Friday, 13 October 2017

Checking For Damp In Your Caravan Or Motorhome

Have you ever checked your caravan or motorhome for damp?

Like most people if they were honest, probably not.

That musty smell, do you put down to just stale air as your van has been shut up for a while.

Perhaps it is something more sinister, the dreaded damp!

Damp can go unnoticed for a while, and by the time it is discovered, the damp has well and truly set in and it’s expensive to sort out.

Checking for damp is vital, not only on your own caravan or motorhome, but on any that you are thinking of buying, even a brand new one can suffer from it!

Damp can be caused by a couple of things, firstly water ingress, through cracked sealants, or damage to panels, roof vents or windows, it can also happen through rising damp and your floor rotting out!

Or the other way of damp is via condensation and poor or zero ventilation.


You may also suffer from weeping water pipes, when was the last time you checked all of yours?

So Damp can be a real problem, but it is preventable and less costly if you catch it quickly.

Below is a guide to what to look out for, how to spot it, and where to look.

Damp Guide

Equipment required:

Torch, Kitchen Roll, Damp Meter, Step Ladders and a Sense of Humour!

Now, this does require you to spend time on your hands and knees, so knee pads are optional!

For ease of wording I will be referring to a caravan throughout this guide, but the procedures are exactly the same for any other type of campervan/motorhome.

Firstly it is easier if the caravan is empty as you are going to be poking around in all the places that are usually full of all the things you think you need but actually never really use!

So let's start with a methodical approach.

Outside

The Door - Does it open and shut as it should do?

Is the rubber seal intact all the way round or is it damaged or crushed?

We are looking for ways that water can come in, a crushed or damaged seal is an easy water entry point.

Starting from the front of the caravan, open up the front locker, remove everything and have a look to see if there is any way that water is seeping in and pooling - especially if you have fitted trays for gas bottles etc.

Check to see that the back panel inside the locker is not damaged.

The locker should be vented in the base, make sure that nothing is covering these vents.

Check all the front windows for cracks and that they all open and close properly, none of the seals are crushed or broken. You can do the same for any side or rear windows as you work your way around the caravan.

On the side of the caravan, make sure that the awning rail is intact, and not damaged in anyway. It is not uncommon for an awning rail to be pulled away from a caravan, especially at the ends/corners. If there is sealant running along the top of the awning rail, make sure it is intact with no cracks or splits.

The same can be said for any guttering around the van.


Check the bodywork of the caravan, I know it sounds obvious, but there can be hairline splits or degradation of the plastic, especially on older vans. Check the handles on the van, these can very often be a water entry point especially on older vans where the screws are visible.

Around the back, check to make sure that the light clusters are all sealed properly. Water can enter the light cluster, fill up, then run down the wires straight into your van! Any cracked or damaged clusters, replace as soon as you can.

If you have side lockers, check inside them, and once again, check seals to make sure they are not crushed or damaged.

Air vents, fridge and water heater, make sure they are not damaged.

Now before you get the step ladder out, let's take a look underneath the caravan.

You are looking for any obvious damage or worse case scenario delamination of the wood floor. Delamination of the wood floor occurs when the layers of the plywood come apart due to the glue failing, either through damp or constant use.

There are a number of places to check, but if you can I would take a good look around the whole floor pan.

But the Hot Spots to check would be:

  1. The very front - due to water spray and debris being flicked up by the tow car.
  2. Wheel arches - These should have a plastic liner, but make sure that they are not damaged, and that they over lap the floor and not butt onto it!
  3. The front and rear corners of the caravan, as the gutters and roof will channel the water to these points.
  4. Where the waste pipes exit the floor. Water can not only enter here but could also be coming from the waste pipe itself!
  5. The corners, where you may of accidentally hit the caravan, the plastic may of bounced immediately back into shape leaving no trace but the wooden floor or seams may of been damaged.

Now to the roof, make sure you have someone to steady the steps for you. Take a good look along the roof edge of the caravan, especially the left hand side where you may of got a bit close to the hedge a couple of times. Branches are brilliant at hooking out sealant!

Check the roof where items come through, such as gas flues, tv/radio aerials etc. Also check any roof lights/covers for any obvious damage. It maybe easier to check from inside the van stood on a small set of steps with your head poking up through the window!


Inside:

On entering the caravan for the first time in a while, how does it smell? Does it smell musty or damp, as we mentioned earlier, it is easy to blame it on an old dog blanket or a pair of shoes.

