Will an upsurge in refurbishments leading to more break downs ?

Jun 23, 2020
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Not a bone of contention just a comment.

I see the stay at home message has increased interest in used caravans.
I see the used caravan market very buoyant.
If you believe the social media sites there's a huge upsurge in people buying and refurbishing older caravans, not just the classics but many many others less old.
I see a lot of people asking about refurbishing damp or damage caravans. When you see their pictures of their refurbishment works i see no one refurbishing axles or replacing wheel bearings and replacing brakes and pads or hubs. No one seems to need their refurbishment to require chassis welding or repairs. Everyone is sticking with the original 40 year old ball hitch and bolts.

Everyone is painting the walls or adding coverings, removing walls and cupboards and treating damp with emulsion and gloss and outside mastic's. Yet I see next to no one adding strength only taking it away . Even 20 year old tyres are still okay to use if you repaint them with tyre seal and so forth. I see a lot of well meaning people doing some very very seriously worrying things.

Does that mean we are going to see an upsurge in caravan related failures. Structural failures, body work panels failures, the classic wheel falling off and so forth. I do a very very large amount of driving on motorways and have started to see an increase in caravan break downs and so forth. More the caravan than the tow vehicle.

Is there going to be a glut of break downs and accidents to come our way?
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Good points. I also think that we will see an upsurge in accidents through ill matched or ill loaded outfits driven by owners who think its okay to just buy caravan and away they go with scant knowledge of the basics.
 
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Jan 31, 2018
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In contrast some of the articles Ive read have outlined painful searches for appropritate draw bars/upgrades. You;d hope people are being sensible but.....
 
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Dec 21, 2012
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To Galgo,
I am rather pleased you have posted, I have been considering a similar one for a few weeks now.
While one of the main features of this blog is to help and share knowledge and experiences I have
to admit that I feel the same as you do. The quality of recent blogs has been poor due to some of the
extremely basic questions that are obviously from newcomers such as weights, gas, will my tow car pull
this that or the other, I know we all had to start somewhere, but both this and the other main blog pages
seem more and more to be hosting these types of questions, which as you say, may bode for many
unsuitable outfits to appear on our roads, when we are already scorned upon my many other road users,
I don't think some of the newbies are going to do anything to help improve that situation.
Its just a comment, I am not looking to start WWIII !
 
Jan 3, 2012
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Good points. I also think that we will see an upsurge in accidents through ill matched or ill loaded outfits driven by owners who think its okay to just buy caravan and away they go with scant knowledge of the basics.
i think you might right about that (Clive) just seen a Kia ceed towing Buccaneer Cruiser caravan he said the rangerover was having a repair we only come a short distance .
 
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Mar 14, 2005
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Like it or not caravans do use technology some of of which is subject to regulation, and that means some maintenance or repair activities are not suitable for DIY'ers.

We have seen a recent swathe of posts asking technical questions. Some have failed to supply enough information in the OP and we have to too-and-fro to try and get to enough before we can make an intelligent guess at what the problem/solution may be.

Looking at what information is supplied or is missing strongly suggests to me the level of competence of the questioner to undertake remedial actions.
  1. If someone has no experience in the subject, they don't use the correct terminology and they fail to supply all the relevant information. It is also uncertain they can safely or competently carry out suggestions we make.
  2. If someone has some competence in the area of technology but not specifically on the appliance, they will use correct terminology, and know or be to provide all the relevant information.
  3. If someone was fully competent, they wouldn't need to ask the question.
Some recent posts have failed to indicate competency or understanding of the technology involved, and it is those where we have to be careful not supply information that suggests its safe, sensible or encourages them to try something that may be beyond their abilities, or might not be performed to a required standard.

One recent poster was given the same answer by several people independently, telling him his proposal was not advised, yet despite the consensus view, the questioner did not like the answer, and just asked it again in a slightly differnt way, and complained when the consequences of his proposal were spelled out to him.
 
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Nov 11, 2009
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Like it or not caravans do use technology some of of which is subject to regulation, and that means some maintenance or repair activities are not suitable for DIY'ers.

