an axle. There are professional crack test kits available.

As far as the welding is concerned. Is the welding on imported campers better or worse than an Aussie one welded by an Ostrayan full of beer and on drugs.
You decide, I can't.

Just things to look for and check when purchasing new or used.


Ross M
AnswerID: 474334

Follow Up By: KenInPerth - Sunday, Jan 08, 2012 at 10:32

Sunday, Jan 08, 2012 at 10:32
Thanks for taking the time to put this information up Ross.

Very much appreciated. These ar all the things the sales people don't know or don't tell you.

The Jayco story surprised me (although I guess it may not surprise some??) - I would have thought Jayco, even though everyone trys to build to a price, would have a reasonable reputation to hold up and be a little better about the way they do things.

FollowupID: 749289

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