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Get your towing head together and be a safer caravan camper

December 12, 2014
Get your towing head together and be a safer caravan camper

The closer a tow ball is to the rear axle of the tow vehicle the better. This really is a case of getting your towing head together.

It is one big reason 4WD's are often chosen as tow vehicles.

In addition to being heavier vehicles the design requirements of a 4WD, which must have serious entry and exit angles front and back to cope with off-road work, means the tow ball is not way aft, waving about. This means better, safer towing.

The closer a tow ball is to the rear axle of the tow vehicle the better.

This really is a case of getting your towing head together. It is one big reason 4WDs are often chosen as tow vehicles.

In addition to being heavier vehicles the design requirements of a 4WD, which must have serious entry and exit angles front and back to cope with off-road work, means the tow ball is not way aft, waving about.

This means better, safer towing. Our first picture shows the relatively close relationship between the rear axle and tow ball on GSA1 our V6 diesel turbocharged, DPChipped Jeep Grand Cherokee 4WD.

Not only is the tow ball close to the rear axle, it is carefully adjusted to be set at 90 deg to the line of load and the towhead shank is seated right home in the tow bar receiver.

GSA is not happy with sloppy, elongated fits in towing gear so the tow head shank has two custom made shims, carefully ground to be a firm, but removable fit. They are slid into placewhen the tow head shank isjust short of lining up its lock-pin hole with its mate in the tow bar. The flat edge of a file is used to apply pressure to seat the shims.

Not only does this help towing stability it ends the clatter and clunk which often comes with sloppy design. A recent shake-it-and-see check among a variety of towing vehicles shows that clunky towing equipment is extremely common.

GSA had an unsettling caravan sway experience recently when setting up our Ranger Ute pictured at left..

Popular utilities of this type often have the longest distance between the rear axle and the tow ball.

The Ranger tows our travelling office a 21ft Blue Sky caravan, Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM) about 2500kg.

In fairly gentle downhill towing at about 95kmh sway showed up. Pam was driving and her long established towing experience prevented anything more than a scare.

It is likely that a Newbie would have just dismissed the rigs warning wobbles signs.

GSA got expert industry advice and changed our tow bar. A Hayman Reese tow bar was fitted. This gives a firmer fit on the tow head shank and stops the wobbles which the loose shank induced. The initial arrangement, which came with the new vehicle, was a Hayman Reese shank in a recommended Ford accessory tow bar.

Not happy with the length of the trailing tow head shank we took it to a steel fabrication company and as the pictures belowshow had a new lock pin location hole drilled in the shank to shorten the overhang.

As we said at the start of this towing hints discussion the closer a tow ball is to the rear axle of the tow vehicle the better. The new hole allows the caravan to be located 35mm closer to the tow vehicle.

GSA prefers the tow ball to be 90degs to the line of towing load.

Here is a series of pictures which showhow to achieve that:

Acknowledgement This Information Article is provided through the support of generous sponsor Caravan Industry Association of Victoria (CIA Vic.). This support covers story research costs.

It is because of sponsors like CIA Vic. that an extensive library of free Information Articles is available to help users Go Make Some Memories. Click to find road touring destinations two and three hours from Melbourne. Go Make Some Memories

<!--mo1####mo2-->GSA in Blue Sky  country.<!--mo3-->
GSA in Blue Sky country.

<!--mo1####mo2-->Adjustment available forward and back.<!--mo3-->
Adjustment available forward and back.
<!--mo1####mo2-->Set ball, insert bolt and spacer.<!--mo3-->
Set ball, insert bolt and spacer.
<!--mo1####mo2-->Best fit.<!--mo3-->
Best fit.
<!--mo1####mo2-->Slide bolt through and set spacer.<!--mo3-->
Slide bolt through and set spacer.
<!--mo1####mo2-->Towball adjustment.<!--mo3-->
Towball adjustment.
<!--mo1####mo2-->Modified towing shank for Ranger.<!--mo3-->
Modified towing shank for Ranger.
<!--mo1####mo2-->New pin location hole drilled by Steel Fabrication Company.<!--mo3-->
New pin location hole drilled by Steel Fabrication Company.
<!--mo1####mo2-->New hole brings caravan 35mm closer to Ranger.<!--mo3-->
New hole brings caravan 35mm closer to Ranger.



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