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Thread: Towing a trailer in the Simpson Desert

  1. #1
    Leading Hand AJ's Avatar
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    Towing a trailer in the Simpson Desert

    This is always a controversial topic. National parks advise against it and lots of people get very upset when they see or hear of trailers in the Simpson.

    On our most recent trip a few months ago we ended up back in the Simpson and towed our camper across it for the third time. In the 3 crossings we have not had to do a recovery once. On this most recent trip we took arguably the toughest route heading East to West taking the QAA and French lines all the way and did it solo. I was constantly annoyed and amazed at the difficulties people who had no trailers seemed to be having. We saw them struggle, we heard them on the radio struggling and we saw the results of them struggling, all the while we just kept going up and over the dunes with little or no trouble at all.

    I did a few videos whilst we out there, this one was at a dune that we knew was causing grief for numerous other travellers without trailers.



    Cheers Andrew
    Why would I buy something for $10 when I can make it for $20

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  2. #2
    Forum Enthusiast robmacca's Avatar
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    AJ....

    U need to tell the folks what tyre pressures u were running
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    Cheers.....
    RobM


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  3. #3
    Forum Enthusiast Trinity's Avatar
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    Yep, agree with Rob about tyre pressures. It makes ALL the difference. There were plenty of people out there getting stuck - trailers or no trailers - who were digging up the tracks for everyone else. We never had a second go at a single dune. I personally wouldn't tow out there, but that's my choice.

    Also, would be interested to hear what tyre pressures you had for the trailer. One mistake we saw struggling drivers who were towing make was only airing down the vehicle (or at least that's how it appeared).

  4. #4
    Leading Hand AJ's Avatar
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    Although there is some technique involved in getting over the dunes with a trailer (or without for that matter) yes tyre pressures are absolutely the key to success.

    In our case we have found that invariably in the Simpson with the trailer we end up running 13PSI in steer and the trailer and 15PSI in the rear. Those are our running pressures not our cold tyre pressures. Of course those numbers work for our rig, with our tyres and the weight of our rig and trailer and is indicative of what our pressure gauge tells us. From experience I can tell you that as little as 1 PSI difference in tyre pressures can mean the difference between stopping 3/4 of the way up a dune and walking over the top with ease. So even a change in pressure gauge might mean your figures could vary from what works for me.

    I guess my point really is this, if you are not walking up the dunes as showed in the video, you are doing something wrong.

    I mention technique and in the video I mentioned the need to go slow in order to keep all wheels in contact with the sand. Whilst camped at the dune where the video was taken a guy in V8 cruiser went past late in the day and his technique was hold it flat, hang on and watch the sand spray everywhere. Upon inspecting his tracks I could see spots where he was travelling for more than 2 metres at a time without the wheels touching the sand, so giving him Zero traction and causing wheel spin and consequently the moguls that are some common in the Simpson. What we aim to do is set our speed, which usually mean slowing down slightly at the base of the climb, so that the harmonics of the suspension match the track conditions. When you get that right you can feel the rig "hook up" to borrow a term from the drag racers. If we keep our speed aligned with the harmonics of the track and suspension then we stay "hooked up" get that wrong and you feel it unhook and if you don't adjust your speed quickly you will start to spin wheels and damage the track.

    Cheers Andrew
    Why would I buy something for $10 when I can make it for $20

    2009 120 Prado http://www.4wdadventurers.com/showth...AJ-s-120-Prado
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  5. #5
    Administrator Gary's Avatar
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    Great advice Andrew. What you say about 1-2 psi making a difference is also spot on. Many years ago we experinented with tyre pressures in the sand dunes, and found a massive difference in traction when the sweet tyre pressure was found.

    Something which I have also found that can catch you out is, if you set your pressures when the tyres are cold or coolish, when they start to warm up your tyre pressure will increase slightly, this increase can often take your pressures outside that sweet psi that you want. A quick check/reset of pressure after driving a while can often reap good results.

  6. #6
    Forum Master Frank's Avatar
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    I hear you Andrew.

    When we took the troopie across the Simpson in 2015 we had a roof top ten set up so the back half was quite heavy, running 33" tyres we had 12psi up front and 16psi at the rear, we did not get bogged once and we tackled the most difficult track on Big Red and went over without difficulty on the first attempt.

    When we were at Dalhousie I had a chat with one of the members of a convoy of four vehicles parked next to us which included an older, ex RFS, troopie with the narrow tyres and split rims, he told me that he was running at 45psi. I suggested that he should lower the pressure and he took off to speak to his trip leader who proposed 40psi all round.

    Well, for the next three days all we could hear on the radio was the convoy trucks getting stuck one after the other, eventually reaching Birdsville about a day and a half after we had arrived, very entertaining and I hope they learned a lesson.

    Unfortunately, it will not get any better, the Simpson and other iconic Australian tracks are becoming quite popular with overseas tourists who, either hire very basic 4WD vehicles or buy clapped out trucks which are totally unprepared and they having no idea on how to drive them. Ironically, these idiots tend to boast about their achievements on YouTube or Facebook only to encourage more idiots to follow.
    Cheers,

    Frank


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  7. #7
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    Hi, We did the Simpson in 2015 and had no troubles running 16/18PSI f/r. We heard plenty of people on the radio need to take second runs at things or using low range. We cruised across not needing anything below first high.

    This might offend some but I wouldn't be unhappy to see trailers banned in places like CSR and Simpson. Hell I think a basic 4wd course should be required as the damage to these tracks from ignorance is obvious, blows my mind how people don't know to air down.

  8. #8
    Leading Hand AJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by monaro327 View Post

    This might offend some but I wouldn't be unhappy to see trailers banned in places like CSR and Simpson. Hell I think a basic 4wd course should be required as the damage to these tracks from ignorance is obvious, blows my mind how people don't know to air down.
    A ban is probably what it will come to, but from my experience its not the towing of a trailer that is the issue but the lack of knowledge by a lot of people that causes the issues towing or not.

    I agree on the 4wd course, we did one years ago and it was well worth it.

    Cheers Andrew
    Why would I buy something for $10 when I can make it for $20

    2009 120 Prado http://www.4wdadventurers.com/showth...AJ-s-120-Prado
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  9. #9
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    I agree, but uneducated in a 4wd is one thing uneducated in a 4wd towing is something else. Thats all.

  10. #10
    Leading Hand AJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary View Post
    Great advice Andrew. What you say about 1-2 psi making a difference is also spot on. Many years ago we experinented with tyre pressures in the sand dunes, and found a massive difference in traction when the sweet tyre pressure was found.

    Something which I have also found that can catch you out is, if you set your pressures when the tyres are cold or coolish, when they start to warm up your tyre pressure will increase slightly, this increase can often take your pressures outside that sweet psi that you want. A quick check/reset of pressure after driving a while can often reap good results.
    That was exactly our own experience this trip, by lunchtime the first day we started to find a couple of dunes a bit harder, then stopped 3/4 what up one as we ran out of traction. Backed down and let 1psi out to counter the higher pressures as the day warmed up, and it was like a totally different vehicle on the next attempt.

    We have experienced the same thing numerous times on beaches as well.

    Cheers Andrew
    Why would I buy something for $10 when I can make it for $20

    2009 120 Prado http://www.4wdadventurers.com/showth...AJ-s-120-Prado
    HZJ79 Cruiser http://www.4wdadventurers.com/showth...ies-Cruser-Ute

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