Nose weight - a caution for Unicorn Cabrera owners

Sep 26, 2018
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As is apparent from my sig, we're new to caravanning, and I've been careful to ensure we stay within the various limits weight wise. However, I hadn't checked nose weight, so lashed out on the Milenco scale, and was astounded to find that empty the nose weight was 130kg!!! I'm flabbergasted that manufacturers don't even "design" the nose weight to be about right with the van empty...
 
May 7, 2012
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This is sometimes a problem and many people have been caught out by this. Given only a very small minority of cars can handle that weight I do wonder if it could be regarded as unfit for purpose because I suspect that not only is the nose weight too high for almost everyone, but the hitch will have a 100 kg limit meaning that is not up to the job either. You might want to take legal advice on the subject but it looks right to me and |I do have some legal knowledge.
The Prof might want to give us his thoughts on this as it would be contentious.
.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Mines a relatively lightweight van but it’s empty noseweight is just over 100 kg. When I bought it I asked for a check prior to taking it and with battery and one gas bottle it was far too high for the cars 80 kg. So out came the gas bottle and I filled the toilet flush and some in the cassette and a few other adjustments to bring it down to 80 kg. But on most occasions the noseweight is static so having it above 100kg shouldn’t do any harm to the whilst static. But placing a full aquaroll at the rear would remove the 30 kg if you are concerned. But as most vans now have footholds for access to to front area even if your empty noseweight were zero some owners might find it exceeding 100kg at washing time. :)
Don’t worry just load the van as per guidelines to bring it’s noseweight and MTPLM within spec.
 

Mel

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Our first caravan, a Swift Challenger was over 110kg noseweight when empty. We bought it brand new and were very clear with the dealer and the guy doing the handover that we were complete novices. In spite of this they cheerfully hitched up the over nose weight van to our car and waved us off.
Obviously the ultimate responsibility for a safe unit lay with us, but I still believe it was irresponsible of the dealer to allow us to drive away.
Fortunately no harm occurred, and we quickly learned to load the van to balance the noseweight down to the tow ball limit.
Since then, when changing the van, we have taken a noseweight gauge to the dealer (and some items that will act as ballast if necessary) and insisted on measuring before hitching.
Mel
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Nose load is not a fixed value and it is required that the user loads the trailer to bring the nose load into range for the tow vehicle and the couplings limits. Drivers are expected to check that all weights and load limits are observed and adjusted correctly before the outfit is driven on public roads.
 
Sep 26, 2018
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ProfJohnL said:
Nose load is not a fixed value and it is required that the user loads the trailer to bring the nose load into range for the tow vehicle and the couplings limits. Drivers are expected to check that all weights and load limits are observed and adjusted correctly before the outfit is driven on public roads.

I fully understand the legal responsibilities as driver. I have advised the dealer of my findings (which by the way were easy to rectify now the caravan is loaded) but in my opinion you wouldn't expect to pick up a new car out of the showroom and check all the axle weights are right, so why are you expected to check a caravan in it's virgin state? My Axle weights state 100kg for axle 0, so as constructed the caravan should not be higher than that...
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Guzzilazz said:
ProfJohnL said:
Nose load is not a fixed value and it is required that the user loads the trailer to bring the nose load into range for the tow vehicle and the couplings limits. Drivers are expected to check that all weights and load limits are observed and adjusted correctly before the outfit is driven on public roads.

I fully understand the legal responsibilities as driver. I have advised the dealer of my findings (which by the way were easy to rectify now the caravan is loaded) but in my opinion you wouldn't expect to pick up a new car out of the showroom and check all the axle weights are right, so why are you expected to check a caravan in it's virgin state? My Axle weights state 100kg for axle 0, so as constructed the caravan should not be higher than that...

I fully agree that dealers should be more professional than they are when buyers collect a new caravan. But conversely since the buyer presumably makes sure the car matches the caravan then they too have an obligation to make sure the noseweight is okay for the car.
Bit confused about your axle load “0” and 100 kg. What’s this referring to?
 
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otherclive said:
I fully agree that dealers should be more professional than they are when buyers collect a new caravan. But conversely since the buyer presumably makes sure the car matches the caravan then they too have an obligation to make sure the noseweight is okay for the car.
Bit confused about your axle load “0” and 100 kg. What’s this referring to?

It's axle 0 (i.e. the hitch/ jockey wheel)
 
Oct 8, 2006
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Can I do a swap with someone please?

When we got our U4 Seville towing home it seemed to bounce a bit. Weighed the nose - 34Kg!!!!!

No matter what we do and/or how we load it up the maximum we have ever achieved on the nose is 53Kg and that with MPTLM uprated to 1450Kg and being loaded to within a few kilos of that figure.
 
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Woodentop said:
Can I do a swap with someone please?

