The PRWIRE Press Releases https:// 2021-07-02T21:25:50Z How a Bearing Buddy Destroy Caravan Brakes 2021-07-02T21:25:50Z how-a-bearing-buddy-destroy-caravan-brakes How a Bearing Buddy Destroy Caravan Brakes Installing bearing buddies on your caravan can have unintended consequences such as destroying your braking system. A correctly adjusted brake drum should stop your rig quickly. However, some circumstances can lead to accidents. Caravan and Camper owners love to install the latest, time-saving equipment. Owners self install bearing buddies thinking they are using time-saving devices; however, the reverse can be true. The photo above is a Dexter backing plate that accommodated a 12" Electric Drum. As you can see, the bearing buddy made quite a mess of the brakes. Excess grease escaped out of the rear bearing seal into the backing plate. The magnet had been engaging the drum face but not adhering to the drum face effectively. As a result, braking is significantly reduced. Further, there is evidence the magnet surface has inconsistencies that also results in ineffective braking. Couplemate recommends not installing bearing buddies on electric brakes. This type of equipment is better suited to boat trailers and box trailers that are either disc braked or un-braked. Bearing Buddy's destroy drums brakes of any type, mechanical, hydraulic or electric. Drum brakes fail when misusing bearing protectors. An overfilled bearing cavity spills grease onto brake shoes and other equipment inside the backing plate. The most effective way to ensure your wheel bearings are in great shape is a manual inspection. Alternatively, rubber grommet dust caps can give an insight into carbon black or water contaminated grease buy, removing the rubber grommet. Upon removing the grommet, perform and inspection noting any discolourisation of the grease. Finally, inspect your bearing buddies immediately. If brake shoe contamination is evident, replace the shoes. Braking effectiveness is not improved by cleaning the brake shoes because the grease has permeated the entire shoe material. Purchase replacement dust caps here 45.2mm Standard Dust Cap 2t – Parallel Gal Australian Dust Cap 1.98″ Dexter Dust Cap 2.441″ Dexter Dust Cap Suit 2t Source: Couplemate Trailer Parts Unbalanced Caravans are Impossible to Tow Safely 2021-07-02T21:17:39Z unbalanced-caravans-are-impossible-to-tow-safely Towing a Balanced Caravan Towing a balanced caravan is a daunting task for new caravanners. It is hard to tow a caravan. We find a large number of caravanners have been advised to install load levelling devices. Load levellers or weight distribution hitches were initially believed to be the best device on the market to balance caravan connections. Installing load levellers on the drawbar was previously recommended by caravan outlets, because they were the best solution available at the time. However, I have never been a fan of load levellers. Masking problems with an unbalanced caravan and can cause a problem with excess weight being loaded onto the vehicle suspension. Drivers are often unaware of the new weight limits being loaded on the tow bar by the load levellers. As a result, the maximum towing capacity a vehicle can legally tow has been exceeded, with excess downforce or weight on the vehicles tow bar. Couplemate have recently manufactured our own tow ball scales in response to one of the most common questions we get: "How do I balance my caravan?" Our new scales measure the weight of the caravans coupling or the camper trailer coupling. Tip - carry your weight scales on board (they weigh less than 2kg) and measure the coupling head weights once every week of your trip. This measurement provides excellent information on how the dynamic balancing of your caravans affects the way you drive them. Incorrect Towing An unbalanced caravan without the right correction equipment can lead to disastrous consequences. Take for example the caravan rollover reported on 7 News Monday, 5 August 2019 5:28 pm. For more on this story, click this link. In this case, an unbalanced caravan commenced a sway event that a driver was unable to rectify. How do I balance my caravan loading weights? Balancing a caravan is not as hard as you would imagine. Measure the front and back wheel arch to the ground (write these measurements down). Measure the tow tongue height to the ground (these first two measurements are the reference points to review once you have reached point 5). Connect your caravan to the vehicle and swing up the jockey wheel. Do not engage the load levellers. Now remeasure points 1,2 and 3. Use a level on your drawbar. The bubble should be centred. It will point slightly down once the weight is shifted to the tow bar (when connected). Now your caravan drawbar is level, measure the distance between the bottom of the coupling head and the top of the tow ball tongue. The correct distance is the shank height or 12mm. (There are some variations. For example, if your height is at 25mm then installing a 2mm shackle tow ball is your solution). You may need to change your receiver bar to a drop bar or riser bar to correctly match your tow bar with your caravan. Once balanced in a level towing position, the final thing we need to balance is the coupling head weight. You will need to purchase a tow ball scale as a result of varying coupling head weights during your trip. Coupling Head Weight Balancing It's equally important to ensure you are balancing your coupling head weight correctly. Follow the instructions below to make sure you avoid uneven load: Write down the ATM from your VIN plate or alternatively take your rig over a weighbridge. Leave your trailer connected, but ensure you drive your vehicle off the scale (leaving only the caravan to be weighed). Collect your weighbridge ticket then drive home and finished the rest of the procedure. Once home, disconnect the caravan from the towing hitch. Insert the tow ball scale into the coupling. The jockey wheel should be wound down and insert the full drawbar weight onto the ball scale. Single Axle head weight is approximately between 7% - 10%. The Tandem approximate head weight is between 5% to 7%. (Please note: No lighter than recommend and no heavier than towbar manufacturer recommendations). Add scale weight to weighbridge weight to get the actual ATM. You can also multiply the ATM by the % for single or tandem axles to get your approximate coupling head weight. With the coupling head weight known you can now move weight forward to the rear of your caravan to balance your rig. Vehicle Suspension Caravan and trailer coupling head weight has a massive effect on towing and vehicle suspension. An unbalanced caravan can cause your front suspension to lift causing a light front end, subsequently reducing traction and steering. Remember, I asked you to measure the front and rear wheel arches? Once you have balanced your rig these wheel arches will be within the manufacturer's specifications. A light front end causes oncoming traffic to experience high beam rays coming from your vehicle at night. How many times have you noticed oncoming traffic using high beams and not dipping their headlights? It is likely these travellers have an unbalanced caravan that has lifted the front suspension. Finally, a light front suspension also increases the likelihood of a sway event similar to the video above. It's critical to ensure the weight of your rig is well-adjusted. Balancing