(This review, by the respected RV writer Peter Poat, was published in The Weekend West Australian of August 10-11, 2013)
Acclaimed author and research engineer Collyn Rivers has produced updated versions of two of his popular RV books. Now in full colour, the Caravan & Motorhome Electrics book and the Camper Trailer Book contain a wealth of information and are a must for anyone who carries out their own repairs or installation, or simply for those who wish to know how and why all the nitty-gritty works.
Both books assist in understanding many of the technical aspects of your RV but could be lifesavers if you run into difficulties in a place where no assistance is available.
The Camper Trailer Book, which covers every aspect of camper trailers, was first published seven years ago  and updated each year, until it was totally revised and expanded into a completely new edition.
“Camper trailers and their usage had changed so much that a complete revision was necessary,” says Mr Rivers. “A small part of the original book was thoroughly reworked, but most has been totally rewritten, combined with plenty of fresh material.”
The book clarifies issues such as the pros and cons of independent suspension, why shock absorbers are essential, electrics in depth and building and modifications of camper trailers. It also provides methods that will work, not simply ones that may work. It explains what can be towed where, definitions of the ideal tow vehicle, chassis issues, hitches, brakes, wheels and tyres, correct batteries, fridges, water heating, communications, safety, vehicle recovery, legal issues, installing extras and tips on preparing for the trip.
Caravan & Motorhome Electrics has been primarily written for owners and builders and bridges the gap between the auto-electrical and alternative energy disciplines.
It explains basic electrics, an overview of batteries, lighting, appliances, fridges, water pumps, air-conditioning, circuit breakers, inverters, fuses and solar systems among a wealth of other information. It explains the energy draw of typical RV items, defines voltages and the installation of 12 and 24 volt wiring, charging, generators, energy monitoring, and answers many frequently asked questions.
The content for both conventional and fifth wheel ‘vans has been expanded.Both books are brilliantly illustrated with technical drawings and sharp colour photographs. They are written in clear English and it is difficult to find any aspect not fully explained.
As well as his vast technical background, the author has experience in the field, having crossed Australia 12 times, mainly via tracks across the Centre, and also Africa twice, including the Sahara.
He has enormous knowledge of the subjects in his books and his writing is concise and not overdone with technicalities or difficult-to-understand jargon.
After years of experience – some in the guided-missile industry and later in the research laboratory for General Motors [Vauxhall/Bedford] in England – he founded what became the worldwide Electronics Today International magazine and other publications in electronics, telecommunications and computing. From 1982-1990 he was technology editor of The Bulletin and also of Australian Business magazines.
Among other achievements he founded the periodical Australian Communications and also wrote the Federal Government’s Guide to Information Technology.
Other current Rivers’ books include Solar That Really Works! and Solar Success [he also wrote the Caravan & Motorhome Book (now replaced by the all-new Caravan & Motorhome Book) and edited the recently published Caravan Buyers’ Guide].
Collyn Rivers and his psychologist wife Maarit now live in Church Point. Sydney, after spending a decade domiciled on 10 acres next to the ocean 20 km north of Broome in a self-built hi-tech home where he devoted himself to writing technical publications.’
Notes: Whilst in the Kimberley, Maarit Rivers worked with mainly Aboriginal children, often driving long distance off the Cape Leveque and Gibb Rivers roads on what, for her, were routine trips.
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