We have seen a recent swathe of posts asking technical questions. Some have failed to supply enough information in the OP and we have to too-and-fro to try and get to enough before we can make an intelligent guess at what the problem/solution may be.

Looking at what information is supplied or is missing strongly suggests to me the level of competence of the questioner to undertake remedial actions.
  1. If someone has no experience in the subject, they don't use the correct terminology and they fail to supply all the relevant information. It is also uncertain they can safely or competently carry out suggestions we make.
  2. If someone has some competence in the area of technology but not specifically on the appliance, they will use correct terminology, and know or be to provide all the relevant information.
  3. If someone was fully competent, they wouldn't need to ask the question.
Some recent posts have failed to indicate competency or understanding of the technology involved, and it is those where we have to be careful not supply information that suggests its safe, sensible or encourages them to try something that may be beyond their abilities, or might not be performed to a required standard.

One recent poster was given the same answer by several people independently, telling him his proposal was not advised, yet despite the consensus view, the questioner did not like the answer, and just asked it again in a slightly differnt way, and complained when the consequences of his proposal were spelled out to him.
You make some valid points in your post and one thing that surprises me is that many of the “newbies” seem to have found the PC Forum as their first port of call. Which reflects well on where the Forum comes up in web searches.

There is so much information available these days that it got me thinking as to how I got information when I first started. And it’s been quite difficult. We found it difficult to get into caravanning what with car needing to be changed, related job moves, 16% interest rates and inflation at times around 25%. But my first attempt was when a neighbour died and his widow had to sell the caravan, a very nice Cosalt Safari. So we had a chat and she told me that she did not think my car , 1.8 Marina estate, was heavy enough to be safe. No discussion on kerbweight, MTPLM etc as such terms were unknown to me.

So having to park the idea a few years passed until we felt sufficiently stable and financially okay to venture forth again. So we arrived at a big dealer near Wotton Bassett and had a look around and decided to buy a nice Eldiss 2 berth. Even though we turned up in our Skoda Estelle rear engined car ( our run around and kids' drive) there was no discussion on weights or car suitability. They were happy to take the deposit. But by then I’d read some magazines and bought a Haynes manual. Still no YouTube or internet. Our first trip out was to the Forest of Dean and went well until on the way home a caravan nearside tyre shredded itself on the dual carriageway Monmouth to Newport. The recovery chap looked at the spare and his face said it all. Whilst it looked okay to me he’d seen lots of fine cracks in the tread base grooves. So he said that I should buy three new tyres and to drive home slowly.

So gradually I built up my experience as most did in those days by reading,, talking and doing. In many respects the internet as a source of information is fantastic but it can lead to endlessly searching for more information. That’s why I can spend an hour deciding which silicon sealant to buy from Screwfix, Toolstation, Wickes or B&Q all within easy walking distance from me 😁
 
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May 7, 2012
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I do think there may be a small increase in problems. We have seen on forums a number of people buying without a clue as to what the correct procedure was, and then asking questions afterwards. At least these people have now got the correct advice but there must be a lot of people out there who have faulty or unsuitable caravans and they could be a problem.
There have been many sold damp and even rotten models and if someone is prepared to lie over the condition of the body they may do the same about the running gear and the gas and electrics. This could be a worrying period with a number of disasters as a result of people being sold a lemon and not finding out until things go very wrong.
Once they are able it may be the police will start stopping caravans but I would assume they will be looking at older models as that should be where the problems will be.
 

