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Search our catalog of exclusive RV articles

Between 1959 and 1961 Collyn Rivers and Antony Fleming drove a Bedford QLR off-road truck twice the length and breadth of Africa studying road surface conditions.

A 43 minute film about their adventure, produced and narrated by Antony Fleming, has been viewed on YouTube more than 1.3 million times!

To view the film, and also read Collyn's telling of the tale, just click the button below.

Africa 

The Camper Trailer Book.  Free!

Not currently available as an eBook or paperback, RV Books is publishing The Camper Trailer Book on this site.  Every week new sections will be released until the complete, fully revised, version is available.

Read It Here

Visit Solar Books

At solarbooks.com.au you'll find exclusive articles by Collyn Rivers dealing with the intricacies of setting up and using solar power to run your home, cabin, caravan or motorhome.  Solar Books is about how to use solar to shrink your power bill to where your energy provider is paying you - and to do it all economically.

Solar Books

RV Books provides the most extensive and most reliable information available for anyone wanting to explore their world via camper trailer, motorhome, caravan - any sort of RV.

If you find this site useful you will find our books even more so.  They are all available in a number of formats designed to make them as useful as possible as reference guides for all your travels.  As well as a paperback version there are versions for Kindle, Nook, Kobo and for all Apple devices.

The information on this site is provided without charge, without sponsorship and without advertising.  All our activities are funded by the sales of our books.

Featured article

Overweight RVs – a police point of view

by Collyn Rivers

An interview with Sergeant Graeme Shenton

Overweight RVs - a police point of view is a précis of my discussion with Sergeant Graeme Shenton about a major roadside check of the extent of overladen RVs. Most rigs checked were caravans.

RV Books: Do RV owners see overloading as a safety issue?

Sgt. Shenton: Caravan owners appear to accept overweight caravans are a risk. They also accept that police should actively check offenders.

RV Books: Is there not a further problem that vehicles used to tow caravans are far too light? They have increasing power, but lighter construction?

Overweight RVs - a police point of view -caravans too heavy

Sgt. Shenton: Caravans have become larger. Many 3.5 tonnes or more. The vehicles used to tow them are too light to tow such weight. In my opinion, the ‘tail wagging the dog’ effect contributes to caravan instability. It causes crashes and roll-overs.

RV Books: Do you have any data about the number of accidents resulting in caravan rollovers?

Sgt. Shenton: Of ‘rollovers’ alone, one insurer (that has 30% of the market) advises it has had well over 100 claims a year during the past 4.5 years. If ‘loss of control’ accidents is included, it’s multiple thousands.

RV BooksWhen did you start publicising details of weighing – was there any negative reaction?

Sgt. Shenton: The concept of what became overweight RVs - a police point of view was in May 2016 and related to rigs being checked at the Cann River weighbridge. There were no negative reactions. Photographs taken there [by Martin Ledwich] were viewed many thousands of times for months thereafter. It was very gratifying as it focused attention on safety issues.

Overweight RVs - a police point of view - overweight issues

RV Books: I recollect your later check (January 2017 in East Gippsland) resulted in some surprises. This because many of those attending had been invited. They knew their rigs would be weighed.

Sgt. Shenton: Indeed! It surprised us too! We had made it widely known that our check was being made. Also that its aim was to gather information. We weighed 71 rigs. Of those, 41 were overweight in one (or more ratings). A surprise was that most owners had some idea of their legally maximum weight. Only three, however, knew what their rigs actually weighed. Only two knew all the applicable ratings.

RV Books: For overweight RVs - a police point of view - were many seriously overweight?

Sgt. Shenton: Five (caravans) were overweight by more than 20%.

Overweight RVs - a police point of view - owner reactions

RV Books: What reaction did you receive when owners were made aware of their caravan and tow ball weight?

Sgt. Shenton: Surprise at the actual weight. Also that they had so substantially underestimated it.

RV Books: Again for overweight RVs - a police point of view did you also check the tow vehicles?

Sgt Shenton. No, it was felt better to weigh as many caravans as possible. It was clearly obvious, though, that many of the tow vehicles too were overladen. We advised owners of how to reduce that weight. We also advised of the [adverse] effects of weight, and its distribution, on stability.

RV Books: The results seem to indicate that many RV owners have no idea what their rig weighs!

Sgt. Shenton: It certainly showed their knowledge of weights and (legal) ratings to be minimal. Also that this lack of knowledge, and its safety implications, requires further attention. It is of major concern that most drivers have little idea of what their rigs actually weigh.

There’s also a problem, primarily with caravans. The Compliance plate does not always show the true Tare weight. That can lead owners into loading their RVs beyond the legal maximum.

RV Books: To what extent do you feel that such overloading is causing RVs to be unsafe?

Sgt. Shenton: It is difficult to quantify. It seems logical exceeding permitted limits will increase the possibility of having an accident. It will also increase its severity.

Owner reactions

RV Books: Did you experience any hostility to Overweight RVs - a police point of view operations?

Sgt Shenton: Next to none. RV owners seemed keen to know about matters vital to safe usage. Not just for themselves but to pass on to others.

RV Books: We believe tow courses for new caravan buyers towing drivers should be obligatory. Do you have any views about this?

Sgt. Shenton: Yes, very much so. Such courses are commercially available.  They are supported by the Australian Government. Furthermore, it is a nationally recognised qualification.

RV Books: Any further recommendations for our readers?

