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Towing cover alternative


Ukzero
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I have specified our Inos caravan without awning rails.

This means that even if I wanted to buy the "Specialised Covers" towing cover for this caravan there will be no way to fit it (if we had wanted to fit a towing cover I would have specified awning rails).

However, this isn't a post about towing covers yes vs no.

 

The rear of our Nissan Navara with its fitted hard top canopy will screen most of the front of the caravan anyway from damaging impacts, but one downside of a pick up with high ground clearance is debris thrown up by the rear wheels.

As it happens even regular tow vehicles with quite large rear mudflaps can still throw up stones and debris to hit the front of a caravan. Our Kuga had mudflaps and yet using a laser pointer I could see that stones could still be "thrown" at the caravan front skirt passing under the mudflaps.

I have already extended the Navara mudflaps for solo use, but to extend them sufficiently at the back of the wheel arch to fully protect the caravan they would be pretty much scraping along the ground.

The alternative is to set additonal mudflaps well behind the wheelarch as in the diagram:

Suppflap2.jpg

 

 

I have just made the first of a pair of additional flaps (40cm wide, 30cm tall) which are a quick clamp-on fit below the rear bumper when we want to tow (will be taken off when solo).

The 4mm rubber is stiff enough not to flap about, but soft enough to give in case of grounding.

The support bars are aluminium and the P-clips and other fittings are stainless.

 

Suppflap.jpg

 

Yes the front can still get mucky, but when we go and collect it I will feel happier that the journey home will be damage free.

 

The top part of the caravan will still be exposed (as it would be even if a cover was fitted), but I have a plan for that......

 

Edited by Ukzero
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3 hours ago, Ukzero said:

Yes the front can still get mucky, but when we go and collect it I will feel happier that the journey home will be damage free.

 

 

 

My Nissan 4x4 suffered a broken windscreen at the very bottom close to the wiper blade,  caused by a speeding object from another vehicle, it was almost straight through the glass.

Our Bucanneer suffered a broken grab handle again caused by a stone obviously not from the towing vehicle. I wouldn't tow without a cover now. saves on missile damage and saves on the cleaning.

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As I said I wasn't planning to continue the tow cover yes vs no debate and I would never try to dissuade others from using them. 

 

One thing that struck me watching the off road hill climb section of the recent Top Gear show was how the freshly cleaned "caravans" were quickly plastered all up the front and even over their relatively low roofs. In this case it can only have been thrown up by the tow vehicles, none of which would have had any mud flaps fitted. 

It was a good illustration of vulnerability of the front of a caravan (and clearly not just the bottom edge) to stuff thrown up by the tow vehicle right in front of them. 

 

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Too late to add to the above post, but illustrates how exposed the front of a caravan is to the debris thrown up by the tow vehicle. Decent mudflaps may have spoiled the "aesthetic", but would certainly have helped.

 

Suppflap3.jpg

Edited by Ukzero
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At first glance I thought that was a Christmas tree not mud  !! 

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

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Looks very professional.  30cm to those of us who don't know much detail about you weights etc don't give us an idea of your expected 'gap' to road at static conditions.  Is your outfit - heavy van but stiff tow vehicle likely to 'vary' significantly from the static when towing?

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Might be worth having the front done in Paint Protection film to prevent damage? 

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16 minutes ago, SamD said:

Looks very professional.  30cm to those of us who don't know much detail about you weights etc don't give us an idea of your expected 'gap' to road at static conditions.  Is your outfit - heavy van but stiff tow vehicle likely to 'vary' significantly from the static when towing?

The back end of the Navara is a lot less stiff and choppy now I have replaced the coil springs with air units. I can also adjust ride height. 

I will post pictures of the final set up when I get a chance.

The flaps could well end up grounding over uneven surfaces, though unlikely on normal roads. 

That is why they are made in such a way that grounding won't damage them, or more importantly, damage the tow vehicle. 

2 minutes ago, Jezzerb said:

Might be worth having the front done in Paint Protection film to prevent damage? 

That is something else we are looking at.

We are already planning a heavy duty carbon fibre effect wrap for part of the front which will help. 

We needed to do something to make the front end look better! 

 

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Here's an update to show my towing flaps fitted and the Navara rear air suspension set for the correct towball height when the carvan is hitched.

The first picture shows how much more the set back flaps will catch than my already DIY extensions on the standard Navara mudlflaps.

The bits I added are all made out of rubber which is thick enough not to flap about, but pliable enough to bend and deform in case of grounding to avoid damage.

