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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Here are some of the queries I've had recently and my answers.


Q.I own a current model Royal Flair which is stored in the open. I was considering purchasing a tarpaulin to cover it for protection from the elements but a friend warned me that this could cause damage by condensation beneath the canvas. Is this correct?

Do you know of any brackets etc that can be purchased to attach to the van to provide air flow if this is necessary?
Or do you have any other suggestions.

A.Hardings who are caravan repairers here in Melbourne get asked this question from time to time but don't have any definite views. They did say that some sort of ventilation would be needed and suggested that Tebbs, who make awnings and annexes, have a sophisticated system for the job. That probably includes a custom made cover for the van which might be an overkill. If you want to contact Tebbs their phone number is 03 97981144. ( ask for Rick or Des and say I told you to call them).

Greg Harding thought that maybe some pieces of 4x2 between the hatches could give a cover some breathing space.

Hope this helps - my other suggestion would be to have the van sealed with Vantec or a similar product. We had ours done from new but it wasn't quite as maintainence free as the adverts would have you believe and it had to have six-monthly applications by the owner to keep it right! I haven't bothered for years as it's hard work getting all the roof covered.

We keep our 4-seasons hatches in the rain position when stored and this seems to keep the van aired OK.

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Q.Firstly may I say that reading 'The Big One' has been of great value as we have just bought our first van. It is a 16ft 1986 Windsor Windcheater Pop-top (with the black rim windows).

I have a couple of questions that you may be able to help me with. We had our first trip away with the kids and I found a small leak in the rear wardrobe. Nothing too drastic but obviously something I want to get fixed ASAP. Trouble is by the time I got home I'm having trouble working out where the leak is. Is there any trick to this or trial and error. Everything seems OK up top and there isn't any water damage - should I just spread a bit of silicon around and wait till it rains or is there a better way.

One other question is what sort of air pressure should I set the caravan tyres to, or does that vary?

A.Have a look at the join between the vinyl of the pop-top and the van itself as that can sometimes leak. Also any joins in the aluminium sheets on the roof although with a pop-top that shouldn't lead to a leak in the wardrobe.You could try putting a hose on the van and seeing if any water gets in but it could be a difficult job if its just a small leak. Putting sealer on could be the answer. There are some sealers you can paint on to all the likely spots or as you say spread the silicon around -some 'authorities' don't recommend silicon but we've always found it OK. I'm afraid it is trial and error but important as you don't want the wet getting into the space between the walls and rotting the frame. I don't know if your van has a rear window but they can be a cause of leaks too. Check where the frame seals to the van - water getting in to the wall could run along a piece of the internal frame and show somewhere away from where it got in.

Pressure for the van tyres depends on type of tyres and the weight carried. The only way to find the weight is by using a weighbridge and measuring the weight carried by the wheels with the van loaded for the road. Tyre companies can then tell you the pressure you should run. Tom Olthoff has an excellent article in Caravan World on tyres and pressures - part 2 is in the current (December 2000) issue.

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Q.As a relativley newcomer to caravanning I would like to ask about drive through sites. When using these sites is it necessary to put the jockey wheel in position to take the weight off the towbar or does one simply leave car and van hooked up?

Another question that seems to get a few different replies is:- When driving an automatic should one take the foot off the accelerator when manually changing down on the approach to a hill, or maintain throttle position and
push the lever into a lower gear
?

A.There is no need to put the jockey wheel in when staying overnight on a drive-through site as far as taking weight off the towbar - after all it is on there while you are towing and that is a greater load when you think of the up and down caused by road variations. Having said that, it does give the van stability when you move around inside if the jockey takes some of the weight.

Some people even wind down the rear stabilisers for the same reason. Personally I don't usually bother but it's a matter of how much movement you are comfortable with.

Changing down when approaching a hill can be done with the throttle partially depressed with the aim being a smooth transition to the lower gear. If you have your foot flat when engaging the lower gear it will give too great a surge of revs and that's bad for the transmission train. I seldom change down until the revs start to drop and then usually wait until the transmission drops down a gear itself - or I cause it to change by increasing the pressure on the throttle. If the hill is twisty I usually lock the transmission in a lower gear to prevent it 'hunting' up and down as you vary the throttle.

The same thing applies when descending a steep hill - use the transmission locked into a lower gear to give maximum engine retardation and take the pressure off the brakes.

