Cape York / Camper Trailers

Submitted: Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 15:40
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I'm interested in hearing from people who have taken a capmer tralier up the Old Telegraph Route, specifically how you found it.

I understand conditions will vary year-to-year and are dependent on what sort of wet season the Cape.

Thanks in advance
Landie
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Reply By: Phil P - Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 16:17

Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 16:17
Good Question,

I'm planning on a Simpson Desert Crossing and a Cape York trip in September with a CT !

Phil P
AnswerID: 42250

Reply By: Member - Raymond - Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 16:51

Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 16:51
Hi Landie
Took a Track Trailer up the Old Telegraph Road several years ago, and other than the fact we did not go down Gunshot the camper and the 80 series did it easy. Just remember to check the River Crossings. If you are going alone which we did, we waited at the river crossings till someone else arrived and let then go across and wait till we crossed over.
The OTR was much better than the Development Road, more scenic and less corrugated
Regards Raywanderin' in retirement. victor 2010
AnswerID: 42252

Reply By: Member - Des Lexik(SA) - Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 16:51

Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 16:51
Cape York will be fine if you take it carefully. It will need to be in good condition and strong. We were following another group who were having some problems however it was possibly the corrugations beforehand that caused the problems.

The Simpson Desert is NOT recommended for trailers as they cause too much grief to the tracks.Dare to Lead not to Follow
AnswerID: 42253

Follow Up By: Member - Ross - Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 22:50

Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 22:50
Hey Des

Just as an aside do you know what DNA stands for ???

;-]

Cheers
Fidei defensor

Rosco
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Follow Up By: Leroy - Friday, Jan 09, 2004 at 09:43

Friday, Jan 09, 2004 at 09:43
National Dyslexia Association hehe

Leroy
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Follow Up By: Member - Ross - Friday, Jan 09, 2004 at 10:30

Friday, Jan 09, 2004 at 10:30
Got it in one.

:-))))))Fidei defensor

Rosco
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Follow Up By: Member - Des Lexik(SA) - Saturday, Jan 10, 2004 at 21:29

Saturday, Jan 10, 2004 at 21:29
Join pu do you where?
LOLDare to Lead not to Follow
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Reply By: Moose - Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 17:33

Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 17:33
Check archives - it's been discussed before.
AnswerID: 42258

Reply By: Eric from Cape York Connections - Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 18:39

Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 18:39
Landie we tack trailers on tag alongs to the cape BUT they have to be well built.
The trailers make a trip more work .
There are a couple of parts of the old track that are very dificult with trailers.

All the best
Eric

www.capeyorkconnections.com.auCape York Connections
AnswerID: 42262

Follow Up By: Member - Andrew & Jen - Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 22:28

Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 22:28
Eric - you have been a quiet boy lately. Got RSI or computer dead or holidaying again?My Toy - 2001 Landcruiser 100S Turbo Diesel
"We do not stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing"
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Follow Up By: Eric from Cape York Connections - Saturday, Jan 10, 2004 at 11:16

Saturday, Jan 10, 2004 at 11:16
Andrew and jen Have been very busey with family stuff and working at that other job building and sending out lots of emails and telephone work for cape york connections.
And yes planing to grt away at the end of the school holidats for about 10 days
That picture looks a lot like the pascoe river.

All the best
EricCape York Connections
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Follow Up By: Member - Andrew & Jen - Saturday, Jan 10, 2004 at 11:34

Saturday, Jan 10, 2004 at 11:34
Gosh - you must have been there - lol lol
If you click on that photo, I reckon that it will be much harder for you to work out where that photo was taken. I am the person on the right in front of the silver Landcruiser.
By the way, I like your Banner ads.
AndrewMy Toy - 2001 Landcruiser 100S Turbo Diesel
"We do not stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing"
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Follow Up By: Eric from Cape York Connections - Saturday, Jan 10, 2004 at 20:01

Saturday, Jan 10, 2004 at 20:01
Andrew And Jen just read trough tha reply i sent you and I probly sould have bruised up on mi speling over xmas.

About 3 seasons ago just a few meters in front of were you are in the photo it was over bonnet and mooving fairly quick.

In your other photo on the beach at V---- P----t its not a bd spot is it.
Did you go over the southern head land onto the other beach and have a drive along it not a bad spot either. You get plenty of boueys along the other beach, and a nice little swimming hole on the way.
Also did you see any turtiles comming up the beach . The poor things lay all those eggs and @#$# *&^ pigs did them up its a hard way to start life.