Sgt. Shenton: I feel that education is more important than enforcement. I’d like to see more use of transport authority weighbridges – but many are closed much of the year. Also, that driver education is encouraged by caravan dealers.

Also important is that RV vendors stop declaring incorrect Tare Mass on compliance plates.

RV Books: Thank you very much for making this invaluable information available. It is greatly appreciated.

NOTE

Sergeant Shenton was an Acting Sergeant when the original inspections were conducted. He was subsequently promoted. His work is being extended to other states and jurisdictions. They have generally similar results.

Recently updated articles

Warning for Potential Caravan Buyers – how to buy a caravan

Potential buyers of caravans need to be extremely careful to ensure that their proposed caravan is, in fact, fully compliant with Australia’s vehicle safety regulations, as stated in the national Australian Design Rules. The Federal government’s Vehicle Safety Standards branch has recognised the problems in the caravan industry. It is introducing a new Road Vehicle Standards Act in July 2021. This Act replaces the Motor Vehicle Standards Act, which has been in force since 1989.

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Caravan Length and Stability

For decades both caravan owners and vendors have emphasised the need for a laden tow vehicle to at least weigh as much as the laden caravan. Length and caravan stability, and where weight is distributed over that length, is now being seen as more significant.

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Making caravans more stable – here’s how and why to do it

Making caravans more stable is readily possible by design, loading, and tow vehicle use and choice. This article by Collyn Rivers explains how. It also provides practical guidelines for buying a caravan and tow vehicle, their loading and on-road usage. For a full technical explanation of why rigs can be unstable please see my Caravan and Tow Vehicle Dynamics/. See also Why Caravans Roll Over/

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Our sister site, solarbooks.com.au, is about making sense of solar.  For anyone wanting to save serious money on their power bills, Solar Books has the information you're looking for.  Click here to visit.

Articles by Category

Electrical (general)
General
Travel
The Camper Trailer Book

Want to find out more? Our books cover all these topics and a lot more. 

Whether you’re buying your first RV or updating to a bigger, more comfortable rig, there are a great many things you need to know and consider.  How to Choose and Buy an RV breaks things down so that you can decide what you want and whether or not what you’ve found is right for you.

learn more

Solar That Really Works! explains every detail of designing and installing solar in boats, camper trailers, caravans and motorhomes. 

learn more

Caravan & Motorhome Electrics covers every aspect of designing, installing and fault finding of the electrics in fifth wheel and conventional caravans, camper trailers and motorhomes.

learn more

The Caravan & Motorhome Book covers every conceivable aspect of camper trailer, caravan and fifth wheel caravan, campervan and motorhome usage.

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Caravan & Motorhome Electrics covers every aspect of designing, installing and fault finding of the electrics in fifth wheel and conventional caravans, camper trailers and motorhomes.

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How to Choose and Buy an RV
Here's how to get it right first and every time.

Whether you're buying your first RV or updating to a bigger, more comfortable rig, there are a great many things you need to know and consider.  This book breaks things down so that you can decide what you want and whether or not what you've found is right for you. It's technically sound and comprehensive so that you can proceed with complete confidence.  How to Choose and Buy an RV is the ultimate guide for those times when you want to, well, choose and buy an RV.

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Caravans and their tow vehicles rarely jack-knife and roll over - but when they do the results are catastrophic. The cause, and how to prevent it, is explained here.  Why Caravans Roll Over offers solid advice for keeping yourself safe on the road.

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Caravan & Motorhome Electrics is the totally rewritten successor to the original globally selling Motorhome Electrics. The book's content now also covers every aspect of designing, installing and fault finding of the electrics in fifth wheel and conventional caravans, camper trailers and motorhomes.

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The Caravan & Motorhome Book covers every conceivable aspect of camper trailer, caravan and fifth wheel caravan, campervan and motorhome usage. Like all of Collyn Rivers' books it is technically sound yet written in plain English.

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Solar That Really Works! explains, in clear English, every detail of designing and installing solar in boats, camper trailers, caravans and motorhomes. It is up-to-date, valid globally and technically accurate. It is clear, concise and easy to follow without sacrificing important detail.

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How to Choose and Buy an RV

This is Collyn Rivers' newest book.  Building on his years of experience and extensive knowledge of engineering and all things caravan and RV, this is the book you need with you when shopping for an RV.

Caravan & Motorhome Electrics

Collyn Rivers has done it again! – if you need to know anything about motorhome electrics, then this book is for you... Collyn must be, without doubt, the foremost authority in Australia on this subject.

The Wanderer (Campervan & Motorhome Club of Australia Ltd)

Why Caravans Roll Over....and How to Prevent It​

Should be compulsory reading for everyone involved with Caravans: Design / Engineering, Marketing, Journalism (print & electronic), Regulations, Inspections, Driver-Training, Caravan Clubs, Towing and Modifications.

Colin Young

Founder and CEO, Caravan Council of Australia

Solar that Really Works!

Collyn is an accomplished engineer who knows how to design and build successful systems. It is refreshing to see practical advice written in plain language when there is so little solar information around. . . this is an essential text . . . you won’t find a better guide.

Alan T. Gray

Earth Garden Magazine

The Caravan & Motorhome Book

Without doubt, this is the best book we have ever read . . . it will be treasured, and read on a regular basis.

The Wanderer (Campervan & Motorhome Club of Australia Ltd)