Modern transmissions are remarkably good at thinking for themselves so mostly you can just drop it into 'D' and let it do the job itself. If it's a heavier van then probably that should read drop it into '3' as I tow in third most of the time. With a 4-speed auto '3' is a direct gear anyway and towing does it no harm. It really depends on how comfortable the car feels in the gear you select.

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Q.I'm undecided as to whether the Tuomatic III 2 way fridge in my caravan should be periodically turned-on whilst the caravan is in storage, if so how often and for how long?

A.It would appear there is no definate answer to this but Leo of Caravan Refrigeration (Electrolux repairers) here in Melbourne says he advises people to run the fridge for a couple of days every 3 or four months although he has no proof this is needed . He says that seems to keep the refrigerant moving and the fridge ready for use when the van is put back into service.

Caravan Refrigeration has a website at http://www.caravanrefrigeration.com.au/

Q.We have recently purchased a caravan, and hope to set off not too far into 2001 on the trip "around the block". One area of concern is towing a full height caravan in these days of expensive fuel.

We have heard of someone using a wind deflector on his vehicle, and notice that Camec have one in their catalogue. We would be interested to learn of other caravanners' experience with them. Do they make an appreciable difference to fuel consumption, and are they a nuisance to accommodate when enjoying those hours of freedom when the caravan is tucked away in the local caravan park and we set off to see the sights?

A.Thanks for your query about deflectors. There are people who swear by them and others who swear at them. I have never seen any conclusive evidence that they really decrease fuel consumption and in fact I believe that in some circumstances they can increase drag and by doing so increase consumption.

I have never felt them to be a worthwhile investment and for the bother they would be to store on site or at home I give them a miss.

The biggest thief of fuel is too high a cruising speed - after all what's the rush? I say this with tongue a bit in cheek because I fly around the country pretty fast when attending the various caravan shows and fuel consumption does suffer - particularly when there's a head wind which is nearly always in my experience.

There isn't such a great deal of difference in the height of a full van and a pop-top unless it's one of the really high ones like Evernew so the wind resistance is pretty similar and the extra weight of the pop-top roof probably adds up to the saving in frontal area.

Most full vans these days have sloping roofs and are fairly aerodynamic so I don't really believe a deflector to be an advantage.

The other saving of course is using LPG although that has been reduced in recent times. We use LPG but have been horrified at the current prices - its more than half petrol price here just now whereas it used to be a third or even at times a quarter. Diesel starts to look more attractive!

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Q.Inyour experience, is there an easy way to take the family dog on a trip, but still be able to get into places like Uluru, and other National parks? My partner and I are preparing to do our own "big trip" and will be away for about a year in our Roadstar caravan. We are concerned after reading regular letters from other travellers on the road with their dogs. It is a pity, that seeing as there are so many of us in this situation, that we cannot get numbers together to protest these " no dog " laws. Surely people who want to take their dog with them are the type of people who care for their pet and would be responsible in cleaning up after them and keeping them on a leash. I am pretty tired of all the rules and regulations that are inflicted on every aspect of our lives. So much for a free country.

What are your views? Or can your recommend others we can talk to? Thanks for any help.

A.I'm not going to be too much help I'm afraid as I/we have never tried to take a dog on a trip although we did once take our cat along. He travelled on my shoulders the whole time and became very hot and heavy! Creeping around whispering "Puss. Puss" in parks where they said NO DOGS was quite an experience.

Dogs are a no-no in most National Parks (cats are even more of a no-no!) and a lot of caravan parks won't allow them.

There is a good book out about this - I think it's called 'Travelling with Dogs". I've seen it at caravan shows and in map shops. I must get hold of a copy and put details on our web site.

I fully agree about regulations and red-tape - particularly when it comes to bush camping. We enjoy the un-regimented lifestyle, have a fully self-contained caravan and get no enjoyment from expensive parks
with heaps of rules and regulations.

Well behaved dogs are not a problem - far better than badly behaved children - and we have never been troubled by dogs in well run and policed caravan parks. We had a bad experience in a park in Alice Springs once where the permanent residents all had Shepherds, Rottweillers or Dobelmanns - all outdoing each other in barking when
someone entered the park.

The 'Caravan World Year Book' lists most parks in Australia and has a dog or no dog ( D or ND) entry for each. RACV etc., Tourist Guides probably have the same information. They all give a phone number for the park so
a call ahead could determine if the pooch would be welcome or not.

