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How Easy Is Caravanning? Some Thoughts


southcoastsounds
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Well, we've just completed our fourth weekend trip since buying the caravan last October. I think it was only this last time that I felt confident about what I was doing and it made me reflect on what I've learned:

 

1. how to hitch up and unhitch - various pitfalls: even after the Caravan Club towing course I was quite able to make a few mistakes here and there

2. towing - I soon got used to it, but sheer amount of concentration it takes makes driving quite a different experience! And I'd forgotten way back in the 1960s what it was like to have to worry about certain notorious hills

3. understanding the complexity of the various switching systems in the caravan - it took me three trips before I understood how the mains electricity, battery and gas supplies all interact.

4. setting up on site - its taken me a lot of practice to get it down to 40 minutes, and that's without the new awning which we are going to try next time

 

I'm not known for being a practical person (hah! I hear my wife say). I get by on keeping the house in order but I call in electricians and plumbers when its more than just decorating that's required. I look at other caravanners and see socket sets and circuit testers and really don't want to have to get into all that. But I still had to clean the brushes on one of the Powrmover motors and make repairs to the pathetic cupboard door hinges in the van.

 

The manual has been pretty poor - its a bit like the old days of computers where you'd get a manual that described every possible option. Why do I need to know about the three different control panels across the whole range, and why do I need to know about the wiring and plumbing systems? - I'm never going to take the thing apart myself. Why can't they just publish a quick start guide like they do on most items of equipment these days? I've had to create my own checklists for setting up and departure ( http://sites. google. com/site/caravanningforbeginners/check ) and as I look at them I'm thinking why couldn't the manufacturers have put something like this in manual?

 

Some times I felt like a total pr*t in making basic mistakes, but when I look at my check-lists and compare them with processes at work, I realise that actually an employer would probably send someone on a one week's course to learn all this!

 

Then there's the expense! Insurance, secure site rental, additional rescue service fees, club membership, extra ferry charges - caravanning is not a cheap hobby! Quite apart from all the accessories we had to buy in order to get going.

 

Anyway, having survived our early efforts in the cold wet months of this winter, we're looking forward to applying what we've learned in Germany and France this summer, hopefully in warmer conditions. Its been fun overall, but its been a lot of work too and there have been quite a few dramas along the way.

 

This week we asked ourselves if we'd have bought the caravan if we'd known what's involved. I think the answer's yes despite the problems, and hopefully this summer will see us answer yes with more certainty.

 

Tom

www. southcoastsounds. org. uk

 

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Tom

 

Whenever you start something new there is always a steep learning curve but organising a caravan is eventually just a routine. I think if anyone that takes up caravanning as a cheap way of doing things will be in for a shock because as you have discovered that is far from the case. What you have to ask yourself is does the caravan provide you with the opportunity to get away more for the same cost as you used to spend on other holidays, does it give you more freedom. For those of us who have been doing it for a while it sort of gets in the blood. Be interesting to hear you views once you have returned from your first European holiday which I expect make you feel better about the experience and could make it compulsive!

 

David

David - Milton Keynes

Bailey Alliance 66-2 Motorhome for holidays and a Kia Venga for home.

 

Caravan Travels

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Well, we've just completed our fourth weekend trip since buying the caravan last October. I think it was only this last time that I felt confident about what I was doing and it made me reflect on what I've learned:

 

1. how to hitch up and unhitch - various pitfalls: even after the Caravan Club towing course I was quite able to make a few mistakes here and there

2. towing - I soon got used to it, but sheer amount of concentration it takes makes driving quite a different experience! And I'd forgotten way back in the 1960s what it was like to have to worry about certain notorious hills

3. understanding the complexity of the various switching systems in the caravan - it took me three trips before I understood how the mains electricity, battery and gas supplies all interact.

