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    Fellow Frogger! Ceenine's Avatar
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    Default C5 and caravans

    I have the opportunity to purchase a small caravan: I will be trading up so to speak, from a camper van. I have no doubts about the 2.2 litre diesel hauling it along, however the ball downforce will be somewhere between 55 and 115 kg, depending on weight distribution. I seem to recall someone from up Ballarat way making informed comment on the problems associated with exceeding the 75kg limit on the ball.

    Any input on the topic would be appreciated. B the way, the caravan has a loaded weight of 820kg or thereabouts, so it is quite small and therefore won't win the chest thrusting in the 'van park. The shell is 100% fibreglass with ply sandwich here and there.

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    You'll be fine it self levels .... The issue is if the boys in blue pull you over and check the compliance plate on the caravan and car. If the cars towbar says 75kg and the caravan says 150 ................ your in the sh!t no matter what fancy weigh distribution hitches you have!

    What does the towbar on the car state the tow limits are?

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    Why cant you load or weight the 'van behind the axle to reduce the drawbar weight to less than 75kg? I routinely do this with my boat to keep the drawbar weight at a manageable level. As far as I'm aware trailers only show tare, gross and axle weights on compliance plates as drawbar weight varies enormously.

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    Fellow Frogger! Ceenine's Avatar
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    Without getting into technicalities which often come into play at the limits, the main issues are:

    1 Keep weight of towed item balanced within its own axle parameters;and
    2 Overall weight of towed item should keep within a certain ratio of tower to towee weight.

    Over Christmas I saw a 3.0litre Land Rover Discovery which I suppose was 4700 mm long towing a 22 feet (6.5 metre) double axle caravan. The ratio didn't pass the "look" test, especially in a significant cross wind. Certainly the Disco would have had the torque to pull it with the Peugeot diesel motor but towing power is not the total consideration I would have thought. Not for me through the Adelaide Hills on the dual lane around Mt Barker with a 30 km cross wind at 110 km/hr.
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    One thing I've noticed about the tow capacities of the C5, current models, is that they reduce as you go through the various models. The V6 diesel tourer has the lowest tow rating, 1300kg iirc!

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    Quote Originally Posted by 456eec View Post
    Why cant you load or weight the 'van behind the axle to reduce the drawbar weight to less than 75kg? I routinely do this with my boat to keep the drawbar weight at a manageable level. As far as I'm aware trailers only show tare, gross and axle weights on compliance plates as drawbar weight varies enormously.
    So you've never had a rear end heavy trailer take control of your vehicle as you try to slow down? It "may" be OK with a long drawbar boat trailer, but a shorter drawbar trailer or van can have the car swaying all over the place as you try to decelerate as the rear of the trailer has this overwhelming desire to be in front - much like the cart and horse.

    A balanced load or nose heavier is easier to control.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ceenine View Post
    Without getting into technicalities which often come into play at the limits, the main issues are:

    1 Keep weight of towed item balanced within its own axle parameters;and
    2 Overall weight of towed item should keep within a certain ratio of tower to towee weight.

    Over Christmas I saw a 3.0litre Land Rover Discovery which I suppose was 4700 mm long towing a 22 feet (6.5 metre) double axle caravan. The ratio didn't pass the "look" test, especially in a significant cross wind. Certainly the Disco would have had the torque to pull it with the Peugeot diesel motor but towing power is not the total consideration I would have thought. Not for me through the Adelaide Hills on the dual lane around Mt Barker with a 30 km cross wind at 110 km/hr.
    Yeah but the land rover has a big truck like chassis. It's probably spec'd to tow 3.5 -> 4.0tons and likely several hundred kg on the drawbar. It would likely tow quite well as you would have plenty of tongue weigh if towing something big.... it probably weighs close to 3tons itself.