We live in a 'dog-free' caravan park and although we both love dogs and regret not having one, I must say it's a quiet environment. Having a dog with you on a trip could be a bit limiting I would think. Many of the
places we enjoy are no-go zones for canines.

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Q.I am writing to see if you have any advice concerning which company to use when renting a motorhome for a month or so in Australia. It seems rather expensive from my preliminary internet searches. Your help would be greatly appreciated. (Query was from Canada).

A.I've done a bit of ringing arounnd and you are right - hiring a motorhome is quite expensive with prices in the 'off' season around $130 a day plus an insurance surcharge of $25 or $35 if you want to reduce or
eliminate the $5,000 excess.

I wasn't sure when you are interested in coming so just got prices for the May/June period in our winter. The rest of the year varies upwards from that. I also didn't know how many berths you needed so assumed for the exercise there would be two of you.

The campervans quoted are the larger models with showers/toilets and would be more economical than the four-berth motorhomes.

One hirer, Bartrak, said to let him (Rod) know exact requirements and he may be able to negotiate a better price. They have a website at www.bartrak.com.au

A New Zealand Company newly established in Australia with a fleet of brand new vehicles has sent me details by email and I'll include a copy at the end of this mail.

Eliza Travel specialise in Motorhome and Campervan rentals world-wide and their web site is at http://www.elizatravel.com/

(There was a lot more to this answer with lots of quotes from hire companies.)

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Q.In your January section "On The Wallaby" you mentioned that you had a query on finding the souce of water leaks into the wardrobe of a pop top. I am having the same problem with water ingress into the bottom of both rear wardrobes in a Monarch Crusader van whilst travelling in wet weather and would be interested in your comments/advice.
A.Thanks for your enquiry about water leaks.

I would be very suspicious of the seal around the back windows (if it has back window/s). Also look at where the bottom of the cladding finishes to see if there's any way water can splash up and get in while you are on the road.

See what I said to the last query on the same subject:( earlier answer above)

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Q.Do you know of any web sites on construction of caravans or a good book on the subject.

A. Unfortunately I don't know of any books or web sites on caravan construction - I know a few people who have built their own vans but I know they did it as tradesmen based on their own knowledge.

Camec (www.camec.com.au) and others have catalogues listing availability of such things as windows, doors, water tanks and other needed things and someone like Preston Chassis (03 93595928) would be a good starting point for a chassis unless you had ideas of making your own.

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Q.
I'm presently purchasing a new Evernew poptop and will be towing it with a 100 series turbo-diesel Landcruiser. The Cruiser comes standard with a dual battery system (wired in parallel), and I was wondering if you could offer me some advice on the best method and/or equipment to install in the Cruiser to charge the van battery when mobile.

I seem to be getting two fundamentally different pieces of advice from accessory dealers etc;

1) Merely provide a 12 volt (charging) supply from the vehicle via the standard 7 pin trailer plug (I presume this may mean using the reversing light pin as no others seem to be available ??).
2) Install a full battery isolator system in the vehicle (such as Sure Power/Piranha/Carlee etc) and wire it via heavy cable (6 mm or so) to a separate 2 pin plug etc.

It occurs to me that (1), whilst obviously much cheaper and easier, may result in less than full charging voltage at the van battery and also
with no apparent isolation from the main starter batteries or charging priority, could compromise those batteries. Conversely, (2) whilst on first impressions seems technically more viable, I'm wondering if it is somewhat of an overkill ??

Hoping you can help or point me in the right direction.

A.
You have raised an interesting question and the answer is not simple.

I had a tow vehicle once with two batteries under the bonnet in parallel like you and I put a heavy duty switch between them so I could isolate one and then used power from the other to run all the caravan electrics via the seven pin plug using the accessories pin. This was a simple system and worked just fine but we didn't have a battery in the van to charge nor did we have 12 volts in use for the fridge.

With our last two vehicles I've used a simple ignition powered relay (quite cheap - about $24 I think) to give power to the van while the car motor is running. This runs the fridge while travelling, turns off it's power supply when the engine stops to prevent flattening the car battery and supplies 'some' surplus to charge the van battery. This again comes in via the accessories pin and I use heavy cable and a fuse. There seem
to be two 'spare' pins - one for the electric brakes and another one. Don't mix them up as one tow bar specialist did with mine and I had full van braking as soon as I inserted the plug before I noticed the smoke pouring out of the brakes!

