We will be closed on Saturday the 8th of June all day due to stock take. For emergency contact please ring 0411 845 597
If your old jockey wheel is getting impossible to wind up, down or move then a new jockey wheel or a jack stand may be the solution for your caravan.
First things first – do you need a jockey wheel or a jack stand?
Many customers assume that a jockey wheel is what they need however a jack stand may be a better choice. Jockey wheels are great on full height caravans under about 15 feet. Any full height caravan over 15 ft is not going to be easy to push unless the van is on smooth concrete. In the case of a larger caravan that is too heavy to push – the wheel of the jockey wheel is not functional and a jack stand might be a good choice. Jack stands can be extended to larger heights than a jockey wheel which makes them ideal for levelling the caravan on steep sites.
Jack stand solutions
We recently fitted a jack stand to the A-frame of a customer’s caravan to replace a jockey wheel. They were delighted with how easy it was to level with a quick drop leg extension and a small amount of winding needed to fine tune the level. One advantage of a jack stand with a handle positioned on the side is that it can avoid hitting the gas bottles or stone guard if you are tight on space.
If you want to take all the hard work out of levelling, then a Bulldog Powered Jack is the solution. At the push of a button the Bulldog Powered Jack levels the van. This high quality jack is welded or bolted on permanently and wired-in. The jack features a light for easy use at night. In the event of power loss, there is a manual override capability with a crank included. This is a great solution for caravanners who want to take the strain out of levelling. The Bulldog Powered Jack is a quality jack designed to withstand the weather and is backed with a 5 year limited warranty.
Jockey wheel solutions
The jockey wheels from ALKO come in a 6 inch, 8 inch and 10 inch wheel. The 10 inch wheel with the off road tyre is suitable for use with a caravan mover. The bigger the wheel, the easier it will be to move.
For an easier to wind jockey wheel the Trail-a-mate Jockey wheel & jack is hydraulic to take the work out of leveling the caravan. Our customers rave about how easy the Trail-A-Mate jockey wheels make setting up the caravan. The Trail-A-Mate jockey wheel doubles as a jack (useful for changing a tyre) with the included base plate and spare parts are available in store.
At the RV Service Centre we stock, fit and service jockey wheels and jacks for caravans, horsefloats and trailers. For more information and to see the range of jockey wheels and jacks on display, visit our showroom or give our team a call.
Caravan security offers peace of mind whether you are using or storing your caravan.
There a two main security risks with a caravan: a) the whole caravan may be stolen by someone hitching it up and taking off; and b) the valuables stored inside your caravan might be targeted by thieves. The best protection is of course to lock up your caravan in a shed, but that is not the point of owning a caravan! There will be times when you may be travelling and wanting to leave the van that will warrant having caravan security. Take a look at the options to protect your investment.
Prevent the theft of your van or trailer when it is unhitched from your tow vehicle
There are few options at a range of price points that may deter a thief by making the job of stealing more difficult or by drawing attention to the crime.
The Hayman Reese Dual Coupling Lock is designed to lock up your caravan and trailer couplings when either connected or disconnected from the towing vehicle. Simply fit over the coupling and lock with the padlock supplied.
The dual coupling lock is a popular budget option. It has the advantage that if the lock needs to be removed and you have lost the keys or the van has to be moved in an emergency then the padlock can be cut. This is also a drawback in that the lock is able to be cut by a determined thief with the right gear. The visual deterrent of the lock may be enough for a thief to move on to an easier target.
1) Secures your trailer when 2) Secures your trailer when parked /
parked / not attached to your vehicle attached to your vehicle
The ALKO Universal Coupling Lock features an all-in-one design that requires no additional padlock as the locking device is built in. The zinc-plated locking bar prevents corrosion when left out in the weather, while its advanced built-in locking mechanism resists picking and prying. This is a great mid-range option.
A premium option is the Kovix Trailer Lock. It is an ultra strong, alarmed tow ball lock. Would be thieves will be deterred by the built in, loud 120 db alarm and heavy duty 304 grade stainless steel that is resistant to impact, drilling and cutting. This has been a popular product with our customers as it is a quality lock and designed to last in the weather.
For the ultimate in security, the AlKo Anti Theft System Z3 is a GPS tracker / 3GSM tracking device. The ALKO ATS Z3 offers realtime position tracking via phone or web. The unit gives 15 second position updates, security alerts and is supported by police for rapid theft response.
Protect your valuables stored in the caravan
The Sphere Wireless Security System with door sensor, window sensor, motion sensor and a controller provides peace of mind if you are leaving your caravan for a while.
How does it work? Lock up your caravan as you would normally and then turn the system on with your key transmitter. If the bond between the door/ window sensor magnets break, or the motion detector is triggered, the alarm will sound. Operation is simple with the included key transmitters. Installation is easy as the system is wireless and operates with the included batteries. The system also supports up to 3 additional door, or window sensors which may be a good option on external storage doors to protect your generator or tools.