    I think a C5 would be a brilliant tow car .... if only they'd spec'd it to tow 2.2tons @ 220kg towbar downweight
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    ball weight is calculated on the distance between the rear wheel and the tow ball in relation to the wheel base lenght, thats why a disco can two 3500kgs it has very little rear overhange and a good long wheel base

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    Quote Originally Posted by Balki View Post
    ball weight is calculated on the distance between the rear wheel and the tow ball in relation to the wheel base lenght, thats why a disco can two 3500kgs it has very little rear overhange and a good long wheel base
    Ever looked at your CX or a DS Brilliant towcars those things
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    DS and Cx .... Chassis wise and brakes wise yes ... but not enough power. The C5 should be up on torque ( mid range on a diesel is amazing ) ... but brake pad/rotor life is already marginal ... as is the reputation of certain automatics. There is likely to be a real cost in engine mounts too as all that towing effort has to be transmitted to the car's framework somewhere.
    C5s were praised by the UK caravan press, but they probably had the advantage of manual gearboxes. I see no reason why towing should worry the C5 self levelling .. it would be the down the line stresses on the driveline and mounts that would prevent me from towing...PS the tow bar electrical connections also need to be genuine or the computer and rear distance measuring goes bananas.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fritzelhund View Post
    DS and Cx .... Chassis wise and brakes wise yes ... but not enough power. The C5 should be up on torque ( mid range on a diesel is amazing ) ... but brake pad/rotor life is already marginal ... as is the reputation of certain automatics. There is likely to be a real cost in engine mounts too as all that towing effort has to be transmitted to the car's framework somewhere.
    C5s were praised by the UK caravan press, but they probably had the advantage of manual gearboxes. I see no reason why towing should worry the C5 self levelling .. it would be the down the line stresses on the driveline and mounts that would prevent me from towing...PS the tow bar electrical connections also need to be genuine or the computer and rear distance measuring goes bananas.
    Can't say I've ever had a problem power wise towing with the stinky old CX ................................ Lets not talk fuel economy

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    Sorry Ceenine, but as Shane pointed out if the ball weight on the van's compliance plate exceeds that of the car then it's just not legal no matter how you look at it. It may be fine in practice but you risk voiding your insurance, etc etc.
    This means that you can't legally tow almost any Australian van with the majority of European, let alone French, cars.
    So now I drive a Liberty

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    Default Ball down force

    I am a lot more concerned about the safety aspects rather than insurance. I understand that there is link there somewhere.

    I would have thought that a ball weight of 90 kgs (about my weight standing on the ball) would be quite satisfactory from a handling point of view, especialy with a properly adjusted electric brake on the van (which is something we don't have on the 60 kg gross weight of our campevan).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ceenine View Post
    I am a lot more concerned about the safety aspects rather than insurance. I understand that there is link there somewhere.

    I would have thought that a ball weight of 90 kgs (about my weight standing on the ball) would be quite satisfactory from a handling point of view, especialy with a properly adjusted electric brake on the van (which is something we don't have on the 60 kg gross weight of our campevan).
    If you read up on it, the experts suggest 10% of the towed weight should be drawbar weight ................ Meaning european cars can tow .... 750kg With the CX I've just completely ignored the stupid ratings and loaded it's rear axle with whatever I felt was right ...... Likely several hundred kgs when towing a car trailer It handles it brilliantly.

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    Be careful is the one thing I will suggest. If the specs of the car say 75kg, then that is it.

    It is highly unlikely that the ball weight will be recorded on any plate unless the van is nearly new so if it is light you can use a pair of bathroom scales to weigh it. Avoid glass ones . Ensure that you weigh it using a wooden 'stand' at, or fractionally under, the same height as your tow ball.

    Avoid packing items in the caravan that are heavy towards the extremities. Check where the water tank is located - 60 litres of water rear of the axle is 60kg.

