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First Trip Out - A Few Teething Problems


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So, last weekend was our first trip out. It was always going to be a big ask, we're complete caravan novices and we were going off grid by the side of a racetrack, in the hotest weekend of the year.

 

Anyway, after negotiating out of our drive (rented house so hopefully wont be a problem for long), realising the short cut to the motorway was rather narrow (wont be going that way again) we made it to our destination- field!

 

Generally in terms of space, comfort, ease we were really happy with the caravan. As suggested by many we brought an Ikea matress topper, and it was much more comfortable than our trial night without one. I was suprised at how much water we used (was told we'd use a whole aquaroll), oven worked well and good size and front setees comfy for sitting around all day and very pleased that after much advice from the forum I had everything we needed.

 

Problems :

1. The fridge didnt work. We were on a very slight incline. Manual said it should be OK though, dealer we spoke to yesterday says not. ?

2. Window fell out :o - covered on another thread.

3. Caravan was very shakey, not unsafe but whenever anyone rolled over in bed it shuddered - should we have raise it up just over the wheels? not sat it on the wheels?

4. as we werent on a site we couldnt empty the toilet. Didnt spill on the drive home luckily, but stunk!!!(didnt whilst on site) Used eco fluids, couldnt we have emptied it in a hedge at end of field?

5. toilet tiny, tiny, tiny even for 7 year old sitting on the loo wasnt easy. Nothing can be done about it, but suprised.

6. not enough worktop in kitchen. could do with a cover for the sink? Or other ideas?

 

Any guidance on above gratefully received!

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Fridge - I think van has to be level for it to work. Has to be on gas if not on EHU. Trust you were trying it on gas!?

 

Stability - You had all 4 steadies down - then best to adjust them after a day in case van has settled steadies into grass.

 

Worktop - bugbear of ours so we check before we buy a van. If no cover for the sink, then make one up. Preparation area is important.

 

Loo - nowt you can do if there is no Elsan point. Don't fancy driving with it sloshing around!

No wonder there was a smell :)

Graham

Unless otherwise stated all posts are my personal opinion 

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Please, NEVER use steadies to life the van up for whatever reason. They are called steadies as they are for steadying only, not lifting the van. If you lift the van you will almost certainly break, bend or twist something.

If you are pitched on grass then use some large feet or blocks of wood so as the feet do not sink over time.

There are some interesting methods for stopping van 'sway' that have been mentioned on this site before. A little search may bring some up.

 

The fridge does not use a lot of gas so you might find you have to run the gas through for a while before it will ignite. Did it actually light?

 

As for the loo? - I don't know. I would have thought a hedge far, far, FAR away from civilisation and your van would be ok if you have used organic fluid. .. But please don't quote me on that.

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.

Mahatma Gandhi

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As for the steadies, down to the ground and once more around should be your guide, cut yourself 4 pieces of wood or plywood 1" thick x 6" x 6" to even out the load on grass. If you find the toilet is too small for you, you might want to look at some of the porta potti models to compare sizes, if they are big enough for you then why not remove the built in cassette and use that one instead. Gas is notoriously difficult to get started especially if it's more than a couple of years old. You might want to get it serviced by a proper fitter/service engineer. Toilet fluid? i have always used Elsan Blue, very few campsites ask for the Eco stuff and I always find it works fine for 2 days then empty it. ....Peter

Peter and Sandy pulling a 2016 Coachman VIP 565 with

2016 Ford Kuga 2. 0. 180 ps. Titanium Nav.

Retired and loving it.

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Thanks guys. ..

 

Partner says he got the fridge working today (in our yard on mains), it must have to be absolutely level. Its not that the toilet unit was small, there's just very little room for your legs, feet when sat on the toilet :blush:

Pieces of wood - remember reading about them now (and not nderstanding at the time).

Will look up sway, it was really annoying, not like being rocked by a stormy windy night, more juddering.

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Most modern toilets turn around to suit your position.

Sway - With two wheels, jockey wheel and four steadies, then it should be pretty stable with the 7 points of touching the ground.