It would be far better to have a separate supply - again through a simple relay - to a 2-pin plug to supply both the fridge and the van battery. Should you have a 12 volt compressor fridge I'd say it was a very good investment.

We have a transformer that provides 12 volts for all our 12 volt lights etc. and charges the van battery when hooked up to mains power plus two solar panels for charging in the bush so we are not very concerned about charging from the vehicle. With a spare battery under the bonnet - presumably able to be plugged into the van supply - you should be miles - or maybe kilometres - ahead.

Your 'B' option always struck me as excellent but too expensive and not necessary for us.

Hope this helps but be warned - I'm not an auto electrician or any other kind of specialist. Just a committed and happy caravanner.

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Q.
In the last year or so we have purchased a 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser, with tow bar, and a dual axle caravan.

We have a problem with the tow bar pin holes, they appear to be elongated, and when towing the van there is a rather loud thump when slowing down or accelerating. It is rather distracting. Would it be possible to repair the towbar by welding and re-drilling or would you recommend a replacement.

A.
I am not quite sure what you mean by 'pin holes'. Do you mean the holes where the ends of the spring bars fit? If so it is very doubtful if they are the cause of the noise you experience - although they wear, the tension on the bars stops them from too much movement. It is more likely the sloppy fit of the square section of the hitch into the hitch receiver that is the problem. Grabbing hold of the hitch receiver without the van in place and lifting it up and down will show if this is the case. A friend of mine made two thin stainless steel spacers to take up the space and was going to do the same for me as I have the same problem but he never got a 'round tuit'.

If you check other people's towing set up I think you will find the holes elongated in most of them that have done a fair bit of work.


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Q
We have just purchased and take delivery in August of our first Caravan a
"Roadstar Tango". Whilst we have travelled extensively overseas by motor
home this is our first attempt too tow a vehicle, do you have any tips
specially since my husband has a degree of arthritis.

I have ordered your book The Big One by snail mail also a subscription to Caravan World for his July Birthday.

A

Thanks for your email and also for ordering 'The BIG ONE' for your
husbands birthday. If you would like me to autograph it for him then let
me know his name and I'll write a little message.

Towing should be a pleasant experience and if not then you need to find
out what's wrong with your set-up. White knuckles should not be showing!

The important thing is correct balance and towing gear. I always
recommend Hayman Reese gear with a load sharing hitch for larger rigs.
I'm not sure what size the Tango is or whether it would be big enough to
need a hitch.

The weight on the towbar should be around 10% - 15% of the caravan's
loaded weight - towbar specialists usually have a gauge to tell them the
weight. If not, the best way is to take the outfit to a weighbridge and
get a weight with the van on the car and then off. (The second reading
should be with the van supported by the jocket wheel on the 'bridge')
The difference will let you know what weight is being carried by the tow ball.

Once that is settled and you come to the actual towing the main thing to
watch is the fact that acceleration is much slower, braking takes more
distance and there is a tendency for the van to 'cut in' on corners -
especially when you are in restricted areas.

I've found the Trail-a-mate hydraulic jockey wheel/jack a great boon and
for someone with arthritis I think it would be a big help. It makes
hitching up easy and is great for when or if you have a puncture. For
hitching the tip is to jack the van with the jockey wheel after you have
put the van on the ball. Than with the A-frame jacked it is easier to
position the spring bars and then lower the van again with them in place.

Always check the electric brakes at low speed as you move off each
morning. If one side isn't working you could be in trouble should you
put them on later in an emergency. You will find I've covered that
aspect in the book - in fact the check-lists in the book should be helpful.

If you still have any queries after reading the book don't be afraid to
email again.

I hope your new van brings you years of happy caravanning and that you
get to love the lifestyle as much as we do.

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Q
I am a relative newcomer to caravaning, and my unit consists of a VS Commodore towing a 16 foot A'Van Erin, all nicely set up with a 250kg hitch. Is the Great Alpine Road in the Victorian Highlands suitable for caravan travel with such a rig in mid September. It looks like a great trip, but I have not been able to find information in the Vic brochures about road conditions. I am hoping you can assist please.

Avoiding Murphy so far!

A
It took me a little while to work out that the Great Alpine Road is in
fact the road we used a few months back called the Omeo Highway!

I'm afraid I don't have a crystal ball to forecast road conditions up
there in September but the day we used it we struck very, very thick fog
and extremely strong winds until after Mt Hotham heading towards Omeo.
Then the sun shone and it was a near perfect day.

