GoSeeAustralia Christmas wish is the gift of RV safety to those you love
Oops that is not how the
brakes are supposed to work
It is important that a Recreational Vehicle, be it caravan, camper, motorhome or 4WD which has been sitting in the drive-way or under a carport for months be serviced before it is taken off to the summer holiday spot.
Professional service is essential both for safety and also to retain a high re-sale value in the RV. The spin-off Christmas gift to you and yours is a trouble free holiday.
Just like good drivers who have their cars regularly serviced, caring RV owners realise caravans, pop-tops and camper trailers need servicing too, though obviously not as frequently.
Campervan home for Lee, Millie and me
A Recreational Vehicle, which has been sitting in the drive-way or under a carport for most of winter should get attention and skilled service before it is taken off to the favorite summer holiday spot.
Professional service is essential both for safety and also to retain a high re-sale value in the RV. The other high value is a trouble free holiday.
Most RV dealerships across Australia either operate their own service and maintenance division, or are aligned to a nearby service operator.
Servicing the undercarriage of a RV is fairly straight forward. Brakes need checking, so does the suspension, and in the case of caravans and the like, the drawbar coupling.
Then there are the brake and indicator lights and tail lights. Wheel bearings need to be checked for tension and lubrication.
Check tyre pressures cold with a gauge you can trust
The tyres should also be given the once over to ensure correct pressure and inspected for cracks or other damage, especially if the RV has been standing idle for a lengthy time and was not jacked up.
But that is not all. Apart from the external servicing the internal fixtures such as stove, refrigerator and sink plumbing need to be checked over to ensure they are all in good working order.
The same goes for the internal electrics and battery connections.According to the Recreational Vehicle Manufacturers Association of Australia every RV should be professionally serviced annually, no matter how many kilometers are clocked up.
The RVMAA says it is just as important to service caravans that are rarely moved during the winter as it is to service vans that are regularly on the road. “Servicing ensures that the RV’s mechanical systems and internal fixtures are all operating at appropriate levels so people can enjoy their holidays safely and know that everything works properly,” The RVMAA said.“
GoSeeAustralias Retro Sahara gets tyre check
A proper maintenance program also protects your holiday investment, as a well-cared for RV retains a high re-sale value” , The RVMAA said.
GoSeeAustralia got down and dirty from the ground up when we set out to restore GoSeeAustralias 1985 Toyota HJ60 series manual diesel Sahara.
GoSeeAustralia took the Sahara over with 312,764km on the clock.
GoSeeAustralia now enjoys a practical diesel education which started in late December 2005 and is on a continuing learning curve.
We replaced the Sahara's sad Desert Dueler tyres with light truck radial Kuhmo Road Venture 31.10 R15 109S ($676 for four). We kept the best of the Desert Dueler originals as a spare as it is in reasonable condition.
The Kuhmo ride is comfortable. The tread profile it not too aggressive and they run fairly quietly at highway speed while retaining acceptable ability off road. After trial and error and excellent service and advice from Tyrepower, Blackburn, Victoria, we settled on 35psi all round for everyday work.
Terry Brown gets perfect balance for GoSeeAustralias Retro Sahara
On long trips at highway speeds we take this up to 40psi all round.
On a recent tour from Canberra to Melbourne we found this pressure was spot on as we carted about 500kg of GoSeeAustralia computer gear, camping essentials, A full WAECO fridge, full tool kits, clothes and water in the big 4WD. The rear tyres go to 40 to 45psi when we tow.
Our own high pressure hand pump with an accurate pressure read-out is used to check the tyres each week.
The Tyrepower deal which came with the four Khumos included rotation and balance of the Kumhos free when CNN580 completed 10,000km on the new tyres.
But we found we were at 327,264km with 14,500 of GoSeeAustralia work behind the Sahara when we finally found an opportunity to take up the offer.
Blackburn Vic.Tyrepower rotated and balanced all wheels. After 14,230km the verdict was "perfect" result for minimum tyre wear.
Tyrepower's attention to detail included making sure that the Sahara's wheel nuts were not locked on too tight. This is a trap when a flat requires manual wheel nut work on the road.
If, as often happens, the wheel nuts have been tighten down with an air gun at a service centre they can be beyond normal physical strength when it is time to make running repairs. It is also essential that the wheel nuts by tightened in the correct sequence.
To add to GoSeeAustralia's happy safe fully serviced Christmas wish we have some practical thought on a range of towing and RV on the road issues.
To prevent transmission damage and overheating, particularly when towing, overdrive should never be allowed to lug in any diesel. Change down, get the revs into the sweet spot and let the diesel do its best work when the load comes on.