One solution we recently installed for a customer is the Fiamma door handle security lock. The handle folds and locks over the main caravan door to provide additional security. The handle also serves as a useful grab handle for entering and exiting the van.
With their high value, caravans are prime targets for thieves. At the RV Service Centre we have a range of locks and caravan security solutions available. Visit our showroom or give our friendly team a call for more information on protecting your investment.
Each week we get a number of jobs through the RVSC workshop where caravan batteries require replacing. A lot of these are emergency jobs for travellers on the road, who have just suffered through a night of darkness, with a fridge that is getting warmer by the hour. Often, the batteries are not that old, and we are told that they have been kept fully charged – that their failure was very unexpected. You don’t really want to be in that situation. If you lose battery power in most modern vans, almost everything will stop working, including running your fridge on mains power.
Caravan batteries certainly have a life span, but with a bit of information, you can save yourself thousands of dollars over the life of your van.
There are FIVE things that matter when it comes to your caravan batteries:
● What your daily usage is.
● How often you can charge – whether from mains power, solar, or driving
● What your charge rate is
● Type of battery
● Battery capacity
All of this can be calculated and worked out properly and is essential so that you know your capacities and that you are not stressing the batteries. If you have a van with a battery and 12v system running, you are likely to have some idea of how much power you use every day. With batteries we talk about voltages, percentages, green lights, red lights and naturally this can be confusing.
A simple way to think about it is to consider your water tank – if you know that you have a 90L capacity. You could drink 9L per day for 10 days before you run out. Inside the tank there are a certain number of LITRES of water. Its pretty straightforward. What’s inside your battery? Volts? Amps? Power? How long will it last? How will you know when its empty? The short answer is, in most vans its impossible to know the status of your batteries accurately, and its not your fault. If you don’t know the battery status, how can manage them properly?
So if you don’t want to waste money chewing through batteries – there are 3 steps:
STEP 1) Invest in a battery monitoring solution
These devices give you a PERCENTAGE read out. This is just like your water tank – you have an accurate gauge of what’s left and can take action (ie recharging) at the right time. This is not a volt meter, it is not a solar regulator, it is not an amp meter: it is a battery monitoring solution.
STEP 2) Install cut outs
Even when you turn off everything in your van, there can still be a drain on the battery. So when you put your van into storage thinking that its fine, your battery is slowly being depleted. This causes massive damage to the battery. A cut out will disconnect the battery at a certain voltage and prevent major damage. For more information on a low battery cut off switch click here.
STEP 3) Maintain your batteries while the caravan is in storage
If step 2 says your battery is going flat in storage and that’s a bad thing, it’s a logical thought to leave it plugged into power to keep the battery charged up. Right? Well, constantly charging a battery can be as bad or worse than letting it go flat, especially if you have a less than great charger. What happens in these cases, is the battery gets too much charge, eventually a cell fails and cannot accept charge. The charger thinks the battery is still flat, and goes into a loop pushing a huge amount on charge into the batteries, before eventually making them pop. Worst case – the batteries can explode and catch fire.
The best way to handle charging is to either invest in a good quality charger, or just plug in to power overnight every 2 weeks. Leaving on solar is a suitable solution – providing you have the right size solar. A small cheap panel may not have enough current to do the job.
Save thousands over the life of your caravan by taking command of your battery monitoring and effectively charging your batteries while the van is in use or in storage. Following our 3 steps will help you to avoid the emergency of an unexpected battery failure. For more information on battery monitors, chargers, and cut-outs visit our showroom at the RV Service Centre or give our team a call. We stock and install quality battery system solutions and, of course, replacement caravan batteries.
It’s easy to be overloaded while towing a caravan. Weighing your caravan and vehicle is the only way to know whether you are within the weight limits of both.
What’s the big deal about weight limits?
Being over the weight limits of your vehicle and/or your caravan puts your safety and the safety of other road users at risk, voids your insurance and will potentially see you facing fines or off the road until you can rectify the problem. A caravan and tow vehicle have towing safety systems that are all rated to a limited weight capacity. This information is stamped on the VIN plate of the caravan and the plate of the vehicle (sometimes in the driver’s door frame). Exceeding the weight limits causes excess strain on towing safety systems and the brakes which can lead to poor handling and ultimately to failure.
A caravan weight check is recommended:
- If you are purchasing a new caravan – it is ideal to weigh the caravan before purchase as the plated weight can vary significantly from the actual weight once the van is finished and fitted with accessories.
- Before you load your caravan, it is ideal to obtain a tare (empty) weight. This will let you know how much you can carry and remain within the limits of the caravan and vehicle.
- When the caravan and vehicle is fully loaded with all passengers and gear – water tanks full, gas bottles attached and any extras that you are planning to carry like bikes etc.
