Benefits of caravan-movers

By: Bill Savidan


Bill Savidan reviews the benefits of caravan-movers

Moving a caravan by hand is no easy task. Hence, the invention of electrically powered caravan-movers. These clever contraptions fit on a caravan and are powered by the vehicle’s house battery, allowing you to move it without strain. Popular in Britain and Europe, caravan-movers have been available in New Zealand for 10 years or more and, for many, are becoming a must-have.

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How they work

Caravan-movers usually have one electric motor per caravan wheel, two for a single-axle caravan and four for dual axles. They are attached to a frame that is mounted under the chassis adjacent to the caravan wheels.

The electric motor drives a ribbed roller (usually aluminium) that engages with the wheel tyre, causing it to rotate and move the caravan. The ribbed roller engages/disengages manually or automatically, depending on the sophistication of the caravan-movers.

Weight considerations

Single-axle caravan movers weigh about 30kg and dual-axle models 45kg-plus. The minimum recommended house-battery size for driving motor movers is 100amp/hr for single-axle units and 140amp/hr for dual-axle models.

Often, these batteries are heavier and dimensionally larger than the originals, so check the size of the battery box before buying. Note that the extra weight means less payload capacity is available for other items.

Caravan-mover manufacturers build a range of products to accommodate caravans of different weights. Before buying, establish the weight of your rig fully laden, so you only consider caravan-movers that have the power to do the job. Most manufacturers use ‘soft start’ motors that are easier to use and gentler on your caravan.

Available options

Top-of-the-range models often offer ‘auto-engage’ caravan-movers that eliminate the manual engagement of the ribbed roller to the tyre. This winding operation is not difficult or over-taxing, but it can be avoided. If that is your choice, be sure to ask if manual engagement is available if the auto engagement system fails.

If you choose the manual method, be sure that engaging the roller from one side engages the rollers on both sides of the caravan because sometimes the caravan is parked beside a building or a wall making it impossible to engage the roller from that side.

Going remote

Most caravan-mover brands offer remote control of the caravan-mover operation. The control remote, which resembles a TV remote, can start, stop and directionally control the caravan from a distance.

Caravan-movers can drive caravans both up and down reasonable slopes with precision and control. Each brand has its own limits, so check this with your supplier. Regular cleaning and lubrication are all motor-movers need to stay in trim. Be on the lookout for damage to the wiring.

Costs

Retail prices for caravan-movers range from $1500 to $4000. Take the Camec single-axle range, for example. Currently, the Camec Elite 2 retails for $1504. It has a safe working load up to 1800kg and up to 1500kg on an 18 per cent gradient.

The Elite Pro, featuring auto-engage, retails for $2060. It has a safe working load of 2000kg and up to 1750kg on an 18 per cent gradient. Both models have dual-axle versions available.

Jockey considerations

Factory-fitted caravan jockey wheels cannot always cope with the rigours of caravan-mover work. They are designed to handle a stationary or ‘static’ load and not a ‘dynamic’ or moving load. These loads are a much more severe test for both the jockey wheel and the caravan chassis.

For instance, rotating a heavily loaded caravan using caravan-movers produces side loadings that can cause severe damage to an understrength jockey wheel and/or the chassis to which it is attached. Take advice from your caravan or jockey-wheel agent/manufacturer if you have doubts about the suitability of your existing jockey-wheel set-up.

Final thoughts

Many caravan owners owe their continued enjoyment of caravanning to caravan-movers. Some, because of health issues, are unable to exert themselves physically the way they did previously.

Others can store their caravan at home in a corner that was inaccessible to them before they acquired caravan-movers. Whatever the reason, caravan-movers are here to stay and are certainly worth a second look. 

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