Camper Trailer across the Simpson.

Submitted: Thursday, Jan 03, 2019 at 11:22
ThreadID: 137639 Views:2543 Replies:16 FollowUps:43
I am doing a double crossing of the Simpson in July to the Big Red Bash with my son, after the event there are another 3 vehicles going back along the Madigan line with me. I am heading over along the French line.
Two of us are towing a camper trailer, and I would like some ideas to make the crossing easier so as not to rip up the track and just to make proper preparations for the trip.
My trailer is a 6x4 with a soft floor tent and I believe my mates is a small pop up model, mine has 1400 kg rated springs a 2.2 tonne rated axle with Landcruiser size bearings and a Treg hitch. It will weigh about 1 tonne.
Apart from it being a sandy desert with dunes to cross, what is it that makes taking a camper across the Simson any more difficult than any other road? The tow vehicle is a 2011 200 series, with full draw system in the back a 180lt long range tank twin wheel carrier on the back and a roof rack that will have bugger all on it with new EFS suspension. We will have plenty of recovery gear and all of us are experienced out back traveller, however none of us have crossed the Simpson before.
Any thought would be appreciated.
Cheers Steve
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Reply By: Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, Jan 03, 2019 at 12:10

Thursday, Jan 03, 2019 at 12:10
Steve,

Conditions depend on the season. If there's been some rain and not too many others before you (good luck with that - the Simpson in association with The Bash is like Sydney's M5 in peak hour) the sand could be firm and you'll have few problems.

If it's been dry - it's a desert! - the sand will be loose. There are about 1200 dunes to cross, from memory. With trailers in your party you will get stuck, multiple times. It will be slow going and hard on your vehicle as you will need a run up on every dune to gain required momentum. Other traffic will have cut bumps and you'll be bouncing like hell, repeatedly bottoming your suspension. It's very hard on everything - people, tug and trailer.

I've posted about a mate's misfortune towing across the Simpson in a recent similar thread here. We had to recover him at least a dozen times, and in negotiating the other 1188 dunes he just about broke his then new tug. Like you, he was an experienced outback traveller.

Nevertheless I've absolutely no doubt you can do it, you have experience and all the right gear. But you will chop up the track, get stuck, hold up others. And then in their impatience they may cut a track around you. All of this contributes to a progressive ruination of the environment you've gone out there to see.

But trailers are not illegal, SA Nat Parks just discourages them and I'm guessing your itinerary doesn't give you many options for leaving them somewhere.

If you must take them, I can make only two suggestions, which you most probably are aware of:

1) Keep everything as light as possible. Be aggressive in reducing weight in both tug and trailer.
2) Low, low tyre pressures in both tug and trailer and reduced speed in the swales. I'm thinking 15PSI, lower if necessary. And then be careful about popping a bead. Know how to clean the bead and re-seat it.

Cheers
AnswerID: 622980

Follow Up By: Steve in Kakadu - Saturday, Jan 05, 2019 at 16:05

Saturday, Jan 05, 2019 at 16:05
Thanks for your input Frank.

As a Chief Ranger in one of Kakadu's districts, you can rest assured that we will leave the track as good as we found it. After all looking after the environment is my day to day job.

As for others we may hold up, we will make sure they get past without to much issue.

I will certainly take your advice on board when preparing for the trip.

Cheers.
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Reply By: rumpig - Thursday, Jan 03, 2019 at 12:48

Thursday, Jan 03, 2019 at 12:48
The dunes get chopped up with big holes due to others not deflating tyres sufficiently, means speed or i should say decent momentum is not an option to get over then without doing possible damage to vehicle and or trailer. The tracks aren't straight up and over the dunes, at times they dog leg and that washes off momentum, then when you get to the top of the dune the track might kick left or right before going down the other side...this is hard to work out at times which way you'll need to go, so that means momentum is gone again and with trailer on the back means more of a chance of getting bogged.
Outback driving is one thing, soft sand driving whilst towing is another thing altogether. With the right tyre pressures it certainly can be done, though what some people think is a low tyre pressure, is possibly nowhere near low enough to what they really need to be at.
AnswerID: 622981

Follow Up By: Steve in Kakadu - Saturday, Jan 05, 2019 at 15:53

Saturday, Jan 05, 2019 at 15:53
Thanks for the info, good to know about the twists and turns on the dunes. I dare say we will walk a few if they look sus.

Cheers.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Sunday, Jan 06, 2019 at 23:20

Sunday, Jan 06, 2019 at 23:20
.
Hi Steve,

Daresay you will walk up very few. It gets tough going.

Yes, many dune tops have a sharp change of direction on the top which can catch you out with possible hair-raising consequences!

Our technique is for the "navigator" to lean forward close to the windscreen which affords a forward view a moment earlier than the driver and shout "LEFT" or "RIGHT" as the case may be. The driver must place full trust in this call and immediately wrench the wheel in the called direction.

