Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Monday, 21 December 2009

Motorhome and Carvan Servicing

Well it looks like everyone has given up on routine servicing of Motorhomes and Caravans now so that they can concentrate on Christmas. I'm only getting calls about breakdowns and the fitting of accessories. So let me take this opportunity to wish my customers and readers a Happy Christmas.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Its frrreeezing

Well there is nothing worse than trying to work in -2c... Just did a pre purchase inspection and even the door was frozen solid. Luckily had the weekend off.
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Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Blogs, URL's, Twitter and e-mail

I'm trying lots of different methods to try and get my business noticed on the web. I have my website , this blog, e-mail and I'm using Twitter.

I'm trying to encourage my customers to contact me electronically as its sometimes difficult to answer the phone when your under a van or have your hands in the water tank!! What I have found is that customers call and if you don't answer they will not leave a voice message and its lost business as they go to the next person.

Any suggestions as to how we persuade customers to use voicemail or e-mail then I would be very pleased to receive them.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Servicing

Its the time of year when the majority of customers drain down their motorhomes and caravans and leave them until spring. Then as we get towards Easter everyone is ringing up and trying to get their vans serviced. Why not arrange for a service through the winter when you stand a much better chance of getting an engineer when you want them and at 2008 prices.
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Monday, 26 October 2009

Advertising

Are the current advertising mediums dead? By this I'm talking about local newspapers and Yellow Pages. By far the most important source of business for me is Google, I've used adwords and they work beautifully. I've now just come across classified ads on ebay, yet another interesting way to advertise.

So if you want to find an engineer, how would you find one?

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Freezing

Its ffffffreezing this morning. Its a good job that modern motorhomes and caravans are so well insulated and come with good heating systems. If your not using your vehicle don't forget to drain down - you don't want to pay me to fix your taps do you.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

NEC Show

I'm just back from the Caravan and Motorhome Show 2009 at the NEC in Birmingham. I started by visiting the Mobile Caravan Engineers Association stand (mcea). I was very impressed at how busy the stand was and the team did a great job. I'm sure that we will all pick up work as a result.

I was also interested to see Stealth Caravans, they are interesting and different. I really hope they succeed and shake up the industry. We need an industry with lots of variety to attract all sorts of different people in particular young people.

The motorhome industry continues to innovate but the exchange rate seems to be really affecting them. This has forced up prices and I hope this doesn't kill off any of the manufacturers.

Great show and I look forward to seeing you all back at the NEC in the spring.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Derbyshire

My patch is Derbyshire and there are some great places to visit in the County at any time of the year. I've just been looking at which sites are staying open throughout the winter and I have to say there are quite a few.

Location of Derbyshire (red) within EnglandImage via Wikipedia

So if you want to climb the hills, walk in the dales, visit a Stately Home, check out one of our fine towns, eat well or simply visit a great camp site then there is no better time than now.
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Saturday, 10 October 2009

Is Caravan Design Changing

Caravans haven't changed much in the last ten years but could things be changing? Caravaning and Motorhoming is attracting more and younger people all of the time. I'm not convinced that the industry has kept up with this. However we now have a new manufacturer - Stealth Caravans with what looks like a unique product. I can't wait to see it at the big show at the NEC. We also have Bailey showing a new type of construction method which looks very exciting.

The challenge is now on for all manufacturers to adapt to the younger and stylish caravaners.

Motorhome designers have tried some new things but even they need to adapt.

I would welcome your thoughts.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Gas hoses

It shocks me how old and damaged some lpg hoses are in a van. It costs so little to have them changed during a service and your life could depend on them. There are two types of hoses now - low pressure hose that leads from a cylinder based regulator and high pressure pigtails that connect a gas bottle to a 30mb bulk head fitted regulator.
Its my policy for low pressure hoses to change them every year. Its amazing how much damage there can be after just one year.
All hoses should be thoroughly checked during a service, a gas pressure check carried out on the system and a leak check on the fittings. Remember its your life that matters.
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Gas

If you take your motorhome or caravan to Europe then you have to think about your gas supply. UK cylinders are not available in Europe so if you run out of gas then you have a problem. There are a number of solutions and it depends how old your van is and how often you intend to tour in Europe. Here are some options -

1) An LPG refillable system. You can install cylinders in your van which have a filler that enables you to refill them at an LPG filling station. You will need to purchase the adapters to convert the UK filler. The most popular systems come from Gaslow.

2) If you have the new fixed 30mb regulator then you can buy a new pigtail to fit a continental bottle or an adapter for a UK pigtail.

3) If you have the older cylinder mounted regulator then you can buy continental clip on adapters.

We can advise on the best option for you.

