Caravan advice: your technical questions answered
This month, Caravan magazine readers want to know how to fix bubbling paint, the best winter storage options and why a gas fire is not sparking.
Let's see what expert Lee Davey advises...
Sitting in a caravan on the towbar
Q Can you sit in your caravan while it’s hooked up on the towbar if you put the steadies down? I’m new to caravanning and I’d love to be able to stop off and make a cup of tea without having to go into the services. It would save a lot of money and make life a lot easier.
A Absolutely. We often stop for lunch part-way through a journey, using facilities such as hob or grill when necessary. Just be sure to turn off the gas and secure other items before resuming your journey.
Bubbling caravan walls
Q Is it possible to repair bubbling on the side wall of my caravan or will I need to go to a specialist to have it repaired? Any idea how to repair it? The rest of the caravan is OK.
A Bubbling on exterior aluminium panels is usually an indicator of damp behind the affected area, and this problem needs to be addressed before repairs to the aluminium can be carried out. Once dry, there are two options: replace the bubbled panels, or repair.
Replacing the panels will provide a long-lasting solution but will be costly. Repairing is considerably cheaper (and easier for DIY), but treating corroded areas of any metal is unlikely to last as long as replacing with fresh metal. Once sanded/wire brushed, treatments such as Eastwood’s Aluminium Prep and Cleaner (available from frost.co.uk) will help combat the corrosion before filling, priming and repainting.
Caravan storage solutions
Q I am looking at storing my caravan away from my home over the winter but not sure how to find the right site?
A You might consider a CaSSOA Gold-standard site – this is the body that regulates storage sites in the UK. Visit its website to find one near you. Proximity to your home is not the only aspect of the site’s location you should consider.
The best sites are situated discreetly ‘out of the way’, avoiding main roads and other locations with significant passing traffic or pedestrians. Shabby wooden or wire fencing is something you would not want to see around a caravan storage site.
Tall (2.4m-high), metal palisade fencing is the preferred option and will deter and prevent wrongdoers from attempting to damage or steal your caravan. Investigate your options before you commit to one.
Motor mover issues
Q I had a problem with my Carver/Truma motor mover where the remote had given up. It is one of the first movers the company made and it seems that spares are no longer available.
It's a single-axle set-up on a 2003 Abbey 316. My service man said he had another control box and remote control which he could fit for £50. It is a Reich box and a compatible remote – it all works but one thing that lets it down is that it pulls to one side when forward or reverse is pressed it seems one motor starts a split second before the other then it runs straight. This wasn't a problem with the old control box and remote. Any ideas why it’s doing this?
A If we assume that the jockey wheel is straight, both motors, etc, are working as they should, and the problem only began after using the new controller, it does appear to be a handset issue.
I spoke to A&R Electronic Developments, Carver specialists, and they replied with the following: “The most probable reason for this symptom is a failure of the soft-start electronics on one side of the Reich controller unit. Under normal circumstances, when the forward button is pressed, the controller applies a soft-start signal to both motors and they ramp up to full speed over a short period of time (around two seconds).
I have seen failed controllers that send full voltage to the motor as soon as the handset button is pressed on one side only. So in this circumstance, as soon as the button is pressed, one motor starts normally (slowly – accelerating to full speed), whereas the other motor starts at full speed from the get go, hence the caravan slews for the first couple of seconds until the working side speeds up after a couple of seconds or so.
There could be other reasons such as a slipping roller on the tyre or a difference in torque between the two motors, but these faults would have been apparent with the original Carver control electronics. We can investigate and repair any faults on the Reich controller for a fixed cost of £95 plus return postage. Full details of our mover repair service are here: arelectronics.co.uk/contents/en-uk/d18_Caravan-Mover-Repairs.html”.
I hope this helps you get the problem fixed!
Hot water woes
Q We have a 2011 Unicorn Valencia fitted with an Alde heating system. We cannot get hot water without the central heating being on. We have followed the manual and YouTube videos. Does it need bleeding and, if so, how? Both the hot and cold water run strongly without coughing.
A In short, you can’t turn the heating off completely. However, if you turn the temperature for the heating right down, it won’t kick in unless the ambient temperature drops below that figure.
Gas fire not sparking
Q Our gas fire will no longer spark to start; it just clicks, without a spark. The mains heater works OK but I’m not sure what is going on. Do you think it needs servicing?
A A click but no spark is usually a cheap and fairly simple problem to fix. You don’t mention which type of gas fire you have but let’s assume it’s the common battery-operated type.
The first thing to try is changing the battery in the auto ignitor box. If this does not solve the problem then the auto ignitor box could be at fault. If it is the box that’s the issue, replacements are available from your local dealer or engineer.
But, I must add that as you are dealing with gas, you should always take care and seek the advice of an expert (try looking on the Approved Workshop website, approvedworkshops.co.uk for workshops near you).
Got a query?
Our expert team is happy to answer your questions, whether they relate to touring or towing, DIY or disasters! Whatever it is that's been causing you bother or making you scratch your head, we are on hand to help.
Send your questions and any images to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Write to: Questions & Answers, Caravan Magazine, The Maltings, West Street, Bourne, Lincolnshire, PE10 9PH.