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

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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.

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At solarbooks.com.au you'll find exclusive articles 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.

Featured article

Caravan Tow Ball Weight – how much

Updated 2020

Caravan Tow-Ball Weight

For safe towing, a caravan must be tow-ball heavy. Unless a caravan is tow-ball heavy, it is potentially unstable. It is likely to sway. If swaying escalates, the caravan and tow vehicle may jack-knife. This article shows why having adequate caravan tow ball weight really does matter. It shows to assess the caravan tow-ball weight your rig must-have. The required tow-ball weight is related to the length and weight of a caravan. The longer and heavier it is, the higher the tow-ball weight required.

The wheelbarrow effect

A caravan towing vehicle's tow hitch is typically 1.25 metres or more behind its rear axle. The caravan's (essential) tow ball weight pushes down on that hitch. The effect like pushing down the handles of a wheelbarrow. It levers up its front. This reduces the weight on the tow vehicle's front tyres. This, in turn, degrades the tow vehicle's cornering ability. It also causes the caravan to sway in a 'snaking-like' manner.

Tow-ball weight affects safe towing speed

The tendency for a caravan to sway is to the tow-ball weight relative to the weight and length of the tow vehicle. The lower that relative weight, the lower the speed at which swaying is likely to occur.

A typical tow vehicle and caravan with 2% tow-ball weight has almost no stability. It may sway at 25 km/h (15.5 mph). One with 4% tow-ball weight may sway at about 50 km/h. The tow-ball weight traditionally suggested (in Australia) is about 10%. In the USA it is 12-14% or more.

Use tow-ball scales to check a range of loading configurations

While tow-ball weight is essential, vehicle makers continue to decrease that allowed. In 2015, many reduced it from 350 kg to 250 kg. The caravan industry 'rethought its position'. It virtually overnight advised that lower tow ball weight, but few vendors indicated how to do this safely.

While better done at the design stage, you can reduce that weight by relocating and centralising heavy items (such as batteries) as close as possible over the axles. Doing so increases stability due to reducing yaw, or retains the existing stability at a lower tow-ball weight. Recommended tow-ball weights are only valid if the caravan is correctly loaded fore/aft of the axle/s. Never have anything heavy at the front, nor (especially) at the rear of the caravan.

Tow-Ball Weight and Safe Speed

Tow-ball weight is related to towing speed. The higher the speed, the greater the tow-ball weight required. The lower that tow-ball weight, the lower the safe speed. Be aware that yaw (snaking) forces increase with the square of the speed: i.e. they are four times higher at 100 km/h than at 50 km/h. Because of this, RV Books advises owners of typical Australian-made caravans never to exceed 100 km/h unless nose weight is at least 10%. Even then, it is advisable not to exceed 100 km/h. A disproportionate number of caravan roll-overs occur when overtaking a truck at speed. read more...

Recently updated articles

Should I grease my tow-ball?

Should I grease my tow-ball is asked by caravan owners worldwide. A recent poll in Australia’s Caravaners Forum.com showed that slightly over half do so, but primarily to reduce wear. That seemingly overlooked by almost all respondents is that tow-ball friction plays a vital role in reducing caravan sway. Those who grease them unwittingly prejudice safety for the possible need to renew the towball every ten or so years. 

How caravan and tow vehicles interact

In the early 1900s, trailers with central axles, towed by trucks with overhung hitches, were unstable. This escalated as towing speeds increased. Fruehauf (USA) realised hitch overhang imposed lateral forces on tow vehicles. As trailers yawed clockwise, that overhang caused tow vehicles to yaw anti-clockwise. And vice versa. The longer that hitch overhangs, the greater the effect.

Caravan design need for change

Australia has two main and seemingly interdependent caravan industries. One makes caravans of varying stability. The other makes devices (of varying effectiveness) intended to increase that stability. Both are curious. Not all makers appear to understand the more basic laws of physics involved. Or perhaps assume immunity from them. So presumably do owners of ultra-long caravans. With a few rare exceptions, there is a caravan design need for change. And for caravan owners to realise a caravan’s inherent stability issues.

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

Batteries & Battery Charging

Caravan/Tow Vehicle Behaviour & Suspension

  • Caravan and motorhome tyres

    and motor home tyres take a far greater beating than those in general use – an industry report noted that such tyres are subject to major abuse greater than any other form of use. In particular, stated the report, and motor home tyres are often grossly under-inflated and overloaded.

  • Caravan and tow vehicle dynamics

    The complex interactions of and tow vehicle dynamics described here by Collyn Rivers, is a semi-technical précis of his recently published Why CaravansRoll Over – and how to prevent that.

  • Caravan design need for change

    Australia has two main and seemingly interdependent industries. One makes of varying stability. The other makes devices (of varying effectiveness) intended to increase that stability. Both are curious. Not all makers appear to understand the more basic laws of physics involved. Or perhaps assume immunity from them. So presumably do owners of ultra-long ...

  • Caravan Dynamics Simply Explained

    That roll-over yet most vehicles don’t show dynamics is not understood or is ignored. dynamics simply explained tells why. The main cause is that hitch extending from the tow vehicle’s rear. It not only allows but causes both tow vehicle and to sway (yaw). Worse – if one yaw’s clockwise it ...

