Motorhomes, from house cars to mansions on wheels

When  retirement finally arrives it brings with it dozens of questions that may not be easy to answer. If you are one of the few who have completely planned your retirement from where to live to what to do with all your time than a motor may or may not be for you. Some retirees have a motorhome in their plans as a means of doing the traveling to all those places they have wanted to see or to visit friends or family. The motor home eliminates the need for motels or imposing on friends while spending the night. In addition you could have everything you are used to having at hand while at home. Do you use the internet? With wireless connections now you can have your friendly computer along for the ride. If you have not planned for your retirement and are still struggling with questions of where you want to live than a motorhome could be a good investment for you. With a self contained motor home you can travel to distant cities and spend a few days or a few months there to be sure the climate and other aspects of the area really appeal to you. Think of how difficult it is when you purchase your retirement dream home only to find after a few months that is not what you wanted after all. Maybe you are lonely for the family you left behind or miss old friends. Much better to discover these problems before a home is purchased and then has to be resold and all the furniture moved again. Many areas have special parks made for the motorhome owner. Paved streets, electrical, water and sanitary connections areall available. These parks usually rent spaces for about $400 a month which is economical when you consider the cost of motel rentals. Plus you have a stationary home once the motor home is parked. You will not have the bother of moving in and out of expensive motels.

You will most likely tow your car so after you park the motor home you are ready to thoroughly explore the area to see if it really does appeal to you. Nothing works as well as actually living in an area to determine if you will be happy there. Even considering the high cost of gas these days and the possibility that you may lose money on the motor home if you decide to sell it once you have decided where you are to settle, it would still be a bargain. Additionally the high cost of gas works in your favor at the present time as it has caused the prices for these motorhomes to be greatly reduced. So you can see that a motorhome does not necessarily mean a recreational vehicle. It can be your guide to peace of mind while searching for your dream home.

Motorhome Maintenance

Looking after a campervan involves more than just keeping the engine tuned – appliances in the living area also need to be cleaned, serviced and kept in a good state of repair. The exterior motorhome bodywork needs regular attention too. Like any vehicle a motorhome needs regular mechanical servicing and most owners have this performed by a qualified mechanic. This is not too difficult a task as it’s essentially like servicing a regular vehicle.

However, servicing work is also required in the living area also, in addition to ensuring the area is damp free. A surprising number of motorhome owners ignore the habitation servicing aspect of good motorhome care, much of which can be carried out by an owner with just minimal skills and equipment. The listing below, which will vary in what is applicable depending on motorhome type and model, and from a mechanic Greenslopes point of view, is a good starting point on what an owner should consider for servicing.

An annual servicing schedule should include the following:

  • Section 1 – Undergear
    1. Visually inspect body-mounting fixings
    2. Visually inspect cab-to-body joints
    3. Check mounting of underfloor tanks
    4. Check spare wheel cradle operation and tyre
    5. Examine wheel boxes for corrosion and damage
    6. Check and lubricate corner steadies (if fitted)
    7. Check step operation (if fitted) and lubricate
    8. Lubricate axle tube on AL-KO chassis
    9. Inspect non-original suspension additions
  • Section 2 – External Bodywork & General Condition
    1. Inspect sealant ; check potential leak points
    2. Check and oil door locks; oil hinges
    3. Check body attachments, vents, roof lights, racks
    4. Confirm window operation, lubricate hinges/stays
    5. Inspect rising roof mechanism (where fitted)

  • Section 3 – Internal Elements
    1. Perform damp testing
    2. Verify cab seat movement
    3. Check furniture; lubricate catches and hinges
    4. Confirm blind and curtain operation
    5. Check vents and drop out holes
    6. Check floor and wall for delamination
  • Section 4 – Fire Warning Systems
    1. Smoke alarm – check operation and battery
    2. Check expiry date on extinguisher
    3. Check operation and notices on any DIY additions
  • Section 5 – Gas and gas appliances
    1. Carry out pressure test on system
    2. Replace washer on butane regulator
    3. Replace flexible hose, use new hoseclips
    4. Fridge – light and test for cooling
    5. Light and verify operation of cooking appliances
    6. Check space heater operation, clean burners
    7. Check water heater operation, clean burners
  • Section 6 – Electrical

1.Check RCD and MCB’s on central unit

2. Test 13amp mains sockets

3. Test 12v sockets
4. Check integrity of all wiring and fuses
5. Check operation of all interior lights
6. Check awning lights and outside pump socket
7. Check auxiliary battery

  • Section 7 – Water Systems
    1. Check operation of water pump
    2. Check waste and fresh water system for leaks
    3. Flush through with purifying cleaner
    4. Inspect tanks and empying system
    5. Change charcoal water filter (if fitted)
    6. Check toilet flush and blade operation

When buying a motor home should you buy new or used

In today’s economy the dream of owning a motor home for vacation or as a primary temporary residence requires some thought. The cost of fuel both gas and diesel has had a very negative effect on the recreational vehicle business. However depending on how you intend to use this vehicle could make the cost of fuel less of a problem. There is some good news in the down market in that if you are a buyer in this market there are some excellent values to be had in both new and used vehicles.

