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Riva Destiny Towing Stability

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peridot
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Riva Destiny Towing Stability

Post by peridot on Tue 06 Aug 2013, 10:58 pm

I posted the following in a 'General' thread earlier and thought it might be worth exploring some of the issues further here ...

We know a couple of owners have come to grief towing the Riva Destiny. The chap I bought mine from had fitted a stabiliser which he passed onto me with it. He said he had experienced snaking when towing and had bought the stabiliser as a result.

There are discussions on the use of stabilisers in the technical section of the forum and the very valid point has been made that a stabiliser can mask instability and give a false sense of security. What happens if it fails? Like any protective device its function is not to allow an unsafe situation to persist but to help mitigate the worst effects should an unsafe situation arise in exceptional circumstances.

To understand the Destiny better I have towed it a couple of times without the stabiliser fitted and I have learned what a snake feels like. Just a minor one, but I certainly wouldn't want to experience anything worse. I experienced it once well below maximum towing speed when I had to brake reasonably sharply, and again when I pushed the speed just a little above legal towing speed but on a clear straight road without any of the other features generally associated with the initiation of snaking.

Thinking about this I am close to concluding that the Riva Destiny, packed in what I believe is the originally recommended manner, could be considered to be inherently unstable.

When I first got the Destiny the members here helped me out with some questions I had on weight and stability. I thought at the time I might be overly concerned about such matters, after all it's not a caravan. Now I know I was right to be concerned and I suspect that the highside Destiny design may have less regard for such issues than the typical caravan.

I think improved weight distribution is called for. The main storage areas on the Destiny are under the bench seats and thus rear of the axle. We haven't got anything particularly heavy in there - mainly bedding - but it all adds up. I'll have a think about what can be removed.

A bigger issue is the packing methodology that was passed on to me by the previous owner based, I think, on the original Riva instructions. The table folds down onto the floor between the bench seats. The two seat back cushions go on top of the table and the kitchen side seat base cushion on top of them (the other seat base cushion remains in-situ). The cooker/sink unit lifts off its base and goes on top of the now bare bench seat. The wardrobe goes on top of the cushions that have been placed between the bench seats, and the loo door goes across the top of the stowed cooker/sink and wardrobe.

This is eminently practicable as it leaves most of the floor area clear for removing roof poles / folding the sides, and leaves all that space for camping chairs / water containers / step / etc. Again though, it is putting some fairly heavy components rear of the axle.

The other potential issue is side-to-side weight distribution. I don't know if this is considered highly relevant to towing stability but I would have thought it to be a contributor. With the loo, fridge, and cooker / sink unit all on the kitchen side I imagine it is significantly heavier and I certainly won't have helped by putting a large battery in the bottom of the kitchen storage unit!

So, in addition to looking at how and what is stored under the seats, my thinking is that I need to fit a quick release connector on the gas hose to the cooker unit (the water pipe already has one) and look at storing this on the floor over the axle, hopefully the wardrobe can also go here, perhaps just leaving the loo door across the seat cushions at the back. I can also make sure that the under-sink kitchen cupboard is empty and try to get anything heavy in the cupboard on the other side.

I'd be interested in how anyone else with the Riva Destiny or other larger Dandy does their packing and any experiences of instability when towing these units.

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Tow Itch
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Re: Riva Destiny Towing Stability

Post by Tow Itch on Tue 06 Aug 2013, 11:36 pm

If you have a pre August 1998 car you can fit the best stabiliser system that there is the trapezium system.

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These alter the geometry of the system. In effect making the tow ball appear closer to the axle. No way do I understand the maths. One of us at the Woodhall Spa meet had one. Alas they would need to produce their own tow bars or they would need all manufacturers to get type approval for their products. Legislation gave us an inferior product. I couldn't lift the picture from there but this site explains some pros and cons of various stabilisers. [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Dandyman bob

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Riva Destiny Towing Stability

