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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

    Hi Dan,

    For clarity I’ll briefly summarise the evolution of this product.

    Initially we had a mobile screen with only 4 pushbuttons that simulated the ewiks switch panel: slam on and slam off, forwards and backwards on 2 motors. Full power or no power – nothing in between.

    The we added motor current measurement and limiting, by depowering the motor when the current went over the 30A limit. Currents were also displayed on the screen for user info. This adaption came circuit breakers to replace the fuses, which came as standard equipment from ewiks.

    Then we added the minimal step – Inch Mode, where a short power pulse was sent to the motor to bump the mover just a short distance.

    Then we added battery voltage monitoring and display on the screen.

    Then we added water flow monitoring and display showing water consumption from two tanks.

    Then we added motor current ramping (known as Soft Start) and differential motor power (called Combo Turns). This primarily for 4-wheel caravans that otherwise are very awkward to turn with the all-or-nothing ewiks control gear. But the increased complexity now forced us to build everything into one enclosure – the MotorPac, and replace the entire ewiks control gear with a single unit that does everything – remote control, motor control, current ramping, voltage monitoring, current monitoring and limiting, differential turns, and water tank monitoring. For 4-wheel applications we supply an extension module which drives the second set of wheels exactly like the first,

    Then we added leveling control for the benefit of overseas users who have access to electromechanical lifters that are not generally available in SA.

    Then (thanks in part to you) we prototyped the adaption of 12VDC gearmotors to existing Winterhoff-style corner steadies and controlled by an extension module to the  standard MotorPac.

    And now finally we are removing the mover control components from the MotorPac and keeping just the leveler control, the battery monitoring, and the water tank monitoring. This saves about R700 of cost over the MotorPac with leveler extension, but the unit cannot be upgraded at a later time to include mover controls.

    So yes, we can certainly help your colleague.

     

     

     

    Profile Photo
    Klaus Deckenbrock
    Klaus Deckenbrock on

    Hi!

    I use a cordless drill. Size of the nut 19!

    It’s a cheap solution and working perfect!

    Best regards from Namibia!

    Klaus

     

     

     

     

     

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    Profile Photo
    Dan Perkins
    Dan Perkins on

    The cordless drill has been known to science for some time.

    We are concerned here with a more elegant solution, not a cheaper one.

    This is aimed at the one percent, not the teeming masses. We get a pleasure from being the only one in the resort with the best equipment, others like to get the award for being the cheapest. It takes all kinds to make a world.

    Profile Photo
    Fyko
    Fyko on

    Hi Dan,

    You got that right!

    A few of the guys have told me how they feel a bit like royalty when the plebs gather round to rubberneck while they serenely set their feet down to the quiet hum of an electric motor while all around the crankers and drillers are going ka-chunk – kachunk – kachunk.

    And the fact that you cannot buy this stuff off the shelf but have to put in some of your own talent makes it just that much more exclusive.

    Enjoy, you’ve earned it!

    Profile Photo
    Simon Tasman
    Simon Tasman on

    My grandson acquired his latest girlfriend through this thing.

    He installed the app on his phone (and mine actually) and was putting the steadies through their paces with great aplomb, which attracted the admiration of the young lady across the way, who came over to push his buttons, so to speak, after which they went off together and have hardly been seen since.

    I can’t imagine that outcome from a cordless drill – even a DeWalt!

    Profile Photo
    Mervyn Manning
    Mervyn Manning on

    I have found this topic really interesting. The problem I have is the cost of doing all the conversion, although I think it would be fantastic to have, especially for us older folk. I have, for many years used a really good quality cordless drill (Dewalt). I use a regular socket, 19 mm, attached to a regular unerversal joint (from socket set) and then attach an extended socket set extension shaft. I extended the shaft be 1metre so that the operator does not even have to bend down to much. You could do this whole thing for R3000.00 and you also have the cordless drill for all the other handyman jobs.

    Profile Photo
    Simon Tasman
    Simon Tasman on

    The cost is indeed quite high, which puts it out of reach of all but the big spenders, but this has been known since the start of the thread. In fact most threads on UK and European magazines sooner or later come to the conclusion that cordless drills are definitely the opiate of the masses.

    But two points should be borne in mind: First, the value of the caravan increases proportionately when you invest in this leveling system (I’ve already had 2 offers!), and secondly, the price is still a fraction of what imported hydraulic systems cost (think 25%).

    So, call me a reckless spendthrift, but I have a new toy that I really enjoy, and I think my money is fairly safely invested against the day I sell the caravan. Otherwise I’ll dismount the motors and transfer them to the next one.

    Profile Photo
    Fyko
    Fyko on

    It’s a sad fact that many things in this country are unnecessarily expensive.

    For instance the enclosure that I use to house the control unit retails for about $6 in the US. But it has to go through an international distributor in the UK before it gets here, by which time the price has risen to more than R300.

    Of this about 30% goes to the government in the form of VAT and import duties.

    Similarly the gearmotors that we pay R4500 for cost 30% less in Europe, where incomes are already substantially higher.

    (Of course we happily pay these ridiculous taxes so Malusi can have his 200+ bespoke suits and Norma can buy her fleet of R30,000 handbags! )

     

    Profile Photo
    Simon Tasman
    Simon Tasman on

    Exactly right.