Works like a charm for us.
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Michael H9 - Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 00:20

Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 00:20
What if the navigator is female? I used to drive a taxi when I was young and can say with 100% certainty that girls have a lot of problems with left and right. Not being sexist, just pointing out a factual observation from a very large sample.... :-)
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 09:38

Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 09:38
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Well Michael, next thing you may tell me is that your taxi passengers were also blonde? lol

All I can say is that when I am at the wheel my "navigator" is female. And half the time, Roz is at the wheel and I am the navigator, even when crossing the Simpson.
Perhaps I am fortunate that Roz knows her left from her right and is a better navigator than I.
Cheers
Allan

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Reply By: Phil G - Thursday, Jan 03, 2019 at 15:38

Thursday, Jan 03, 2019 at 15:38
Are you planning on doing the Madigan Line from the east? If so its more difficult than from the west.
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Thursday, Jan 03, 2019 at 15:59

Thursday, Jan 03, 2019 at 15:59
Good point, reads like that’s the plan.

We had a 200 towing large camper on a Madigan west to east crossing a few years ago, did REALLY well, family if 4 too, a few times when in front or behind I was thinking he’ll get stuck on this one, but no he had no problems at all.

I agree though, going the other way I recall looking back and thinking that one would be a bugger to get over going the other way, there were maybe half a dozen like that, very steep and loose sand.
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Follow Up By: Steve in Kakadu - Saturday, Jan 05, 2019 at 15:48

Saturday, Jan 05, 2019 at 15:48
We are doing the French line West to East, and then the Madigan Line East to West.

It will only be me with a camper now, so the camper behind the 200 sould be ok. We will have plenty of space in other vehicles( utes) to spred the weight if necessary.

Cheers for the info.
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Reply By: Member - DOZER - Thursday, Jan 03, 2019 at 20:07

Thursday, Jan 03, 2019 at 20:07
I crossed the simo west to east in 2017. the 200 didn't get into low range, such is the torque... did the French line, enjoyed the trip. Seen plenty of broken vehicles from overloading, average speed on the French was 18 km/hr, go faster and its back breaking, or suspension breaking, take your pick. regular breaks to cool the shocks and enjoy the view worked for us. If you use the rig road, you will be able to do 50-60km/hr. It is wider, firmer base and more trailer friendly. The problem with trailers is getting stuck and having to reverse back. A lot of the dunes don't have straight up tracks, but s bends. If you are an ace reverser, all good, if not, very bad.
b4 you bag me out, walk a mile in my shoes, then your a mile away and have my shoes :)

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Follow Up By: Steve in Kakadu - Saturday, Jan 05, 2019 at 15:41

Saturday, Jan 05, 2019 at 15:41
Thanks Dozer. Yeah Ive been towing trailers most of my driving life, so no trouble reversing. Ive done sand work before on Frazer Island without issue, so that parts ok. It was the dunes I was a bit concerned about.

We won't be travelling fast, so stopping for a break or to let others past is not an issue either.

Thanks for the input.
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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Thursday, Jan 03, 2019 at 20:53

Thursday, Jan 03, 2019 at 20:53
If you’re heading up though Camp 22 & Annandale(good camp), Steve, through to Hay River track at Camp 16, the sandhills west of Camp 20 will sort out whether you’ll have trouble with the ones Les mentioned after Camp 15. The few big ones are just that: BIG!

As already recommended, the Rig Road is a pleasure to drive. Was on it in late Sept 18, and only had one moment. Up the K1 is a good drive to Poeppels Corner, with some good gidgea camps on the way. Would only do the French Line to “tick the box”. Another option would be up Knolls Track from Rig, past the Knolls, and onto the French Line, to see what you’ve missed out on.

Bob

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Can't remember most of it.

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Follow Up By: Steve in Kakadu - Saturday, Jan 05, 2019 at 15:43

Saturday, Jan 05, 2019 at 15:43
Thanks Bob. We obviously have a bit of prep to do so will look into different tracks as well.

We will definately give it some thought.

Cheers
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Reply By: Keith B2 - Thursday, Jan 03, 2019 at 21:15

Thursday, Jan 03, 2019 at 21:15
We did it a few years ago, west to east, along the French Line. It was early April; there had been rain in January and the track was in good nick. We towed a 1400kg trailer with a lifted 200 series with 285 x 33's. We ran 16 rear and 13 front cold pressures with 13 psi in the trailer, all of which went up by 3psi as the tyres warmed up. I checked the tyre temperatures periodically - 50 degrees on the shady side and 55 in the sun.

We used first and second gear high range and drove it like a manual with traction control switched off. We went slowly, did not lose traction once and did no track damage.

But the sand was fairly firm. Averaged 26l/100km from Mt Dare to Birdsville. I don't think I'd do it east to west by the same route with a trailer.

Take the appropriate recovery gear plus a satphone with plenty of room on your credit card in case the worst happens. We travelled alone and took Maxtracks, a sand anchor and a 4.5 tonne air bag as well as a fitted winch and all the other usual stuff. It was a wonderful trip.