  • Caravan nose weight – it’s vital for safe towing

    The current (February 2018) Australian RV rules and regulations are outlined here by Collyn Rivers of RV Books. Those for trailers under 4500 kg will change in late 2018 but details are not yet available

  • Caravan suspension – it is mostly misunderstood

    suspension has requirements that are very different from tow vehicles. This is only too often misunderstood. Here’s why and what it should be.

  • Caravan Tow Ball Weight – how much

    For safe towing, a must be tow ball heavy. This article explains why and how to get tow ball weight right.

  • Caravan weight safe to tow – depends on what tows it

    The maximum weight safe to tow depends on what tows it. This article by Collyn Rivers explains why – and how to know what it is.

  • Caravan wheel placement

    A conventional must always be a compromise. This is because it is towed via hitch at some distance behind the tow vehicle’s rear wheels. If that vehicle sways clockwise, that hitch overhang causes (not just permits) the to sway anti-clockwise. If the sways clockwise, it causes the tow vehicle to sway anticlockwise.  ...

  • Choosing a Caravan Tow Vehicle

    When choosing a tow vehicle there are key towing specifications that you need to know. This article explains what they are and why they are vital.

  • Do caravans need independent suspension – the answer is no.

    Do need independent suspension is a marketing rather than an engineering issue. This article explains why beam axles are generally better.

  • Do Not Trust Caravan Declared Mass

    Updated May 2020Declared Mass A ‘s Tare Mass is legally its weight when ‘ready for service’ as it leaves its maker. That weight, recorded on a Compliance plate is often incorrect. This article explains why RV Books states: Do Not Trust Declared Mass.Most makers produce basic units. The weight of that basic unit ...

  • Fifth-wheel caravans are safer – here’s why they are

    Fifth wheel are safer than conventional . They are fundamentally more stable on road and far less likely to overturn. Further, because up to two metres more is usable space, they provide that much more living area. They increasingly challenge and motor home sales.

  • Gross Combined Mass Upgrades

    You can obtain gross combined mass upgrades for most SUVs. Depending on make and model, these add 300-500 kg. It makes sense to do this. Carrying that extra mass results in a safer ratio of laden tow vehicle weight to laden weight.

  • How caravan and tow vehicles interact

    In the early 1900s, trailers with central axles, towed by trucks with overhung hitches, were unstable. This escalated as towing speeds increased. Fruehauf (USA) realised hitch overhang imposed lateral forces on tow vehicles. As trailers yawed clockwise, that overhang caused tow vehicles to yaw anti-clockwise. And vice versa. The longer that hitch overhangs, the greater ...

  • How to Load a Caravan Safely

    Knowing how to locate mass correctly along the length of a is vital. That applies both to its design and the owner’s loading. This article shows how to load a safely – and why and how it matter doing so is vitally important.

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

    Making 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 and tow vehicle, their loading and on-road usage. For a full technical explanation of why rigs can be unstable please see my and ...

  • Mechanical sway-control has little value at speed

    The overhung hitch of a tow vehicle can cause (not just permit) a to sway. This sway annoys at low speed and is dangerous at high speed. Until recently attempts to limit such sway rely on friction to dampen and ideally prevent it. Unfortunately, mechanical sway-control has little value at speed.

  • Need for a WDH – avoid using one if possible

    Long end-heavy have a need for a Weight Distributing Hitch (WDH). For all, though, it inherently reduces tow vehicle stability. Here’s how and why.

  • Overhung Caravan Hitches

    Conventional are towed via an overhung hitch attached to the rear of the tow vehicle. This is an inherently unstable combination. A side force on a causes swaying. swaying is undesirable. Furthermore, at speed, it is dangerous The longer hitches overhang the worse the effect. It is undesirable at low levels. ...

  • Reducing caravan sway – here’s how to minimise the causes

    Reducing sway (yaw) necessitates minimising its causes – and only then adding devices promoted as reducing it. This article shows why and how.

  • RV Industry Changes Needed

    On the surface, the Australian RV industry is healthy. But underneath all is far from well. A  great deal needs changing. There are lots to do. RV Books explains the RV industry changes needed.

  • Should I grease my tow-ball?

    Should I grease my tow-ball is asked by owners worldwide. A recent poll in Australia’s Caravaners Forum.com showed that slightly over half do so, but primarily to reduce wear. That seemingly overlooked by almost all respondents is that tow-ball friction plays a vital role in reducing sway. Those who grease them unwittingly prejudice ...

  • Ten Tips for Safe Caravan Towing

    and their tow vehicles have much the same accident rates as other forms of motor transport. Their main type of accident, jack-knifing and roll-over, however, are different. Here are ten tips for safe towing.

  • Tow Vehicle/Caravan Weight Ratio Explained

    A heavier than its tow vehicle is like a dog with an overweight tail, it may sway so much its tow vehicle cannot control it. Swerving strongly at speed to avoid a head-on collision induce this. So too may a strong side wind gust. That wind may be natural or from a close passing truck. 

  • Towing Without a WDH – Weight Distributing Hitch 

    A weight distributing hitch is not needed if the laden weight of the tow vehicle is equal to or exceeds that of the laden . Nor is a weight distributing hitch needed for any trailer under about 4 metres.

