Caravan Terminology – Guide For Buyers

A Frame – This is the triangular frame that is at the front end of the caravan. It is usually covered by a piece of moulded plastic. It also houses the handbrake and the electrical leads.

ABS – Most caravans are now built using ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) as it is light, shiny and repairable.

Aquaroll – A roll-along container for fresh water which connects to your caravan water inlet using a submersible pump.

Awning – Similar to a three-sided tent which attaches to your caravan through the awning rail, located on the side of the caravan. Awnings range from either a full awning, which runs the whole length of the caravan, to a porch awning which fits over the caravan door.

Awning Rail – The rail on which the awning threads into which runs along the sides and top of the caravan.

Berths – The number of people the caravan will sleep.

Breakaway Cable – A steel cable which is permanently fixed to the lower end of the handbrake lever with a clip on the other end which attaches to your towbar. This cable would apply the caravan brakes if, for instance, the caravan became unattached from the car.

Butane Gas – The gas sold in blue cylinders. It burns at a slightly slower rate so it is a more efficient heat provider, which usually makes it the preferred choice of Caravanners. It cannot be used in freezing temperatures and is heavier than propane. If you switch from propane to butane you will need to switch regulators.

CaSSOA – Caravan Storage Site Owners Association – using a CaSSOA recognised site will often get you discounts on your caravan insurance policy.

Corner Steadies – The legs which wind down from the corners of the caravan which ensure the stability of the caravan when pitched.

Coupling Head – Also referred to as the “hitch” – the part of the caravan which couples to the towball on your car and locks on.

CRIS – Stands for “Caravan Registration and Identification Scheme” and is the national register for touring caravans in the UK.

Delamination – When the adhesive bonding the caravan floor layers become unstuck, allowing the floor layers to start to creak and become spongy.

Full Service Pitch – A pitch which has water and electricity supply, as well as a connection to the waste system. You may also have a direct TV aerial connection. Can also be known as a multi-service pitch.

Garage – Part of the caravan, usually bunks which fold up when not in use, that opens from the outside so that you can put in large items for storage, e.g. bikes.

Gross Train Weight – The combined maximum allowable weight of the loaded caravan and car, which the law states should not be exceeded.

GRP – Glass Reinforced Plastic used for the construction of the caravan panels (not used on newer caravans).

Hitch Head Stabiliser – Works by applying friction to the tow ball, therefore stabilising the caravan.

Hitch Lock – The hitch lock is a metal lock which fits over the caravan coupling head, therefore preventing the caravan from being stolen. This is essential to most insurance policies.

Hook-Up Lead – The lead which connects the caravan to the site mains electrical supply.

Jockey Wheel – The small wheel at the front of the caravan ‘A’ frame which you can use for maneuvering the caravan and which supports the front end.

Maximum Towing Weight – The maximum weight that the manufacturer will allow the car to tow under any circumstances and which must NEVER be exceeded.

MIRO – Stands for “Mass in Running Order” – This is the weight of the caravan when equipped to the manufacturer’s standard specification (before being loaded with all your equipment).

MTPLM – “Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass” – This is the manufacturer’s top limit for what a caravan can weigh when it is fully loaded with all your caravanning gear.

Motor Mover – An electric device which is fixed to the caravan which allows the caravan to be moved when not hitched up. It uses a remote control to move the caravan and works using the caravan battery.

Noseweight – The maximum amount of downward force which the car manufacturer will allow to be exerted on the towball.

Outfit – The car and caravan are known together as an “outfit”.

Roof Light – A window in the roof which can be opened.

Single Axle – A caravan with just one set of wheels, usually a smaller caravan.

Stabiliser – A stabiliser helps to keep the caravan stable when being towed. It uses friction to damp down movement around the tow ball and will help to correct any excess movement. Do not rely on a stabiliser alone to keep the caravan stable – you must still load the caravan correctly and keep the caravan tyres in good condition.

Steady Locks – These lock the caravan steadies (legs) in the down position, which makes it difficult to tow the caravan away.

Supermule – A safety device which is wound down from the caravan’s floor when you are parked which will prevent the caravan being towed away, as the more the caravan is pulled the more the Supermule digs in to the ground.

Twin Axle – A caravan that has two sets of wheels.

User Payload – The total weight of the accessories you can carry in the caravan.