4. setting up on site - its taken me a lot of practice to get it down to 40 minutes, and that's without the new awning which we are going to try next time

 

I'm not known for being a practical person (hah! I hear my wife say). I get by on keeping the house in order but I call in electricians and plumbers when its more than just decorating that's required. I look at other caravanners and see socket sets and circuit testers and really don't want to have to get into all that. But I still had to clean the brushes on one of the Powrmover motors and make repairs to the pathetic cupboard door hinges in the van.

 

The manual has been pretty poor - its a bit like the old days of computers where you'd get a manual that described every possible option. Why do I need to know about the three different control panels across the whole range, and why do I need to know about the wiring and plumbing systems? - I'm never going to take the thing apart myself. Why can't they just publish a quick start guide like they do on most items of equipment these days? I've had to create my own checklists for setting up and departure ( http://sites. google. com/site/caravanningforbeginners/check ) and as I look at them I'm thinking why couldn't the manufacturers have put something like this in manual?

 

Some times I felt like a total pr*t in making basic mistakes, but when I look at my check-lists and compare them with processes at work, I realise that actually an employer would probably send someone on a one week's course to learn all this!

 

Then there's the expense! Insurance, secure site rental, additional rescue service fees, club membership, extra ferry charges - caravanning is not a cheap hobby! Quite apart from all the accessories we had to buy in order to get going.

 

Anyway, having survived our early efforts in the cold wet months of this winter, we're looking forward to applying what we've learned in Germany and France this summer, hopefully in warmer conditions. Its been fun overall, but its been a lot of work too and there have been quite a few dramas along the way.

 

This week we asked ourselves if we'd have bought the caravan if we'd known what's involved. I think the answer's yes despite the problems, and hopefully this summer will see us answer yes with more certainty.

 

Tom

Don't worry Tom we've all been there-and I often feel a total pr. t when arriving and setting up, but in the end it really gets into your blood. A portable hotel is so much better than a fixed,static one.

Regarding cost,taking purchase maintenance etc costs into account we reckon we're down to £150 per day(!).The more,however, we use it,the more that will reduce.

All the best to you.

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Hi Tom

 

Could you publish the text of your check lists on this forum. I don't want to sign up to Google Docs.

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. ............much better than a fixed, static one. ............

Very true.

 

If undesirable/noisy neighbours pitch up next to your tourer you generally have the option to move or at least only have to stick them for a relatively short period.

 

Not so easy with a static.

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Hi Tom

 

Could you publish the text of your check lists on this forum. I don't want to sign up to Google Docs.

 

Here they are - hope they're of some use to someone! I do the outside stuff and my wife does the inside

 

 

ARRIVAL - OUTSIDE

 

1. Unhitch

 

2. Level side to side using ramp if necessary

 

3. Make sure handbrake is on and disconnect Powrmover.

 

4. Turn Powrmover off in batter locker and remove key

 

5. Put steadies down and level front to back

 

My wife can go inside at this stage but must wait for confirmation at 1. below

 

6. Plug into mains

 

7. Turn on two gas taps in front locker

 

8. Take cover off gas cowl

 

9. Get water in Aquaroll and connect pump

 

My wife can start inside activities now (see 1. below)

 

10. Connect waste pipes to waste tank

 

11. Put liquids in toilet and fill cistern

 

12. Put security locks on

 

ARRIVAL - INSIDE

 

1. Turn water tap under front seat from upright position to horizontal.

 

2. Wait until Tom has said electricity is connected, gas is turned on and water is ready

 

3. Turn on 3 switches above door.

 

4. Open the wardrobe and :

turn main-switch from CAR to VAN

turn on switches for batter charger, water heater and space heater

 

5. Turn on space heater and water heater using switches by the door

 

6. Turn off taps in kitchen and bathroom when they finish spluttering

DEPARTURE - INSIDE

 

1. Turn off all switches and appliances.

 

2. Turn main switch in wardrobe from "van" to "car".

 

3. Drain water tank by turning water tap under from seat from horizontal to upright position

 

4. Open taps on full hot position in kitchen and bathroom

 