Depending on the size of the caravan and the weather, remove all the seat bases, and if dry put them outside to give yourself some space. Now, remove the slow cooker which you thought you would use but never have, along with all the plastic bags you thought you would save, and spare blankets you keep in case you get cold.

Now that the space is clear I want you to get down on your hands and knees and with a scrunched up piece of kitchen roll dab it into all the accessible edges and corners. Does it stay dry? Hopefully it will do!

This is where you start using your Damp Meter, really easy to use, just switch it on and start prodding it about along all the edges and right into the corners.

On newer vans it may be a little tricky to do this due to the lack of exposed wood.

Using either a 2 or 4 pin damp meter does require you to push the pins into the wood, running in line with the grain.

The way it works is quite simple, the electrodes (pins) measure the flow of current between the 2 or 4 pins, the greater content of moisture the higher the flow of current.

A damp meter is not expensive, you can pick them up from either Amazon or Ebay for very little money.

You can check out this Digital Damp Meter Here it is currently at £7.99 including postage.

damp meter.jpg

Look to see where your water pump and water heater is situated that all pipes are secure, and there is no signs of any leakage, this is often a place to find damp, the push fit connectors tend to come loose over time. So make sure you dab the kitchen roll around the floor.

Moving into the kitchen area, look under the sink, check to make sure that the waste pipes are not damaged, it’s amazing how many odd marigold gloves you will find!

If you have access to under the cooker, check here, there are often floor vents here.

You will probably have no access to the rear of the fridge, and I would not advise pulling it out either! But check cupboards either side.

Check around the bathroom area for any obvious leaks, then check around the outside of the bathroom, if there is water leaking from the bathroom it may show up either side.

If you have a rear fixed bed, this can be a place for mold to gather quickly. When not using the caravan for any period of time I would prop up the bed to allow proper air flow. Just stick your broom in to hold it up.

Remove everything from underneath the bed, climb in the void and start checking.


If you have floor to ceiling wardrobes, make sure you check not only the base but the tops as well.

This is also the case for any top lockers/storage cupboards you may have.

Once you have completely done the whole floor, think about looking around the windows, and checking the seals from the inside.

Finally move to the inside of the roof, checking vents and hatches for any damage or moisture ingress.

Hopefully you will be ok, but if you detect any type of damp I would personally take it to your local caravan dealer who can advise you on the best course of action.

It may not be obvious to the untrained eye where the actual moisture penetration may be coming from. Water does have a tendency to run before emerging at a weak point.

I am no expert on damp, but having lived full time in a caravan for 4 years I do feel I know a few things about what to look out for. However, please feel free to leave comments with anything I may of forgotten!

Till next time...........

Thursday, 17 August 2017

How To Gain More Followers On Twitter Organically Using Lists 2017

So I hope you have been clicking and following people you find interesting on Twitter.

Today In this blog post we are going to take a look at a smart way of following people, as you cannot tweet if you have no followers!

I said I would try and make it easier for you to follow people.


First on the list (joke) is LISTS.

To find if you have been added to any lists by other followers click on your home page, look to your right along the bar you will see a little circle with your profile picture on it.

If you hover your mouse over it - it will say "Profile and Settings" click on this and it will reveal a drop down menu.

Here you will find "Lists" click on this and a new page will open.

In the middle it will say "Subscribed to" and "Member of" if you are ahead of the game the lists that you have subscribed to will be in the first one, and if anyone has added you to their lists then you will be in the "Member of" one.

Click on this and it will reveal which lists you have been added to.

Now the thing with lists is that they are compiled by people who generally all have common interests, so click on any that are in your list and it will open up a new page where on your left hand side you will see the following - "members" and "subscribers" if you click on either of these it will reveal a list of like minded people.

Click away and see who follows you back.

Tip - Don't bother with those who haven't bothered to put up a profile picture.


If you have not been added to any lists do not worry, it happens in time.

So now it's your turn to start making your own lists.

Why make a list?


Well, there are a couple of reasons. Making lists is a great way to bring like minded people together.

Over time as you follow more people your twitter feed will get so busy that there will be a good chance you will miss tweets that you may find of interest.

By creating lists of people you can quickly scroll through your favourites to see what they are saying.

