You often forget the jockey wheel when it’s time to service your caravan. It might look unimportant and innocuous, but it’s a crucial piece of caravan equipment.
Without it, hitching your van up and keeping the caravan’s A-frame off the ground would be next to impossible. You wouldn’t even be able to manoeuvre your caravan around when it’s not hitched, without a jockey wheel.
It’s such a simple design, it’s practically flawless in its reliability. Little wonder it’s often forgotten about. Most caravanners don’t even consider the way it works, what maintenance it requires, or even how to take care of it.
But that’s the way it is with such simple mechanical parts, out of mind, until they go wrong. Only then does realisation dawn, just how vital this unheralded piece of equipment is.
What Can Go Wrong With The Caravan Jockey Wheel?
As we say not much goes wrong with a jockey wheel until it does, and then we’re afraid it’s all a bit of a panic. Three common problems that come up with a jockey wheel are these.
You have left the jockey wheel down in transit; the caravan becomes difficult to raise or lower on the jockey wheel, and the castor wheel becomes stiff and doesn’t turn easily anymore.
We know it goes without saying, but be extra vigilant when you’re ready to move off. You haven’t left the jockey wheel down. If you did inadvertently leave it down in transit, then it’s likely the outer tube, or the inner tube, or both, could have sustained damage.
If that’s the case it will stop the inner tube winding up all the way into the outer tube. The only solution is to replace the inner tube or you might need to replace both, repairing them is out of the question.
Fix A Problem Jockey Wheel Handle
The handle becomes stiff, a jerking motion when you’re turning the handle, or a castor wheel that’s not swivelling is because the winding handle bearing needs a good clean and re-greasing or there’s damage and you’re going to have to replace them.
To find out which it is, you’re going to have to remove the handle and the outer tube of the jockey wheel. Once you’ve done that you can see the state of the ball bearings.
Clean the bearings and check if there’s any damage if they’re damaged you’ll see some gouging on them. Here replace the bearings with new ones. If you can’t see any damage, then pack with grease and put the jockey wheel back together. You should find the turning handle is a lot smoother now.
If you find the caster wheel has become stiff, but it’s not the caster wheel bearing, then you must clean and grease the axle. To do that, you must remove the wheel to get at the axle.
Just one other thing to keep your eye on is the state of the jockey wheel tyre. Ensure it’s not sustained any damage if it has any pieces of rubber missing it will not run smoothly. That will not stop the jockey wheel from operating properly, but it makes sense.