Michael Browning — 22 June 2016

There’s nothing new about long-established Melbourne manufacturing engineers N.P. Hauffe & Company building an independent suspension for caravans.

The engineering business Norm Hauffe founded 60 years ago in the back of his parents’ garage in Preston, Vic, has been manufacturing independent axles for caravans and trailers since 1975.

He estimates that in excess of 24,000 Simplicity axle systems have since been sold throughout Australia, both for commercial and recreational use.

Jayco, Newlands, Windsor, Evernew, Roadstar, Nova, New Age, Safari, Eden, Supreme, Trakmaster, Lotus and Bushtracker are just some of the respected nameplates to employ Simplicity over the years, some currently.

Importantly for them, every Simplicity axle is stamped with a serial number, which allows original parts to be supplied for systems dating back to the early 1980s.

What’s new, however, is Simplicity’s trailing arm independent coil spring suspension, which has been developed in-house. This release is not because the company’s proven leaf spring independent system has had its day, but because much of the caravan buying public expects to see independent coil suspension under the latest caravans, just like they now expect twin shock absorbers per wheel, even when one might be enough.

As with everything Hauffe, his son Nevil and his son-in-law Richard have done over the years, the new system incorporates some clever new thinking along with sound engineering.

Hauffe started his engineering business making groundbreaking conical ball bearing housings. With this background in innovative thinking, the new Simplicity Coil Suspension system employs progressive rate conical coils developed specifically for caravan and camper trailer applications in conjunction with their spring supplier, Industrial Spring Works in South Australia.

This has resulted in a range of Simplicity Variable Rate Coil Suspensions. From 1400kg to 2600kg in single and from 2500kg to 4200kg in tandem configuration.

“For many years, if a manufacturer wanted to fit independent suspension to their caravan, they came to us,” Hauffe said. “Simplicity was strong, well-engineered, easy to fit and it worked well, both on and offroad.

“But back when we first developed it, caravans really didn’t go offroad, we didn’t have gas shock absorbers and 14in was the standard wheel size.

“However, these days people are taking heavier caravans to places that they never did in the past and offroad caravans have grown in some cases to become as popular as regular vans.

“Even if they never plan to go anywhere really rough, buyers of these sorts of vans want them to look like they can. So along with body armour like checkerplate and chunky tyres, an important part of that look is coil springs, as leaf springs are now seen by many as ‘old technology’, even if they still work perfectly well for most applications.”

For N. P. Hauffe, the release of Simplicity Coil spearheads of a new direction in caravan and trailer suspension design.

“We have recently completed extensive testing on our leading and trailing arm tandem coil system,” Hauffe said, “and we are also looking at load-sharing coil suspension which is, at present, in the design/testing stage.

“This unit has a saving on weight and fitting time compared to other independent axles of the like currently available, so we are confident it will be well-received by the industry, which is very much focused on cost and weight-saving these days.

“But it will only be released when we are confident it will stand up to long-term use. We don’t rush into new technology just to tick off the boxes and, as with everything we have done over the years, it will only get to market when it has been tested thoroughly and proven in real-world operation.”


Simplicity Axles Simplicity Coil Suspension


Michael Browning