Parksy

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People who sell a caravan routinely lie about the age and condition, not much has changed in that respect over the years.
Unwary buyers continue to lose money through buying damp riddled sheds, some even buy via online auction sites without having a good look at what they're buying beforehand.
The overwhelming majority of buyers simply want a caravan that's in reasonably good condition to use for leisure purposes, they're not trying to make a living and their queries are genuine.
Some buy older caravans to "renovate" because they're either into the retro scene or they don't want to spend money buying a later model because of uncertainty about the lifestyle or budgetary constraints.
In this age of instant mass communication it would be surprising if newbies didn't come here to ask for advice.
In times gone by they'd have pored over the few books and of course caravan magazines which could have taken ages to research things that can now be transmitted instantly.
It's not really up to us to decide whether a person is competent to carry out the work that we're advising them on, we can advise caution but if they go ahead it's up to them, we're not the Caravan Police.
We haven't seen scores of wrecked caravans littering the highways and byways up to now, and we're unlikely to see them going forward.
The most common caravan breakdown is a puncture, we don't see many gas explosions or people being electrocuted in touring caravans for the simple reason that most newbies who ask for advice from this and other caravan forums are genuine buyers who have the sense to realise when they're getting out of their depth or that the 'vintage' caravan they bought is in fact an old wreck that's fit for the scrapyard.
 
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Damian

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Mar 14, 2005
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I am not sure about an upsurge in dodgy caravans, there has always been those which should never be on the road, and those which have never seen a service engineer in their entire life.

I have come across some truly horrendous situations where the owner thought they could do things which were plainly dangerous and sometimes just plain ridiculous (like fitting a domestic double glazed window unit in the front of the van).

The main problem areas have been very badly installed and dangerous gas installations, with the wrong fittings being used and being able to run two different gases at the same time, and very badly installed electrics with the wrong type of wiring and items where they simply are not permitted to be, like sockets in gas lockers, mains sockets in wet rooms !!!

Just because the very strict rules that cover gas and electric do not apply in most cases as regarding caravan ownership does not remove the duty of care required and adherence to the relevant regulations, and sadly many owners over estimate their ability to do a safe and proper job.

On the other hand, many owners do amazing things with their vans and really look after them much to their credit.

I am not saying that everything must be left to qualified engineers, after all, not all engineers are good, but the main thing is, if you dont know how to do something in line with the regulations, then dont do it, get someone who does know what they are doing.

With the current situation and seemingly a lot more people looking to the caravan scene I do expect a lot more call outs when things go wrong and potentially ruin someones long awaited holiday.
 
Jun 23, 2020
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i was not referring exactly to this forum as the guide for my remarks.

Over the last ten years the van life movement has really expanded. Face book has hundreds of groups based on that idea. Many are now converting lorries. I often see designs of self made back habitat containers not fixed down in a good way to the chassis. I see caravans also going that way. Theres loads of people showing off caravans i would push back into the hedge they came from announcing with a weekends work its ready for their holiday.

The starter for me was that the law is changing soon if not already to ban the use of tyres 10 years old or more from the public highway. Lorries and coaches basically but i would like to see how many of these self build caravan refurbishments have tyres older than that?

Its often seen people with paint and wall paper proclaiming their perfect holiday home. Yet i have seen no works done to axels, tyres, bearings, hubs and disks and brakes.

I have recently seen a picture of a tow hitch in use that has no locking pin in it and the guy uses a small threaded bolt "just in case" or a cable tie to hold it on.
Yes theres always that one person with electrics or gas install issues. But i am talking here chassis rotten, floors rotten unable to be fixed to the chassis. Wall support timbers that have rotted causeing the shell to wobble when in movement.
 
Jan 31, 2018
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That's very worrying but i reckon most caravan restorers, as per cars are real enthusiasts who do the research and are perfectionists and this extends to every aspect-chassis up. Those who buy it for a quick cheap holiday and just tart it up are a worry though!
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I agree we are not the "Caravan Police" and we cannot stop anyone from doing anything if they want to. Ultimately the decision to follow the regulations or not is down to the individual.

As a professional in certain areas that affect caravanning I have a moral duty if not a legal duty to only offer safe advice, and to point out issues and to try and avert unsafe activity.

All that we can do is to advice caution and point out some of the pitfalls that we may see.

Like Damian, I have had to get involved with gas and electric systems that have been tampered with by owners who thought they knew it all. One system in particular almost killed a father and daughter.

But I also attended a motorhome where a n ex Navy nuclear engineer had attempted to fit a heater and he discovered it didn't work, He hadn't fitted the flue properly, so even when someone may be highly qualified in a branch of engineering, it doesn't mean they are necessarily competent to work on gas.
 

