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Understanding Caravan Brakes ( a hobbits tale )


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With the button type brake handle that extra 45° tensions a spring which pulls the brakes back on when the auto reverse tries to let them off.

With a buttonless handle the 45° automatically takes up the slack under the same circumstances.

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As a novice this thread has been of great help to me also.

Snakecharmer, I had a similar experience to you when I levelled the van in the driveway (we’ve still not been away to a site yet).

Used the mover to move forward onto the ramps (mine is a TA but same principal as yours), reached desired height for levelling right to left, applied hand brake then released the mover only for it to “lurch” backwards and skew slightly sideways an inch or so.

I kind of understood why in hindsight but, thanks to this thread, I’m a lot clearer. I intended using chocks next time.

The “3rd position” vertical hand brake thing is new to me though :blink:

Towing: 2018 Swift Sprite Quattro EB

Tow Car: 2020 BMW X3 M40i

 

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2 hours ago, Stevan said:

With the button type brake handle that extra 45° tensions a spring which pulls the brakes back on when the auto reverse tries to let them off.

With a buttonless handle the 45° automatically takes up the slack under the same circumstances.

 

Thanks, so are we saying the roll back only affects handbrakes with the button type handles, and buttonless handles aren't affected?

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40 minutes ago, LeadFarmer said:

 

Thanks, so are we saying the roll back only affects handbrakes with the button type handles, and buttonless handles aren't affected?

Mine is buttonless and rolled back

Towing: 2018 Swift Sprite Quattro EB

Tow Car: 2020 BMW X3 M40i

 

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22 hours ago, DACS said:

Prior to the development of auto-reverse caravan brakes you had to get out of the car and swing a reversing latch onto the coupling shaft.  This prevented the hitch from being pushed in and disabled the brakes.  The system worked well but was inconvenient as you had to apply the reversing latch manually.  More inconvenient was that caravanners often forgot to take the latch off again and drove off with no brakes.

As has been suggested, reverse your caravan onto the levelling ramps if possible so that it will tend to roll forwards.  Another easy solution is to use chocks to prevent the caravan rolling.

 

I remember an accessory using a solenoid to flip the latch powered by 12 volts through the reverse light circuit. 

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1 hour ago, LeadFarmer said:

 

Thanks, so are we saying the roll back only affects handbrakes with the button type handles, and buttonless handles aren't affected?

No, both types do the short roll back, but the button type may not stop at all unless you pull it up the extra 45°!

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4 hours ago, LeadFarmer said:

So when lifting the handbrake up to vertical, what exactly is happening inside the mechanism? Is any strain being applied to anything if done so 100% of the time?

If you have the button release type, when you pull the handbrake lever, it acts on a spring, that in turn acts on the brake rod. 
Normally, you pull the handbrake up until it’s firm, but if you pull a bit harder, it will come up more, as the spring starts to compress. It’s the stored spring energy that compensates for the auto reverse engaging . And there is the problem, if you don’t pull the handbrake up enough, there is no stored spring energy,  so no further application force. 
 

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22 hours ago, Snakecharmer said:

Did you find this out by trial and error

More error than trial. My first caravan was stored at home. We had a steep uphill slope, with a flat at the top. 
Now, you have to understand that this was before motor movers and YouTube. 
The procedure to get the van onto the drive was wife and daughters pushing at the rear, and son and me pulling at the front. 
The first time we tried this, we needed a rest part way up the slope, so I pulled the handbrake up, and then we all started to ease the push / pull. It was then that the van started to move back. Lots of screaming from wife and daughters, and frantic yank the handbrake up, and van stopped. Phew. 
Once the van was finally up the top, I crawled under to inspect everything looking for any bent or rusted parts. It was all good, but that’s when I found the spring unit. Eventually I worked out how the brakes, and the handbrake system worked. Just as well, because the getting the van off the drive was totally reliant on the brakes stopping it. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Interesting you should say your breakaway cable frayed, coming to caravaning only recently I could not help notice the puny bit of cable which was going to act in an emergency situation and apply the brakes on my caravan.  Perhaps they are designed to be sacrificial and we need a manual for this a well.  I was told to slip the loop tight up to my tow ball and 

not leave it dangling in a big open loop, which made sense.  My Lunar manual goes no where near preparing anyone for their first caravan purchase and letting them loose on the roads.  Its a shame because poor quality information can lead to enforced legislation which could affect/effect (I never know which) everyone.

