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Camping trailer

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Re: Camping trailer

Postby Dustin » 29 Aug 2016 15:46

Nice ! :thumbup:
I always say, don't work harder, work smarter :lol:

The wifey likes a caravan and I like a camper trailer, so I combined both.
I like to see over what I'm towing for some paranoid reason, so it fits the bill perfectly.
a.k.a. Datsun Dustin

View my Patrol's story here : http://patrol4x4.co.za/viewtopic.php?f=43&t=6478

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GO PATROL !!!
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Re: Camping trailer

Postby Michael » 30 Aug 2016 05:11

Impressive Peter, kan nie wag om te sien hoe hy gaan lyk as hy klaar is nie.
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Re: Camping trailer

Postby Peter Connan » 30 Aug 2016 06:03

So let's get to the crux of the matter (and also the controversial bit): the suspension. In SA, almost all camping trailers have live axles on leaf springs. These typically only have around 100mm of suspension travel.The only common alternative is the Rubax axle, which has even less travel.

The Patrol has upwards of 200mm. Typically, the ride gets uncomfortably rough only when the suspension starts bottoming out. The result is that you can be driving along fairly comfortably on a bad road, while your trailer is busy destroying itself, and you don't even realize it. I found this out the hard way a while ago when I hooked the old Venter and went down to Dwesa on the wild coast for a family holiday. At one point I clearly saw the trailer's roof filling my side mirror.

So suspension here is independent by trailing arm. Big and powerful shocks are incorporated. However, the only way I could find to keep it up within a reasonable space was by using air springs.

At first, this seems like a risky option in an off-road trailer, and you are all seeing visions of Land Rovers on car transporters, but bear with me:
1) Usually, it is the control system that fails. My control system is really simple, consisting of a tube from each air spring to an air valve (like the one in a ca's rim), with an equalizing valve teed in between the two.
2) These air springs are commonly used by modern trucks and trailers throughout africa, and failures are quite uncommon. Certainly less frequent than with leaf springs on normal trailers.
3) This brings the advantage of making it very easy to level the trailer on a less-than-flat campsite: simply equalize pressure, shove the trailer to a level position, close the equalizing valve, drop the feet, un-fold the jockey-wheel, un-hitch the car and jack up the jockey wheel.
4) It also allows a very stable sleeping platform by reducing air pressure, and possibly the ability to change ride height and attitude in difficult terrain...

The only real risk is puncturing an air bag. To prevent this, the trailing arm is of a very wide section, with a solid, impenetrable base, and there is very little room between it and the wheel. The air springs are also small and light enough to carry one as a spare, and relatively easy to replace.

The trailing arm's inner swivel point is a bush fitted inside a 10mm thick plate welded into the chassis's main cross member, right at the strongest point:
trailerBuild-24.jpg
trailerBuild-24.jpg (293.28 KiB) Viewed 304 times


The outside bush is in a strong bracket bolted to the outside of the drawbar tube:
trailerBuild-22.jpg
trailerBuild-22.jpg (216.42 KiB) Viewed 304 times


Maximum droop is 250mm:
trailerBuild-25.jpg
trailerBuild-25.jpg (275.66 KiB) Viewed 304 times


Minimum height (the spring will reduce this a little bit) is 100mm:
trailerBuild-26.jpg
trailerBuild-26.jpg (276.01 KiB) Viewed 304 times


Thus the total travel is nearly 250mm:
trailerBuild-28.jpg
trailerBuild-28.jpg (254.23 KiB) Viewed 304 times


trailerBuild-30.jpg
trailerBuild-30.jpg (276.43 KiB) Viewed 304 times


With air-spring fitted:
trailerBuild-31.jpg
trailerBuild-31.jpg (239.8 KiB) Viewed 304 times


In this view, the "control panel" is visible:
TrailerBuild-42.jpg
TrailerBuild-42.jpg (233.45 KiB) Viewed 304 times


This will be hidden inside the mudguard when it's all finished.
Mag ons ons kenniskry met lekkerkry aanhoukry.
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Re: Camping trailer

Postby IanT » 30 Aug 2016 08:21

Looking Great Peter, lots of thought gone into this :thumbup: Have you won the lotto looks expensive???
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Re: Camping trailer

Postby Wilkie » 30 Aug 2016 08:24

Great work Peter.... :thumbup: :thumbup:
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Re: Camping trailer

Postby Peter Connan » 30 Aug 2016 10:13

IanT wrote:Looking Great Peter, lots of thought gone into this :thumbup: Have you won the lotto looks expensive???


Ian, i guess it's not the cheapest way to build a trailer, but it's still going to cost a lot less than any of the camping trailers on the market when purchased new.

However, i could have bought a second-hand trailer for less.

I am still expecting to complete the project for around R45k. Of course, i am doing a huge amount of the work myself, and labour is not included in that figure at all.
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Re: Camping trailer

Postby IanT » 30 Aug 2016 10:55

Peter at least you then get exactly what you want, and not what the trailer manufactuers think you want!!!
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Re: Camping trailer

Postby Abri Hoffman » 30 Aug 2016 10:56

Mooi Piet.

Those airsprings are a bit heavy duty :wink:
At least leveling the trailer for the night will be the easiest thing on earth
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Re: Camping trailer

Postby Peter Connan » 30 Aug 2016 11:03

Ed Zachary Ian

So let's hope i actually know what i want.

Hopefully, the rolling chassis will be ready for initial road tests by next weekend.

Thanks for all the comments guys.
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Re: Camping trailer

Postby Grant » 30 Aug 2016 11:09

Hi Peter,


Great work and good choice to go the independent suspension route. I have recently upgraded to the companion 2 berth Caravan that features independent suspension and can confirm that this makes for far easier towing. Behind the Ford 3.2 lt the comfort trailer did very well but when we got the Companion I was pleasantly surprised at the ease of towing. All the concerns about a bigger heavier unit are gone and we are very happy with the caravan.


Regards and once again great work
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