Keith

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Follow Up By: Steve in Kakadu - Saturday, Jan 05, 2019 at 15:51

Saturday, Jan 05, 2019 at 15:51
Thanks for the info, we will have plenty of recovery gear including several sets of Max Tracks.

Cheers
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Reply By: Steve in Kakadu - Thursday, Jan 03, 2019 at 21:37

Thursday, Jan 03, 2019 at 21:37
Some great info to date, I just got home and will answer your input in the morning.
Thanks.
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Reply By: Member - Boobook - Saturday, Jan 05, 2019 at 18:06

Saturday, Jan 05, 2019 at 18:06
Steve, I have towed across the Simpson twice.

The biggest issue you will face is that the tracks over some of the larger dunes get chopped up on the approach and the tracks veer to the right or left half way up the dune in tight s bend as the track shifts to the left or right when people make new tracks over the crest.

This means that you get chopped up approaches then you have to do a tight right turn, then tight left turn to get over the dune. You tend to lose momentum because you can't get enough speed up on the approach.

So my advice is

1)Get a couple of witches hats in say a car park, and practice doing reverse figure 8's around them. When you can do it in under 2 mins reliably, make the cones closer until you get to about 15 m apart and can confidently do it in 2 mins. You will need up to date, precise, confident reversing skills. Reversing sideways on a slope where you cant see and hardly cant steer takes a lot of practice.

2)Avoice the Fench line. Use the WAA line, it's less chopped up, less busy and nicer. Especially around the zoo festival.

3)On the Eastern side when the dunes are bigger, 14PSI or less will be best in the rears.

4)Try to go slow on the approaches, take the foot off the pedal as you hit the tight turns, then put the foot in after the front wheels get around the corners on the approaches. Otherwise, you will just go straight head regardless of where the steering is pointing.

5)Rig up something on a jack so you can take the trailer off and on the tow ball and drop the hitch to the ground without the trailer wheel/ Attach a spade to act as a sleigh slide under the hitch, use tie down straps to hold it to the trailer frame. Use this if you simply cant get over a dune.

6)bring the Desert rules with you to show everyone who tells you that it's illegal to tow across the Simpson.

7) send someone not towing to ct as a scout and to tow you if necessary. Buy them a slab before you leave.

8)Bring firewood for the western 1/3 of the desert, there isn't much at all.

And most importantly...

9)Avoid anywhere within 350km of Birdsville for a week either side of the Big Red dates.

AnswerID: 623044

Reply By: Sigmund - Sunday, Jan 06, 2019 at 14:40

Sunday, Jan 06, 2019 at 14:40
4 Maxtrax/Treds have been known to allow a restart up the track without backing down.

Be prepared for trailer welds, bolts, studs etc to break. Momentum + moguls = mayhem.

And, why?

Not necessary, not fun, not courteous.
AnswerID: 623059

Follow Up By: Shaker - Sunday, Jan 06, 2019 at 16:56

Sunday, Jan 06, 2019 at 16:56
We towed campers on the Canning Stock & in my case it was quite necessary, it was a lot of fun & we certainly weren’t discourteous as we radioed ahead to ensure that there was nobody approaching from the opposite direction.
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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Sunday, Jan 06, 2019 at 17:23

Sunday, Jan 06, 2019 at 17:23
We're talking about the Simpson.
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Follow Up By: Steve in Kakadu - Sunday, Jan 06, 2019 at 19:29

Sunday, Jan 06, 2019 at 19:29
Hi Sigmund.
We have plenty of Maxtracks, the trailer is well built and been on more corrugated dirt roads than in care to remember.

However, your last 3 comments were not necessary, not funny and not courteous.

Cheers.
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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Sunday, Jan 06, 2019 at 19:39

Sunday, Jan 06, 2019 at 19:39
It's a shared resource.

At that time of year you will be putting your own comfort ahead of others' progress. You won't be asking them if they mind.

Go at a quiet time if you can't do it without towing.
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Follow Up By: Steve in Kakadu - Sunday, Jan 06, 2019 at 20:06

Sunday, Jan 06, 2019 at 20:06
Gee Sigmund, you are full of asumptions.

Fistly, you seem to know more about my needs than i do. I have only just started to work out what i need for 2 weeks in the desert, i dont even know what is necessary yet.

You seem to think i will hold everyone up, that will not be our intention. If someone needs to race pass we will let them.

I get you don’t like trailers on the Simpson, so hear is my advice to you. Don’t be out there between the 12th to the 25th of July, because that’s when i and probably several others with campers will be there.

Thanks for the advice with the Maxtracks.

