Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Dazzais123

Do I need a stabiliser

Recommended Posts

Hi

I’m new to caravanning having purchased a Bailey from the 80’s a few weeks ago and in need of some advice regarding tow bar choice for my 2016 Honda CRV please. I have already decided on a detachable option with dedicated 13 pin electrics as the car has an inbuilt auto stability gizmo which I don’t want to by pass with the universal option. My issue now is deciding between a flange or a swan neck tow bar and it seems this depends whether I need a stabiliser. I’ve done some research and I’m as confused as ever. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Depends and what type of hitch is on your caravan.   Can you show us a picture of it.   Your caravan may need the 12S and 12N plugs changed if you're going for a 13 pin socket.

Edited by Jaydug

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

providing everything  is right with regards to loading , tyres, car / caravan ratio etc. the answer is no , but it does add extra insurance if the van does go into a wobble / snake.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hitch stabilisers are now standard on most caravans and easy to retro-fit but the exact model will depend on the caravan, Alko AKS are the most popular but Winterhoff are also used.  A photograph of the bolt configuration and spacing of the current hitch will allow you to purchase the correct type. The last one I retro fitted to a caravan came with various shims to cater for different diameters of drawbar tubes.
 

Regarding tow bars I prefer swan neck types as to me they look neater but if you’re choosing detachable it doesn’t really matter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You don't "need" a stabiliser any more than you needed ABS on your car (before they became compulsory on new cars), but they can save you an awful lot of inconvenience if things go wrong!

As to what kind of towbar, there are some combinations of ball and stabiliser that are more difficult to arrange than others.

It can be difficult to find a  clamp for a blade type stabiliser to fit some swan necks, and some flange type balls are unsuitable for some hitch stabilisers. A photo of the hitch would help.

  • I agree completely 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Gary, Fixed Swan Neck, looks neat and gives extra protection to the tow car when reversing solo 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A Bailey from the '80s will be quite lightweight so your CRV wouldn't really need a stabiliser - but they can be helpful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Dazzais123 said:

Hi

 My issue now is deciding between a flange or a swan neck tow bar and it seems this depends whether I need a stabiliser. I’ve done some research and I’m as confused as ever. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

 

There is actually no dependency, there are flanged tow balls specifically suited to have the necessary clearances for use with the modern hitch stabilisers, just the "Standard" flange towball is not suitable.

It is a non issue situation, just needs the right, readily available flanged towball to be fitted.

 

The flange type is arguably less aesthetic, but a plus is that they better facilitate adding say a bike rack suitable for use whilst towing, and should the ball get worn, damaged or rusty, its about £20 to change to new.

I for years have had detachable, swan neck bars; one needed changing from wear, not of the ball but attachment items.

 

Stabilisers, add only to the comfort of towing by damping the amplitude of the inevitable minor sways, it contributes nothing to taming serious snakes, that's all to do with the inherent stability of the combination. So is not "necessary" but makes towing life that bit more relaxed.

The Honda CRV bodes well for achieving a stable combination, just get the van loading right.

 

 

Edited by JTQ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks very much for your replies. I think based on your advice I will go for a detachable swan neck with dedicated electrics to start and add an Alko or similar once I have tried some towing to see if I need one. 
Can you please confirm that set up will work? I’m assuming an Alko will fit on a standard swan neck?

I will add some pictures of the hitch tomorrow once I’ve taken them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Dazzais123 said:

Thanks very much for your replies. I think based on your advice I will go for a detachable swan neck with dedicated electrics to start and add an Alko or similar once I have tried some towing to see if I need one. 
Can you please confirm that set up will work? I’m assuming an Alko will fit on a standard swan neck?

I will add some pictures of the hitch tomorrow once I’ve taken them.


It will. The Alko AKS stabiliser is a European design where swan neck style tow bars account for the majority of installations.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FWIW, having experienced a couple of snakes, I now wouldn't dream of towing a caravan without a stabiliser.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Remember to get who ever is fitting the tow bar to quote and fit  the fridge supply as it's an extra on the official Honda tow bar kit!!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 23/05/2020 at 11:51, Les Medes said:

I agree with Gary, Fixed Swan Neck, looks neat and gives extra protection to the tow car when reversing solo 

 

That a fixed towbar gives the towcar extra protection is a false assumption. It only applies at very low speed of impact. A fixed towbar transfers the full impact load straight into the vehicle underbody. Even at walking pace it can often result in enough damage to the underbody to write the vehicle off without such damage being immediately visible unless you get under the car to have as look. Without a towbar in place the load is cushioned by the rear bumper and bumper impact beam, both of which are a lot cheaper to replace than to straighten underbody sheet metal.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
53 minutes ago, Steve05 said:

FWIW, having experienced a couple of snakes, I now wouldn't dream of towing a caravan without a stabiliser.