Parksy

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All that we can do is to advice caution and point out some of the pitfalls that we may see.
Which is what I said earlier.
The bottom line has to be whether or not you offer any technical advice at all on forums such as this.
None of us has any way to check the technical ability of any forum member.
Taken to it's logical conclusion, the only advice that should be offered with regard to gas or electrical installation from a purely moral standpoint would be to leave it alone and get a professional to sort out the problem.
This approach would rather defeat the idea of a caravan forum from which technical advice is offered though.
 
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Mar 14, 2005
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This approach would rather defeat the idea of a caravan forum from which technical advice is offered though.
To a point yes in relation to those area's where regulation does exist, but there is still plenty of scope where it is unlikely to affect safety.

I'm pretty sure your not, but are you suggesting becasue this is a "practical" forum we shouldn't point out potential errors or alternatives to people's plans?

It's of value to a novice to warned about a pitfall, but it becomes an annoyance to those who have been there and done it or heard it before. Whilst this new(ish) forum is vastly superior to previous versions, the search facility still returns many suggestions which are a nuisance to navigate, And I do wonder if this is why so many new posters are still asking the same old questions, which require or at least illicit so many of the same answers, and where those answers may be contentious, Often those views re-introduce topics which some longer term members find tiresome, but to provide a balanced view to the new questioner, they still need to addressed by alternative views.
 

Parksy

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Nov 12, 2009
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To a point yes in relation to those area's where regulation does exist, but there is still plenty of scope where it is unlikely to affect safety.

I'm pretty sure your not, but are you suggesting becasue this is a "practical" forum we shouldn't point out potential errors or alternatives to people's plans?
No, that's not what I'm suggesting at all.
The point that I'm making is that people buy dodgy caravans all the time and they always have bought dodgy caravans.
The OP and others who responded seem to suggest that the general reputation of caravanners is about to be collectively damaged because of these unwary buyers.
I disagree, most of us know when we've bought a lemon and the majority of us are all too aware of our own abilities and limitations.
As for offering technical advice, none of us are really in a strong position from which to assess the capabilities of other forum members whether they are newbies or old hands.
Advice is offered in good faith but this forum accepts no responsibility for any outcome which results from this advice or information.
We do advise caution, but ultimately it's up to the individual to decide whether to offer or to accept advice.
Public hand wringing about possible consequences is futile and only serves to irritate, as we've seen recently.
P.S Edit:
Newbies ask the same questions because the issues and problems rarely change.
The search facility does work, but it's very much a case of GIGO and newbies wouldn't necessarily know what terminology to enter into the search box.
Most of them find it easier to ask on this forum, even when a simple Google search would yield good results.
I put it down to peer reassurance.
 
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Jun 16, 2010
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Being an avid user of Facebook marketplace, it does appear that all of a sudden, a lot of old forgotten caravans have been pulled out of gardens / drives and up for sale. Their price point attracts a lot of attention from those that put price before value.

Claims of no damp, yet the wall in the bathroom now has bright white pound shop wall paper rather than the matching nicotine stained walls in the rest of the unit. Nice new vinyl flooring despite the rest of the interior being a tip.

Look at that guy posting on here yesterday (since banned) looking to reinstate power into what was basically a scrap caravan. On another popular forum, he admitted to being 14 and doing it as a hobby. I question the wisdom of anyone buying that example.

Seems lots of attention is paid to the aesthetics, while the rotten running gear is a mere afterthought. Parked over grass for 10 years on cracked, half inflated tyres.
We're going to be sharing the roads with these people and collectively, the Clarksons of this world will hold it against all of us.

Don't even get me started on local facebook groups with people asking for advice - mainly asking whether their car can pull the unseen Hobby TA they've had delivered with their Nissan Juke.
The replies are not being made by folk like the Prof, instead their friends who assure them it'll be fine. Anyone who can be bothered to offer any real advice is usually shot down.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hello Parksy,
I basically do agree with your last post, except for the inference that we shouldn't point out consequences of poor choices because it might irritate.

