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Ex-Gasman

Using the caravan when hitched up

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Hi I've had  the caravan doe months now but due to family problems we haven't used it. We're away on our first long trip next week and I'm not sure if it's OK to go into the caravan when it's hitched up without the steadies down, in a layby. We used to have a motor home and would often used the facilities when parked, can I do that with a caravan? 

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It depends on what you mean about using the facilities - we use the loo if necessary but don't all troop into the van for a cuppa or our lunch.

 

I'd be inclined to put down the rear steadies if we were going to do that because the van does shake about a bit when HGV's go thundering past.

 

TBH I'd rather not stop in a lay-by anyway unless it was well off the road

Edited by matelodave

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We do this all the time and have done for years. It’s fine. 

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If one of us needs an urgent loo stop, we stop in a layby without putting the steadies down - we do the same at lunchtime as we sit in the car with a pre-prepared snack - occasionally we'll do soup in the caravan for lunch and then we put the rear steadies down.

 

We stop overnight on the way to the Highlands, in a quiet layby away from the M74 - we put rear steadies and the jockey wheel down for that.

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We have caravanned for forty years and often stopped en route for loo, lunch and of later years a snooze and have never put the steadies down.

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I’d agree. We regularly travel between Russia and UK with our van and overnight in it at service stations/truck stops en-route. We leave it hitched and only out the legs down if it looks like being an exceptionally windy night. 

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Thanks everyone for the fast replies, I know what to do now.  We have our first run over  20 miles this week and being able to use the caravan on the way is going to make the trip easier.

 

Thanks

 

John

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Sorry to go against the flow, but I wouldn't entertain going in the van in a lay by - or anywhere - without all 4 steadies and jockey wheel down. For the sake of a couple of minutes, don't put undue stress on your car and towbar.

Think if your car has an 80kg nose weight limit, and you run your van at 75kgs. Add two adults at say 75kgs each walking around the van, sitting at the table or whatever, you are putting at least another 100kgs static load on the bar. Over the top maybe, but that's me.

 

I'll qualify the above as I would go in the van, steadies up, hitched or unhitched briefly to adjust something or close a door that has come open. A wee or lunch stop, absolutely not.

 

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It will be fine. I never put the steadies down when it's hitched up.

The Nosewieght limit is set to account for the dynamic forces acting on the car and caravan under acceleration, braking and cornering, not when it's static and you're making a brew.

Edited by Borussia 1900
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We never put the legs down while hitched up, even though it is only a button  press, because the car has self levelling and moves after it is switched off.

 

We did it once on an overnight stop and in the morning the van was holding the car up with a huge load on the steadies and jockey wheel.

 

Ian

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2 hours ago, Ex-Gasman said:

. We used to have a motor home and would often used the facilities when parked, can I do that with a caravan? 

 

I'll join the majority and give you a resounding YES!

Although I travel on my own, for many years I've been doing journeys that go on and on for several days.   I've always used the van with only the wheels on the ground.    I've even stopped hitched on overnight and only put the jockey wheel down.  

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Can I be different and say that, for a short stop, I wind one steady down at the front and back of the van. Just seems sensible to stop the full load on the hitch and give a bit of stability at the back if using the loo.

if stopping overnight and staying hitched up, all steadies down together with the jockey wheel.

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2 hours ago, Ex-Gasman said:

Thanks everyone for the fast replies, I know what to do now.  We have our first run over  20 miles this week and being able to use the caravan on the way is going to make the trip easier.

 

Thanks

 

John

 

Good luck and enjoy. Our last journey with the caravan was 2,700 miles (one way from Monmouth to Estonia via Bosnia). You will be fine. Just take it steady and use common sense and all will be good. 

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We go into our end washroom to use the toilet when connected to the car without dropping the legs.

 

It is a twin axle though and when not connected to the car with the legs up I can walk into the wash room without it tipping so when connected to the car probably has no negative effect doing the same.