When we got our U4 Seville towing home it seemed to bounce a bit. Weighed the nose - 34Kg!!!!!

No matter what we do and/or how we load it up the maximum we have ever achieved on the nose is 53Kg and that with MPTLM uprated to 1450Kg and being loaded to within a few kilos of that figure.

The nose load is not directly dependant on teh all up weight of a trailer, but how the load is distributed in the trailer.

I have towed many different caravans in various states of load. We always carried out nose load checks before towing, and if necessary added water filled containers to ballast to achieve a satisfactory nose load.

I have never been unable to achieve a suitable nose load.
 
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otherclive said:
Guzzilazz said:
ProfJohnL said:
Nose load is not a fixed value and it is required that the user loads the trailer to bring the nose load into range for the tow vehicle and the couplings limits. Drivers are expected to check that all weights and load limits are observed and adjusted correctly before the outfit is driven on public roads.

I fully understand the legal responsibilities as driver. I have advised the dealer of my findings (which by the way were easy to rectify now the caravan is loaded) but in my opinion you wouldn't expect to pick up a new car out of the showroom and check all the axle weights are right, so why are you expected to check a caravan in it's virgin state? My Axle weights state 100kg for axle 0, so as constructed the caravan should not be higher than that...

I fully agree that dealers should be more professional than they are when buyers collect a new caravan. But conversely since the buyer presumably makes sure the car matches the caravan then they too have an obligation to make sure the noseweight is okay for the car.
Bit confused about your axle load “0” and 100 kg. What’s this referring to?

I insisted that the nose weight be checked before we hitched up the new caravan. My cheap gauge was not up to the task so the dealers produced a Milenco gauge after being asked. It was about 105KG after all the starter pack was added (gas, battery etc) so everything in the gas locker was all removed ( bar gas and battery) into the car to drop weight to just above 90kg.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Guzzilazz said:
....I fully understand the legal responsibilities as driver. I have advised the dealer of my findings (which by the way were easy to rectify now the caravan is loaded) but in my opinion you wouldn't expect to pick up a new car out of the showroom and check all the axle weights are right, so why are you expected to check a caravan in it's virgin state? My Axle weights state 100kg for axle 0, so as constructed the caravan should not be higher than that...

Trailer manufacturers are not required to state the exworks nose load figure, so most do not. Some caravan manufacturers used to quote it, and it led to other issues such as uninformed caravanners assuming the quoted exworks figure was a fixed value, but later discovering the nose was far too light leading to towing instability.

Unlike a 4 wheeled car where the majority of the mass is between the road wheels, in a caravan and other balanced trailers, the load straddles the main road support, and thus the load at the hitch will vary significantly if the load distribution is changed. As trailer manufacturers cannot know how each trailer is going to be loaded they cannot possibly quote a nose load figure. In stead all they can and should do is to ensure the couplings load capacity is reasonable for the weight rating of the trailer. The EU constructions and use regs require the coupling to have a minimum S value load capacity of no less than 25kg or no less than 4% of MTPLM which ever is greater.

As for caravan dealers releasing caravans to customers with large nose loads, If the load is above the couplings specified limit, then that is a more serious matter and the dealer should be held to account.

But unless you tell the dealer what nose value you want, how are they to know what to trim it to? The reality is that until you tow the particular caravan you don't know what your optimum nose load value is.

When I have been asked about what is the best nose load value to choose, I have suggested starting with a value of about 75% of the available capacity, and try it and trim it accordingly. Once you have found your optimum value there is value in increasing it further as all it does is to increase wear and tare on coupling and suspension.
 
May 7, 2012
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Caravan builders know what the nose weight limit is for most cars and the legal limit for the hitch, and should build the caravan accordingly. While you can adjust the nose weight by loading the caravan differently when you pick it up from the dealer it is likely to be empty and you cannot do this. You are then driving illegally so high nosed weights are simply not acceptable. Again loading towards the rear which you need to do to correct this is not good practice and in extreme cases like the OP's could be dangerous which makes me feel that the caravan is not fit for purpose at some point possibly if over the limit for the hitch.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Raywood said:
Caravan builders know what the nose weight limit is for most cars and the legal limit for the hitch, and should build the caravan accordingly. While you can adjust the nose weight by loading the caravan differently when you pick it up from the dealer it is likely to be empty and you cannot do this. You are then driving illegally so high nosed weights are simply not acceptable. Again loading towards the rear which you need to do to correct this is not good practice and in extreme cases like the OP's could be dangerous which makes me feel that the caravan is not fit for purpose at some point possibly if over the limit for the hitch.

Sorry Ray,

But I almost totally disagree with you on this one.

Trailer manufacturers do not know the tow bar limits of every customer so they couldn't possibly design an empty trailer to suit all customers from the showroom. Every customer should know they are obliged to ensure their car and trailers are correctly trimmed for weights and load before venturing onto the highway. That is a liability the driver cannot pass to any one else.

