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Nationwide Fleet Servicing

If you are looking for someone to look after your fleet, we have the expertise and capacity to service you anywhere in Australia. Give us a call on 1300 133 353 to discuss your needs. We’d love to add you to our list of very satisfied customers.

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How to choose the right weight distribution hitch

Types of weight distribution hitches

Hayman Reese weight distribution hitches come in 5 basic weight classes. The first two, mini and intermediate, are designed for much lighter towing and mount underneath your towball. The other three sizes are 600lb, 800lbs and 1200lbs. Each one can take a greater load than the last and are designed to mount directly into a 50mm hitch receiver. The 600lb, 800lb and 1200lb kits are further divided into a Classic and Standard series. For reasons that will soon be explained, Classic series kits come with straight spring bars and standard series kits come with “L” shaped spring bars.

types of weight distribution

What does a weight distribution hitch do?

Weight distribution hitches transfer some of the weight from the ball to the front axle. This helps level the towing vehicle and caravan, which greatly improves handling. In the case of mid to large sized caravans a weight distribution hitch is often a necessity to tow with any degree of safety.

How do I know if I need one?

People often ask us this question. If you’ve already got the caravan and you’ve tried hooking it up then it’s simple, if you can see that the caravan weighs down the back of the vehicle enough for the front suspension to be raised, then you definitely need one.

Things get a little more tricky if the vehicle has harder rear suspension. In this situation the rear suspension may be taking the weight of the trailer, but if the weight at the ball is significant and you’re having problems with handling a weight distribution system may still help a great deal.

If you haven’t got the caravan yet and you’ve never towed with the vehicle it can be hard to know exactly how the vehicle will handle the weight. There are no hard and fast rules, so we recommend you start by asking the caravan manufacturer. Remember caravanning requires a new skill set, so there’s no replacement for doing your own thorough research before hooking up.

Choosing the right weight distribution system

1. Measure coupling and tow ball height 

Start by parking your caravan on a level surface. Get the caravan level by measuring the front and rear, and adjust the jockey wheel as needed. Then measure the distance from the ground to the bottom edge of the coupling. 

Next we measure the height of the hitch receiver on the vehicle. The hitch receiver is the 50mm square hole on the towbar that the ball mount is inserted into. Again, with the vehicle on a level surface, measure the distance from the ground to the center of the hitch receiver.

What we want to do is get the ball and the coupling at the same height – when everything is level – before we hook up our weight distribution bars. We achieve this by adjusting the height of the ball mount that comes with our weight distribution hitch.

Looking at the height difference between the two measurements we just took, that’s the amount we need to raise, or lower the ball mount by to make them level. The 600lb, 800lb and 1200lb kits come with a standard drop shank in the box. Contrary to it’s name the standard drop shank does not actually offer any drop past center, but it can raise the height by 135mm.

Let’s do some examples. If after taking our measurements we find that the bottom edge of the coupling is already at the same height as the center of our hitch receiver we can go ahead and use the standard drop shank. If the bottom edge of the coupling is sitting 135mm above the center of the hitch receiver, we can take our standard shank and turn it so it points upward, this will allow a rise of 135mm. If we need more room for adjustment we can get either a 30, 95, or 160mm drop shank. These measurements refer to how much greater a drop, or rise these shanks add on top of the standard shank. So going down it’s 30, 95, 160mm, but going up we add 135mm to those figures.    

If you are using the much smaller intermediate, or mini weight distributions hitch, chances are you’ll be towing a smaller caravan with a smaller car, so it’s less likely that you’ll need height adjustment. However if you do need height adjustment with these kits then you will need to purchase an adjustable ball mount kit separately, which uses the same standard, 30, 95 and 160mm shanks.

weight distribution drop shanks

Lets do an example. I’ve just measured the height of my coupling at 450mm and the center of the hitch receiver on my 4WD is at a whopping 675mm. That’s pretty high! I know the standard shank won’t be enough. I need to lower the ball by 225mm. The 95mm shank will give me about a 210mm drop, that’s pretty close, but I’ll need to try it out in store. If I’m wanting to get one shipped to me I could consider jumping up to the 160mm shank, but I might loose some ground clearance.

The above example shows that there are no hard, or fast rules when it comes selecting the right drop shank. That’s why we allow customers to test and exchange shanks that have not been used for towing.

 2. Measure the ball weight

Now that we’ve got the height right we need to measure the ball weight. The ball weight is the weight at the ball/coupling when the trailer is fully laden. This measurement is done by lowering the coupling onto a scale with the jockey wheel. There are proper ball weight scales made by Hayman Reese, which you can purchase through us. These scales are pretty cheap, especially if you tow regularly.