Friday, 25 September 2009

September in France

We are back home after two weeks in France. The weather was great and we covered about 1,800 miles through this beautiful country. We used a mixture of municipal campsites and the Aires which are just for motorhomes or camping cars as the french call them. Now its time to get the vehicle prepared for winter.
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Saturday, 29 August 2009

Towards the end of the season

Its the end of August and we are approaching the end of the season. I have trips in mind for September and will keep on going whilst the weather stays reasonable. More and more sites now stay open throughout the year and there is a growing trend of using motorhomes and caravans through the winter. Many European and a growing number of UK vehicles are winterised, just take a look at ski sites in Europe and spot the number of motorhomes.

Do you use your vehicle through the winter? If so please let us know how.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Service what service

This week I have been out to two vans that were serviced last year and have been regularly serviced over the past few years. It was clear that the previous service people had not done what they had been paid for. I found a 9 year old gas hose on one and neither of them had seen any work carried out on the brakes for many years.

Friday, 14 August 2009

NHS

I know that this is a departure from my normal discussion items. However I have been following the stories about the NHS in the USA, especially via Twitter.

So much rubbish is being said in the US its quite shocking. Go to Twitter and follow what other people are saying, its fascinating.
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Wednesday, 12 August 2009

What is a service?

Time and time people expect engineers to fix problems during a service. A service is a service it doesn't include repairs to things that are broken. Engineers will of course try and fix minor problems as they go along but there isn't the time to carry out major repairs.

Its just the same situation if you take your car for a service, if they find you need a new clutch they will tell you when you collect your car and discuss what to do about it.

For this reason if your planning a big trip then you need to give the engineer plenty of notice because if there is a big problem they will need to get spares and arrange a date to come back. Most parts are available in a few days but others can take weeks to track down.

So please help us by giving us plenty of time and not just two days before you tour Europe....

Monday, 10 August 2009

Twitterfeed.com

I have started linking this blog with Twitter using twitterfeed.

I am looking forward to seeing any responses via twitter. Remember this is your blog, please let us know what you want to cover in terms of the Caravan & Motorhome industry.

Asbestos

Did you know that if your vehicle is over 20 years old the brake linings might still contain asbestos. Now 20 year old brakes on a motorhome are extremely unlikely but for a caravan that perhaps does 1,000 miles a year then it could still be on its original shoes.
If your working on your van then make sure that you take all of the safety precautions.
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Sunday, 9 August 2009

Oil that rubber!

The rubber seal around windows and doors need to be treated regularly to keep them from drying out and sticking. There are some excellent spray on lubricants such as that made by Thetford. However buy yourself a small bottle of cheap olive oil and use that - don't use any mineral based oils as you will rot the rubber.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Newsletter

Today I have tried something new on our website - its a free newsletter about caravaning and motorhoming. Its got some hints and tips that I hope that you will find useful. Please let me know if you like the idea or especially if you have ideas for our second edition. Please take a look at www.chatsworth-service.co.uk and let me know.

Its really good to hear from you so please don't be shy send me an e-mail.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Problems Problems Problems

I have had a frustrating couple of days, it amazes me how many problems that you can come across in this job.

The wheel hub is held on by one shot nuts and these are tightened up with a torque wrench very tightly. However these should come off with a breaker bar. I had one nut this week which was so tight it took two of us and a four foot scaffolding bar and we still had huge problems getting the nut off. It looks as if the nut was tightened much too tight and it caused huge problems.

Luckily I was on a storage yard and the owner came to help.

I think it demonstrates the need for an engineer that you can trust, that hub nut should not have been that tight.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Engineers

Its time to go away on holiday and you get the van ready and what do you find? - Something fails to work. So many people ring engineers right at the last minute to try and sort out a problem before they go on holiday. What people fail to consider is that the engineer might be out looking after someone else's vehicle.

Do yourself a favour check your van at least two weeks before you go away, that way you stand a better chance of getting an engineer out to you and if parts are needed it allows time for delivery.

If you run into a problem check the MCEA for an engineer near to you.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

My area

People are asking about the area that I cover. If you put in mark in Bakewell and draw a circle that's 25 miles wide then that's my normal area. I will work further away but there may have to be an additional payment to cover my additional travel costs. In that area I cover big towns like Chesterfield, Buxton, Bakewell, Alfreton, Derby, Matlock, Bolsover, Ripley and Belper as well as all of the surrounding towns and villages. Its a big rural area with a lot of camp sites due to Derbyshire being a big holiday destination.

Its a great part of the world but it can be very challenging in the winter.

See my area here.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Derbyshire

I am probably biased but I think that Derbyshire is one of the best places to stay in England. The Peak District is within easy traveling distance of Birmingham, Nottingham, Leicester, South Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, The potteries and many other areas. That means that millions of people are within a couple of hours of the National Park area.

There are some great places to stay and the big clubs have some great sites. Don't forget the independent sites and the CL's and CS's.

So if you you want a weekend away or a full week then take a look at Derbyshire and the Peak District.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Bike rack

I took a call today from someone wanting a bike rack fitting on his motorhome, normally straightforward. However the motorhome had a rear bathroom and this makes fitting a bike rack very difficult. You wouldn't want to drill through the shower wall now would you?