If you cannot achieve the correct nose load, then you must not use the trailer, or find a tow vehicle that can take the load.

We have covered end loading many times before, but if the caravan is empty then its capacity to be end loaded without detriment to its towing safety is that much better. End loading is not a definite No No, its a question of taking a sensible approach to it and not to excess.

In an extreme case I had to add 7 x 5 (35) liters of water to the rear of one caravan to get the nose load down so I could tow it from a factory to our base with no problems behind a Sierra 4x4.

I agree end loading should be avoided if possible, but if that is the only way then so be it.
 
May 7, 2012
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Prof, What I was saying is that the trailer manufacturers know that most cars have a tow ball limit in the region of 70 to 100 kg, although a few larger ones do exceed this. For a trailer maker to produce one at 135 kg is at a point where they know it is way beyond the capability of almost any car it is designed to be towed by and to me it is therefore unfit for purpose. This is especially so if as I think is the case the hitch has a 100 kg capacity. I accept that they do not know the capacity of every model but they know the norm.
It does look from what many people have said in different posts that a lot of caravans when empty exceed the cars tow ball limit and towing them home is then illegal. When buying it you will probably have nothing to back load it with but while I agree in many cases it is possible it is not good practice and should be avoided if possible. Correct design should have a nose weight that is within the capacity of the cars it is aimed at, and that means anything over 80 kg is potentially a problem and the trailer manufacturers know that. Some cars are far less but then you are looking at exceptional circumstances and those vehicles are probably unsuitable for most caravans.
I agree that you should know the tow bar load of your caravan but like me you have many years of experience in the subject. Many people with far less knowledge can easily fall into a trap here if no one points this out to them, and dealers and manufactures do not point this out.
If people were informed and dealers checked the nose weight for customers, a pipe dream I know, certain models would be unsalable.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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I don’t think they would necessarily become unsaleable but the unloaded state would have to be adjusted to ensure the caravan nose-weight is suitable for the car. Although getting 135 kg down to say 80 kg would take a bit of adjustment. But where does this Bailey store it’s battery, gas bottles. Is the fridge in front, behind or over axle. I see examples of this caravan on sites do perhaps when it’s loaded fir touring its better balanced.
 
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I do concede that caravan manufacture should make sure that as it leaves the factory or show room the trailer should not exceed the caravan chassis nose load limit. But it doe not render it unfit for purpose as it is expected the driver should adjust trim the trailer to suit their tow vehicle.

I do not agree that they should aim for a norm or average nose load figure which might restrict their ability to lay out a caravan to suit the market they are aiming at.

The law is clear that ignorance is no defense, and if a driver has not done their homework, then they are liable if they get it wrong.

How many times have we seen some contributors complaining about the "nanny state" well this is an example where drivers must accept their responsibilities for checking and trimming, even from the dealers forecourt.

Dealers could certainly help by having a (Calibrated) nose load gauge available and suggesting people collecting caravans from then should bring some empty water containers and bungees so that a caravan may be trimmed before it leaves the forecourt.
 
Sep 26, 2018
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otherclive said:
I don’t think they would necessarily become unsaleable but the unloaded state would have to be adjusted to ensure the caravan nose-weight is suitable for the car. Although getting 135 kg down to say 80 kg would take a bit of adjustment. But where does this Bailey store it’s battery, gas bottles. Is the fridge in front, behind or over axle. I see examples of this caravan on sites do perhaps when it’s loaded fir touring its better balanced.

The Bailey's have no forward locker, gas is off-side about 5' in front of the axle. The battery is under the floor just inside the door, again about 5' ahead of the axle. I only have 1 6kg propane bottle, I'm going to weigh every time until I get a good consistent view. The dealer has weighed their totally empty Cabrera at 100kg,..
 
May 7, 2012
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ProfJohnL said:
I do concede that caravan manufacture should make sure that as it leaves the factory or show room the trailer should not exceed the caravan chassis nose load limit. But it doe not render it unfit for purpose as it is expected the driver should adjust trim the trailer to suit their tow vehicle.

I do not agree that they should aim for a norm or average nose load figure which might restrict their ability to lay out a caravan to suit the market they are aiming at.

The law is clear that ignorance is no defense, and if a driver has not done their homework, then they are liable if they get it wrong.

How many times have we seen some contributors complaining about the "nanny state" well this is an example where drivers must accept their responsibilities for checking and trimming, even from the dealers forecourt.

Dealers could certainly help by having a (Calibrated) nose load gauge available and suggesting people collecting caravans from then should bring some empty water containers and bungees so that a caravan may be trimmed before it leaves the forecourt.