  • Weight Distributing Hitch limits cornering

    Tow ball weight pushes down the rear of the tow vehicle – thereby increasing the weight on its rear tyres. A WDH, in effect, is a semi-flexible springy beam that levers back up the rear of the tow vehicle and levers down its front. In doing so, however, it reduces the imposed load on the ...

  • Weight Distributing Hitch limits cornering

    Tow ball weight pushes down the rear of the tow vehicle – thereby increasing the weight on its rear tyres. A WDH, in effect, is a semi-flexible springy beam that levers back up the rear of the tow vehicle and levers down its front. In doing so, however, it reduces the imposed load on the ...

  • Weight distribution hitch setting up – how much correction is needed

    Correct weight distribution hitch setting up compensates tow vehicle front end lift but introduces instability if too tight. Here’s why.

  • Wheels falling off trailers – and how to stop it happening

    Wheels falling off trailers, wheel studs breaking and wheel nuts loosening still happens. Here is why it happens, and how to prevent it. Wrecked wheel bearings and fractured stub axles are also common. That fastenings such as wheel nuts may be caused, not just permitted, to loosen is rarely covered in engineering training. The causes ...

  • Why caravans sway and roll over – how to prevent it

    towed by an overhung hitch sway and may overturn. Over 250 did so in the first six months of 2018. This article explains why sway and roll over – and how to prevent it.

Cooling and Heating

  • Caravan fridge problems – how to fix the most common faults

     fridge problems are due to poor ventilation, inadequate cable size and/or insufficient power to drive them. Here’s how to fix them.

  • Air conditioning a caravan – here’s how

    Air conditioning a or motor home is becoming increasingly feasible, even via solar. This article by Collyn Rivers shows how.

  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

    Carbon Monoxide Poisoning There are severe risks of carbon monoxide poisoning if you misuse LP gas in a , motorhome, or any type of tent or annexe. Moreover, there is a significant risk of brain damage at low levels of carbon monoxide.The first domestically available gas (around 1850) was produced by burning coal. This was often ...

  • Diesel heating in caravans and motorhomes – it’s easy, effective and safe

    Diesel heating in and motorhomes is easy, effective and safe because it hugely reduces the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Collyn Rivers reports. Diesel heating in and motor homes is also relatively affordable. Furthermore, it is easy to self-install. Fuel is readily available, safe and readily stored. LP gas versions are also made.

  • Make caravan fridges work as claimed – here’s how to do it

    To make fridges work as claimed, and draw less energy, is cheap, simple and easy. Many can be transformed. This article shows how.

  • Safe caravan and motorhome heating – use diesel or LP gas

    This article explains safe and motor home heating using diesel or gas. It explains how it works, what is available and how to safely install it. To ensure safe and motor home heating it must be done correctly. Apart from a build-up of carbon monoxide, there is a risk of oxygen deprivation. For a ...

Electrical (general)

General

  • Caravan & Tow Vehicle Weight Definitions

    To tow safely and legally in Australia, & tow vehicle weight definitions are vital for you to know. Those shown here were valid as of June 2020. These definitions may change. New RV legislation is expected to be announced later this year. It is not, however, likely to be enforced until 2022 or 2023.

  • Caravan common sense – a rare commodity?

    common sense can be fine but used about things technical it’s likely to be based on misleading opinions that contradict the basic laws of physics. Engineering utilises long proven knowledge. This may be (for example) about voltage drop along an electric cable. It may be about the deflection of a spring under load (Hooke’s Law). Or ...

  • Caravan design need for change

    Australia has two main and seemingly interdependent industries. One makes of varying stability. The other makes devices (of varying effectiveness) intended to increase that stability. Both are curious. Not all makers appear to understand the more basic laws of physics involved. Or perhaps assume immunity from them. So presumably do owners of ultra-long ...

  • Caravan facts and opinions – the nonsense so often on forums

    facts and opinions are not the same. People confusing one for the other cause ongoing and major misunderstanding. This article explains how and why.

  • Caravan fault issues – who is responsible?

    Many RV owners complain that, when approaching the vendor with after-sale issues, they are told to consult the RV maker. That maker then advises consulting the vendor. Here is the legal situation – and your rights as a buyer.

  • Caravan suspension – it is mostly misunderstood

    suspension has requirements that are very different from tow vehicles. This is only too often misunderstood. Here’s why and what it should be.

  • Air conditioning a caravan – here’s how

    Air conditioning a or motor home is becoming increasingly feasible, even via solar. This article by Collyn Rivers shows how.

  • All solar house – self-building an off-grid all solar house

    We self-built our all solar house in Australia’s far north. It is beautiful and practicable. Living with solar alone is 100% possible. Here’s how and why.

  • Buying a New RV in Five Steps

    Buying a New RV in Five Steps – before you start, stop and think. Buying a new RV is a major investment. This buying a New RV in Five Steps article helps resolve issues early on. Following its advice saves later heartache: Is the RV lifestyle right for you? Will you miss family and friends? What ...

