First caravan need help1

Submitted: Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 20:15
ThreadID: 68370 Views:3724 Replies:6 FollowUps:8
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Hi all just bought my first van ever its a colt ranger pop top.
a nice little 2 birth with the rear door.
I took it out to Windamere last week and it was great!. Got back and as i was securing the top down, the screws came out of one of the latches on the side of the van. It looks like its been bodgiely fixed previous to my purchase with screws that are not quite the buisso. How do i fix this, should i rivet them in or just use bigger screws?.
I've got so many questions to ask that will fill a novel !
So just one more for this thread .... what's the best way to flush the water tank for the sink that sits under the van?.
by the way great website all. look forward to your responses.
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Reply By: PradOz - Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 21:51

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 21:51
a bit hard to answer the first ?? without seeing it but here is my 2 cents worth. if the original fixing was a screw into timber frame, fill the hole it came out of with small lengths of timber (a good thing to use is match sticks with the heads broken off). i would first fill the hole with a glue like "weldbond" which is available at hardware shops, bunnings etc, and slide the matches into the glue. pack it so its completely filled. then redrill/rescrew latch back on with a quality screw. if it was a rivet, your probably going to have to use a larger rivet. just check the different types available and pick one that suits.

for the draining of the tank, it can be as simple as getting under the van and having a look at what you have got. i presume you will have some hoses going in/out of tank with joiners in them. hopefully you are able to remove one of the hoses from the joiner and let it drain. i did that to mine, but before refitting it i fitted a T piece with a valve on one side that simply allows me to turn it to drain it if ever necessary again. you may even have something like that there now. was given a hint years ago to drain the tank just as you leave to go home and let it run out as you drive. going around the corners and over bumps etc will drain it completely. some people say to leave the tank empty to prevent stale water/bacteria etc in the tank, others say to leave it full once home to prevent possibility of mould etc. not sure what is the perfect answer so will leave you to decide what you are comfortable with. if you are draining because of taste issues, do a search here on EO and you will get the answers you need.

good luck with. vans are not as scary as you first think. you will be amazed how much you will learn in a short time if you are prepared to get in/under it etc and put your thinking cap on. cheers
AnswerID: 362348

Reply By: Tenpounder - Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 23:20

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 23:20
Hi there. I agree with the other reply. It indicates the value of having a supply of assorted stainless screws and rivets, plus a tube or two of sealer, araldite and contact adhesive. I found that good silicon will actually repair the cloth part of the zippers around the pop top where thay have come undone or weakened, quite apart from the obvious use for a sealer! We also learned the hard way to have a spare door lock 'in stock' becuaae ours kept breaking - but that was due to body movement!
By the way, we also found out that our tyres looked fine - plenty of tread - but were too old to be safe. So it is always a good idea to check your tyres for their manufacturing date, and change them if they are older than 7 years max, some say 5 is safer. We only found out when we shredded a tyre at 80 kph! Not nice!
Enjoy your new hobby!
Chris (SA)
AnswerID: 362375

Follow Up By: kiwinaus - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 11:35

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 11:35
Thanks for your replies,
This information is handy. I have taken a photo of the latch in question I hope this will make things a little clearer. I'm not sure if there is a wooden frame behind the latch so i think the rivets will be the way I'll go and of coarse a dose of silicon.

Thanks again
FollowupID: 630132

Reply By: Warstar - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 12:26

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 12:26
Mate, rivets would be the last resort for me! They are only going into light aluminium, and there is quite a load on those catches.

Do as suggested with the filling, but no matches, they are only sh..ty pine, use a bit of meranti. and just shave it down to fit. Leave it for a day to set before re screwing with slightly courser thread screws, in SS. Use your silicon behind the fitting when re screwing. Then hope like hell that there is a corner brace situated to carry the load.

Do it right - do it once and hope!
AnswerID: 362434

Follow Up By: Tenpounder - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 12:56

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 12:56
I agree with Warstar, especially now we've seen your photo.
If the latch is presently screwed into timber, then a decent larger screw into a new plug will do the truck. If in fact the frame is aluminium tube, then the SS screw will work just fine also. But if you rivet the bracket just onto the skin, you'll have trouble with the bracket pulling away, then you roof might lift up in transit and then ..... By the way, the biggest trap with selaer is to use too much, and then you get a messy finish - just a thin film is best.
Hope it goes well, and welcome to the club!
Chris (SA)
FollowupID: 630139

Follow Up By: PradOz - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 14:28

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 14:28
tend to agree with above - forget the rivets. i would guess your camper is similar style/vintage to mine

go with the 'weldbond' glue i mentioned. you can get it at a hardware and when you use it, it looks similar to pva wood glues. grab a brochure from the hardware (or look up on internet) and you will see it has plenty of suitable applications for other repairs you will come across. it is available in very small bottles if thats the way you want to go.

