By Garth Morrison Editor GoSeeAustralia.com.au and GoSeeNewZealand.co.nz
After 47 years of towing caravans, boats and trailers your correspondent went back to school for re-education at the excellent Tow-Ed Nationally Recognised Towing Course based on The Australian Practical Towing Guide.
The leading national Registered Training Organisation produced the guide to assist in the successful completion of the competency based one-day course.
The Tow-Ed guide links to Australian Standard AS4177 which deals with light and very light trailers. In combination with a written test, which must be completed before the hands-on element, Tow-Ed provides a thorough skills base for those who tow.
This is regardless of whether you are new to towing or an 'Old Head'.
GoSee believes that everyone who tows should complete an RTO controlled competency-based course. GoSee thinks the Registered Training Organisation (RTO) factor is essential.
Justine Smith from Tourism NSW with Award winners Julie and John Eggenhuizen of Tow-Ed.
Quality tells and Tow-Ed is a CCIANSW Industry Award winner as the picture (left) courtesy of that industry organisation shows. GoSee does not believe a training course of any kind is worth much without RTO credibility at its core.
Which is a major factor in the recent completion of the SRODRV001B 4WD course by GoSee staff with Tow-Ed's off-road arm Getabout Training Services. GoSee has three 4WD's and a Sports Utility Vehicle in its towing team.
Weuse these vehicles because they are heavier than the caravans they tow and have the grunt for the job. GoSeedoes not use themjust because they are 4WD.
GoSee feels that if you have a 4WD it should be understood and used to its safe optimums.
We think this also applies to all those who tow caravans, trailers,motorhomes, campervans and 5th wheelersas theyrequire educated techniques to manage them safely.
So with this practice what you preach in mind we will put three more GoSee staff through the Tow-Ed towing course over the next few months.
Tow-Ed Instructor Mark Grainger hit me with the litmus test question when we met with other trainees. What do you expect to get from this course?
Hats off to Tow-Ed technique.
No problem with that the answer is something new. And I did. The end result from time with Tow-Ed is towing education. Before Tow-Ed each towing situation was dealt with flying by the seat of the pants. Now I have formal planning, safe set-up order and new technique working for me.
Now putting a caravan on the tighest campsite is solved with a better understanding of what the tow vehicle and caravan can do. That comes through practical experience in establishing the actual pivot point of the caravan.
Now caravans can be consistently reversed at optimum angles. I really understand what my steering geometry can achieve.
Under Mark's guidance we Tow-Ed students reversed our caravans in left and right circles. This advanced to reversing in a figure eight.
But before we reached these levels Mark established just how tight the reverse turns could be.
He directed us forward in a turning circle until the optimum turning point could be lined up along the side of the respective tow vehicles in the tow vehicles exterior mirror.
The line of that point was marked on the boot of the caravan with a strip of red tape. This was done in both right and left forward turns.
The dual-axle Roma tracks back true.
Now backing a caravan in a circle is matter of basic geometry. Just line up the red tape marker on the caravan boot in the mirror and hold it there as the rig reverses - at no more than walking pace - and the result has to be a circle.
Round and round and round and then, now for the figure eight. This introduces another Tow-Ed technique called Push and Pull.
For your correspondent this was a challenge in trust compounded by a knowall attitude rooted in a drivinglifetime of learning from experience.
Imagine please that you are in the driving seat being guided by a person walking beside the tow vehicle looking at the caravan.
Imagine their guiding hand comes through your drivers window and grips the top centre of the steering wheel. You must trust them completely as the rig slowly reverses back.
When they say Push you push them out of the vehicle by turning the wheel to the right.
When they say Pull you pull them into the vehicle by turning the wheel to the left. All steering wheel corrections are small at about an 8th of a turn.
So begins the Tow-Ed technique which leads to reversing in a figure eight. It is always easier to handle reversing any rig by sighting along the drivers side.
So with our steering wheel in the Push position to the right we are slowly circling in reverse with the tow vehicle lined up on that preset red tape marker on the caravan boot lid. Mark, the guide you now trust, says stop and circle the other way.
Push - Pull technique reverses the Roma.
The Tow-Ed technique is Pull the steering wheel full lock to the left and bring it back half a turn. The caravan will now reverse until the opposite red tape marker on the caravan boot lid lines up in the tow vehicle mirror.
Hold that angle down the side of the tow vehicle and circle slowly in the opposite direction to complete the figure eight. Now withreversing angles and the capacity of the tow vehicle and caravan to respond to planned handling known Tow-Ed introduces the Big Benefit.
It is a real ability to reverse even a big caravan onto a tight campsite with confidence.
The Tow-Ed technique requires a partner. So my campsite is marked by Mark the Marker with witches hats and the games begin.
We identify the turning point in the parking bay, for example where the driveway meets the gutter.
The campsite is on the driver's side. Mark the Marker takes two big strides straight out from the turning point at the back edge of the campsite and then turns 90 degs and takes three strides to the right of that point.
He has allowed space on the campsite for our awning to be unfurled.
He signals the Retro HJ60 ContACT and the GoSee Jayco Discovery to come towards him and to stop the caravan at the point he marks.
ContACT eases forward until the right hand side rear window of the caravan is level with Mark the Marker. He signals stop.
Tow-Ed technique spot on.
This is the pivot point for the Jayco Discovery. ContACT's steering wheel is Pulled left to full lock. The steering wheel is eased back half a turn.
Ease the caravan back until the preset red tape marker on the caravans boot appears in the drivers rear vision mirror and the caravan starts to pivot on the inner wheel.
Now Push full lock right and back half a turn. Ease the Jayco Discovery back in a tight turn arc to the right (viewed in the driver's mirror) and the caravan rolls neatly onto the campsite.
Establishing the actual pivot point on a variety of caravans requires some initial personal trial and error. Once it is established it will be the same each time.
The big twin-axle Roma Elegance which took the Tow-Ed course with us had a pivot point right on the back edge of the caravan. The couple handling the big rig had never towed before but they worked at the Tow-Ed techniques and quickly made a consistent snack of the process with both partners taking alternate turns at the wheel.
The comprehensive course includes practical instruction and trainee manual which covers:
Safety and towing regulations.
Types of hitches.
Loads and loading.
Driving techniques; handling characteristics towing a trailer.
Braking techniques with trailers.
Reversing and parking trailers using guides, mirrors and use of low range (if applicable).
How to carry out vehicle and trailer pre and post trip inspections.
The Tow-Ed course has been developed to create an understanding of the handling characteristics of tow vehicles and trailers.
ContACT and Disco enjoy the day.
Happy with the Tow-Ed Course
Instructor Mark walks the Roma back with push - pull commands.
Ready to roll in reverse.
Walking pace is top speed.
Using truck mirror only avoids confusion.
Fitting jockey wheel to Roma Elegance.
Roma Elegance Reese WDH hitch.
Stop about a metre from the hitch.
Towball eases under the hitch.