Completing a lap of Australia calls for many stops and much hitching and unhitching of the caravan from the tow rig. As we usually pull up and stay in a location for a maximum of three to four nights, it’s essential for us to have all of the right gear in place so we can get our van on and off the rig and get out exploring as quickly as possible.
The original AL-KO ‘swing up’ jockey wheel that we had installed on the caravan over 20 years ago is still in great working order, and has been perfect for towing. We’ve only had to conduct one minor repair: part way into our trip, the handle broke off. Although we can’t pinpoint the exact reason for this, we think it may have happened while we navigated a speed hump or steep driveway. It may also have been to do with the age of the caravan – sometimes things just need replacing. We managed to locate one of the many AL-KO Authentics dealers for a replacement handle once we arrived in Perth. All it took was an allen key to remove and replace the handle and we were back in business.
While the jockey wheel certainly does the job, we do feel that its location right next to our gas bottle is a little problematic, something we’re sure has been considered in newer models of this caravan. When turning the handle it just misses clashing with the gas bottle, but we’ve learnt over time to be careful not to hit our knuckles against it.
While traveling we’ve also seen other people with larger rigs using pneumatic jack-style jockey wheels, and even cordless drills, to lower and raise their van. Given the small size of our caravan (approximately 800kg), we certainly don’t see any need to upgrade our jockey wheel to anything more advanced. It lowers and raises the tow bar adequately, making it easy for us to get on with our trip without having to worry about a thing.