    Which is why the functional equivalent of what I’ve got leveling my caravan right now would cost by my calculation R80,000 fitted. You can safely take the price in Euros, convert it, and double it. And then you hope like hell it doesn’t break because there’s absolutely nobody can fix the stuff if it does.

    So the way I look at it I saved myself R58k and have security of technical support into the bargain.

    Plus I can sit at my dinette and level my vehicle perfectly with moving only one single finger.

     

    Profile Photo
    Fyko
    Fyko on

    I’ve received several emails inquiring about the jockey wheel shown in the power leveler video.

    To save some repetitive typing I’ll ventilate here even though it’s a bit off-topic.

    The Classique you see in the video has been fitted with ewiks movers (in fact it is the test bed for all the prototyping I do with control systems), and the No.1 enemy of caravan movers is a jockey wheel that ploughs a furrow due to its inability to float over the sand.

    Anyone that has lived on a beach knows that what gets a wheel across soft sand with the minimum of hassle is:

    1. Low tyre pressure,
    2. Wider tread face,
    3. Larger tyre diameter

    The wheels I have chosen for the job have an outside diameter of 260mm, a nylon centre, and pneumatic tyres. There are two wheels to spread the load (each wheel is rated for 70kg max.), and to maximize ground-contact area. Steel-centered wheels could carry a greater load but they are sure to rust over time, and the nose weight should never exceed 140kg, which is the cumulative weight limit for the two wheels combined. They are available from Castor King and cost about R175 each. A good pressure for the tyre is 0,5Bar of 50kPa.

    The wheels have a bore diameter of 20mm so I used a length of 20mm steel tubing for the axle. To attach the axle tubing to the jockey wheel fork I cut away the old bolt holes and welded an M24 nut to each fork end, in such a way that the axle tube could pass through both nuts and be held perpendicular to the vertical shaft of the jockey wheel assembly by them.

    With sufficient length of axle tubing protruding from both M24 nuts for a wheel and as many washers as you want to use, I weld the axle tubing to the nuts. I then welded a piece of 25 x 5 flat bar between the arms of the fork to stabilize them against the twisting load of the axle tubes once cut inboard of the nuts.

    I then cut out the piece of the axle tube between the inner faces of the M24 nuts, and cut an M12 carriage bolt to a comfortable length. The square shank of the carriage bolt near the head might need rounding off before it will slide easily into the axle tube.

    Then you slide a wheel plus the washers you intend onto the axle and retain it there with the M12 galvanised carriage bolt which is secured inboard of the fork by an M12 nut and whatever washers you made allowance for. If the axle tube is long enough you can tighten those nuts without clamping the wheel on either side, and the dome end of the carriage bolt make a nice finish on both sides.

    And all you need is an arc welder and a grinder.

    A detachable lower end of the jockey wheel will be useful if you intend to cross speed bumps, where there may otherwise be a vulnerability.

    Profile Photo
    Simon Tasman
    Simon Tasman on

    The only jockey wheel assemblies with detachable bottoms that I’m aware of were called Triple Jockey Wheel and were made/sold by Roadque, who I understand are now closed. For a time Jurgens fitted them to their larger vans in an effort to distribute the nose weight a little better. If anyone still has one of these units with a detachable undercarriage, better hold onto it because it looks like it may be irreplaceable.

    The pneumatic-tyred wheels you show in your photo are used on a jockey assembly called ProPlus Double and are sold in the UK by ManoMano for about 45 pounds. I don’t know of a reseller in this country, but there may be one somewhere. Expect to pay around R1500 should you find one.

    So at R350 plus some nuts and bolts and an hour’s work, your method makes plenty good sense. I’m surprised these magazines don’t follow up stuff like this, it’s really interesting for me and I imagine quite a few others

    Profile Photo
    Fyko
    Fyko on

    I think for the most part the jockey wheel with the detachable bottom section has been supplanted by the type that fully detaches from the A-frame by a releasing clamp, since this system is both more convenient to operated and removes the entire jockey wheel assembly from the danger zone. It just looks very ugly.

    In my experience even the tiny little jockey wheels, the kind that are useless on all except the hardest of surfaces, are vulnerable to damage by speedbumps. If the Roadque type is no longer available then this is a golden opportunity for some enterprising lad to come up with a kit to make the popular AL-KO types that fit through the hole tow-hitch casting, detachable at the lower end.

    The Triple Jockey Wheel on my Classique prior to my modifying it had horrendous damage done to it from speedbumps. The shock of those ground contacts must have been transmitted to the A-frame and the tow-bar on many occasions, which can not ever have been beneficial to either part.

     

    Profile Photo
    Andre Pretorius
    Andre Pretorius on

    Ek het ń no 19 sok aan ń staalpypie laat swys wat in my koordlose boor pas. Ek draai die stutte daarmee uit. Koste: R100.

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    Simon Tasman
    Simon Tasman on

    You could get even cheaper if you bought the socket second hand in the flea market.

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    Fyko
    Fyko on

    As has been noted in many posts on this thread, this conversion is not for the impecunious.

    The drill-and-19mm-socket option is well known to all, and in fact most of the men doing this conversion were previously users of the drill-and-socket system, but want to upgrade from it.

    We know this is not for everybody, but everybody knows about drill-and-socket, so there’s no need to repeat it here again and again.

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