 

Suppflapa.jpg

In this picture you can see that I have made the towing flaps wider to further increase protection.

Suppflapb.jpg

Note: These flaps will be put on for towing and removed for solo travel. The fixings make fitting and removal nice and easy.

 

Edited by Ukzero
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In the top picture, the near flap shows a curve which may give the flap an unwanted amount of vertical strength?

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On 04/12/2021 at 19:02, Ian McH said:

My Nissan 4x4 suffered a broken windscreen at the very bottom close to the wiper blade,  caused by a speeding object from another vehicle, it was almost straight through the glass.

Our Bucanneer suffered a broken grab handle again caused by a stone obviously not from the towing vehicle. I wouldn't tow without a cover now. saves on missile damage and saves on the cleaning.

I agree!    Big mudflaps and towing skirts do improve things but not all damage comes from the tug wheels.

I use a cover and I doubt that fitting it is any more trouble than fitting and removing flaps

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Out of idle curiosity, why did you specify no awning rails.  We find them useful for all sorts of things - not just awnings.

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The awning rail on offer is a screw on rail separate to and below the edge mouldings. There are no openings other than the ends and the ends are not flared and bare. One aspect of small production volume which is definitely not as high quality as one might expect.

We could have specified short rails just for a towing cover, but the same issues apply.

Couple that with what I have mentioned elsewhere. The leading edges of the Inos stand proud of the main front panel meaning that the available cover fitted when awning rails are present is not a tight fit over the front window, etc.

 

I'm not trying to champion or even justify our choice not to use a cover, it is a purely personal choice in this application.

So, having chosen not to use a cover the mudflap idea is a natural next step to add some protection.

As an aside, the flaps take under a minute to fix both pairs and when taken off, drop in a plastic box - no cleaning required.

Edited by Ukzero
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I understand re the awning rail.  The screw on type just fills your van with holes.  Not a good idea.  As for the mud flaps.  Anything that stops debris thrown up from the wheels is a good idea.  The first Alu-tech were susceptible to dents on the front aprons from just that.  Many vans ago I had a couple of 'Silverline' caravans, their USP was a stainless steel front apron for guess what, Protection against stones thrown up by the wheels.

 

 

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We did specify our car to be fitted with mud flaps. They do help a bit, but in reality if the weather is so bad that the front is covered in mud then the sides will be too, so you still have to wash it. 

I do wonder if the lack of an awning rail will affect the price when you sell it.  Possibly the buyer will not notice, but it will help in the fight against damp.

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Just a thought,, how about suction cups attached to the cover straps and then stuck to the van sides?

I am sure that strong enough lever locking cups must be available and if not extra straps could be fitted, after all the forward motion is helping to hold the cover in place and there is a strap under the A frame as well.

Unless of course I am missing something really obvious  (done it before)

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5 hours ago, Wildwood said:

We did specify our car to be fitted with mud flaps. They do help a bit, but in reality if the weather is so bad that the front is covered in mud then the sides will be too, so you still have to wash it. 

I do wonder if the lack of an awning rail will affect the price when you sell it.  Possibly the buyer will not notice, but it will help in the fight against damp.

Mud flaps: I don't mind the muck - our extra mudflaps are primarily to reduce stone damage, etc.

Resale:  As and when we come to sell the Inos it will be the end of our caravanning days and so it will be sold complete with the Thule panorama room which would certainly sweeten the deal.

4 hours ago, robertB said:

Just a thought,, how about suction cups attached to the cover straps and then stuck to the van sides?

I don't worry about not fitting a towing cover. I didn't use on on our previous new 'van. However, if I were to change my mind I have already designed a discrete and secure fixing method.

Edited by Ukzero
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21 hours ago, alicanto grande said:

Have you seen the damage that lever type or screw type suction cups can do to van body - not so bad on GRP but can pull aluminium out like carbunkles

Didn't realise that,    I use them all the time on our aluminium sides even had 6 supplied with the air awning never had a problem.

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It depends how thick the aluminium is and how powerful the suckers are - some can be wound up pretty tight and I have seen some of the damage that can be done.

 

I'm not suggesting that all of them do it, but I'd suggest that suckers that were capable of holding a towing cover on at 60mph or more may have to be a bit stronger and may get wound tighter than those to keep the draughts out of an awning.

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Hmm the type of suction cup that I use is the lever over non adjustable type where the lever is a hook and I use them to anchor my porch awning in place on the rail I still think that when used in shear that they would hold a cover without damage.

Without trying, who knows!

Know what you mean about the wind up ones though

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