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Probably looking for a Mr Shifta. What do you think?


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Returned on Wednesday after a successful maiden voyage to Cheshire in our new Swift Eccles 480 to see daughter and new grandson. Before we left, the road outside our house had been surface dressed. When we returned, we found that the passage of traffic had made the soft dressing develop some significant 'tramlines'. After 25 years of being able to unhitch in the road and wheel our caravans into the drive, we got stuck!

To solve this I think I am looking for a motor mover that fits to the tow hitch, like a Mr Shifta. A jockey wheel replacement mover can't be fitted without drilling the A-frame, fitting another jockey wheel clamp and voiding the warranty; the van jockey wheel is centrally mounted. A permanent mover would take us possibly 20+kg over our weight limit. Reversing while hitched is a non-starter; there isn't enough room on the single-track, kerbed road to swing the front of the car round. When the caravan is lined up ready to go down the drive, there is about a 2-foot gap between jockey wheel and kerb. That puts the hitch head about 2 feet from the 10-foot, 45° slope down to the river bank.

I think I should be looking at a second-hand Mr Shifta but my question is; are there any other movers that fit to the tow hitch that I can search Ebay for?

Your thoughts are most welcome but suggestions such as crane or helicopter hire will be ignored. :D

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Posted (edited)

Sounds like an ideal solution as you only need it for that particular instance. Purpleline did a hand powered version, the "Hitchdrive" I very nearly bought a few years ago but then we changed the caravan and our new van came with a mover and the moment passed.

Edited by Tuningdrew
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I had the jockey wheel replacement type some years ago. They work ok on flat firm surfaces, but struggle with and bumps or kerbs, especially if surfaces are damp. 
Traction (or lack of) is the downside of these type of units, and storage when not in use is a pain. 

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When they were on the market they were IMHO an abject failure. Depends on surface and a consistent heavy nose weight.  I witnessed them many times just useless unless on a flat smooth surface.  If it’s just a case of a little extra shove then for many years I had a house with a sloping drive. Pre motor movers a small winch was used to ‘assist’ man power.  If you have the pockets then motor mover and lithium battery would suit. If not motor mover and shift something from the van.  20 kgs ain’t much. Which weight limit. Eg can the van be up plated. 

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Get out there with an SDS drill with a chisel bit and remove the offending ridges in the surface dressing, they can’t be that big. You only need to remove about 0,5m where each of the wheel tracks are rather than the whole width of your caravan.

 

Alternatively, if you don’t want to do that,  get some bags of sand and “fill in” the tramlines when you want to get your caravan in. 

 

Have you raised the issue with your local highways dept! You may find the will sort the problem out for you, and they may not of course, but it has to be worth asking the question.

 

Finally fit a mover and shift something from your caravan into the car. 20kg isn’t a lot of weight, less than a bag of cement.

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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Thanks for your thoughts everyone.

I hadn't considered uprating the chassis for a mover.

Neither had I considered doing roadworks on a 'live' road. Considering the dressing has been in the pipeline for over 15 years makes me pessimistic that any repairs might be completed before senility stops us caravanning but, as Mr P says, it's worth asking the question.

I'll give some more thought to weight transfer; the most obvious solution would to put the Caravanstore sides and front in the car, but then I'd lose the nose weight that I believe I need to make the van stable with the bikes on the rack at the back of the van; a fitted motor mover hardly affects nose weight as I understand it.

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Mates got one in his garage. Been there about 10 years. 
According to him biggest waste of money he's wasted in 30 years of caravanning

 

Lunar Solaris 1 Limited Edition 2007 Hopefully Behind A

BMW 520D MSport Touring. ...

 

***** Jack of all Trades. ... Master of None *****

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have quite a steep drive, so reversing my van in is not on, as I would burn my clutch out. I did look into having motor movers fitted, but baulked at the quoted £1200.

My solution has been to buy a 12 volt winch, concrete a post into the top of my parking area, and use the winch to get the caravan in.

I've been doing it this way for at least ten years now, with no problems. I seem to remember the winch cost about £100, and my son got the post from where he works.

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Good solution at minimal cost! 

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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A motor mover is a very useful piece of kit in many circumstances apart from your current problem. Why not put the 2 bikes on roof bars on the car and buy a mover for the caravan.

 

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  • I had  a Mr Shifta years ago. To get any traction it needed three adults standing on the A-frame.
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Thank you for the further thoughts.

 

The Council are dismissive of the issue saying the road surface has been inspected and deemed satisfactory. If I choose to engage further with them, it will be a long process.

