Top Tips for Zoners

Advice for the newly minted caravanner

We are novice caravanners, having only embarked on our first ever caravan trip after purchasing our 18′ 6 ZoneRV (build #44) in December 2016. Before commencing the current adventure we had only been away for a few nights –  10 days over Christmas/New Year, a long weekend around Australia Day, an Easter Break. We are certainly learning about caravanning as we go, and about the Zone.


We’d like to share some tips here for new Zoners so you can avoid making our mistakes – not suggesting you would, just making sure you don’t! We’ll add to this as we learn more things along the way

The Handover

When you pick up the van there is an extensive handover by the ZoneRV team, along with provision of a large folder with all the instruction manuals for everything in and about the van. It may be overwhelming for you – and even other experienced caravanners found this a little bit of ‘information overload’. Consider videoing the key points (eg on your smartphone) so you can replay important details later.

Locking your front door

Turning the key to ‘locked’ does not automatically mean your door is locked. Always tug on the door after locking to ensure the lock is properly engaged. We have never had it fly open, but we have spotted this with other caravanners, so always ensure ours is secure.

Your door comes with a glass outer and a security fly screen. Always make sure the glass outer is pushed securely into the fly screen frame (you will hear a click top and bottom) to ensure the door remains dust proof as you travel.

Dust covers

Under the foot of your bed are two little white vents. They look lovely and shiny and clean, that is until you travel through an area of substantial dust, in which case they become orange and dirty, and you learn what it is like to live in the middle of a dust storm – something to be avoided. Avoiding this is easy. At handover, you will be given two circular plastic covers. We recommend unscrewing these two white vents and screwing the two black covers into the compartment – therefore adverting disaster!

You don’t want to find this when you open the door (particularly after having a 30 degrees C flat tyre afternoon!):

Cabinetry

We advise learning how to remove the drawers. If you’re anything like us, there will be times you want to take them out – eg if something has fallen down the back or there is a screw or alum lock that needs tightening.  To avoid breaking the drawer but removing it safely, you:

  • Pull the drawer out as far as it will go
  • Put one hand under the base of the drawers from the front. Avoid the slider bars.
  • Lift up your hand from underneath and pull simultaneously – be quite tough – and the drawer will come up and out with a loud click. You should have access to everything you need.
  • To replace, fully extend the drawer slider bars, place drawer back on the bars and push it smartly back into the cabinet. It should work as normal.

Shower

Always travel with the shower hose out of its bracket and on the floor or tucked in on the shampoo shelf. We also recommend putting a bag or similar over the shower head to protect it from scratches as you travel along.

Cleaning

The windows are acrylic, so be careful to ensure the product (if any) you are using is safe for this purpose. It is recommended you just use warm water and mild soap (eg dishwashing liquid).

Water issues

Hopefully you will not have any problems with water, but if you do, check whether we have had the same problem as we have managed to solve them!

Air lock in water system

If you turn on your water and nothing comes out (you may hear a squeaking sound from the taps or the pump will be trying to work, to no avail) you probably have an air lock. To make sure, turn on all the taps simultaneously – including the shower and draw bar tap. This may fix it. If not, try this option – it took a lot of Googling to solve, and we’d like to save you the time and effort! The solution that worked for us was as follows:

  • Attach hose to mains tap with good water pressure
  • Attach other end to your draw bar (you’ll need another hose pipe connector)
  • Turn on the mains full blast into your draw bar tap
  • Turn on the tap in the kitchen – water should blast through the tap

Disconnect mains from draw bar. Water should run through taps as normal – either through mains or via your tanks. Stress over!

Dust in tanks

When you have been travelling in particularly dusty areas, your water tanks are likely to become covered with a thick layer of dust. Mostly this is not a problem, unless this dust gets in your water supply through the breathers which are on top of the tank. This became an issue for us – see below photo of our ice cube tray (one cube from pre the dust remains). We now do our best to keep them clean.

Cleaning out the tanks

This is a challenge (and we are definitely open to advice if anyone can help further). It is a long and challenging process, and a case of repeating the following until the water is crystal clear:

  • Ideally soon after driving around (before any sediment settles) drain tanks completely, removing the plug
  • Blast water up in through the plug hole and try to get it to swish around the bottom (which is where any dirt will settle)
  • Fill up tanks completely and drive to next destination (thereby hopefully swishing around the tanks)
  • Repeat above steps

It’s annoying and time consuming but if you have orange water and don’t want this to continue, seems to be the only solution.

Washing machine

We have the 2kg Mini Daewoo washing machine in our caravan, and for the most part it is fabulous. On two occasions during the past 5 months, however, it has shown an error – ‘OE’. Checking the manual will show that this means ‘Water drainage is unavailable’ with a number of options to check. We found on both occasions, that everything was fine according to the checklist, but the error would not disappear.

The only solution that worked was not in the manual.

Solution:

Looking under the Zone on the same side as the hose inlet valves, you will see a white pipe with a jubilee clip (as in photo above). You need to unclip this, detach white pipe and blow air into the pipe – we use our compressor. This shifts any pieces of fluff that are caught up and blocking the drainage. Replace as before. Error should disappear and equilibrium returns.