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GoSeeAustralia Christmas wish is the gift of RV safety to those you love

December 03, 2014
GoSeeAustralia Christmas wish is the gift of RV safety to those you love

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.

ARecreational 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.

Campervan home for Lee, Millie and me
Campervan home for Lee, Millie and me

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. Every RV should be professionally serviced annually, no matter how many kilometers are clocked up.

It is just as important to service caravans that are rarely moved as it is to service vans that are regularly on the road. Servicing ensures that the RVs mechanical systems and internal fixtures are all operating at appropriate levels so people can enjoy their holidays safely and know that everything works properly.

A proper maintenance program also protects your holiday investment, as a well-cared for RV retains a high re-sale value.

Wheel nutsshould notbe 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.

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.

Check tyre pressures cold with a gauge you can trust
Check tyre pressures cold with a gauge you can trust

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 aJayco 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.

Bedding.

A door mat.

A bucket andmop.

Insect repellent.

Electric kettle, cups, steamer-pot, fryingpan, plates and cutlery.

Barbecue implements and a really good sharp carving knife.

Torch (with rechargable batteries), chargerand matches.

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. The food and drinks were chilled down in our household refridgerator overnight. This gives an RV fridge a head-start. An RV fridge needs commonsense for best results. Open it only when you have to and shut it as quickly as possible.

In hot weather it will take hours to return to chilled and frozen levels.

GSA uses an Engel, WAECO or Coleman temperature check unit,about $40.

There are two units, one is the sensor which goes in the fridge and then there is the remote wireless monitor which displays the actual temperaute in the fridge.

Do not assume that temperatures in the fridge are OK just because you think it is running. With a monitor you can see the temperature. This means you will spot trouble before it becomes a problem.

With some solar caravans there is not enough battery backup power to run the fridge if the mains power, in a caravan park for example, goes down.

Dove camper and Magna at Bimbi Park Cape Otway
Dove camper and Magna at Bimbi Park Cape Otway

AJayco camperfridge is typicalof campers and caravans. It isthree 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 yourneeds. If gas is the choice first turn on the gas bottle at the front of the camper.

Go inside the camper or caravanto the refrigerator and turn the dial to select gas. Turn the thermostat on the fridge to high.

In GSA's case this is5. We normally run the fridge on 3 or 3.5.

In our case it is a 184 litre Thetford.

Hold in the gas button for about 5 seconds, then click the piezo ignition. Wait for the gas needle to move into the green area. Once it is stable you can let go of the gas button.

Be certain all refrigerator cooling vents inside and outside the camper are clear.

Some RVfridges are automatic.

GSA keeps 50 litres in our water tanks full-time. GSA's Blue Sky travelling office caravan has two 95 litre tanks. They are only filled when we freedom camp away from caravan park facilities.

The camper trailer working area, fridge, draws and cupboards can be accessed ina 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.

If the shackle fails you are responsible so go for the best
If the shackle fails you are responsible so go for the best

The big GoSeeAustralia JaycoSterling 23ftcaravan hooks to GoSeeAustralias 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 caravans 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 manufacturers 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.

Do not overload a caravan or camper. 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.

The fuel figure is in mountain going with long grades climbing to about 1500m. If you take onthe experience the drop from about 1400m at the top of the range down to Blowering Reservoir and Tumut requires second gear engaged earlyto 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 toGoSeeAustralia caravan can be used to apply the caravan brakes to assist the tow vehicle in this kind of demanding descent. Dont over do it. A little is more than enough. Take it easy. Speed is a killer and it is all too easy to havethe tail wagging the dog. Downhill in the wet is the time to bemost careful.

The Jayco Sterling 23ft also has a break-away brake controller unit to lock the caravans brakes on in the unlikely event of the caravan parting company with the tow vehicle. It pays to always check that the break-away brake controller battery is fully charged. It is easy to forget.

Dont stress your trailer tyres with turns like this
Don't stress your trailer tyres with turns like this

We know front-wheel drive family vehicles dont fit 'traditional' towing wisdom, but up to a 1500kg maximum (with good electric trailer brakes) and four bar load leveling system a comfortable 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 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 atypical front wheel drive with a 70kg to 125kg ball weight.

Electrical tape, helped reduce towing mirror shake towing Coromal Silhoutte
Electrical tape, helped reduce towing mirror shake towing Coromal Silhoutte

If heavier than that a suitably rated load distribution hitch should be used.Front wheel drive vehicles are often'soft' in the back end and we would not go beyond the Equalizer four torsion bar maximum.

Nor would we evertow anything heavier than the manufacturers maximum rating 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.

GoSeeAustralia has many featureson getting the best from theroad touringexperience. To look at the On the Road towingfeatures please key towing into the unique Multi-Search boxon the top right of the GoSeeAustralia Home Page. Click Information Articles under the drop-down arrow. Click search and draw on the spread of information available from more than 2000 ( Dec. 2015) free articles.

A 4-bar hitch is essential to add traction and balance with FWD vehicles
A 4-bar hitch is essential to add traction and balance with FWD vehicles

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