Why don't motorhome manufacturers fit mounting points in the factory, it would make everyones life so much easier?

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

The weather

I'm going to be very British today and complain about the weather. Its no fun working outside on caravans or motorhomes when its throwing it down with rain. Just remind me didn't the weather men say we were in for a good summer??? Here in Derbyshire its really throwing it down and we have had rain for the last four days.
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Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Tyres

I took a call from a customer this morning asking about Tyron Bands. They aren't something that I deal in as you really need a tyre fitter not a caravan engineer. However Tyron Bands are an excellent safety feature and one that I am happy to recommend.

The conversation turned to tyres and it turned out the customer had a change of shape in the tyre wall. This sets the alarm bells ringing and that really needs looking at either by a tyre fitter or a caravan engineer who will give advice.

Its a good reason to let an MCEA engineer carry out a service on your caravan as we check the tyres as part of our routine service. You should consider a service as an essential safety check every year.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Why can't we park?

I find it so frustrating that when I arrive in a town that I can't park because of height barriers at the car park entrance. Or even worse signs that say no caravans or motorhomes. When did the country become so intolerant? I excuse Scotland from this because they do seem to be more tolerant than the rest of the UK.

When you ask the local authority they seem to be paranoid about travellers and the result is the majority suffer because of a few people that cause problems. Surely we should be tolerant and if people step out of line then the force of law should be used.

What do you think?
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Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Is a service necessary?

How many people scrimp by not having their caravan serviced regularly, perhaps it only did a thousand miles last year so they think its not needed. How wrong they are, a service should be seen as an essential safety item. just look at this article.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Smells from the waste tank.

Smelly waste tanks are mainly a problem for motorhomes as very few caravans have internal waste tanks. In this hot weather its easy to get smell rising up through the plug holes from the waste tank. Many motorhomes don't have have traps to stop the smell. Don't despair there are things that you can do to sort out the problem.

Firstly you can buy tank fresh products from the main manufacturers such as Thetford and Elsan. They are very good and certainly resolve the problem.

You can pour in a bottle of cola, drive around to slosh it around and then drain it and rinse with fresh water.

Biological washing powder, this seems to work well and is cheap.

Any other ideas welcomes. Please blog them or visit the web site of Chatsworth Motorhome and Caravan Servicing and e-mail your tips to us.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

New information

I am trying a new blogging tool called Zemanta which helps you to track down relevant contnet for your blog. I am using it today to find some useful information on Caravans, motorhomes and our hobby.

As you know Chatsworth Motorhome & Caravan Servicing is a mobile service business that will service or repair your caravan or motorhome. We are now in the heat of the summer and the roads are full of vehicles, just think when was the last time you had the safety of your gas or electricity checked. When did you have your caravan breaks checked, is your breakaway cable in good condition. How many of the caravans and motorhomes on the road in front of you today have not been checked recently - its a scary thought.

Hopefully below this article you will find something useful to read.

A European CaravanImage via Wikipedia



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Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Keeping cool

Summer has started in the UK with temperatures reaching 30c today. The question has been raised about keeping motorhomes and caravans cool. Is Aircon the way forward? I really don't think it is in the UK. For a start its expensive to buy, install and run and here our weather doesn't really justify it. Aircon contributes to the climate change problems due to the amount of energy that is required and that can't be a good thing.

My advice is get an electric fan, open the windows, close the blinds, wind down the awning and spend as much time outside in the shade as possible. Drink plenty, wear cool clothes, apply the sun block and wear a hat.

I have seen some little electric fans that spray out a mist of water and they are very effective at cooling you down. Any other suggestions then please post them here.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Pink toilet fluid.

I have seen numerous examples of the pink toilet fluid turning to jelly and blocking the flushing mechanism of toilets. Yes it worth having in your tank but make sure you buy a decent brand and follow the dosing instructions carefully.... you don't want to be calling out someone like me to fix your toilet on site do you?

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Brownbook

Have you seen Brownbook, its like an on-line Yellow Pages but much better, take a look at our entry here -- Brownbook.

Damp - the silent killer

I get asked about why people should have a habitation check as part of their service. One of the most important things is the damp survey. Around 30% of caravans that are checked have a degree of damp.

The damp in caravans and motorhomes can't be seen, can't be felt and despite what people think can't be smelt.

Damp really is a killer and the damp survey can find it early and action can be taken to deal with it.

Don't delay have a service done to put your mind at ease.

You can call Chatsworth Motorhome & Caravan Servicing on 0114 360 2222 or 07918 121085 or why not e-mail us at info@chatsworth-service.co.uk

Economic situation

Its a strange world isn't it. Here we are with Caravan Holidays growing at a dramatic rate, the clubs building new sites and dealers struggling to find enough second hand vans. At the same time we have new van dealers going under or having financial difficulties. We have seen Brownhills and Discover Leisure closing outlets and RDH in Nottingham having banking problems.

If your in the East Midlands and find your dealer no longer able to help you call us for your servicing needs. Don't forget we come to you.