Communicating with your RV Dealer

Picking up our Roadstar Safari Tamer. This was a magic time for us. It should be one of the best days of your life, not a day to forget.

Lately I've read a number of stories of people who have placed orders for a caravan or camper trailer who were initially given a build time or delivery date for their new pride and joy, and find that the manufacturer is unable to meet the promised schedule.  And I'm not just talking about a matter of a few days late. I talking about weeks or even months after the initial date.  Its heartbreaking to hear these stories especially when many have planned a big trip or a complete change of lifestyle around the delivery of the new RV.  They are often quite shocked when they are told, not having received any communication earlier that it may be a possibility.  One unfortunate fellow I heard about drove all the way from Melbourne to Brisbane only to be told on arrival the build had not even started.

At first I thought how unscrupulous it was of these dealers/manufacturers not to have informed their customers of these delays, but then I thought about our own experiences and I wondered how it could be that these people found themselves in this situation in the first place. Have they not been in contact with the company in the period between placing the order and the expected delivery date to ensure everything was proceeding on schedule? I started to think that these people who find themselves in this situation may have to accept some responsibility.

We've ordered a few 4WDs, campers and caravans over the years and, while we may have been reasonably lucky not to have experienced any major delays, we have always been proactive in our dealings with the dealers.  By that I mean we have not waited to be contacted, rather we have initiated the regular contact ourselves.  When we have had a specific deadline, we have ensured the dealer is reminded of this so that if there was to be a delay of any sort, we would be in a position to find out as early as possible.

One thing we did with the caravans was to ask for progress photos of the build.  While our intention was purely for curiosity, it had the effect of reassuring us the van was actually under construction when the manufacturer said it was.

The other trick is to remember the old saying, "the squeaky wheel gets the oil".  While I would never say we were annoying, we were firm with our requirements and ensured the other party was well aware of it, in no uncertain terms.  We just ensured we were on the top of their minds at all times.

A picture of 'Sven' in the early stage of production showing the optional aluminium frame.

One thing I do want to add is that, while we were waiting for the build of the Roadstar, I visited Noel, the production manager, a few times and I got an insight into the demands and pressures of his job.  Building a caravan is much like building a small house.  There are dozens of individual components and many are brought in from a number of suppliers.  Each component has to be ready to be installed at a particular point in the build process and a delay in any one of these items can set the whole build process back as a result.  They even had a dealer go out of business taking the deposit on 5 vans with them.  In order to accomodate these unfortunate customers, Roadstar fitted the additional builds into the production schedule, adding further pressure to the process.  Being able to manage all this while, at the same time, ensuring the factory keeps to a schedule and maintains the expected level of quality, is a very difficult job indeed.  I certainly had no desire to take over Noel's job.

At the end of the day, communication is the key.  Keep in touch with your dealer.  Stay on good terms with them but remain firm about your requirements and there really should be no surprises come delivery day.

Safe Travels...

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Sh!t my Wife Says…!

Never miss an opportunity for a road kill shot..!

Kylie now has her own area on the website.

For some time now, I’ve been asking Kylie to put some of her thoughts and ideas together for me to publish on the site.  Everyone who has met Kylie will know she has a very unique perspective on things but I have found that, quite often, what she says is generally what everyone is thinking anyway.

So to kick off, Kylie has put down some of her thoughts and ideas about our history with camper trailers and caravans and how we got to where we are today.  Its an interesting read and give you an insight into the thoughts we’ve had along the way and the insights we’ve gained.

I’m sure now that she has started it will be hard to keep her away from the keyboard so keep an eye out for more of her musings. In the mean time we hope you enjoy Sh!t My Wife Says…!

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12v Solar Power Systems for Dummies


You have a 12 volt solar power system on your caravan and, for reasons you cannot explain, you keep running your batteries flat after a day or two.  Perhaps the system was fitted by the caravan manufacturer and they advised you that it would be sufficient for free camping.  You have a nice big battery and a couple of solar panels, but its not enough.  Why is this happening and what can you do about it?

It is surprising how often these sort of problems appear on the RV forums and Facebook groups and, in pretty much every case, the answers are often misinformed, full of technical jargon or end up in a pissing contest between the experts.  Very rarely does a clear solution eventuate.  I find it frustrating and I bet so do most mere mortals who only want to understand what’s happening at the most basic level.

Well…after giving this considerable thought, I believe I have come up with a very simple system that anyone wanting to learn more about their 12v power systems can understand and, more importantly, can apply to their individual circumstances.

solar made easy button

Basically, by looking at everything in terms of WATTS or, more accurately, WATT HOURS, the process becomes very logical and simple to understand.  Further it enables us ordinary folks to gain further knowledge if we want to.

Now its not perfect by any means.  There are so many variables that effect how 12v systems work, how different types of batteries behave, how the environment effects the efficiency of solar panels, all these things mean a one rule for all is pretty much impossible to come up with.  I have no doubt that any experts reading this will point that out. But one thing remains a constant.  If you take power out of your batteries, you have to put it back in order to sustain your device usage over a long period of time and how you do that will ultimately determine your success.

This Guide to 12v Solar Charging will help you to understand your system at its most basic level and will likely explain why you’re running out of power so quickly.  If you’re looking to purchase a system for your RV, this guide will also assist you to scale your system from the outset and possibly save you some money and heartache in the future.

As always, I acknowledge I am not an expert and I welcome any constructive feedback in order to refine the guide and make it as useful as possible to everyone.

Safe travels.

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