Nosey Lesson

Kalych replied on 01/10/2019 07:06

Posted on 01/10/2019 07:06

We have been caravan club members for 15 years during which time we have owned 2 Baileys, 1 Compass, 2 Elddis and now our first Swift (Conqueror 580). Over the years we have towed with Vauxhall Vectra v6, Shogun, Landcruiser and Volvo XC70. I have always made sure I had a tow car with plenty of BHP, Torque and kerb weight, also very careful with loading the caravan before going on the road (tyres, wheel nut torque, lights, etc). I considered myself a caravaner who understood the risks to ourselves and other road users associated with towing and planned accordingly, with no problems encountered until our recent change of both caravan and car.


We changed our caravan to the 2016 Swift 580 and at the same time changed our tow car to a 2016 Audi A6 Avant 3.0 Quattro with a dealer fitted new tow bar thinking it would tow the Swift with consummate ease, given the cars towing capacity is 2100kgs. We loaded the caravan, did usual checks and headed south from Aberdeen to Carlisle. On the way we had 3 occasions where the caravan swayed much more than normal as I passed an HGV and on one occasion had both my wife and I concerned. I pulled over and checked everything in case the loading inside had shifted but all was ok. We continued our journey south reducing road speed which stopped any further sway.


Once at our destination I started checking further and even called the Caravan & Motorhome Club technical support team where I was advised there should be no problem with the match however two factors (outside of loading) which may cause the sway are tyre pressure and nose weight. This caused me to check tow bar weights and found after contacting Audi it was only 75kgs for that car. Needless to say I purchased a calibrated nose weight gauge and discovered the Swift was around 85kgs with only a lightweight gas bottle in the front locker.

We are now about to change our tow car having had it only 4 months and the big lesson I learned was to know the maximum load the tow car can take on the tow ball, something I’ve never thought about in 15 years towing.


Interestingly, I called the Swift Group to ask the ex-works nose weight of an empty 2016 Conqueror 580 and was advised they are not obliged to provide the public with that information. Come on Swift Group, surely to comply with design specifications you have a nose weight threshold your completed ‘ex-works’ empty caravans must adhere to?

Sandgroper replied on 05/10/2019 12:17

Posted on 05/10/2019 12:17

In the olden dayswink single axle caravans tended to be nearer to a 'balance' front to rear and I too tested the weight simply by lifting the hitch. If I could lift it it was about right.

Bailey did their epic review of caravan design resulting in the Alu Tec construction and also tested various layouts to improve towing safety etc. The end result was that the axle was moved rearwards. I bought one of the early efforts and the adjustment was readily apparent.

The noseweight was also much heavier (on my Olympus 464 it was 84kg as delivered - Bailey's figure). The result as far as I was concerned was that we carry very little in front of the axle and balance the outfit by loading carefully aft.

Interestingly Bailey moved the gas storage point to a central location, presumably to help the noseweight. That seems to have resulted in overloading the Alko axles!

I still have that van and it tows like a dream behind my 2009 Mondeo (noseweight 90kg).

DS3 replied on 21/10/2019 02:41

Posted on 21/10/2019 02:41

Most of my cars have been 75kg nose weight. Never had any issue with any of them.

Interestingly, when watching people leave sites, I have never once seen anyone check the noseweight before hitching up. Even those more experienced. Makes you wonder just how many outfits are driving around illegally.

I suppose lifting it up by hand is a good way of telling the weight, rather than using a calibrated nose weight gauge. "rolls eyes"

EasyT replied on 21/10/2019 08:32

Posted on 21/10/2019 08:32

I suppose lifting it up by hand is a good way of telling the weight, rather than using a calibrated nose weight gauge. "rolls eyes"
 

Lifting by hand was a good way actually. With caravan weights now maybe not any longer.

Interestingly, when watching people leave sites, I have never once seen anyone check the noseweight before hitching up. Even those more experienced. Makes you wonder just how many outfits are driving around illegally.

No reason to think anybody is driving illegally. And perhaps those 'more experienced' have realised that if they carry the same things in the same locations the nose weights never carry by more than the odd kg. Isn't it 'insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result'?