Post by Dandyman bob on Wed 07 Aug 2013, 12:46 pm

I have a 2004 Riva Destiny model. I am relieved to see that other users have encountered stability problems. When we first had our Destiny it was common to experience the start of snaking at approx. 55-60mph. This was despite the fact that we would load it so that 7% of weight was on the ball hitch. Having fitted an AL-ko 2004 stabiliser hitch, stability is markedly improved. (I opted for this as leaf stabilisers are heavy, time consuming to fit and may hit the underside of the gas compartment when going over speed humps, ferry ramps, etc) We use the auto routes in France on an annual basis where we are allowed to drive at up to 80 MPH. Our outfit is stable at these speeds with the proviso that you ease back to 65 on long descents.
I was interested to read the packing methodology. Ours is different. We place the wardrobe between the bench seats with side bench seat back cushion on either side. Bedding is usually placed in the wardrobe. The table is folded and placed upside down on top of the wardrobe between the seats. We place the hob, camping table and chairs on the bench seats / inverted table. The heavy awning poles are placed on the floor above the axle. We have a demountable cupboard which is held on the wall opposite the sink by 2 quick hooks. This and the crockery rack are held between the draw unit and toilet with a bungie cord. We put the awning in the back of the car for ballast.
Regards Bob.
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Tow Itch
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Re: Riva Destiny Towing Stability

Post by Tow Itch on Wed 07 Aug 2013, 2:31 pm

As peridot said this thread comes from issues raised in elsewhere [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
I posted the following.

That was in some ways far more downbeat than I had expected.
I had a trailer tent that was approximately 6 sized. It had a total length of 12" or 13" but at that point I had no idea about how to load and the trailer had 8" wheels. Wheel size also plays a part in the dynamics. That would start to snake at a speedometer reading of between 62 and about 70. In reality about 56/57 to 65 or just bellow. The snake was very predictable and would come on earliest on downhill sections. Being low there was no or not much sidewind or passing artic induced weave. In some ways I'm conservative but I will at times push the driving envelope further than some. A snake quickly erodes that and while I did play on the periphery it has a very sobering affect. The feelings is in the marcherlands (Tried to check the spelling of that only to find out it's not a common term for boarder area) between respect and fear. I'd say generally controlled by respect. How towers cope with trailers that go more steeply into snake I don't know. I have towed a small caravan without a stabiliser and it was moderately better than my trailer tent. Does the drag of the caravan act like a constant brake on the trailer much like a trailer doesn't snake going uphill? I might be much more inclined to stabilisers with a trailer that went quickly into snake. Conversely I might just run away.
 

That was an interesting post Bob and raised a few questions for me.
You are both people who have understood how to load and taken care to get a good balance.
So the snaking I experienced was quite gradual and while annoying was not dangerous. As far as I was aware.
1)Is the start of the snake on a Riva Destiny more pronounced? That I realise is a subjective thing but I can best say at the onset of the snake with my TT I never felt in an danger or anticipated a major loss of control.
2) As the Riva Destiny is higher (All Highside Destinys are) can any snake be caused by wind or articulated lorry?
3) You are loading the jockey wheel to 7%. This historically is the advised limit for caravans with caravanners who can only load the ball to less than 5% advised to seek advice. The University of Bath's paper by Christopher Killer and further work by Dr Darling [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] say that an increased nose load aids stability. Anecdotal evidence suggests that lower weights can sometimes help. What has been anyones experience of using the Riva recommended load of 22Kg as against the 70Kg (or so) that you are using? Does anyone run on 22Kg or has everyone assumed it is too light?
4) Though this Thread is entitled Riva Dandy Towing Stability can I open it up to the older Highside and 6 owners to tell us if all is perfect or otherwise with those?


Dandyman bob wrote:I have a 2004 Riva Destiny model. I am relieved to see that other users have encountered stability problems. When we first had our Destiny it was common to experience the start of snaking at approx. 55-60mph. This was despite the fact that we would load it so that 7% of weight was on the ball hitch. Having fitted an AL-ko 2004 stabiliser hitch, stability is markedly improved. (I opted for this as leaf stabilisers are heavy, time consuming to fit and may hit the underside of the gas compartment when going over speed humps, ferry ramps, etc) We use the auto routes in France on an annual basis where we are allowed to drive at up to 80 MPH. Our outfit is stable at these speeds with the proviso that you ease back to 65 on long descents.
Given your article I'd expect you to be quite careful but I thought the general advice was that if despite good loading if you had snaking problems and fitted a stabiliser. You should then drive up to the speeds were snaking was encountered. As to drive faster was risking a catastrophe snake if the stabiliser "gave up" under increased forces. Sorry if that seems harsh Bob I am curious though.
Also if you backed off to 65 on downhill sections (where snaking is more likely) what sensations had you felt to promote this? Heavy snaking or had you just thought it prudent.
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Vandriver