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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Sunday, Jan 06, 2019 at 20:46

Sunday, Jan 06, 2019 at 20:46
You don't know what it's like out there, and at that time of year.
That's why you posted here.
You have the wrong image in mind.
Eg two of us wrote 'moguls'. You heard 'corrugations'.
You can expect to find one convoy already queued at the foot of a ridge waiting for another to clear.
You should expect to encounter a driver flooring it over the sand ridge crest right into the soft wind-blown sand in which you're stuck. How are you going to describe where you are on the UHF to send out a warning? Going to be doing that for the half hour it takes to deal with four boards?
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Follow Up By: Steve in Kakadu - Sunday, Jan 06, 2019 at 21:07

Sunday, Jan 06, 2019 at 21:07
Thanks for your input, duly noted.
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Follow Up By: mountainman - Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 13:28

Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 13:28
Steve
Im guessing that your a ranger in kakadu nat park.
Got some questions if i could ask.
And grab your work email address and not sidetrack the thread
Thanks for looking after the Bush, country
Much appreciated
Cheers

Noel
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Follow Up By: Steve in Kakadu - Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 19:49

Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 19:49
Hi Noel.

I have asked the moderators to send you my email address.

Cheers

Steve
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Follow Up By: mountainman - Wednesday, Jan 09, 2019 at 21:01

Wednesday, Jan 09, 2019 at 21:01
Hi Steve
not too sure if that way is possible
But my email address is tacklesnout@yahoo.com
Cheers
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Reply By: Member - John - Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 06:36

Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 06:36
Steve, three of us attempted it, East /West ,with trailers last year in June, it had been hot, sand was not firm, we all made it over little Red easy, ah ha, this will be a good easy trip, tried the next dune, 200 series first, tried three times, no way with out breaking something was he going to make it, finally back down, conference between us, decide that breaking gear, holding up others was not what we wanted to do, back to Birdsvillle. Yes it can be done, should it be done, no. Going this June with out trailers.
John and Jan

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 09:09

Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 09:09
Hi John

Just a question for you if you do not mind, and an honest one please.

We are no strangers to Simpson desert crossings and have driven it many times over the decades.

As we all know, the east faces of the dunes are steeper compared the the longer, more gentle approach of coming from the west. I do personally prefer the challenge and like an east west crossing.

The biggest thing that I have seen with any new sand drivers, and you can not get it through their thick skull (this I hope is not aimed at you) is bloody Tyre pressures.

What Tyre pressures was the guy in the 200 Series using? This is where I want an honest and true answer, as I know from experience that I bet he was running far too high, and alone was his reason for not getting over.

Now remember, an honest answer please.


Now for my answer, remember I an no Simpson virgin.

Regardless of what vehicles I am driving, if it was me in your situation and towing this is what I would be running in very soft sand
....


Front and rear pressures in my vehicle.........10psi

The trailer Tyre pressures......8 psi.

I never charge like a madman at dunes, just the right gearing and slow and gentle and you will get over without any dramas.........and of course in four wheel drive.

I say four wheel drive, as I can not tell you the number of peanuts that I have seen thinking they do not need low Tyre pressures (0ne Group where on 40psi and I could not convince them they will never get over with those pressures) or engaging 4X4.


Now back to my original question, what pressures was the 200 running on both vehicle and trailer?




Cheers



Stephen



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Follow Up By: rumpig - Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 09:58

Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 09:58
In 2010 I watched a mate and another guy (both not towing) trying to get up Big Red for near 45 minutes after we crossed the desert, both were unsuccessful (there was water either side of the dune then and no run up could be done)....no idea what tyre pressure the other guy was running, but my mate in his Patrol was running 12 psi rear and 10psi fronts. I drove down in my Cruiser (similar size and weight to mates Patrol, I went 10psi rears and 8 psi fronts, nearly got over on the first attempt (front tyres got over only). It took me 3 attempts (I missed a gear change on second attempt) and I was over, Patrol mate then drove back down and reduced tyres 2 more psi alround and drove over it with ease......it’s all about tyre pressures with sand driving, Many people think 20psi or 18psi is a low pressure and fear to go below it, but if you are getting bogged, it’s likely your tyre pressure is to high i’d say.
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Follow Up By: Member - John - Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 10:10

Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 10:10
Still don't like the forum where I can't reply to a direct question.

Stephen, mate had 15 psi front 18 rear to start off with, little red was not a problem for all of us. Next dune mate tried, back down, lowered tyre pressures, tried again, back down, lowered tyre pressures tried again, no go. Ended up he was at 10 front 12 rear, not sure about trailer pressures at this time, think they were still at 15psi. As my other mate and I were towing heavier c/t, with 80 series petrol and 4.8 patrol we figured, yes, we would get over dunes eventually, but at what cost to dunes and vehicles? We had all done a Simpson crossing before.
John and Jan

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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 11:05

Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 11:05
John,

That sandhill you speak off is immediately after Big/Little Red, and I’d suggest it’s a bit of a giant killer. In June‘17, I got mixed up with some Outback Spirit vehicles at Big Red, and while I dropped some air they finished off some promotional videoing. They kindly allowed me to go in the lead, and I promptly embarrassed myself, and amused them, by taking 3 goes to get up that bugger.

There is another big one, out near Colson or Erabena junctions, that can be difficult, with large scallops in both wheel tracks near the crest.

Bob

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Can't remember most of it.

