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By: Bjarne Eikefjord
Motorhome and Caravan magazine, No. 5 October

For a safe camping holiday: Have the caravan undergo a full check

Vehicles with or without a motor have the habit of "standing to death" if not used. Engine, drivetrain, brakes and electronics do not benefit from long breaks from use. The EU inspection requirement every two years ensures that motor vehicles are updated and kept in order. A caravan can be left standing for years between each use, and there is no EU control that can detect hidden defects. BoCM took up the matter with Perry and Williams Caravan in Østfold, and there were surprises.

The editor of BoCM is like most campers. The caravan from 2015 has gradually spent more and more time, if not all the time, on a campsite, and not on the road. This year, however, travel plans were abruptly changed, as borders closed across Europe and holiday time was relegated to Norway. But that was really okay. Travel holidays with a caravan have been pleasant memories, and our 6-year-old Hobby 540 would probably only benefit from a few kilometers on Norwegian roads again. It had just stood there, quiet and calm, and then most things should be taken care of, right? It was probably a bit "or" because after being wheeled to Perry and Williams Caravan in Råde in Østfold, some surprises came to light.

More than moisture control

"Everyone" knows that a car requires annual maintenance, oil changes and brake checks. Most caravan owners have also realized that it is a good idea to have an annual humidity check, both for the sake of the users, but also to ensure that the suppliers' guarantees will continue to apply. Many caravans spend most of their time on campsites around, where it can take years between each time the wheels roll on asphalt. The Corona pandemic in 2020 has brought to life the dream of travel experiences for many. Caravans have been retrieved from gardens and campsites and hooked on cars. "But if the holiday trip is to be the great experience many people dream of, perhaps the caravan should undergo a slightly larger check of the wheel arches, lifting jacks, traction dampers, gas systems and most other of the clay that can be found in the caravan" -, says Espen Eikum at Perry and Williams Caravan.

Full review

Most caravan suppliers also have a service workshop, but it is not often that they have caravans for a full check, says Espen Eikum. More and more people are taking humidity checks on site, only exceptionally are the wagons brought to service halls for a full inspection. "A lot can be done on site, but if we are to check wheels, brakes, wheel aisle and chassis, the caravan must be jacked up, and we can not do that when it is out on a campsite" -, says Espen who will encourage caravan owners to take a visit the workshop once in a while.

Chassis control

First, the carriage was jacked up with jacks placed in the correct place on the frame beam. "Incorrectly placed jacks or jacks can cause damage to the frame beams themselves, so here it is important to follow the manufacturer's instructions," says Espen. He starts with physical control of wheel bearings, listens for noises and checks that the bearings are not slack. - "Then it can be a hot run that eventually causes the shaft journal to break, and it rarely ends well" - he exhorts. He then inspects the tires for cracks and checks the year of production. - «The DOT number consists of four digits, where the first two indicate the week number, and the last two year numbers. The tires should not be older than 5-6 years. When they have stood still for a long time, they tend to start to get small, almost invisible cracks, which, however, quickly become large and end in bangs when they get hot. Proper air pressure is also extremely important "- Espen states.

Lubrication

Caravans have a screw jack in each corner. These are used to get the stroller level and stable when in use. - "They should not be used to lift the cart with" - emphasizes Espen, who lubricates the screws and checks that they work as they should. He then lubricates the screw thread on the nose wheel, before taking a visual check of the frame beams, wheel axles and fasteners. One thing many people forget is the traction damper. There are two lubrication nipples to ensure that the shaft runs properly. The traction damper ensures that the carriage has a "soft" encounter with the ball attachment when braking, and then stretches the traction back again. The mechanism in the locks on doors and hatches dries out over time, and then they become almost impossible to lock or open. Espen gives the locks a solid dose of locking oil, which ensures that they work as they should in all kinds of weather, even in winter.

Gas control

The gas systems in motorhomes and caravans must be absolutely tight and safe to use. Many people sin against this, and every single year there are accidents that arise from gas going astray. Espen bends the gas hose to check for tiny cracks. Gas hoses have a stamped year of manufacture, and they must not exceed 5 years. - "This has expired" - states Espen, who picks up a new hose with adapter. "Many people do not know that the adapters will also be replaced after a few years", says Espen to the editor's big surprise. Finally comes the pressure testing. The gas system must withstand a certain pressure for a certain time without leaking. Any leaks are shown by the meter as the pressure decreases, but here it was fine.

Humidity control

Finally, Espen will check the entire carriage for moisture. First a little look in the air vent for the refrigerator. - "here a lot of dust and other things can accumulate, and then the refrigerator works much worse," - says Espen and blows clean with compressed air. A humidity meter is an instrument with a battery that sends a weak current between two contacts. If there is moisture in the material these are opposed to, it will appear on the display when it is knocked out. - "It is important to check all nooks and crannies, because that is where the moisture thrives best" - states Espen, who finally signs the control form which ensures that the guarantee still applies.

Ready for vacation

The full inspection of the caravan at Perry and Williams Caravan showed that most things were in order, but there were some surprises. Dry jacks and traction dampers were duly lubricated to function properly. The brakes were checked and blown for brake dust. Above all, the gas system was upgraded with new hoses and a new adapter. This should be done at regular intervals, even if the caravan is on a campsite most of the time. If you are going to drive again, it is absolutely necessary, and the price is not a deterrent either. It lasts a long time with a few thousand bucks, and it is a good investment in a safe and secure caravan trip. - "Everything is fine here now, and we just wish you a good holiday trip this summer" - states Espen Eikum, after checking the entire caravan for any mistakes that could have created shards in the joy of a great camping summer holiday on wheels.

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