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TOPIC: Alko ATC - my opinions and experience so far

Alko ATC - my opinions and experience so far 6 years 3 weeks ago #195941

  • Tim2
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Hi folks



After earlier discussions on ATC I thought you might like to hear how I'm getting on with it.



I had it fitted to our Bailey Senator Arizona (5 series)in May. CMI came to our home at a cost of £550 - more than at the Alko HQ but cheaper when travelling and lost work time taken into consideration. I, also, had Alko Shockabsorbers fitted at a subsequent service. There were some problems with the latter as the wrong size were fitted but that was rectified just in time for our trip to France.



We towed down from St Helens Merseyside to Dover and I was VERY impressed by the improved stablility despite some wind and lots of lorries, etc. Last Wednesday we crossed from Dover to Dunkerque with Norfolk Line. Very severe angle for loading on our 10.00 am ferry but I took it very slowly. However when returned to 'van to disembark Alko ATC LED was on RED should be green if working okay. Rush and panic to dig out handbook for ATC whilst other drivers waited with varying patience!!! I feared that ATC had been damaged during loading!!



Handbook said safe to drive but check with Alko. Tried unplugging and replugging 13 pin plug without any change in LED. Drove off ferry and stopped at first services. Green LED now showing but still phoned Alko and 3 very expensive mobile call, lunchtime at Alko, finally got through to Jane. She assured me that problem was because of voltage drop whilst 'van was parked up on ferry and that ATC would have reset itself after we began driving. It would have been helpful if the manual had warned of this and saved us a great deal of stress, expense and inconvenience!!???



400 miles on along French autoroutes shocks and ATC have continued to give a VERY STABLE and much improved tow at speeds of 60mph on cruise. I'm writing this on the banks of the Lake at camping Sologne in Sarblis.



So my verdict on ATC VERY PRICEY but cheaper than the results of a bad snake and generally much more stable and less stressful towing. I hasten to add that I still load the 'van carefully, check the noseweight and drive in a sensible manner additionally assisted by my straightliner stabiliser and, of course, the new Alko shocks.



Best wishes

Tim



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Alko ATC - my opinions and experience so far 6 years 3 weeks ago #195942

  • Lutz
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The AlKo ATC only deploys if there is a snake. It does not prevent a snake but kills it when it does happen. Therefore, if you do notice an appreciable improvement after having fitted the ATC unit, the outfit must have been very unstable before.
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Alko ATC - my opinions and experience so far 6 years 3 weeks ago #195943

  • Chrisbee
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Tim, you've just answered a question for me. When I reconnected my 7S plug after an overnight stop in Germany I too had a steady red light on the ATC led. I knew from the handbook that the outfit was ok to use and by the first stop it had changed to green. Thinking about it the car only just started and I have had to replace the car battery since I came home. I guess the voltage was too low but a note to this effect in the ATC instructions would be handy.
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Alko ATC - my opinions and experience so far 6 years 3 weeks ago #195944

Hi

I think your stability improvements have really come from shock absorbers, I had them fit on my new Coachman, plus I also recommend having your wheels balanced.



I also believe the new ATC system will be prone to major problems with time for the following reasons,



Caravan brakes are only a token gesture, they are not ment to be continually hard braking to re aline your outfit.



Caravans spend a vast amounts of time in active, and brakes are prone to seize.



With the state of current caravan quality and dealers who are mostly rubbish, would you trust this design over sereral years without failure.



Caravans are very low tech when compared to the car industry improving braking, to me its like putting ABS on a Horse & Cart.



If a fault occurrs, whats to stop say 1 wheel hard braking and turning the caravan over at speed. When electrics control braking this is a possibility.



We have managed years without this system, get shocks and balance wheels and load correctly and you notice major improvements with mechanical improvements to your outfit.



I also have like many other new car buyers stability assist, standard on my new Honda CR-V.



These are my views as a Mechanical Engineer.



Good luck with your ATC, but no thanks I will trust mechanical improvements.

