A stoneguard is the ‘frontline’ of protection for your caravan or camper trailer.
Keeping stones and loose gravel from chipping your van, damaging its underbelly and smashing the tow vehicle’s rear window should be a top priority.
Sharper rocks on many of Australia’s toughest tracks can knock out plastic drainage pipes etc.
Another vulnerable component is the exposed plumbing for front-mounted gas cylinders. Not only are they sitting targets for stones, but there is also the very real potential of fracturing the valve or LP gas lines.
And that’s why it’s imperative to invest in proper stone protection for your rig before setting off on any trip over rugged terrain, ensuring this extends to exposed areas underneath.
There are several reasons to fit a stoneguard, with most placing paramount importance on protection:
- Protects a van’s frontal area from stone dents and scratches, thus preserving its aesthetic appeal.
- Reduces the risk of stones hitting the front of the van and bouncing back to break the rear window of the tow tug. (However we do recommend covering the rear window in extreme situations as they can be very expensive to replace.)
- Eliminates the reflective glare from checkerplate into the tow vehicle’s mirrors.
- Maintains the appearance of the front of the caravan to retain its resale value.
- Protects against damage to front-mounted jerry cans, storage boxes etc.
When you’re traversing roads less travelled (particularly the outback and 4WD territory), rocks, gravel and other debris invariably become airborne and may chip the front of your van while it’s being towed at road speeds that are conducive to this.
This can be prevented, or at least minimised, by installing a stoneguard, which is usually made from a heavy-duty mesh tilted on an angle so that it deflects stones away from the van. Most will also have mud flaps to protect the plumbing and chassis underneath.
You can also DIY using strong garden shade cloth, but you need to be handy with a few different types of tools and have some idea how to install the guard without damaging your van. Special films and polymer protection can also be applied to the surface of the van, but these can be expensive to install and labour-intensive to apply yourself.
Caravanners who retrofit stoneguards to their vans, and even those who buy vans with stoneguards already fitted, need to be sure the stoneguard is compliant.
A previous article in Caravan World reported the Caravan Industry Association of Victoria (CIAV) had issued a warning that stoneguards could be non-compliant if they blocked visibility of the van’s front reflectors.
Caravans and camper trailers are required, by the Vehicle Standards Bulletin 1 (VSB1), to have two white or colourless, non-triangular retro-reflectors fitted at the front – one on each side. The reflectors must not be more than 150mm from the outer edge of the vehicle (including the awning), must be facing forward and must not be more than 900mm from the ground. That height limit, however, may be increased to 1500mm if the structure makes it impractical to keep within 900mm. In order to keep within the regulations, van owners are advised to place the reflectors on the stoneguard itself, if that meets the criteria, or to place them on the van body above the stoneguard but not higher than 1500mm off the ground.
It’s an expensive process to get your van’s frontal surface repaired, so it’s best to protect it from the beginning.
These images depict the installation of a Coast to Coast brand stoneguard by The RV Repair Centre foreman, Paul Hewat. It was fitted to a Coronet RV Explorer XT2-5950 model.
1. The Coast to Coast caravan/camper stoneguard comes complete with the frame, mounting brackets and mesh insert. So it’s ready for the DIY install.
2. Use the fixing bolts and follow the user guide to assemble the frame correctly.
3. Next up, install the lower stone flaps using the brace support prior to positioning on the A-frame.
4. Position the stoneguard on the A-frame and use pencil or crayon to mark mounting bracket locations on each side of the chassis rail. Handy hints: Use G clamps to hold the stoneguard in position; measure off to ensure the guard is central to the caravan/camper body; and take into consideration clearance for gas cylinder and weight distribution install and removal.
5. Remove the stoneguard from the A-frame and place the mounting brackets on the A-frame where marked. Handy hint: Take note not to interfere with the handbrake cable where installed.
6. Affix the brackets to the A-frame with the bolts supplied.
7. Add the mounting plate support to the A-frame bracket as shown.
8. Add the mounting plate insert to the stoneguard framework as shown on both sides.
9. Affix the bolts to all mounting plates. Handy hints: Leave the mounting bolts loose and re-tighten when the stoneguard is installed on the A-frame; the base support bracket has slots to allow for final adjustment.
10. Place the stoneguard into position on the A-frame as shown above. Handy hint: Recheck measurements and use the slots in the base support bracket to centralise the stoneguard.
11. Re-tighten the base plate bolts after final measurements are completed and place the C clip to hold the stoneguard as shown. Handy hint: The stoneguard can be removed any time by removing the C clip.
12. Once the stoneguard frame is mounted on the A-frame and all bolts are secured, it’s time to prepare the mesh supplied in the DIY kit.
13. Place the mesh on the front of the stoneguard and, if necessary, use G clamps to hold into position. Handy hints: Whilst not shown within this image, use a pencil or crayon to mark out the location of the self-drilling screws as described within the user guide; Then use a battery drill to install the screws as shown.
14. Continue fixing the mesh mounting screws as shown. Handy hint: Ensure the mesh is consistently tight to avoid wrinkles when fixing.
15. You’re ready to enjoy the benefits from your DIY Coast to Coast stoneguard.
The full feature appeared in Caravan World #571. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!