Caravan DIY: How to fit a motor mover
Simply pulling onto your pitch and slotting the caravan perfectly into position is eminently satisfying, more often than not it’ll need a little fine-tuning.
You can use the towcar to position the caravan but sometimes, there may not be enough room. So, unhitching and moving the caravan independently is the only answer.
On smaller or single-axle caravans, this can be easy with enough able-bodied people. However, for larger or twin-axle caravans, a limited number of people or those with mobility issues, it can be impossible. This is where a motor mover comes into its own.
Using a handheld wireless remote control, the caravan can be ‘driven’ into place easily with no effort on the owners’ part. So how easy is it to fit one?
We visited MG Caravans in Royston, where the team showed us how to fit a single-axle Powrtouch Evolution automatic system.
Various options are available, depending on the weight of the caravan and the number of axles to be driven while drive rollers can also be engaged manually, using a crank handle or automatically, using a ram at the push of a button on the handheld controller.
Step-by-step guide to fitting a motor mover
1. The first thing to do was measure and mark the centre of the cross-caravan support bar to make sure this goes in the right position later.
2. We started by taking one of the motor units and positioning it roughly where it wants to be, ahead of the wheel.
3. The clamps were positioned roughly on the chassis. These include an angled section that goes on the lip of the chassis and a clamp plate that goes above it, on the inside of the lip.
4. The two U-bolts were inserted from underneath the motor mounting bar and into the clamps. The nuts were left slightly loose at this stage.
5. The cross bar was inserted and the process repeated with the motor unit on the other side. It was easier, as the cross bar helped support the motor unit’s weight.
6. Once both motor units were loosely fitted, each was slid in or out until they sat in the right position on the tyre. The roller should cover the tyre tread.
7. Once both the motors were in the right position side to side, the two grub screws on each motor mounting bar were tightened to the cross bar.
8. The Powrtouch kit comes with a spacer block to set the resting position of the motor. This sat between the two and the motor moved forwards or back until it just held the block.
9. With a hand on the block and between the motor and the roller to feel if they move position, the nuts on the two U-bolts on each side were tightened.
10. Once happy with the position, there is a final mounting block to clamp onto the lip of the chassis, to make sure the motors don’t move.
11. With the covers on the outside of each of the motor fitted, that’s the mechanical work done. Note the tick and cross which indicate if the motors are engaged for drive.
12. Wiring now. We threaded the wires (positive and negative for the drive motor and twin to engage the rollers) through some conduit to protect them.
13. The conduit is used to protect the wires as they pass through a section of the chassis before running across the caravan to the battery.
14. This is where the control box will sit; under the panel in the area with the heater hoses. The battery box is above on the left.
15. If there is a vent in the floor, use it to pass wires through into the caravan. If not, you’ll need to drill some holes, as we did. Be careful not to drill through anything important.
16. The wires were fed into the caravan from underneath, through one of the holes just drilled. Once in, the holes will be sealed with sealant.
17. Where possible, cable-tie wires to existing looms. If there are none, as here, use P-clips to secure the wiring to the underside of the caravan floor.
18. The kit comes with an isolation switch. We drilled a hole for the centre-bore of the switch with a hole saw in the side of the battery box.
19. The isolation switch was fitted into the hole and the two mounting holes used as templates to drill through to the battery box to fit the isolator.
20. Above where the cables run into the caravan from the battery box, two more holes were drilled; one for the positive feed and one for the earth for the motors.
21. Back inside the caravan, the main cable from the battery was run to the switch and then, onto the motor control box via a fused connection.
22. Wiring the control box is simple; the centre pair is the supply from the battery and either side is to each motor. The two black paired cables are the automatic engagement supplies.
23. With the isolation switch wired and the main cables run through, the last task is to connect the supply to the battery itself.
24. The business end. The two buttons at the bottom of the wireless remote control engage and disengage the motors and the six direction buttons ‘drive’ the caravan.
Top tips for fitting a motor mover
The drive motors are always fitted ahead of the wheels (unless the chassis design doesn’t allow it or as part of an AWD twin-axle set-up) and always in pairs.
The manufacturers recommend that the wiring for the motors is never cut nor extended (it should be long enough) as this could cause the motors to turn at different speeds and any spare cabling should run out and back in straight lines rather than wound into coils, as it could get hot.
There are also reports from users that the low-speed, high-torque motors have been able to help car and caravan outfits extricate themselves from slippery pitches where the towcar can’t get enough traction.
You might need to jack the caravan up if DIY fitting a kit to get enough room but make sure you drop it back down again before checking the motor roller/tyre clearance, as this will change as the suspension is unloaded.
Things you need to know when fitting a motor mover
Time: Three hours (single axle)
Difficulty: 3/5 – access under the caravan can be tricky
Tools: Socket set, spanners, Allen keys, cordless drill/screwdriver, P-clips
Costs: From £599 supply, £699 fitted for Powrtouch Freedom single axle (manual engage)
Thanks to Steve and the team at MG Caravans, Royston, Herts
T 01763 252960 W mgcaravans.com
Disclaimer: Advice given by consultants and contributors within Caravan is designed to be by way of suggestion only and does not negate a reader’s responsibility to obtain professional advice before acting upon it. Any such advice is not a recommendation on behalf of the editor or publisher and is followed entirely at the reader’s own risk. Consequently, the editor, consultants and publisher shall not be responsible for any loss or damage incurred by a reader acting upon such advice.
This article was originally published in the August 2020 issue of Caravan magazine. To see the full article, complete with step-by-step images, buy a digital issue here