All the best
EricCape York Connections
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Follow Up By: Member - Andrew & Jen - Monday, Jan 12, 2004 at 21:18

Monday, Jan 12, 2004 at 21:18
Eric

English was my worst subject so don't worry about the spelling. I reckon that they are not spelling mistakes but typos - you just hit the wrong keys!!

We only went North but sounds like we should have gone south too. Didn't see any turtles and didn't catch any fish!

AndrewMy Toy - 2001 Landcruiser 100S Turbo Diesel
"We do not stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing"
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Reply By: terryo - Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 19:44

Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 19:44
Landie
We took a trailer along the telegraph track in mid september. Broke both the leaf springs at different times but changed them myself on the side of the road.
The advice I got from the engeneering people in Secia was keep the trailer simple and take spares. He said tour operators take spare springs bolted under the trailer in the event of a broken spring that will eventually happen. He said he had seen plenty of fancy trailers with fancy suspension come to grief as people were in too much of a hurry. I had trailer bearings serviced before we went as well as the Pajero fully serviced. The only other problem I had was the paddlock that keeps the tow hitch from being stolen wouldn't open when we got home due to dust even with the key hole covered. Got into it with the wd40 and compressed air and eventually freed it up.
We left the pull out kitchen at home to save weight and when you look at it , it takes up a lot of room that can be better used.Were away for 2 months with 3 weeks from Cairns to cairns. Didn't do the full lenght of the track as we were advised not to go much further along the track than the by pass just north of Elliot Falls. We did the trip by our selves but met plenty of friendly people along the way that I am sure would have helped out if needed. We also had all our recovery gear, winch and tyre repair kit that I am happy to say was never out of the car. September was a good time as the peak season was over. Had plenty of camp sites completly to our selves.
Have fun, we did.
terry
AnswerID: 42270

Reply By: Hendo - Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 21:06

Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 21:06
Landie

Ourselves and another family towed camper trailers up OTL in July/August 2002. It had been dry, so river levels weren't a problem. Our only issue was a misunderstanding of tensioning the shackles on our leaf sprung trailer, leading to broken springs (once I'd learnt my lesson, no more problems). However I took spare leafs, and was prepared for breakages, including 12v welding setup (which we also used). Our trailer is a proper offroad trailer, with a heavy duty axle and leaf springs.

I wouldn't hesitate to take the trailer again on that road. We even went down Gunshot (using the chicken side track). You'll find the crossings have bypasses. We didn't go further north than Elliot Creek on the northern OTL, as we had heard it could be more risky. The corrugations on the bypass were horrendous. The side trip to Chili Beach was beaut, and in our opinion one of the best camps on our trip. We were behind trees and out of the prevailing south easterlys. If you couldn't get out of the wind for your camp, it could be a lot less pleasant.

Prepare yourself with ample spares, and know how to do simple running repairs and basic stick welding. You'll be fine with proper preparation (as with any trip). I should point out that we had already done difficult terrain type trips with the trailer previously, and have had a fair bit of experience in 4WDing in general. I wouldn't recommend it as your first trip, unless you are extremely well researched and prepared, with brand new gear!!

Have fun.

Hendo
AnswerID: 42277

Follow Up By: Member - Ross - Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 23:48

Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 23:48
Terry and Hendo

On the issue of broken springs, could you tell me how many leafs you both had? We're off that way this year with a CT in tow so of course this aspect is important, from our point of view.

Our CT has HD springs with 7 leafs which look like they're off a Mack truck (no shockies tho). The idea of carrying a spare spring has appeal ... but I have to say not a lot. But then again we'd be well and truly up the proverbial without one in the event bleep happens ... as it usually does.

Also are we only talking about the main leaf, or the full kit and kaboodle??

Tare weight of CT ... 440 kg + load ..... say 750 kg all up. It's a braked unit but there's only the 2 of us so I intend to put most of the load in the truck.

Thanks in advance.

