Para 41


A Short History of the New ALKO Brakes


Peter W Jones AMInstP


The above type of system was “invented” by Charles Irving of Preston, Lancs, about 30 years ago.

Charles Irving was first brought to my attention in 2003 by several members of the Institute of Traffic Accident Investigators (ITAI) communicating via a private e mail system.
I had circulated an out line proposal for an electric/electronic device to make over run brakes safer. I was immediately told that Charles Irving had already demonstrated his similar device at an ITAI conference some years previously. ITAI members had been very impressed. I spoke at length by telephone to Charles Irving in 2003; in April 2007, after I had published my results on the web, we had a further telephone conversation and decided to meet at Keele Services on the M6 to discuss this and other matters in more detail.
Charles Irving’s electronic device was later developed and marketed by www.ivra.nl and it was under this label that the Caravan Club’s experts tested same and published their approval in the CC magazine some considerable time ago. IVRA have now been taken over by Reich Benelux.Charles Irving told me that he had also “invented” another system for making caravans and small trailers safer, and this system had been tried out very successfully for 12 months by a journalist working for Practical Caravan Magazine. (Charles Irving later sent me all the technical details by post). This ingenious device was pneumatic, the air pressure needed to operate the system being produced by an electric pump, and being electric the system could apply the brakes as soon as the tow car driver operated the brake pedal. (Over run brakes only work when and if the trailer catches up with the tow car. When a trailer is snaking this will never happen as the trailer is travelling further then the tow car. Drivers are advised not to brake whilst snaking is taking place, because the trailer would then very rapidly catch up and if it was not in line with the tow car when the trailer eventually “pushed” on the brake lever the whole out fit could be spun round out of control.)

I understand that ALKO are only fitting their device to new caravans. Charles Irving had been fitting his invention to existing caravans for some years.
If “electric brakes” is put into the Google search engine it will take only a few minutes to establish that ALKO Australia has caravan electric brakes available for caravans of comparable size to those in the UK. When some years ago a Caravan Club member wrote to the CC magazine to inform us about the extensive use of electric brakes “down under,” the editor informed the members that the Australian brakes were only suitable for larger vans and were very expensive.
If the results from Google are examined a little further it will be seen that currently in the USA caravan electric brakes are being sold that would cost less than the over run system plus the ALKO friction based stabiliser ( at current rates of exchange).
Clearly part of the solution to caravan and trailer instability is electric brakes for new caravans, not an electric/electronic adaptation of the 1929 over run brake. ALKO’s latest device must be fitted to existing caravans and trailers.

Caravanners and trailer towers will have to drive more slowly to remain safer until this business is resolved and in this respect it should be remembered that the legal speed limit was 50 mph when I started towing boats in 1976 ( my boat towing light board still has a “50” sticker on same). It can be seen from my other reports on the web that this matter is far more complicated than originally realised; it is air speed which should really be considered.






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