If you’ve ever had the need to build a shed for your pride and joy caravan, camper or four wheel drive with a roof top tent etc; or perhaps needed to navigate your way under an existing shed or house or up a driveway, here’s a little trick I’d like to share with you.
Key Dimensions for your caravan storage
First, have a think about your key dimensions of your garage or carport etc. Here, you will need to consider the height of beams or trusses as well as any ramps and levels of the slabs underneath.
Next have a look at your rig or set-up. With this, you need to measure the wheel base of the car, the distance from the hitch to the trailer’s axles, the distance from the hitch to the car’s rear axle, the height of the ball and location from the trailer / car axle to the high points of the trailer / car.
If you or your kids / grandkids are a whizz at computers you could take a short cut here develop a computer model to plot the movement of your rig over and under these features and see what your clearances look like and where the ‘choke points’ may be.
For me, I reverted to simple cardboard cutouts.
I measured the key points outlined above and scaled them to suit some sheets of cardboard I bought down the road.
Plotting these shapes and cutting them out gave me some handy scaled figures to play with.
It’s important here that you get the hitch point and wheels accurate – as they will dictate the pivot points about which the high points will pivot.
It helps too to identify the points on your model that stand out. On my models, they are the rear corner of the caravan, the rear air vent and the air-conditioner.
Plot the Terrain
Next, you need to plot the ramps and height limitations on another piece of cardboard or perhaps on the slab with a bit of chalk. For me, I found the cardboard a better option as it gave more accuracy and better longevity.
Again, the points where ramps, dips and beams etc are located is important here to establish the clearances (and choke points) you are chasing.
It’s important too that you have chosen a scale that fits the cardboard and doesn’t take you off the page.
Establishing the Scale
First, measure the piece of cardboard you have – the bigger the better.
Now measure the length of the driveway that you need to navigate or the length of the trailer or car etc.
Knowing these two dimensions, divide the length of the cardboard (in centimetres or inches) by the length of the driveway or trailer etc to get a simple multiplier. For example, if the trailer is 8m long and the cardboard is say 635mm long; then dividing 635 by 80 will give you about 8. So, taking this 8 multiplier, every 8 centimetres represents 1 metre.
Bringing the Model to Life
Now’s the time to bring it all together.
Placing your models on the terrain you have plotted you immediately see how the high points stand out.
Now move your models along the plotted terrain and see how these points pivot up and down as the rig traverses the driveway.
It may also help to take a step-by-step approach to this journey and plot the points at each stage – looking for any congestion and risk points.
Using different colours also helps identify the journey of the high points.
All this helped me recently and I will certainly use it again if I need to. Besides, its good fun to do some craft every now and then.
My Situation for a New Slab and Shed
In my case, I recently had a 8.6m deep x 7.3m wide slab poured to take our new 3.6m high carport for our new Jayco Journey Outback 19.61 caravan.
Once the slab was poured, I could see a possible issue with the levels as I needed to push the van up to the new slab with somewhat minimal clearances under the carport. The height constraint of the caravan is about 3.1m (including the air-conditioner).
The carport itself is to be 3.6m high with the clearance height at approx 150mm below this due to beams.
But, I could see that pushing the caravan up the slope would actually cause the top of the back of the caravan to push up higher than the 3.1m I had allowed for.
I could also see that the two height limitations of the shed roof were at the front and in the middle where the trusses were located (shown as black ‘U’s on the diagram). This meant that the caravan could effectively rise upward safely between these two points.
Planning caravan storage is important
I might get some sleep tonight now that I’ve wrestled with this on paper.
Ok ok… none of this is exact and shouldn’t be relied on as the gospel answer to all your worries. But, this simple tracking will give you an idea of aspects to be looked at in more detail or perhaps resolved before it’s too late.
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