BMW X3     Lunar Clubman SB                      Everything will be alright in the end and if its not alright,  then its not yet the end!

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52 minutes ago, Snakecharmer said:

  My Lunar manual goes no where near preparing anyone for their first caravan purchase and letting them loose on the roads.  Its a shame because poor quality information can lead to enforced legislation which could affect/effect (I never know which) everyone.

 

My Swift dealer was no better when picking up my brand new caravan. Their explanation of how everything works in the van was appalling. I towed the van away not really knowing anything, and I’m still trying to teach myself how it all works. 

 

I kind of knew new they were bad before buying the van, but their dealer special was exactly what I was looking for and was being cleared at a reduced price to allow room for the following years  caravans. 

Edited by Guest
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  • 5 months later...

I’ve had a very similar issue last year we had pitched on a sloped pitch and hadused a ramp to level the van,at the time I hadn’t noticed the hand brake in the vertical position,fast forward to a wk later and getting all ready with the car and van hitched up and ready to pull off, so we slowly go to pull off and the van is going nowhere??? The hand break was released but still won’t move.  A guy in the caravan next to us came to take a look and we ended up jacking one side of the van to confirm the wheels were locked, after 40mins we realised even though the hand break was released it hadn’t released the breaks. We rocked the van and it finally freed up any body had this?

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On 13/07/2020 at 17:09, beejay said:

 

I remember an accessory using a solenoid to flip the latch powered by 12 volts through the reverse light circuit. 

Our first caravan was fitted with a Marwood Reverse Master which allowed automatic reversing. The unit looked like a slim suspension damper with wires attached and fitted in place of a length of brake rod. Normally the unit was solid, but if 12 volts were applied e.g. from the reversing lights, it would extend and let you go backwards. Covered in oil from the moment of delivery, the unit soon failed, leaving us without caravan brakes. After some huffing and puffing from the salesman, the unit was replaced and worked well for years afterwards.

hawkaye :beardy:

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On 26/07/2020 at 17:45, Snakecharmer said:

Interesting you should say your breakaway cable frayed, coming to caravaning only recently I could not help notice the puny bit of cable which was going to act in an emergency situation and apply the brakes on my caravan.  Perhaps they are designed to be sacrificial and we need a manual for this a well.  I was told to slip the loop tight up to my tow ball and 

not leave it dangling in a big open loop, which made sense.  My Lunar manual goes no where near preparing anyone for their first caravan purchase and letting them loose on the roads.  Its a shame because poor quality information can lead to enforced legislation which could affect/effect (I never know which) everyone.

Yes, the breakaway cable is designed to pull the brake on - hard ! then snap if it needs to. It's not there to prevent the van rolling away, that's the job of the brake.

 

On lightweight trailers that aren't fitted with brakes (like my little one I use to take stuff to the tip or go camping) a length of CHAIN is used as a safety measure which DOES stop the trailer rolling away.

 

 

Reverse onto your pitch (and up onto any levelling ramp) and then apply the handbrake. Then the van will stay where you have put it.

Edited by daveat92
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18 hours ago, daveat92 said:

Reverse onto your pitch (and up onto any levelling ramp) and then apply the handbrake. Then the van will stay where you have put it.

Except, if you have reversed into position, it will probably roll a few inches before the brakes take effect,

  • I agree completely 1
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22 hours ago, daveat92 said:

...

Reverse onto your pitch (and up onto any levelling ramp) and then apply the handbrake. Then the van will stay where you have put it.

Whenever I've reversed onto a ramp or up a slope, the compressed hitch wants to push back out and punch the car's bumper as I unhitch. I prefer to go forward onto a ramp leaving the hitch extended, or, if I have to reverse, chock the wheels, put the van brake on and pull forward a few inches so the hitch is fully extended. Each to their own ...

hawkaye :beardy:

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