CheersFidei defensor

Rosco
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FollowupID: 304749

Follow Up By: Member - Ed. C.- Friday, Jan 09, 2004 at 03:01

Friday, Jan 09, 2004 at 03:01
G'day Ross,
Pardon me for "butting in" here, but....
7-leaf springs on a 750kg trailer????.. IMHO that is way too rigid, especially on corrugations (shake everything to pieces)...
For any suspension system to work effectively, the springs need to FLEX!!
I have a tandem (hardfloor) offroad C/T, tare wt. 1100kg, estimated loaded wt. 1500-1600kg ("legal" ATM 2000kg), and it has 4-leaf springs.. (no shockies)...
Fairly new, so I've not (yet) "tested" it on severe corrugations, but it has done several hundred km's on gravel w/- numerous cattle grids & it has handled that superbly.. On highway (at legal speed), need to constantly check mirrors to see that it is still there.. running 26psi (will go lower as dictated by terrain).. tow vehicle GU 4.2TD...

IMHO (again), a major cause of spring breakages is this misconception that "heavy duty" springs are needed, especially with light-to-moderate loads... the heavy spring simply cannot flex, & the main leaf just snaps from the pounding it receives.. too-stiff coils will usually see a mounting or a stub axle fail.. too-high tyre pressures & speed are also a contributing factor...
I believe that springs should be rated to the max. load expected to be carried (no more), & the best ride will be achieved at or neat that load..
Shockies?? well, I'll probably get shot down in flames here, but with properly rated leaf springs, they should not be necessary.. Certainly have found no necessity to fit them to my trailer...

Regards, Ed.C.
Confucius say.....
"He who lie underneath automobile with tool in hand............
Not necessarily mechanic!!"
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Follow Up By: Hendo - Friday, Jan 09, 2004 at 07:46

Friday, Jan 09, 2004 at 07:46
Rosco

Leaf springs and spring rates? A very complicated issue, but also simple. I have been round the world and back on that issue, looking for all sorts of solutions/ideas. I started with 4 leaf packs, made of heavy steel, and they were way too stiff (they were as originally supplied with the trailer). I now have a much more compliant spring, which has more leafs (can't remember the number) but thinner steel. I also have fitted shocks (and this has calmed it down considerably - regardless of opinions, I have done >30,000 of field testing on my trailer, and I wouldn't be without them off road. Round town don't need them). On this issue I am not confused!!). I have fitted greasable shackles, as the "plastic" ones chewed out after one trip (ie the Cape).

As to the Cape trip itself, I started with the softer springs but no shocks fitted at that stage, and found the suspension bottoming on the chassis. As a result, we changed them for the spares (which were the original stiffer springs). One of these broke, and we also ripped off a spring hanger - which we welded back on. I ended up with the softer springs on again on both sides, and completed the trip in this configuration, taking more care over large bumps and washaways to keep the speed down. Since return have fitted shocks and upgraded shackles. It is now supple, smooth riding, and I haven't broken a spring again. This includes two thirds of the Cape (our problems all occurred early on in that trip) and now another 8,000 km to and through the Centre, including Chambers Pillar, following the Ghan from Maryvale to Finke, and other very rough and corrugated tracks.

I still carry spares!! You will break leaf springs on trailers - it is one of the laws of nature, and indeed I have seen all types of springs/suspension combinations broken, during my travels.

Hope this answers some of your questions.

Hendo
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Follow Up By: Member - Ross - Friday, Jan 09, 2004 at 08:33

Friday, Jan 09, 2004 at 08:33
Hendo & Ed

Thanks for your responses, more food for thought here. Given the brake and spring configuration on my unit, perhaps I should consider putting more load in the CT on the trip so settle it down. I fully agree on the light load/corrugations aspect and it's certainly designed for a greater load.

I'm not sure how supple the springs are as we've only had the CT a few months and so have not really had the chance to put it through it's paces.
1 trip to Fraser ... which doesn't really count in this regard, and limited dirt road work. The unit tows very well in all tests so far. Greaseable shackles are included. Springs are about 850mm+ long with mostly 8mm leafs. Double main leafs, 1 @ 7mm and 1 @ 8mm. Thickness dimensions approx only. No doubt it's difficult to say, sight unseen, but how would you rate this configuration?

As an aside we completed a trip last year through the centre .... Innamincka, Cameron's Corner, Mt. Dare, Plenty Hwy etc.
Towed an off road trailer I made donkey's years ago, which was well constructed but quite light weight (ply box on steel chassis/frame). Only problem was tearing the spring hangers off the chassis rails which I put down to the rails being too light in gauge (only about 3mm thick C section). That setup had 5 leafs and plastic shackles.

