We are not open Sat 25, Sun 26, Mon 27 Jan for the Aust Day long weekend.
We reopen 8am Tue 28 Jan.
For emergency assistance call 0411 845 597.
We are not open Sat 25, Sun 26, Mon 27 Jan for the Aust Day long weekend.
We reopen 8am Tue 28 Jan.
For emergency assistance call 0411 845 597.
Happy new year everyone! We re-open today from 8am.
Facts first, Trav’s opinion at end.
Suburban Hot Water Systems are one of the most popular choices across all types of vans. There is currently a suspension on the sale of selected new units – which applies to buying a new caravan, buying an individual hot water system, or having it fitted to your existing van.
We attended an industry forum this week to get the latest news on the development, which sounded exciting – but the gas department didn’t show up, so there are no real updates. As it stands:
These models are affected:
Affected Serial #s:
Manufactured from 4 April 2018 to 1 August 2019
Combustion gases may enter the living quarters of the van. ie – its not an LP Gas leak, its the burnt gas emissions that may end up inside your van. This is basically carbon monoxide – like a car exhaust pipe – you don’t want to breathe it.
There is no current resolution to the issue. At some point (hopefully soon), a rectification will be issue that allows the units to be fixed, and returned to service. If you have an affected unit, in the meantime, do NOT use the unit on gas. It is best to locate the gas shutoff valve and turn off the gas supply to the appliance.
How to check:
Open the exterior access door to the hot water service and check the model and serial number located on the right hand side.
Repaired units will be labelled. If you see a label next to the model/serial number that says CTC001 the inspection has already been completed and the appliance can continue to be used. If the label is not present and the appliance falls under this recall you must discontinue use of the hot water service on gas and seek inspection and repair.
What to do:
Consumers should immediately check if their appliance is affected and if so, cease using the appliance powered by gas. (Consumers may continue to use the appliance if powered by electricity only.) Consumers with affected appliances should contact Coast RV’s dedicated recall hotline on 02 9645 7685 to register their details to be advised of remedial actions when they are available as the remedial process has not yet been finalised.
Straight up: anything running on gas has the potential to be incredibly dangerous. There are lots of rules around gas fittings & appliances and they change regularly. It is really important you ensure your van is safe – by getting a professional to do any gas related work on your van.
In my opinion, this particular issue is only one of a number that really need addressing.
#1) Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarms exist and should be compulsory. Carbon monoxide is odourless, invisible, tasteless and lethal. So you don’t know you’re breathing it, and it can kill you. These CO alarm units are like a smoke alarm – they run on a 9V battery and are screwed to the ceiling (or up high). If you do have a carbon monoxide leak, it will alarm, and potentially save your life. We have them available for less than $50. We’ve highlighted the importance of these at our seminars for the last couple of years before this issue arose. (If you haven’t been to a seminar – subscribe here to be notified of the next one).
#2) Not just hot water systems: There are multiple appliances in your van that burn LP Gas and produce Carbon Monoxide (CO). Primarily your stove & your fridge.
What happens to the CO from your stove? It ends up inside your van. Invisible, tasteless and lethal. The gas rules say you have to have a range hood, but you don’t always run the range hood when running the stove. People use the range hood to get rid of smells, not an invisible deadly gas. Turn your range hood on, even while boiling the kettle!
Some people (not many), use the stove burner to heat up the van on cold nights. Just don’t do it. It normally goes hand in hand with covering the vents to keep the cold out. That’s a recipe for disaster.
This is rare, but I recently had a customer looking for some large circular roof vents about 8″ diameter. We had a few options. I asked what they were for. The chimney came the answer. CHIMNEY! from what?!? The fireplace. What fireplace?!? The fireplace I’m fitting to keep the van warm, because timber is cheaper than gas when you’re in the bush…. I don’t even want to know the legalities of all that, but if you want my opinion – don’t fit a wood burning fireplace inside a caravan.
Your 3-way fridge burns gas and produces carbon monoxide. It is meant to be vented out the exhaust through the top vent through a special fitting. I reckon 1 in 2 fridges I look at don’t have this exhaust system setup properly. Sometimes incorrectly fitted by the manufacturer, or it’s fallen apart, or some DIY mods have affected it. All of these issues trigger the same problem. CO ends up in the van. The entire fridge cabinet is meant to be fully sealed from the living quarters of your van – however, my experience is that next to none are. There’s always gaps in the cabinetry, or holes drilled through for cables, pipes, accessories etc – all of which void the correct installation requirements and allow CO to vent through. Again invisible, tasteless, lethal gas getting into your van.