If it’s a small caravan and your in a pinch, you can use a bathroom scale and a block of wood, or if your really desperate a ball park figure can be had by resting the jockey wheel on a bathroom scale. This last method is really only safe for small vans and it becomes less accurate the further the jockey wheel is mounted from the coupling.

What if I haven’t picked up the Caravan yet?

The above information is great if you’re caravan is parked at home, but what if your going to pick up a brand spanking new one from the dealer? In this situation we can easily find out what the unladen ball weight of the caravan is by asking the caravan dealer. This information will also be included in the caravan owners manual.

Knowing the unladen ball weight still doesn’t tell us what the laden ball weight will ultimately be, but we can use it to make a reasonable estimate. To make the estimate as accurate as possible we need to factor in things like water tanks and gas bottles which are often mounted to the draw bars. You should also consider the weight of any gear you are storing inside the caravan. Remember, you can change the ball weight by shifting loads around.

Once you’ve done your calculations look at the diagram below.

You can see that the weight distribution systems each cover a fairly wide weight range. If your estimates are very close, within 10-15kg of the next kit, it may be worth getting the next size up, because you can always add a little weight to the front end. Having said that, don’t just go for the biggest system to cover all bases. If you try to use a weight distribution hitch that is way too big for your caravan it won’t operate properly.

3. Measure draw bar depth 

Most steel draw bars are either 4, or 6 inches deep. Alloy draw bars are often stacked to make a total depth of 8 – 10 inches.

The Classic series of Hayman Reese weight distribution hitches have spring bars that come straight out of the head unit. This means that the Classic series is better suited for use with 4 inch drawer bars. If you try to use a weight distribution hitch with straight bars on caravans with 6 inch or deeper drawer bars, they are likely to hit against the draw bar. This is not necessarily unsafe but it is noisy and will restrict your turning radius. 

classic weight distribution diagram

standard weight distribution diagram

The Hayman Reese Standard series, intermediate and mini kits are designed with 6 inch draw bars in mind. The spring bars on these are are “L” shaped and drop down from the head unit to allow extra draw bar clearance.

There are exceptions to these rules. Some deeper drawer bars have the coupling mounted underneath which greatly improves the clearance. There are some cases where ground clearance may need to be weighted up against draw bar clearance, although in these cases we suggest prioritizing draw bar clearance – you can always remove your bars to get up a steep gutter – for example. We suggest following the above 4 and 6 inch rule whenever purchasing a new kit.

10 inch alloy draw bars present their own challenge. We suggest sending in an image of the draw bars either to ourselves, or Hayman Reese for advice. This is because alloy draw bars can vary in width along their length, with depth often doubling a third of the way back toward the caravan. So don’t hesitate to get in touch with us about alloy draw bars.

4. Measure draw bar length

We’re almost done! We just need to measure the usable length of the draw bars.

Consider this, we have two snap up brackets that clamp to the draw bar, from which our chains are hung. The chains must hang as close as possible to 90 degrees to the draw bar. The other ends of the chains attach to the spring bars. The spring bars come in 28 inch and 30 inch lengths. This means that if your drawer bar is shorter than 33 inches you will need to purchase a kit with 28 inch spring bars. 

You also need to be aware of objects mounted to the drawer bar. Things like gas bottle holders could interfere with the positioning of the snap up brackets and may need to be moved.weight dististribution diagram spring bar measurement

And we are done!

That was quite complicated, but remember, you don’t have to agonise over every measurement. Parts can be swapped and all most people need to get started is something that will allow them to drive their new caravan home from the dealer. Once you’ve got it at home you can play around to get things right.

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New Thule Bike Carrier and Chariot Bike Trailer Releases

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

What’s new from Thule this autumn?

EasyFold XT

Rack up more rides before winter hits with Thule platform bike carriers. The all new Thule EasyFold XT is the perfect way to get your bikes to the trailhead. GoActive Outdoors is here to help you make the most out of your autumn adventures.

 

The Thule EasyFold bike carrier is Thule’s most inventive platform carrier to date. Platform carriers provide the best protection for your bikes by keeping them separated, but they can also be bulky. Finding space to store you platform bike carrier can be a real pain. Thule has put forward a serious effort to solve this size and weight issue and we think they’ve excelled! The EasyFold is indeed easy and does indeed fold as promised. This is no small feat considering the size of the bike carrier when in use. It folds right down to a very respectable width of 31cm. The folding mechanism operates smoothly, but with a reassuringly firm feel. 

 

We really rate this bike carrier and it’s probably our favorite out of all the platform carriers in the Thule range. It’s just a really good idea, executed to perfection. 

 

Thule Chariot Bike Trailers

Thule’s range of Chariot child bike trailer is really catching on in Australia. We’ve been missing out on some of the oversea’s models for some time, but the Chariot range is here to stay and the customer feedback has been overwhelming. Thule introducing a few new additions to the bike trailer range this Autumn and we already feel spoilt for choice.