The road from Bright to Hotham is very twisty and fairly steep but
nothing your outfit couldn't handle if you take things easy.

I'm also not sure when the snow season ends - I know it starts quite
soon and you wouldn't want to be up there when you have to have chains
and I guess, preferably, a 4-wheel drive.

A call to the RACV nearer the time would be a good idea or even a call
to the Mt Hotham resort - they can be found on the internet if you
search for Great Alpine Road through Yahoo Australia and NZ.

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Q
I read your very informative and interesting web site this morning.
I have been taking my family away for a once a year holiday in our 1977 18 foot, single axle, Millard for about 8 years now.

While it is a very comfortable and roomy van we are thinking, seriously, of updating. This is mostly due to the fact that our van is a
nightmare to tow.

I have a 1997 VS Commodoore, V6. Previous to 2000 I had a Holden Jackeroo as a work vehicle which I towed the van with. It wasn't
too bad on the back of the Jackeroo, but still got the wobbles pretty bad at times.

With the Commodoore I am not game to go over 80kmh, and often less. The van seems quite unstable and swings wildly when passed by
any sized truck, but is frightening when a large semi goes past. I'm convinced that I would have jacknifed by now if not for electric
brakes.

To put things in perspective, I'm a 45 year old male who has towed trailable yachts with no trouble at all.
My adventurous 14 year old son was particularly frightened by the last trip away. On this occasion I sent my wife and daughters in the
other car due to my concern about the towing of this van. Fortunately the annual pilgrimage is only an 80km tow.

We think we would use a van for weekends away and maybe an interstate trip if it towed well.

Enough history, down to the questions.
1. Any ideas why our van may be so unstable?
2. We are confused by the choice between a Poptop and a full sized van. Is there a large difference in tow ability? ( We are thinking of
updating to a late 80's or early to mid 90's van, probably about 17 foot)

3 Is 2 axles better than 1 for towing stability?
4. Are you aware of any good reading on these matters?

A
There are a number of reasons why your current van may not tow well and
give you a hard and dangerous time. The first thing to look at is tow
ball weight. Ideally this should be about 10% of the weight of the
loaded van. It can safely go a bit higher up to about 15% but no more.

The best way to check this is to visit a weighbridge and weigh the van
attached to the car (just the van wheels on the bridge) and then on the
jockey wheel with van wheels and jockey wheel on the bridge. Take the
first weight from the second and you have the figure for the weight
carried on the towball. There are gauges around that can measure it as
well - most tow bar fitters would have one you could perhaps borrow.

Moving heavy items like the spare wheel into different positions can
sometimes have the effect of adjusting the towball weight.

The next thing to check is the way the outfit is set up. The van should
be perfectly level when hitched to the car and the car should also be
level with an equal distance between the wheels and mudguards front and
rear. You may have to adjust your tow bar gooseneck and/or spring bar
setting (If you are using some kind of level rides). If you are using a
Hayman Reese weight distribution hitch you should be able to achieve the
level setting by adjusting the tension on the spring bar chains.

Tyre pressures are also a factor and should be fairly high with a single
axle van of the size you mention.

The technique for stability when being overtaken by a truck is to ease
off the throttle as the truck approaches in your rear vision mirrors and
then flatten your foot as it passes. You won't accelerate in that short
time but it does 'stretch' the outfit into its most stable mode. You
will still experience some sway but it does minimize it.

I'm not a pop top fan and these days far prefer a 'proper' caravan. They
are usually not much higher than a pop top and are lighter (Pop top roofs
have to be heavier). The difference in height doesn't seem to make much
of a difference for towing. The only good reason for a popper is to fit
into a garage or under a car-port.

Tandems are definitely more stable and have built in safety factors -
load shared between the wheels and tyres etc. but they are harder to
maneuver at low speeds as one wheel has to skid as you turn.

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Q
We intend to travel your great country. We are family of 3 - husband/wife and 12yr old dauhter. We have 35 days to travel Australia and New Zealand.

Kindly advise us: 1. A good campervan company 2. The right vehicle comfortable and at the same time reasonable 3. To see Australia from Perth to Brisbane. 4. Your advice on the road.

A
You have set yourself a task if you want to see much of Australia and
New Zealand in just 35 days and intend travelling from Perth to
Brisbane.

My suggestion would be to contact Eliza Travel - their web site is
www.motorhomesworldwide.com

They do hiring bookings anywhere in the world and could certainly advise
you about the most reasonable campervan hire for Australia and New
Zealand. I have forwarded you enquiry to them to see if they can help.

