Towing a caravan through water

mikerezny

Well-Known Member
Sep 11, 2016
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Mount Waverley, VIC
#1
Hi,
what are people's thoughts on towing a caravan through water not deep enough to wet the floor but high enough to cover the axles?

Will water get into the wheel bearings? Will they need to be cleaned and repacked?
Will water damage the electric brakes?

Are the answers different depending on whether it is fresh or salt water?

cheers
Mike
 

Crusty181

Well-Known Member
Feb 7, 2010
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Mentone, VIC
#2
To the axles? Just a puddle Mike. I have the Jtec suspension so my van walls are around 650mm off the road. Ive had water through my door step gas vent. Water shouldnt get into the bearings; theyre sealed on the inner and capped on the outer. Salt water shouldnt make any more difference than in would launching a boat ie just wash it after with fresh water.

I sank the passenger side of the car and van down to the chassis in a soft river bed in the West Macs ... bit of a whoops. I had to field strip down to the stub axles because i got river gravel jambed inside the drums.

The electric brakes are just sealed electro magnets, theres nothing for water to penetrate or damage

Anything up to the floor is really just a wash.
 

BJM

Active Member
Sep 29, 2018
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Yamba
#3
Having just finished recoating underneath with black on the 2015 Jayco Journey outback OR,I would not put water anywhere near up to the floor.!! It is not marine ply and mine was starting to delaminate from just washing with a hose.All the screws holding piping wiring saddles etc to the floor were corroding,I replaced with stainless.Sealing where wiring etc went through the floor was hit and miss.As for the wheel bearings lasting even after a fresh water dunking , it is highly likely you would be replacing them soon after,same as the brake components.
 
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MDS69

Well-Known Member
Jul 6, 2014
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#4
Be careful if you have a wall mounted air conditioner as there are holes in the floor for the condenser ventilation.
 
Likes: Smergen
Jan 14, 2019
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Victoria
#5
Apart from the van, I've got a trailable yacht. Boat trailers are commonly dunked in saltwater past the bearings twice per trip. This definitely takes its toll the bearings and brakes, though they won't rust away from just one immersion. We commonly fit bearing buddies to our trailer hubs, and you should regularly check they are packed with grease. I'm not sure how the grease in the caravan wheels is retained, but presumably its fairly airtight otherwise it would leak out while driving?

A few tips I have from boats, that may apply to caravans:
Firstly if you drive in while the bearings are hot, they will cool rapidly under the water, and be more likely to suck water in. If they are very hot, and your are concerned it may be a good idea to wait before going through salt water.

Secondly you can get a quick check check on how healthy your bearings are by jacking the wheel off the ground and checking it spins freely with your hands. If it feels at all like its grinding or spins unevenly it may be time to look at the bearing!

Having salt water sit on trailers kills them, so look for spots where it could pool or get trapped, rather than running off once you are out of the water. Having good galvanising helps, though in the end everything will be eaten away by salt if you give it enough time.

Washing away salt water with fresh helps out a lot as well. Fresh water is a lot less corrosive than salt. Be careful that a lot of lakes and rivers are not "fresh water" like you get out of a tap, but are brackish. It helps to wash this off as well if you get the chance.
 

Smergen

Well-Known Member
Jun 8, 2014
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Bacchus Marsh
#6

Us coming out of El Questro. Not exactly a raging torrent... But if you are sensible I don't see an issue. Regular servicing and bearing checks will see you through most issues.

I agree with what people have said, most importantly keep the water away from the floor immersion. Unless you have a Bruder. Then go for your life...
 
Likes: mfexpanda

Drover

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Nov 7, 2013
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#7
Agree with what's said about floor but mainly you will get water inside but as for axles, water over hubs is okay the bearing set up is the same as your car, though most bearings I have seen car and vans really have minimum grease pack, but its never been a drama on my rigs though they have both had the floor sprayed with chassis black as the original paint job was rubbish......as for salt water "Don't" that would mean your tug is getting it as well and salt water is a big no, no.... Beach driving means driving on sand, if you go into the sea then your asking for trouble you will never get it out..... I live amongst it so see it first hand............as Crusty said brakes are not affected they are probably less affected than a standard drum brake.
 
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Feb 25, 2019
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Darwin
#8

Us coming out of El Questro. Not exactly a raging torrent... But if you are sensible I don't see an issue. Regular servicing and bearing checks will see you through most issues.

I agree with what people have said, most importantly keep the water away from the floor immersion. Unless you have a Bruder. Then go for your life...
Hi Smergen,

How is the crossing into El questro as im heading there in a couple of weeks and have some apprehension about the crossing I've got a 2005 Expanda outback (dont know model number) clearance to the bottom of the van is about 400mm.
 

Crusty181

Well-Known Member
Feb 7, 2010
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Mentone, VIC
#9
Hi Smergen,

How is the crossing into El questro as im heading there in a couple of weeks and have some apprehension about the crossing I've got a 2005 Expanda outback (dont know model number) clearance to the bottom of the van is about 400mm.
Same crossing as in @Smergen's video only in the other direction. Very well maintained solid rock base, with very little variation. Youll be fine, particularly this year with a non existant wet season
 

Smergen

Well-Known Member
Jun 8, 2014
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Bacchus Marsh
#10
Yep... an outback Jayco should have no issue with clearance on that one. The crossing before this one I thought actually was a little trickier as the approach angle was a bit steeper. But the place is too well populated and visited not to have the crossing well maintained. The super rich punters wouldn't accept it.
 

jazzeddie1234

Active Member
May 19, 2016
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Mandurah
#11
There is a youtube video of a van crossing the pentecost river - not overly deep. Did really well until a ute crossed in the opposite direction and the bow wave flooded the lower fridge vent. Now I tape mine up for anything over knee deep or keep right to discourage the impatient. Never had any j tech bearing issues with multiple river crossings but they get repacked every year.
I agree with @BJM about the quality of a jayco ply floor.
 

Boots in Action

Well-Known Member
Mar 13, 2017
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Ferny Grove, Queensland
#13
Hi Drover, what is the 'chassis black' that you refer to above ? Is this some after factory spray one can purchase and do etc..? DOS
Hi @dosmos , saw your post regarding cover paint for underneath floor of van. I went to Bunnings and bought a tub of oil based black sealing paint. Full story under "EXTERIOR" - under floor cracking in sections of ply floor dated 18th September, 2019. The paint I used was quite thin and easy to apply rather than the sound deadening black jack that @Drover used. However, I was only trying to seal and waterproof the ply floor, not looking to use it for sound deadening. Cost for me was approx $38.00 for 4 litres - Crommelin Blackseal heavy duty waterproofing from Bunnings. Hope this helps.
 

Drover

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2013
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#14
Chassis Black is a black bitumous paint that does dry, it can be applied by brush or spray in cans or spray cans, as the name says its for chassis but works just a swell on timber, can be bought from any auto shop, Septone Chassis Black I use otherwise you can use Underbody Sound Deadener which is the thick stuff Booties mentioned, it can be brush applied but big job or you can use a special spray gun for it, can be messy but does a great job as it not only protects the timber from elements and rocks it also gives a bit of insulation........... I have used both and chassis black is certainly easier which sounds the same as @Boots in Action got from Bunnings.

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