 

A winch; on the occasions I've used a hand winch, it proved difficult to guide the caravan. Winches seem OK at pulling in a straight line but not turning 90° as I would have to to get off the street.

 

Roof bars; our bikes aren't lightweight and we are both pensioners. I can't imagine getting lifting either of our bikes onto the car roof, even if I could find roof bars to fit the receivers of a car not made since 2008.

 

Mr Shifta; I've dismissed that idea now.

 

This device might be an answer; it doesn't seem to have the traction problems associated with Mr Shiftas.

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My view  is that the vast majority of caravan owners fit a motor mover rather than something like you have linked to for an excellent reason, they work well over a huge range of conditions. All of the motive power is applied to the caravans wheels where the vast majority of the weight is carried, so traction isn’t an issue. (It’s not unknown for a movers rollers to have trouble getting enough grip on caravan tyres on uneven or bumpy surfaces though) 

 

I still think traction will be that gadgets overall Achilles heel.

 

Firstly there is nothing physical (like a bolt) actually securing the gadget to (through?)  the A frame, it relies on a piece of rubber and friction, so what’s to stop it sliding along the A frame if the caravan itself encounters a slight bump?? (like a dropped kerb or a rut in the road)  

 

The demonstration on YouTube uses a very small lightweight  unbraked (so less than 750kg) caravan and boat rather than a full sized one, on a dead smooth and flat surface. There is also a bit where they show a small aeroplane on the move, but the don’t show footage of the mover moving it! 

All well and good on a totally flat level tarmac car park, but how will it cope with the situation you have?  . 

 

It’s mounted a fair way back from the actual hitch, so the downward pressure will be less than the caravans nose-weight.  (See G7eor’s post above) 

 

Think how much downwards pressure will be applied to the tracks which impacts the amount of traction available

 

I am not trying to put you off, just trying to point out various things that you may wish to consider carefully before parting with your hard earned. It may  work well and be the answer you are seeking, but on the other hand it might not.

 

If it were me  I think I would ask for a practical demonstration using your caravan (rather than their lightweight one) in a scenario similar to the one you have to deal with at home. 

 

Do keep us posted as to your progress. 

Edited by Mr Plodd

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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Buy a chocolate fireguard, it'll be more effective!

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I had a powrwheel (which replaced the jockeywheel) a few years ago and similar problems for a small powerboat on a trailer with the 3-400w motor not having enough power to get up the incline.

I decided to get a winch and strap (which would have needed manual turning of the unhitched trailer in the road) but by that time decided to sell the boat anyway.  The Powerwheel went back on Ebay!

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Posted (edited)
On 26/07/2021 at 11:58, Mr Plodd said:

...

Do keep us posted as to your progress. 

 

Yes I will, but in the light of the advice received, which I've taken on board, we are going to take our second trip next week and see if, having mapped and marked the bumps, troughs and the pothole which caught the wheel last time we tried to put the caravan away, we can navigate the terrain by hand. If we can't, it will be a motor mover for sure. There will be no messing with an add-on device on the hitch. Then I'll open another thread along the lines of 'Recommend me a motor mover' and see about maybe doing a DIY installation. 

Edited by hawkaye
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It’s not  a difficult job to do a DIY motor mover installation if you are reasonably competent at DIY.

As for which is the best well you will get all sorts of recommendations because, like most other things, people are (nearly) always convinced that whatever they have purchased is the best (which is why they bought that make) 

 

My advice would be to do your own research and make your own mind up. There are not that many manufacturers and the prices, like for like, are pretty similar. If you speak with your dealer they might just have one they have removed from a trade in they would sell you for a lot less than a new one. Worth asking at least. 

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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Am I correct in assuming the main reason you are reluctant top fit a motor-mover is weight?

 

We too have an Eccles 480, 2019 year.   One of the reasons we bought this van rather than the "Elegance" version was a lower door (able to fit our Caravanstore "bag" awning)  and the easily achieved extra payload to cope with a bike rack and 2 cycles. 

 

In our case we asked for an upgrade to 1500 kg before delivery and it was free.  I think you may need to pay a small amount for retro re-grading.

 

We now have a payload of 248 kg.  Enough for motor-mover and couple of bikes plus anything else we might decide to bring (more or less!) 

 

I've no idea about Mr Shifta style movers but I do know standard movers do a great job.  My advice, for what it's worth, is upgrade your weight and fit a standard mover.

 

In our case I can achieve a nose weight of anything from 80 kg let's say up to 100 kg with ease.  My preferred nose weight is 95 kg and that's simple to set even with the bikes on the rear of the van.

