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4fun

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Reply with quote  #1 

The more I am off-road with my nice rig, the more I am convinced that weight is an incredibly big negative influencer to a lot of things. 

The heavier you are:

  • the more fuel you’ll use,
  • the more difficult it is to drive up-hill (depends on your vehicle obviously),
  • the more scary it will be on slippery down-hill sections,
  • the more you’ll wear out your engine and drive train,
  • the higher the chance of shaking your camper to pieces,
  • the higher the chance of overheating a shock absorber,
  • the more difficult it will become to get over off-road obstacles,
  • the more likely you'll get bogged in sand,
  • the longer your stopping distance,
  • the less pleasant the combo will be to drive,
  • the higher the risk of swaying and jack-knifing.
  • the most important argument of all: If YOU'RE OVERWEIGHT YOU'RE UNINSURED !!

Note that these problems are the same for any vehicle and camper brand, so I’m not bagging Conqueror here. 

When reading off-road articles from people whom I believe they know what they are talking about, there seems to be a consensus that anything above 1000Kg trailer mass is ‘pushing your luck’. It’s the off-road tracks that are the problem here, 1000Kg on a high way is perfectly fine, but the same 1000Kg off-road are a very heavy bag of sand to drag behind you.

I've recently done a very nice and long trip to the red centre, and that was all easy and enjoyable so it's not like I have a combo that is scary or impossible to drive, but what I don't know is how much I am wearing out my engine and drive train, and how much more of these cool trips I can do before my engine gives up in a puff of smoke in the middle of nowhere.

So, I’ve been trimming weight off my 440. It’s a Kg here and a Kg there, but it all adds up. But … so far I had no idea what my combo actually weighed, except what the Conqueror brochures claimed, and what it says on the vehicle registration plate.

To replace fiction with facts I’ve put the combo on a public weigh bridge last weekend, and came home a little bit shocked because both the vehicle and the trailer where a lot heavier already than what I expected. Finding a weigh bridge is easy. A lot of big truck companies have one, but I found out that my local public waste facility (the TIP) also provides this feature - for free.

These public scales are reasonably accurate and are regularly calibrated, so I am going to assume that a reading from a public weigh bridge is an accurate reading. The readout is in 10Kg increments, but let's assume it's within 40Kg accurate. Good enough for our purposes.

What I did was first drive on with the front wheels, take a reading, then drive on the whole defender, take a reading, and drive on again until the 440 was also on the bridge and take a third reading.

The readings are as follows:

  • front axle alone: 1160Kg
  • front and rear axle: 2640Kg
  • all three axles: 4080Kg. 

So the front axle weight of the Defender is 1160Kg, the rear axle is 2640-1160=1480Kg and the UEV 440 weighs 4080 - 2640 = 1440Kg.

Next thing I did was measure the tow ball weight back at home. To this extend I have invested in a tow ball scale (around $70), but to make sure that this thing gave me accurate readings I also measured with a bathroom weigh scale - and it actually was pretty accurate. My tow ball weight came in at 130Kg which, considering the fact that I have removed my spare wheel plus carrier etc, wasn’t too bad.

Next thing I did was compare these numbers against the legal max capacities of my vehicle to work out what breathing space I have left to load more goodies onto the combo.

My Defender max front axle load is 1250Kg. I’m at 1160, so I have a bit spare but I don’t want to get much heavier. This is a problem, because I really intended to put heavy stuff *between* the front and rear axle, i.e. behind the front seats, so I will be pushing this number up further.

My max rear axle load is 1940Kg. I’m at 1480, so I have about 440Kg spare. That’s nice, but with one or two passengers in the car plus all heavy luggage in the car, I am sure I’ll blow that budget before I can blink my eyes.

The GVM of my Defender is 3050Kg. I currently weigh 2640, so I actually can’t legally add more than 410Kg to the vehicle in total. 

The UEV side of things ...

Tow ball weight is 130 Kg which is within legal range (max 150Kg for my LR and tow bar), but I’d like to get it lower, down to 110 Kg or so.

