Do you know your ‘Caravan Lingo’?

Caravanning is no exception when it comes to its very own baffling terminology and technical lingo. Do you know the difference between your various stabilisers?

This little guide will give you a heads up start to some of the vocabulary you may hear.

The language of Caravanning

Hitch head stabiliser: A stabiliser that uses friction against the tow ball to stop the caravan moving, and is built into the caravan’s hitch.

Leaf spring stabiliser: This normally involves a large spring, joining the caravan's A-frame with a friction damper underneath the tow bar. Most new caravans come with some form of stabiliser fitted as standard.

Cassette toilet: A type of chemical toilet in which the waste holding tank is stored in a separate box, or ‘cassette’, that you can get at from outside the caravan. The advantage of this is you empty it without having to carry the whole toilet across the site.

Chemical toilet: The other major type of caravan toilet. The waste is kept in a sealed tank and is usually emptied less often. You’ll need to add a special chemical fluid to the tank that breaks down the waste and gets rid of any nasty smells.

Ex-works weight: This is the weight your caravan should be when you buy it fresh from the showroom complete with standard fixtures and fittings. It’s also known as unladen weight or mass in running order (MRO).

Maximum authorised weight: This is the maximum your caravan should ever weigh when packed with all your kit. Also known as maximum gross weight.

Nose weight: Basically, this is the weight of the caravan’s front end that is supported by the tow ball. You need to pack your caravan so most of the weight is over the axle rather than at either end, or you could end up in serious trouble. You’ve got to be careful not to go over the nose weight limit, particularly on return journeys, but you can now buy nose weight gauges that are simple to use.

Gross train weight: Yet another piece of weight-related jargon, this time referring to the total weight of your car and caravan – containing everything you’re bringing on the trip.

Secondary coupling: A kind of safety device that kicks in if the car and caravan become separated. In the case of smaller trailers without brakes, this can consist of a simple chain keeping the two together. However, most caravans would use...

Breakaway cable: A thin steel cable linking the caravan’s handbrake and the tow ball. If the worst came to the worst, this would operate the caravan’s brake and bring it to a rapid stop. Secondary coupling such as a breakaway cable is a legal requirement.

Jockey wheel: A little wheel that comes at the front end of the caravan, used to help move it about while it’s unhitched.

Corner steady: A corner steady is a jack built into the corner of your caravan helping stabilise it when it’s in use.

Blown air heating: A type of heating used on most modern caravans, in which warm air is circulated throughout using a fan.

Delamination: Delamination is when bonded layers of flooring start to separate from each other. This often happens because of water getting into the layers, or as a result of wear and tear.

Never be afraid to ask your fellow caravaners if you hear some ‘Caravan Lingo’ and you don’t know what it is, there will always be someone who will be happy to share their knowledge and wisdom.


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