by Peter Manins Motorhome Information: The Basics Motorhome basics for those who are occasional motor-homers, who live in a built-up area, and are considering changing to a different motorhome, or who are considering making some improvements to their present one....
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.
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/
Caravan and motorhome compliance can confuse. Imports are often not 100% compliant. This article shows what is required. Total caravan and motorhome compliance is rarely an issue with locally-made product. It can be, however, with imported caravans. This was particularly so of fifth-wheel caravans. There can also be problems with private imports. They may legally be used but only by the original buyer. That buyer often truly (but wrongly) believes them to be 100% compliant. They must not be sold, nor even given away, unless brought to 100% compliance.
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.
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.
Knowing the solar input available for caravans is vital, especially up north. This article shows how to know that available and increase it too.
Caravan 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, caravan and motor home tyres are often grossly under-inflated and overloaded.
To make caravan fridges work as claimed, and draw less energy, is cheap, simple and easy. Many can be transformed. This article shows how.
Battery charging and battery chargers are often misunderstood – causing batteries to die before their time. This article explains why and how to avoid it.
Fuel cells for RVs are non-polluting and ultra-quiet. Whilst initially promising their initial and running costs still excludes general RV use.
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.
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.
Ultra light caravans 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 (4400 lb).
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.
Caravan 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 the forces exerted by a caravan yawing or pitching (Newton) etc. All are based on long proven work and often centuries of proven practice.
Caravan fridge problems are due to poor ventilation, inadequate cable size and/or insufficient power to drive them. Here’s how to fix them.
Long end-heavy caravans have a need for a Weight Distributing Hitch (WDH). For all, though, it inherently reduces tow vehicle stability. Here’s how and why.