The UEV currently weighs 1480 Kg on the axle, so the total trailer mass is 1480 + 130 = 1610Kg, much more than the 1150 claimed on the registration plate. I can legally have 1800Kg, so I have 200Kg breathing space left. The axle can carry 2600Kg, so that's well and truly in the safety zone, but each tire has a max load of 1400Kg, so if the UEV would be with one wheel in the air for a while and the full weight minus towball weight would be on one wheel then that would be close to, or slightly over 1400Kg already.

Also with the Defender weighing 2600Kg the UEV is still a lot lighter than the Defender, and with the UEV at approximately 65% of the Defender weight the on-road behaviour should be pretty good in theory. But ... I'm finding it all damn heavy.

The difference between off-factory and actual weight is a huge 460 Kg, which I can't quite explain yet but I'll give it a try:

  • 14Kg inner spring mattress,
  • 150Kg full water tanks
  • 40Kg full jerry cans
  • 25Kg (estimated) for 78L fridge
  • 10Kg pots and pans
  • 10Kg solar panel

That's totalling at 250Kg added weight so not quite the 460Kg difference and if I also take into consideration that I've taken about 70Kg off because of the spare wheel + spare wheel carrier + spare hub + gas tank boxes + several drawers/slides and other pieces of metal then there is a total of 210+70Kg that I can't account for. So, my guess is that the 1150 Kg claimed curb side weight has been a very optimistic weight.

The Defender side of things ...

Next thing I did was ask myself where the hell the 668Kg weight difference came from between the allegedly off-factory curb side mass of my Defender (1972Kg) versus the amount I current have on the scale (2640 Kg).

Here’s the list of changes to the Defender and an estimated weight:

  • 180Kg caused by the ball weight (130Kg ball mass is 180Kg on the axle),
  • 100Kg caused by my full water tank plus the UEV’s spare wheel that I carried in the back of the defender
  • 80Kg thanks to a big winch and steel bull bar,
  • 30Kg thanks to two heavy duty steel rock rails,
  • 50Kg extra due to my stupid decision to change to big fat - good looking - 285/75R16 muddies,
  • 15Kg extra due to a steel spare wheel carrier,
  • 10Kg extra due to a heavy duty rear (disconnect) anti sway bar,
  • 5Kg added by heavy duty front steering rods,
  • 10Kg courtesy of heavy duty super big bore shock absorbers,
  • 40Kg extra from a 2nd battery + air compressor,
  • 10Kg extra from Ashcroft lockers and HD rear drive shafts,
  • 10Kg or so from front under carriage protection plate. 

Adding it up I’m a little bit over a shocking 540Kg of extra weight!!

Land Rover specifies their curb side weight with 10L in the tank and no driver weight included which would explain for the remaining 130Kg.

Something worth mentioning also: the Defender had about half a tank of fuel, a full water tank (45Kg) and a second spare wheel (40Kg) plus one 76Kg driver.
The UEV had full water tanks, full jerry’s on the back and an empty 78L fridge plus all the pots and pans. No consumables or clothes packed and I’v taken off the spare wheel + spare wheel carrier + spare hub assembly.

Conclusion

I considering myself very lucky that I have a LR Defender with a massive load capacity of 1000Kg. I sympathise with anyone who has less.

The problem I have is that even in it’s current state, with just a driver, no clothes, no food, no spare parts, no recovery gear I’m close to what I’d consider my max acceptable weight and I’d prefer to go much lower (something like 1250 Kg on each axle). I consider the 1600Kg of the UEV to be far higher than what I'd like it to be. I'd prefer something around the 1000 but I understand that's not a realistic option. But it's clear that - unless I can remove some more heavy weight off the UEV - I do not want to load anything heavy onto it and probably want to keep the front water tank empty unless I absolutely have to use it.

Furthermore, I have max 400Kg I can add to the Defender before I over load that car and that includes the weight of one or two passengers, which means I can't put a lot in the defender either.