  • Buying used caravans – what to check

    If you can, take along someone who knows about . Unlike cars, a well-made may last for decades with only minor areas that need attention. Not all are like that, however. Buying used – what to check shows what to look for when buying a used .

  • Choosing a Caravan Tow Vehicle

    When choosing a tow vehicle there are key towing specifications that you need to know. This article explains what they are and why they are vital.

  • Driving across Africa – in 1956/60 the very last time it was possible

    Driving across Africa is now politically impossible. Our 1960 such two-way expedition across all Africa was the very last known. We started in mid 1959 – and exited the Sahara on 28 April 1960. The track was closed that night. It has never re-opened. Further, Africa’s centre, right down to Zambia, has ever since, been far ...

  • Electrolysis corrosion in vehicles – how to find and fix it

    Electrolysis corrosion in vehicles eats away engine and particularly cooling system parts such as water pumps. It is often caused by a broken earthing lead. These are often accidentally disconnected, or broken. If so, return current travels through components such as the radiator cooling system. Also metal around them. This corrodes parts that have dissimilar ...

  • Fuel savers do not work – almost all are scams

    Fuel savers do not work. That actually being sold are franchises to defraud others. The ‘fuel saver’ is typically a useless pill (typically of camphor).

  • How much solar input – here’s how to find out

    Knowing how much solar input is coming in like measuring rainfall. It uses units called Peak Sun Hours instead of inches or millimetres. Here’s how and why.

  • How to Choose the Best Caravan Layout

    What is the most suitable layout for me? This article shows how to choose the best layout to suit your individual needs.

  • How to free camp legally in Australia

    Camping in Australia has no national or state-based definition. In New South Wales alone, over ten government authorities regulate camping on their land. Even the definition of camping is inconsistent across the related Acts.

  • Interconnecting batteries in series or parallel- here’s how and why

    Interconnecting batteries in series or parallel is totally feasible. But its best to know how it works – and the limitations of each. Collyn Rivers explains.

  • Is four wheel drive needed for motorhomes

    Is four wheel drive needed for motor homes – what can travel where, with and without it. Here’s all you need to know if you decide to build or buy one.

  • Lightning risk in caravans – how to reduce that risk

    Lightning frightens but lightning risk in is very low. That risk however is far from random. Here’s how to reduce it yet further.

  • Living with solar – how make it all work

    Living with solar successfully requires being totally aware of the energy you use. Here’s a general guide to how to make it all work.

  • Napisan and Look-A-Likes safe for Septic Tanks – a professor’s view

    The labelling of Napisan and many Look-Alikes (e.g. Nappy Treatment Plus, Ultra Booster Everyday Plus Laundry Soaker, Laundry Soaker and Booster etc) is clear. All state these products are safe for you to use in septic tanks. Products can be bought from supermarkets worldwide. It is also easy to make your own Napisan Look-Alike. ...

  • Overhung Caravan Hitches

    Conventional are towed via an overhung hitch attached to the rear of the tow vehicle. This is an inherently unstable combination. A side force on a causes swaying. swaying is undesirable. Furthermore, at speed, it is dangerous The longer hitches overhang the worse the effect. It is undesirable at low levels. ...

  • Problems with stand-alone solar – much applies also to RVs

    Problems with stand-alone solar include over-selling, vendor claims, poor installation etc. Here’s plain English answers to the most common questions.

  • Quietening caravan water pumps – easy and cheap to do

    Quietening water pumps is simple to do at no or trivial cost. This article from RV Books’ Collyn Rivers shows how.

  • Retarding rust electronically – claims are exaggerated

    Promotion and sale of units for retarding rust electronically (for RVs etc) was banned in the USA in the 1990s. One brand (CECI) is now banned in Australia. Their sale is an offence under Section 218 of the Australian Consumer Law. The details are at the end of this article). In 2015 the NSW Fair Trade ...

  • RV Books’ Top Ten RV Accessories

    New and motorhomes have only the bare essentials. This article describes the top ten RV accessories that RV owners really will need.

  • RV Toilets – Which is Best?

    RV toilets have a role in RV life out of proportion to their size. They are needed for only a few minutes a day. They must work as advertised. In particular, you need to choose the associated chemicals carefully. This article covers all the average RV buyer needs to know.

  • Safe toilet chemicals – can Napisan be used in septic tanks?

    Safe toilet chemicals are essential, but some toilet chemicals kill essential bacteria in septic and environmental systems: some are toxic – this article explains all.

  • Should I grease my tow-ball?

    Should I grease my tow-ball is asked by owners worldwide. A recent poll in Australia’s Caravaners Forum.com showed that slightly over half do so, but primarily to reduce wear. That seemingly overlooked by almost all respondents is that tow-ball friction plays a vital role in reducing sway. Those who grease them unwittingly prejudice ...

  • Ten Tips for RVing Around Australia

    That most popular is to follow the shortest route around Australia’s coastline. It is 13,800 or so kilometres (8,625 miles). Allowing for diversions (such as Tasmania or Alice Springs and Uluru), this distance may double. With wind speeds as high as 60 km/h, and particularly if you are towing a , fuel usage will be much ...

  • Top 10 Australian RV Apps

    Here is a listing of the top 10 Australian RV Apps. They are ranked in subjective order of how likely they are to save a life. Click on an app image to go to the app’s download page.

