Month: February 2018

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, 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

    How to find cheap campsites in the UK ?

    If you intend to travel around the UK quite a lot with a motorhome, caravan or even a tent, you may be able to save money by joining one of the camping clubs. There are really only two choices and these are: ‘The Caravan Club‘and ‘The Camping and Caravanning Club‘.

    There isn’t really much to choose from between them. As you might have guessed The Caravan Club does tend towards the use of caravans rather than motorhomes, but in reality it’s only a few of the very small sites that allow caravans but not motorhomes.

    The real benefit both of these clubs is the very small sites which only have five pitches. In The Caravan Club these are called Certified Locations or more commonly just CL. In the The Camping and Caravanning Club the equivalent sites are called Certified Sites or CS. Typically you can stay at these sites with a motorhome, two adults and two children for somewhere between £10 and £15 per night and quite often that will include electricity too.

    If you’re travelling in France it is always worth trying to find the municipale campsites which generally tend to be near any sort of sportsground or football pitch in the smaller towns. Unfortunately in more recent years many of these municipale campsites have become privately owned and consequently aren’t as cheap as they once were. In France the high season is always July and August and sometimes June too, so if you can try and stay out of these months then you will be able to get cheaper sites.

    Do also bear in mind that in France and many other European countries there are the Aires de Camping car or equivalent. In France in particular these are all over the place and once again can be found in very public places such as near swimming pools and ski lifts. These provide an excellent and sometimes free service for motorhome stopovers. You can sometimes get electricity and you can almost always find somewhere empty your chemical toilet and waste water. You can easily spend two weeks in a motorhome in France without ever having to go to a real campsite.

    There is also a new website that sprang up recently which has a mobile phone app that will show you places where you can stay for free or very cheap cheaply. The service was started up in France and is spreading throughout the rest of Europe, but at the moment most of the locations it refers to our in France.

    As you move into Spain you would tend to think that the cheaper sites would be inland, which to some extent is true. But quite often you can find cheap campsites that are actually quite near the coast that are real bargains. In fact if you haven’t got anything booked, this might be the way to go anyway as sometimes finding campsites inland in Spain can be a bit hit and miss.

    If you feel adventurous then try wild camping, but do be careful. Generally we found that in the UK there aren’t that many places where somebody will complain, especially if you’re near a town. However there are lots of out of the way picnic areas in the countryside where it is perfectly possible to stay at least overnight, for free. If you don’t mind staying in a pub car park then it is always worth asking the landlord of the pub if you can stop overnight. More often than not, particularly out of the country, pub landlords are very grateful for any trade they get that if you have a few drinks and maybe meal then quite often they will let you stop overnight.

    If you would like to enjoy the deep countryside of Scotland and Wales you will find plenty of places where you can tuck your motorhome away for the night, without anybody noticing.

    In the UK there is a scheme called Motorhome Stopovers when you pay an annual fee of about £30 and this entitles you to stay in any of the pub car parks that are in the motorhome stopover scheme. The stopover is free on the condition that you do make a purchase from the pub, on their website it says this can be a Coca-Cola, but hey you don’t need to drive anywhere and you are on private land so why not have a real drink?

    It is a very common site, especially in Europe to see motorhomes parked overnight in large out-of-town supermarket car parks. Although I guess this isn’t strictly what the supermarkets would like you to do, it is very probable that the motorhome owners would do a fair amount of shopping at supermarket and will also probably feel up with diesel there too. So I guess a blind eye is turned as they assume that the occupants will probably spend a few hundred euros at least.

    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.