Australia has the best remote tracks in the world but unless you travel at 20km/h, loose gravel can wreak havoc on your van. The good news is, a few easy measures can be employed to protect your pride and joy.
1. IS YOUR CARAVAN VULNERABLE?
Inspect the underside of your caravan for areas of vulnerability. Even caravans marketed as ‘offroad’ vans may have exposed grey water plumbing or unprotected wiring. Be sure that wires connecting to the electric brakes are protected, lest a flying rock sever the thing wire and leave your van without brakes.
If you’re concerned that any PVC will be potentially shot-peened to pieces by flying gravel, why not ‘lag’ it with offcuts of carpet, securing it in place with cable ties?
2. USE A STONEGUARD
Invest in a good stoneguard, such as a set of RockTamers or similar, for the tow vehicle. This will help to minimise damage to the front of the van caused by stones and other debris flicked up by the tow vehicle. We know from experience that a good stoneguard is worth its weight in gold. Ultimately, it will be a lot cheaper and easier to replace a stoneguard than to re-clad the front of your van.
3. MESH STONEGUARD
If your van or camper is fitted with a mesh stoneguard that stretches on a frame across the width of the drawbar, make sure the mesh isn’t too tight. The idea is for the mesh to absorb the energy of flying stones. If it’s too tight, stones might bounce straight off the mesh, potentially at high velocity.
4. GAS CYLINDER PROTECTION
If your gas cylinders are mounted on the drawbar, we suggest fitting a protective cover before taking on that endless gravel track. Depending on the conditions, it might be preferable to remove the gas cylinder and tie it down in the front boot of the van if your front boot is compliant with regulations.
5. KEEP YOUR DISTANCE
Maintain a healthy distance between your rig and the one in front. It might seem obvious but aside from significantly reducing the likelihood of your rig being battered by anything flicked up by the other van, keeping your distance will reduce the amount of road dust being ‘breathed’ in by your vehicle. A loose gravel surface can produce a significant dust cloud.