Chariot bike trailers are made to the same high quality standards that people have come to expect from Thule products. The range includes many clever and innovative designs that you won’t see anywhere else. The range is also extensive with many options to choose from.

 

Where to Buy?

The Thule Easy Fold and Chariot Bike carrier are available through our Port Melbourne and Campbellfield branches.

 

 

 

 

Product Release

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thule in Media

 

 

Rapha Australia Mobile Clubhouse

GoActive Outdoors has recently partnered with Rapha Australia. The Mobile Clubhouse is growing – continuing its quest to connect riding enthusiasts the world over, all while celebrating a shared passion for cycling. Keep your eyes peeled for the their newest van out on the Australian roads, fitted out with the latest gear from the Thule range.

Follow Rapha
Australia 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming Soon…

 

 

 

 

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We Compare Steel & Alloy Bullbars!

We found this great comparison of bullbars online at Tough Boys, it’s well worth a read!

A good 4wd vehicle or Ute is pretty tough, but there are a few places you’re much better off getting dinged. The most important of these is the front, because lots of useful stuff is in there. Driving at night with a few busted lights isn’t much fun. Trying to get home with a smashed radiator is even less. Unfortunately this vulnerable part of your wagon is also the one that’s most likely to hit stuff.

Bullbar comparison

Continue reading We Compare Steel & Alloy Bullbars!

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Are You In The Market For A Flexiglass Canopy?

Best Retail Price On Flexiglass Fibreglass Canopy

Our Flexiglass canopy range begins with the ever reliable Tradesman canopy. The fiberglass canopy finished in the standard gel coat white finish has been favored by fleets and tradies for many a year.

This product offers great configuration flexibility in opening and/or sliding side windows, high roof and cab height options, interior lining options, roof vents, security mesh, roof racking solutions and other customisations that have made this canopy the product of choice for so many for so long.

Continue reading Are You In The Market For A Flexiglass Canopy?

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Here’s a Review of Thule 598 and 565 Bike Carriers!

Thule Bike Racks for any vehicle Best Retail Pricing

The bicycle may be the most efficient means of transportation ever created, but if you are like us, you likely use your bike for recreation as well. After years of traveling with bikes, we asked ourselves what is the best way to get them from one place to another?

To find out we’re going to look at some of the best roof, rear and hitch-mounted bike racks on the market and give you a rundown on them. Check out our full review of their features & benefits below. Continue reading Here’s a Review of Thule 598 and 565 Bike Carriers!

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Tradies Love Our Racks!

Trade Roof Racks Best Prices In Melbourne
If you are a tradie & load things to the outside of your vehicle, you really have to be careful and that starts at the installation of the weight bearers your roof racks!

Once you have chosen a suitable set of load bearers or roof racks for your load and work vehicle weight requirements, you may choose to have your roof racks installed in store at anyone of our convenient locations, or we can come to you depending on the vehicle or you can DIY.

Our tradie roof racks are made to suit a variety of vans, 4wd, canopies and utes and come in Steel and Alloy. We have found that our roof racks are the most popular choice for tradesman wanting to carry ladders too! Continue reading Tradies Love Our Racks!

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We Have You Covered For Alloy Roof Rack Trays!

The Alloy Tray is a steadfast tradition and we sell the class leading alloy tray from Rhino-Rack! Made from structural aluminum and glass reinforced nylon, these Alloy Trays can handle whatever you throw at them both on & off road. If you need extra secure storage space for your vehicle look no further than the Alloy Tray, which comes in a range of sizes to suit your needs.

Features include, a large sized tray solution to carry your luggage on weekends away, work situations, hard core 4WD adventures or simply coming back from the shops with a car full of kids.

Assembling the tray is simple and you can be ready to go in minutes. We recommended that the Alloy Tray be mounted on a roof rack system with 2 crossbars. It’s easy, check out this video!

Continue reading We Have You Covered For Alloy Roof Rack Trays!

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Operating the RedArc TowPro Brake Controller!

The Tow-Pro™ Elite is an electric brake controller designed to suit most common trailer braking applications whilst requiring minimal dash space and being simple to install and operate.

The Tow-Pro™ Elite brake controller offers selectable Automatic or User Controlled trailer braking modes allowing the user to choose the braking style depending on the road or terrain conditions, vehicle type, or driver preference.

The Tow-Pro™ Elite electric brake controller features Active Calibration which constantly monitors the direction of travel removing the need for an initial calibration process, the unit will even calibrate with no trailer attached whilst maintaining the ability to mount in any orientation.

The unit is able to operate both electric and electric/hydraulic trailer brakes and will operate from either 12V or 24V vehicle systems without the need for manual selection or extra components or wiring. The unit is also ADR compliant when installed as directed.

Continue reading Operating the RedArc TowPro Brake Controller!