If you’ve got an LP Gas heater they are generally ok. They have a good external exhaust system. However, if that exhaust is located under a window, there’s a high chance that Carbon Monoxide could be sucked back into the van if the window is open. Have a look at where yours is located.
Chest type 3-way fridges – like the old Chescolds. Do NOT run these (on gas) inside a van or vehicle. For all the same reasons. They burn your oxygen, and exhaust toxic carbon monoxide. They must be put outside to run.
If you want peace of mind on all of the above – just contact us to go through your van’s appliances and how they are installed, and we’ll advise our recommendations.
With 70% of Australia semi-arid at the best of times, and plenty of the country currently suffering through drought, you know you’re going to get dusty. Whether that dust is just on the outside of your van, or whether it ends up on your clothes and cutlery is a different story. There are a variety of things you can do to keep the dust out. Let’s have a look.
Plenty of vans roll in each week with all sorts of wonderful solutions to dust ingress by covering the vents and openings. From cardboard and duct tape, to 5mm bullet proof checkerplate. So is this a good solution?
There are reasons why there’s vents in your van. One of the largest ones is on the bottom of the main entry door. This is primarily to let LP Gas out in the case of a leak. (LP Gas being heavier than air sits on the floor and needs a way to get out). There’s also at least one vent high up – to allow fresh air in – to displace the gas in the same situation. Additionally, there are the vents for the fridge, sometimes microwave and also range hood.
Now you are not meant to block any of these vents. E.g. blocking the main door vent may pose a safety risk. Blocking the fridge vents will severely reduce the effectiveness of most fridges, but can assist with the dust issue. If you are going to do it, put a fail safe in place that ensures you MUST remove the cover before entering and using the van.
Additionally, one of the long-term issues with dust getting into the fridge vents, is that the working fridge components end up covered in dust and are less effective, or fail prematurely.
(Note: we don’t recommend covering vents due to safety concerns).
Anywhere there is a join, a hole, a fitting – there’s the potential for dust to get in. The major culprits are normally on the floor of the van – where pipes and cables go through, and also the wheel arch boxes. Much of the time these can be sealed up much better with a healthy dose of silicon or underbody spray.
All opening fittings like windows, doors, hatches are only as good as their seals and fitting. Often a window will not close flat, or the gasket has perished and fails to seal. These are normally easily fixed with a bit of general maintenance, replacing seals and gaskets, or tightening the catches.
Even with all of the above addressed, dust still gets in. Often its hard to tell exactly where its coming from, and it can easily drive you mad. So, is there a better option? Of course….
The idea of pressurising a van has been around forever. But how its done, and how effective it is has changed dramatically over the last couple of years. The general idea is to push air into the van, forcing air out of all the holes & gaps to prevent dust getting in.
“Scupper vents” have been in vans since the 70s, and are still in many today. These are normally located towards the front of the van, in the centre line of the roof and can be pushed up to catch air as your driving, and force it into the van. They sort of work. Interestingly, some are fitting pointing forwards, some are pointing backwards. (The logic is something like driving a convertible with the top down – where you end up getting your hair blown forward). The couple of issues we see regularly with them are:
Dometic Dust Reduction System (DRS) – only recently released, these are proving to be very popular – a good design and relatively affordable. There are no motors or electrical parts, so no need for power. This unit is fitted to the roof of your van and is powered by air flow while driving. It provides about 150cm2 of free airflow ventilation. It includes a PM10 filter that captures dust particles, and has been tested through Australia.
It can be installed by replacing an existing skylight/hatch, or by cutting a new hole through the roof. The unit only weighs about 5kg, so support is not an issue. Providing you have enough space on the roof of your van, installation is fairly straight forward.
