This blog is all about the problems we see with tyres and how to solve them.
First of all, motor movers can cause a few problems.
Movers should not be left engaged when not in use, and you should ensure that it is also not engaged when travelling. The drive rollers dig deeply into the tyres.
These photos show a tyre where the van was moved but the mover had not been totally disconnected.
Secondly, the tyres on a van or motorhome should be at the correct pressure, which can be found in the handbook. The maximum pressures which are printed on the side of the tyres are not the recommended tyre pressures, bu the maximum level which should not be exceeded. The pressures should be checked every month and also every time you go out in the van, as they can effect fuel economy and also a partially deflated tyre is more likely to split or blow-out.
Thirdly, we have a lot of vans which are brought in where the tyres are too old for purpose. The police and the Motorhome and Caravan Club recommend that they should not exceed five years in age. The date the tyre was manufactured is written on the side wall. It is called the DOT code and is four numbers, i.e. 0717 means 7th week of 2017. The date is only on one side of the tyre, and can be seen on the photo below.
Fourthly, caravan wheels should be balanced correctly. When we supply new tyres we always balance them, and would recommend that you do the same. If not balanced it can cause cupboard doors to open, microwaves to fall out, circuit boards to fail, fire fronts to fall off or rattles and their elements to stop working, which is a very common problem. It can also effect the braking system.
Fifthly, having the same age and make of tyre on a caravan is important. Whenever a tyre is replaced, the other tyre on the axle should also be changed even if new. Because if the compound of the tyres are different they will not brake evenly and under heavy braking the caravan will slew. This is so important, we refuse to only replace one tyre (unless it is the spare tyre).
Finally, ensure the weight of the caravan does not exceed the maximum load rating of the tyres or axle, whichever is the lowest.
We never repair caravan tyres and would never advise using a second-hand tyre. Whenever we replace tyres we always balance them and replace the tyre valves. We do not keep tyres in stock, due to them going out of date, but instead order the correct tyres in when it is disocvered that new ones are needed. We then aim to get tyres that are within a year of their DOT code.
Our biggest seller on the shop are microswitches,
plus we are one of the biggest sellers on this item in the country.
You will know if your caravan has a microswitch if under the surface where the tap is fitted there will be some wires leading to the tap.
The fault symptom is usually a tap not working unless you turn on another tape elsewhere in the vehicle.
The Elegance microswitch has two legs, and the Elite microswitch has three legs.
A Whale Elegance tap will look something like this, and an Elite tap like this one.
DIY fitting of a microswitch in your caravan or motorhome is a simple job requiring little skill or time.
All you need to do is get a new switch, pick up a Pozidrive (or Philips) #2 screwdriver
and small flat blade, then follow these instructions.
(1) Turn the tap to the OFF position.
(2) You require access to the underside of the tap, so if in the wash room, you can usually access this through the vanity unit under the sink. If not, follow the instructions for the kitchen tap, which is, remove the caps in the four corners of the mounting-plate using a small flat bladed screwdriver or similar and remove the Pozidrive screws under there.
Then gently lift the taps up until the microswitch is accessible.
(3) Take note of which way round the legs are as the microswitche's legs are offset
and the switch needs to be replaced the same way it comes off.
(4) Gently straighten the legs.
(5) Slide the white plastic collar off the switch down the wires.
The switch should just drop off the two remaining lugs.
(6) Remove the two mini spade-connectors off the switch legs.
(7) Refit the mini spade connectors onto the new switch
(it does not matter which one goes on which leg, so long as you use the correct legs if there is three).
(8) Offer the microswitch up to the retaining lugs
(observing that it must be the same way round as the old one).
(9) Slide the collar back over the switch to hold it in position.
(10) Gently bend the legs down 90 degrees.
(11) If tap was removed, then refit with screws and caps.
The Safefill cylinder was designed to be safe and easy to refill.
All the issues identified by the industry were looked into and and Safefill developed a product that’s so easy to use; has no complicated hoses or attachments that could be incorrectly used; has an integral overfill protection device (OPD); a secondary back check valve in case you forget to close the valve and tamper-proof fittings that mean gas can only come out of the cylinder when it is attached to an appliance.
The three bottles from Safefill are all significantly lighter than standard LPG cylinders.
There are no complicated extras to buy or fit as Safefill comes as a complete, one-size-fits all solution. The Safefill translucent bottle allows you to see how much gas is left - so no more estimating, and the automatic overfill protection device means it’s impossible to fill beyond 80%, ensuring complete safety.
The other advantage of a Safefill bottle, is that you are the owner. You can only "rent" a Calor bottle, and you never own it, ensuring that you cannot sell it on. Whereas, whenever you have finished with your Safefill bottle, you can sell it on, and helps to repay for itself.
You can fill from empty or just top up before leaving on that weekend away.