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Re: Riva Destiny Towing Stability

Post by Vandriver on Wed 07 Aug 2013, 8:23 pm

YOu don't say what you are towing with, but keep in mind the nearer the trailers weight is to the towing vehicle the less stable it will be. Heavy Car and light trailer is the best way to go. Try putting heavy stuff like the awning (if have) and the battery in the boot (not the gas though) making the car to trailer ratio more in favour of the car.
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peridot
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Re: Riva Destiny Towing Stability

Post by peridot on Wed 07 Aug 2013, 9:40 pm


Thanks for the contributions guys.

I agree the car is an issue too Vandriver. I have a Focus C-Max 1.6 petrol. Not a powerful tow tug by any means and I do feel that the Destiny is on the limit of its capability. I think there is an issue with the declared weight of the Riva unit although I haven't found any actual figures. I will get it to a weighbridge at some point.

I'll also play around with the packing and see how it feels. It is difficult to assess the stability as seeking to initiate a snake is not really the most advisable practice. I was surprised when I experienced it happening on a straight stretch of road with, if I recall correctly, a slight incline as there was no crosswind or other contributing factor that I was aware of.
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Vandriver

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Re: Riva Destiny Towing Stability

Post by Vandriver on Wed 07 Aug 2013, 9:51 pm

The cars rear tyre pressure should be on the max recommended for carrying heavy loads, soft tyres can induce a sideways motion that once started with a trailer on escalates, like swinging a pendulum on a rubber nail.

Dandyman bob

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Re: Riva Destiny Towing Stability

Post by Dandyman bob on Wed 07 Aug 2013, 11:46 pm

Our car is a Renault Grand Scenic 1.9DCI 130 BHP, with a GTW of 3500Kg. When touring we have the car tyres at the max 36PSI. I have increased the spec of the trailer tyres to 8 ply 165 R13 and run them at 56PSI. The originals were inadequate for the true trailer weight!
The speed at which a snake comes on depends on the level of a road, if going down hill it starts at a lower speed. You could go faster on an incline before the snake starts (pre fitment of the stabiliser). We have now had the stabiliser for 6 years and I have a lot of faith in it. If it is maintained and used properly it cannot suddenly fail. The reason I slow at the start of a decline is because I can usually feel the camper start to snake and have no wish to loose it part way down the descent. However, I will usually accelerate near the bottom, particularly if there is a hill to climb, without any sensation of snaking.
Regards Bob
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Tow Itch
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Re: Riva Destiny Towing Stability

Post by Tow Itch on Thu 08 Aug 2013, 12:17 am

Bob

Having viewed a forum that got quite vehemently pro and anti stabiliser factions I realise I should reword some of my terms.
What I experienced with my trailer was not a snake. It was the pre snake undulation or shimmy that could build up into a snake.
I was curious about how The Riva Destiny progresses into a snake because in one of the cases I know about (I don't know how well it was loaded) the Destiny without prior shimmy warning went into a full blown snake.
I realise that a bad combination of wind, road surface, and large vehicle can occur but I was curious if the Riva destiny has a reputation for full on snakes without warning first.
I realise that the extra tension of towing uphill helps stability and likewise downhill towing destabilises.

If it is maintained and used properly it cannot suddenly fail.
I didn't mean that the stabiliser failed as such but the anti stabiliser view is that stabilisers mask the discomfort of the minor shimis and oscillations. What then happens particularly if the driver exceeds the speeds where the non stabilised trailer started to oscillate is that a bad set of circumstances occur at a speed that completely overwhelms the stabiliser.
I realise that for what should be a factual thing this gets quite emotive and I have no desire to replicate the bitterness that was starting on that forum. What I'm interested in is does the Riva Dandy go into a quite heavy snake without any warning by way of shimmy. If so I'd have no idea what I would do as what is perceived as the shimmy warning that is felt by not having a stabiliser doesn't exist. If a trailer has a reputation for going into a full blown snake snake without warning. Then I can't see what I could do other than fit a stabiliser as I'm not losing any warning.

