Tips for a carefree caravanning holiday

Caravan Times Editor Chris Jeffries and caravan expert Neil Greentree pass on some top tips for staying safe and secure whilst on your caravanning trip.

Top tips for carefree caravan holidays

Top tips for carefree caravan holidays transcript

Chris Jefferies: Caravan holidays are supposed to be the most relaxing time of year but every now and then small niggly problems can crop up and you find yourself struggling for the answer on how to solve them.

To find out how to fix the most common caravan holiday problems I'm talking to Neil Greentree from Greentrees Adventure Stores today.

So Neil what are the most common problems that caravanners come to you with but they could have fixed themselves?

Neil Greentree: well I think the first thing is to make clear is that they're not problems - they're just challenges as they say so enjoy fixing them - it's your pride and joy and so this is something you can be empowered with to actually enjoy getting that sense of satisfaction of maintain your vehicle.

Bulbs and fuses are one of the most common things. Now simply to undertake that there are several different types of bulbs - the main thing is, before you change the bulb, is to turn off the electricity and allow the bulb to cool down so you don't hurt your fingers.

This is a standard bulb here - on the metal base of the bulb you have written the voltage and the wattage of the bulb. Many caravans now use halogen bulbs which are the small twin pin bulbs. Now you mustn't handle those with your bare fingers because they will then blow quicker because they get extremely hot.

So - just bear-in-mind that when you take them out the box they are always in a little plastic wrapper - keep that wrapper on them and insert them into the bulb holder in the wrapper, then remove the wrapper - that means you will get the best longevity out of that bulb.

Chris Jefferies: And instead of halogen bulbs a lot of caravans come fitted with LED lights. How do you replace an LED light in your caravan?

Neil Greentree: Yeah - LED bulbs - they fit much the same as the standard bulbs so pretty much treat the same. The only thing you will find is that they're slightly harder to get hold of.

Chris Jefferies: And you mention fuses there - how do caravanners go about replacing fuses themselves?

Neil Greentree: Okay - in caravans as a whole there are two types of fuses - there's the glass fuse which we've had for years in caravans, but more popular now we have the blade fuse and just be aware the different colour of the fuse - in this case this is a purple fuse and you want to change it with a purple fuse.

You find these on the main distribution centre if you look in your Handbook on your caravan it will tell you where the distribution panel is and then once you got from there simply turn off your electrics, pull out the blade fuse, insert the new one and then try from there.

Chris Jefferies: And we're at the hitch-head now what the most common problems you hear that people find with regards to the hitch-head?

Neil Greentree: One of the most dramatic or people think is most dramatic is they hook their caravan up they hear this awful graunching sound that just vibrates through the chassis of the car and the caravan and they really do think something has gone horribly wrong.

Now it's quite simple it's nothing more than when we have some of these specialist tow balls - they're painted. Now what you need to do is get some emery cloth and work that paint off and basically rub all that paint off. You will also find even if you do have an unpainted ball sometimes it will smoothen off.

So - rub that off and what you'll find over time - the pads, which are either side of your stabiliser - they glaze over. So - emery cloth - just hook it underneath and clean them like so. That will rough up both the pads and the ball and this horrible graunching sound is gone.

Chris Jefferies: So in terms of caravan tyre safety what are the kind of checks you can do yourself whilst you're away on holiday?

Neil Greentree: As far as the law goes it's exactly the same for caravan tyres as it is for car tyres and as we all know 1.6mm is the minimum tyre tread on a car.

So - all you need to do is get a 20 pence piece and basically the depth all the way around the rim outside here a is the same depth as the minimum depth you need for your tyres. So you simply take your coin - slip it into there, and in this case put your finger against it and we've got some 4 - 5 mm there so we're well within. But basically - if it's less than the outer-rim around the outside of the coin then you've gotta be looking to change your tyres.

But to keep it in perspective - not often does the tread wear-out on a caravan - you're more looking at cracks in your tyres and essentially - as far as VOSA see's it, a crack between the treads of a tyre is instant failure so you must change it immediately.

Cracks in the wall - 25mm is the maximum length you can have one. I would be saying 15mm because - again depends on the depth and how severe the crack is but that gives you some idea of what you would be looking for - cracking around here, cracking around the edge here again cracks between the treads. Get it straight into a tyre place and change it and be aware caravan tyres are different to car tyres.

Chris Jefferies: And now moving on to the water system - some people might complain that the drinking water in their caravan doesn't taste right. What can they do to cleanse and purify the system?

Neil Greentree: Yeah - good point. I think we've got to consider with the water system of a caravan is that, although unlike a house where the water is moving through the pipes on a daily basis, so therefore any algae and things can't form because the water is not static.

In a caravan obviously you're only using it when you're away on your holidays so we need to bear-in-mind that we want to be, twice a year, running some kind of clean-up through our pipes and through our tanks to just sterilise it and just keep that whole system clean because essentially you can drink the drinking water from the taps - there's no reason why not, but there have been times where people had like a foul taste and a foul smell from the pipes - and I'll cover that in a moment.

So - to sterilise your system, you do it twice a year - start at the end and if it's a warm summer you need to do it during. Milton's one that some people do, this is another one - Puriclean and you add it to your water outside here and you run it through your system and run it through your pipes, through your hot water, through all your pipes, through your shower and all of those bits and pieces.

Then you leave it for a few hours - in some cases a day in the system and then you have to flush it out and you have to put another two tanks - if you make it four tanks through your system to be safe. That then flushes the sterilisation out of that system and your system is ready to go.

Chris Jefferies: And what if you've got an inline filter fitted to your caravan - how does that affect the purification process?

Neil Greentree: Yeah - with some caravans they do have filters either inline or they have built in filters on the side of the vehicle. What you basically need to do - is whenever you sterilise the system you do need to replace that. So do bear that in mind - find out where that filter is. In a lot of cases they either screw out the side - you just put a replacement cartridge in or you have an inline one - that simply has a pull fittings which pull off either side, slip the new filter in, pop the pipes back on again and that's it.

There were a couple of issues over the years - where, due to faulty pipes being fitted, there was a foul smell coming out of the pipes. Now you cannot sterilise that out of the pipes. So if you do have a system that does actually smell foul - it's not dirt or germs - it's actually a chemical reaction in the pipes and they do need replacing.

Chris Jefferies: And how should people go about getting them replaced?

Neil Greentree: Yeah, what they need to do is take them into a dealer really. With some systems it's quite complicated so the best thing to do is first call the dealer and if the dealer says it's OK for you to do it then that's all well and good but I think the first call has to be the dealer.

Chris Jefferies: And finally Neil - what's your top tip for a relaxing caravan holiday?

Neil Greentree Take it easy and don't take your phone

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