A caravan mover is probably one of the single most useful and labour saving accessories that you can add.
Camping, caravanning or using a motor-home is all about making live easy and enjoying the time that we have available on the campsite. Sometimes this is a weekend, sometimes a bit longer but either way everything that we can do to get set up in the shortest possible time with a minimum of hassle makes life that much easier.
With your motor-home or RV all you’ve got to do is select your pitch, drive on, level up and get the kettle on. Easy. Arriving with you’r caravan can be a little more complicated, especially if the site is restricted in terms of space and if there is, even a slight, uphill approach to your pitch. If you are, like me, rubbish at reversing a travel trailer, or any other kind of trailer, you may tend to uncouple it from the tow-car before pushing it onto the pitch.
Pushing is fine if the ground is level, you are feeling fit and able and you have some strong and willing help. A very useful alternative is a caravan mover, a range of which are available from specialist suppliers and fitters or fitted directly by your caravan dealer.
At first glance these things are not cheap, however I have found that they are in fact excellent value. We fitted one eight or nine years ago which has performed really well during all the time. What makes it really good value is that it has been moved from one caravan to the next as we changed models over the years. In fact during one of the changeovers our dealer sold the trade-in model with the mover fitted and we ended up with an entirely new one included in the price of the trade-up. It originally cost somewhere in the region of €1,000.00, which when used regularly and spread over eight years and three models is extremely good value.
There are two types of mover that I’m aware of; the one that is fitted underneath the caravan and which makes direct contact, using a friction roller, with the tyres, and the other which attaches to the tow-hitch and becomes in use a kind of animated jockey wheel.
The mover which I use and with which I am reasonably familiar at this stage is fitted underneath the caravan and is operated via a remote control unit similar to that for a television. Arriving at the site it is engaged manually via a lever/handle which acts on a mechanism that clamps the friction rollers firmly against the tyres on both sides. By activation the remote control unit you can move the caravan, via an on-board control unit, in any direction that it is possible to do it by hand. You can turn it in its own length, maneuver it into position on the pitch and get the wheel onto a levelling device in order to get the van ready for habitation.
While moving your caravan it is of course balanced on it’s wheels and jockey wheel. The fact that the jockey wheel rotates freely during the operation of moving your caravan may mean that you won’t be 100% accurate when positioning it, as a beginner at any rate. You will soon however get a feeling for it and you’ll be able to anticipate how the jockey wheel will behave, allowing you to fine-tune your abilities to the point where you can position the tow-hitch over the ball with enough accuracy to drop it straight on there.
The mover that is fitted to our caravan is as I said about eight years old at this stage and the technology has improved since then. The new movers that I have seen recently are fully automatic, eliminating the need to engage then manually. A simple press of a button on the remote control engages the friction pads and when the caravan is where you want it simply disengage it in the same easy automatic way. Caravanning should be easy, and this really is as easy as it gets.
A simple trick which was taught to me by our local dealer when we bought the mover helps to avoid driving away with the mover engaged. Simply leave the handle/remote on the drivers seat at all times when it is not in your hand. This means very simply that if you sit on the thing when you intend to drive away, you are not finished. You must get out again and disengage the mover. Of course you will have included this in your visual inspection before moving off, but this simple technique avoids all sorts of expensive damage to your mover and to your caravan tyres.
When we first started to use the mover we were, whenever we arrived on site and started to use it, guaranteed an audience of very interested onlookers. We were I think, responsible for the sale of quite a few caravan movers simply by turning up and using one. In recent years the sight of a caravan apparently making it way unaided between the tow-car and it’s place on the pitch doesn’t elicit the same interest. It is however still a relatively rare sight as most drivers are far better than me at reversing neatly onto their pitch.
The other type of mover of which I am aware is usually know as a trolley and it attaches either to the tow-hitch or to the a-frame in a way which allows it to replace the jockey wheel. The trolley is usually battery powered, using a re-charger system, and is operated either with on-board controls or via a remote control. In effect this becomes a powered jockey wheel allowing you all the maneuverability and flexibility to get your caravan exactly where you want it. Again it is, as caravanning should be, all very easy.
The benefit of using a mover is not confined simply to use on the caravan park. It is a very useful addition indeed once you get home and it it time to get the van into it’s storage position. For most of us this means getting it into a confined space; easily done with your handy mover.
You need to be aware that adding a mover will add weight to your van and do check your documentation with regard to towing ratios and the amount of scope that will remain for adding habitation equipment.