Towing Tips: Stone & Rock Protection for Caravans & Trailers
In a recent article, we talked about improving your towing experiences. Towing on Australian roads can lead to all sorts of challenges to the driver if they haven’t set their vehicle and trailer weights properly. …
In a recent article, we talked about improving your towing experiences. Towing on Australian roads can lead to all sorts of challenges to the driver if they haven’t set their vehicle and trailer weights properly.
Next, we are discussing protection of tow vehicles and trailers when towing on both bitumen and dirt roads. There can be many environmental challenges that present risks to camper trailers, caravans or even boats when being towed. A single rock from a pothole in a damaged bitumen road or the constant battering of stones and rocks from the rear tyres on an outback track can damage your trailer and the rear of your tow vehicle if you’re not careful, and sometimes even when you are!
The risk of this damage can be easily reduced with the addition of protective equipment to your towing setup. Since discovering a couple of different products for myself, I personally would not tow any trailer down a dirt or bitumen road without the addition of protection equipment like the Stone Stomper or DFlector Stone Guards.
Stone Stomper and DFlector Stone Guards are two great Australian design stories but first, let’s go back a couple of decades to when these products didn’t exist.
I have towed all sorts of trailers on country and outback roads, and have seen some horrible results on both the trailers and the rear of the tow vehicles.
We purchased a camper trailer back in the late 90’s that had lots of beautifully painted surfaces at the front but no protective products to reduce stone chips. Being concerned about the potential of damaging the trailer from stone chips, I constructed an aluminium frame and stretched shade cloth mesh to the front. If I didn’t do something, I knew the trailer would suffer serious damage on our travels.
Our first experience of damage was towing this camper trailer down the Oodnadatta Track when a rock bounced off our camper and travelled straight through the rear window of our Toyota Prado tow vehicle. We fixed this for the rest of the journey by using a huge roll of race tape to create a complete lamination of both the inside and outside glass surfaces. This lasted the entire trip but cost a small fortune to replace the glass on my return.
Whilst the mesh probably did a great job in reflecting the numerous stones and rocks, I could see from the alloy frame that many rocks were striking it and most likely bouncing back against the tow vehicle. This system I built helped but was clearly not perfect in any way.
Over the many years of working in the 4WD industry, I have towed all sorts of trailers for various companies along country roads and outback tracks whilst on photoshoots and have seen some horrible damage due to stones and rocks.
As the vehicle moves along the bitumen and dirt roads, stones and rocks can be picked up by the driving tyres, striking the trailers various surfaces and can bounce back towards the rear of the tow vehicle, damaging either it’s painted surfaces, rear lighting or rear window.
The most serious damage I have seen to a Tow Vehicle was on a trip with a brand new 200 Series Toyota LandCruiser into the Flinders Ranges towing a brand new off-road caravan. After only a short section of dirt road, we noticed damage already appearing on the rear of the LandCruiser. The stones were travelling from the rear tyres and reflecting straight back at the 200 Series.
It was horrifying to see, but unfortunately the damage had already been done and the vehicle would require fresh paint after this trip. For the rest of the trip, we would need to travel at ridiculously slow speeds along these dirt roads to reduce further damage. I had requested that the company involved install a Stone Stomper to ensure this kind of damage didn’t take place, as we were running a Stone Stomper on our camera vehicle on this same trip, which had no such issues.
You can prevent damage by completely covering the rear of the tow vehicle and there are many different products available to assist you with customising a protective cover, but there are better products on the market providing great protection from these stones and rocks.
Stone Stomper and DFlector Stone Guards have been growing up in the industry almost side-by-side and are both great Australian design stories that were developed to assist people in protecting their investments. They both work extremely well to reduce damage to both the tow vehicle and the trailer.
After a trip along the Birdsville Track with a Cavalier camper trailer and a brand new Toyota Hilux, the owner of Stone Stomper noticed the damage to his vehicle’s taillights and tailgate. He nearly cried and thought there should be a better solution to help prevent this kind of damage. The product, which is now known as Stone Stomper, was developed and has now been around since 2009. This is a purpose-designed mesh setup that sits underneath the A-Frame of your trailer and runs from the rear of your vehicle to the underside leading edges of the trailer. Any rocks or stones your vehicle tyres flick up will be pushed down and under the trailer. I must admit, for a camper trailer or caravan, Stone Stomper would be my pick of the best solution. I have used this product for many years and would not venture around Australian bitumen roads or outback tracks towing a camper trailer or caravan without one.
Each item is custom made to suit your tow vehicle and the trailer setup. From a simple set of questions on an online form where you specify your caravan or camper trailer, the tow hitch and tow vehicle, a couple of measurements later and you are on your way towards protection. They are extremely easy to install and adjust, and will almost certainly keep the stones and rocks from destroying your investments.
Funny enough, we ordered one to fit our new tow vehicle and our Jayco Basestation and had it delivered to a site in Mildura that was on our way to a photoshoot, installing it in the local Bunnings carpark. We continued into the Flinders Ranges where we towed safely without any stone chips on either the tow vehicle or the trailer. The other advantage of Stone Stomper is that much of the dust is kept lower as it travels from your vehicle, under the mesh and past the trailer.
The product DFlector originated when its owner decided to take his caravan down the Oonadatta Track and wanted to protect his investment from flying rocks, so he built a custom stone guard for the trailer. After many enquiries from people asking where he got the device from, he started his business DFlector for the caravan and camper trailer industry, an original design that has also been around since 2009.
As the name suggests, the product works by deflecting the stones and rocks back down to the road. It is available in 3 different variations and can be ordered from local caravan resale outlets to suit your caravan or camper trailer.
The product has also been re-designed to suit the boating industry with sizes for both smaller, medium and larger trailable boats and Personal Water Craft (PWC) trailers. For the boating industry, I believe this is the best product around, protecting your investment as you travel down the road. It is also easy to install and works extremely well at the boat ramp with features to allow for all operations. We have one on our 6-metre boat and I am extremely happy to tow it behind our 79 Series Toyota LandCruiser on bitumen and dirt roads knowing that the boat will be free from stone chips at the other end.
If you have a camper trailer, caravan or boat and would like to take care of your investment, these products are available to help exactly that. I personally would not travel Australian roads either bitumen or dirt, without one of these products defending what I have worked hard for, our beautiful 4X4 and whatever we are towing.
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