Chapter 5

The Big Trip.

Saturday 20th January 2001, (Frankston).

We have finally started what is to be our big trip. We departed from Narrelle’s yesterday and made our way to Frankston. A small problem was encountered with electrics on the way, as we did on the way from the boat to Coburg (the caravan park) where the trailer brakes failed to function on occasions. I had noticed that the car’s brake pedal did not activate the brake unit, and neither did the manual control switch on the unit itself, but when both were applied the brake unit functioned correctly. It was then that I noticed that the car’s voltmeter was only reading a little under 13 volts and suspected that because the voltage was down the brake unit was not sensing the potentials applied to the individual inputs, but when both inputs were activated the voltage was enough for the unit to accept. The coincidence that the problem occurred on both trips when the caravan had been sitting idle and the fridge was running off the 12-volt system, draining the vans battery, indicated to me that the car’s electrics were down and could not keep up with the supply to the caravan as well as run the car. Tests today certainly did show that the car battery was low on charge, so I charged the battery for several hours and will perform some more tests tomorrow, but I suspect from tests today that the car battery will have to be replaced.

The caravan park seems to be rather good, with very friendly management and good facilities. The site given to us has concrete blocks on which to place the awning, which many parks over here provide, and is convenient because we can place down the carpet we have and not worry about killing the grass underneath.

I rang Rick Cooper last night to let him know we were in the area so we could meet up with each other again but he informed me he was at that time at the airport waiting to catch a plane to Launceston for a holiday and won’t be back till Wednesday. It looks as though that we may stay on here for a few more days to meet Rick after he returns.

Monday 22nd Jan, (Frankston).

We went for a walk along the beach and on the pier at Frankston today and noticed a startling difference to when we went down there yesterday, there were no people there.

The weather was quite warm yesterday and there was some sort of concert on the beach, so consequently there were people everywhere, so many that we decided to go back today and have a look and could not believe the difference with the lack of people.

Today was also a day of checking out shopping centres, and found that they are as large as those in Melbourne if not larger than most. The shopping centre in the city we found to be rather expensive with the Karingal Hub not being so.

Speaking to another caravan traveller camped next to us about the electrical problems experienced over the past few days corroborated what Linda suggested would over come the problem, which is to simply turn the fridge off while travelling. His suggestion was that if the planned trip is not too long, about 100-150 kms as is what we plan, the fridge will stay cold anyway, and the battery won’t flatten so the car’s electrics will have no problem, so that will be the next thing to try.

This exercise of touring is proving to be one big learning exercise to date as I am also still trying to come up with ideas on how to reduce the weight of the caravan to overcome my fears that it may be overloaded. I have decided I can reduce the weight by as much as 150 kgs, depending on how big the water tank is, which I haven’t been able to ascertain yet, by making sure the tank is empty whilst travelling. It had been my original idea to travel with the tank full to make sure that when we reach our next destination we would have a tank full of known quality water. By making sure that the tank is empty and then fill the tank in the panel van we will still achieve this but the water will be carried in the panel van instead of the caravan, which I cant see will make any difference because the panel van has to pull the weight wherever it is placed. This will probably be a benefit be increasing the car to caravan weight ratio. By doing this I can then transfer the water from the panel van to the caravan when we arrive at our destination so I don’t have to carry it around all the time when touring.

I am trying to organise a last meeting for a while with Marney and Michael (niece and nephew), and their families, in Geelong over the next few days so I rang Marney to see if she could organise a get together so we could meet them together to make it easier and I will expect to hear from her soon.