Here is a few things I’d like to see for 2013….
For caravans with bathrooms, why do they put the skylight in the middle of the bathroom and not in the shower cubicle? If you look at the majority of travel trailers and motor homes in the USA, they install the roof vent in the shower cubicle. A couple of reasons.. one it means that you don;t have to turn on the light in there when it’s daylight outside, but for me the key one is that any steam is allowed to vent out straight from the cubicle when the shower door is shut, rather than letting it drift into the bathroom and raising the humidity level to a point where over a period of time it could potentially start to affect the structure of the caravan. I also think that it would improve the chances of keeping the bathroom warmer in colder months as cold air would be drawn into the shower cubicle, so with the shower door shut it would reduce the cold air in the bathroom while still providing the required ventilation.
Brake Assist Systems
Currently in the UK there are three or four brake assist systems, one of the most popular is AL-KO’s ATC Trailer Control system. This is an excellent product, but for me it only goes part of the way and offer true braking assistance. There are other products such as Insync’s offering that offer braking assistance but no active stability program.
I’d like to see a unit with a similar stability program to ATC, but with the added advantage that the caravan brakes are applied when the vehicles brake lights are activated. Currently the over-run system fitted to caravans only operates the caravan brakes when the braking force exceeds a certain deceleration rate and allows the damper in the coupling to compress operating the brakes. Now for any van this limit is going to change… fully loaded for a two-week trip abroad is going to have a different operating point than when talking the van empty for servicing as the towed mass of the van will be different.
However, if the braking system was activated by the tow vehicles brake light circuit, you could apply 50% or 60% of the caravans braking effect no matter what the loading almost instantly. This will also help in marginal conditions. On ice at 10 MPH while manoeuvring on site, the caravan brakes will never activate when you depress the brake pedal, you rely on the vehicle brakes to do all the work and the four patches of rubber have to be able to provide enough friction to stop the tow vehicle and the caravan. If the caravan’s brakes could be operated, then the four patches of rubber suddenly increase by 50% to six patches of rubber.
Oh if it were that simple! Any assistance with the braking effort of the caravan via other means will have an effect on the over run coupling. If you brake the caravan partially via a brake assist unit then the point at which the overrun coupling can apply the brakes will change and it is possible that the break assist unit could stop the overrun coupling from working correctly in some braking circumstances. The big issue could be if you have a system fitted that reduces the designed braking effect of the manufacturers overrun coupling, in the event of an accident, could the insurer technically claim that the braking had been knowingly compromised? I think that this is why AL-KO have a different system for Australia and New Zealand and with the exception of the UK and Europe the rest of the world ditched overrun systems a long time ago.
“All right at the back?”
Manufacturers have grasped on to the fact rear view cameras are becoming an essential safety feature… well at least in motor homes they have. Us poor caravanners have to find clever ways to install rear view cameras and run cables without making warranty voiding holes in our expensive investment. Now I know it’s easy for a manufacturer to install a system in a motor home as he’s in control of everything from camera to screen and all the spaghetti in-between With a caravan its a bit different as the manufacturer only has one end of the puzzle to play with, but a bit of thought into the design and assembly of the back panel could make the difference. It would be easy to design into the mould a mounting point that could be used to mount a camera and a suitable bit of pvc tubing run down the inside or a moulded trim strip that can be popped out like a bit of trunking that would allow at some point in the future a couple of cables to be installed. So, to all the caravan manufacturers out there, here’s the challenge – are you going to be the first to lead the way?
A gadget for all female caravanners….. an extension tube and nozzle that plugs into the blown hot air system that allows it to be used as a hair dryer when there is no EHU or a low amp EHU.
John S said:
Our new van, when we get it, has got a vent over the shower as well as in the bathroom. Very sensible idea.
The current one hasn’t even got a light but it does have a vent but not one in the bathroom.
We used to have a rear view camera on our MHome and it was very useful but the hassle of wiring would definitley be a problem with van.
Not so sure about the tube for blown air and hairdrying. The fan hasn’t got enough ummphhhh!!!!
What is needed is a reasonably cheap gas hair drier but they cost a fortune.
It would seem that maybe someone has engaged the grey cells then when designing bathrooms! I could never figure out why in our Swift the vent was in the centre of the bathroom and the steam from the shower filled the bathroom before venting out.
I agree with you, a rear view camera is almost a ‘must have’ item now. I’ve got all the bits now to install one on our van and hopefully will be making a start in the near future.
Our blown air system if you shut off all but one vent and turn the fan to max does have enough air flow and heat to certainly beat the 12 volt ones you can get, so with a cleaver nozzle design I’m sure it would be an acceptable alternative. After all, the heater is around 3Kw when running on gas! I can remember as a child in the 60’s the big green wall mounted hair dryers with a flexible steel tube in our local swimming baths seemed to work OK… all for one old penny in the slot too!
John S said:
Our biggest problem in the van is the hairdryer. Has been ever since we have had one. Tried a 12 volt one and they are useless. Problem is that you would have to put the heating on even in the summer and it would take a while to heat up.
Gas is the way to go!
What camera have you bought? It is the wring that puts me off.
Good point about the heating in the summer… however my wife’s hairdryer seems to me to only have three settings… smelt aluminium, blast furnace and hades so that soon warms the van up even in the depths of winter!
Ive got a small camera from Maplins http://www.maplin.co.uk/car-rear-view-colour-reversing-camera-508644 and on the bench it seems to perform quite well. For the moment, I’m going to use a monitor that I use with one of my Canon SLR’s, but I’m hoping to go for one of the rear view mirror units, I’m just waiting to have a look at the performance of them at the Manchester Caravan show in two weeks. The cabling is not too bad as it can all be done under the caravan. I’ll be posting all about my attempts to install it in the next few weeks.