Trailer and Caravan Weight Gas bottles and toolboxes add a significant amount of heavyweight to the front drawbar or A-frame area. To counterbalance these weights, many caravanners have loaded spare tyres and other heavy items onto the rear of the caravan. The very best place to store heavy equipment is over the axles or the vertical centre of gravity. Once the free space is exhausted over the axle area with heavy items, it is necessary to balance your rig front and back. Balancing a caravan is a similar concept to balancing a set of scales. However, you must follow the weight distribution rules allowing 5% - 7% of the ATM on the coupling for tandem or 7% - 10% of the ATM on the coupling for single axles Why is there a variation in percentages? Single axles have less resistance to the road surface in a sway event, therefore, more force is required on the coupling to prevent sway. The lighter end of the scale applies when your rig is empty. The upper end when your rig is full of water, food, and essentials. Tandem axles have more resistance to the road surface than single axle caravans. As a result, they are more resistant to sway at the same speeds and loading, than similar rigs in a single axle configuration. Electronic Sway Controllers Even with a perfectly balanced caravan, unforeseen events can occur resulting in disasters. Take a kangaroo jumping out in front of your vehicle, while highway towing. A balanced caravan is perfect in normal driving conditions. However, electronic sway control will straighten your rig in an instant during potential unexpected events. BMPRO sway control overrides your brake controller in a sway event. This is done by applying power directly from the battery to left or right side where necessary. Sway events will result in the caravan or camper trailer braking directly in the line of travel. It will also cause the tow vehicle to decelerate. Once the sway event has finished, the sway controller returns to its normal monitoring position. Source: Couplemate Trailer Parts Australian Made Campaign Drives Exposure and Sales 2021-06-05T05:58:41Z australian-made-campaign-drives-exposure-and-sales Couplemate Joins the Australian Made Campaign A simple idea can easily turn into a great product or a successful business direction. This was Couplemate™’s sentiment towards the Australian Made Campaign when we joined in 2016. Our Company commenced an import replacement program, as we believed there was a future for Australian made trailer parts products. We aimed to support local economies and the local supply chain.   Couplemate's Head Technician manufacturing our Australian Made Stainless Steel Pistons[/caption]Unfortunately, during the first few years of our campaign, our Australian made products received a mediocre response from the market, despite the team's vigorous attempts to lift uptake in our new Australian made range. During the second half of the 20th century, Australian manufacturers began scaling down domestic operations and imported their goods from international suppliers. We witnessed local tooling for cast and forged products discarded as Australian manufacturers increased their dependency on imported products. The investment required to manufacture a single product can be upwards of $100,000, hence the reason why many wholesale buyers looked for an overseas solution. Currently, Couplemate™ have more than 50 Australian made products all presented to the Australian market by our desire to re-introduce Australian Made products to our industry. Then the Moment in Time Happened - COVID-19 By June 2020, COVID-19 was a serious part of our community in Australia. However, despite this concerning virus, momentum was building for Australian made products, and public demand to buy Australian caravans and camper trailers skyrocketed. Our Australian Made campaign was now receiving significant traction. We witnessed sales on our Australian made range beginning to climb with the demand for locally supplied and manufactured goods increasing. Concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on Australia’s regional towns, the Couplemate™’s founders decided to travel throughout the regional and coastal communities of Queensland to see for themselves how COVID-19 was impacting our communities. It was encouraging to witness hard-working Australian families providing essential services to travellers and seeing local communities bustling. The internationally recognised green and gold Australian Made Campaign Limited logo was integrated into Couplemate™’s promotional material across all Australian-made products. The impact of its inclusion was immediate, and our customers recognised the significance of the logo. “The famous Australian Made, Australian Grown (AMAG) logo is the true mark of Aussie authenticity. It's Australia's most trusted, recognised and widely used country of origin symbol, and is underpinned by a third-party accreditation system, which ensures products that carry the Australian Made logo are certified as 'genuinely Australian'.” – Australian Made  The use of this iconic logo and the company’s involvement in the Australian Made campaign also provides an immense sense of pride and job satisfaction to all our employees – representing the support of Australian families, businesses and the positive impact creating local jobs has on our economy. The opportunity to increase the workforce of others through our purchasing support flows through to our procurement policies. Preferred supplier status is granted to companies supporting the Australian Made campaign within our industry. Looking to the Future A question was put to the owner by senior management recently, “Will Australian buyers return to their normal purchasing habits once Covid-19 is finished and international travel resumes”?   Couplemate's engineer designing and testing innovative new products.Concern was apparent that demand for Australian made products and thus, the Australian Made Campaign may decline again. History tells us everything has a habit of returning to its natural state, and competition demands prices will work their way down to the point of equilibrium. However, we remain optimistic that local working relationships established over the past 18 months will survive the downward spiral of Australian manufacturers reverting to imported overseas products. Our past investments will continue to produce quality, locally manufactured products. While further investment in technology, machinery and upskilling, our people will help provide an incentive for buyers to continue purchasing locally manufactured products. The answer to management’s question could be considered ambiguous, or perhaps philosophical, contemplating the potential that we may see demand for Australian made products decrease at some future time. However, Couplemate™’s path, as best we can, will remain steadfast. Continuing to diversify the range of Australian-made products we manufacture offers extended product development opportunities while also supporting local jobs and the Australian economy. Ultimately, Couplemate™ intends to remain leading the manufacturing industry in the caravanning, boating and recreational trailer industry, finding new opportunities and bringing to market the brilliance of Australian innovation from our team of experts. Finally, if you wish to check out our range of Australian products, they can be found on our online shop in the Australian Made category. Thank you,Steve Wotherspoon Dangerous Breakaway Lanyards Render Safety Braking Systems Ineffective 2021-06-05T05:56:06Z dangerous-breakway-lanyard-render-safety-braking-systems-ineffective Lanyard Breakaway Switch Safety Alert Lanyard breakaway switch general owner inspection alert for Caravans and trailers over 2000kg only. Safety switch lanyards are approximately 120cm long whilst safety chains are 64cm long. Surprisingly, most breakaway lanyards are installed incorrectly, making it impossible to disengage the breakaway pin, as intended. Do manufacturers perfectly matches breakaway lanyards with safety chains? A quick check of your caravan breakaway lanyard may shock you. How the lanyard supposed to work When the pin is pulled, safety chains have just past the full extension of the safety chains.  