All that is required is a standard Propane screw-type regulator, or a Propane pigtail. The bottle has the same POL union fittings as the standard Calor bottles. Firstly, the Initial Cost is a lot less. From £153 you get a Safefill bottle that is almost identical to a Calor bottle. This means that your regulator or gas hoses do NOT need replacing or updating. For some, other re-fillable gas systems to be fitted, special hoses, changeover heads, a filling kit, and adapters have to be fitted onto the vehicle. The systems should be fitted by a Qualified Engineer, meaning Labour costs have to be considered.
Also, when your Safefill bottle is empty, you remove the bottle from the vehicle, and take it to the closest Petrol Station or LPG Supplier. However, in a built in system, you can not remove the bottle. Instead, the vehicle has to be taken to the Petrol Station or LPG Supplier. This means that before you have to fill up your bottle, you have to drain your water system, put away your awning, and pack up.
No adapter is needed for filling in the UK and Netherlands, but a few are needed for Europe.
There is a specific one for just Spain, which costs £25.
An Acme adapter is for Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Lichtenstein, Luxumburg and Switzerland. This one costs £15.
The Dish adapter can be used in Austria, Bosnia & Herzogavina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Rep, Denmark, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Macadonia, Malta, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland. This one is also £15.
We also have a LPG autogas rig, so we can fill your new bottles, and also show you how easy they are to refill in person.
Here is an example of solar panels that we have fitted to a caravan,
They were 2 x 160W mono-crystal solar panels fitted with a Stecca PR3030 charge controller.
Once fitted, only the charge controller is visible in the van
and one piece of wire inside near the ceiling.
Everything else can be neatly added to the vehicle wiring inside the bed box.
The next photos show that the solar panels are producing 3.5 amps in winter sunshine in January.
In summer they should peak at around 20A.
The second photo shows the state of charge percentage and bar graph.
The total cost for this fully installed in January 2019 was £780.
In stock at present, we do have some AGM leisure batteries, which we highly recommend,
due to the following reasons.
(1) AGM batteries do not spill, therefore they can be mounted anyway up.
(2) No venting is required as no Hydrogen is produced.
(3)These batteries are lower in height, therefore they fit better under seats in motorhomes, and allow cables to fit over the battery, in caravan or motorhome battery boxes
(as you can see from the photo).
(4) They can be charged or discharged at a huge current, much higher than a lead-acid wet battery.
(5) AGM batteries have a much lower voltage drop when stored
(such as over Winter) compared to a lead-acid battery.
(6) They can be discharged further than conventional flooded batteries.
We have a limited number of these batteries in stock at present with a 2 year warranty.
We fitted our first ATC system for a while this week.
These are a fantastic system - for those that don't know, ATC stands for Al-ko Trailer Control. This is an active system that mounts behind the axle of a caravan and monitors the trailer movement. If it detects a 'snake' developing, it activates the trailer's brakes which has the effect of pulling the outfit straight.
This system is so effective that most of the big insurance companies offer a substantial discount if it's fitted.
Well I was so impressed with the system that I fitted it to my own van when I bought it 3 years ago.
So this was the van - a 2010 Swift Challenger.
First to jack it up and and make secure.
And soon the main unit was fitted and the brake bar adjusted...
Wiring run and connected into vehicle loom...
Status LED fitted to A-frame...
Fully tested and finally ATC sticker applied...
Another customer that is now safer on the road!
Total cost to customer is £600 inc VAT - money well spent in my opinion!
** Total cost to the customer - £66 (£50 for the lock and 20 minutes labour) inc. VAT **
Another day, another damp van!
This one was a Seitz cassette window that is letting in water. The water ingress can be clearly seen as black, mouldy wood. The window is sealed by a rubber gasket on the inside return of the external part of the frame and then an internal frame is clamped using a dozen or so screws through to the external section with caps over.
As a repair, most people just run silicone around the outside of the frame to the body..... Silicone - pht! The stuff should be band! This will last for a few weeks - if you're lucky - then capillary action will result in more water being drawn in than was leaking in before!
The damaged gasket should be replaced and the window refitted, but we don't do it that way - the gasket's failed once, so it will again. We rip the gasket off, run a bead of polymer MS bonder (we use Soudal Fix-All - available in our shop) in the resulting groove and refit the window - ensuring an even spread of excess sealant on all edges.
The excess is then scraped off and the edges 'washed in' with a special solvent (a specific branded Panel-Wipe that doesn't react with the bonder).
The result is a very neat finish that guarantees no further leaks as the bonder will out-live the van!
Well that's one less joint that water can now leak through - Job Done!
** Total cost to the customer - £120 + tube of bonder (£9.50 currently) inc. VAT **
Lodge Farm, Lowdham Road
Nottinghamshire. NG14 7ES
Telephone 0115 966 5797
Fax 0871 971 1044
Mobile 0789 088 2412