Had an off road CT many years ago in a different life which had leaf springs and shockies and it was bullet proof.

Cheers

Fidei defensor

Rosco
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FollowupID: 304770

Follow Up By: squiz - Friday, Jan 09, 2004 at 11:58

Friday, Jan 09, 2004 at 11:58
Hendo just wandering if you could shed more light on the
shackel bolt tensioning you touched on above. I have just swaped
trailer leaf springs , and just crancked the bolts tight. Is that
not the thing to do

thanks for the input.
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Follow Up By: Member -Bob & Lex (Sydney) - Friday, Jan 09, 2004 at 20:50

Friday, Jan 09, 2004 at 20:50
Ed is your camper a Coota Camper, if so i would be interseted in how it goes off road as i was considering them before we brought the KK camper as the tandom axle worried me.Regards Bob
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Follow Up By: Member - Ed. C.- Friday, Jan 09, 2004 at 23:31

Friday, Jan 09, 2004 at 23:31
G'day Bob & Lex,
I must say that I am a little mystified by your statement "the tandem axle worried me"... Why????
My (our) trailer was custom-made for us by Australian RV Trailers at Caboolture (nth. of Brisbane).. I believe it's the first tandem hardfloor that they have made.. They're online at www.austrvtrailers.com & have pics' there of the softfloor version on (more or less) the same frame, which will give you an idea of the configuration...
Over the last 3-4 yrs, we looked at many different makes & models, incl. the KK & Aussie Swag.. Always came away less than impressed with their rather inflexible attitude(s) to even minor variations/alterations to their "off-the-shelf" models, & of course, none of those to whom we spoke were willing to even consider making a tandem C/T, which, for me at least, is the ONLY way to go... Aust. RV on the other hand will do everything possible to make what you, the CUSTOMER want... Very happy indeed with the service in that regard, also the workmanship throughout...
Off-road performance ??? .. As mentioned above, the closest it's been to corrugations (so far) is the numerous cattle grids we crossed, the roads being in very good condition... I can tell you that the trailer was noticeably "smoother" over said grids than the patrol...
Haven't had it in sand yet (will be seeing plenty of that mid-year), but this is one of the reasons I wanted a tandem, the actual "ground pressure" is halved, therefore reducing "rolling resistance", & I reckon I can safely reduce tyre pressures to as low as 10psi (or less) if necessary... Same applies with the vehicle, as we don't need to carry much (if any) extra weight there at all.. just the fridge & the (ahem) "necessities of life"...
At this stage, I am "quietly confident" that it will go to the places we want to go without problems... Remains to be seen, I guess...
Regards, Ed. C.Confucius say.....
"He who lie underneath automobile with tool in hand............
Not necessarily mechanic!!"
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Follow Up By: Member -Bob & Lex (Sydney) - Saturday, Jan 10, 2004 at 09:21

Saturday, Jan 10, 2004 at 09:21
I will be interested to hear how it goes mid year. Also are the springs eye to eye or parabolic, the cootas were parabolic & as i am a truck driver thats what i didn't like as the pig trailer we own has parabolic springs & it's a pig to tow as it sways all over the place. Regards Bob
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Follow Up By: Member - Ed. C.- Saturday, Jan 10, 2004 at 23:14

Saturday, Jan 10, 2004 at 23:14
Bob,
The springs are a conventional 4-leaf pack (not parabolic), and the axles are load-sharing within the limits allowed by the conventional rocker arrangement in the middle...
However, instead of being eye-to-eye, the trailing end of the spring runs on a solid steel roller (approx. 45mm OD) mounted in the same way as the front spring eye... The end of the main leaf is formed into an elongated loop which comes back over the roller thru the mounting bracket, keeping spring & roller aligned, & preventing the axle(s) dropping down on rebound (should the whole kit & kaboodle ever get off the ground)...
In practice, it works the same as a slipper arrangement (simplicity!), but without the friction..
The roller can of course be on a greasable pin, but I choose to use graphite here, bearing in mind the effects of a grease/dust mix...

As for sway, well I've had this unit at well over the speed limit on the tar, & not a hint of sway at any time... Offroad, I've no intention of taking it fast enough for that to ever be an issue...