Further, this test is efficiently completed by attaching your chains to the tow bar and push your rig backwards. Was your test successful? Brakes not Engaged In extreme circumstances, electric brakes are not engaged when the caravan or trailer becomes detached from the tow vehicle. The minimum period for an electric brake system to engage whilst the safety chains are attached is 15 minutes. Couplemate recommends the following inspections by owners and inspection stations. Firstly, check the lanyard is shorter than the caravan safety chains. Secondly, ensure breakaway switches are affected by water ingress, thereby causing failure when the pin is detached. Thirdly, pull the pin on your breakaway before every journey to test the current flow to the electric brakes. You should hear your magnets engage. Electric brake magnets make an audible sound when engaging. As a result of not hearing your magnets engage, take your rig to your service centre for investigation. CM702-Breakaway Instruction-Sheet Towing Regulations ADR62 0.1.1 This Standard is the Vehicle Standard (Australian Design Rule 62/02 – Mechanical Connections Between Vehicles) 2007. SCOPE The function of this vehicle standard is to specify requirements for devices for mechanical connections between vehicles and their fitment, in order to ensure positive mechanical engagement for vehicle combinations and to prohibit the opening or disengaging of devices under the action of any forces to which they may be subject to during normal use. Note: The Scope covers couplings as the connection method between vehicles. 14.4.                                 ‘Drawbars’ – Safety Chain Attachment Points 14.4.1.                          Any safety chain attachment point affixing a safety chain to a ‘Drawbar’ must be located as near as practicable to the ‘Coupling’. Where two points of attachment are required they must be mounted one on either side of the centreline of the ‘Drawbar’. This section refers to safety chains as an attachment, as opposed to a connection.  Lanyard Coil Breakaway Switches We recommend coil breakaway switches be adjusted correctly. Although they appear high tech, this type of connection cannot be adjusted to pull the breakaway pin in an emergency. For example, with the chains at full stretch in an emergency situation, this type of coil lanyard cannot be pulled, therefore, cannot engage trailer brakes. Lanyards must be installed correctly and checked at every service by a caravan dealer. Breakaway Pins Breakaway pins are subject to UV degradation. Replace the breakaway switch once the pin brakes due to age. Copper Contacts Install breakaway switches facing forward for the pin to be pulled forcefully during detachment. Inspect the inside of the switch contacts for signs of dirt that causes failure during testing. A breakaway switch with a rubber boot cover can be purchased here. A breakaway switch may have to delivery 12.8 Amps to four magnets on a tandem rig. If the contacts are dirty, excessive heat is in the cable. Lanyard Breakaway Test Failure With the chains connected and the jockey wheel on the ground, push the caravan so that the safety chains are at full stretch. If the pin fails to pull, measure the slack lanyard and shorten it. If the breakaway switch fails after being pulled, we recommend switch replacement and be sure to include a rubber boot to help prevent future water ingress. Conclusion Notably, breakaway switches are designed to engage electric brakes if the trailer or caravan becomes detached. During excessive sway, caravans can become dislodged. When the pin is pulled, the electric brakes are immediately engaged, thereby stopped the sway and braking the caravan to a stop. Noted: One interpretation in defence of the coil lanyard is during decoupling of the coupling and safety chain the brakes engage which in turn satisfies the ADR.  Love to hear your comments below © Steve Wotherspoon 2th January 2018 Rules and Regulations for Caravan Dee Shackles and Safety Chains 2021-05-08T05:10:16Z rules-and-regulations-for-dee-shackles-and-safety-chains Shackles and Safety Chains There can be a lot of misleading information out there when towing a caravan or trailer safely. One of the key components of safe towing is ensuring your van is secured correctly by safety chains if the worst was to occur. Couplemate discusses some of the critical facts you should know about safety chains on trailers and debunks some of the myths discussed around the campfire about shackles and safety chain connections. Some of the most common questions we get asked about safety chains involve their rating and the ability to extend them. Below are a few facts and some campfire myths debunked, complete with references to the Australian regulations. Dee or Bow shackles must be compatible with a rated chain. Therefore the safety chain must be stamped with a rating. Police or safety inspectors ask you to prove the Dee Shackle is compatible with the safety chain. How do you do that? Make sure you refer to the regulations linked here. Further, all shackles, hammerlocks, and safety chains ratings can be verified with a Certificate of Conformity that should be accessed through the product's manufacturer if required.   (CI-119C, Page 2, para 3). Each Chain must be sized such that the minimum breaking load exceeds the ATM. (VSB1 Page 27, para 4). Every 4 links of the safety chain must be stamped. (CI-119C, Page 1, para 8). The Break Load Limit of the shackle must be 1.5 tonnes greater than the ATM. (CI-119C, Page 3). The existing unstamped safety chain need not be replaced on older trailers. (CI-119C, Page 3). One of the most common questions we are asked is, "Can I legally use a hammerlock or another dee shackle to extend my safety chain?" Hammerlocks can be used to extend the safety chain legally. However, it is important to note that a Dee Shackle cannot be used in this application - only one Dee Shackle per safety chain is allowed. Another common question is, "What is the difference between a Dee Shackle and a Bow Shackle?"Dee Shackles and Bow Shackles are very similar in application, and the primary difference is in their shape design, as you can see in the ges . Rated Bow Shackles are accepted to use in place of a Dee Shackle. It is important to note: Unstamped Bow Shackles, Dee shackles and Hammerlocks are not compatible with Australian standards. [embed][/embed] We have also had a few comments questioning the legality of rated safety shackles being a requirement under the law. Please see more information below: ADR 62/0214.3.1.3. For trailers over 3.5 tonnes ‘ATM’, the chain must be made from