In some cases (as in the one in question) a poster had asked about an outfit match which not only had he read elsewhere was not recommended, but most responses in this forum were also pointing out it was poor. Despite the overwhelming consensus, he comes back and still asks why is it not ok.

He had been given virtually all the technical reasons, so what's next? If we repeat all the same technical responses were no further on, so it's what some of the possible consequences may be.

If it gets the message across then it's a good thing. If it irritates, then that is a small price to pay.

I'd suggest that those who find such comment's irritating are those who already know the subject well enough, or thoes who know their own activites are not quite cosher or sensible.

But it might be the originator was really not aware of the consequences.

As you rightly point out, we cannot accurately judge the abilities or understanding of forumites, and that is especially true new posters. We all have to do it to some extent, and we can only use the postings on the forum.

But when overwhelming advice given is apparently ignored, for me it paints a picture of someone who maybe does not understand the technical reasons, and a different approach is required if that needs emotions then so be it.
 
May 7, 2012
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If people ask us questions, then we should help them as far as possible. If we prevent one serious mistake we have achieved something and from reading the many pots on here I think we have done better than that but we should never be complacent.
You can point people in the right direction and warn of the perils others face but it is then up to them what they do with it.
I appreciate the technical advice sometimes given is going to be beyond some peoples capability. Having got the advice though, it is up to them to decide if the are competent or need help.
 

Parksy

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Nov 12, 2009
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A warning or advice to exercise caution is fine, and is what should be expected.
The trouble is that these same warnings are repeated over and over by different contributors all saying the same thing.
If a person who is considered to be incapable of carrying out the work or of heeding a warning continues to ask the same question but refuses to accept the answer, maybe there comes a point when no further information should be given?
 
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Mar 14, 2005
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A warning or advice to exercise caution is fine, and is what should be expected.
The trouble is that these same warnings are repeated over and over by different contributors all saying the same thing.
If a person who is considered to be incapable of carrying out the work or of heeding a warning continues to ask the same question but refuses to accept the answer, maybe there comes a point when no further information should be given?
Any good teacher should know that differnt people sometimes need a different way to learn, and they should develop a number of differnt strategies to engage the pupil.

But how or who judges the point where further discussion/explanation has no value?

It would be total unacceptable to create a pecking order or a limit of who might reply on the forum, so it's likely there will be several replies to almost any question.

I hope it is understood by anyone who posts a question on an open forum like PCF, that any one who feels like answering can and its likely there will be a diversity of replies.

One of the problems I see, is when there is intent to disrupt the forum. We have seen examples of that where diversions into personal comments or abuse, attempts at humour, and with disinformation. how can a novice be expected to navigate between sound or unsound advice? Not all incorrect (moral or technical) postings contravene the forums rules, and not all will be obvious to the moderators.
 

Parksy

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Nov 12, 2009
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..... But how or who judges the point where further discussion/explanation has no value?......
Personally speaking, I don't get too involved with replying to some technical questions on this forum because there are members far more qualified than I am to provide the correct technical response.
I'm confident of carrying out most
d-I-y jobs and repairs on our caravan if the need arises, but there comes a point for me when further replies from me are either unhelpful or a waste of time.
No matter what any of us say, if a person is determined to do something, they'll go ahead and do it regardless.

.......One of the problems I see, is when there is intent to disrupt the forum. We have seen examples of that where diversions into personal comments or abuse, attempts at humour, and with disinformation. how can a novice be expected to navigate between sound or unsound advice? Not all incorrect (moral or technical) postings contravene the forums rules, and not all will be obvious to the moderators.
You'd be surprised Prof! 😂
Between Damian who is an experienced qualified approved caravan engineer and myself, who isn't, we often spot potential trouble before it's become obvious.
If no forum rules are broken, apparent moderator inaction doesn't mean that certain trends and warning signs aren't obvious to us.
We often remove contentious material before it can do too much damage, or alternatively a timely private message does the trick.
This is an entirely separate topic to the one under discussion though, so I'll leave it there.
 
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