5. Flush cistern until empty

 

DEPARTURE - OUTSIDE

 

1. Turn off both gas switches in front locker

 

2. Remove waste pipes from outlets and empty waste water

 

3. Remove pump from connection and put inside under sink

 

4. Empty toilet cassette and put small amount of liquid in for journey home loo breaks

 

When my wife has finished inside:

 

5. Connect Powrmover and turn on power switch in battery locker

 

6. Raise steadies

 

7. Move handbrake to off

 

8. Hitch up

 

9. Disconnect Powrmover and turn off in battery locker and remove red key

 

10. Turn main switch in wardrobe, from "van" to "car".

 

ARRIVAL AT STORAGE

 

Remember to put main switch in wardrobe to central position

 

Remember to remove red key from Powrmover

www. southcoastsounds. org. uk

 

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Hi Tom,

 

You need to change your security settings on your Google Docs as they cannot be publically accessed.

Thanks - I've just copied the whole text in. I didn't know it was private before.

 

See http://sites. google. com/site/caravanningforbeginners/check

 

Tomâ™ 

Edited by southcoastsounds

www. southcoastsounds. org. uk

 

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Love this post it makes me feel human again :D:D I don't think I would have got by and I definitely would have given up by now with out the help of forums and the net. I don't consider my self to have a high intelligence but after starting caravaning i am questioning if i have any.

Take the awning size we have just been looking at. ..Why do they all have to be so different feet, meters, cm, size 15 whats all that about. You say to the reps its a minefield and they say Oh yes you will find that. ..I need to know where the mines are before I reach the end of the feild. ..whys everything so top secret lol. ....I asked one guy if he had a awning and he said no he didn't like caravans. ..Er is it me having a mid life crisis or is the world around me going nuts. ..

My hubby is looking at France then moans about going 50 miles away. ..so your right will we ever sit back and think Yeah that was worth it. .if so WHEN or is that part of the a level lol. ..

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The manual has been pretty poor - its a bit like the old days of computers where you'd get a manual that described every possible option. Why do I need to know about the three different control panels across the whole range, and why do I need to know about the wiring and plumbing systems?

 

I must agree with you on this. I understand its a method of cutting down on costs but I find it very annoying.

Having looked carefully at the various options in the Swift manual for the gas fire in the van AND checked the documentation provided by the manufacturer, we still cant decide the exact model of the gas fire we have installed!

Now a Swift motorhome owner.

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Take the awning size we have just been looking at. ..Why do they all have to be so different feet, meters, cm, size 15 whats all that about.

 

Ah yes, the good old metrication problem. After over 30 years of half-hearted metrication (thank you Ted Heath and successive politicians) we now buy wine in litres and beer in pints - at one point we bought a carpet by the square yard but it was cut off the roll in metres. And try working out 30mpg in kilometres per metre!

 

Tom

www. southcoastsounds. org. uk

 

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Ah yes, the good old metrication problem. After over 30 years of half-hearted metrication (thank you Ted Heath and successive politicians) we now buy wine in litres and beer in pints - at one point we bought a carpet by the square yard but it was cut off the roll in metres. And try working out 30mpg in kilometres per metre!

 

Tom

 

Hi Tom,

It doesn't help and maybe we should bite the bullet and fully convert after all it will only be a couple of generations who will be inconvenienced as children have grown up with metric measurements,

Regards,

Ian.

Bailey Unicorn Vigo and a 2017 Ford S Max and a Mercedes SLK AMG Sport 9 speed, my mid life crisis solver.

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. ..............

as children have grown up with metric measurements,

. ...

