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Caravanning newbies with a Hymer Nova

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Afternoon folks,

Last year we got ourselves a little bargain swift van just to see if we'd use it.  Turns out we did and its actually been fun.

Still,  being a bit tight and not totally convinced we're going to make the most of one, we've splashed out a little more and upgraded to an older 2004 Hymer.

For the money we could have got a newer Swift etc, but the other half was sold on the finish in the German one.

We used it for the first time this weekend and I must admit, I'm impressed, everything works as it should, there's no "bits" coming off and even the wear is pretty minimal considering it's a 16 year old caravan. 

I do have quick question regarding the  water feed pumps though.  The van has an internal tank with a fitted pump that's activated by the taps, & loo etc.  Pressure from this is fairly poor (taps give a pathetic dribble rather than the spray given by using the exterior one) The outside pump plugs into the side of the van and goes into the barrel, there's then a switch I have to turn on next to the connectors and the pump runs, pressure from this is excellent but it runs continuously, regardless of open taps etc. I can turn it off from inside by selecting the internal tank, but this seems a tad "gash"  Is it normal for the external pump to just be on all the time?  As the internal pump activates with use of taps etc, I'm assuming my microswitches are all good, so do I have an issue with the connector or even the pump itself?  Happy for any insights/advice people have.  If it's a case of its always on and that's normal, can I look to upgrade the internal pump to match the pressure of the external one?  Is this even possible?

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Are you switching the external pump on via the little black external switch? If so don't that is to run the pump in filling the internal tank mode nothing else. 

With external pump in barrel, external switch off, external selection switch on, go inside and try taps.

Re the poor pressure from internl pump. Both pumps feed the taps via  there own pump unique  non return valves. Possibly that pumps is sticky so not opening fully? If when using the external pump you find the internal tank starts to mysteriously fill, that will be that same  sticky non return valve. Finding these non return valves is done by following the pipe from the pump to what looks like a plastic pipe coupling in the pipeline. 

These can get bits of detritus stuck in them over the years, more so if not used for a while. They when removed are easily cleaned to go back into service.

Working correctly  the internal pump is quite a bit greater pumping capacity  than the externAl one, unless a previous owner purchased the wrong much cheaper pump. Than is changed and accessed  via the big Blue screwed hand hole oh the tank top.

Edited by JTQ
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I think that Hymer  have used the same system for years.   There is a black rocker switch in the box that contains the connectors for the external water supply.   The purpose of this switch is to switch the internal pump off.   So to fill the tank via the external pump.   You need to switch the internal pump off  open a tap to switch the external pump on and then remember  to switch the tap and therefore the pump off before the tank overflows.   This is not in my opinion a great system.  You should have got with your caravan a very extensive manual.  You will find that there is very little information about the external water supply.  There was very little information in my 2001, 2007 and 2015 caravan manuals, which suggests the external pump is an after thought added for the U.K. market.  So yes a tad gash, but if that’s the worst aspect of a 16 year old van then not too bad


Like JTQ, in our case the internal pump is much more powerful than the external one.  I suggest take a look.  It maybe a non return valve or even the screen on the inlet of the pump that needs a clean.  

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Thank you folks, very enlightening. 

There is indeed a very in depth manual, it does appear to go over things with some presumed knowledge mind!  Or it could just be my inability to read instruction manuals...I'll go and have a play.

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On my 2006 Nova 530 there is an unmarked grey square rocker switch fitted on the face of the locker that holds the internal tank. This switch selects either the internal pump in the tank or the external pump in the barrel. Either one of the pumps are actuated by the tap micro switches as normal.
The small black switch in the external pump connection point only operates the external pump and is only used to lift water from the external barrel into the internal tank by pointing the pump pipe into the external blue filler and not by using the external connection point.

I sometimes accidentally knock  the rocker switch to ‘external ‘ and wonder why the taps stopped working!

Hope that helps.

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Yes we had this rocker switch on our 2007 570, I had completely forgotten.  

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  • 5 months later...

I came along to ask about this specific thing.


I must say up front that I am confused by people saying the external rocker switch is to disable the internal pump ONLY for filling the internal tank from the external pump.

If the only point in having an external pump is to fill the tank, why is there a connector for the pipe?

Logically (dangerous ground) the external connector should be to use the external pump to supply water to the internal system. If not, what is the connector there for?

[Answers on a postcard......]


My intention is to be able to fill up the internal tank, then fill up the aqua roll and insert the external pump, and then use either pump to drive the internal water system.

Logically, if the black external rocker switch disables the internal pump then the water should come from the external pump if the pipe is plugged in.


I set the water system up with  both internal and external tanks filled up, switched off the internal pump, and then used the shower.

The level in the external tank has gone down, but not by enough to provide water for a full shower.

Meanwhile the level in the internal tank has gone down quite a lot.

So it appears that things are not as expected.


However I can hear that the internal pump is not running and that the external pump is running.

So somehow it seems as though the external pump is managing to draw or drive water out of the internal tank.

This all leaves me very puzzled, as you can imagine.


Further testing is required, and I have to suspect some strange quirk of the plumbing, but at the moment I am baffled.


Hymer Nova 580 2016 and VW Touareg 2009 SE

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