  • Tow Vehicle/Caravan Weight Ratio Explained

    A heavier than its tow vehicle is like a dog with an overweight tail, it may sway so much its tow vehicle cannot control it. Swerving strongly at speed to avoid a head-on collision induce this. So too may a strong side wind gust. That wind may be natural or from a close passing truck. 

  • Ultra-light caravans – they are rare but feasible. Here’s how to do it

    Ultra light and fifth wheelers are rare, but feasible. Here’s how it is be done using hi-tech materials. One, over 9 metres, was under 2000 kg.

  • Weight distribution hitch setting up – how much correction is needed

    Correct weight distribution hitch setting up compensates tow vehicle front end lift but introduces instability if too tight. Here’s why.

  • What off-road really means

    What off-road really means is terrain that necessitates a serious 4WD – but many RV vendors may define it as anything lacking a centre white line. Compounding this, many RV vendors make claims about what can go where that are close to absurd.

  • Why caravans sway and roll over – how to prevent it

    towed by an overhung hitch sway and may overturn. Over 250 did so in the first six months of 2018. This article explains why sway and roll over – and how to prevent it.

Health & Safety

  • Wheels falling off trailers – and how to stop it happening

    Wheels falling off trailers, wheel studs breaking and wheel nuts loosening still happens. Here is why it happens, and how to prevent it. Wrecked wheel bearings and fractured stub axles are also common. That fastenings such as wheel nuts may be caused, not just permitted, to loosen is rarely covered in engineering training. The causes ...

  • Towing Without a WDH – Weight Distributing Hitch 

    A weight distributing hitch is not needed if the laden weight of the tow vehicle is equal to or exceeds that of the laden . Nor is a weight distributing hitch needed for any trailer under about 4 metres.

  • Ten Tips for Safe Caravan Towing

    and their tow vehicles have much the same accident rates as other forms of motor transport. Their main type of accident, jack-knifing and roll-over, however, are different. Here are ten tips for safe towing.

  • Supply cables for caravans – choices of current capacity and length

    This article shows the sizes and lengths of electric supply cables for and motor homes legally required in Australia and NZ.

  • Sleep apnoea machines for camping – correct choice is vital

    Until recently sleep apnoea machines for camping drew too much energy for use on solar. It’s now feasible using the approach in this article.

  • Safe toilet chemicals – can Napisan be used in septic tanks?

    Safe toilet chemicals are essential, but some toilet chemicals kill essential bacteria in septic and environmental systems: some are toxic – this article explains all.

  • Safe caravan and motorhome heating – use diesel or LP gas

    This article explains safe and motor home heating using diesel or gas. It explains how it works, what is available and how to safely install it. To ensure safe and motor home heating it must be done correctly. Apart from a build-up of carbon monoxide, there is a risk of oxygen deprivation. For a ...

  • RV Industry Changes Needed

    On the surface, the Australian RV industry is healthy. But underneath all is far from well. A  great deal needs changing. There are lots to do. RV Books explains the RV industry changes needed.

  • Overhung Caravan Hitches

    Conventional are towed via an overhung hitch attached to the rear of the tow vehicle. This is an inherently unstable combination. A side force on a causes swaying. swaying is undesirable. Furthermore, at speed, it is dangerous The longer hitches overhang the worse the effect. It is undesirable at low levels. ...

  • Napisan and Look-A-Likes safe for Septic Tanks – a professor’s view

    The labelling of Napisan and many Look-Alikes (e.g. Nappy Treatment Plus, Ultra Booster Everyday Plus Laundry Soaker, Laundry Soaker and Booster etc) is clear. All state these products are safe for you to use in septic tanks. Products can be bought from supermarkets worldwide. It is also easy to make your own Napisan Look-Alike. ...

  • Mechanical sway-control has little value at speed

    The overhung hitch of a tow vehicle can cause (not just permit) a to sway. This sway annoys at low speed and is dangerous at high speed. Until recently attempts to limit such sway rely on friction to dampen and ideally prevent it. Unfortunately, mechanical sway-control has little value at speed.

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

    Making 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 and tow vehicle, their loading and on-road usage. For a full technical explanation of why rigs can be unstable please see my and ...

  • Lightning risk in caravans – how to reduce that risk

    Lightning frightens but lightning risk in is very low. That risk however is far from random. Here’s how to reduce it yet further.

  • How to Reverse a Caravan

    Reversing a is easy, but needs practice. This article will guide you through how to reverse a if used in conjunction with doing it yourself.

  • Gas risk in caravans – deaths & brain damage still occurs

    A major LP gas risk in is carbon monoxide build up. Low levels cause brain damage, and death at high levels. Here’s how to eliminate the dangers. A carbon monoxide build up as a direct result of burning LP gas in any inadequately ventilated confined space. The risk in RVs is high enough to ...

  • Free camp safely in Australia – this article shows how

    RV users free camp safely in Australia to avoid often crowded s, some 500 km apart. Many self-contained RVs need only a safe space overnight. This article shows how to free camp safely in Australia.