- If, since your last weight check you have added accessories, like additional water tanks, an air-conditioner, additional batteries, an awning etc. Over time these extras can easily place you over your legal weight limits.
How to weigh a caravan:
- Drive the entire rig onto the weighbridge. Weigh the fully loaded vehicle and caravan (including all passengers, gear, food, full tanks of fuel, water etc). This is the Gross Combined Mass (GCM) and should be less than the maximum GCM of your vehicle.
- Weigh the caravan while still connected to the vehicle by driving the vehicle off the weighbridge. This gives you the weight on the caravan axles. Check that the weight is less than the plated Gross Trailer Mass (GTM) of your van. The GCM of your rig (from step 1) less the weight on the trailer axles (step 2) gives you the Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM). This weight should be less than your vehicles plated GVM.
- Lower the jockey wheel and fully uncouple from the vehicle so that no weight of the van is on the vehicle. Check that the weight is below the caravan’s plated ATM (Aggregate Trailer Mass).
The last step is to ensure that the caravan ball weight is within its limit (ususally specified on the caravan VIN plate). To check this take your weight from step 3 less the weight from step 2.
At the RV Service Centre we offer a service to weigh your caravan and vehicle and make sure that it is all within specifications. If your caravan is over the legal weight limits then there are a few things that we can do to help to get your caravan and vehicle compliant. It may be as simple as changing the distribution of the load within the caravan or between the caravan and vehicle. The next step would be to look at an ATM upgrade for the caravan.
To book in a caravan weight check or for advice and assistance with getting your rig within its weight limits, give us a call at the RV Service Centre.
Diesel heaters for caravans are a great way to get year round warmth and comfort wherever you may be travelling.
If you camp where you have 240v power available:
Running a reverse cycle air conditioner or a small portable fan heater is a good option, especially if you are already paying for the power. Away from power- an air conditioner or fan heater will drain the batteries and running a generator to power these appliances is noisy and often restricted at night time. A diesel heater will run quietly for overnight warmth without the worry of draining your batteries or gas cylinder.
If you like to camp independently in national parks and free camps:
A diesel heater or gas heater is the best solution. Both diesel and gas heaters offer the comfort of ducted warmth to your van and they are both fairly fuel efficient, quiet (far less noisy than a roof top air conditioner) and similar in cost. Gas or diesel heaters for caravans are controlled with an electronic thermostat controller with the motor being vented externally meaning that noise and fumes are kept outside. The choice between a diesel heater or gas heater for many customers comes down to the preferred energy source. A diesel heater requires the installation of a small 10 litre fuel tank on a caravan where a gas heater is connected to the existing gas bottles. Diesel fuel is readily available even in remote locations where LP gas may sometimes be more difficult to find. For this reason diesel heaters for caravans have been a more popular choice with our customers.
The best diesel heater for your caravan:
The Dometic Eberspacher D2 Airtronic diesel heater is our recommended diesel heater for most caravans. The Dometic D2 heater is compact and lightweight (2.7kg) when installed. The D2 will automatically heat up to and maintain your desired temperature and has low fuel consumption making it ideal for running for long periods of time. The D2 has an impressive list of smart technology which makes it a leader in the market for its quiet, efficient, safe and low emission operation. The D2 takes 0.10 litres of fuel per hour at low consumption and 0.28 litre per hour at its peak making it an economical and efficient choice.
Diesel heaters for caravans can be installed in the van under a bunk or in a cupboard as the heaters are small in size (not much bigger than a shoebox). The controller can be located in a convenient place of your choice. At the RV Service Centre we can neatly cover the heater with checkerplate or timber so that the space around the heater can be used to store and stack items without fear of damaging the heater. For easy refuelling, we install the 10 litre fuel tank in the caravan on the same side as the vehicle tank. Servicing for a diesel heater is recommended every 12 months and involves cleaning and replacing the screens and internal filters. The presence of blue smoke indicates that the diesel heater needs servicing as it means the fuel is not burning cleanly.
At the RV Service Centre we professionally install and service diesel heaters for caravans. If you are a caravanner that likes the freedom of independent camping and the freedom to camp in comfort no matter the weather, then a diesel heater for your caravan is an excellent option. For a free quote or more information visit our showroom or give us a call today.
What do you do if you want a caravan, have 650 horsepower under the bonnet, and a 40 tonne towing capacity? This:
A big shout-out to Matt the owner of the incredible, one-of-a-kind, custom caravan! We had a great time working with you on this great project – thanks!
Based on Matt’s requirements of a unbreakable van, we completed a 20 foot container fit out with living quarters for four, kitchen and bathroom and all the comforts usually found in a caravan – all custom built to the owners specifications. Check it out…
All the lovely things that make a mobile home comfortable were included like full insulation, air-conditioning, television, toilet, shower, large refrigerator, microwave, oven and range-hood.
