Camper Trailers Tech Tips

Camper Trailer Safety Check

 

 

 

camper safety check
before you drive away

As a duty of care to other road users it is a good idea to do a mandatory safety check of your camper trailer before driving away. You also have peace of mind knowing everything is where it is suppose to be and nothing is left open loosing valuable items along the road. There is nothing worse than getting into camp & finding there are no tent poles because you havenít shut the pole carrier that morning.

The coupling is a good starting point to work your way around the camper ending at the front on the opposite side. Even though you may have connected the camper to the vehicle a few minutes ago, double check to see if the pins and clips of the off road coupling are correctly in place or the ball coupling is properly seated with the locking mechanism clipped in. Some couplings have double locking safety mechanisms, particularly off road versions. If using a locking Treg pin, make sure the dust cap is in place.

Directly below the coupling are the safety chains. If you have double chains they should be crossed over and secured to the tow vehicle with suitable sized shackles. Donít use padlocks or carabineers as they are not seen as a recognized safety connection.

Next to the coupling and safety chains are the trailers lights connector. At some point of the safety check you should look to see if the tail lights are working. The trailer plug and socket connector always seem to be a problem particularly if you have not used the camper for some time. A continual wiggle usually gets the problem lights working, however a little pre-trip maintenance is always a good thing.

The male plug on the trailer can always been given a rub over with a green dishwashing scourer pad to brighten the contacts. The female socket on the rear of the tow vehicle builds up a fair bit of verdigrease and is harder to clean. The guys at Jaycar recommended a spray of Inox or WD40 and a gentle clean with a fine wirebrush, giving the connection another spray to clean it out before letting dry with a protective coating.

If you have an Anderson plug to charge the campers battery while driving, make sure it has snapped into place properly and no wires are hanging loose that could be ripped out by sticks.

Disengage the trailers handbrake & if you have an overrider brake system, place the lockout in the open position. Check to see if the jockey wheel is in its locked horizontal position or if a removable version, has been taken off & stowed.

The position of jerry and gas bottle holders will depend on the style of camper you own. Some are positioned across the front of the trailer while others have carriers on the sides. Make sure they are secured as you walk around by giving them a little tug. If you have been driving over gravel roads check to see if rocks have not worked their way down the back or even under the jerryís that will ultimately rub a hole through, leaking their valuable contents along the track.

Check that all gas bottles have been turned off and a plastic cap has been placed on the outlet to stop dust and mud from entering the valve area. It doesnít take much to clog the gas jets on gas stoves and even harder cleaning them so you can cook.

Some campers have lockers on the side so check to see if they are closed and locked.

Check the tyre pressure while they are cool. I have been using the 4lb rule for years on both the vehicle and camper. You need to run at highway speed for at least an hour to give your tyres a chance to build up enough heat. What you are aiming for is an increase of 4lb from your cold pressure reading.

If you are over the 4lb you have not put enough air in the tyres from cold. An under inflated tyre drags on the road generating heat.

If you are under the 4lb, you have put too much air in when the tyre was cold. Over inflation when cold will not generate enough heat.

You can build up a chart for cold tyre pressures of varying loads for the vehicle & trailer. The 4lb rule is not recommended for the low profile tyres some new generation 4wdís are running.

If you have any wind down stabilizing legs on the rear make sure they are up and secured. Some wind down legs have a recess the leg will fit in and then extends into it to make them rattleproof while others are simply fixed with pins, R clips or threaded bolts.

The different styles of campers have their own configuration when packed. If it is a soft floor camper check to see if the travel cover is secured either by bungie straps or with zips and velcro. If you have a hardtop camper, flip-over or windup, ensure the over-center latches are closed & any locks in place.

One of the most important things to pay attention to is the tailgate as if this opens you will have no idea your gear is being dumped along the track until your next stop which could be many kilometers away. Check to see if this has been closed and locked.

Working your way up the other side of the camper will be similar to the first side but donít think been there done that. Pay attention to the job in hand making sure everything is in order.

You are back to the front and everything is in place ready for the road. What about that 240volt lead you still have the fridge plugged into?

Have a safe journey and see you in camp.

 

 

Treg pin in position 'D' shakles tight trailer plug connected
 

 

jockey wheel up jerry tied down locker closed
 

 

water inlet locked rear leg up tailgate locked
 

 

tailgate locked tailgate locked  rear leg up
 

 

 rear leg up locker closed jerry tied down

written by Rob

 

 

february 2011