steel of a minimum 800 MPa breaking stress, conform to the mechanical properties of Grade T chain. Specified in Australian Standard AS 2321 - 2001 Short Link Chain for Lifting Purposes and must be of a size such that the minimum breaking load exceeds the ‘ATM’. The last six words in this clause require Rated or Stamped Dee Shackles. You must be able to prove your chain complies with your rated ATM. If you need some help to select the correct size dee shackle - read this link. Safety Chain Attachments for Aluminium Trailers Safety chain can be legally attached to an aluminium trailer chassis via Couplemate safety chain holders. The legal requirement is for the chain holder to be welded. The plate holding the safety chain holder is then bolted to the chassis rail. Previously, the chain was attached via a bolt passing through the chassis rail and safety chain co-jointly. Truth vs. Myth You only need one safety chain attachment points for trailers up to 2.5t. Over 2.5t, two safety chains must be used.Fact: This is true You need a 'coloured pin,' i.e. yellow or red, rated shackle to comply with various state rules.Myth: Trailer safety chains must be rated at or above the ATM of the trailer. Shackles must be marked or stamped with dee shackles that must be rated to the appropriate capacity of the chain.Both: The chain and shackle must be stamped with a rating. Shackles need not be coloured. Chains can be welded in any position on the drawbar.Myth: Drawbar safety chain attachment points should not come into contact with the road surface. When the trailer is disconnected or detached from the vehicle. Rated Dee Shackles can be used on trailers up to 4.5t.Myth: Dee Shackles or Bow Shackles are used to attach the safety chain to chain holders. Alternatively, ½ of the chain link can be welded to the trailer chassis up to 3.5t provided the mounting position does not cause the chain to come in contact with the ground when disconnected or detached. Trailers over 3.5t must use chain holders with Grade 80 safety chain attached. Download the safety chain rules. Click here to download the Information sheet from the VSB1 Department of Transport Canberra. Key Points for chain attachment. Up to 2.5t trailers and caravans require one rated safety chain that can be welded or fixed to a chassis rail by an approved and rated hammerlock or similar device. 2.5t up to 3.5t trailers and caravans must have two safety chains that can be welded or fixed to a chassis rail by an approved and rated hammerlock or similar device. 3.5t to 7.2t safety chains must be Grade 80 and attached to the trailer and towbar using a high tensile 4140 pin. Important notes: One safety chain attachment point required on a trailer up to 2.5t - VSB1. Two Chains required on a trailer over 2.5t - VSB1. Galvanised Chain is illegal over 3.5t. The safety chains must be crossed under the tow bar receiver when attached to the tow bar. Each chain must be sized such that the minimum breaking load exceeds the ATM. The working load is stamped on the chain or shackle. - VsB1. Breaking load is the working load x 6.  - WA CI119C. Drawbar safety chain attachments should not come into contact with the road surface when the trailer is disconnected. - VSB1. Chains must be permanently attached to the trailer; shackles are not permitted for trailers over 3.5t. QLD AIS 12(a). Rated Shackles approved as tow bar attachments over 3.5t, provided breaking load 1.5 times ATM - WA CI119C. Rated Shackles are illegal to be used as attachments on trailers over 3.5t - WA CI119C. Stainless Steel Shackles are not permitted - WA CI119C. Safety chain attachment points of both the trailer and tow vehicle must be as near as possible to the coupling. QLD AIS 12(a). Herc-Alloy 800 is the required chain for all trailers over 3.5t. (usually a coloured chain) QLD AIS 12(a). Safety Chain attachment points - QLD AIS 12(a) Each chain attachment point must be capable of withstanding the following minimum forces without incurring either residual deformation that would interfere or degrade the function of the assembly or any breaks, cracks or separation of components: Longitudinal tension and compression (N) 1.5 x 9.81 x ATM (in kg) Vertical Tension and compression (N) 0.5 x 9.81 x ATM (in kg) Furthermore, the tow bar attachment point on trailers under 3.5t is rated at 1/2 the rating of the tow bar. Therefore when upgrading over 3.5t, each attachment point must be upgraded to accommodate the full ATM. Finally, trailers over 2000kgs are legally required to have a break-away system. Read more information here about important safety switch lanyard alerts. Dee Shackles and Safety Chains How Loose Axle U-bolts cause Highway Havoc 2021-05-04T10:38:59Z loose-axle-u-bolts-cause-highway-havoc Loose Axle U-bolts cause highway havoc for unsuspecting caravaners. The reality of not checking your rig before heading on your family holiday can quickly become a nightmare. An unsuspecting driver forgot to re-tighten u-bolts after the first 300 kilometres from new comes to grief. The axle in the photo is a heavy-duty 50mm square, Australia made axle with 12" electric backing plates and Alko drums.  All of the equipment is first class, no problems here. The equipment on the trailer was nearing its total capacity of 4.5t, so this is quite a severe accident. The cause of the accident was found to be loose u-bolts. Notice the u-bolt axle clamp still intact on the right-hand side of the trailer? The leaf spring has broken; however, some portion of the spring should be retained by u-bolt clamp. The left side of this axle is severely damaged. The u-bolts have become so loose the axle has moved back, possible under shock loading and become detached from the u-bolt clamping system. The axle had then rattled around inside the spring camber area until it had broken the spring and bent the axle when it exited the trailer undercarriage. Question: I have read everything, is there anything to need to buy, what are you selling? Answer: Nothing to buy, you only need to tighten your nuts :-) U-bolts and Australian Standards for Caravans Currently, I am unaware of any Australian Standard for the u-bolts used in the caravan or trailer industry. A problem is created when dealers and customers ask for torque settings. It also creates issues removing the hydrogen embrittlement that often causes u-bolts to bend or break easily. The standard u-bolt used in the industry is SS400 grade steel coupled with a 1/2" BSW thread. Although higher tensile steels are available, the industry is unmoved by demanding a better standard of clamping axle and spring to the caravan chassis. Couplemate is currently investigating and testing higher grade steels for use within the caravan industry that does not require re-tightening at the 1st service. It is essential chassis components are designed to be world-class. Couplemate will continue R&D on this issue. Manufactures of note, including Al-ko and Couplemate, specify torque settings for caravan and trailer u-bolts. Typical sizes of u-bolts and their ratings are: 1/2" BSW - up to 1500kg per axle 5/8" BSW - up to 2250kg per axle 5/8" UNF High Tensile - over 2250kg Cutting U-Bolts It is often the case that buyers of u-bolts do not measure or take a sample of a u-bolt to their trailer shop when purchasing new u-bolts. This procedure sounds straight forward; however, the nylon inside the nylock will melt when given enough heat. The melted plastic inside nylock will cause the nut to unwind on the highway. The fix is to measure the u-bolt and cut it before installation. An ounce of care is worth a tonne of cure.    