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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 11:16

Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 11:16
Have always regarded QAA Line (and the eastern side of the Simpson, both in SA and NT in general) to have some of the biggest, softest, and most challenging dunes, even the west faces when very dry / soft and deep.
Besides the less steep western dune faces, the other reason west to east is generally easier is you are down a lot of fuel / food & drinks / water weight by the time you hit the eastern half.
Of course that is less vehicle stress too.

Hmmm yeah, but as you say Bob, if vehicle starting weight can be managed ok, the westerly travel direction can bring a lot of ‘enjoyment’.
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Reply By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 11:38

Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 11:38
.
Hi Steve,

We have been across the Simpson many time in both directions. For us it is a route to the Western Deserts and we find little difference in driving in either direction.

Each vehicle is different and so is each driver and their technique. I can only describe our style which works well for us.

On our first crossing we selected 18psi all round and approached the dunes with some speed. Got across most but had to have a second attempt on several. Bounced about something awful and injured Roz's back!
The Ranger at Dalhousie told us that he runs at 15psi at all times in the Simpson so that became our standard.

Many employ momentum and throw themselves at the dune. Invariably the momentum runs out before reaching the top and they are now simply "driving". That being the case, if "driving" can get them over they may just as well have done that from the start. With this 'momentum' technique in a manual transmission it may mean a gear change as the momentum runs out and that can cause a brief loss of drive.
Besides, the dune faces are scalloped (moguls??) by drivers who have spun their wheels and a speedy run-up will have you bouncing along like a rubber ball.
Our technique in a heavy loaded Troopy is 15psi all round, and use low-range at all times which provides good gear selections. Pick the gear before the climb, usually low 3rd or 4th, and simply drive over in comfort. Once or twice we have lucked-out near the top and needed to back-up several metres, select first gear and simply drive over. We have never need a shovel or our MaxTrax.
In the swales and crossing a clay pan we find 5th in low-range to be acceptable without revving the guts out of it. Even driving leisurely we cross in three days.

At the end of a hot day the sand can be very soft and has likely been lathered up by preceding vehicles so can present traction problems. We have never needed to go below 15psi but would be prepared to go as low as 10psi if necessary.
We have crossed from early May to late October encountering a range of conditions.

We travel alone and do not tow but have accompanied two other vehicles towing camper trailers. Both were crossing first-timers but with 4WD experience and seeking company for security. They followed my example re technique and had no trouble whatsoever.

Camper trailers per se are not a problem in the Simpson. The problem with scalloped track is drivers with tyre over-pressure using over-power and spinning their wheels to form scallops and lathering-up the sand. But certainly, dragging a trailer with that behaviour will exacerbate the problem.
So I say "Go for it" Steve. Keep the tyre pressures down and easy on the pedal.

Perhaps that I should add that following that first trip we invested in Stratos suspension seats. One of the best investments we ever made.

General note re "Moguls". This description was established for the "mounds" pushed-up by snow skiers on turns and forming a hump alongside their path. It should not be applied to the ruts across the track on dune faces where the sand has been excavated by spinning wheels. They are properly described as scallops. The excavated sand is broadly dispersed and does not form a hump.


Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Steve in Kakadu - Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 14:29

Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 14:29
Many thanks Allan.

It is answers like this that cut the wheat from the charf, well explained and great advice.

So I take it that research, good advice and common sense along with low tyre pressures will get you across the Simpson.

I did get the mogal thing, and understood what was being said. My comparison above to corrugations, was purely a point that if the trailer could travel thousands of kms on corrugated roads and not fall apart it should handle a few mogals/ scollops.

I also get that some simply don't like trailers in the desert, and no amount of talk will convince them otherwise.

I will almost certainly catch up with Willem in April, when I drive back from Melbourne with a mate. I converse with him often on Facebook, however, it has been a few years since we have had a beer and a face to face chat.

Regards

Steve.
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 15:58

Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 15:58
“ . . . if the trailer could travel thousands of kms on corrugated roads and not fall apart it should handle a few mogals/ scollops.”

The only thing to watch, that you may be aware of is the problematic “rhythm bouncing” you can get with the moguls.

Like corros, you have to find the right speed (and tyre pressures), which might (most likely) be different between vehicle and trailer too.

Anyway, enjoy the planning and desert, it is very addictive once you’ve been the first time.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 16:48

Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 16:48
.
You're very welcome Steve. A few more comments..............

A 200 series with tyres at proper pressure..... you'll eat it up. Trailer or not.
When you get to the other side you will wonder what some were on about.

Just remember those dog-legs on the crest of some dunes. They can be very chewed up and difficult to make a sharp turn on. On our very first trip we encountered one late in the afternoon where Troopy was on full lock but still went straight ahead! Tried twice before giving up and camping in the swale. Turned out to be the best evening we ever had with incredible stars. In the morning with the sand cooled and firmer and the tyres downed to 15psi, we drove straight over no trouble. Backing down on that occasion was iffy as the track was going up the dune at a bit of an angle rather than straight up and backing off the track was a real possibility with the danger of rolling, so I backed straight down the dune face off-track. Remember that, do not get your vehicle in a situation where it could roll.

