Sunday, 24 August 2014

Trailing behind - towing with 25rwhp

A few years ago my father in law offered us his camping gear. My inlaws are in their early 70s now and hadn't camped in a long time. In fact the last time their canvas tent came out before we inherited it was around 1985... and it still was water proof after more than 20 years in storage!

Along with the camping gear came their old camping trailer.

I don't mind telling you I've been lusting after this little beasty for some years. I had plans of putting larger offroad style tyres on it to tow behind my old dunebuggy. I'm glad I didn't now coz it fit's the oval's profile like a glove.

My father in law built it some time in the late 60s/early 70s. It came as a kit in the UK. He built it and then used it to tow the aforementioned tent all over Western Europe. Spain, France, Belgium all had visits from it at different times behind different cars. Austin 1800s, Morris Minors, etc, etc. When the family moved from Manchester to Sydney, he packed it full of tools and stood it upright in the shipping container. So you could say there's some family mojo in the old thing.

It's not the roomiest trailer in the world, but it is super light and reasonably weather proof. Our diesel wagon barely feels it, the oval is another story but I'll get onto that later. You get a good idea for the room of it below.

As you might know, I'm a pastor. Each year we run what we now call "Mancamp". It's a camp for any male from the school age upwards. It used to be called 'boys and dads', then 'boys and blokes', but the point is we want to take guys away for the weekend and do guy stuff. We build weapons, burn things, catch yabbies and eat hideous hot chilli con carne and way too much bacon. This year my wife needed our wagon so I needed to take the oval... plus a whole stack of other stuff. So I started hatching a plan.

What if I could take the trailer behind the oval this year?

A while back I bought an oldschool tow bar for a beetle off eBay. What I didn't have was the support bar to go in between. So thursday (my day off) I spent most of the day fabbing up the barwork til I had this...

By 11pm that night I had the wiring mostly right as well. Friday I was planning to leaving about 1:30pm. A quick testdrive revealed dramas with tow-balls and fanbelts.

By 3pm I had it sorted so we loaded up and drove to get some fuel... which was when the battery total gave up the ghost. Seriously. The autoparts guys said, "not you again!".

It reminded me so much of these guys... on Roadkill.

I told the boys, "ok, so NOW we're on an adventure". After we'd run up the road (literally) from Seven-Eleven to buy and fit a new battery, we were fueled and aired up and ready to go. So the trip out to Picton began. I was still having the odd wiring issue, but we had indicators and some tail-lights and it was still light so all good.

So what's it like to tow a trailer with a 25 rear wheel horsepower beetle?

Umm, I think the best word to use is, "Slow". I could have used the freeway for part of the trip but I thought better of it. I stuck to the back roads and tried to take our time. We were already 4 hours late so why rush now right?

I've compiled a list of things that are your friend. Some may surprise you...

Things that are your friend when towing with an underpowered car.

1. 98 octane petrol
The biggest enemy in all towing is HEAT. My engine is supercharged. Anything that can lower the heat during burn will help. Which brings me to the next friend.

2. Cool temps
I could feel the car was pretty warm as we were driving along. It wasn't unhappy exactly. It was working harder than usual, but not complaining a lot. It smelt oily. In the cool night air. I wouldn't want to do it on a 35deg day is what I'm saying.

3. Three quarters throttle
Now this was the thing that surprised me. The temptation when hitting a big hill was to drop the hammer and flog it up the hill. But lets face it. The motor is already tired. On the way to camp it was pulling about 200-300kg more than usual. What I found was, by giving it 3/4 of the throttle it was slow, but it wouldn't get anywhere near pinging. You'd also get 95% of the power, but without the extra stress.

4. Third gear
If you got below about 50mph, you need third gear. Sure, you can leave it in fourth but it just slows more and gets hotter faster. So, back to third, be patient and 3/4 throttle.

5. Medium speed country road
The car was really at it's best doing between 45 and 65mph (yes, my speedo reads a bit too fast) on country roads. The trailer worked great at this speed too.

6. Downhill
I only really learnt this properly on the way home, but basically if you come across a downhill section, stay in the throttle. Coz the rules of physics tell you if something goes up, if must come down... or vice versa. So if you wanted any hope of getting up the next hill, you better commit to the one you're currently travelling down. By the end of the trip I was really enjoying this and learning how to work the hills to keep the momentum up and the motor cool.

Things that are not your friend when towing and underpowered car.

1. Suburban roads
Anywhere I drove where there was traffic and or 60km/h it sucked. The trailer might try to wag the car a little. The suspension didn't soak up the bumps. There was no momentum. Silverdale was the worst. Dead straight, 60km/h, pothole filled road. Yuck.

2. Big hills
There is a hill coming out of Walacia heading for Silverdale. And of course it was 60km/h too wasn't it. Three words. Second gear forever. Sad face.

Still we arrived at the camp eventually. And the new battery is AWESOME! When I arrived at the campsite I had to restart the car to blow up and airbed. All of a sudden it was running on 2 cylinders and had a nasty rattle on start up. Was that rod knock?! I was seriously concerned and feared I'd killed the motor. Turned out the bootlid was rattling and the plugs were a little fouled. A right foot tune up and it was purring again fine.

Today it was time to come home. Before leaving I checked the oil to find it had hardly lost a drop on the way up. That is a miracle! Started straight up and ran great. The ride home was a lot better. Much less weight in the trailer and a driver who knew what to expect. Again, I filled it up with 98 oct. Some cool tunes (Queens of the stoneage) and two very tired little boys.

We made it home in under an hour and enjoyed the drive. I have to say, I LOVE the sound of the homemade vintage speed pipes on the back.

And because it rained most of Saturday afternoon and evening, the car has also had a wash. lol.

1 comment:

  1. Great to see Man Camp continues.
    Love that trailer the first time you posted a photo.
    Enjoyed the write up of the trip.
    thanks for sharing.