[tl:gallery index=0 size=103×155]Our Gentleman Jack Bancroft is an irredeemable motorcaravaning enthusiast. His family have been camping, caravanning and motorcaravanning since 1928. Jack and his wife Flora are now on their tenth motorhome, a 2003 Auto-Sleeper Pollensa on a Ford Transit base. They have toured extensively at home and abroad, including a period of full-timing. Here, Jack answers your motorcaravanning queries:
Q: I have a 2004 Hymer B774 with a payload of 1220kg. Unfortunately, it is still overweight when fully loaded for a long trips, with all the tanks full and a motorbike in the garage. On a previous motorhome I had the chassis and VIN plate upgraded. However, I’ve contacted Al-KO who that say the chassis has already been upgraded.
Is there an easy way to upgrade the weight plate?
A: [tl:gallery index=1 size=164×246]AL-KO is correct: if you have a payload of 1220kg, it has already been upgraded as the standard B774 had a payload of 970kg. It may not be possible to upgrade it further without extensive modification.
SV Tech (www.svtech.co.uk) may be able to upgrade the weight plate on some models by adding together the two max axle loadings. However, the issue of upgraded weight plates has been tightened recently and one now requires a ‘Certificate Of Entitlement To A Weight Increase’ before a new or additional VIN plate can be issued by VOSA. Apparently this certificate is usually issued by the base vehicle/chassis manufacturer or converter, so it is necessary to approach them or an aftermarket specialist such
as SV Tech.
Alternatively, rather than seek to upgrade the chassis further, why not lighten the load? My suggestions are:
a) Reduce the number of items on board. Each spring take everything out of the ’van and lay it on a groundsheet. With the exception of the first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, fire blanket, spare wheel and jack, don’t put anything back that you haven’t used in the last year.
b) Cheap awnings/tents/gazebos should not be purchased because they tend to use heavy steel poles. Change to those with lightweight aluminium poles, or GRP/carbon fibre flexi-rods.
c) Travel with only 10 litres of fresh water and empty waste and loo holding tanks. Each litre of water weighs 1kg. If you are travelling with full tanks, they add an extra 180kg.
d) Don’t carry too much food on board. Part of the pleasure in motorcaravanning is to eat what the locals do, especially when it comes to fresh produce.
e) We ban glass bottles for ‘essential’ supplies of spirits. Decant liquid into plastic ‘duty-free’ airline bottles instead.
f) Surplus stuff such as overcab bedding and Luton ladders should be left at home if they are not required. The overcab ladder from my own motorhome is made from thick section steel and is heavy enough to support the Forth Bridge!
g) Avoid taking masses of tools. Most breakdowns can’t be fixed by the roadside because of a lack of replacement parts. Half a dozen different-shaped 13mm spanners is unlikely to help.
h) Consider changing your motorbike for a lighter one.
i) Finally, if all else fails, put all the excess gear and motorbike into a box trailer.
A word of warning, too: never send any money to companies advertising on the internet who offer to ‘correct’ VIN plates and weight plates and to re-issue new ones to replace ‘damaged’ ones without inspecting the vehicle. The broken English and eastern European internet addresses are clues as to the legality of such an operation!