Also keep a watch on the track edge especially on the western face as the wind causes the odd blow-out that you could get a wheel in. Would not be good!

I very much doubt that you will "hold anyone up". If need be, overtaking in the swale is a breeze.

Keep the UHF on channel 10 or scanning and you may hear other vehicles that are within a few k's of you. Throw out a call every now-and-then if you wish, but I don't bother. It seems that there are many who are without active UHF or are on a channel other than 10 so they can have ongoing "social chatting" with their mates (usually not for the 'ears' of kids!) so the UHF is of limited value. You need to go over each dune with the expectation and care that there is someone coming up the other way like a bat-out-of-hell without being aware of your presence so you must take full responsibility for yourself. Your dune-flag must be to specification, minimum of 3.5m from ground (higher is better) attached to the front of the vehicle, and to my mind at least, to the driver's side as this will accord the maximum clearance from an oncoming vehicle. A semi-rigid pole is best.... I have seen many with "fishing-rod" type poles which bend back due to vehicle motion to place the flag near, or even behind, the vehicle where it is useless. Oncoming motorbikes are a real risk. They carry no flags.

Our technique is to ease back on the throttle just as we crest each dune so the vehicle drops to almost walking speed to roll over the crest, then feed it some throttle as the far side comes into view.

Looking ahead as you crest seems a good idea as you may see a vehicle approaching in the distance, but do not relax if you see none as they may well be in the swales each time you look.

My comment about "moguls" was general, not directed at you.

Have a great trip Steve, I'm sure you will love it. To be frank, it has got a bit routine for me but the alternative is a long detour and the nights out there are great.




Cheers
Allan

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FollowupID: 896193

Follow Up By: Sigmund - Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 13:52

Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 13:52
Speaking as a skier I can tell you that moguls formed for races have hollows and banks.

Here's some advice from someone who's done two Simpson crossings and also towed a CT on sand - I can tell you that your biggest problem will be those dog legs. They're at the ridge top where the sand is softest, being exposed to wind, sun and churning wheels. Most of them won't allow you to do a wide turn so your trailer wheels won't benefit from your vehicle tracks, and the bend means if you've carried momentum you'll need to wash it off or else have the trailer drive your vehicle rear straight ahead. And at that point you're more or less on the flat and gravity isn't going to help you back out and down. Once you're stopped your trailer will act like an anchor whichever direction to try to go.

On the flat it takes me at least half an hour to get the 4 boards, dig them in, use, retrieve and pack them. 2 boards is completely ineffective.

Other track users will be thrilled to find four holes in the dogleg. But of course you'll be walking back to fill them up.

Not gonna hold people up? At the busiest time of the season? If that's all that happens you'll be grateful.
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FollowupID: 896202

Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 14:23

Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 14:23
.
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 15:20

Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 15:20
"moguls formed for races have hollows and banks".
http://www.abommogulchallenge.com/mogul-construction.html

In sand driving I learned the term from a 4WD Vic driving instructor. Works for me and everyone I've used it with.
0
FollowupID: 896207

Follow Up By: Sigmund - Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 16:25

Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 16:25
Steve: "It is answers like this that cut the wheat from the charf, well explained and great advice.

So I take it that research, good advice and common sense along with low tyre pressures will get you across the Simpson.

I did get the mogal thing, and understood what was being said. My comparison above to corrugations, was purely a point that if the trailer could travel thousands of kms on corrugated roads and not fall apart it should handle a few mogals/ scollops.

I also get that some simply don't like trailers in the desert, and no amount of talk will convince them otherwise. "

You'll be happy Steve that you found someone to tell you what you wanted to hear.
Near time save us the effort and spell it out in advance.

My last comments ...
" a few mogals/scallops". Where'd you get that from? There's about 750 sand ridges between Old Andado and Birdsville. What makes you think all but a few escape the process?

"wheat from the charff" - good one. I'll try that out on a Kakadu ranger when next one tells me what I don't want to hear. Geez, it might even be you!

Not liking trailers in the desert? No mate, I don't like them ripping up tracks in one of the few remaining national park wilderness areas we all want to enjoy. You don't get that? And you're employed in a national park?
0
FollowupID: 896208

Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 17:28

Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 17:28
.
Sigmund,

From your linked Mogul Challenge document....
I cannot find the words "hollows" or "banks" anywhere in that document.
But seven references to bumps.....

"STEP 5: Bump build: The bottom bumps are built by the"....
...."This is how machine-made bumps are created."
...."the centre of the line of the bottom bumps."
...."to make a round, ski-able bump."
...."after the bumps have been built."
...."Once the bumps have been stepped".....