  • Fifth-wheel caravans are safer – here’s why they are

    Fifth wheel are safer than conventional . They are fundamentally more stable on road and far less likely to overturn. Further, because up to two metres more is usable space, they provide that much more living area. They increasingly challenge and motor home sales.

  • Diesel heating in caravans and motorhomes – it’s easy, effective and safe

    Diesel heating in and motorhomes is easy, effective and safe because it hugely reduces the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Collyn Rivers reports. Diesel heating in and motor homes is also relatively affordable. Furthermore, it is easy to self-install. Fuel is readily available, safe and readily stored. LP gas versions are also made.

  • Claims for dual-cab ute towing capacity mislead caravan buyers

    Claims for dual-cab ute towing capacity mislead buyers. That ute must weigh enough to keep a steady. If not, the tail wags the towing dog.

  • Circuit breakers and fuses in caravans – how to know which to use

    Circuit breakers and fuses in both cut the current, but in different ways. Here’s how to know which best suits circuits and appliances protected. Those for 230 volt grid or inverter supplied circuits must be specified and installed by a certified electrician – who will install circuit breakers etc anyway. Circuit breakers and fuses for ...

  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

    Carbon Monoxide Poisoning There are severe risks of carbon monoxide poisoning if you misuse LP gas in a , motorhome, or any type of tent or annexe. Moreover, there is a significant risk of brain damage at low levels of carbon monoxide.The first domestically available gas (around 1850) was produced by burning coal. This was often ...

  • Blade fuse problems in caravans – they may burn or melt

    Blade fuse problems in include fuses and fuse holders burning or melting. Fire risk is high because the fuses may continue to conduct. Ongoing current flow, however, may heat the fuse holder to burning point. This article by RV Books explains why and how to overcome the risk.

  • Battery ventilation is vital – why take any risk?

    All lead acid batteries, AGMs and gel cells, generate explosive gas. Even though most are sealed, makers stress that battery ventilation is vital still. Confusion exists over this. Around 2000, some battery makers began to claim that no ventilation was required. Or, ventilation, is advisable but not necessarily essential. They withdrew this advice, however, shortly ...

  • Caravan weight safe to tow – depends on what tows it

    The maximum weight safe to tow depends on what tows it. This article by Collyn Rivers explains why – and how to know what it is.

  • Caravan nose weight – it’s vital for safe towing

    The current (February 2018) Australian RV rules and regulations are outlined here by Collyn Rivers of RV Books. Those for trailers under 4500 kg will change in late 2018 but details are not yet available

  • Caravan and tow vehicle dynamics

    The complex interactions of and tow vehicle dynamics described here by Collyn Rivers, is a semi-technical précis of his recently published Why CaravansRoll Over – and how to prevent that.

Legal & Compliance

  • Caravan & Tow Vehicle Weight Definitions

    To tow safely and legally in Australia, & tow vehicle weight definitions are vital for you to know. Those shown here were valid as of June 2020. These definitions may change. New RV legislation is expected to be announced later this year. It is not, however, likely to be enforced until 2022 or 2023.

  • Caravan and motorhome compliance – the Caravan Council of Australia explains all

    and motorhome compliance can confuse. Imports are often not 100% compliant. This article shows what is required. Total and motorhome compliance is rarely an issue with locally-made product. It can be, however, with imported . This was particularly so of fifth-wheel . There can also be problems with private imports. They may legally ...

  • Caravan design need for change

    Australia has two main and seemingly interdependent industries. One makes of varying stability. The other makes devices (of varying effectiveness) intended to increase that stability. Both are curious. Not all makers appear to understand the more basic laws of physics involved. Or perhaps assume immunity from them. So presumably do owners of ultra-long ...

  • Caravan fault issues – who is responsible?

    Many RV owners complain that, when approaching the vendor with after-sale issues, they are told to consult the RV maker. That maker then advises consulting the vendor. Here is the legal situation – and your rights as a buyer.

  • Caravan tare weight issues – some declared weights may not be correct

    Tare Weight issues mainly arise about what’s included and what’s not. Water is not, nor may be optional extras. This article reveals all.

  • Australian Road Rules Confuse

    Australia has a different set of road rules for each state and jurisdiction. As a direct result, Australian Road Rules confuse drivers, cyclist and pedestrians. It would seem to make sense to have just one set of national towing rules.

  • Australian RV rules and regulations – a constantly updated general guide

    The current (February 2018) Australian RV rules and regulations are outlined here by Collyn Rivers of RV Books. Those for trailers under 4500 kg will change in late 2018 but details are not yet available. These rules often change and this article will be regularly updated to reflect those changes.

  • Buying used caravans – what to check

    If you can, take along someone who knows about . Unlike cars, a well-made may last for decades with only minor areas that need attention. Not all are like that, however. Buying used – what to check shows what to look for when buying a used .

  • Gross Combined Mass Upgrades

    You can obtain gross combined mass upgrades for most SUVs. Depending on make and model, these add 300-500 kg. It makes sense to do this. Carrying that extra mass results in a safer ratio of laden tow vehicle weight to laden weight.

  • How to free camp legally in Australia

    Camping in Australia has no national or state-based definition. In New South Wales alone, over ten government authorities regulate camping on their land. Even the definition of camping is inconsistent across the related Acts.