 

Apart from road signs, speed limits, beer, tyres (both units) etc etc. My kids are nearly 19 & 20, and are completely confused as to which units are metric & which are imperial. They were show both 'because they were likely to come across both units' one of their teacher's comments, not mine. :blink:

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B)-->

QUOTE(Andy B @ Mar 12 2009, 02:54 PM) 238061[/snapback]
Apart from road signs, speed limits, beer, tyres (both units) etc etc. My kids are nearly 19 & 20, and are completely confused as to which units are metric & which are imperial. They were show both 'because they were likely to come across both units' one of their teacher's comments, not mine. :blink:

 

I'm 60 this year and learnt both Imperial and Metric systems at school, and I can work in either or both, and convert one to the other.

 

Maybe we just learnt more years ago, or was it that the teacher was in control of the classroom, not the 'pupils'?

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B)-->

QUOTE(Andy B @ Mar 12 2009, 02:54 PM) 238061[/snapback]
Apart from road signs, speed limits, beer, tyres (both units) etc etc. My kids are nearly 19 & 20, and are completely confused as to which units are metric & which are imperial. They were show both 'because they were likely to come across both units' one of their teacher's comments, not mine. :blink:

 

Hi Andy,

I wonder if that's due to your Local Education Authority policy as they certainly don't teach both around here, according to my daughters,

Regards,

Ian.

Bailey Unicorn Vigo and a 2017 Ford S Max and a Mercedes SLK AMG Sport 9 speed, my mid life crisis solver.

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My wife -- a primary teacher - for 35 years - now a head teacher - has never taught anything but metric units in school so anyone over UNDER 39 has never been taught imperial in a state school.

 

There was a short period when metric came in that both were taught in parallel - for one year.

 

I blame pubs and the road agencies for wanting to keep the British pint measure and the statute mile [confuses even the Americans who thought THEY had miles as well]

 

If we had gone to litres at the pubs we would have no problems by now -- I still ask for a "pint" in France and get 500ml no problems. .

It only took the Irish two weeks to change over everything completely. .

 

Maurice

Edited by MauriceH

Volvo S60 D5 (now sold 😥) new Vauxall soon
Happy to meet, Sorry to part, Happy to meet again
48 Year Member of The Caravan Club

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My wife -- a primary teacher - for 35 years - now a head teacher - has never taught anything but metric units in school so anyone over 39 has never been taught imperial in a state school.

There was a short period when metric came in that both were taught in parallel - for one year.

 

I blame pubs and the road agencies for wanting to keep the British pint measure and the statute mile [confuses even the Americans who thought THEY had miles as well]

 

If we had gone to litres at the pubs we would have no problems by now -- I still ask for a "pint" in France and get 500ml no problems. .

It only took the Irish two weeks to change over everything completely. .

 

Maurice

 

Sorry Maurice, can't agree there.

 

I'm 45 and my Sister 42, and we were both taught both Metric and Imperial in our Kent Primary School.

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Sorry Maurice, can't agree there.

 

I'm 45 and my Sister 42, and we were both taught both Metric and Imperial in our Kent Primary School.

sorry should have been UNDER 39. .

 

its my age you know. ..

 

can only think slowly

 

Maurice :D

Volvo S60 D5 (now sold 😥) new Vauxall soon
Happy to meet, Sorry to part, Happy to meet again
48 Year Member of The Caravan Club

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. ....

 

Hi Andy,

I wonder if that's due to your Local Education Authority policy as they certainly don't teach both around here, according to my daughters,

Regards,

Ian.

 

I don't think they were taught as such, but I remember questioning a worksheet one of them had a school. A kitchen scene showing various weights & measures, some were 'English' & some metric :huh: and the teacher's remark was that they'll come across both in day to day use. I'm 47, was taught metric as far as O level etc but I still work my fuel consumption out in mpg, weigh myself in stones & lbs, give my height in feet and ask for pints in a pub.