    If the ball weight of the unladen van is more than that of the tow car specs, I personally wouldn't buy it. In the event of an accident, and assuming the van is not completely destroyed, the police will piece together the van and weigh it and the ball weight. They will also add back into the van any personal belongings that were in it at the time to try and find out how it could have happened which, in turn, could mean the van was incorrectly loaded, over weight or both.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rodh View Post
    Sorry Ceenine, but as Shane pointed out if the ball weight on the van's compliance plate exceeds that of the car then it's just not legal no matter how you look at it. It may be fine in practice but you risk voiding your insurance, etc etc.
    This means that you can't legally tow almost any Australian van with the majority of European, let alone French, cars.
    So now I drive a Liberty
    I agree. These modern European cars are monocoque construction with a rear crumple zone to meet the rear collision safety tests. By-passing it and finding a bit of solid metal to fix a tow bar is a compromise and one way out, which the standards have adopted is to limit the vertical load capacity.
    After seeing the XM's written off with the deformed boot, I don't fit tow bars any more. If I need to use a trailer, I ask my neigbour who has a big Nissan 4X4 with a solid fixing. Caravans are few and far between here. The market has shifted to Campervans.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ceenine View Post
    I am a lot more concerned about the safety aspects rather than insurance. I understand that there is link there somewhere.

    I would have thought that a ball weight of 90 kgs (about my weight standing on the ball) would be quite satisfactory from a handling point of view, especialy with a properly adjusted electric brake on the van (which is something we don't have on the 60 kg gross weight of our campevan).
    Hi
    I have towed a trailer and a car trailer and a camper lots of Ks for years. I now have a C5 with a tow bar I made myself and a 16' caravan. Have not been too far in that yet unfortunately Years ago I had a R20 which I also used for the same towing, good at it also !

    If you wish to tow saftely then you could worry about all the regs, as have been explained and fear the consequences IF THE POWERS THAT BE look your way and decide to check the minuate of the law. Or you could use common sense and the wisdom of experience.

    My advice would be to set up the van with a modest ball weight approximately as you said, I always just lift it and try the weight, but some scales would be good. Keep the weight to the middle of the van and shuffle it to get it correct. Then fit a set of towing assist bars. Set the pull up on the bars to roughly ballance that weight. So the tow bar has no weight and the front wheels have it instead ! That allows a margin for the extra stuff in the car boot. This set up will tow well and the friction damps out any tendency to sway under adverse conditions. Adjust as necessay. You only need a pair of the simple "shepards crook" type of bars, not some fancy setup worth more than the van !

    Jaahn

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    Quote Originally Posted by jaahn View Post
    Hi
    I have towed a trailer and a car trailer and a camper lots of Ks for years. I now have a C5 with a tow bar I made myself and a 16' caravan. Have not been too far in that yet unfortunately Years ago I had a R20 which I also used for the same towing, good at it also !

    If you wish to tow saftely then you could worry about all the regs, as have been explained and fear the consequences IF THE POWERS THAT BE look your way and decide to check the minuate of the law. Or you could use common sense and the wisdom of experience.

    My advice would be to set up the van with a modest ball weight approximately as you said, I always just lift it and try the weight, but some scales would be good. Keep the weight to the middle of the van and shuffle it to get it correct. Then fit a set of towing assist bars. Set the pull up on the bars to roughly ballance that weight. So the tow bar has no weight and the front wheels have it instead ! That allows a margin for the extra stuff in the car boot. This set up will tow well and the friction damps out any tendency to sway under adverse conditions. Adjust as necessay. You only need a pair of the simple "shepards crook" type of bars, not some fancy setup worth more than the van !

    Jaahn
    I prefer weight on the tongue myself. We used to have one of those Viscount ultralight caravans.... There made in the same manner as European vans. The axle in the middle and barely any nose weight. It was a heap of shit to tow..... Bloody swaying scarey thing. I used to load *everything* and I mean everythinig into the doorway at the front of the van to get some nose weight there. It then towed ok. There bloody nuts over in the UK with there stupid tongue ratings. What they sell to try and make it all safe is basically a clutch device that prevents the hitch spinning (I had one for the ultralight). What you do is setup it on the hitch like a leveller, then tighten a part on it that prevents the caravan rotating on the ball. Do it up really tight, the force of the car turning will make it slip against the brake/clutch like friction material. The idea being the caravan cannot sway as it can't rotate on the ball unless the a great force acts against it (like the car trying to turn).