Prof , possibly you have to look at the point where the nose weight becomes unreasonable. At just over100 kg this is probably passable, but when you get to 135 kg you are so far over the cars and the hitches limits it is getting into the realms of ridiculous. Trying to load that to get it down below at least 100 kg is going to be difficult and potentially dangerous and towing it empty is illegal by quite a margin.
I do not see that there is any excuse for this sort of figure. Basically too heavy a nose weight means the axle is too far forward and they have not done their homework correctly before launching it, or simply refused to spend the money needed to correct the problem once it was discovered.
It occurs to me that in cases where the delivery is by it hitched to the back of a truck the delivery driver and the manufacturer are at risk of prosecution because the hitch weight is being exceeded.
 

Parksy

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ProfJohnL said:
I do concede that caravan manufacture should make sure that as it leaves the factory or show room the trailer should not exceed the caravan chassis nose load limit. But it doe not render it unfit for purpose as it is expected the driver should adjust trim the trailer to suit their tow vehicle.

I do not agree that they should aim for a norm or average nose load figure which might restrict their ability to lay out a caravan to suit the market they are aiming at.

The law is clear that ignorance is no defense, and if a driver has not done their homework, then they are liable if they get it wrong.

How many times have we seen some contributors complaining about the "nanny state" well this is an example where drivers must accept their responsibilities for checking and trimming, even from the dealers forecourt.

Dealers could certainly help by having a (Calibrated) nose load gauge available and suggesting people collecting caravans from then should bring some empty water containers and bungees so that a caravan may be trimmed before it leaves the forecourt.

A four berth touring caravan can cost twice as much money as a small car but it's typical of the cottage industry approach from caravan manufacturers that they expect buyers to resolve their design errors.
Imagine what would happen to a car manufacturer if customers were expected to cart containers full of water when they went to collect their new car before they could drive it away legally :S
 
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Parksy

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ProfJohnL said:
I do concede that caravan manufacture should make sure that as it leaves the factory or show room the trailer should not exceed the caravan chassis nose load limit. But it doe not render it unfit for purpose as it is expected the driver should adjust trim the trailer to suit their tow vehicle.

I do not agree that they should aim for a norm or average nose load figure which might restrict their ability to lay out a caravan to suit the market they are aiming at.

The law is clear that ignorance is no defense, and if a driver has not done their homework, then they are liable if they get it wrong.

How many times have we seen some contributors complaining about the "nanny state" well this is an example where drivers must accept their responsibilities for checking and trimming, even from the dealers forecourt.

Dealers could certainly help by having a (Calibrated) nose load gauge available and suggesting people collecting caravans from then should bring some empty water containers and bungees so that a caravan may be trimmed before it leaves the forecourt.

A four berth touring caravan can cost twice as much money as a small car but it's typical of the cottage industry approach from caravan manufacturers that they expect buyers to resolve their design errors.
Imagine what would happen to a car manufacturer if customers were expected to cart containers full of water when they went to collect their new car before they could drive it away legally :S
 
Jun 20, 2005
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The AKS 3400 Hitch has a nose load maximum of 150kgs. Al-Ko call it the “Imposed Load”.
I cannot accept a Manufacturer can produce a unit where fresh from the factory the nose load may exceed the hitch max rated load. So all those trucks carrying one caravan on board and one being towed could be causing long term damage by towing an imbalanced unit. No water ballast on board?? Possible over stressing of the hitch?
IMO the manufacturer has a duty of care to ensure their units from the factory and at point of sale do not breach any maximum or “accepted minimum “ nose loads.
Or like a plane maker do they have a secret MCAS :whistle:
Ray set out a reasoned and acceptable approach in my view. Any one know the actual truth?
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Dustydog said:
Ray set out a reasoned and acceptable approach in my view. Any one know the actual truth?

It depends which point your refering to?

My statements about drivers responsibilities are the truth,

Should manufacturer's ensure exfactory nose loads must be lower than the trailers maximum value, Don't forget the sale of the Farah to the dealer is not covered by the same or equivalent CRA legislation as it's not a retail contract. I don't think there is any legislation that forces them to do that, because as stated above it should be the transport drivers responsibility to check the caravan is road legal.

Should the Dealer be responsible, well it's less clear there may be grounds for rejecting the caravan if it's delivered or exchanged nose load exceeds the manufactures limit. But equally nose load is not a fixed value, and it is an inherent feature of balanced trailers that the driver should trim the loading to set a suitable nose load.

If not legally, the dealer should have a moral duty to help or advise customers about nose loading.
 
May 7, 2012
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The legal position is not clear as it would need someone to test it in court. I agree with the Prof in that your contract is with the dealer so you would have to claim of him but I think the dealer would have to go back to the maker. At some point the nose weight has to make the caravan unfit for purpose though.
 

Parksy

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The caravan would be unfit for purpose if the amount of weight needed to trim the caravan for its nose weight limit exceeded the legal payload limit for the caravan.
 

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