Manual or auto box it is worth keeping the weight off the overdrive when towing. We have now turboed the Retro Sahara and maximum torque comes in at about 1800 rpm.
GoSeeAustralia at work at Blowering Reservoir near Tumut
A reconditioned 4WD gearbox will cost thousands of dollars and make attempts at fuel saving by lugging in overdrive look ridiculous.
It is a high price for being lazy. Lock the overdrive out in an auto gearbox in any situation where the load comes on the transmission.
This is standard procedure in GoSeeAustralia's other flagship Sahara, our massively powerful 4.2 litre turbo diesel auto Landcruiser which is used to pull GoSeeAustralia's Out There Jayco Sterling 23 ft caravan.
Time spent by GoSeeAustralia with the Fiat 2.8 JTD turbo diesel manual in both the Jayco Ducato campervan and the Conquest motorhome versions only underlines for GoSeeAustralia the importance of working the gearbox and keeping the revs up to keep a good diesel happy.
With a little experimenting with a diesel significant fuel can be saved by easing back slightly on the throttle to achieve maximum torque point while pulling uphill.
Ramming the throttle to the floor will produce fuel waste and black smoke from the exhaust and no real pulling gains as the motors torque characteristics are not being used efficiently.
Dove camper and Magna at Bimbi Park Cape Otway
There is a lot to think of which does not come "standard" in caravans, camper-trailers, pop-tops, motorhomes, campers and RV's in general.
When GoSeeAustralia hit the road with a Dove camper trailer we added:
A 15 amp power cord to fit park safety systems and keep shocks out.
A beverage grade hose to hook to the mains pressure water connection and the special fittings which screw it on to the exterior connection.
Four broad, flat wooden blocks to place under the campers stabilizer legs.
Two solid wooden chocks for the campers wheels.
A small spade and axe.
Tool and battery drill kits.
Two comfortable folding camp chairs.
A door mat.
A bucket and mop.
Electric kettle, cups, steamer-pot, fryingpan, plates and cutlery.
Barbecue implements and a really good sharp carving knife.
Torch (with rechargable batteries), charger and matches.
Corkscrew and, yes, we forgot to pack the can opener.
The day before we left we filled the water tank and switched on the refrigerator on 240 volt AC mains power and let it run overnight. We loaded it with food and drinks next morning when it had achieved optimum cold levels.
If the shackle fails you are responsible so go for the best
The Dove camper fridge is typical of campers and caravans. It is three phase, 240 volt AC, LPG and Direct Current from the towing vehicle. Or it is Off. Make your choice and turn the dial to suit your needs. If gas is the choice first turn on the gas bottle at the front of the camper.
Go inside the camper to the refrigerator and hold down the gas flow button and hit the spark switch.
When it lights the gas the small read-out dial on the fridge will move into the green segment.
On the road LPG gets things cold quickest, but it is dangerous and MUST NOT be used unless the campers roof is fully raised and there is plenty of ventilation.
Be certain all refrigerator cooling vents inside and outside the camper are clear. Direct Current has some MUST DO things to remember.
Be certain all interior lights are turned off before lowering the campers roof. If you forget and turn on the tow vehicles ignition to run the fridge the heat from the interior roof lights, when they switch on with the tow vehicles ignition, will do bad burning things while you travel.
Leaving the interior lights on while running 240 volt AC power with the camper roof down will produce a similar result. If you use Direct Current to run the fridge a small car battery can be flattened in quick time. Turn it off if you stop your motor. Or talk to your dealer or a good auto electrician.
The camper trailer working area, fridge, draws and cupboards can be accessed in the Jayco Dove while travelling by winding the roof up slightly to clear the top of the half-door. It is cramped hands and knees access, but it is useful.
Remember to release the four roof clips on the sides of the camper ( typical of most designs) before working the winding handle which fits the winch at the front of the camper. When finished inside lower the roof, lock the four clips and wind a little tension onto the roof lifting cables.
Don't overdo it, a little is more than enough.
Don't stress your trailer tyres with turns like this
The big GoSeeAustralia Jayco Sterling 23ft caravan hooks to GoSeeAustralia’s Toyota Sahara 4.2 Turbo Diesel Landcruiser. So pulling power is not an issue, but when the grunt comes on it is the caravan that must be up to the job as the Sahara just keeps going rough or smooth, steep or easy.
A GoSeeAustralia caravan Forum question raised towing variations between single and dual axle caravans.
One of the negative differences is tight turns with dual axles can put high stresses on the caravan’s tyres. GoSeeAustralia recommends that tight manoeuvres of this kind be avoided, particularly on surfaces which allow little tyre slip like bitumen.