Did you actually read it?
Moguls are bumps mate, BUMPS. Not scallops made by wheel spin.
Cheers
Allan

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FollowupID: 896210

Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 18:30

Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 18:30
Call them undulations then, usually very evenly spaced and terribly uncomfortable and destructive to vehicles / trailers if taken at the wrong speed or rhythm.
The eastern end of French Line has (or had on my last crossing) the worst of them from memory.
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FollowupID: 896213

Follow Up By: Sigmund - Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 19:20

Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 19:20
Yes Les.
My first crossing had most western faces mogulled. They started about a third the way up the face and ended about two thirds up.
Even with a wagon carrying mostly air it wasn't possible to walk up them. Pounding up was the order of the day.
Allan B, have you ever skied race course moguls? Watched them made? They're hollows the lower half of which comprise banks. If you visualise the construction process I linked to, guess what? You get hollows and banks.
If all that's left to you is to count words ....
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FollowupID: 896214

Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 20:58

Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 20:58
We called them Peppies, after Peppy La Pue (sp?), the cartoon skunk who pranced around, bodily four feet off the ground, four feet down, four feet off, four feet down. That what the car wants to do.

It can be destructive if you're not a skunk. Lol
1
FollowupID: 896218

Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 21:23

Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 21:23
True Sig, but the ones I found worse one year going east to west were between dunes in the corridors.
Possibly due to the heavier weights in that eastern side with still decent fuel / water / food load.

Ha ha, yes Frank, that’s a very apt name you’ve given them :D
0
FollowupID: 896219

Reply By: Sigmund - Wednesday, Jan 09, 2019 at 08:05

Wednesday, Jan 09, 2019 at 08:05
So let's just summarise.

Parks advise against towing.
Parks advise against going alone.
John and his mates didn't get past the 2nd ridge out of Birdsville.
Other experienced drivers have encountered difficulty under certain conditions even without a trailer acting like an anchor behind them.
I have Simpson experience and sand towing experience and wouldn't think about combining them.
When the claypans are wet, again even a vehicle without a trailer can be challenging to get across, and folk go in convoys to help each other out.

You Steve
haven't driven in those conditions,
haven't towed in those conditions,
haven't tested your trailer in those conditions,
and egged on by someone who hasn't towed in the Simpson either are intending to tackle in the order of a thousand k's of it and 1500 sand ridges, with the first crossing on your own.

As an alternative you could go and base yourself say at Dalhousie Springs, see the sights around there and develop your knowledge and skills. Or get onto 4WD Trip and find someone to hook up with to do the Hay River track which will give you a good experience of the desert without needing to struggle with sand ridges all the time. Those might give you and your son a memorable experience for the right reasons.
AnswerID: 623080

Follow Up By: garrycol - Wednesday, Jan 09, 2019 at 09:40

Wednesday, Jan 09, 2019 at 09:40
And yet plenty of people do the trip alone and tow and have no issues.

Just as some some who go in groups and are not towing have issues.

5
FollowupID: 896224

Follow Up By: Steve in Kakadu - Wednesday, Jan 09, 2019 at 12:32

Wednesday, Jan 09, 2019 at 12:32
Once again you have made several assumptions about me that simply aren't true.

You have know idea what conditions I have driven in, you have know idea what conditions I have towed in and you have know idea what I conditions I have put my camper through.

My original question wasn't should I take a camper across or could I take a camper across.

My original question was what makes the Simpson track different, and how do I prepare to do it.

Unlike all the others that have answered my actual question, you have not, therefore and unfortunately you have not been of any help.

The good thing is. I do not need your permission to do what I will be doing, and it is not illegal to do what I am doing.

So I will take the information that answered my actual question into consideration along with info from others that I have or will speak to that are experts on desert travel, and put together a proper plan and have one fantastic time in July.

If that is not to your liking Sigmond, please feel free to put me on your list.

Regards
4
FollowupID: 896226

Reply By: Steve in Kakadu - Wednesday, Jan 09, 2019 at 12:46

Wednesday, Jan 09, 2019 at 12:46
A big thank you to those that put in the time to answer my question, most of you have given some good sound advise that will be taken into account when planning my trip.

Please rest assured that I will take all precautions and will definitely leave the track as I found it. My aim is to enjoy the outback not destroy it.

I am planning to spend 3 1/2 weeks in remote areas, therefore putting all the gear including extra water fuel etc in the back or on top of a 200 series would seriously over load the vehicle in excess of a few hundred kilo's. This is why I have chosen to distribute the weight and take the camper with me.

Safe travels

Regards

Steve.
AnswerID: 623082

Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Wednesday, Jan 09, 2019 at 13:35

Wednesday, Jan 09, 2019 at 13:35
.
Steve, one of your original questions was.... "what is it that makes taking a camper across the Simpson more difficult"... and I don't think it has been objectively addressed.

The answer may be that some who, on getting a trailer, find that they now have much more cargo space than before with a vehicle alone. Consequently they load the trailer up with all manner of stuff and create a very heavy object to drag behind the tow vehicle. Yours, at 1 tonne, should not be too bad provided you do not also overload the cruiser.

Before getting the Troopy we towed a 6x4 box trailer with a canvas camper on top all over Australia behind a Subaru including dunes and soft sand beaches, Fraser included and with two kids. Never weighed the setup but it was light and easily managed.

