Here’s some simple rules that work for 4WD, camper and marriage preservation and based around our experience hiring Kimberley camper trailers for the last 15 years:
1. Tyre Pressure 1 – Your 4WD will have a tyre placard near the driver’s door. That will be the CORRECT pressure for the highway. When on high-speed dirt (up to a maximum ceiling of 80kph) let 20% of the air out. A tyre with some flex will absorb most of the puncture potential and chassis breaking vibrations that plague some people’s travels. With 20% less air, slow down by 20%… now no faster than 80kph!!! PS Whatever you do with the 4WD do with the camper too!Tubemate Download
2. Tyre Pressure 2 – Be prepared to further reduce pressure when the track becomes DEEPLY corrugated, sandy, muddy to enhance grip and further assist to deflect the killer vibrations and further reduce speed in line with pressure reduction… i.e. a 50% reduction in pressure accompanied by a 50% reduction in speed. PS Whatever you do with the 4WD do with the camper too!
3. Have realistic timeframes – You won’t be able to see all of the Kimberleys (in WA) in the time often allotted for a holiday because it is such a long way away from us here in Adelaide and there’s so much of it. Be selective so you can pace your trip accordingly, with plenty of chill-out time instead of driving time
4. Keep regular checks on the camper – In particular shockers, in and around the eyes at the mounts. The urethane bushes will eventually fail and whilst we service our campers regularly bushes are something that can fail in extreme conditions where the rules above aren’t followed. Once the bush fails and falls out, the metal eye will crash against its securing bolt and destroy both. If you drive through deep water, or more to the point mud, you’ll accelerate your chances of failure as wheel bearings will suffer and brake pads be eroded to the point of no return. Be prepared to receive a bill from us post-trip for bearing and pad replacement (if it has suffered we’ll show you the evidence to verify our claim), if it’s normal wear-and-tear there won’t be a charge
5. Don’t drive off with the jockey wheel down –That might seem like a no-brainer but it happens with the inevitable surprise!
6. Don’t drive off with the handbrake on – Again, obvious, but it happens and the result is hot brakes, fried pads, disc rotors and bearings
7. Ensure the brake “flap” is in the right position – On hydraulic over-ride brakes seen on Treg hitches there’s a simple metal flap that sits at the point where the brake piston lives just behind the urethane block. Flipped out of the way allows the brakes to operate and is ideal for made roads, bitumen and dirt for normal brake function. In slow speed off-road work close it, negating the braking action, so as you deal with difficult moments your precious momentum isn’t compromised by unwanted brake inputs
8. Look after the canvas – Don’t park under trees (sap dripping and the risk of limbs dropping), make sure the camper is level and not overstretched putting strain on walls and zippers. Buy a carpenter’s level to check how even the camper is sitting
9. Ensure the electrics stay connected – Plugs fall out of sockets on corrugations so tape them up so they can’t. A roll of electrical tape usually resides on each of our campers handbrakes for this purpose. Or another nifty tip we saw recently is to cut a couple of “calamari” rings out of an old bike tube and install them on the electrical leads to suspend the cables at a higher point and one with some flexibility too!
10. Practice makes perfect – If you’ve got no trailer experience I’d suggest you go to a trailer hire shop and pinch one for a weekend and learn how long the car and trailer now are, what space you need to turn, how to reverse etc., etc. before heading off into the wild blue yonder with one of ours. Bend one up in a jack-knife and you’ll kick yourself!
Pic Above: Happily negotiating Parachilna Gorge is she, ready for the next remote campsite – it’s easy with a bit of preparation and practice!