We have an old 1988 ABI Jubilee Rallyman caravan that we bought about three years ago for the princely sum of £650. We were looking for a small and cheap ‘van that would get us back into Caravanning, this one came up in the local press and we took a look. It had just the one previous owner and came fully equipped; including a nearly new full awning. We could see that there had been a small damp problem but nothing showed up on the damp meter so we bought it.
Three years later and after quite a lot of use, we now accept that it actually has quite a large damp problem. It only really became apparent this spring when we noticed that the offside wall was starting to bow inwards slightly. Testing with a damp meter confirmed that the offside wall is very damp at the front and rear.
We did a lot of research and soul searching about how to approach this. Should we just ditch the ‘van, get it fixed professionally, or fix it ourselves. After finding the excellent ukcampsite.co.uk and the even more relevant Fixed It club we decided on the latter course of action.
Partly as a way of recording progress, but also hopefully as a help to others, I intend to blog about this.
This first blog is not about fixing the damp problem however: it’s actually about fixing the taps.
This caravan adopts the fairly common approach of using a Whale submersible pump to feed water to a number of taps; each of which is fitted with a micro switch that controls the pump. In theory, opening any tap closes a micro switch which then causes the pump to operate. I say in theory because this has become very flaky over the recent period. In fact it had got to the stage where only one tap was working properly. It was time for action!
Taking advantage of some free time, I decided to investigate the taps on the kitchen sink. I couldn’t see any markings and searching the internet failed to reveal who the manufacturer was, so I resorted to direct inspection.
After taking out the sink to gain better access, I decided the only course of action was to remove the knobs in the hope that the micro switch was hidden underneath. Given that the taps were not working anyway, I decided to prise the caps off. Luckily one came off fairly easily and revealed that the micro switch is an open unit with exposed contacts. All the ones I had found on the internet used sealed switch units which were replaceable: not with this old gal. However, the open nature of the switches meant that I could clean the contacts. I did so by slipping a piece of heavy printer paper between the contacts, manually closing the contacts and then pulling the paper out. The roughness of the paper was sufficient to wipe off the crud that had become deposited on the contact surfaces. A volt meter confirmed that the switch was now working, so I replaced the caps. Bingo, the water began the flow.
The following photos show the similar taps in the shower room.
Pulling out the plunger, and being careful not to change the location of the nut on the thread, gives access to the micro switch. Gently prising the switch out the housing using a fine screwdriver gave me full access to the switch contacts.
I cleaned the contacts and then reversed the procedure to re-assemble the tap.
Unfortunately, during my investigative work, I had disturbed the piping and there was now a persistent leak from the tap.
Anybody who has worked on a caravan will know that they were put together with zero thought for later maintenance. To do anything tends to requires one to reverse the assembly procedure. Luckily, these taps had press fit spigots on the ends of the pipes that inserted into the base of the tap and were sealed with rubber ‘O’ rings. Fixing the leak was a simple matter of re-sealing the ‘O’ ring, smearing a bit of Vaseline on the spigot and ring and then pushing the spigot back into the tap until it clicked.
However, this is only the start. I’ve also noticed that cracks are appearing in the handles that operate the roof vents and a couple of drawer handles are beginning to fail. There’s a lot to be done.
It appears that the kitchen taps are from the Reich range. I assume the shower room taps are also, but they seem to have been discontinued.