Lutz replied on 21/10/2019 21:12

Posted on 21/10/2019 02:41 by DS3

Most of my cars have been 75kg nose weight. Never had any issue with any of them.

Interestingly, when watching people leave sites, I have never once seen anyone check the noseweight before hitching up. Even those more experienced. Makes you wonder just how many outfits are driving around illegally.

I suppose lifting it up by hand is a good way of telling the weight, rather than using a calibrated nose weight gauge. "rolls eyes"

Posted on 21/10/2019 21:12

When you say "Makes you wonder just how many outfits are driving around illegally" are you referring to exceeding the noseweight limit? If so, what piece of legislation makes it illegal? To the best of my knowledge, exceeding the limit only affects the manufacturer's product liability and warranty coverage, but it's not illegal unless it results in axle load limits being exceeded at the same time, too.

Sandgroper replied on 27/10/2019 11:34

Posted on 27/10/2019 11:34

Generally speaking surely most of us load within the car/caravan limits, usually storing and packing pretty much the same every time depending on having had a trouble free towing experience.

A new van or new car will require more careful checking until everything is in order but after that it becomes a drill.

I usually load up at the beginning of the year and check the noseweight to make sure that all is OK. After that follow the trusted pattern.

Brummieboy replied on 27/10/2019 13:00

Posted on 21/10/2019 21:12 by Lutz

When you say "Makes you wonder just how many outfits are driving around illegally" are you referring to exceeding the noseweight limit? If so, what piece of legislation makes it illegal? To the best of my knowledge, exceeding the limit only affects the manufacturer's product liability and warranty coverage, but it's not illegal unless it results in axle load limits being exceeded at the same time, too.

Posted on 27/10/2019 13:00

The construction and use regulations could apply to using the vehicle (caravan) in a dangerous or unroadworthy condition 

Tigi replied on 27/10/2019 19:11

Posted on 01/10/2019 07:46 by EasyT

Nose weight can easily be adjusted by the way the caravan is loaded.

May or may not be easy to adjust but if ex works is 120kg as some Bailey models (no doubt others) were said to be I would find it more than a tad inconvenient and a time wasting faff redistributing load every time that I moved off.  

I have been fortunate in being able to simply store stuff where I wanted them to be during usage (except aquaroll and wastemaster) and the resultant nose weights have been fine without need to adjust. 

Posted on 27/10/2019 19:11

If you start with a large noseweight on a caravan with a limited payload (and a lot are) its not that easy to reduce the noseweight unless you start putting stuff in places its not designed for.  Manufacturers ought to be obliged to publish the noseweight leaving the factory, in fact they should be obliged to produce a certificate of weight overall, its not actually rocket science more like smoke and mirrors.

Lutz replied on 27/10/2019 20:01

Posted on 27/10/2019 13:00 by Brummieboy

The construction and use regulations could apply to using the vehicle (caravan) in a dangerous or unroadworthy condition 

Posted on 27/10/2019 20:01

The Construction and Use Regulations only state technical requirements, they don't actually say that exceeding those limits amounts to an offence. The Road Traffic Act does that, but what is dangerous and unroadworthy is open to debate. If the noseweight limit is, say, 80kg it would be totally unrealistic to claim 81kg or even 85kg is dangerous or unroadworthy. The violation of the limit would surely have to be more significant.

Lutz replied on 27/10/2019 20:14

Posted on 27/10/2019 19:11 by Tigi

If you start with a large noseweight on a caravan with a limited payload (and a lot are) its not that easy to reduce the noseweight unless you start putting stuff in places its not designed for.  Manufacturers ought to be obliged to publish the noseweight leaving the factory, in fact they should be obliged to produce a certificate of weight overall, its not actually rocket science more like smoke and mirrors.

Posted on 27/10/2019 20:14

I don't know what would be achieved by publishing the ex-works noseweight. It still means that the noseweight may have to adjusted to suit the limits of the caravan itself and of the towing vehicle. Besides, by the time the caravan is handed over to the customer and fitted with things like battery, gas bottles, motor mover, etc. it will already have changed.

As regards weights in general, the manufacturer does produce a certificate showing all these (and a lot more) details. It is the Certificate of Conformity to type approval requirements. It must be made available upon request.