Graham

Unless otherwise stated all posts are my personal opinion 

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Toilet should only be emptied in a proper disposal point

 

We always light a cooker ring before trying to light fridge on gas

Edited by Rita
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Hi Sunny

Sorry hear about the window hope you get sorted there.

 

As far as levelling I always ensure we as level as possible. Level side to side first by using ramps or planks on lowest side and when happy level front to back once unhitched using jockey wheel .

Not fully levelling makes sleeping more uncomfortable as draining water harder and as you have found more likely fridge won't work

 

Your toilet should swivel( assume you have DK?) which should help leg room a little?

 

As far as smell and emptying you should only empty in An elsan or home toilet. Do ensure you add water to the blue or green fluid it does need fluid to work properly.

 

Steadying is just something you get used to with practice. Definitely have the large plastic feet or planks of wood under steadies and also under jockey wheel if in a field. Also once all levelled up then try easing up jockey wheel a turn or two just to take pressure off that and the. Van should settle nicely on steadies

 

Good luck next time!

Unless you've tried it, you simply won't understand. .....

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Hope you had good time apart from tea thing probs,,

We have plastic clip on feet on our steadies which have been great, we used to carry bit of wood but these are better, Jack pads are what they are called. When we are pitched on grass I always check the steadies the morning after as if you are on soft ground they always sink a little bit.

With the toilet I have tried various make of chemical but now I always use the thetford blue as you can still smell the chemical rather the deposits,

With regards to the fridge how of the level where you ?, when I'm away for just a weekend I'm not that fussy about being dead level and never had a problem with the fridge not working, any longer than a weekend and I like the van to be dead level, don't like falling out of bed more than twice:-),

Is the gas switched on to it?

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Re the fridge - there's a cover that fits on the outside of the caravan near the bottom of the fridge on many models. This is to stop wind etc when you're not using it on gas BUT you MUST remove it when using gas to allow sufficient air flow.

 

I don't know for sure but it may be that it's switching off after a while because it's not been removed?

 

BTW Does the fridge work when you're plugged into the mains ( called EHU in the jargon and stands for Electric Hook Up)

 

Jim

"keep your motor running"

caravan: Avondale Avocet ( 2006) - tow car: Renault Laguna (2007) - play car: Mercedes 300SL (1988)

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Re the fridge - there's a cover that fits on the outside of the caravan near the bottom of the fridge on many models. This is to stop wind etc when you're not using it on gas BUT you MUST remove it when using gas to allow sufficient air flow.

 

I don't know for sure but it may be that it's switching off after a while because it's not been removed?

Jim

 

Jim, your description sounds like you're referring to the flue cowl . .. but the cover for that only needs to be removed if you are using the water heater on gas, not the fridge.

 

Apologies if you're descibing the fridge vent winter covers . .. these need removing when the remperature is above 10°C.

 

John

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fridge in our Hobby (Thetford made especially for Hobby) will work on a wonk. .

 

loo shouldn't smell after a few days - poss not enough fluid

 

with regard to loo position and insufficient work surface, you may have chosen the wrong 'van for you!

Al.

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Thanks very much everyone for your replies, working my way through them to improve the next outing in a week.

 

I am really happy with the van, the main reason we chose it was for the large bunks for our children and the fact these are out of the way of the lounge and the door. The toilet/kitchen issues werent improved significantly in any similar priced van we looked at.

 

I would never have contemplated caravanning if it werent for my sons motorsport, so am extremely happy that it worked relatively well. Stumping up £100 per night on substandard hotels and then spending the weekend sat in the car with the younger child was an ordeal, so much improved now!

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Jim, your description sounds like you're referring to the flue cowl . .. but the cover for that only needs to be removed if you are using the water heater on gas, not the fridge.

 

Apologies if you're descibing the fridge vent winter covers . .. these need removing when the remperature is above 10°C.

 

John

OOps - sorry you're quite correct - serves me right for writing before I have woken up properly :blush: :blush: :blush: :blush:

 

The vents for the fridge are always open -unless of course they have been blocked off by a previous owner to cut draughts!

"keep your motor running"

caravan: Avondale Avocet ( 2006) - tow car: Renault Laguna (2007) - play car: Mercedes 300SL (1988)

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