RESPA Powered Dust Prevention System – when you need the best – you go to this unit. We have been fitting these systems for a number of years with fantastic results for all sorts of applications. For example one customer that travels extensively through dry western Queensland regularly has all but eliminated dust coming in, right up to a semi-trailer based mobile headquarters housing $1M+ of computer equipment where it was essential to keep the dust out. These are similar to units that are used on bobcats, excavators etc – that provide extremely clean air in extremely dusty situations. They require 12v power to run the heavy duty motor, but punch out so much air, you can easily feel it coming through vents & gaps in the van when its running. Rated at about 130 cfm (cubic feet per minute), it means it completely replaces the air in your van every 5 minutes or so. That’s a LOT of air moving, and that’s why they are so effective.
So if you’re sick of dust getting into your van, or are planning a trip West and want to keep your van nice and clean – talk to us about dust reduction systems.
I did a quick survey this week. I asked a number of customers in what situations they would consider a wheel alignment necessary. All but one said “tyre wear”.
They’re right. You start racking up some kms, then notice your tyres are wearing unevenly. Most often the left hand (passenger) side. Sometimes you put it down to cheap tyres and get some better ones, but the same problem occurs again. Depending on your suspension, you might resign yourself to this being a fact of caravan ownership. But it’s not. No matter what type of suspension you have (independent or beam axle), we can do a full laser alignment to get your wheels aligned properly. Normally, this will dramatically improve tyre life. And its something we recommend even on brand new vans – because they are normally NOT aligned at the factory.
But what did the other person say? It was “safety“, and its SO much more important than tyre wear.
When you look at the engineering that goes into a motor vehicle, there is a massive development effort focused on how the vehicle handles in all sorts of different conditions – hard braking, accelerating, heavy cornering, with high load, loose/slippery surfaces etc. Much of this handling is affected by the wheel orientation with things like camber, toe-in/toe-out, spring & dampening rates.
These properties apply in exactly the same way to your caravan, and have a massive determination on how SAFE your van is, and how it FEELS on the road (or off-road). So while your tyre tread is very important, its more important to have as large an area of rubber contacting the ground as possible in all situations. And to do this, you need your wheels properly aligned.
So, if you’ve never had your wheels aligned, or your suspect something may not be as good as it could be – talk to us about a caravan wheel alignment.
If you are interested in increasing your battery capacity by upgrading to Lithium, or increasing your existing Lithium battery capacity, contact us about getting the system configured correctly.
There are a few things you need to be careful of, and if done incorrectly, you can damage one or both the batteries. If you are interested in a technical explanation, read on:
These lithium batteries have a maximum rated output. The 100Ah battery is around 80A, and the 200Ah is around 160A. Generally, the loads you have in your van will never reach these sort of limits. E.g. running all your lights, fridge, phone chargers etc will probably not draw more than 30A. However, if you have an inverter, you can easily get up to these limits. That’s why there is a 1,000W limit for inverters on the 100Ah BTEC battery, and a 2,000w limit on the 200Ah BTEC battery.
So what’s the issue with paralleling them?
Let’s assume you’ve already got a 100Ah BTEC battery and want to double your capacity by fitting a second one. With your new capacity, you decide you can now connect a 2,000W inverter to run your coffee machine. The big load will not pull evenly off both batteries, so one of the battery management systems (“BMS” – which is built into the top of the battery) will force the battery to shut down before the other battery. At this point, the high load will be running from just one battery – overloading it, eventually leading to premature failure of the BMS.
Then, once both batteries are shut down, your solar regulator won’t be connected to any batteries, which will cause a voltage spike, potentially damaging other equipment.
However, if you keep to the load limits of any individual battery – e.g. a 1,000W inverter running on 2x paralleled 100Ah BTEC batteries – it is a feasible setup – providing it is checked by a professional (like us 🙂 , as there are a number of other considerations and requirements that need to be examined first.
So, as a general rule and especially if you are DIY – do NOT parallel BTEC batteries. However, if you would like more information about whether it can be done for your particular setup – please talk to us.
Summer is almost here, and while the sun is great, who really wants to sweat it out? You know you’re going to depend on your caravan air con blasting out cold air, so its worthwhile giving it a little TLC before crunch time.
There’s 3 parts to your air con that require maintenance:
Most air conditioners have user serviceable filters accessible from the internal air box / plenum (the bit on the ceiling you can see/touch from inside the van). Refer to your owners manual to remove the filters. Most models don’t require any tools to do this.