All you 6 owners and Dandy Destiny Highside (light blue) owners not effected by this?


Last edited by Tow Itch on Thu 08 Aug 2013, 10:49 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Removed an I and subbed in as the piece didn't scan correctly.)
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Vandriver

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Re: Riva Destiny Towing Stability

Post by Vandriver on Thu 08 Aug 2013, 8:24 am

A quick flick through shows the C max maximum tow limit (braked) at 800KG........the destiny according to the manufacturer weighs in at 780KG exworks with a max of 1000KG. with all your bits and bobs on board you are pushing the cars limits to the full and beyond (insurance companies really don't want to pay out and use this as an excuse not to) so technically you can only carry 20kg in the trailer before you go over the car manufacturers limit. That is for the post 2004 destiny. The pre2004 destiny is lighter at 530kg and max of 750KG which would bring you in just under Fords 800KG.
In just short of 40 years of towing I have never experienced a "pre snake shimmy" may be I have been lucky.
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peridot
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Re: Riva Destiny Towing Stability

Post by peridot on Thu 08 Aug 2013, 8:42 am


I think the 800kg is for the newer C-Max, Vandriver. The original Focus C-Max has a limit of 1150 kg so the Destiny should be well within that.

It certainly struggles on hill starts however and I am interested to know what the actual weight of the Riva model is.

Dandyman bob - you mention upgrading the tyres for the true trailer weight - have you any better information on what this is?

I'll be changing my tyres after the winter and will keep this in mind.
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Tow Itch
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Re: Riva Destiny Towing Stability

Post by Tow Itch on Thu 08 Aug 2013, 12:39 pm

Vandriver

I must tighten up in my use of English. I to have not suffered a "pre snake shimmy" I backed off after the shimmy or non critical oscillation so therefore had no snake.
I don't know what to say. If the trailers you had towed were all short trailers with a high ratio between the tow hitch to wheel length compared to total length then I would understand. That type of trailer like a rear entry Dandy is inherently stable. If you have driven a good variety of trailers and particularly if you have towed caravans without a stabiliser then I'm puzzled.
Non critical oscillation (I think) far more people have felt this than have been dragged over multiple lanes of a road or crashed a caravan. It's that feeling of the car being moved side to side (but by tiny amounts) by the trailer.  

peridot

I was curious of Bob's choice to go 8 ply on tyres and looked for the tyre load rating on standard (4 ply) tyres. There is a massive variation in loads for 165/80 R 13 tyres with the least being 80 and the greatest being 87. So that is from 900kg to 1,090Kg in total weight.

Two thoughts: What is the inclination of the Riva Destinys? All older Dandys tow nose up because of the changed height of tow balls. Slightly nose down is ideal. How do the Destinys stand when towed?
Are there any fitments to introduce shock absorbers to the suspension. Though not fitted the attachments are on many caravans. Shock absorbers are quite popular abroad. Though it might be thought that they are used in rough terrain areas. The quickest suspension deflection comes from high speed potholes.

I know I've mentioned him before but this is my favourite trailer dynamics piece by Collyn Rivers [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]



This is what I don't want to get to. People generally repeating what they had already said and not listening openly to the opposing views. Though this being 2009 is a lot better than some recent debates  http://www.ukcampsite.co.uk/chatter/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=20&TopicID=197795&PagePosition=1
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The curse of the non linking link strikes again.
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ChrisP

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Destiny Stability

Post by ChrisP on Thu 08 Aug 2013, 8:50 pm

Never noticed any problems with my 93' Destiny. I only had it for two summers and just over 2000 miles with it. Not having much prior towing experience, I was very careful. However, I was towing with a VW Touran 2.0 TDI and the Destiny was half its maximum tow weight, which may have accounted for the lack of problems. Nose weight was 70Kg (bathroom scales method). It towed pretty much level, unlike my current Dandy 4/5 which tows nose up.