Wastemaster (or Waste Carrier) – A container with wheels which holds your waste water until you need to empty it at a service point on site. It connects to your caravan’s waste water outlet, and will slide under your caravan.

Wheel clamps – They fit around the caravan tyres and wheels to prevent the wheel rotating, which therefore prevents the caravan being stolen.

Car GPS Navigation Systems – A Buyers Guide

In 1973 the U.S. Department of Defence launched the Navstar GPS network. This consisted of 24 satellites orbiting the earth every 12 hours and five ground stations. This positioning system was made available for public use. With this capability, consumer location devices were produced to accurately determine location and other data such as current and average speed, directional heading, and elevation. These GPS devices need an unobstructed view of at least four satellites to provide a reliable 3D fix.

The GPS receiver overlays this location data onto map files stored on the unit, to give a current position on the map as well previous track. The receiver constantly recalculates position, giving real time position.

A typical GPS device contains:

  • 12-channel receiver – the quality of the receiver determines how long it takes the device to acquire a 3D fix.
  • Antenna to capture satellite signals – positioned to get a clear view of the sky.
  • CPU to process the data and overlay on maps
  • DVD Hard-drive – where maps on DVD’s or available online are uploaded and stored. Some cheaper units do not upload the maps, but reference them off the DVD or CD.
  • Display Screen – mostly color with handheld units using black and white
  • Voice Interface – more advanced units

How The GPS Device Gets A Fix

The first time you start your GPS device, its data store is blank so needs a to collect satellite information to determine your position. This is known as a cold start. Some units only take 30 to 45 seconds to acquire a 3D fix during a cold start, while others can take several minutes. Subsequent position updates only take 3 to 4 seconds. If you go out of range from losing line of sight, such as passing behind a large building or through a tunnel, a good receiver will instantly recover, whereas weaker units will require more time to reacquire a 3D fix.

How Different GPS Navigation Units Differ

Location of Antenna – A factory installed in-dash unit antenna is integrated into the dashboard where it has an unobstructed view of the sky. Many portable models have a suction-cup-mounting device to position the device on the windshield. Add-on antennas are also available. Regardless of the type of unit and antenna, the important thing is to keep the antenna visible to the greatest area of sky possible. Choose a unit where this can be done AT THE SAME TIME as being able to maintain a clear view of the screen.

Screens and Display – important to check how bright these are, and if they are clearly visible from the mounted position in bright day light. Onboard navigation systems are generally color screens, and portable units are black and white to save power. Larger screens and integrate better with other vehicle electronics.

Input Buttons – most enroute buttons are on the display screen. Ensure these are easy to use when driving; that is they are big enough and colored sufficiently to see without causing a driving hazard.

Map Media – Earlier models were CD-based, requiring multiple discs to cover the entire United States. Newer in-dash systems are DVD-based; only 1-2 DVD’s required for an entire country of maps.

Cost – In-dash systems are usually more expensive than portable counterparts. Aftermarket in-dash models usually require professional installation and can be just as expensive as the factory models.

Upgrading – always check how easy it is to upgrade the firmware and maps on your GPS unit. Some units detach a portion to be connected to the computer via USB, whereas others are done using a DVD. Those units which can be upgraded online, are much more convenient.

Added Features of GPS Units

Apart from giving you a current position, a number of GPS navigation devices can give you:

  • A track of where you have been – the number of tracks and waypoints stored varies from unit to unit. You may also want to save on part of a track for future use.
  • A path from your current position to your destination
  • Maintain commonly used navigation paths for reuse.
  • Points of Interest – user sets the types of points of interest, such as tourist, bank ATM, petrol stations, historical, accommodation, restaurants etc.
  • Real time traffic reporting to avoid traffic delays. This can also include road works.
  • Voice recognition to receive destination instructions, and voice guidance to give driving instructions
  • Weather updates
  • Street name navigation – instead of just turn left 200m it was say ‘Turn left into Stanley St’
  • Integrated Multimedia players – MP3 players, image viewers, and audio books.
  • Onboard or Portable GPS Navigation

The downside of onboard GPS Navigation units are susceptible to theft; and you cannot take them with you to use in other vehicles or when travelling abroad. Portable units, such as the Garmin StreetPilot 2720, can be used in multiple cars; being easily moved from car to car. Depending upon the power supply and portability, portable and handheld units can be taken when travelling or used on cycles, boats, private aircraft etc.

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