So … the weight loss program has started.

Stuff I'll be doing:

  • go back to standard tire size (235/85R16)
  • consider removing the rock rails
  • consider putting back the standard anti-sway bar
  • rip out the rear seats when I'm traveling with my partner only
  • seriously, seriously, seriously think about any and all things that I am loading and only take stuff with me that I really need.
  • replace heavy gel batteries with Lithium batteries

I’ll be adding more information to this article as it becomes available.

PS. If anyone can point at a mistake in my calculations, I'd appreciate the feedback very much!

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Drover

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Posts: 52
Reply with quote  #2 
Sounds like some serious calculations going on. They do feel weighty and the height is certainly noticeable with a head wind when compared with a camper trailer. I have not weighed mine but was going to. Probably don't need to now with your numbers. Every time I go down this weight issue route I find I need to pack and unpack certain items for each trip. The calculations on fuel savings - forgetting about the other effect of weight- give only a small $ amount. I have found that packing sensibly, ensuring items have more than one use, keeping tyres at +5 to10%, cut 5km/hr off travel speed(keep under 100- better still 90), try not to travel in strong headwinds, putting all items inside (not on the roof) will have measurable results.
These measures could easily save 0.3L/100- but that is still only saving $400 @ $1.33/L for 100,000km or $40 on a 10000km trip(fuel only). Sometimes we like to modify things because it gives our rigs individuality, but the economics don't stack up.
Be interested to see what you can get your 440's BMI down to!! (and if you can feel any difference)
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8111colin

Senior Member
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Posts: 123
Reply with quote  #3 
Are you sure you bought the right trailer in the first place ?
Colin
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4fun

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 150
Reply with quote  #4 
@Drover, I agree. I did mention fuel savings as an argument, but that's not my main driver for improvements. I would *really* be interested though to hear from you and other 440 owners what their 440 weighs. I'm just very curious where the hell the 1600Kg comes from because it's way over the registration plate, and I can't explain that extra weight with what I've added so far.

@Colin, it's a fair question that I've been asking myself a few times as well and quite frankly I believe it's a question that everyone should ask themselves having a camper/trailer heavier than say 1200Kg. So this is NOT against Conqueror. Any other brand of camper, say a VistaRV to name a comparable nice little unit, is in exactly the same problem space. Honestly, pack your car and trailer for a holiday and put yourself on a weigh bridge. There's a chance you'll be shocked by your total weight. I for one absolutely did not realise how much I'd already added to my Defender, but I can explain every Kg. With the 440 it's a bit more fuzzy. The morale of this whole story is that I have 400Kg left to load my wife, clothes, food, fuel, chairs and a table. Any Kg more and I'm over weight. If I'd had another vehicle, say a LC 78 series, I would have had 100Kg load capacity in the vehicle - all else being equal.

Sorry, no, that's not entirely true, I also have 200Kg left to put on the 440, but I've set myself a limitation there. As I said, I'm really keen to hear from others what their 440 (or 490) weighs, and if sufficient people tell me that 1800Kg is perfectly fine, then I may relax a bit too.

I also have to comment that this is not limited to people having a trailer. In hindsight, when I did a trip to the Cape a few years back - and knowing what my weight is nowadays - I may have been seriously over my GVM with just a bare vehicle.

As I said to Drover, it's not the fuel economy that I care that much about. I did on average 14.5L / 100Km on my 8000Km trip to Alice, so I'm pretty happy with that, and the unit responded pretty good as well, so I'm also not *that* concerned about rolling over etc. But in hindsight I'm pretty sure I was too heavy. This is all good as long as everything goes well, but if you have an accident and the guys in blue start taking measurements then you could be in a world of pain and not insured and *that* does worry me. Also, I recently read that the same boys in blue (in QLD at least) are going to be more active in checking road-worthy-ness of 4WD's close to popular holiday destinations. Need I say more.