Loading-wise most of the stuff I put inside was bulky, but light. I had two gas bottles in the front box and the battery was in a custom made box that I had from tent camping days and this was inside centrally just behind the frond bulkhead. The greatest weight was the awning and poles. This was an extended Dandy PVC awning that went the full length of the Dandy with a 2 berth annex on the end. I used to put the poles across the middle of the trailer between the beds, so they were directly above a line between the wheels. The awning material was spread across the entire top.

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Re: Riva Destiny Towing Stability

Post by Dandyman bob on Fri 09 Aug 2013, 9:30 am

I have never experienced a full blown snake. If you do you are in the lap of the gods. I would think that with campers you would experience the pre snake shimmy prior to a full blown snake. Only with high sided trailers such as caravans which are more likely to be affected by turbulence from wind and large vehicles might one go into a full blown snake without warning.
Early Dandy 6 / Destiny's were 780 Kg ex factory. However I suspect that they forgot to put the later models over the weigh bridge. Ours weighs slightly over 1 tonne empty! I suspect that the car / camper weight ratio is the reason early models are less prone to pre snake shimmy, etc.
The weight issue is the reason I fitted slightly larger 65 R13 94P rated tyres which are OK for 1340 Kg. (The brake hubs are rated for 1350 Kgs so no worries there) The tyres are slightly larger radius but I cannot say that it has improved handling.
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peridot
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Re: Riva Destiny Towing Stability

Post by peridot on Fri 09 Aug 2013, 12:51 pm

Dandyman bob wrote:
Early Dandy 6 / Destiny's were 780 Kg ex factory.  However I suspect that they forgot to put the later models over the weigh bridge.  Ours weighs slightly over 1 tonne empty!  
affraid 

Is that completely empty - without awning, gas bottles, leisure battery?

Whilst I feared that it might be higher than the specification suggests I didn't think it would be that bad. If mine is the same then, given that I've added a motor mover and heavy battery, it's MIRO is likely to be on the towing limit of the car without the heavy awning or any personal effects included.

Thanks for reposting the link to the Collyn Rivers article Tow Itch. I did print it out previously but it will be sat in one of my piles of reading material that I never seem to get around to Embarassed 

Regarding towing inclination - the Destiny is pretty much level and I haven't noticed any shock absorber attachment points.

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Re: Riva Destiny Towing Stability

Post by navver on Fri 09 Aug 2013, 2:26 pm

Using my simple smashematics

Yaw inertia of Designer = 1125
Constraint (distance from wheels to hitch) Designer = 6
Constrained yaw inertia = 1125/6 = 187.5

Yaw inertia of Destiny = 8264
Constraint (distance from wheels to hitch) Destiny = 8.75
Constrained yaw inertia = 8264/8.75 = 944

Ratio of snakability Designer : Destiny = 187.5 : 944 = 1 : 5.

All this assumes equal distribution of gross weight from front of body to back.

Meaning the potential for snaking forces of the destiny are five times those of a designer.


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Re: Riva Destiny Towing Stability

Post by navver on Fri 09 Aug 2013, 2:38 pm

Those weights are quite worrying if correct. Riva Designer (dark blue post 2003) unloaded weight 395kg, max weight 500kg. Suspension units are designed for 500kg and similarly tyres. So what is a fully loaded designer weight?

My 18foot caravan was only 1125kg MIRO and 1326kg MTPLM. Sounds like a destiny could be in that territory.


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Re: Riva Destiny Towing Stability

Post by Dandyman bob on Fri 09 Aug 2013, 4:04 pm

Peridot
Frighten yourself, go to a weighbridge. I first used the local Sand and Gravel weighbridge and refused to believe it. A year later I went to a council weighbridge used to by the police for checking vehicles in the area and got a similar result. The camper was loaded with gas bottles, awning poles leisure battery and all the usual gubbins. 1140 Kg. I then weighed all the various items on board in order to calculate the empty weight.
Navver,
your maths support what people say. Please where did you get the yaw inertia and constraint figures from?
Regards Bob.

navver

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Re: Riva Destiny Towing Stability

Post by navver on Fri 09 Aug 2013, 4:37 pm

I calculated them from the weights and dimensions of the dandies. The meaningful figure is the ratio between destiny & designer of 5:1.

