GORV - Digital Magazine Issue #41 | Page 46

Optitec, however, says that with the use of heavy duty rubber mats or similar, the unit will work on soft surfaces such as mud, sand or loose gravel. Note: that flex was not a failure of the device – the manufacturer specifically requires them to be used when moving large, heavy rigs. To test the Optitec on the Coronet, I made sure that I had the required brackets to suit its 6in drawbar. The bracket simply bolts to the drawbar – it shouldn’t take more than five minutes to fit – and the shaft of the Optitec jockey wheel clamps to the bracket in the same manner as a standard jockey wheel. SLOW AND STEADY At the direction of the remote control, the Optitec moved the caravan at an expectedly slow pace – it can travel up to 8m per minute – but I found that it manoeuvred the large caravan smoothly on concrete surfaces. Once you develop some confidence and come to grips with the remote control, it becomes very easy to move a caravan in and out of tight spaces – the unit is quite responsive to incremental movements, and the remote control will work from up to 80m away. While it operated smoothly on concrete – and I expect it would work well on hard, grassy areas, too – the wheel tended to dig into particularly loose gravel surfaces, due to the downward force of the caravan’s ball weight. The Optitec draws 12V power from the van’s onboard battery, or other 12V source. While the drawbar bracket (if required) is sold separately, the power-supply leads are provided. The 22kg Optitec offers height adjustment of 250mm and can, theoretically, permanently replace the caravan’s standard jockey wheel. It is rated to move up to 3500kg worth of boat or trailer and support a maximum of 350kg (‘ball weight’) on the shaft. Other features include a built-in dynamic brake, steel gears, over-temperature protection and over-current and under-voltage protection. I’m pretty good at reversing caravans but I was able to manoeuvre the Coronet in ways I could never safely do with my 4WD. For that reason, knowing there are plenty of sites out there with tight access, I reckon it’s worth adding it permanently to the list of equipment I take caravanning. And the fact it can be mounted and removed as required, with no permanent alteration to the van necessary, makes it doubly attractive. OPTITEC V3 RRP: $2395 (including GST and delivery) + MORE INFO