So, as an example you run a Camp Site. Make a list with that as a title and every camp site you come across add them to your list. You do not need to follow them, just add them to the list.

Why do you not follow them?

Well, Twitter in it's wisdom runs some fairly strange metrics, once you have followed 5000 people if you are not being followed by 5000 people or there or there abouts or more, then they stop you from following new people.

The name of the game is to keep it fairly evenly matched between followers and people you follow. Not always easy, but by making a list you can funnel those who you find interesting but not on a daily basis into these lists

OK, lets take a look at how you make a list. 

Go to your home page on twitter and look to your right hand side where your little circle with your profile picture is.

Hover over this and it will say "Profile and Settings" click on this and a drop down menu will appear.

At the top of the menu is "Lists" click on this and a new page will appear.

On the right hand side is a box that says "Create a list" and a button that says "Create New List" click the button.

A small box appears, type in the name of your list "Camp Sites" decide if you want everyone to see this list or just keep it private. Personally I would make it so anyone can see it, then hit save list.

Congratulations! You have now made a list.


Now to fill it. So find a twitter account that you want to put into your list, open up to see their own twitter page and on the right hand side next to where the "Follow" button is placed is 3 blue dots.

Click on this and a drop down menu will appear. The second one down will say "Add or Remove from list, click on it and another drop down box will appear with your list or lists! simply tick the box next to your "Camp Sites" and your done! Click on the "X" will take you back to their page.

It really is that simple.

You can make many lists, this way you can group people together, and your twitter feed does not get clogged up. The other added benefit to this is that who ever you add to your list is informed by twitter that you have done this, so they may be curious in taking a look to see who you are.

Maybe they will follow, maybe they will click through to your website. It is definitely worth building lists.

However, I know that not everyone has the time to do this, you are at the end of the day running a business.

This is where I come in, I can take the strain away from you, for just a small fee I can build you a list relevant to what you want to see. You name how big you want this list to be and you pay me per person added.

Once more you are in total control of your budget.

If this is of interest to you please feel free to drop me a line at joolsmauro@gmail.com

Hope to hear from you!




POST - How To Deal With It - Most Common Questions

The most common questions I get asked are - What do you do about your post and what do you do about an address?

There are a number of different options available to anyone who wants to have their post held or redirected whilst they are away full timing. It really does depend on each person's individual circumstances.

But trust me, there is always a way to get things done, you just have to think a little bit different than the average person!

So, how did I go about having my mail delivered to me whilst I was full timing in my caravan?


All the time I was full timing I stayed within a geographical area due to work commitments, if you intend to travel for extended periods there are other options later which I will tell you about as we go.

Quite simply, when I first started full timing I initially set up a Post Office re-direct to my parents house.

I was lucky enough that they were happy for me to do this, but to be honest I had at least a dozen others who were happy for this to happen. All you have to do is ask!

I would visit on a regular basis and collect my mail, if something looked urgent, my parents would put it in a jiffy bag and repost to either my work address or my partners work address.

Your company should be ok with this as long as A) you ask their permission and B) you don't make it a regular habit.

Once again, I was lucky that I could have things sent to my work with no problems at all.

You are not committing any crime by doing this, you are just getting your mail redirected.

After 3 months I had informed all the relevant companies of my new address and all the junk mail, well I’m afraid that is still probably going to my old address!


Banks and insurance companies like to have an address, they will not accept PO box style addresses.

So the above option was the way forward. You simply need to find someone who is willing to have your mail delivered to their address. Relative, friend, etc, think long and hard, we all know someone who would help.

Redirects from the Royal Mail can be for 3, 6 or 12 months, all with a cost. For further information click on the link - Royal Mail Redirect.

If you find that you are having difficulties with using a redirect service there is something from the Royal Mail called “KeepSafe” they hold your mail for a certain period of time until you collect it.

The length of time does appear a little strange as they are set at 17, 24, 31 and 66 days, all with a cost ranging from £14.00 for 17 days to £45.30 for 66 days.

The only thing with this service is that you do need to have an address to be able to subscribe to this service. For further information click on the link Royal Mail KeepSafe.

Whilst full timing I stayed on a few sites where they were happy for me to have packages delivered, but once again, you do need to have built up a really good relationship with the site owners before you ask.

If you have an address but you do not want your mail to go there then there is a PO box service operated by the Royal Mail. Click on the link for further information Royal Mail PO BOX


There is another option that is slightly cheaper than the Royal Mail and that is a company called Mail Boxes Etc. There are a number of these types of companies around but this is probably the most well known and respected company.