Clean or replace? Some filters can be cleaned, but if they’re older, the filter material tends to disintegrate and you’ll need to purchase new filters. We stock a range for all the common models of air conditioners.
While the filters are out, its worthwhile brushing any dust off the filter areas too.
Keeping your filters cleaned/replaced is the easiest way to ensure the performance and longevity of your a/c.
Do NOT poke things into the air box, or remove the air box from the ceiling. You can easily damage the thermostat, electronics or fan inside. You also risk breaking the roof seal between the compressor unit and the plenum. There’s also live 240V power which you do not want to touch.
Servicing the air box requires a professional technician (like us :). Providing the unit is still operational, this involves mainly cleaning the internal areas of the system to remove dust and inspecting for any signs of moisture or damage. We also check for signs of water ingress through the air con roof seal.
Again, servicing this unit requires a professional technician. Because this unit is quite open to the elements, they often accumulate a lot of dust, debris, leaves, sticks, and even in one case we’ve done – animals. Cleaning the unit up allows for efficient ongoing operation, and less likely to experience failure.
If you’ve purchased your van 2nd hand, and the air con does not look whistle-clean – its worth having it serviced with us.
Re-gassing an air con is not generally required as part of a service. It’s only required if the air con is not performing well – e.g. cooling, but not getting cold enough.
The refrigerant gas that makes an air con work is in a sealed system. If the gas has leaked out, it’s an indication that there is a break in the system somewhere. So, the bigger problem is that there is a cracked pipe or similar causing the fault.
If you do find that your air con is not cooling properly, it can normally be fixed fairly easily. Common issues are faulty thermostats, capacitors, fans and PCBs. As with most appliances, caravan air conditioners do have a lifespan. In our experience, if your air con is 7 years or older, and is faulty to the point where it is not cooling, it is worth considering replacing the entire unit. Often a repair bill for older air cons will be around $500+ after diagnosis, parts and repair – with no warranty on the rest of the unit. Newer air cons are always quieter, smaller, more efficient, and are warranted Australia wide – so its worth considering.
There’s limits to TV. Any more renovation or cooking shows and its over.
What I really mean is that “normal” TV has a reception limit. You don’t have to travel far out of a town to find that you don’t get much of a TV signal with a normal antenna.
The Winegard H/V TV Antenna pictured above is as good as it gets in my opinion. If you can’t get reception with that antenna, you need satellite. (On the other hand, if you have any other antenna, the Winegard H/V is worth a look, as it has far better reception than all the others).
There’s a range of satellites available for caravans.
Which one do you choose?
Portable satellite dish systems start around $600 and are a great easy way to get Satellite reception. You sit them on the ground and manually point them at the satellite. They come with a “direction finder” which helps you.
Trade offs are – you still have to store it somewhere. At 75-90cm diameter its a big bit of gear, so often gets put on top of the bed. It’s not all that secure left out on the ground. They have cables running along the ground to your van. And they take a bit of time to setup. As you move around Australia, you will have to adjust the LNB (the knob thing on the arm), to adjust for your latitude.
Roof mount units are fully automatic. Just push a button inside and it finds the satellite for you in a few minutes. It can’t be stolen (easily), and there’s no storage issue to worry about.
There’s the compact square style and the larger round dishes. Both are great options. The larger dish will generally get coverage all over Australia, whereas the compact square style can be a bit limited in central Australia.
The larger roof mounted dish can be problematic to fit due to the large amount of real estate it requires on the roof. The compact unit is sometimes the only option for roof mounted installations.
We get a lot of questions about whether a caravan roof is suitable to support a satellite dish. We haven’t found a van yet that we can’t fit a dish to! They sometimes just require some extra reinforcing to make sure it is secure enough.
Once you have a satellite dish, and its receiving signal, you’d think you’d be able to watch TV right? Wrong! It’s not like normal TV. The satellite signal is encoded and requires a “Decoder” to actually watch TV.
A decoder is a box that takes the satellite signal, decodes it, and outputs to our TV. In order for it to work, you need to have a VAST subscription / license. For travellers in Australia, this is free – you just need to register your details once your system is setup. Once you’re registered, you can watch all the commercial free to air channels as well as ABC, SBS etc.
VAST boxes are available as 12V units, so no additional power systems are required.
A VAST box requires its own remote control, and outputs to just one TV (normally).