  • Imported RVs – there can be major problems re-registering private imports

    Commercially imported RVs are now mostly viable, but tighter compliance checking shows some private imports virtually impossible to remedy. Buyers beware! There are also major traps for those buying private imports second-hand.This article explains why and how.

  • RV Compliance – Here’s how to know

    Here is a current guide to Australia’s Road Rules RV drivers need to know – some will change around 2004. This article relates to existing RVs. This guide will be updated immediately the new Australian Road Rules are known.

Solar

Travel

  • Caravan and motorhome tyres

    and motor home tyres take a far greater beating than those in general use – an industry report noted that such tyres are subject to major abuse greater than any other form of use. In particular, stated the report, and motor home tyres are often grossly under-inflated and overloaded.

  • Caravan common sense – a rare commodity?

    common sense can be fine but used about things technical it’s likely to be based on misleading opinions that contradict the basic laws of physics. Engineering utilises long proven knowledge. This may be (for example) about voltage drop along an electric cable. It may be about the deflection of a spring under load (Hooke’s Law). Or ...

  • Caravan design need for change

    Australia has two main and seemingly interdependent industries. One makes of varying stability. The other makes devices (of varying effectiveness) intended to increase that stability. Both are curious. Not all makers appear to understand the more basic laws of physics involved. Or perhaps assume immunity from them. So presumably do owners of ultra-long ...

  • Caravan tare weight issues – some declared weights may not be correct

    Tare Weight issues mainly arise about what’s included and what’s not. Water is not, nor may be optional extras. This article reveals all.

  • Caravan Tow Ball Weight – how much

    For safe towing, a must be tow ball heavy. This article explains why and how to get tow ball weight right.

  • Caravan wheel placement

    A conventional must always be a compromise. This is because it is towed via hitch at some distance behind the tow vehicle’s rear wheels. If that vehicle sways clockwise, that hitch overhang causes (not just permits) the to sway anti-clockwise. If the sways clockwise, it causes the tow vehicle to sway anticlockwise.  ...

  • Australian Road Rules Confuse

    Australia has a different set of road rules for each state and jurisdiction. As a direct result, Australian Road Rules confuse drivers, cyclist and pedestrians. It would seem to make sense to have just one set of national towing rules.

  • Australian RV rules and regulations – a constantly updated general guide

    The current (February 2018) Australian RV rules and regulations are outlined here by Collyn Rivers of RV Books. Those for trailers under 4500 kg will change in late 2018 but details are not yet available. These rules often change and this article will be regularly updated to reflect those changes.

  • Best Way to Drive an RV Around Australia

    The best way to drive around Australia is anticlockwise via its 14,000 km coastal road. This enables you to enjoy the seasons and strong prevailing winds. These winds may be a constant 40 km/h plus (25 mph) so travelling clockwise for the typical 17,000 km (10,600 miles) requires surprisingly more fuel.

  • Buying a New RV in Five Steps

    Buying a New RV in Five Steps – before you start, stop and think. Buying a new RV is a major investment. This buying a New RV in Five Steps article helps resolve issues early on. Following its advice saves later heartache: Is the RV lifestyle right for you? Will you miss family and friends? What ...

  • Choosing a Caravan Tow Vehicle

    When choosing a tow vehicle there are key towing specifications that you need to know. This article explains what they are and why they are vital.

  • Claims for dual-cab ute towing capacity mislead caravan buyers

    Claims for dual-cab ute towing capacity mislead buyers. That ute must weigh enough to keep a steady. If not, the tail wags the towing dog.

  • Do Not Trust Caravan Declared Mass

    Updated May 2020Declared Mass A ‘s Tare Mass is legally its weight when ‘ready for service’ as it leaves its maker. That weight, recorded on a Compliance plate is often incorrect. This article explains why RV Books states: Do Not Trust Declared Mass.Most makers produce basic units. The weight of that basic unit ...

  • Driving across Africa – in 1956/60 the very last time it was possible

    Driving across Africa is now politically impossible. Our 1960 such two-way expedition across all Africa was the very last known. We started in mid 1959 – and exited the Sahara on 28 April 1960. The track was closed that night. It has never re-opened. Further, Africa’s centre, right down to Zambia, has ever since, been far ...

  • Electrical converters in RVs – they’re unsuitable for free-camping

    Electrical converters in RVs supply 12 volts from 230 volt power. They work well from 230 volts, but not for long-term camping. Here’s how to fix the problem.

  • Free camp safely in Australia – this article shows how

    RV users free camp safely in Australia to avoid often crowded s, some 500 km apart. Many self-contained RVs need only a safe space overnight. This article shows how to free camp safely in Australia.

  • How caravan and tow vehicles interact

    In the early 1900s, trailers with central axles, towed by trucks with overhung hitches, were unstable. This escalated as towing speeds increased. Fruehauf (USA) realised hitch overhang imposed lateral forces on tow vehicles. As trailers yawed clockwise, that overhang caused tow vehicles to yaw anti-clockwise. And vice versa. The longer that hitch overhangs, the greater ...

  • How to Choose the Best Caravan Layout

    What is the most suitable layout for me? This article shows how to choose the best layout to suit your individual needs.