    Or you could get rid of the european shit and buy a proper caravan that has the axle back from centre and doesn't sway by design as it loads the vehicles towbar in a safe manner (rather than trying to meet the insane "70kg" eurpean standard for ball weight).
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    Good info, Shane and Gerry.
    I've often wondered if there were real, practical reasons why aussie vans are designed to have 10% of the total weight on the ball while the Euro's get away with closer to 5%, or was it just random bureaucratic decisions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleChevron View Post
    I prefer weight on the tongue myself. We used to have one of those Viscount ultralight caravans.... There made in the same manner as European vans. The axle in the middle and barely any nose weight. It was a heap of shit to tow..... Bloody swaying scarey thing. I used to load *everything* and I mean everythinig into the doorway at the front of the van to get some nose weight there. It then towed ok. There bloody nuts over in the UK with there stupid tongue ratings. What they sell to try and make it all safe is basically a clutch device that prevents the hitch spinning (I had one for the ultralight). What you do is setup it on the hitch like a leveller, then tighten a part on it that prevents the caravan rotating on the ball. Do it up really tight, the force of the car turning will make it slip against the brake/clutch like friction material. The idea being the caravan cannot sway as it can't rotate on the ball unless the a great force acts against it (like the car trying to turn).

    Or you could get rid of the european shit and buy a proper caravan that has the axle back from centre and doesn't sway by design as it loads the vehicles towbar in a safe manner (rather than trying to meet the insane "70kg" eurpean standard for ball weight).
    Hi

    Where to start here? ďyou could get rid of the european shitĒ
    Probably the answer to the whole towing question, if you take the sledge-hammer approach. Start with a Nissan Patrol, fit a tow hitch made of railway iron, take a 30í caravan with everything, fit extra spare wheels and a motorbike on the back, extra gas bottles and a toolbox on the front and make sure you give it plenty of ball weight. Sorry forgot the suspension upgrade for the Patrol and the turbo kit for some go. Sounds like the good olí Aussie way.


    Or
    You could take a thinking approach, buy a European bit of sh*t, select a modest caravan, set it up correctly and get more than an hour between tank fills. Your choice
    Jaahn
    PS I cut my car trailer down to a single axle 20 years ago to make it lighter and easy to handle. Only takes up to a ton and a half. Been towed by cars down to a Corolla with stabiliser bars.

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    Nothing at all wrong with lightweight .... light is great ....



    Here's a current european 'van for sale in Australia ....

    No doubt your C5 could legally tow this .... See where the axle is ..... It's a scarey swaying design waiting to roll the towcar down the road into incoming traffic.

    Same 'van, same weight if made in any other 1st world country .... the axle would be a foot further back so it wouldn't sway all over the road.... but would require a car without the standard pathetic "75kg" tongue loading of european cars. It is however legal for the C5 to tow

    As a comparison this is an aussie lightweight 'van



    Note: axle location.

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    Default Axle location ??

    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleChevron View Post
    Nothing at all wrong with lightweight .... light is great ....



    Here's a current european 'van for sale in Australia ....

    No doubt your C5 could legally tow this .... See where the axle is ..... It's a scarey swaying design waiting to roll the towcar down the road into incoming traffic.

    Same 'van, same weight if made in any other 1st world country .... the axle would be a foot further back so it wouldn't sway all over the road.... but would require a car without the standard pathetic "75kg" tongue loading of european cars. It is however legal for the C5 to tow

    As a comparison this is an aussie lightweight 'van



    Note: axle location.

    seeya,
    shane L.
    Hi
    Not having towed either of these I do not comment. However I guess Shane has done that and can say it with authority. Surely he does not condemn the whole European caravan scene just because he had a bad experience with a Vicount lightweight(made in ??)