Tyre pressures should be checked with the tyres cold. Use a gauge you know is right. Many service station gauges have a hard life which often makes them unreliable. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on tyre pressures for both the caravan and tow vehicle. Buy the best tyres available. When towing the tyres are not an area to cut corners on.
Fit the anti-sway torsion bar
Never exceed the manufacturers or vehicle builders tow ball load weight. If you do you risk disappointment if you have to make an insurance claim and in a bad situation possible prosecution for a driving offence.
Fuel consumption when towing caravans varies with issues like weight, driver style, vehicle tune, grades and weather conditions.
As a general guide towing with the Sahara from Banks, ACT to Cooma and then on the Snowy Mountain Highway via Kiandra to Tumut produced a figure of about 20 litres a 100 km. Overdrive is usually locked out. It is only used in easy flat going.
The fuel figure is in mountain going with long grades climbing to about 1500m. If you take on the experience the drop from about 1400m at the top of the range down to Blowering Reservoir and Tumut requires second gear to negotiate the steep descent safely.
It is essential to change down early to retain control on this steep, winding mountain descent. Vehicles climbing up the range need to be in top condition for the long, slow, demanding pull which starts about 20km out of Tumut.
The electric brake controller linked to GoSeeAustralia caravan can be used to apply the caravan brakes to assist the tow vehicle in this kind of demanding descent. Don’t over do it. A little is more than enough. Take it easy. Speed is a killer and it is all too easy to have the tail wagging the dog. Downhill in the wet is the time to be most careful.
The Jayco Sterling 23ft also has a break-away brake controller unit to lock the caravan’s brakes on in the unlikely event of the caravan parting company with the tow vehicle. It pays to always check that the separate break-away brake controller battery is fully charged. It is easy to forget.
Electrical tape, helped reduce towing mirror shake towing Coromal Silhoutte
We know front-wheel drive family vehicles don’t fit 'traditional' towing wisdom, but up to a 1500kg maximum (with good electric trailer brakes) and four bar load leveling system a comfortable Mitsubishi Magna V6 wagon more than does the job and economically too!
We use a Camec Load Equalizer system with four torsion bars.
This makes a big difference in the load transfer to the Mitsubishi’s front end drive and provides more weight on the drive wheels to get us out of wet, slippery, situations and helps our quality Michelin Certis radial tyres grab grip.
Overall handling is significantly improved and the smooth ride the Equalizer provides can lead to 'forgetting' that over a 1100kg is rolling happily along behind. For those who suffer motion sickness this steady progress is a real benefit, even on winding undulating roads and it certainly reduces driver stress.
It is essential that strict attention be paid to the weight on the tow ball. The weight of the van and the luggage in the back need four Equalizer rods in a Magna from 70kg to 125kg.
A 4-bar hitch is essential to add traction and balance with FWD vehicles
If heavier than that a suitably rated load distribution hitch should be used. The Mitsubishi Magna is 'soft' in the back end and we would not go beyond the Equalizer four torsion bar maximum.
Nor would we tow anything heavier than the manufacturer’s 1500kg maximum with electric trailer brakes.
Vehicle and tow bar makers rate their product by weight on the ball. Their ratings are the maximum ball weight allowed. So check before you tow.
Tyre pressures, profiles and rolling resistance characteristics make a significant difference to towing safety, handling, and comfort and of course fuel economy.
For example a Coromal Silhouette camper GoSeeAustralia tested had 14 inch wheels and came shod with 8-ply light truck radials.
Millicent SA couple Pauline and Robert Ferguson near Gundagai
They matched well with the Michelin Certis radials on the Mitsubishi Magna wagon.
No, Michelins are not standard Magna, but we have learned to trust them in all conditions so we always change our 'boots'.
Fuel economy depends on how and where you are towing and what the conditions are.
For example in flat, windless highway running the Mitsubishi Magna easily averages 11.3 litres a 100km, moving at posted speeds of up to 100km/h when we think it’s safe.
In the same going, but punching into storm winds, the vehicle computer reports 12.6 litres a 100km travelling cautiously through raging gusts at between 80 and 90km/h.
GoSeeAustralia has many features on getting the best from the caravan park experience. To look at the On the Road towing features please key towing into the unique multi-search box on the top right of the GoSeeAustralia Home Page.
Editor's Note also see:
What is GoSeeAustralia all about?
It's 'Go Sexy' at the CRVA Conference
Cabin alternative wins Aussie family vote
Cabins first choice for family holidays
Meet Luke, the future for Caravan Parks in Australia
GoSeeAustralia finds One Mile Beach Port Stephens a caravan park paradise
Kids are King in Caravan Parks
For more information
contact: Garth Morrison
Editor Go See Australia Directory
Phone: 02 6294 1941
Fax: 02 6284 9275
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