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Our January 2020 winning letter

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VIEWS

Make the outdoor life more enjoyable by sharing your camping problems, questions and opinions, and raising topics that can improve things for everyone. Our print and digital community is a great place to swop tips, get advice, and find answers to your caravan and camping questions. We have genuine experts and very experienced readers who can offer advice… and like all campers, we really like to help each other!

That being said congratulations to Adrian Morison, who wrote us the January 2020 winning letter.

WHY OUTSIDE KITCHENS?

I have been caravanning for many years and cannot understand why most caravan manufacturers produce caravans with outside kitchens! Ever tried cooking on gas outside when it is pouring with rain or when the wind is howling? The awning has to be put up first and the wind may be blowing or it may be raining at that time. Also in the middle of winter (some of us do caravan at that time of the year), you have to leave your lovely warm caravan and go outside to boil the coffee water and make breakfast. Some caravans even have microwave ovens outside. It is, of course, better to do the cooking out of the caravan, but sometimes this is impossible especially when you arrive at a park while it is blowing or raining. Are there any caravans on the market which have both outside and inside cooking facilities e.g. when the outside kitchen slides in it can be used inside? We love our Fendt with the inside kitchen right by the entrance. Also, please could you do a review on rear-view cameras for caravans, as most of the vans today have no back windows and side extension mirrors are useless. Great magazine as always. Thank you.  – Adrian Morison

Maybe it’s as a result of a market survey or simply a fashion, that outside kitchens are the in thing? It is a hassle to have to get dressed in the morning to go outside and make your first cup of coffee. Fact is, in Africa, we merely sleep in the caravan and do all the living outside, in the coolness under the awning.

TWO QUESTIONS

1) I have a Sprite Tourer SW and when I store it I jack up the caravan with all four jacks so all the tyres are off the ground. I have been told this is a no-no, as the jacks are only to level the caravan and not to raise it off the ground. At some camping sites to get the caravan level I sometimes have to raise one wheel off the ground. I believe that some caravans may have weaker chassis than others and by raising it on a corner it could distort the caravan?

2) In the last issue of the magazine, I noticed some of the new caravans don’t have Chevron boards on the back. But the picture of Jurgens resuming production showed all the new caravans with Chevron boards. Some time ago I took my old Romany van for COF in Empangeni and they insisted I fit a Chevron on the back for COF. What is the Law on this? –Mike Bunting, Mtunzini

In short, corner steadies are not designed to lift a caravan off the ground, that is why these are called corner steadies, and not ‘jacks’. Rather use a hydraulic or scissors jack under the axle to lift a caravan and then lower it onto axle stands. Balance the caravan by using the corner steadies to prevent the caravan from tipping at either end. On an uneven campsite use a wheel ramp to get the caravan level across the wheels and raise or lower the jockey wheel to get it level from front to back. The reason why corner steadies are not ‘jacks’ is due to the design. All the weight presses on the thread and too much weight will bend the threaded bar (see the picture) How do you tell if your corner steady has been overstressed? It will wobble when being lowered or raised. Question 2: Category 01 and 02 Vehicles (caravans and light trailers) ITEM 3.1.3 Chevrons states: A rear warning sign shall be fitted to a trailer and shall comply with the relevant regulations of the National Road Traffic Act, 199 (Act 93 of 1996). I have looked at this act and cannot find any reference that specifies the fitment of a Chevron board over that of reflectors, in a set pattern.  Some manufacturers use nothing more than triangles, some use oblong reflectors in a staggered pattern and some use a Chevron plate.

CAN I TOW?

Can I tow my Jurgens Classique 1990 model with my ix35 Hyundai 2l?– Erenst van der Merwe

The 1990 Jurgens Classique was listed as having a GVM of 1 250kg and being suitable for a 2.8-litre tow car. If this GVM is correct you will need a car that has a Tare weight of 1 250kg, or more, in order to be street legal. Power-wise, the performance 2-litre cars are producing these days is remarkable but all hinges on the GVM of your caravan. Up on the reef, it may be tiring towing with a vehicle that is working hard to maintain a steady speed!

INCREASE THE GVM?

I currently have a small trailer that I want to convert into a caravan. What must I do to increase the GVM of the trailer? – Jabu

The GVM of the trailer starts with the axle rating, by law all axles must have a tag specifying the maximum load it can carry. You can upgrade the axle to a heavier load carrying capacity – within the capability of the trailer – and if you go more than 750kg you will have to fit an axle that has brakes. This would also require a new tow hitch to operate the trailer brakes. Once this has been done you will have to re-roadworthy the trailer, specifying an upgrade in GVM and register the trailer at your local authority. You will have to upgrade the trailer data plate too.

AIR CONDITIONER

Hi all, I’m new to caravanning and would like some advice. I am looking at installing a Window/Wall aircon unit but would like to know if this unit can be removed when traveling to lighten the caravan. – Dewald Maritz

If you are talking about an evaporative cooler, these are light anyway so why remove it when towing? If it is a compressor/condenser-type air conditioner built into the caravan, you probably can’t remove it without having to re-gas the unit and so is impractical. If you are worried about exceeding the GVM of the caravan, then look at upgrading the caravan’s GVM.

Do you have any questions? Please fill in the form below or send your letter to clinic@caravansa.co.za.

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