As you know, the RV lifestyle is rife with myths, from the belief that a caravan should always impose 10 per cent of it’s laden weight on the towball, to the right way to empty a cassette toilet (and no, you should never empty it into a septic tank or directly into a toilet).
Let’s dispel three of the most common myths doing the rounds.
I CAN USE A MODIFIED POWER LEAD TO CHARGE MY VAN’S BATTERY FROM A 10A OUTLET.
RV’s have a 15A power point, with a larger earth pin than what you would find on a 10A (domestic) power lead. Therefore, to plug an RV into mains power, whether it’s a caravan, motorhome or camper trailer, you will require a 15A power lead.
It is illegal and unsafe to modify a 10A lead by cutting the 10A socket off and re-wiring it with a 15A socket. However, it’s safe to say that this practice is somewhat common, especially for the purposes of charging the van’s battery/batteries at home before a trip.
Doing so is a fire and safety hazard – and, let’s be honest, no electrician would modify a lead in this way. By definition, therefore, a modified power lead is illegal.
The good news is that 10A-15A adaptors that meet all relevant Australian standards are available and they are relatively inexpensive. A higher-end adaptor will cost around $150 but cheaper units can be found too. Ultimately, these adaptors provide cheap peace of mind – there’s just no excuse for using a modified lead.
MY CARAVAN IS AN OFFROADER, SO I CAN TAKE IT ANYWHERE!
This is… false. Having said that, there are plenty of credible offroad caravan manufacturers building rigs that are indeed capable of going anywhere your 4WD can.
However, for every truly offroad caravan that’s built, there’s more that are simply blacktop tourers upgraded with offroad suspension, an offroad coupling and perhaps a bit of stone protection. The buyer might be forgiven for assuming these upgrades make the caravan offroad-capable, and those flashy decals on the van might reinforce this misconception.
However, in our opinion, true offroad caravan – one that can tackle any gazetted road or track that the 4WD can tackle – are purpose-built for the job from the chassis up.
A blacktop touring caravan that’s been simply upgraded with offroad accessories certainly have their place and we are not criticising them; however, they would be better considered ‘rough road’ caravans.
PAYLOAD CAPACITY IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GTM AND TARE.
No, no and no. This is a stubborn myth that we continue to hear from misinformed caravanners.
GTM – Gross Trailer Mass – is a rating that defines the total permissible weight that can be supported by the axles/wheel set, while resting on the jockey wheel or being supported by a towbar.
ATM – Aggregate Trailer Mass – is a rating that defines the total permissible weight of the caravan and it includes the weight being supported by the jockey wheel or a towbar.
Tare is the weight of the caravan as it leaves the factory, minus any aftermarket additions, with empty water tanks and gas cylinders. It also includes the weight resting on the jockey wheel or towbar.
Therefore, the way to calculate the amount of weight that can be added to the van – the payload capacity – is by subtracting the Tare figure from the ATM rating. For example, if a caravan has an ATM of 2500kg and a Tare of 2050kg, the payload capacity of this van is 450kg.
It is truly as simple as that.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Max Taylor has been caravanning since he was a kid and was the editor of some of Australia’s most well-known RV publications for almost 10 years.