Couplemate U-Bolt Testing 0We all agree this is a pretty scary event that has a simple solution. Couplemate u-bolts have been tested to rupture at 23t, evidenced by the photo from our testing laboratory. The test was undertaken with a 200t press utilising a 50mm square K1045 axle section. We estimated the forces need to bend this axle when exiting the undercarriage were more than 23t. Under close inspection and upon talking to the customer, it can be seen the axle has done a few kilometres on the road. However, the u-bolts were never tightened as is recommended on all trailer construction. This is especially true when carrying heavy loads. Yes indeed, loose axle U-bolts cause highway havoc. The image below was taken when I was checking my boat trailer for the first time in many years. It surprised me the nuts on my boat trailer were re-tightened by 1/2 turn. Retightened U-bolts gave me peace of mind for the entire trip. I encourage you to check the tightness of your u-bolts with a socket today before you forget. Loose u-bolts are one of the most underrated issues in the Caravan and Camper industry. Check yours and see if I am right? Did your mechanic check them on your last service? Did you ask him to check the u-bolts? Why U-bolts may be the Major Cause of Accidents Finally, if you found this article helpful, I invite you to leave a comment at the bottom of the page. Retightening U-bolts gave me peace of mind for the entire trip.[/caption]Loose Axle U-bolts cause Highway Havoc Why Caravan and Boat Bearings Fail 2021-04-16T07:24:23Z why-caravan-bearings-and-boat-bearing-fail Caravan Bearings and Boat Trailer Bearings Caravan bearings and boat trailer bearings are a combative issue, especially when they fail. Seeing a wheel off a caravan on my way home has triggered this article. I would appreciate it if you could share this with your mates as many folks forget to do bearing checks. The premature bearing failure caused a wheel to come off and roll into inbound traffic with truly nasty outcomes. What are the signs of a failing bearing? Carbon black is produced when the casting or lining of the bearing is worn. Carbon black mixes with grease and looks like squid ink, black as. This bearing requires immediate replacement and is in imminent danger of complete failure. Carbon black cannot be inspected using Bearing Buddy or standard dust caps. These products must be removed to check grease. Bearing Buddies can cause improper lubrication, reduce bearing service life and cause bearing damage. Are the rubber grommet dust caps the answer? Couplemate rubber grommet insert dust caps allow a visual grease inspection without removing the dust cap. Another sign of a failing bearing is brown grease caused by water ingress. Water will enter the bearing cavity when a hot hub is immersed in cold water. The contracting air within the hub sucks water into the hub through the rear bearing seal. This results in early failure when the wheel bearings collapse. Water ingress is impossible to eliminate, but it can be controlled if boaters wait at the ramp and complete a safety inspection before dunking hot hubs into cold water. This video will greatly help you understand how to grease bearings. [embed][/embed] Surprising, it is not the smaller outer bearing that fails. The larger inner bearing is the load carrying bearing and always the first bearing destroyed. First, to check the bearings, remove the nuts and remove the wheel, then the bearing dust cover, then split pin and outer washer finally remove the brake drum, hub or disc rotor and inspect the bearings. Note: Bearing Buddies do not stop bearing failure. Here is a little-known tip When replacing bearings, give your axle profile a good clean. If you see a brown or coloured mark where the bearing sits, then it is time to replace your axle. This bearing journal is worn beyond further use; replacing bearings on this journal will only increase the bearing replacement cycle. A good axle will produce great mileage. Installing bad quality bearings causes wear and tear on your axle. When replacing Chinese bearings with Japanese bearing for the first time, make a note or take a photo of your clean bearing journal. Save the photo using the date of the photo. Bearings causing heat Danger, danger................ When towing, I religiously touch the outer hub of my wheel to check for heat. Hubs must not be too hot to touch; otherwise, you will soon lose a wheel. Heat is caused by wear and tear of your bearings or a loose axle profile, causing your bearings to spin and create heat. The axle profile is the contact surfaces were the bearings connect to the axle. No amount of adjustment is going to stop your bearings from overheating if your axle is cooked. Other reasons caravan bearings fail prematurely? Finally, the lack of high temperature bearing grease will cause failure as the operating temperature rises, low-temperature grease melts. Melted grease does not return to its former state. © Steve Wotherspoon 26th January 2017 50mm Cast Tow Bar Receiver - now Australian Made 2021-04-10T10:35:31Z 50mm-cast-tow-bar-receiver-now-australian-made 50mm Cast Tow Bar Receiver Couplemate's 50mm cast tow bar receiver is Made in Australia for Australian conditions. Covid-19 has provided an ideal environment to enhance Australian Made parts produced by Couplemate. Many Australian companies have experienced unusual extended production times from overseas manufacturers. Delays in shipping have frustrated many Australian companies importing goods for sale within Australia. Further, many customers were inverting the receiver arm in an effort to gain height. Inconsistent welding of this important product often caused breakages or separation between the tongue and the box section. As a result, we concluded that fabricated receiver bars could cause an unsafe situation in some circumstances. The main image above shows 1/2 of a receiver casting die. Yes, it is quite expensive to produce goods in Australia. We think Australian jobs are worth the expense. Receiver Design The tow bar receiver is also known as a hitch. In Australia, hitches are designed to withstand static loads according to the tow bar rating. Fabricated hitches may pass stratic tests in both a normal and inverted position. As a result, cast hitches are used in an inverted position even allowing for shock loading events. Given the opportunity for human error in fabrication, Couplemate decided to manufacture a cast model to build in an extra safety factor. Shock loading events up to 3 times the coupling loading places extreme forces onto fabricated hitches. The robotic welding looks strong enough at first glance. However, changes in ambient temperature and humidity must be compensated by the operator. In many cases, this does not occur, because the operator is untrained. Further, no batch testing or product testing exists on many imported products. Australian Made New Australian made products start on the drawing board. You can image from the tooling profile above, design and tooling for new products are easy. In fact, it is quite difficult. The first batch saw a tooling change that imprinted useful customer information into the casting die. The first hitch Couplemate produced was a 50mm drop model. The 100mm drop model is currently in production. Thes model suit a standard 50mm Australian towball. Further, also in the product are 70mm towball models that suit 50mm and 100mm drop. These Australian products replace products that were previously imported. Find further information on cast towbar hitches below 50mm Cast Tow Bar Receiver – Australian Made 70mm Towbar Receiver Hitch Kits What Deals are on offer? Couplemate offers deals to resellers and occasionally to retail buyers. Contact the Company for wholesale quantity buy prices.   