Ensure your home on wheels is always ready to rumble with these essential DIY maintenance tips.
Want to extend the life of your camper trailer? Well, you’re in luck. You see, the team at Mars Campers have spilt the beans and offered up some of their hard-earned advice on how to ensure it’s always raring to go at the drop of a hat. On that note, it’s time to break out the old tool bag, dust off the overalls and get elbows deep into some DIY camper trailer preservation techniques.
Starting from the ground up, the crew from Mars Campers believe that a camper trailer’s wheel bearings would have to be one of the most important components of a camper trailer. Afterall, they’re basically responsible for keeping your trailer mobile by allowing your wheels to rotate without falling off, so they’re kind of a big deal, eh?
How often should you check them? Well, that’s a tricky one. It might sound tedious, but when you consider that just one water crossing with a suspiciously leaky hub seal is enough to mark the beginning of the end for a brand-new set of bearings, regular inspections after each adventure makes plenty of sense, right?
For a quick non-invasive inspection, rotate each wheel while it’s jacked up and off the ground. Each wheel should rotate smoothly without any grinding noises or notchy feelings. While you’re there, wriggle the wheel from top to bottom and side to side to detect any excessive free-play. You can pop the bearing cap off the hub to see what the condition of the grease is like too.
The electrical side of things in a camper trailer can be a fickle thing. The problem usually lies in the millions of corrugations we tackle, the copious amounts of dust we blast through and the constant threat of water and condensation getting into absolutely everything. Mars Campers say there are a few simple tips to help avoid those all too common electrical gremlins. Cleaning the trailer lights auxiliary plug and Anderson connection on the charging lead with some contact cleaner rates pretty high on the regular maintenance list. Afterall, it sure beats discovering your tail lights aren’t working or your battery isn’t charging mid-way through your family holiday, eh?
If you’ve been traversing rough and bumpy terrain, it’s also a good idea to tension the battery mounts as well. The last thing you want is a 30kg AGM battery working itself loose, tipping over and short-circuiting whilst you’re travelling.
While we are on the topic of batteries, it’s also a fantastic idea to keep your camper’s battery on trickle charge between trips too. No doubt pay itself off in the long run.
It goes without saying, you should never pack your camper up if the canvas is still damp or wet. But guess what? Water isn’t always the enemy. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. A regular hosing down with clean water is just what the doctor ordered. It prevents things like bird droppings and acidic seeds from penetrating and permanently damaging the exterior coatings that are applied to the canvas from the factory. It can also help with the water-proofing side of things by triggering the individual canvas threads to swell up and close any gaps in the weave. Mars Campers say that most of the cuts, rips or tears discovered in the tent’s canvas actually happen while the tent is being packed away. The canvas can get pinched between the tent poles as they close down, so it’s worth keeping that in mind. It’s also a good idea to zip the windows closed, which helps to protect the insect mesh inside as well.
If your suspension and coupling have specified grease points, a grease gun is definitely a worthy investment. Regular greasing of any grease nipples not only keep things lubricated, but the grease actually helps create a protective barrier which keeps water and ingress out of internal components as well.
Anything that locks, latches, hinges, swings, slides, rotates or even moves will love a good dousing of spray-on lubricant as well. The same goes for your tent’s zippers too! Now use a little common sense here though, often lubricants can actually cause dust to stick to it, so keep this in mind before going to crazy with the spray lube.
Now you’ll find that Mars Campers generally ensure your gas is permanently plumbed to your accessories, which makes setting up much quicker and easier in the long run, but this also means any repairs should legally be carried out by a qualified technician. In saying that, there’s no harm in checking over it for leaks regularly, just in case. Simply spray over any connections or fittings with soapy water, and if bubbles appear from a specific point it can indicate a possible gas leak. While you’re there, keep an eye out for any rub marks on the gas hoses too, which could develop into a bigger problem if left undetected.
It’s absolutely crucial to keep your camper’s water tank nice and clean between trips away if you’re planning to use it for drinking purposes. Mars Campers recommends keeping your water tank full during more extended periods of storage. Less oxygen is stored in the tank, which actually slows down the production of algae and bacteria.
If you notice any odours from the water, it’s time to sanitize the tanks. There are a million and one different products available for the job, but one of the most common methods is to flush some bleach through the system. This will need to be heavily diluted; about ¼ cup of bleach to roughly 55L of water should do the trick! For a less abrasive option, Milton Baby Bottle steriliser will get the job done, or the old Bicarbonate Soda solution works a treat as well.
Remember to flush the entire system from the filler pipe to each water outlet, and don’t forget the hot water system if you’ve got one too. In fact, now’s the time to check the condition of the hot water systems’ sacrificial anodes (depending on the design), along with the water filter element if you’ve got a filtration system installed for drinking water.