Once more you do need to have an address and proof of id for you to open an account with them. For further information please check out their website at www.mbe.co.uk

Having an address is important in this day and age, there really isn't any way of getting out of it unless you are totally happy to live off grid!

Please feel free to contact me at joolsmauro@gmail.com with any specific questions, I'm not brilliant at replying straight away but will get there in the end!


Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Introduction On How To Gain More Twitter Followers Organically 2017

I have had a Twitter account for a good few years now, but to be honest until recently it just sat there doing very little.

I would post updates of what was happening and where I was, you know, usual things that we all get up to.

Such as, this is where I am eating my dinner (look at the view) and this is what I'm eating (look at plate of food)!

That was until recently when I discovered that there was a system to building your Twitter account organically.

I'll show you how in March 2017 I added 859 new followers to my account "caravanliving"



Twitter is a very valuable way of advertising. It is often over looked as a very credible means of boosting your online presence.

I'm guessing that most of you reading this have all ready a Twitter account, if not then sign up, it's a very easy and straight forward process.

So, back to your Twitter account, sat there, with maybe a few hundred followers or less and maybe you have followed a few people as well.

Now the thing with Twitter is that it is very sociable. If you follow someone, there is a good chance that within the week they will follow you back.

You see it's all a numbers game. The big hitters, those with a high follower count steadily increase their followers by doing a few simple things.

These things are very straight forward to do, there is no mythical dragon to slay, it's just a simple process.

A process that I will outline for you.

But first we have to understand how Twitter works and how to capitalise on it.

Twitter works by tweeting a 140 maximum character message, you can also add images to this.

There are then a number of options for others who are following you to engage with this tweet.

1. They can like it, but it doesn't really do a great deal for you, other than boost your ego a bit!

2. They can reply to you, which is brilliant as that tweet then shows up on their own timeline and is visible to all of their followers.

3. Or they can simply retweet to all their followers which is the aim of the game.

4. They can take a closer look at your profile and hopefully click on your website if you have one listed, (which you should have if your in business)!

The engagement we are interested in is No's 2, 3 and 4.

But before we start tweeting like mad we have to have people to tweet to!

Ever wondered how some of these Twitter accounts end up with 10k plus followers?

They simply follow a pattern.

I'm going to break down these patterns for you, not all at once as it will make your head boil, but in bite size pieces.

So for the moment all I want you to do is click on followers that you find interesting.  Twitter has a maximum amount of followers  you can click on in one day and that figure is 100. But let's take things steady and go for just 20.

Now there are a couple of rules here!

1. Remember the name of the game is to get people to follow you back, following the BBC World Service may well be interesting but will they follow you back? No, so do not waste your time.

2. Do not click on people with no profile pictures. It's likely they are inactive or are very new and are not worth wasting your time with.

3. Check out their profile, if they have the same amount roughly of followers to the people they follow then it's a safe bet they will follow you back, if they have 10,000 followers and only follow back 500 then once more do not bother.

However, if you feel they are interesting then you can always make a list!

This I will cover in a future blog post

Also in a future blog post I will explain ways of following people by using the search facility

But for now, click and follow, but do not go mad!

If you find all this too much and you simply do not have the time then why not let me do it for you, very reasonable rates, in fact I work on the basis of being paid by results.

I work exclusively with small businesses who have not got the time to build their social media presence.

Quite simply for every follower gained you pay me a flat fee per follower gained.

You can set a budget and once that figure has been met I back off, so you are always in control.

In the early days your budget may not even be met as to grow an account organically takes time so we cannot rush and saturate your twitter feed with posts or follow 100's of people.

Please email me at joolsmauro@gmail.com if you feel that this is something that you are interested in.

Over the next couple of weeks I will put up more useful information on how to grow your twitter account organically.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Caravan Security - The More Deterrents The Better!

Caravan security is a problem that will never go away.

Of course some of the top of the range vans come complete with built in security and tracking systems.

These can also be fitted by any qualified engineer at a later date.

However, whilst you cannot put a price on peace of mind and protecting your caravan not all of us have money to spare on state of the art technology.

So what are the options?

For low cost and a visual deterrent I have come across three devices which are all inexpensive and can be transferred from caravan to caravan.