Yaw inertia is mass x distance squared.
Constraint is distance from wheels to hitch.

For constrained yaw inertia I divided the yaw inertia by the constraint.

The yaw inertia is the flywheel effect trying to turn the dandy and imposes a sideways force on the back of the car. The distance from wheels to hitch is a simple lever opposing it.
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peridot
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Re: Riva Destiny Towing Stability

Post by peridot on Sat 10 Aug 2013, 1:07 am

Dandyman bob wrote:Peridot
Frighten yourself, go to a weighbridge.  
When I empty it at the end of season I will do, but I'm already frightened as I know it will only confirm what you're telling me pale 

Looks like we'll be travelling light until it's time to change the car.

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Owd Lad

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Re: Riva Destiny Towing Stability

Post by Owd Lad on Sat 10 Aug 2013, 7:29 am

I hadn't appreciated before that the 'Destiny-snake' was a common problem, or at least a common fear. Certainly it was something that we experienced in the late nineties with our Destiny when we were dragged across two lanes and the hard shoulder of a motorway. Frightening and not to be repeated. I'm convinced that this was caused by poor loading on my part. It was just too easy to be able to get into a folded Destiny and add a bit more gear to the inside, in the wrong place.
We always used a leaf spring stabiliser thereafter and looked carefully to loading, tyre pressures and vehicle speed. It was an experience that was never repeated.
It's clear that some people take their towing more seriously than I did and carefully work out their weights and ratios. This is something that I've never done, merely using what I consider to be common sense (after the one incident). No-one should be afraid of towing but a snake can be induced in anything if 'limits' are pushed to the 'nth' degree.

Steve
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mike
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Re: Riva Destiny Towing Stability

Post by mike on Sat 10 Aug 2013, 7:46 am

Dandyman bob wrote:I have never experienced a full blown snake.  If you do you are in the lap of the gods.  I would think that with campers you would experience the pre snake shimmy prior to a full blown snake.  Only with high sided trailers such as caravans which are more likely to be affected by turbulence from wind and large vehicles might one go into a full blown snake without warning.
Early Dandy 6 / Destiny's were 780 Kg ex factory.  However I suspect that they forgot to put the later models over the weigh bridge.  Ours weighs slightly over 1 tonne empty!  I suspect that the car / camper weight ratio is the reason early models are less prone to pre snake shimmy, etc.
The weight issue is the reason I fitted slightly larger 65 R13 94P rated tyres which are OK for 1340 Kg.  (The brake hubs are rated for 1350 Kgs so no worries there)  The tyres are slightly larger radius but I cannot say that it has improved handling.
I have a late 80s six unladen is around the 500kg cant remember exactly but laden is 745kg

mike

navver

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Re: Riva Destiny Towing Stability

Post by navver on Sat 10 Aug 2013, 9:42 am

mike wrote:I have a late 80s six unladen is around the 500kg cant remember exactly but laden is 745kg

mike
But is it Mike or is that just what the brochure says.

Here's a gadget that can weigh it but don't know how accurate it is. £145 too.

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This can weigh each individual wheel load, I suspect many dandies are one side heavy. Also can weigh the car axle loads which are often specified.
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mike
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Re: Riva Destiny Towing Stability

Post by mike on Sat 10 Aug 2013, 12:53 pm

Experience tells me its not far wrong,if it was much more i would never push it up on the front at home.

mike
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peridot
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Re: Riva Destiny Towing Stability

Post by peridot on Sat 10 Aug 2013, 5:53 pm

navver wrote:

Here's a gadget that can weigh it but don't know how accurate it is. £145 too.

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

This can weigh each individual wheel load, I suspect many dandies are one side heavy. Also can weigh the car axle loads which are often specified.
I like the look of that gadget. Halfords had them a bit cheaper earlier in the year and I considered buying one. I'm sorry now that I didn't. At the time, I found a thread on a Caravan forum where a couple of users had found them to be accurate (compared to weighbridge figures). Having the individual wheel loads (and noseweight) would be useful in trying out different packing arrangements.



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