There is not much doubt that the price of fossil fuels will keep rising. The rise could be moderate over the next couple of years or if some crisis strikes the oil industry fuel costs could not only be astronomical but it may even become hard to purchase. Anyone who was around during the oil crisis of the 1970s will have vivid memories of the long lines and high cost of fuel at that time.

Knowing this, how might an rv be a beneficial investment. If your purpose is to use to travel great distances for vacationing then it might be a bad purchase. If you planned on parking it at a local or nearby campground and using it as a cottage where you would get lots of use from it without having to drive it then this could be a positive investment. Some might even consider buying an RV and driving it to their dream location such as Florida or Arizona and using it as a primary residence. If a large enough vehicle was purchased and there were only two or three occupants than this might be an economical move.

The ability to move your home at low cost could put your mind at ease in today’s crazy economy. This would work especially well for retirees or even a young working couple who would like to move to different states every few years.

However you intend to use one of these vehicles some decisions need to be made prior to purchase. First should you buy new or used? With the down economy there are good values available. The choices might not be as great as usual because of manufacturers cutting back on production. You would have a new vehicle warranty and the knowledge that the vehicle had not been abused. Everybody loves the smell of a new vehicle. However, you might take a large loss when you sell the vehicle.

In the used market you should be able to find almost any make and model you choose at extremely low prices. Many owners suffering from job loss or just the fear that fuel will be too expensive are anxious to deal. With a used motor home you will need to have the motor and generator examined by a competent mechanic. A very close inspection of running gear, appliances, water and waste disposable systems is in order.

If the vehicle was heavily used you will no doubt find scratches and dents and dings that you would not see in a new vehicle. However this may be a small distraction when a rock bottom purchase price is available. In addition because you will pay much less for a used motor home you should realize a smaller loss if you have to sell the vehicle.

Motorhome Basics

All motorhomes share some common basic characteristics. Here we attempt to explain these basic common features under a number of headings – Water, Electrics, Gas, Temperature Control, Home Comforts and Base Vehicle. There are many excellent publications that outline Motorhome and RV Basics in greater detail.

Motorhome Water

Many motorhome newbies may think the that managing water in the motorhome is a confusing subject. But it’s as simple as managing your fresh water and your waste water to good effect. Read more on Motorhome Water.

Motorhome Electrics

Motorhome makers cleverly use three sources of power – mains power, vehicle battery and leisure battery – to supply power to on-board appliances. Read more on Motorhome Electrics.

Motorhome Gas

A motorhome’s gas system is its second important power source. Liquified petroleum gas in butane (blue) or propane (red) cylinders are used in motorhomes. The cylinders are usually housed in an outside compartment that is sealed off from the interior. The sizes and types of gas cylinders and their connectors can vary from country to country. Therefore either check in advance that your required gas type is available at your destination or bring an ample supply of gas with you.

Motorhome Comforts

The layout and arrangement of features may vary considerably from campervan to campervan, but here’s a few things to consider.
Kitchen – including features such as sink, cooker, grill, oven, hob, fridge, food storage lockers, microwave, cutlery drawer and more. Motorhome kitchens can be linear, L-shaped or transverse. European vans tend to go light on cooking facilities as owners tend to barbecue outside. American RV’s tend to have lavish, full kitchens.

Refrigerator – over the years the manufacturers have come up with the perfect fridge for a mobile vehicle. The 3-way fridge is the standard model – so called as it can be powered by (i) the vehicle battery, when on the move (ii) mains electricity when hooked-up (iii) gas, when parked up, but not plugged in.

Bathroom – usually a lot going on in a confined space. A washbasin is standard. A shower is often provided – sometimes using the extendable faucet of the washbasin. The WC or toilet comes in two varieties – the fixed waste tank, common in Recreational Vehicles or the portable resevoir, common in all other styles of campervan. The top half of the unit is the seat / bowl with flushing mechanism. The bottom half is the waste container, sealed by moveable blade. A chemical is used to neutralize odour and break-down content. Disposal must be at a designated chemical toilet disposal point.

Bedding – comes in a variety of fixed or made-up forms. Types of beds include over-cab fixed or pull-down, bunk-beds, seating convertable to bed and floor space convertable to bed.