if you have a piece of maple/meranti etc lying around, shave a slice of with a stanley knife or similar and whittle it down to shape of a cylinderical wedge. if you can leave one side a little flatter or put a groove into it as it will give the glue something extra to bond to. (if you only have the matches they will work with use of the weldbond glue as it will gain strength from that glue). then remove the latch of camper and fill hole with the weldbond glue and push the wedge in, tap lightly with hammer if necessary. just wipe off excess glue and leave until dry before trimming off the excess of the wedge that protrudes from hole. then predrill hole for a decent coarse screw (stainless steel) and then squeeze a small amount of silicone into the hole before fitting the screw into it to hold the latch (silicone will waterproof the hole you made similar to what you do when fitting a sail track or roof racks etc to a camper) . you could probably use the new screws in top of latch too if they feel loose.

and if you are still unsure if it is secure enough, then either use a thin bead of silicone around edge of latch or get hold of some 'selleys all fix' which is in a tube or cartridge at hardware too and run a thin bead behind latch edge, and when the latch is screwed onto wall it will bond and hold it as well as the screws. silicone will work ok but after using all-fix i have found out it to be very strong. forget the rivets as they will pull out with use of the latch.

while you are doing this repair, check the little timber blocks behind camper roof frame that support the top part that the latch clips onto. they can work loose and simply reglue and rescrew them on. just have the roof up at head height and look in behind roof frame by pushing the canvas away and you should see the little timber blocks. have fun ;))
FollowupID: 630144

Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 15:28

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 15:28
The screws could go into the aluminium beam that runs around the top of the van. When you remove the clip you will have to explore through the holes to see what the screws are supposed to gripping in. If it is timber there is a good description of what to do up the thread. If it is metal behind the aluminium skin, then either a snug fitting pop rivet or a larger size screw. If it is a larger screw, drill the clip to be a clearance fit and if you can obtain on try getting a double or triple thread sheet metal screw (possibly from a specialist screw/bolt supplier or marine chandler.)

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FollowupID: 630148

Reply By: Member -Dodger - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 16:42

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 16:42
I had the sameproblem on my last van.
The fix was,
Bought some lquid steel and mixed it then forced it into the screw holes (after taking the screws out) then replaced the latch screws and all let set before latching and this was still solid after 3 years.
Any of the selleys knead it products are the same.
I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.

Cheers Dodg.

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AnswerID: 362456

Follow Up By: Tenpounder - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 17:14

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 17:14
Two thoughts, Dodger. That may make it hard to remove the screws later! Also, Selleys Knead It Steel is not recommended for bonding aluminium or timber, so it may not be the best putty for this purpose. Perhaps you have a different product in mind. I agree the Selleys knead it products are great stuff generally, though.
Chris (SA)
FollowupID: 630166

Follow Up By: Member -Dodger - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 17:50

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 17:50
Well all I can say is that it worked and I never had to remove screws later. Plus as I said it was forced into the screw holes as a filler and not used as an adhesive. And from memory said on the packet could be screwed and or drilled.
I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.

Cheers Dodg.

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FollowupID: 630173

Reply By: Member - Toolman (VIC) - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 17:23

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 17:23
I'd just be a bit careful. If the screws were driven into the wood frame you might consider the worst case scenario too, ie that the wood behind the aluminium is rotted and that is the reason behind the screws coming out. Just be aware that the van has not had a long and persistent leak that caused the damage.

AnswerID: 362464

Follow Up By: kiwinaus - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 21:53

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 21:53
thanks toolman.... that's not a nice thought... is there an answer for the worst case scenario other than buy a new van.

FollowupID: 630221

Reply By: Tenpounder - Friday, May 01, 2009 at 08:29

Friday, May 01, 2009 at 08:29
(1) Don't panic;
(2) Think carefully, and start on the inside to check for water damage;
(3) You can do a lot with modern epoxy materials (see thread above) once you have removed any rot and let things dry completely, again from the inside;
(4) remember the frame and the cupboards ARE the structure, so fix that and you've done the main job: the skin is just the bit that keeps the draught out!
(5) so, for example, a repair 'plate' of marine ply behind the offending area may be all that's needed.

Most caravans of 10 years age or better will have had some leaking - check inside for watermarking. I wouldn't be worrying too much at this stage. Most vans even when new are about as sophisticated as a tea chest, and similar in construction.

Relax, but, yes have a look at the corners inside just in case.

Chris (SA)
AnswerID: 362542

Follow Up By: kiwinaus - Friday, May 01, 2009 at 22:36

Friday, May 01, 2009 at 22:36
cheers..... that's a relief
I took the catch off today too see what the story was and poked around in the holes with a pin and found that the catch -was- screwed in to wood. it felt quite solid around 3 of the holes but in the top left hand corner (not in the area of the hole it self but toward the top corner of the van ) was a little soft.
The inside of the van is dry, no mould or mildew. There are some holes along the back of the van where the awning thingy (for want of a better word) was before it was moved to the top of the um... pop toppy bit...(i want too move that back ) they're sealed, but the one in the area of the catch is a bit suspect.
all the holes are firm but the screws ..(all different sizes and lengths )
weren't gripping so I think the fill and wedge should work. with the right screws.
thanks for the info
FollowupID: 630398

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