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Q
My wife and I are thinking of coming back to Australia for an extended
holiday in about a year and a half's time. We live in the UK now but we have
lived in Australia (my wife is from Melbourne) and have done a fair bit of
camping over there. On the last holiday we hired a motorhome and had a
tremendous holiday. The "plan" is to come over next year and have a look at
a few vans with a view to buying in 2003 (is this forward planning or
what??) But, in the meantime, we'd like to perhaps subscribe to some caravan
magazines which we can refer to in between times. Do you know of any which
would send copies overseas and, if so, which would you recommend?
Finally, which is better, timber frame or aluminium frame and would either
reflect on the re-sale value? Easy huh?

A
If you want to keep in touch with prices of used units - and look at ads
for new vans - then I think 'Caravan Trader' magazine would fill the
bill. I know they have quite a few overseas subscribers. They also have
caravanning editorial content but not of the same standard as the two
I'm about to mention.

For general information about caravanning and RV travel in Australia,
'Caravan World' and 'On the Road' magazines are both very informative.
All three have links on my web site : www.caravanning-oz.com

Ask 'Jayco' and aluminium frames are best; ask any one of a number of
other manufacturers and timber frames are the only way to go. We have a
timber framed van because that's what 'Scenic' uses but it they had gone
for aluminium we wouldn't have minded a bit.

I don't believe it makes any difference for re-sale - the condition of
the unit and the reputation of its manufacturer are the main things
people look for in a second hand unit.

Q
I live at Rosebud and have recently purchased a Campervan. I have managed to do a few long weekend trips away, which I have enjoyed immensely.

As much as I enjoy my own company, I would prefer to belong to a club, to make my trips away more enjoyable.

Is there a camping/4x4 club on the Peninsula or close by that I could join.
Thanking you in advance for your help.


A
I'm not sure what clubs operate on the Peninsula - we belong to the RACV
Caravan Club which has 5 divisions with membership of each drawn from
all over the place. It is strictly limited to just caravans - no
campervans. Our monthly weekends away with them are great.

The CMCA (Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia) has branches all
over Australia and your best bet would be to contact them to find their
nearest local branch. They seem a very go ahead organisation and have
something like 20,000 members at the last count. They have a monthly
magazine called 'The Wanderer' and a web site. They hold an annual
national rally and other rallies during the year.

The CMCA web site is at : www.cmca.net.au

Go to 'site map' and you can find a link for branch contacts. They don't
make it very clear where each branch is based but a couple sound like
they could be on the Peninsula - they have phone numbers so you could
give them a call. (One is Bushwackers: Pres: Gary Stapleton (03) 5975 5219

There could be other clubs - I guess the local library would have a list.

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Q
I am so pleased to have found your page and have a request which is not really similar to your others. I do however hope you can offersome advice. My husband and I are in the planning stages of developing a farm stay and caravan park on our property in Jericho. We are situated 2kms off the highway and plan to develop a picturesque site with van sites and quality facilities for our guests.

I would really appreciate any advice that you could give as to what makes a great van park that makes people want to stop, your thoughts on ensuite shower and toilet or shared facilities, other suggestions that caravaners/mobile home drivers would like. My thoughts are fairly simple and commonsenseical I guess in that I would think good clean facilities with plenty of hot water, good laundry facilities, good cooking facilities and an undercover entertaining area and most importantly a welcoming friendly feel to the place.

I am also unsure what are appropriate rates to charge people and would be pleased if you could suggest what are generally acceptable rates.

I would really value any advice you have Lionel. Thankyou for your time and I look forward to your reply.

A
First of all let me congratulate you for what you are planning and wish
you all the best with it.

It is nice to know Jerico still exists - I have a photo of me playing
my trombone at the road sign with the name on it. It was a trumpet in
the bible that caused the walls of Jerico to fall down but I felt poetic
licence would allow the 'bone to substitute.

You may not have seen my column, 'On the Wallaby' in 'Caravan World' but
a couple of months ago I talked about a guy called Wayne in America who
hopes to develop an RV resort in Idaho and has been asking RVers to give
some input on what they feel to be an ideal ' campground'. I then asked
what Aussie caravanners looked for in a perfect caravan park and I
received a few interesting replies.

I mentioned these in the column.