The Best Caravan and Trailer Spring Upgrade Choices 2021-03-16T10:54:35Z the-best-caravan-and-trailer-spring-upgrade-choices Caravan Trailer Spring Choices Caravan spring and boat trailer choices help prevent holiday accidents. I hope this helps you when making your trailer spring selection. Yes, these matters are essential, and you will need professional help unless you happen to be an engineer or a tradesperson who understand a little basic engineering. Will your car will stop your caravan in an emergency? The information below may seem challenging to read but keep coming back to it as it is a good reference point for learning later. When in doubt, call our sales team on 0733483822, Bruce, Mike or Christopher. We will be happy to discuss how you can make your rig safe and secure for the next big trip. We recommend getting a weighbridge certificate so we can give you the correct information. Weighbridge Certificate The best place to start caravan upgrade work is with a weighbridge certificate. This certificate allows you to select the following components correctly. Springs Axles Coupling Tyres - gives you the correct information about the right tyre pressure. You will also need a tow ball scale so you can add the tow ball weight to your weighbridge certificate. Rocker Roller Springs Rocker roller springs would be the most commonly used caravan springs on trailers today. However, foresight must be used to select your spring size correctly. Select a spring capacity of about 10% over your weighbridge certificate. Planning for the future and shock-loading conditions will help you significantly avoid disasters. There are many rocker roller springs on the market, so let's look at the best of them. The spring on the right uses the second leaf as a wrap. This wrap restricts the expansion of leaf #1 under extreme loading conditions. Leaf #3 is located 80mm from the eye and support loads 80mm from the eye. Note: This is the breakage point, so the 3rd spring must be installed in this position. Leaf #4 is located 100mm from the eye and supports leaf #3. If your leaves are further apart, we recommend selecting another brand of spring. Al-ko or Couplemate. The Roller End of the spring has leaf #3 directly under the roller and 100mm from the end of the spring. Leaf #3 is the most important of the spring set because it is the foundation of the suspension's load capacity. Axle loadings Trailer springs are rated according to maximum axle loadings. Axle loadings are 750kg - 39mm Round LM bearings 1000kg - 40mm Square LM bearings 1450kg - 45mm Round slimline bearings 1450kg - 45mm Square slimline bearings 1600kg - 45mm Square Parallel bearings 2250kg Square depending on bearings used The lowest common denominator calculates caravans and trailers weight ratings. It is the bearings used that determine axle rating. Upgrade your caravan spring but do not exceed your axle capacity. Exceeding Axle Capacity Let's say you choose to put six-leaf shackle springs (1500kg) on a 39mm Round Axle. Yes, they fit but are not suitable to carry your desired load. Although this axle can carry the weight short-term, your caravan springs will flex, causing premature ageing and failure. Your axle will also snap under stress loading due to vibration fatigue. Premature Ageing and Failure Now you have assembled your 1500kg springs onto your 39mm Round Axle and loaded your trailer ready for that trip to Cape York. Now run a straight edge across that axle. See the gap between the straight edge and the axle in the middle of the beam? If the gap is more substantial than 5mm, you are in trouble, and your entire rig will fail. The axle will wobble up the highway, creating reverberations to your springs. The stresses, if not dampened, are going to your springs from your axle and causing premature ageing. These stresses affect your bearings, resulting in extreme bearing wear. Now hit a pothole on the shoulder of the road, and your outer bearing snaps. So let's go back to square one and do it right. Talk to the experts at Couplemate. How to fix Dangerous Caravan Vibration Fatigue Caravan Spring or Axle upgrade 2200mm x 45mm Square Parallel Axle If you upgrade more than your axle rating without checking your components attached to the axle, then a problem can occur. Let's go through a few things you need to remember. Correct axle selection will save you money on bearings, springs and other running costs. Problems occur when your fully loaded caravan is almost the same capacity as your maximum carry load. If you are over your maximum carrying load limit, you are at the stage of an axle and brake upgrade. Fishplates Small springs may have 6mm fish plates, so upgrade those to 8mm. Off-Road springs have 10mm fishplates.  Take care when tightening U-bolts, too much tension on one side may cause spring breakage. It would be best if you tightened the u-bolts coming through your fish-plate evenly. Uneven tightening will cause your spring to crack and eventually break in the middle. U-bolts U-bolts will be tight when you first install them. However, they are known to stretch after 500 km. Please give them a re-tighten. We recommend and use nylock nuts on all of our u-bolts. Couplemate Trailer Parts supply the only know rated u-bolt on the Australian market. Due to known failures in u-bolts manufactured in various countries, Couplemate batch tests every shipment. U-bolt failure is commonly known as hydrogen embrittlement and is caused by bending the u-bolt. We remove this stress by further baking u-bolts in ovens after the bending process. The breaking capacity of Couplemate u-bolts are 1/2 inch - 17 tonne 16mm Heavy Duty U Bolts So not all u-bolts are the same, nor should you rely on the cheapest u-bolt being the best quality for you. Couplemate u-bolts are premium and, as such, are tested and guaranteed. You may pay a few cents more. However, you can be sure that your u-bolts have been well designed, tried and tested long before your purchase. Make sure your U-bolts holding your springs have not rusted and are tight. Loose U-Bolts have been known to break your springs. It is widespread for springs to rust in between the leaf. If you are dipping non galvanised springs in saltwater, you will get 4 - 5 years of life out of your springs. Trailer Spring Choices Spring loading capacity must be known when you purchase your springs, so look at your axle size first. Note: Not all springs are the same; choose a good brand spring. If your dealer cannot tell you the spring capacity, please walk out of the shop. The loaded spring rating is the first test of competence. If your trailer total weight is 800kg, and you have a 45mm axle, please do not put six-leaf springs in because it is over-kill. Your trailer will bounce down the highway. Try and match your average loads exactly with your spring setup to ensure trouble-free trailering. Better to have the right springs on a heavier axle. Eye to eye springs is common for campers, tandems, box trailers and some caravans. Off-road springs are heavier again and are suited to campers. Why? Because Caravan and Camper springs are 60mm wide as opposed to 45mm for standard spring setup. 