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/
Health & Safety
This article is a précis of my discussion with Sergeant Graeme Shenton (Orbost Police Station) about two years ago. Sergeant Shenton is a caravanner and is taking a leading role (via ongoing road side checks etc) in establishing accurate data on the extent of overladen RVs on Australian roads. Most rigs checked are caravans – as there are about six times more of those than campervans and motor homes.
The current (February 2018) Australian RV rules and regulations are outlined here by Collyn Rivers of RV Books. Those for trailers under 4500 kg (9920 lb) will change in late 2018 but details are not yet available
Blade fuse problems in caravans 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.
A weight distributing hitch is not needed if the laden weight of the tow vehicle is equal to or exceeds that of the laden caravan. Nor is a weight distributing hitch needed for any trailer under about 4 metres.
This article shows the sizes and lengths of electric supply cables for caravans and motor homes legally required in Australia and NZ.
Lightning frightens but lightning risk in caravans is very low. That risk however is far from random. Here’s how to reduce it yet further.
A major LP gas risk in caravans 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 take seriously. Since 2009 about 12 people (in Australia alone) died in caravans due to the above. In the USA it typically exceeds 1000 people a year. Far more have suffered brain damage.
This article explains safe caravan 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 caravan 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 full technical and medically-referenced explanation see article Gas Risk in Caravans.
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 after. Many batteries thus have a warning notice as below.
Reversing a caravan is easy, but needs practice. This article will guide you through how to reverse a caravan if used in conjunction with doing it yourself.
Claims for dual-cab ute towing capacity mislead caravan buyers. That ute must weigh enough to keep a caravan steady. If not, the caravan tail wags the towing dog.
The maximum caravan weight safe to tow depends on what tows it. This article by Collyn Rivers explains why – and how to know what it is.
RV users free camp safely in Australia to avoid often crowded caravans, some 500 km apart. Many self-contained RVs need only a safe space overnight. This article shows how to free camp safely in Australia.
Circuit breakers and fuses in caravans 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 RVs (for 12/24 volt circuits) can be self-installed by those familiar with such work.
Fifth wheel caravans are safer than conventional caravans. 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 caravan and motor home sales.
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.
Diesel heating in caravans and motorhomes is easy, effective and safe because it hugely reduces the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Collyn Rivers reports. Diesel heating in caravans 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.
The overhung hitch of a caravan tow vehicle can cause (not just permit) a caravan 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.
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.