A disasterous weekend and the importance of simple spares for Trailers and Campers

Tuesday, Apr 27, 2010 at 20:14

Michael ( Moss Vale NSW)

We decided to go toBendethera Valley in the Deua National Park for the Anzac Day long weekend, a beautiful place to spend a few days and about 100 kilometers south ofBraidwood, NSW. We left Sydney about 10 am in the Patrol and our trusty and "bulletproof" trailer that we have dragged around the countryside for the last 10 years and arrived at Middle Mountain Road, the entrance to the Deua national Park at about 2.00pm. We crossed the river and continued on for the next 6 kilometers on some moderate and mildly challenging terrain and then onto a short section of sandy, flat road and then suddenly the trailer lept off the road as though I had hit the biggest pothole you could have imagined. Then almost immediately before I could react, it happened again, this time it was on its side, vertical and I thought it was going to flip over. It came back to it's wheels with a horrible crash.
The true horror and damage was quickly apparent, all 4 U bolts were bent, broken and one was missing and the wheels were sitting in the wheel arches, metal mud flaps bent back. I realised then that I was in a bit of bother, no spare U bolts and stuck in the middle of nowhere.
I decided to unhook the trailer and Janet and the boys stayed with the trailer and i thought I might continue to the Valley to see if someone could help, although what I really needed was 4 "U" bolts and nuts and the chances of someone having a set to fit my axle and my 7 leaf springs was fairly slim. I started climbing the steep ridge to the Trig point and looked across to my fone sitting on the passenger seat, no signal. Since the demise of CDMA, i havent really thought much about communication and have had my ordinary old Optus GSM since the CDMA network was switched off. I started with a new company a few months ago and last Thursday they gave me a new Blackberry fone on Telstra NextG, it was in my console so decided to check that for signal at the Trig point. Yes , we have signal..
I rang my brother in Sydney, Now it was about 3.00pm, i asked him if he could race over to Barnes Caravan Spares at Lansdowne to pick up a set of "U" bolts and nuts to suit my 45mm axle and 7 leaf springs. He arrived at 3.30 and was lucky enough to buy the only set they had of that size. The guy behind the counter said he was lucky that they were open on this Saturday as they dont open on Long weekends. They were open because the Caravan show was on and if stock was not available at the show, customers could pick up items from the shop at the show special price.
My brother delivered the parts to me on Sunday Morning and we had the trailer back together in an hour but the wheel on the passenger side wheel was laying inward at the top by about 35mm. By the time we got across the river and onto the main road, the hub was hot on the bent axel side, things were not looking good for the 350 km drive home..
We stopped every 10 ks to check the heat in the hub, obviously the bearings were not sitting square and i had to tighten the axle nut up 3 turns about 30kms into the trip, big damage somewhere in there. It took us 5 hours to get home, a stop every 10 or sometimes 15 ks and a top speed of 80 kph. Not a great week end, but i did learn a lot about the importance of communication and spares. How lucky was I to get signal out there and only get the fone a few days earlier, get hold of my brother and the Caravan shop open, the spares in stock and getting the trailer home without it falling apart?? I visually had a look under the trailer, springs, shackles, u bolts and the like before I left home but something could have been loose that i missed or just fatigued, i will never know. But for the $12 it cost for the 4 U bolts and nuts, why would you not carry a set. I would say to every one that tows a trailer, camper or caravan to constantly check their 'U" bolts with a spanner and possibly change them every few years if they do hard offroad work and keep a spare set with them, it may mean either getting it going again or having to leave it behind to get help if you are travelling alone. Other parts that are probably necessary if you have leaf springs on your trailer/camper/ caravan is a pair of centre bolts for the leaf springs and a spare shackle bolt. Dont forget to carry a spare set of wheel bearings and grease also. I am generally fairly well prepared but after this weekend, I have had a rethink about leaf spring suspension spares and communication.. regards Michael
Patrol 4.2TDi 2003

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