 

Don't tend to sit in the front whilst coonected withought the legs down though adding extra weight to the hitch.

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Our caravan is in storage so when we go for it and it is hitched up to the car, the last thing before setting off is to use the caravan toilet to give as long as possible before needing to stop again. Never had any problems doing this.

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3 hours ago, AlwynMike said:

Sorry to go against the flow, but I wouldn't entertain going in the van in a lay by - or anywhere - without all 4 steadies and jockey wheel down. For the sake of a couple of minutes, don't put undue stress on your car and towbar.

Think if your car has an 80kg nose weight limit, and you run your van at 75kgs. Add two adults at say 75kgs each walking around the van, sitting at the table or whatever, you are putting at least another 100kgs static load on the bar. Over the top maybe, but that's me.

 

 

 

The noseweight limit applies only to an entirely static condition. When towing, the instantaneous dynamic forces acting on the towbar can easily be 10 times the static value, so there is really nothing to worry about.

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We don’t bother with the steadies.  When stopping for a meal,, I drop the jockey wheel, as we will be sitting at the front...to save excess load on the towbar/hitch. But if we go to the loo en route we just go into the caravan, one at a time.  HGV sway doesn’t bother us as it’s only momentary. We do however plan /look out for lay-bys that are set back from the carriageway.

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If the car has air suspension, as an increasing number do, the steadies and jockey wheel shouldn't be used while the car is connected (apart from during hitching and unhitching) - the compressor may continuously "fight" the hitch.

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1 hour ago, Lutz said:

 

The noseweight limit applies only to an entirely static condition. When towing, the instantaneous dynamic forces acting on the towbar can easily be 10 times the static value, so there is really nothing to worry about.

 

I'm not worried,  just don't see the reason for causing any unnecessary stress on any mechanical part.

I realise that two people (both in excess of 75kgs!) won't put the car or van at breaking point, static or not.

For me, with electric drill winder, I don't begrudge the effort of winding - although I used to do the same before rechargeable drills were invented.

I'm not saying that you're all wrong in not winding down the steadies, just that I'm right 😀 until the wife says otherwise......

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7 hours ago, John W said:

We do this all the time and have done for years. It’s fine. 

We also do that. If we are going to take lunch then I drop the jockey wheel and one rear steady.

Alan

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When me and OH were travelling a long distance where having a break was necessary, we always kept it hitched to the car.  We'd put one steady down at the rear so it was ok to go to the loo, but don't think its really necessary.  Then we would both sit in the front so OH could do his dialysis, and have lunch as well, and the cat could use his loo, which was also at the rear of the caravan.

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Just out of curiosity, we've never used the steadies and the hgv sway can be quite violent,  could that shock loading stress the steadies?

 

I've always felt it  was better to the van move naturally on its suspension.

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4 minutes ago, Mandarin said:

Just out of curiosity, we've never used the steadies and the hgv sway can be quite violent,  could that shock loading stress the steadies?

 

I've always felt it  was better to the van move naturally on its suspension.

 

No more so than a strong gust of wind during a storm and you’d be glad to have your legs down then. 

 

Bottom line again is do what you are comfortable with. For us, it’s more convenient to leave them up whilst hitched unless very windy and overnighting on a long trip. 

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A word of caution

 

Some cars (land Rover) with self leveling suspension can drop by about 20mm after a while of being parked up

 

If you put the fron steadies down you will end up with the car hanging off the caravan!

 

It pays to check your vehicle handbook if you have S/l suspension.

 

 

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11 minutes ago, AndyPoole said:

A word of caution

 

Some cars (land Rover) with self leveling suspension can drop by about 20mm after a while of being parked up

 

If you put the fron steadies down you will end up with the car hanging off the caravan!

 

It pays to check your vehicle handbook if you have S/l suspension.

 

 

 

Good advice. Applies to us 5 series Touring people too (especially as the suspension bags tend to deflate slowly over time).

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