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Motorised steadies for leveling

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    Dan PerkinsParticipant

    I’m getting a little older an I find I longer enjoy cranking the corner steadies up and down the way I used to. And I’m sure  I’m not alone in this.

    Is there anyone that produces motorised steadies or that motorises existing steadies?

    I see there’s a phone app to drive them, and level the caravan at the same time, but nothing (in this country at least) to drive it with.

  • Profile Photo
    Fyko
    Fyko on

    You cut a 50mm length of 19mm square tubing, which makes a perfect fit over the keyed end of the leadscrew, then you weld an M12 nut onto the square tubing, which fits into the 19mm AF socket of the crank.

    Alternatively make a new crank and weld a piece of 19mm square tubing to the end instead of the 19mm AF socket.

    Profile Photo
    Simon Tasman
    Simon Tasman on

    Do these motors have to be so expensive? Isn’t there a cheaper Chinese knock-off? It’s not like they have to work day and night, so they don’t need to be super-quality surely.

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    Fyko
    Fyko on

    I could find plenty of very small units costing just a few hundred rand, but nothing that could deliver more than 50W of output power, and so nothing useable. In fact Transtecno has sales outlets in China.

    This was never going to be anything for the masses at large – the costs are just too high, though the installed costs for the last couple of guys worked out to R23,000 including all the electronics, which is a lot lower than we started out with.

    Of the gearmotor set we use now the price of the gearbox is only one quarter of the total – a bit over R1000, so what I say to the the guys that aren’t sure they can complete the conversion is to buy only the gearbox since that is what takes all the fitting and adjusting onto the frame.

    If they have to abandon the project for whatever reason their investment is limited to the cost of one gearbox, which I will in any case buy from them if it’s undamaged, since I get lots of inquiries for them. If they do get the fitting done successfully they can always go and buy a motor at R3k+ to finish the first corner. The motor mounts only onto the gearbox and needs no other engineering other than having the wires connected.

    Profile Photo
    Deon Jacobs
    Deon Jacobs on

    Where is a good source of these motors and gearboxes?

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    Fyko
    Fyko on

    Principal Power Solutions in Montague Gardens, Cape Town has the best prices that I could find.

     

    Profile Photo
    Dan Perkins
    Dan Perkins on

    Right. I’ve done all my steadies. By the 4th one you get pretty good at it! Now I’m ready to connect. What thickness of wire should I use? Your drawing don’t specify.

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    Fyko
    Fyko on

    I’m asked this quite often so I’ll show you how to figure it out. Assume you’re going to opt for the smallest cross-section of wire that has an acceptable resistive loss.

    The resistivity of copper at room temperature is 1,7 x 10⁻⁸Ω per cubic metre,

    So the resistance of 1 metre of wire of 1mm² is 1,7 x 10⁻²Ω,

    So for every Ampere you push through a wire of 1mm² you will drop 1,7 x 10⁻²V per metre of length,

    So volt drop from driving 25A (the max for my controller) through that wire extended to 6 metres (3 out and 3 back) would be 25 x 6 x 1,7 x 10⁻²V or 2,55V.

    In other words a battery with 12,6V output would provide the motor with only 10,05V. That’s for 1mm2 wire. And the wire would be producing 50 Watts of heat!

    Increase the wire thickness to 2,5mm² and you divide the volt drop by 2.5 so now it’s just about 1V to give you 11,6V at the motor, but the 6 metres of wire are still releasing 25 Watts of heat.

    Or you can increase it to 4mm² which will reduce it further and give you 12V at the motor terminals, and the wire releasing only 15W.

    Or you could increase it to 6mm² which will put 12,2V at the motor if the battery was a 12,6V, with 10W coming off the wire.

    You can see that the 2,5mm² wire is marginal at a current of 25A, but its use is acceptable in this case because the average current is less than 10A for most of the time with 25A being reached only in the last second or two before cut-off.

    You can also see that the difference between 4mm² and 6mm² is very little, and doesn’t justify the extra cost of the heavier wire.

    So it’s between 2,5mm² and 4mm². Personally I’d go for the 4mm², but the choice is yours.

    Profile Photo
    Dan Perkins
    Dan Perkins on

    Thanks for that. We’ll go for 4 squares.

    Another question: There’s a smallish gap between the chassis and the top of the long flat of the steady. About 5mm. The steady is supported at the crossbar and the nose but in between it doesn’t contact the chassis.

    Should we (my neighbour is also doing his Exclusive) fill that with something so the leadscrew doesn’t have to bend when the leg starts to take weight and forces the flat bar into contact with the chassis?

    Profile Photo
    Fyko
    Fyko on

    I’ve seen that gap (it’s actually more like 3 or 3,5mm) and I quite like it because it means there won’t be any corrosion like there would be if moisture could get trapped there.

    The leadscrew bending is not a problem because this closing only occurs when the nut is already quite a distance from the nose, and it’s only for the last few turns of the screw that it happens anyway.

    What concerned me a bit at first was the extra friction on the bearing points of the leadscrew since the radial force will increase when the screw gets pushed upwards, but this is not even measurable.

    So the short answer is: No problem, if the bearing points of the leadscrew front, back, and at the nut,  are greased.

    Profile Photo
    Dan Perkins
    Dan Perkins on

    I came across this video on YouTube

     

    Profile Photo
    Fyko
    Fyko on

    This leveling system works so well I can’t get enough of playing with it! And now I’m into making movies as well – the fun never stops if you have enough caravans.

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    Fyko
    Fyko on

    When I updated the video the link changed to this:

    Profile Photo
    Dan Perkins
    Dan Perkins on

    Many thanks.

    With the kind help of a patient family member I now have all 4 corners working perfectly. And such power! My nose weight is over 120kg and a single leg lifts it effortlessly.

    Easy as the job is, without help from the son-in-law I would have had some difficulty since I don’t even have a vise in my garage. Aren’t there some caravan workshops one could turn to for assistance if you’re totally under-equipped as I am?

    Profile Photo
    Fyko
    Fyko on

    Hi Dan,

    I’m very happy with your success, especially since it was you that started this thread, and hence a lot of what followed.

    I wouldn’t expect too much from the dealerships – the few that I contacted following inquiries I’ve received not only don’t want the business, they couldn’t even bestir themselves to respond to my emails. Clearly they’re not early risers like you! In fact it seems they never wake up.

    Most people eventually find some capable person to assist them. I had one full-timer with an Exclusive, living in Mossel Bay who also needed workshop facilities to do the job – and then found them after a short search. Once again the dealer, located in George, proved useless.

    Enjoy your achievement.

    Profile Photo
    Dan Perkins
    Dan Perkins on

    I have a colleague who does not have movers but wants remote control for the steadies he plans to motorise like mine.

    Can he get a control unit that doesn’t include all the electronics for the movers? Just for the steadies?

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