Here's a letter I received that covers a lot of what you ask:

"Gidday Lionel,

Have just read your page in the May issue of CW and thought I would
drop you a line with my views regarding perfect parks. I believe that in
the main the majority of parks in Australia are very good but few are
what you would classify as perfect. Here are some of the things for my wish
list.

I would like to see each site have, if not a concrete slab for both
caravan and annexe, then at least two drive strips for the wheels of the
van. The strips should be level and wide enough for ease of parking so that
when the van is on site it is level without the need for jacking the wheels
and applying blocks or whatever.

Each site should have power, water and sullage outlet sighted at the
rear of the site and within easy reach of the van. Additionally on the perfect
site would be a TV cable to ensure good TV reception without the need
for constant adjustment and tuning of the TV and antenna. Some form of
site marking or separation would be nice to have but is only needed
where park residents are inconsiderate and infringe on your space or
take short cuts through your site.

A concrete area with suitable hosing facilities for car washing
would be appreciated. This would not be possible in some areas of
Australia, but in the perfect park it would make life more pleasant for those who take
pride in their car's appearance.

Clean, bright and comfortable ablution blocks are an absolute
essential in the perfect park. Some I have stayed in have great features
like the one at Emerald in Qld which has individual en-suites for use by either
male or female rather than separate blocks. This enables husband and
wife to share the facilities and return to the van at the same time or assist
each other where required in the case of disabled persons. It also means
that there is always a shower or toilet available for use during cleaning. One of
my bug bears is having ablution blocks closed for cleaning with no
alternative facilities available. To my mind you should be able to get
up at whatever hour of the day you please without worrying if you are able
to have a wee or shower. Of the many we have stayed in only two parks
have had heating in the floor which because of cost is probably the only
way to go. The comfort this heating provides and the fact that the
floors are usually dry is terrific. I support your push for shower
recesses big enough to swing a small cat and this would be a must for any perfect
park. I stayed in a park at Lake Argyle and it was an effort to turn
around in the shower recess and I'm only 100 Kgs.

One of the things the perfect park would have is a good quality
toilet paper and never those loose leaf types or those that you can only
get one or two sheets out of the dispenser then they break. The paper doesn't
have to have fancy designs or cost a fortune but should be non skid, durable
and easily handled. At times I think the Leigh Point park in Darwin had
a pretty good idea in issuing each guest with their individual toilet
roll. I wonder if they still do this?

Friendly staff is always appreciated and we have usually found them
to be so. It has been only on the rare occasion that we have
encountered an unfriendly owner or manager and I guess with some of the problems they
have and the people they have to deal with it is only natural that they are
not always going to be smiling, friendly and enthusing happiness twenty
four hours a day. Just so long as it is not permanent perhaps we should
accept them for a slight lapse now and again.

I think assistance with van parking goes with the perfect park. Not
everyone can park their vans in tight sites and attempting unsuccessfully
to do so can be an embarrassment and often frustrating and upsetting
start to one's holiday. I would mention here Glenn the owner of the
Australiana Village park at Hervey Bay. He offers to park everyone's
van and does it in such a way that you do not feel incapable or lacking
in any way. A couple of years ago I saw a guy refuse his offer and after about
twenty minutes when his wife left him and went for a walk and he had
grazed the side of his van I'll bet he was wishing he had accepted the offer.

Well Lionel, I have probably raved on a bit but hope my thoughts are
of interest to you. I don't think we will ever visit the perfect park and
also wonder what we would do if we did. Perhaps it's the little things
that annoy us at times which bring back memories more easily. I believe
we are more than lucky to live in the greatest caravanning country in
the world and some of us who live on the Easten Seaboard are probably a
little luckier than other Aussies. That should stir up a few
Sandgropers. We enjoy your column, keep up the good work and hopefully
we will
meet up some time somewhere.

Best regards,

Here's another:

"Dear Lionel
After reading your column in May 2001 Caravan World I was interested and
surprised to read about the wish list of Americans. My wife and I
travel once or twice a year from our home in Sydney to the north usually
as far up as Byron Bay. I have never heard of anyone commenting on the
overt friendliness or otherwise of the park staff whom you may see a
couple of times during a week long stay. Rudeness of course would not be
welcome but just being polite is enough.