60mm springs are more durable and can handle extreme loads of tandem trailers when cornering. Slipper springs are standard on boat and Jet Ski trailers. If you are going into some large suspension spring systems, go for off-road or rocker roller type suspension systems. Rocker Roller spring systems give a better ride than standard tandem suspension system. Should I put my springs on top of my axle to gain extra lift? Here are examples of what not to do. 39mm Axle (750kg) with four left slipper springs (800kg). This system is ok, but often it is tempting to put six-leaf springs (1300kg) on this axle, thinking it is also OK. Unfortunately, you will break many sets of slippers in 12 months. Why? Because a lot of axle flexing occurs when axles are overloaded. This flex causes rapid deterioration of the springs, and they are breaking due to fatigue. Upgrade your axle to a 40mm Square or 45mm Round Axle, which will cost you about $80. Another bloke wanted six stud Landcruiser hubs on his boat with a 39mm axle. Same problem, broken springs. You need to de-rate axles and springs by 20% when using six stud Landcruiser hubs because of the bigger wheel, more weight and more pressure on the axle setup. Again he needs to upgrade his axle. Another bloke had a 50mm Round Axle with a 4.2mtr boat and wanted six-leaf springs. It seems OK, but the boat was too light for this oversized setup, which would have resulted in it skipping through corners and bouncing down the highway. Don't sandblast springs. Measure the width of the spring at the spring centre bolt. If the width has grown on either side of the spring centre bolt, then your spring has cancer and needs to be replaced. Do not put slipper springs on your camper. Under extreme conditions, the slipper springs can dislodge themselves from it a rear hanger. Campers, especially off-road campers, use eye to eye springs. Campers with slipper springs are restricted to on-road use for problem-free motoring. Camper Trailer Spring Choices Off-road campers usually take a pounding in comparison to their bitumen only cousins. Off-road outback rebound springs are a must with 5/8" U-Bolts. 1/2" U-Bolts are typically installed on all trailers, but you need the larger U-Bolts when you are trying to kill your suspension in rugged country. Outback springs are 60mm Wide and cater for a fair whack due to twisting and turning in all sorts of terrain. Standard 45mm springs are going to give you trouble sooner or later. Axle width should be no less than 45mm Round or 45mm Square. Brake your trailer with either electric off-road or disc override rotors. Off-road electrics are the preferred favourite over standard electric brakes. Standard brakes cannot handle the dust and heat associated with off-road warriors but are commonly used by bitumen dwellers. There is also an issue with magnet rattle; Electric Brake Magnets. Tandem Springs Question: Where do I locate the middle hanger bracket? Answer: The rule of thumb is to measure the box length of your chassis. 1 inch to 2 feet of the length is the distance from the centre to the back of the trailer where the centre rocker is hung. Boat trailers are heavier in the rear than a camper, so the rule varies a little. The best tandem springs can be purchased here. For example, if the measurement is 12', then  12/2 = 6 inches back of the centre. © Steve Wotherspoon 17th March 2016 Caravan Electric Brakes and Magnets Problems Deconstructed 2021-03-08T03:38:45Z caravan-electric-brakes-and-magnets-problems-deconstructed Couplemate Caravan Electric Brakes and Magnets made Simple Caravan electric drum brakes, magnets and optimising electrical connection methods is a trendy topic. Key points Check magnet arm for wear. Loose on magnet arm post. Pull the breakaway pin and measure the voltage at all magnets If less than 12v recharge breakaway or upsize cabling to magnets. Check for magnet wear inside the drum. The surface should be smooth. Install offroad magnets if magnet arms are worn. Measure lanyard pulls pin when chains are fully stretched. Easier to replace the whole backing plate than replace parts. Dexter offroad electric brakes are now available. You may be surprised, that even auto electricians get caravan and camper trailer electric brakes wrong at times. If there is a problem with electric brake magnets, the answer is likely to be in the information below. If you find a solution, please leave me a review comment below. [caption id="attachment_45148" align="alignright" width="300"] 12-inch Offroad Electric Brake Magnet - Click the Image[/caption]How to identify an electric magnet Green cable leads identify a 10" electric magnet. White cable leads identify a 12" electric magnet. Electric brakes are a legal requirement for all trailers over 2000kg ATM. Hydraulic disc brakes controlled by an electric brake controller are also acceptable. A centre cross in the middle of the magnet identifies a standard electric magnet. This type of magnet has copper 3mm green leads. The 3mm refers to the copper cross-sectional area. A 3mm external cable is used to join the tiny copper inside the bobbin or casing of the magnet. To reduce voltage drop on cable runs to your brakes, select 5mm cable if your cable run is less than 6 meters. The gross trailer mass of your rig is the weight on the wheels when connected to your tow vehicle. Tandem axle brakes over 2000kg ATM require electrically activated brakes on both axles. Cable Selection When selecting cable to wire your Caravan braking system, you need 5mm when running cable approx 6 meters or if you are using an automotive type cable, use 10m or larger. Check this and insert 6.4 amps for two magnets and 6 meters of cable. Click here for correct cable sizing. Finally, do not wire across the axle as this method requires more copper and creates copper losses and therefore, more voltage loss. Wire the cable down inside each chassis rail. Drill a hole near the magnet tails then exit the frame rail, with the supply cable. Alternatively, if cabling is wired across the axle, increase the size of this cable to reduce voltage loss. If not wired correctly, the magnet at the end of the line will not brake correctly. Al-ko Off-road Caravan Magnet Upgrades Off-road magnets are essential when travelling on corrugated roads. There is no retaining clip to hold magnets on to the magnet arm. Al-ko recommends using a rubber band to temporarily retain the magnet into position until the 1st instance of braking releases the rubber band. Consider a magnet upgrade before your trip to save you the expense of brake failure on your outback trip. A few other spare parts like bearings, grease, white spirits to clean parts and a few extra wheel nuts are always handy spares. Why dirt roads destroy standard electric magnets, click here. [caption id="attachment_11037" align="alignright" width="300"] Tekonsha Primus IQ Brake Controller - Click the image[/caption]Caravan Electric Brake Controllers Most brake controllers will not give full voltage when stationary.  