Motor movers undoubtedly remove a lot of hard manual work from caravanning but some things need to be borne in mind about their use to avoid damage to the caravan chassis.
The motors are very powerful so do ensure there's nothing in the way of the caravan and don't forget to take the handbrake off. It's important to put the handbrake back on before disengaging the rollers unless you have chocked the wheels or you are completely satisfied the ground is flat.
Guiding the caravan by remote control is effortless and thus it's easy to overlook minor features on the ground that can cause problems. A jockey wheel bogged down in soft ground, shingle or chocked by a stone or bumper kerb can cause great stress on the caravan chassis and often the first symptom is a bent jockey wheel.
It is best to use a heavy duty jockey wheel, preferably with a pneumatic tyre and if possible a jockey wheel with some form of suspension (the noseweight gauge type).
Don't neglect your mover, follow the mover manufacturer's maintenance instructions and ensure the required checks and lubrication are included on the service schedule when you take your caravan in for service.
The original motorised caravan movers like the one above are self-contained devices that attach to the hitch or jockey wheel bracket and the motor powers small wheels with the power coming from the caravan's leisure battery or its own battery. Manoeuvring is usually undertaken with the aid of a long handle attached to the unit.
Not being permanently attached to the caravan means the available payload is not reduced. Such units are designed for use at one site and are not really for taking with you because of their weight and bulk. So if your main problem is with manoeuvring your caravan in and out of the storage at home this could be an economical option.
There are several disadvantages with this type of mover. As the steering and power controls are located on the steering handle at the front of the unit, when reversing a caravan you may need an assistant to guide you. A far bigger problem with a hitch mover is the poor traction experienced, particularly on gravel and soft ground. This isn't surprising considering the size of tyres and the small contact area with the ground and limited weight on the tyre.
Some movers can be supplied with special tyres to help where softer ground is to be encountered but they're not always successful depending on your exact conditions. Some companies offer to demonstrate at your home or sell on a sale or return basis.
Be cautious before using a hitch mover that operates by replacing your normal jockey wheel. AL-KO, the manufacturer of chassis for about 85 per cent of the UK's caravans, does not recommend the drive being taken through the jockey wheel.
However, on relatively flat and hard surfaces, hitch- and jockey-mounted movers can prove very successful. Jockey mounted movers do have an advantage over hitch-mounted movers for turning twin axle caravans as the hitch can be raised to reduce the load on the caravan's front axle.
Another version of a hitch mover is Pro-Tec's compact demountable mover pictured above that fits to a pre-installed fixing on the caravan's A-frame. This mover has its own lithium ion battery, runs on rubber tracks and is operated by remote control. It may be of use where there is limited payload available for a traditional motor mover as this unit is light and easy enough to remove and can be transported in the towcar.
The National Caravan Council has a Code of Practice (305) for the design specification and installation of motorised movers. It is specifically aimed at caravans but would be equally suited to other trailer based products like a folding camper. This CoP ensures the mover meets certain requirements such as tackling a 15% gradient both up and down hill and providing isolation switch for the movers power supply. So it is worthwhile asking prior to purchase if the CoP is being followed. If this is the case the installer should provide a check list and declaration
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