Is this the ultimate caravan jockey wheel?
When is the last time you thought about your caravan's jockey wheel? Probably just when you unhitched and went inside for a cuppa.
The jockey wheel on your caravan is an essential but often overlooked device. The jockey wheel helps you manoeuvre when you're hitching up or pitching your caravan. Without it, you'd find it difficult if not impossible to move your van around.
But, most caravanners don't pay much attention to their humble caravan jockey wheel. It does what it does. You use it when you hitch up and again when you leave your pitch at the end of a stay. You'll handle it for a few moments and then go without a moment's thought.
What's the problem with caravan jockey wheels?
Let's take a quick look at the physics which affect your jockey wheel.
A jockey wheel carries the noseweight of your caravan when you store it and pitch it. That means it has a downward force on it. Jockey wheels can take this force easily. What's the problem, then?
When you apply a lateral or sideways force to a jockey wheel, that's when you can experience problems.
Manoeuvring your caravan applies a lateral force to your jockey wheel which, if the wheel is facing the opposite direction to where you're moving it, can damage the tyre. If your jockey wheel is on a loose surface, like gravel or mud, the tyre can sometimes come off or puncture (if it's pneumatic).
Aside from the tyre, if the rim it sits on isn't robust enough you can damage it when the wheel gets stuck in a troublesome surface like cobbles or ruts.
In turn, the vertical tube on the jockey takes significant force when you move your caravan. If you are on a loose surface, the wheel can stick in the surface which puts pressure on the tube and bracket which holds it in position.
If the tube is not strong enough, you can damage that and the bracket too.
The situations above are more likely if you have a motor mover fitted. A motor mover is a useful gadget for moving many caravan types. They take the strain off you from moving your caravan by hand. But, the pressure also goes to the jockey wheel.
Another common problem is the length of jockey wheels.
On some caravan models, when you raise the handbrake and try to turn the handle on the jockey wheel you can't. The handbrake is in the way. The unsafe solution is to let the handbrake off and then wind the handle to raise or lower the hitch.
If you're on a slope letting the handbrake off could have disastrous consequences unless you've put chocks around the caravan's wheels. Putting chocks around the wheels is another task you could do without when you're moving your van.
No matter the time of year, your jockey wheel faces the elements. Aside from the dirt and weather from where you've pitched, the soil, spray, grit and salt from the road can be a problem for your jockey wheel.
Corrosion and dirt weaken your jockey wheel, and it gets into the moving parts, like the bearings and axle. If not treated bearings seize up or stiffen making it harder to manoeuvre your caravan. At worst, you might damage or break your wheel.
Is there an alternative?
After reading about the challenges with the traditional, humble jockey wheel, you might wonder about a solution?
One Bedfordshire company, Kartt, who make industrial jockey wheels, worked with the Caravan & Motorhome Club to design a new generation caravan jockey wheel. So confident are they of their product's capabilities they've named it 'The Ultimate Caravan Jockey Wheel'.
Their jockey wheel looks like a regular version, but it has subtle but significant differences:
- Let's start at the bottom — the wheel. The Kartt wheel has a big, wide, solid rubber tyre which fits on a heavy-duty, powder-coated steel rim. The rim sits on a steel axle which sits in a nylon bearing. That means it'll run more smoothly and for longer than traditional jockey wheels. And, the powder-coating on the rim will protect it from corrosion.
- Moving along — A robust, 5 mm thick hanger connects the wheel to the tube. Thicker means more robust to withstand the forces put upon it when moving your caravan.
- Moving up — The corrosion-resistant tube can take heavier noseweights and sustain greater lateral forces. At its highest point, the tube and wheel extend to 790 mm long (excluding the handle) to make it easier to reach. And, its long winding handle should help get it out of the way of some handbrakes.
- At the top — Kartt uses high-quality roller bearings in the winding mechanism to make it easier to raise and lower the hitch. Plus, there is an ergonomic handle to make it easier to grip, particularly in poor weather. Importantly, there's a 'Turn-Lok' device to prevent the jockey wheel dropping from the vibrations when you tow.
Can you fit the Kartt jockey wheel yourself?
Yes. It looks easy enough to remove your old jockey wheel and fit the Kartt version. If not, Approved Workshop Scheme members can install it for you.
Watch this video to learn how to install it on your caravan:
Who's going to like Karrt's Ultimate Caravan Jockey Wheel?
When you take all the design elements together, one obvious buyer will be caravanners who have motor movers on their caravans. The strength and durability make the Kartt jockey wheel an obvious choice.
Also, the Kartt product can take more weight. If you have a big caravan with a heavy noseweight, this jockey wheel is worth a look too.
Caravan owners who've experienced problems with standard jockey wheels should consider this option too.
At £63, The Ultimate Caravan Jockey Wheel seems like good value too. You can buy it from the Caravan & Motorhome Club online shop (Members can buy it for £56.70).
Tube Size: ⌀48 mm
Max Load Weight: 250 kg
Item Weight: 6.8 kg
Tyre: Solid Rubber
Wide Wheel: 220 x 65 mm
To find out more about caravan jockey wheels, read our guide here!