  • How to free camp legally in Australia

    Camping in Australia has no national or state-based definition. In New South Wales alone, over ten government authorities regulate camping on their land. Even the definition of camping is inconsistent across the related Acts.

  • How to Load a Caravan Safely

    Knowing how to locate mass correctly along the length of a is vital. That applies both to its design and the owner’s loading. This article shows how to load a safely – and why and how it matter doing so is vitally important.

  • How to Reverse a Caravan

    Reversing a is easy, but needs practice. This article will guide you through how to reverse a if used in conjunction with doing it yourself.

  • Is four wheel drive needed for motorhomes

    Is four wheel drive needed for motor homes – what can travel where, with and without it. Here’s all you need to know if you decide to build or buy one.

  • Microwave oven power draw – it’s more than many users think

    Microwave oven power draw is far greater than many users think. In this article, RV Books’ Collyn Rivers explains why – and how. This is a particular problem in and motor homes. Their deep cycle lead acid batteries cannot sustain the energy draw they require. AGM and lithium-ion batteries are thus better suited.

  • Need for a WDH – avoid using one if possible

    Long end-heavy have a need for a Weight Distributing Hitch (WDH). For all, though, it inherently reduces tow vehicle stability. Here’s how and why.

  • Overhung Caravan Hitches

    Conventional are towed via an overhung hitch attached to the rear of the tow vehicle. This is an inherently unstable combination. A side force on a causes swaying. swaying is undesirable. Furthermore, at speed, it is dangerous The longer hitches overhang the worse the effect. It is undesirable at low levels. ...

  • Quietening caravan water pumps – easy and cheap to do

    Quietening water pumps is simple to do at no or trivial cost. This article from RV Books’ Collyn Rivers shows how.

  • Reducing caravan sway – here’s how to minimise the causes

    Reducing sway (yaw) necessitates minimising its causes – and only then adding devices promoted as reducing it. This article shows why and how.

  • Retarding rust electronically – claims are exaggerated

    Promotion and sale of units for retarding rust electronically (for RVs etc) was banned in the USA in the 1990s. One brand (CECI) is now banned in Australia. Their sale is an offence under Section 218 of the Australian Consumer Law. The details are at the end of this article). In 2015 the NSW Fair Trade ...

  • RV Books’ Top Ten RV Accessories

    New and motorhomes have only the bare essentials. This article describes the top ten RV accessories that RV owners really will need.

  • RV Toilets – Which is Best?

    RV toilets have a role in RV life out of proportion to their size. They are needed for only a few minutes a day. They must work as advertised. In particular, you need to choose the associated chemicals carefully. This article covers all the average RV buyer needs to know.

  • Safe toilet chemicals – can Napisan be used in septic tanks?

    Safe toilet chemicals are essential, but some toilet chemicals kill essential bacteria in septic and environmental systems: some are toxic – this article explains all.

  • Sleep apnoea machines for camping – correct choice is vital

    Until recently sleep apnoea machines for camping drew too much energy for use on solar. It’s now feasible using the approach in this article.

  • Solar input available for caravans – know what’s available and increase it too

    Knowing the solar input available for is vital, especially up north. This article shows how to know that available and increase it too.

  • Ten Tips for RVing Around Australia

    That most popular is to follow the shortest route around Australia’s coastline. It is 13,800 or so kilometres (8,625 miles). Allowing for diversions (such as Tasmania or Alice Springs and Uluru), this distance may double. With wind speeds as high as 60 km/h, and particularly if you are towing a , fuel usage will be much ...

  • Top 10 Australian RV Apps

    Here is a listing of the top 10 Australian RV Apps. They are ranked in subjective order of how likely they are to save a life. Click on an app image to go to the app’s download page.

  • TV interference from LEDs – here’s what causes it

    TV interference from LEDs is an issue worldwide. It is mostly caused by LEDs in the same home (or RV) as the TV. This can be checked by turning them off. Another indicator of TV interference from LEDs is good daytime reception until lights are turned on. In the worst cases, TV reception is unwatchable, ...

  • Ultra-light caravans – they are rare but feasible. Here’s how to do it

    Ultra light and fifth wheelers are rare, but feasible. Here’s how it is be done using hi-tech materials. One, over 9 metres, was under 2000 kg.

  • Weight Distributing Hitch limits cornering

    Tow ball weight pushes down the rear of the tow vehicle – thereby increasing the weight on its rear tyres. A WDH, in effect, is a semi-flexible springy beam that levers back up the rear of the tow vehicle and levers down its front. In doing so, however, it reduces the imposed load on the ...

  • Weight Distributing Hitch limits cornering

    Tow ball weight pushes down the rear of the tow vehicle – thereby increasing the weight on its rear tyres. A WDH, in effect, is a semi-flexible springy beam that levers back up the rear of the tow vehicle and levers down its front. In doing so, however, it reduces the imposed load on the ...

  • What off-road really means

    What off-road really means is terrain that necessitates a serious 4WD – but many RV vendors may define it as anything lacking a centre white line. Compounding this, many RV vendors make claims about what can go where that are close to absurd.

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.

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

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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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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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Just Released! 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 Here's how to get it right first and every time. 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)