Solar panels with battery monitoring, gas bottles and extra capacity water tanks make this container a mobile home designed for long stays independent of power and water. One of the unique challenges of the job was the placement of the tanks and plumbing as there was no running gear under the container that would be the usual location for tanks etc on a caravan.
Everyone who has seen the container fit out in progress has been fascinated with the transformation. The finished container has shown what can be achieved when you take a dream and turn it into reality. It was a great privilege for the RVSC team to work on this container fit out and we trust Matt will enjoy many happy and comfortable travels.
If you have a project concept for a unique caravan, container or mobile home fit out – get in touch with our team at the RV Service Centre to discuss the possibilities.
Stay safe. Save $$ in repair bills. Plan your upgrades.
Please join us for our next Caravanners Workshop Series Seminar.
FREE CARAVAN ESSENTIALS SEMINAR
Saturday May 18
Join us for this free seminar on caravanning essentials – including
- safety – on the road, and on-site
- essential maintenance
- battery maintenance and managements
- set-up hacks
Including free sausage sizzle, drinks and super specials.
Perfect for both new caravanners that want to understand the things that need their attention; and old hands that might need a reminder, or want to optimise their van maintenance for long-term value.
You’re invited to come along, and we encourage you to bring a friend who might be interested in starting caravanning.
There will also be an extended Q&A session where you can ask your specific questions with our helpful sales and tech staff.
Please RVSP by:
Emailing us: email@example.com
Or on our Facebook Event Page
PS. new and existing customers are welcome, you don’t need to own a caravan or motorhome.
We’re closed from Friday 19 April, and re-open Tue 23 April.
Buying a caravan is a tough decision with enough models and options to make your head spin. As experienced caravan repairers we have had the opportunity to work on just about every make of caravan so whether you are buying a new van or second hand, our guide to buying a caravan might help you with your decision.
The first thing to check is the weight of the van.
Upgraded model variations and added accessories can significantly increase the weight of the van. This can put you over your towing capacities which can be ball weight, towing capacity, GVM and GCM. The last thing you want to do is purchase a caravan that your tow vehicle is unable to tow. We recently had a customer with a Landcruiser that was overheating while towing because the caravan was just too heavy. If you are buying a new caravan then it is worth getting confirmation of the final weight of the caravan with all the accessories added before you finalise your order. Should you really be buying a van that you don’t know what the weight is if you’re close to your vehicle’s tow limits?
When buying a new caravan, one of the big considerations should be the warranty.
The warranty at its most basic covers the structure of the caravan and that it shouldn’t leak. The appliances like the fridge, air-con, hot water system etc will all be covered by their manufacturer’s warranties. When it comes to warranties there is some peace of mind that a well established caravan manufacturer will be around to cover the warranty of the van. Newer, smaller caravan manufacturers might not last the duration of the warranty period (as we have seen recently) and the dealer that sold the caravan may not be willing to honour a warranty when the manufacturer is no longer around.
When buying a second hand caravan there are a number of considerations to avoid buying a pile of problems that can be expensive to fix.
Every second hand caravan that is advertised for sale should have a Safety Certificate and Gas Certificate before it is advertised. A Safety Certificate and Gas Certificate is a check that the caravan is roadworthy and safe. The other things that you would want to check are:
- The date of the last caravan service. It is a good idea to budget on a caravan service before your first trip away so that you have peace of mind that everything is maintained and in working order.
- The appliances are all working. When you make a time to inspect the van, request that the fridge be working. Some fridges need more than 8 hours to cool properly so this is hard to test if the fridge is not on when you arrive. Check that the hot water system is working and ask when the anode was last replaced. A completely worn anode can mean a broken hot water system.
- Look for leaks particularly on the top corners of the caravan, inside the cupboards and around the air conditioner and hatches. Mouldy smells, obvious mould and warped timber are signs of leaks that may be costly to repair.
- Climb up on a ladder and inspect the roof for broken sealant, patch-ups, damage, broken fittings.
- Check that awning rolls out and the vinyl is in good condition. Cracked vinyl will need replacing.
- Look underneath the van for loose wires or pipes and rust. The amount of stone damage is an indication of the sort of roads the van has been on.
- The age of the batteries. It is best to budget for new batteries.
- Importantly: Carry out a Personal Property Securities Register search (formerly called a REVs check) to ensure that the caravan is free from debt, registered and has never been written off. Caravans can be written off as a statutory write off (that can never be re-registered in Australia) or a repairable write off (which can be repaired and re-registered).
- It is not necessary, but if the caravan has a toilet, you may want to budget for a new cassette for the toilet.
Our experienced team at the RV Service Centre can assist with caravan servicing and repairs, warranty work and fitting accessories for your caravan. We hope that our guide to buying a caravan will help in your decision and see you enjoying your travels.