But yes, there is a lot to like about this little unit. I've been camping all my life in tents until recently and we've come to a stage where we'd wanted a bit more luxury but still go to nice places. I don't give one iota about all the luxury that you get in 'real' caravans, so yes this little beaut ticks a lot of my boxes. Beach camping is my all time favourite and the 440 is kick-ass great for that. :-)

Please don't confuse all my articles about modifications with my happiness with a 440. If I'd had a sailing boat, and actually knew how to sail it, I would be modifying the hell out of that thing ;-)
 
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Drover

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Posts: 52
Reply with quote  #5 
Not that it helps but I think the 440's weight is "dry". By that I mean no water, no fridge, no kitchen items, no awnings, no gas, no heater, no drawbar extn, no tools etc which makes "no sense".
Its a bit like my national luna fridge- 90l but from memory with baskets out is about 85l internal. N.L. could not explain. I guess it does not have the same legal implications. Maybe the weight comes from the NON UEV version??
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4fun

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Posts: 150
Reply with quote  #6 
Drover yup, that may explain some of the difference. I already had calculated in things like empty water thanks, etc. But if Conqueror also takes off things like awnings, gas, and specifically the drawbar extension/enforcement then hmmm ... then it's starting to sound fishy doesn't it. At the time that I purchased my 440 Conqueror explicitly stated on their web site that the specified weight included all those things, and proudly announced this as something that differentiated them from the competition.

But, the weight of an awning and a few other bits still doesn't explain the massive weight difference. It's more like, as you suggested, the difference between the heavy duty off-road suspension on the 440 'extreme' versus the NON UEV version. If that's the case, then is it legal to put that lesser weight on the registration plate on the A-Frame because I honestly can't work out how my UEV *ever* has weighted 1150 Kg.
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4fun

Senior Member
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Posts: 150
Reply with quote  #7 
I've looked again on the trailer registration plate and then looked up what those definitions actually mean. The plate specifies both TARE and ATM. The TARE of my 440 is 1150Kg and the ATM is 1800Kg.
  • ATM is defined as "the weight of a fully loaded trailer NOT coupled to a vehicle, i.e. it includes the tow ball weight.
  • TARE is defined as "the unladen weight of a trailer" but I can't find a single statement that clarifies if this is supposed to be coupled to a vehicle or not.
So what I am assuming is that when registering a trailer many manufacturers will drive a tow vehicle + trailer onto a weighbridge, then drive on so that only the trailer is still on the weigh bridge and take a reading and assume this to be TARE weight. In the real world this is the most practical (least time consuming) thing to do. In other words, the tow ball mass is probably not included in the TARE that is written on my registration plate. The definition of the word is fuzzy, so I am guessing it's not illegal.

I don't know if this is standard practice, but it's a very convenient one for manufacturers since it sounds like you have e.g. 1800 - 1150 = 650 Kg load capacity on the trailer whereas in reality ATM has the tow ball weight included and the TARE has not. So it would have been a lot better, and more honest, if not the ATM was specified but the GTM (which is the "fully loaded trailer weight when coupled to a vehicle"). Assuming a tow ball weight of 150Kg, the GTM for the 440 is 1800 - 150 = 1650Kg, which means I can load it with 1650 - 1150 = 400Kg maximum!.

Back to my shocking measurement. My 440 weighs 1440Kg on the weigh bridge (coupled to the vehicle). I have two full water tanks @ 150Kg, two full jerry's @ 40Kg, an empty fridge @ 27Kg, an innerspring bed @ 14Kg (extra), pot's and pans @ 10Kg (estimated) and two gas bottles @ 40Kg (assuming that Conqueror conveniently forgets to include these in their weighing). That's a total of 241 Kg. So adding it all up I have a TARE weight of 1150 plus say 250 Kg of basic survival goodies and I'm at 1400Kg total, 40Kg shy of what I measured the other day on the weigh bridge. I'll accept that 40Kg as inaccuracy of the weigh bridge, so at the moment I can explain my 440 weight to myself (which is important to me) .