    I thought the axle was positioned to get the balance right. If the weight is in the front, then the axle is more foward, if the weight is in the rear the axle goes back. Where is the difficulty with that. I towed a European caravan around Europe for 6 mths with no towing aids and no problem ?? I forget where the axle was positioned exactly or the ball weight, but I set the balance by adjusting the load as required to tow OK
    Jaahn

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    France has a specific problem with caravans. The autoroutes in the South and lots of lesser roads have relatively steep gradients and are exposed to a variety of winds, the sirocco, tramantane, mistral etc. These are usually cross winds on the road. The combination of gradient and cross wind makes caravan towing hazardous and they are a frequent cause of accidents in the summer. For a pretty full list of these winds and their characteristics see
    http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_des_vents_de_France

    Warning signs with special speed limits for caravans are posted on a number of viaducts and slopes for good reason. Having had my own scares in my H campervan passing or being passed by trucks in these cross winds, I would never tow a caravan on holiday down South, I would buy a serious campervan. It is interesting driving doing 80 kmh in my van against an 80 kmh wind aiming at my passenger side headlight.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaahn View Post
    Hi
    Not having towed either of these I do not comment. However I guess Shane has done that and can say it with authority. Surely he does not condemn the whole European caravan scene just because he had a bad experience with a Vicount lightweight(made in ??)

    I thought the axle was positioned to get the balance right. If the weight is in the front, then the axle is more foward, if the weight is in the rear the axle goes back. Where is the difficulty with that. I towed a European caravan around Europe for 6 mths with no towing aids and no problem ?? I forget where the axle was positioned exactly or the ball weight, but I set the balance by adjusting the load as required to tow OK
    Jaahn
    The viscount ultralight ... *is* a van like one of them. They have what is called an "ALKO" chassis. To keep the weight down what they did was fit to frail stamped out "C" section chassis memebers, all the strength is in a very thick floor, along with one of those bouncy rubber alko axles ..... It sort of "hops" along behind you. If you took a stack of towels and sat them on the bed (at the back) it'd sway all over the road, move that stack of towels forward to the front and it was fine. My uncle had one at the same time, it swayed in such a terrifying manner he worked out if they dragged the mattress off of the bed and pulled it to the front of the 'van it would then tow ok. He had fixed up the bending frail bed frame... making it slightly heavier ... which meant it could no longer be towed safely. My father been getting caravan magazines for years... a while back he showed me a letter from someone that had been towing caravans all there life ..... and went and purchased one of these european vans .... they loved it upto the day where he "lost it" for no reason when it started to sway. You NEED to use that ALKO anti-sway, clutched friction hitch if your even dreaming of towing one of these things.

    It's nothing to do with the quality of the caravan, it's to do with the way it's setup. I've spun (yes spun) my cars trailer @ 90km/h when the load of masonite moved, I can't believe no-one was killed and nothing got damaged. the masonite had all moved under the tiedowns to the back edge of the trailer, making it tail heavy ................................ It's then all over, your just along for the ride. Nothing to do with the design of the trailer or car ... it's the weight distribution.

    Having said all of that ... these caravans are being towed all over europe and don't appear to be cartwheeling down the roads ...

    seeya,
    Shane L.
    Last edited by DoubleChevron; 19th February 2013 at 09:55 AM.
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    Proper cars--
    '85 Series II CX2500 GTi Turbo I
    '63 ID19 http://www.aussiefrogs.com/forum/showthread.php?t=90325
    '72 DS21 ie 5spd pallas (last looked at ... about 15years ago)
    '78 GS1220 pallas
    '92 Range Rover Classic ... 5spd manual.

    Yay ... No Slugomatics


    Modern Junk:
    '07 Poogoe 407 HDi 6spd manual

  25. #25
    1000+ Posts gerry freed's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Lauderdale, Tasmania
    Posts
    2,888

    Default Re: C5 and caravans

    As a result of the disproportionate accident statistics involving caravans in summer and the high proportion of foreign drivers (see

    http://www.auto-evasion.com/securite/caravane.php)

    speed limits for caravans were introduced in France in 2008.

    These are 90 on autoroutes and 80 on other roads where the overall limit is 90 or 110

    Roads in France do not have to have their limits signposted. You are supposed to know them from the style of road and the nature of your vehicle

    Sent from my Transformer TF101 using aussiefrogs mobile app
    Think Global - Ride on Spheres

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