Best Regards

Alan
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Alko ATC - my opinions and experience so far 6 years 3 weeks ago #195945

  • Lutz
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I think you have failed to understand the operation of an electronic stabiliser, Alan. It does not apply the brakes constantly, but only when the caravan (or trailer) goes into a snake. It senses the lateral acceleration caused by the instability and only when this exceeds a defined threshold value does it apply the brakes. A well balanced outfit will therefore only experience deployment of the brakes in an emergency.

I have the LEAS electronic stabiliser which works on the same principle as the AlKo ATC, but it includes a warning buzzer in the towcar. In the 3 years I've had it fitted, the buzzer has only sounded once.
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Alko ATC - my opinions and experience so far 6 years 3 weeks ago #195946

  • rob_jax
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Hi Alan,



You can't have it both ways - if caravan brakes are a token, then they can't also brake one wheel so hard that it would cause the caravan to turn over...



On that subject, the AL-KO system applies pressure to the brake balance bar under the caravan - and this applies equal braking effort to both sets of wheel brakes.



And whilst you trust mechanical improvements and denounce electronic braking control, you also seem happy to have TSA as a standard feature on your new CR-V - well that's a purely electronic system...



Robert
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Alko ATC - my opinions and experience so far 6 years 3 weeks ago #195947

  • Chrisbee
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I've covered nearly 2000 miles in Europe in the last couple of weeks with some very windy weather and at a reasonably high speed when safe and legal. Not once did the ATC kick in but as I have a well matched and correctly loaded outfit including shock absorbers and Al-ko stabiliser I wouldn't expect it to. It's a "belt & braces" item but it only has to work the one time you get caught out to make it worthwhile having it fitted.



Alan saying that we've managed without ATC in the past is true, we also managed without ABS and airbags on our cars but I'm glad I have them fitted to mine. Like the ATC, I don't know if the air bag will work if needed, I just hope it does.
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Alko ATC - my opinions and experience so far 6 years 3 weeks ago #195948

  • Oldfogey
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Personally, I find it quite astonishing that shock absorbers are not fitted as standard on all caravans. Rubber torsion suspension is, frankly, not the same thing and evidence of the way the industry spends money on appearances rather than substance.



My 80s 14' Sprite has "proper" suspension, and in all conditions behaves beautifully, with no stabiliser fitted - though admittedly it's behind a Range Rover.



My fear is that as ATC becomes standard, 'van manufacturers will pay less attention to designing in stability, assuming the ATC can deal with it, so that you end up with vans more likely to start a snake and rely on the system to control it!
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Alko ATC - my opinions and experience so far 6 years 3 weeks ago #195949

  • Lutz
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I think there is little danger of that, Oldfogey, because the ATC unit does not become active until after the instability has started to occur, i.e. you still notice that something is amiss before ATC steps in and puts it right. The very fact that you still experience instability despite ATC means makes it unacceptable to offer a product which relies on ATC to keep it stable.

Besides, if ATC deploys very often, i.e. the brakes on the caravan are applied a lot, there is a danger of brake fade and, above all, fuel consumption would increase drastically as the caravan would constantly be tugging excessively at the towcar.
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Alko ATC - my opinions and experience so far 6 years 3 weeks ago #195950

Lutz

There is a major difference between the car industry developing stability assist and the caravan industry developing ATC that they probably hope you dont need to use too often.



Ask ALKO as I did if they thought 200 gram out of balance in my wheels was too much on my new van, they fobbed me off saying they dont need balancing, thats nearly 1 lb out of balance each side. They dont even check them so how do they no you havent got oval wheels.No jack for the chassis, poor tyre quality, it goes on and on, the caravan industry is very poor, their braking system is very old design and as I have stated in my previous mail a token effect that doest not compare with any car braking of disc brakes under hydraulic actuation.

Even with a car, try stopping it from high speed with the handbrake.



Noticed Explorer group are balancing their wheels now, and Swift are fitting shocks, but they have all been saying they dont need them.

We all have an opinion, I hope the ATC is a success for the caravan industry, but lets see in a couple of years what we really have.



Alan
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