But many camper trailers I have seen are huge heavy vehicles packed with stuff that I would not carry even in a Unimog.

Maybe that answers your question.... it's the size (or weight) that counts. Maybe it is not the answer. But weight must surely be the major factor.

These days, with the Troopy, we travel pretty minimally. With experience we have learned what we do not need and some initial stuff has been discarded. Anyone want a cheap hi-lift jack? It weighs nearly as much as it can lift and now lives in the shed!

With your background I would expect that the "kitchen sink" is not on the list.
Cheers
Allan

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FollowupID: 896228

Follow Up By: Member - John H (NSW) - Monday, Feb 11, 2019 at 12:26

Monday, Feb 11, 2019 at 12:26
Steve, with your approach you won't have any problems.
I have crossed the Simpson by most routes (incl Madigan's), always with a trailer.
My reason is as yours, to spread the load over 3 axles rather than 2 and so do less damage to the tracks.
For Madigan's I built a very light 200kg box trailer, same track & tyres as the tow vehicle - no problems and no hold up to others.
You will find Madigan's different from the southern Simpson - much more vegetation but it's of no value, just low spinifex which holds the sand and makes it way more bumpy that the southern crossings. This will be a real test of shock absorbers (and your patience).
I still believe that a well thought out rig towing a trailer can do less damage than an overloaded vehicle by itself, and those that object are simply narrow or closed minded, and refuse to look at the facts.
Advice: consider the weight carefully.
Enjoy the trip, John
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FollowupID: 897017

Reply By: Numb Thumbs - Monday, Feb 11, 2019 at 11:38

Monday, Feb 11, 2019 at 11:38
Steve
You are a Chief Ranger in Kakadu. The land managers have request that people not tow across the Simpson. What would you think of people who disregarded "requests" by you in your park?

You can't leave the track as you found it. By getting bogged you are going to chew up the track. If you shovel sand into the large holes you make, you are going to make it harder - well, softer, actually - for those following you.

I have followed groups with trailers across the Simpson. It was a pain.

Cheers
Numb Thumbs :)
AnswerID: 623758

Follow Up By: Greg J1 - Thursday, Feb 14, 2019 at 18:21

Thursday, Feb 14, 2019 at 18:21
I have been stuck behind people in the Simpson who weren’t towing and ripping the track up.

Gees mate it’s called experience.

Whether people are towing or not it boils down to having the experience to lower pressures enough to do the job.

I have followed groups across without trailers and they were a pain.

Cheers Greg
0
FollowupID: 897136

Follow Up By: Steve in Kakadu - Friday, Feb 15, 2019 at 16:22

Friday, Feb 15, 2019 at 16:22
Gday Numb Thumbs

Yes I am able to enforce the EPBC Act and it's regulations in a Federal Reserve, however, this is only if someone breaches the Act and or it's regulations. I can request/ recommend you don't do something in Kakadu, however, if it is not against the Act or regulations I can only request you not to do it but I can't enforce you not too.

In regards to the Land Managment REQUESTING not to take trailers, could you possibly point me to the reason for the request and or why they request you don't?

As pointed out in other follow ups It is not ilegal to tow a trailer across the Simpson.
2
FollowupID: 897179

Reply By: Member - PieterP - Monday, Feb 11, 2019 at 12:35

Monday, Feb 11, 2019 at 12:35
Hi,
We did the Simpson Desert from west to East in July/August of 2017. I tow a Patriot Camper with my Prado.

We did the Rig Road, which is very easy to do and had no issues. I did drop my tyre pressure quite low after doing a lot of reading and speaking to a few people. I had 10-12psi in the camper and I think 14psi in the Prado's rear wheels and 12psi up front.

One has to the a little of the French line before Poepel Corner, and the sand was very loose with all the traffic by that time, as well as the slopes up the dunes were very corrugated. I got stuck only twice, and of this my son, who travelled with us in his 4x4 ute, had to snatch me out once.

We had no issues from Poepel Corner to Big Red.

I think the secret is to do it slowly and carefully, even without a camper trailer. We were disgusted at how many people seem to regard this as a race track and charge over the dunes in their 4x4 without deflated tyres. I think that cause more corrugations than the camper trailers combined.
An old school gentleman who loves the outdoors, 4x4 travel, photography and all things technical

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AnswerID: 623762

Reply By: Richard Barossa - Monday, Feb 11, 2019 at 19:07

Monday, Feb 11, 2019 at 19:07
Hi Steve, Having done an East to West crossing of the Madigan Line in 2017 I would definitely not recommend taking any sort of trailer that way. I was in a Toyota 105 series and running 16psi front and 18psi rear and there were at least four dunes I got into trouble on. This also included a Toyota 79 series double cab. The dunes were very steep and high and some did not have good run up options. Hope this helps. Cheers Richard. Also I managed 126 litres diesel in 830 kms of Madigan Line, including similar figures last year on west to east trip.
AnswerID: 623776

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