 

All this assumes you have all that is necessary to drag 1500 kg of course. 

 

Ohhhhhhh  Another thing I might add.  I removed the spare wheel holder from under the van (and saved about 6 kg I think) and used the central "knob" on the carrier that holds the spare in place to fit the spare in the front locker on the "light side" of the van (ie nearside).

 

Easy job and I now have a clean easily accessible spare if ever needed.

 

Edited by Squash
typos
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:Plus1:

Edited by Lagerorwine
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Is nobody seeing the obvious solution here. JayandJay's "mate" has one in his garage which he deems a waste of space

 

OP thinks one might solve a specific issue he has

 

Perhaps JayandJay could introduce the OP to the mate with the unwanted Mr Shifta. 

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12 minutes ago, PMW said:

...

Perhaps JayandJay could introduce the OP to the mate with the unwanted Mr Shifta. 

 

Already dealt with that one by pm thanks.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Update; during our few days away last week Mrs H gashed her shin (including an artery) while dismounting her bike by the side of the Peak Forest canal. Some messy lightning first-aid followed. After the mandatory 3 hours wait in A&E at Stepping Hill, Stockport, she was pronounced a temporary invalid. Moving the van across the newly-surfaced road at home was difficult enough with two of us. The chances of me doing it on my own I assessed as nil. The caravan is now parked up at my mate's farm and a lightweight Purpleline Titanium mover ordered. It should be fitted on Thursday.

 

Fred Drift now has the following observations about the mishap;

1. Carry a First Aid kit when out and about by all means, but include an old, clean handkerchief, or tea-towel. Or bath-towel.

2. Standard plasters do not stick at all well to fresh blood.

3. Feel free to enlist the help of passers-by, especially if one happens to be a retired GP.

4. Also feel free to enlist the help of the walking wounded in A&E to mop up after you, especially when the Triage nurse hasn't spotted the nick in the artery, because of the blood.

5. Under no circumstances should you absent yourself to go and get fuel without getting cleaned up, in case the station attandant thinks you carry a knife and have a violent disposition.

 

Mrs. H is recovering and the wound appears to be knitting up well.

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On 08/08/2021 at 15:57, hawkaye said:

Update; during our few days away last week Mrs H gashed her shin (including an artery) while dismounting her bike by the side of the Peak Forest canal. Some messy lightning first-aid followed. After the mandatory 3 hours wait in A&E at Stepping Hill, Stockport, she was pronounced a temporary invalid. Moving the van across the newly-surfaced road at home was difficult enough with two of us. The chances of me doing it on my own I assessed as nil. The caravan is now parked up at my mate's farm and a lightweight Purpleline Titanium mover ordered. It should be fitted on Thursday.

 

Fred Drift now has the following observations about the mishap;

1. Carry a First Aid kit when out and about by all means, but include an old, clean handkerchief, or tea-towel. Or bath-towel.

2. Standard plasters do not stick at all well to fresh blood.

3. Feel free to enlist the help of passers-by, especially if one happens to be a retired GP.

4. Also feel free to enlist the help of the walking wounded in A&E to mop up after you, especially when the Triage nurse hasn't spotted the nick in the artery, because of the blood.

5. Under no circumstances should you absent yourself to go and get fuel without getting cleaned up, in case the station attandant thinks you carry a knife and have a violent disposition.

 

Mrs. H is recovering and the wound appears to be knitting up well.

 

Did she catch her shin on part of her bike?

 

Nicking an artery is quite scary.  Good job you weren't in the middle of nowhere (as I often am) and on my own.  I was up on a very quiet and lonely road in the moors at Exmoor last month and I saw no walkers, other cyclists and very few cars.  Will carry an old towel in my panier from now on!

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1 hour ago, meadowsweet said:

 

Did she catch her shin on part of her bike?

...

She did. She had kicked her front mudguard earlier. The kick made the sharp end of the mudguard stay poke out of the boss by about 5mm. To my shame, I hadn't noticed. Also, 30 years of telling her to put the brakes on during mount and dismount isn't long enough apparently.

 

All well now.

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On 26/07/2021 at 11:58, Mr Plodd said:

...

Do keep us posted as to your progress. 

 

Update; Purple Line Quattro Titanium mover with 7-year warranty  now fitted by local mobile chap, and fully operational. New puncture-proof 10" jockey wheel with nice roller bearings fitted. As expected, navigates the bumps in the newly-surfaced road with ease. Caravan is now in its proper place. Next job is to give it some road lights for when we come home after dark and I've disconnected it from the car...

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