The Fullstop Saracen Ultra AL-KO Caravan Hitch Lock is speedy and simple and comes with the backing of the "Sold Secure" team Thatcham Assured.

Can be used either when the caravan is hitched or unhitched from your car.



Currently this is on offer at £52.51 normally it retails at £79.95 with free shipping. Of course I have no idea how long this offer will be in place for so don't hang around!

Next up is the Purpleline Fullstop Nemesis Ultra Caravan Wheel Clamp Lock which is Thatcham approved Cat 3.

It meets the requirements of most of the wheel clamping agencies and the DVLA.

It's resistant to cutting, drilling and gas freezing and also incorporates Lowe and Fletcher nine pin anti-pick and and anti-drill locking bolt.

This is a seriously tough piece of kit.

I've just checked and it's currently out of stock, however it may be back in stock shortly so keep checking!

It's on offer (when in stock) at £109.95 and normally retails at £149.99 so a big saving to be had as long as the offer is still in place once it's back in stock!


Now I must admit that I have not come across these before but to be honest I like the look of them and for the price would have one for each leg!

Remember if someone wants to steal your caravan they will, there is not a lock that cannot be removed by a professional thief.

However if you had one of these fitted to each leg, the hassle of trying to removing them would more than likely make them move on to an easier caravan!

They will fit any type of caravan steadies and secures the with an integrated high security 10-level barrel lock.


Currently on offer at £23.99 they normally retail at £29.95 so if your quick you could have all four legs secured for less than £100.00!!!!! Oh and it's free shipping!

So there you have it - a quick round up of caravan security.

Till later..................




Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Cossack Beard Oil - A New Adventure Into The Unknown!

Well, just thought I would bring you up to date with what is going on!

Things have been a little quiet on the travel/camping side, mainly due to having no time.

And at the moment the Ural is off the road with an electrical problem, which is most frustrating to say the least!

I had a go at fixing it myself, but gave up in the end, the task was bigger than my capability!

However, some exciting news regarding my beard oil.

I sport a rather bushy beard. To keep it up together requires some maintenance in the use of beard oils. These tend to be rather expensive, so around a year ago I started to make my own.

This planted a seed into my head about how I could make money from selling them, so I set about creating a product and a unique angle to be able to break into the market.

So I have made up a fictional character called Uri Brezhnev, who is the mastermind behind it.

Below is a description of Uri and how it all came about. Please take a quick look at my new website, the link can be found below.

Cossack Beard Oil


What’s It All About?


My name is Major (Retd) Uri Brezhnev - ex KGB. On finding out that my cover was blown, I found myself having to lay low for several decades waiting for the dust to settle.


I lived in the Far East of my country, where I felt safe, trapping fur and living off the land.

Recently I felt it was safe enough to venture out into the world once more, but now I must do so as a normal citizen.

Well, as normal as I can be!

On being discharged from the KGB with a new identity but not losing any of my old skills of mixing chemicals to sufficient poisonous strengths to kill a Black Bear with the tip of my umbrella, I decided to put these same skills to good use for once and invented my range of “Cossack Beard Oils”

I emigrated to Great Britain and now reside in the New Forest on the South Coast where I can often be seen riding round on my trusty Soviet Stead a Ural motorcycle and sidecar.

My range of Cossack Beard Oils are a reminder of the Motherland, where my beard first took shape.

Whilst some men like my dear old friend Vladimir went on to build a legacy, through fate, I decided to grow mine.

Beard Oils Available:

Freshly Dug Grave
Hazelnut and Jojoba oils blended with subtle tones of White Musk, Carrot, Juniper and Sandalwood giving an earthy smell of a freshly dug grave. A smell to die for!

Black Sea
Hazelnut and Jojoba oils blended with subtle tones of White Musk, Sandalwood and Sea Spray, reminding me of those carefree days by the Black Sea waiting for my next assignment.

Citrus Mask
Hazelnut and Jojoba oils blended with subtle tones of White Musk, Rosewood with a hint of Cut Grass giving a zesty citrus smell, ideal to mask the smell of death. Ideal in my old profession.

For further information please take a look at our website at www.cossackbeardoil.com

Contact Uri on 07480 211001 or email uri@cossackbeardoil.com



I hope that all is well for you all and that 2017 will be full of travel and adventure!

We all ready have trips to Holland, and Greece booked for this year, plus lots of weekends away!