The only real issues which come up in conversation are:

1. Power and water and sullage as standard
2. No smell of sewerage from septic drainage areas
3. Spacious sites i.e., not awning to next caravan
4. Grassed sites on which to park with a large concrete slab
5. Clean amenities which include toilet-shower facilities, gardens,
solar heated pool, electric and wood BBQs
6. A well kept number of "permanents"; this gives the park a stable
income allowing for essential maintenance
7. Ensuites which include shower, toilet, storage areas, shelving
and external light adjacent to the concrete slab so that you do not have
to walk across wet grass from the van to the ensuite. Brick is
preferred to prefab or fibreglass due to the mould /dampness resistance of
brick
8. Video hire availability
9. TV antenna cables
10. Shop on site stocking essential groceries, porta gas, ice and
meat for BBQs

These are now available at many sites and hopefully will become
the "norm" for all Caravan Parks within five years. The wish list then
can extend to other "nice-to-haves" including cable TV
connections and telephone lines for voice and internet connection. What other
goodies can we expect? Only the imagination limits the caravanner
of the 21st century!"

Back to my own ideas and I think you are absolutely on the right track
with your suggested facilities.

Ensuites are good but a lot of people begrudge the extra cost although
many feel they are worth it. The Emerald caravan park has an excellent
compromise - a block of ensuites that everyone uses with their common
master key - if one's occupied then you go along till you find one empty.
With this system husbands and wives can go together if that suits or if
one is partly disabled.

The best way to find out rates is to look at an accommodation guide like
the excellent one put out by the RACV. (The RACQ probably have something
similar) It gives rates for powered and non-powered sites, lists
facilities etc. Often there is a reduced rate for people who stay a week
or more.


I hope I haven't overloaded you with information.

TOP

Q
Would you know any places to buy a older style poptop something like a millard 80 series that look the same. Finding classifieds is hard - if you can help thanks, if not happy camping.

A
The problem with email is you don't know where the sender lives unless
they tell you.

I know a few caravan yards down here in Melbourne who could possibly
help but that's no good if you live in Townsville or Perth.

Have you checked ' Caravan Trader' magazine? They have heaps of vans for
sale and the addresses of lots of yards.

Have you looked on my 'links' page? Caravan Classifieds is one worth a look.

Another source is the 'Trading Post' - they carry lots of caravan
adverts and you can look at the Melbourne one online at
http://www.trading-post.com.au/publicationdefault.asp?publication=M


TOP

Q
My name is Chris(tine), and I'm inquiring about where is the best place
I can go online to sell a caravan. It's a biggie, a 26 footer, in
excellent condition, and I have photos of it (external and internal) to
put with the ad. It belongs to a friend who has no access to online
information, and has tried numerous places in an effort to sell it to no
avail. It's a shame to see such a lovely piece of equipment sitting in
a front yard going to waste when it should be put to good use. (My
Dad's a caravanner, however it's a bit big for him to lug around with
his Commodore!!! But believe me, if he could he would...)

Please let me know of any websites or magazines that come to mind that
we might be able to use.

Your webpage is great by the way, I really enjoyed visiting it - will
show it to my Dad when he gets home from his current trip; he is heading
for Darwin, then back through Broome and down the west coast then back
across to Victoria.... what a life.....

A
If you look on my 'links' page you will find 'Caravan Trader' magazine -
an excellent selling medium if you have pics and then there are a couple
of on-line sales sites. Caravan Classified and RVs online are the ones I
know about but there could be more. There are lots of ads for vans in
the Melbourne Trading Post and they have an online facility. The trouble
with email is that you don't ever know where it was sent from so I don't
know if the Melb. Trading Post is in your area or not. The other Capital
Cities would have them as well I suppose.

Yes - I'm green with envy when I read about your dad's trip - at the
moment we are anchored in Melbourne and can't get away.

Hope this helps sell your friends van - it sounds nice.

TOP

Q
I have seen a few rv propane tanks that have propane level indicators
on them, older ones mostly.

Since I must replace the valves on my tanks soon to be legal, does
anyone know where I can get a valve with a level indicator built in?

I have asked all our local propane companies but they mostly deal with home propane consumers and dont know what I'm talking about.

A
I've used a propane gauge in the past and it was a good indicator of
when the tank was empty - reinforcing what you already knew! It was the
type that reads pressure which of course remains the same until just before the gas runs out.

The other type, with a float device similar to a car's gas gauge, works
fine but entails fitting into an empty tank. As you are about to get new
valves it would be the ideal time to fit them.

An email to the head office of one of your propane suppliers should get
you a source .




IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION JUST
'ASK LIONEL'

 

 

 

 

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