This example is obviously specific for my 440, but for other models the same principles apply. A UEV 390 is lighter, but it most likely also has a lower ATM spec, so you may be hitting the same problem. And yes, to clarify again, I'm not trying to bag Conqueror here, this problem is true for EVERY trailer on the market.

There's two more things that I want to know:
  • what's the weight on the left and right wheel, i.e. is the weight evenly distributed or is e.g. the kitchen side much heavier as some postings seem to suggest
  • what's 4 storage boxes and a full fridge and two sets of clothing going to add in weight.
I'll keep you posted.

Ed.


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Drover

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Reply with quote  #8 
Check the info on lets-getaway.com /caravan-compliance
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4fun

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Posts: 150
Reply with quote  #9 
Drover, thanks. I checked the descriptions on that page and they are in-line with what I described above:

"The kerb weight of a caravan (also known as the Tare weight) is the weight of the caravan as it leaves the manufacturer and is usually the weight without water in the tanks or the gas bottles filled. Often manufacturers have their own definition of tare weight so it is good to check with them to be sure. The kerb weight should be on the caravan’s compliance plate."

But this site also is vague on including or excluding the tow ball mass from TARE. Regardless, i'll keep assuming that the towball mass is NOT included in the Tare because that's the only way to make the calculation match.

I just took a look a the UEV 490 specs and that seems even worse. According to conqueroraustralia.com.au for a 490 the Tare (Unladen) is 1550kg and ATM is 1950kg. If I use the same added weight I have above i.e. 150Kg for towball plus 250Kg for water, gas, pots and pans and a few other bits then legally you're already at max load. Zero Kg left for luggage.

If you have a UEV 345 you are lucky: Tare (Unladen): 640/720kg and ATM:1525kg, so if we substract 100Kg for towball + 250 for water, gas, etc, you have 455 Kg left for luggage.

Anyone, feel free to contradict me. I'd love to be proven wrong here.
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Drover

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Reply with quote  #10 
I think I have probably thought about this enough and we cant change it anyway. My final comment would be that I believe the tare is a number that only the factory is interested in and would be the bare box including weight at towball, but would not include anything that could be bolted on afterwards- a con.  "over and out"
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PeeBee

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Posts: 54
Reply with quote  #11 
Just for interest (since it's come up a couple of times), I had the 345 weighed properly this week while it was in for repairs. The repairer has a weigh bridge/scale. In fact it was parked on it when I picked it up.

With all our gear in it (I was lazy and just drove it out as it had come back from the last trip), less food in tubs and the fridge it's 1250Kg. That's with full water tanks but NO jerry cans. So add about 45Kg for those and about 50kg for food and beer/wine. So right at the edge but all good.

Ball weight is 125kg. 25Kg over what my car is supposed to carry. This is because the previous owner added an additional 180ah battery to the nose cone. Adding 60Kg in front of the axle. This is my first fix-it project. I'd like the nose to be a little lighter.

Empty though, it weighs closer to 900kg despite what the manufacturer says. we weighed all our contents individually prior to packing first time. They don't allow for fridge, batteries ANYTHING at all. Just the bare box. Maybe even without the spare on it etc.

The guys at the repairers where the work was done just laughed when I suggested the weights didn't agree with the compliance plate and indicated that there isn't a trailer or van manufacturer around that gets it even close to being right or in same case it's intentionally untrue.

So I suppose this is just saying that if you REALLY care (I don't because ours is teeny-weeny and we travel light so its never going to be an issue) put it on a weigh bridge. Nothing written on a web site or on your rego papers will tell you anything relevant or real. It seems to me that the big UEVs suffer the same but being big you can fill them up more!! Nature abhors a vacuum.
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4fun

Senior Member
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Posts: 150
Reply with quote  #12 
Thanks Peter, that confirms my suspicions. So we now have a 345, a 440 and a 490 all confirmed to be close to max load ratings without doing anything extreme. Just the usual stuff like a bit of clothing, water, fuel and food and you're hitting the max ATM.

Please be beware of this guys, you don't want to mess with your insurance on this topic.

Ed.

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