 

Whenever I see the question "Do I need a stabilizer", I think it's similar to the high-wire acrobatic performer asking, "Do I need a safety net?"   ......................... Both are there to avert that 1 in a 100 chance of disaster.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is way too much read into the devices naming, "stabiliser", what it contributes is to damp the yawing amplitude.

Inevitably a towed unit's trailer is going to yaw to some extent, from time to time, responding to disturbances in the otherwise steady state of trailing behind the tow vehicle. This so called stabiliser damps the level of excursion, making for a whole lot smoother towing experience.

Faced with a disturbance exciting a natural frequency snake to develop, it can't contribute much at all to "stabilise" that, just a tiny bit more time hiding what is about to happen.

Far more "stabilising" are devices like AL-KO's ATC, these really do quell a snake but simply by asking the tow vehicle to haul the van with its brakes partially on so it  gets "pulled back into line", till you stop doing what is upsetting it.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rather than buying a separate stabiliser at the start and then swapping the hitch for one with it built in, just go straight for the new hitch and save the money for a separate one. The built in ones are far more convenient than trying to fit a blade type before you set off. When insuring the caravan mention you have fitted the hitch stabiliser since it might give a bit of discount.

 

The type of hitch lock will be different for the existing hitch and one with a built in stabiliser so by going for the new hitch at the start will save a second lot of money on a hitch lock.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi

 

Thanks again for all your replies. As requested, here are is a picture of the hitch.

 

Darren

 

 

FC0957F7-A4F2-472F-8851-C235FACA6172.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There will be an Alko AKS hitch stabiliser available to fit as a straight swap and given the age of the current hitch, a replacement wouldn't be a bad idea.  Swapping straightforward and the new one will come with instructions (the two I have done did) and is a simple two-bolt swap.  HOWEVER, the rear bolt also holds the hitch damper and removing this one needs to be done by knocking a drift/dowel through to stop the damper moving when the hitch is removed or it's a fiddle trying to line everything up fitting the new hitch.  From memory a dowel is included in the kit for this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The eBay link below shows the various shims to suit different diameter draw bars and the dowels that I mentioned above.  While they aren't cheap you do get everything.  A second hand item might look more attractive but they seldom include the shims, bolts etc and could easily need the friction pads changing so perhaps not as cheap as they initially seem.

 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/AKS-CARAVAN-TRAILER-AL-KO-2004-3004-STABILISER-up-to-3000kg-Hitch-lock-safety/263974956109?epid=3031195613&hash=item3d76222c4d:g:lDUAAOSwGgdbtz3z

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Dazzais123 said:

 here are is a picture of the hitch.

 

What you have there is an early Alko 1300 hitch.   It would be an easy swop to fit an Alko 3004 or a Winterhoff WS3000.   Both would fit your draw shaft.   No need to buy new.   The caravan breakers have loads of couplings off accident damaged vans.   Here's a Winterhoff for around £100

Edited by Jaydug

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If buying second hand just make sure the draw bar shaft is the same size, there were a few different diameters and a second hand hitch won't come with the spacers (or bolts) but could save a few quid.  The upside of new is the kit includes everything including a hitch lock.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 25/05/2020 at 13:14, Lutz said:

 

That a fixed towbar gives the towcar extra protection is a false assumption. It only applies at very low speed of impact. A fixed towbar transfers the full impact load straight into the vehicle underbody. Even at walking pace it can often result in enough damage to the underbody to write the vehicle off without such damage being immediately visible unless you get under the car to have as look. Without a towbar in place the load is cushioned by the rear bumper and bumper impact beam, both of which are a lot cheaper to replace than to straighten underbody sheet metal.

 

What I meant Lutz was if you are reversing and you accidentally nudge another vehicle/obstruction, you have protection from little mishaps 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A small point to bear in mind is that if you ever want to fit a bike carrier to use when towing, you'll need a fixed two bolt tow ball so that the mounting plate can go behind it.   I fitted such a mounting  plate just last week.

 

IMG_20200519_154122.jpg.f1511b5ef2bc8615fd76b7f2b68f55c7.jpg

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

If you do carry bikes on the tow bar as well as towing you need to consider the weight involved, not all "cars" as opposed to heavy SUVs have towbars rated to carry a nice heavy stabilising noseweight, plus the bike rack plus any bikes on it.

Additionally,  the bikes can take a very big chunk of your reversing steering lock, they clearly jack knife into the  van's front end, way before that occurs without them there, unless hoisted up to exploit the lean back of the van's front panel.

I carried two 799 adult bikes for years that way, but the vans and tow vehicle only suffered a premature steering lock reversing, forwards mine never did but I explored to ensure it could not happen.

Now with movers, reversing the van is infrequently required, but be aware.

 

 

 

Edited by JTQ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...