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Ramp Departure Angles & Ground Clearance

Uncle Bulgaria

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This new thread stems from my earlier request for advice on carrying a spare wheel. I'm looking at adding a tow-bar supported cycle carrier/spare wheel carrier to the rear of my van as I am not confident the van rear wall can support the load.


The present ground clearance right at the rear is 330 mm and the overhang is 1770 mm. This gives a departure angle of about 10 degrees. If I fit a tow-bar of the type I am considering, the clearance is reduced to just 225 mms. This also reduces the departure angle to around 7 degrees. The minimum ground clearance is under the rear axle at 180mm. I've done the rear axle load calculations and even with the maximum estimated additional 60Kg I will still be well within the loading limit for the back axle and the MAM. My greatest concern is the departure angle for loading onto ferries. Can any forum member advise on the matters of minimum clearance and departure angle as I want to assess the risks before talking with any supplier.


Thanks, as always for any contributions.



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I'm going to suggest that it's unrealistic trying to calculate the likelihood of your Hobby's planned tow-bar grounding when boarding/leaving ferries. This is because each ferry-port's loading 'ramps' differ and the angle of the ramp as it approaches the ferry changes according to the height of the tide.


I've seen wheels offered (I think on a Hymer accessories list) that can be attached to a tow-bar to prevent damage to the tow-bar if it touches the ground. Alternatively, you could fit 'sacrificial' skid plates to the tow-bar's underside so that, if the tow-bar grounded only the skid-plates would be scraped.


However, given Brian Kirby's forum comments relating to his Hobby Van (I'm aware yours is on a different chassis), your best approach would be to explore fitting air-bellows to your Van's rear suspension to allow you to increase rear ground clearance when necessary. As Hobby Vans have a relatively short wheelbase and you are going to be adding a fair amount of weight right at the back of the vehicle, rear-axle air-assistance might well improve handling and ride quality in any case.


Ferry personnel aren't daft and there will be vehicles (say, 'super-cars') with so little ground clearance that they have to be loaded so that their undersides aren't ripped off. So, if you choose not to add the ability to raise your Van's rear end and you think it might ground going on board a ferry, you could always make your concerns known to the loading people. There is, of course, a snag to that as, even though you might embark on a ferry without hitting the tow-bar, there's no guarantee you'd be able to disembark uneventfully.

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