They provide zero power when stationary if the brake controller has a proportional braking feature. Advanced proportional braked controllers such as the Tekonsha, use the trailers momentum or vehicle inertia to activate the trailers brake system.. A natural explanation may be to consider a pendulum inside the brake controller applies more voltage when the swing moves forward during braking. When the vehicle is stationary, the voltage will be much less than 12v unless you have a dial resistor brake control unit. There can also be a time delay with some brake controllers. The proportional control only works when your car is in motion and braking. You may, of course, use manual control to activate your electric brakes.  Pulling the pin on your breakaway switch will apply a brake force equal to full braking on your trailer's brake. Critical information on how to adjust a Safety Switch Lanyard to the correct length. [caption id="attachment_6340" align="alignright" width="300"] Damaged Electric magnet caused by rough dirt roads.[/caption]Electric Magnets explained: Standard magnet. Uses a clip to hold it into position and a spring to hold press the magnet square into the drum surface when braking. The Al-ko off-road magnet has a spring but no clip. A rubber band has wrapped the magnet to keep it in place during assembly. The rubber band disintegrates upon the first application of the brakes. After two weeks on corrugated roads, a new magnet will require replacement. Vibrations have caused the metal tip of the magnet arm to slowing cut through the electric magnet. At this stage, the copper wire on the bobbin has been rendering the magnet non-functional. Now you can see an excellent reason to put off-road magnets on your rig. Caravans electric magnets draw 3.2 amps @ 12v each (a) The big mistake when wiring electric brake magnets, is to wire 3mm cable down one side then run more wire across the axle to the other magnet and connect. Even manufacturers continue to make this mistake. The long, additional run of the cable causes more voltage loss than is necessary. (b) The correct method using 6mm cable or larger is to run a wire down EACH chassis rail and connect each magnet independently. This type of connection reduces copper losses and the resulting voltage loss. (c) Proportional controlled electric brake controllers are most common in today's market. The easiest way to explain proportional control is to think of a pendulum. When your car is moving forward, the pendulum moves backward and forwards according to the inertia of your vehicle. The more braking you apply (pendulum moving forward), the more current is supplied to your brakes. Confused want the correct cable size? You will need the following Distance from your car battery to your electric magnets. Amps per magnet. 6.4A @ 12v per side gives you around 6mm cable per side. If you run across the axle, then the equation is 12.8a @ 12v gives you 12mm cable [caption id="attachment_68105" align="alignright" width="300"] 10-inch Electric Brake Standard Assembly incl Park. Click to purchase[/caption]My recommendation is to run 2 x 6mm or 10B&S down each chassis rail for the best braking. Then click here. This website will calculate the correct size cable for you. If you think that was good, please go to the bottom of this page and give us a rating, please. Alternatively, contact if you require clarification. I have a Master Craftsman electrical certificate issued by the NSW Electricity Commission. TIP: Having problems replacing magnets or brake shoes? Replace the whole electric backing plate for $93.67. Click the image on the right and buy. Caravan Electric Magnets Not Working? It is not unusual for your caravan electric brakes NOT TO WORK when stationary. Proportional brake controllers supply zero voltage whilst stationary. Activate the brakes manually when stationary. Quite often I will get a call about uneven braking, or one brake is stronger than the other backing plate. Wiring magnets in series and using an undersize cable is the cause of the problem. Wiring electric magnets with cable size of 6mm for the single axle (2 magnets) and 5mm for tandem axles. (4 magnets) A voltage drop occurs when an insufficient cross-sectional area of copper that causes the voltage problem of uneven braking. Why is it so, I asked my Technical College Teacher His reply was, "Voltage loss in the cable is inversely proportional to the size of the copper." I.e. the more copper, the less the energy loss. If you are having problems with your brakes, then it is most likely to be a cable problem. Wire your brakes in parallel, not in series. Connecting electric magnets directly to your tail light will cause severe voltage losses. Can my electric brakes stop caravan sway? Yes, new technology can eliminate caravan sway. Visit this article to learn how to stop caravan sway. BMpro Caravan Sway Control - 2019 Drum Brakes still not working? Here is a little-known cause of electric brake failure called magnetic induction in your drums from constant use and magnet scraping on the metal surface. You drums could be magnetised repelling your magnets thus causing ineffective braking. If your magnets are drawing less than 3.2A each, there are two reasons Short circuit in your magnet Your magnet is being repelled by the drum. The solution for this is reversing the wires on the back of the backing plate. Love to hear your comment if this solution fixes your problem. Caravan Electric Brakes Tips: Adjust caravan electric brakes, so the wheel spins between 1/2 and one turn. Brake shoes may be re-adjustment after the first 200km. Use a good brand electric backing plate. Not all backing plates are the same. Chinese bearings are often the cause of overheating brakes. Overheated brakes create a lot of dust inside your drum. Check out the price for replacing both backing plates as opposed to magnets and shoes. You could save a whole lot of pain by replacing the entire backing plate. Just a small tip many folks overlook. 12" electric magnets have a white coloured cable exiting the magnet body. Ensure to check your lanyard cable on the breakaway switch is the right length. Last tip, not all backing plates are the same. Al-ko and Couplemate make good backing plates you can trust and I yes, I am a little bias towards Couplemate. [caption id="attachment_5304" align="alignright" width="200"] 12" Electric Brakes[/caption]Mechanical Problems can also develop with caravan electric brakes. Loose magnet arm causes uneven wear on the magnet and loss of braking power. Shoes not aligned correctly generate heat. Uneven adjustment on the left and right shoes causes loss of braking power. Bearings are a significant cause of overheating. Chinese bearings may be the problem. Quality bearings have the words Japan written on both the cup and race. Here is a rare fault that causes ineffective braking. Constant use of drum brakes can cause the drum to become magnetised. Simply replacing the drum can fix this also try and transpose the connecting cables. Alko Off-road electric brake adjustment guide. "Electric Brakes made Simple" is another electrical article by Steve Wotherspoon. Finally, if you found this information helpful, please leave a review below. * Life Time Guarantee on all Couplemate manufactured products provided those products are found to have been used according to the manufacturer's product recommendations on our Terms and Conditions Page. If the product you purchased cannot be located on our trailer parts store, then the product is not manufactured by Couplemate Trailer Parts Pty Ltd and is not covered by Couplemate's Life Time Guarantee.© Steve Wotherspoon 24th March 2014