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Caravan Motor Movers

Many caravanners find the use of a Motor Mover makes the task of manoeuvring their caravan for hitching up, placing on site and moving around a storage area so much easier.

The most popular and effective type of Motor Mover is the axle-mounted type, which is mounted to the chassis with a 12V electric motor and roller assembly at each end. Using the caravan leisure battery, the rollers operate against the individual caravan tyres to give full manoeuvrability of the caravan, all operated by either a handheld remote or a smart phone app.

Why buy a motor mover?

There are a number of reasons for installing a Motor Mover, these could include:

  • Easy manouverabilty in storage location

  • Ease of pitching on site

  • Personal mobility

  • Not confident at reversing a trailer

Cost?

Budget price Motor Movers are available but there are many corners that can be cut to reduce costs. Some use a less powerful motor or roller construction, which gives poorer performance, particularly when the tyres are wet and cold. A cheaper cost may also be reflected in poor availability of spares and after sales service, along with a short warranty period. 

We generally recommend and regularly fit the Towsure brand of Motor Movers as they come with a 5 year warranty, excellent aftersales and parts (not that we've had to replace many) readily available. 

Ease of use

There are several ways for the drive rollers to be engaged on to the caravan wheel.

Some use a manual over-locking cam device that's quick and you know the roller is fully engaged or disengaged, but requires more effort to put on. Other systems use a screw wind-on action, which is slower and depends on the operator to ensure the roller is fully engaged, this is normally indicated with a green window or pointer. There's also a more expensive electrically-driven engagement system available. If you have difficulty with hand strength it may be worth trying a manual systems before you buy.

Most manual systems offer a facility referred to as cross-actuation where the rollers on both sides engage simultaneously by operation from just one side. This is more convenient and is essential if you wish to store your caravan alongside a wall, as it's not recommended to keep a roller pressed against the tyre over a long period of time. 

Electrical roller engagement is a convenient feature and can be essential for someone with mobility difficulties but It is important to find out what facilities are available to manually engage and disengage the rollers in case the battery or engagement motor fails.

A well-engineered roller that grips well in both wet and dry conditions is essential. Look for a strong large diameter, wear-resistant roller with a rough surface that provides the maximum of contact with the caravan wheel. Rollers can be of one piece alloy material with teeth like open gears or with a synthetic grit covering. Others are made from steel with milled slots, which are harder and less prone to damage.

All chassis-mounted Motor Movers come with a remote control unit like a TV remote control. Some Motor Movers come with an app that is downloaded onto a smart phone and connected via bluetooth!

Soft start and soft stop are facilities offered by most Motor Mover manufacturers and is designed to reduce shock loading to the caravan chassis although there is some simple on/off Motor Movers that even a short burst of power may produce sharp movement, giving shock loading to the chassis and also making delicate manoeuvring tricky. Soft start eliminates this by allowing the unit to move off slowly and gives the operator a very high level of control - very useful in narrow entrances and bringing the hitch head over the towball. Soft start with instant stop offers the best level of control for fine positioning.

Battery

Motor Mover manufactures usually recommend a minimum battery capacity for their products, but the capacity will vary with the type of use. A well-charged 85Ah battery in good condition should cope with a long awkward access that will take ten minutes to traverse, but a poorly-charged 110Ah battery after a long weekend away without a hook-up could struggle. A good battery, well maintained, is essential and remember if you need to use the Motor Mover extensively to place your caravan into storage you need to consider how you can top the battery back up again. A depleted battery will deteriorate much more quickly than a fully-charged battery.

Restrictions

The fixing of a Motor Mover may interfere with the function of the spare wheel carrier or jacking brackets, which generally have a predetermined location behind the axle. Most Motor Movers are fitted forward of the axle which resolves this problem. But, Where Motor Movers are fitted to both axles of a twin axle caravan there may be no alternative but to carry the spare wheel elsewhere other than in the carrier and accept that jack bracket mounting points may not be usable.

Twin axles

Twin axle caravans are more difficult to manoeuvre than caravans with single axles. That means a special approach is needed when fitting a Motor Mover to a twin axle caravan.

The less expensive option is to fit motors to either the front or the rear axle and operate the system with the jockey wheel raised or lowered to keep the load on the driven axle. Please note that a twin axle caravan will not turn almost on the spot like a single axle caravan but turns along a curve, as if being towed. How tight the radius of the curve is will depend on the performance of the selected Motor Mover and the surface conditions. There may be situations when uneven ground could leave one or more of the drive wheels off the ground and some twin axle caravans may be too heavy for a single pair of Mover Motors.

Better manoeuvrability may be obtained by fitting motors to both axles. The downside of this arrangement is the financial cost and extra weight. A twin axle caravan may have a generous payload allowance, but a full set of Motor Movers to both axles could take up as much as 80kg of this payload.

Things to consider in use

Motor Movers undoubtedly remove a lot of hard manual work from caravanning but some things need to be embedded in the mind about their use and to avoid damage to the caravan chassis, public, surroundings, etc.

-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 is vitally 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 so it is 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).

And finally...

The National Caravan Council has a Code of Practice (305) for the design specification and installation of Motor 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 Motor Mover meets certain requirements such as tackling a 18% gradient both up and down hill and providing a fuse and isolation switch for the Motor Movers power supply. 

All of our Motor Mover installations are fitted with a key operated isolation switch and protected by a seperate fuse located close to the leisure battery power source. 

If you've read all this and ready to find out which Motor Mover is suitable for your Caravan then give us a call to discuss your options and provide a quote on 07918613639

We can usually arrange to fit the Motor Mover at your location or you can bring your caravan to us.

Towsure Motor Mover ready for fitment to a Swift Sprite Alpine
Motor Mover Handset
Towsure Motor Mover fitted to an Al-Ko chassis Sprite Alpine - 07918613639
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