 

 

. ...... & we have 8oz lines & 16oz lines at work

Edited by Andy B

Lunar Delta 520/2 towed by Omega 3. 0 Elite

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Here they are - hope they're of some use to someone! I do the outside stuff and my wife does the inside

ARRIVAL - OUTSIDE

 

1. Unhitch

 

2. Level side to side using ramp if necessary

 

3. Make sure handbrake is on and disconnect Powrmover.

 

4. Turn Powrmover off in batter locker and remove key

 

5. Put steadies down and level front to back

 

My wife can go inside at this stage but must wait for confirmation at 1. below

 

6. Plug into mains

 

7. Turn on two gas taps in front locker

 

8. Take cover off gas cowl

 

9. Get water in Aquaroll and connect pump

 

My wife can start inside activities now (see 1. below)

 

10. Connect waste pipes to waste tank

 

11. Put liquids in toilet and fill cistern

 

12. Put security locks on

 

ARRIVAL - INSIDE

 

1. Turn water tap under front seat from upright position to horizontal.

 

2. Wait until Tom has said electricity is connected, gas is turned on and water is ready

 

3. Turn on 3 switches above door.

 

4. Open the wardrobe and :

turn main-switch from CAR to VAN

turn on switches for batter charger, water heater and space heater

 

5. Turn on space heater and water heater using switches by the door

 

6. Turn off taps in kitchen and bathroom when they finish spluttering

DEPARTURE - INSIDE

 

1. Turn off all switches and appliances.

 

2. Turn main switch in wardrobe from "van" to "car".

 

3. Drain water tank by turning water tap under from seat from horizontal to upright position

 

4. Open taps on full hot position in kitchen and bathroom

 

5. Flush cistern until empty

 

DEPARTURE - OUTSIDE

 

1. Turn off both gas switches in front locker

 

2. Remove waste pipes from outlets and empty waste water

 

3. Remove pump from connection and put inside under sink

 

4. Empty toilet cassette and put small amount of liquid in for journey home loo breaks

 

When my wife has finished inside:

 

5. Connect Powrmover and turn on power switch in battery locker

 

6. Raise steadies

 

7. Move handbrake to off

 

8. Hitch up

 

9. Disconnect Powrmover and turn off in battery locker and remove red key

 

10. Turn main switch in wardrobe, from "van" to "car".

 

ARRIVAL AT STORAGE

 

Remember to put main switch in wardrobe to central position

 

Remember to remove red key from Powrmover

 

I don't see any mention of switching on the fridge there, are you lucky enough to have one of the ones that automatically selects the correct power source?

Jennifer

 

Sterling Elite Searcher, Volvo XC90 SE D5 Auto

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I don't see any mention of switching on the fridge there, are you lucky enough to have one of the ones that automatically selects the correct power source?

 

You're right - I forgot about the fridge - yes we have to sort that out as well

 

Thanks, Tom

www. southcoastsounds. org. uk

 

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Your list is much longer than mine. I just turn on or off the master switch inside and don't bother with the rest of them. The fridge is always left on mains so it goes off when we're towing because I think I read somewhere that it can drain the car battery if it's connected when the car engine is switched off. ..I never did find out the truth of that.

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The manual has been pretty poor - its a bit like the old days of computers where you'd get a manual that described every possible option. Why do I need to know about the three different control panels across the whole range, and why do I need to know about the wiring and plumbing systems? - I'm never going to take the thing apart myself. Why can't they just publish a quick start guide like they do on most items of equipment these days?

 

It wasn't a recent Bailey then? They do just what you want.

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Just don't let it get you down, everything will become second nature after a while but we all still make mistakes now and then. Someone nearby on site will always be willing to help with advice etc. . that is the best thing about caravanning.

regards,

Jeff

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Your list is much longer than mine. I just turn on or off the master switch inside and don't bother with the rest of them. The fridge is always left on mains so it goes off when we're towing because I think I read somewhere that it can drain the car battery if it's connected when the car engine is switched off. ..I never did find out the truth of that.

 

Yes, a fridge will drain the car battery quite quickly when the car engine is off. I have my doubts about travelling with the fridge on, except perhaps on the journey home - even then if you're on a ferry it could be embarrassing if you can't start the car when you need to disembark.

 

Tom

www. southcoastsounds. org. uk

 

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