If you like to move your TV around (e.g. bedroom to outside), or have multiple TVs, you either need multiple VAST boxes or complicated switching systems… OR you can get a TV with the VAST system built into it. These are pretty cool because there’s less wires, just one remote control – making the whole process much easier and enjoyable.
Foxtel is a paid commercial service. You don’t get it just because you have a satellite.
However, providing you already have a Foxtel service connected – e.g. at home – you may be able to take your Foxtel box, or use a 2nd one in your caravan. (We recommend you check your service terms & conditions first)
It’s the middle of the night. You can hear the wind start whistling. You think “that’s a nice cool change for the evening…..” then the bloody awning starts flapping about, and your missus/hubby is pretending to be asleep. You have to get up and roll in the awning….. or do you?
There are two popular solutions to fix flappy awnings – deflappers and anti-flappers. They sound similar and many vanners use the terms interchangably, but they are so so so different.
De-flappers are a fantastic, DIY, cheap and easy way to reduce the flapping of your awning a bit. They are quick to fit and give you a bit more tension on the vinyl. They are a plastic clamp about 150mm / 6 inches long that clamp onto the vinyl of your awning, then you tighten the velcro straps up to the awning rafter. You normally position them in the centre of the vinyl. They come in pairs – one for each side of the awning. And they come in either caravan, or pop-type style. The pop-top style has a longer strap. The amount of tension you get on the awning depends on your physical strength to stretch everything while you tighten it up.
A properly installed anti-flap kit is a different beast altogether. You’ll have such a rock solid roof over your head, you’ll think you deserve a job with the setup crew in the circus, and it doesn’t require any physical effort. (Although a bit of height helps).
An anti-flap kit consists (in its most basic form) of 2x aluminium bars that run the FULL depth of your awning when its rolled out (from the van to the roller). These bars have a really huge clamp on them, that grabs the entire awning – which prevents the awning vinyl from being able to flap about. On their own they are great. But….
For the ultimate setup, you’ll want 1 or 2 intermediate curved rafters. These are simple aluminium bars that fit under the awning vinyl roof and push the vinyl up, putting it under extra tension, while also giving it a curve for better water run off.
Installation requires affixing a few brackets on the wall of your van near the awning sail track, and putting a few holes in the roller of the awning tube. It’s pretty straightforward, but there’s a few pitfalls you need to be aware of:
Once you’ve got an anti-flap kit, you’ll use it everytime you setup your awning – it just improves your comfort level soooo much, and they are quick to setup.
All annex walls require an anti-flap kit, so if you’re thinking about a full size annex in the future, you’ll have the basics already done.
If you use caravan shade cloth type walls, you will find hanging the end walls from the anti flap kit a much neater solution than hanging them off the awning rafter.
We offer professional fitting of anti flap kits with a full range of all sizes and various rafters in stock. Talk to us – give us a call 07 4633 0845 or contact us online about getting the right Anti Flap Kit for your van.
If you’re looking to make your outdoor area more usable, in more weather conditions, a set of caravan shade screens is the answer.
These are available in silver or black, and you can choose the combination that suits your van’s awning.
The walls fold up into a very compact storage bag – about the size of a small briefcase. This makes them easy to carry and store. Unlike a full annex set that takes up a huge amount of space!
A full annex setup ends up being like a tent – taking 2 people 45 minutes to setup. Not really the point of having an awesome van. The caravan shade walls can be setup in just a few minutes by a single person. Easy peasy!
Grab 1x long wall, and 2x end walls. You might not always use the full kit, but it gives you heaps of options.
Generally, you can orient your van on site such that you just use 1x long wall and 1x end wall. But for those “cosy” sites, where you need a bit more privacy, you’ll be glad to have the other end wall.
If you’re not using the other end wall, its so compact you won’t mind leaving it in the storage area.
The kits come with everything you need to get setup. Velcro straps for the end walls to go over the awning rafter, and pegs and ropes for tying down. The long wall has a rope sewn in the top to slide in the awning roller.
We stock all sizes of long walls and end walls in our Toowoomba showroom. Come in to have a look – but remember to know your awning size first!
RV Service Centre Queensland
506 Boundary Rd (Cnr Gardner Ct)
TOOWOOMBA QLD 4350
Ph: 07 4633 0845