Jockey wheels are important for coupling or uncoupling your trailer to your vehicle. But how do they work, exactly?
In this article, we will discuss how a jockey wheel works, what size is appropriate for your caravan, and how to replace them.
How A Jockey Wheel Works
A jockey wheel is a mechanical device that is designed to get your trailer coupled or uncoupled to your vehicle.
How it works is pretty straightforward. It is composed of a top shaft that is clamped to the A-frame of your caravan and a bottom shaft that contains the wheel. A winding handle at the top shaft raises or lowers the bottom shaft and the wheels allow for manoeuvrability.
In some senses it's like a caravan jack.
Using a jockey wheel is as simple as following the steps below:
Step 1: Mount the jockey wheel to the A-frame
Look for a suitable area to mount your jockey wheel. Using the brackets, lock the jockey wheels in place by tightening the bolts.
Step 2: Rotate the winding handle counter-clockwise
Rotating the winding handle counter-clockwise lifts the front of the trailer.
Step 3: Align the trailer coupler with the tow ball
Then, manually manoeuvre the front of the trailer so the trailer coupler is lined perfectly with the trailer ball.
Step 4: Rotate the winding handle clockwise to set it down
Next, rotate the winding handle clockwise to set down the front of the trailer and fit the tow ball to the trailer coupler.
What Size Jockey Wheel Do I Need
There are two important sizes you need to consider when choosing a jockey wheel. The diameter of the jockey wheel and the open and closed height.
For the wheel size, there are 6 common sizes to choose from—35mm, 42mm, 48mm, 48mm serrated, 60mm, and 63mm.
Most caravans require 48mm to 63mm depending on the size of the caravan. To check what size trailer you need, you need to check the stated nose weight of your caravan and check the capacity of the jockey wheel.
The open and closed height is simply the maximum height it could lift the trailer and the lowest height it could set down the trailer. You have to make sure that when your jockey wheel is set to its highest height, the trailer coupler should be higher than the tow ball.
How To Replace A Jockey Wheel
Replacing your jockey wheel depends on how it is set up in your caravan.
For caravans where the jockey wheels are set up externally, replacing the jockey wheel is as simple as undoing the bracket, removing the old jockey wheel, putting on the new one, and tightening back the bracket.
But for some instances where the jockey wheel is set up inside the A-frame, you can follow this process below.
Step 1: Wind up all the corner steadies
Wind up all the corner steadies of the caravan so the weight is transferred to the jockey wheels.
Step 2: Make sure that the handbrake is engaged
Before you go any further, check if the caravan handbrake is engaged. Try to push the caravan to see if it moves. You can also put wedges or chocks on the wheels of the caravan just to be sure.
Step 3: Raise the nose of the caravan
Rotate the winding handle counter-clockwise to raise the nose of the caravan.
Step 4: Place blocks and lower the corner steadies
Once the nose of the caravan is lifted, place blocks beneath the corner steady and lower them into the blocks so the nose of the caravan stays lifted when you wind up the jockey wheels.
Step 5: Remove the jockey wheels
Loosen the clamp of the jockey wheel and pull it as high as it can go. Then tighten up the clamps so it stays in place. Next, wind it down until the wheels fall off the top shaft.
Then, loosen the clamps and pull the top shaft out of the A-frame.
Step 6: Pull apart your new jockey wheel
Separate the top shaft from the bottom shaft of your new jockey wheel by winding it down until it undoes itself.
Step 7: Install your new jockey wheel
Install your new jockey wheel in the A-frame by inserting the top shaft, tightening the clamp, inserting the bottom part, and winding it up.
Once the jockey wheels are working, remove the blocks and lower the front of the caravan. That’s it, your new jockey wheel is installed and functional.
For more info on the role that jockey wheels play in general towing, check out this guide from the QLD government.
Using a jockey wheel and replacing it is straightforward. If you follow the instructions detailed above, you will be able to use your jockey wheel to hook up your trailer and even replace it if necessary.
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Note that while every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information on this page, there may sometimes be errors. Check all specifications with the manufacturer before purchasing any product.