Should you wish to discuss it further, feel free to "shoot me a line" at
edjan
at
bigpond
dot
com

Regards, Ed. C.
Confucius say.....
"He who lie underneath automobile with tool in hand............
Not necessarily mechanic!!"
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FollowupID: 304939

Reply By: lizard - Friday, Jan 09, 2004 at 13:53

Friday, Jan 09, 2004 at 13:53
We towed a Cavalier off road camper to Cape York and back in July/Aug 2003 (18K round trip with side trips) .... no problem .
Recommend replace wheel bearings & carry spares - I also fitted bearing buddies.
I took a spare spring (7 leaf pack - supple longer springs on Cavalier- no need for shockies) didn't use it . Make sure the compensating plate is welded properly to chassis rails (I have seen some "heavy duty" trailers that do not have compensating plates to spread the load - these will tear the spring hangers out).
We did Gunshot - alongside the deep hole etc .
Just slow down when the going gets rough.
AnswerID: 42350

Follow Up By: Member - Ed. C.- Friday, Jan 09, 2004 at 14:25

Friday, Jan 09, 2004 at 14:25
Just a comment on "compensating plates" & tearing out spring hangers...
These "compensating plates" actually compensate for poor engineering practice....
I'll bet London to a brick that where spring hangers have torn out, they have been welded "all round".. i.e. front & back as well as along the sides...
Any boilermaker (I'm not one) will tell you that you DO NOT weld "across" box section at any stress point ... This will almost certainly guarantee that the joint will fail (sooner or later)...

In the case of spring hangers welded to chassis rails this way, it may even cause the rail itself to crack up each side... Same applies if these "compensating plates" have been welded across the ends...

Regards, Ed. C.Confucius say.....
"He who lie underneath automobile with tool in hand............
Not necessarily mechanic!!"
0
FollowupID: 304804

Follow Up By: Member - Ross - Friday, Jan 09, 2004 at 18:00

Friday, Jan 09, 2004 at 18:00
Ed

100% correct on welding procedure.

I earn my dollars to pay for this very bloody expensive hobby of 4WD'ing as a consulting structural engineer. Hence I can say with a degree of confidence you NEVER NEVER weld across a connection such as this. The welds should always be in the direction of the applied force. Welding across only creates stress concentrations which will contribute to failure.

This applies equally to big time stuff such as steel frame buildings with solid section universal beams etc. Never weld across the end of the splice plate ..... or spring hanger ..... or whatever.

Thankyou gentlemen ... that ends the lesson for the day.

CheersFidei defensor

Rosco
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FollowupID: 304827

Reply By: lizard - Monday, Jan 12, 2004 at 14:50

Monday, Jan 12, 2004 at 14:50
Poor engineering practice ?
Where you have two very dissimilar thickness steels that are subjected to high torsional and lateral loads - it is well established that compensating plates that extend past the extremities of the thinner material are required , anyway thats what we do at the heavy industry where I have worked for 28 yrs . My mates off rd camper tore the spring hanger out of the chassis rail - he got it repaired in Derby and the manufacturer back down Sth refunded all money fully & then took trailer back at own expense and retro-fitted compensating plates . I cannot comment on welding techniques as I am not a coded welder.
Anyway that was my advice to the original question - bearings , suspension and tyres are the main things .....
AnswerID: 42671

Follow Up By: lizard - Monday, Jan 12, 2004 at 15:06

Monday, Jan 12, 2004 at 15:06
should read " .......... extend past extremeties of thicker ......."
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Follow Up By: Member - Ed. C.- Tuesday, Jan 13, 2004 at 01:01

Tuesday, Jan 13, 2004 at 01:01
Lizard,
I wasn't having a go at you, & what you say may well have some merit, however, I will stand by my earlier comments, in that in every case that I have seen where such breakages have occurred (spring hangers tearing off, & drawbars cracking, etc.), they have been welded "across" the joint, which, as Ross has pointed out, is a definite "no-no"... May "look" stronger, but is in fact considerably weaker...
(I'd be interested to know if that was in fact the case with your mates' trailer)...
I'm by no means a qualified welder (or anything else, for that matter), rather a self-taught "bush welder", but after 30-odd yrs. in agriculture, one "learns about such things" from hard experience..
I totally agree with you on the suspension, bearings, & tyres.. the suspension being the critical factor IMO...

Regards, Ed. C.Confucius say.....
"He who lie underneath automobile with tool in hand............
Not necessarily mechanic!!"
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FollowupID: 305087

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