Sonoma Caravan Issues and Solutions You Need to See

Do you own a Sonoma Caravan?

You would need to see all the issues this Sonoma Caravan has and the solutions we offered.

How It Came About

This case study is brought to you by the words apparently, allegedly, and the number six, because there are about six things that weren’t up to Australian Gas Association standards on this new Sonoma Caravan.

Apparently, there was about 40 of these Sonoma Forest River caravans that were built in the USA, but one of the guys read the plan upside down. Not upside down, but the rears over. So the door ended up on the wrong side and they thought, “Gee, what are we going to do with these? It should be cost too much to fix. How about we just send them to Australia?”

So apparently that’s what they did, allegedly. Anyway, they all got sent to Melbourne. We’re just hearing different things from different people. When the dealer got it in there, he just assumed that they were all up to the gas standards because apparently, they sent all the gas stuff over with them to do it.

Allegedly, he just signed off and said, “Look, they’re good to go.” And they sold them off and licensed them and got them all over here. One of the blokes in Perth thought, “Oh, gee. I wouldn’t mind one of those.” Because they’re quite a light van and they’re well built. They also have nice features. So he got it shipped over to WA, and brought it down to the licensing center.

The Issues

And the licensing guy said, “Where’s the gas certificate, the completion and compliance notice?” And he was like, “I think it’s up to standard. You just got to give me the number plate.” And they were like, “No, I need to have that.” He called up the dealer in Melbourne and said, “What’s going on with that? How did you get it licensed? And I can’t do it over here because I need some form or something.”

And the dealer allegedly said that, “Mate, I just sent it off.” So he had to get that fixed. The guy at the licensing center said, “You need a gas fitter who knows about this sort of stuff to have a look at it, and sign off on it.” So he did a bit of a Google search of the best gas fitter in the world. And guess who he came up with. Yeah, not us. It was Steve from Nexus Gas. So he called him up, but Steve was too busy. And he said, “Well, maybe give Ben from Beautiful Plumbing a call. He’s got a couple guys that work for him. He might have capacity.”

So that’s what happened. He brought it over here. We had a look at it. Had a few things wrong with the gas pipe that was actually steel. There were all screwed fittings together right down the whole unit. So that had to be fixed.

The Non-Approved Parts

One of the hoses on the regulator is a new one with the black fitting which only just come in. So that was fair enough. Every fitting and cooker, any gas appliance needs to have certification from the Australian Gas Association. Now, if you don’t have that, we as gas fitters, can’t put it in. Same as plumbers, if you don’t have the WELS approval for a tap, we are the plumber, we are responsible for putting that. And if we put it in, it’s our fault.

So we can’t connect up anything that hasn’t got the AGA tick of approval. And there’s a directory that you can look on, and you can see the model number of the stove or fridge or cooker. And if it’s on there, that means they’ve had it certified, and it’s okay to go inside a van. So we searched high in low for the cooker, and we couldn’t see it anywhere on the directory, so we couldn’t hook it up. So we’ve run a new copper lines. Also, the valves weren’t to Australian Gas Association’s standard. So we’ve changed those valves over, put new ones on. But with the stove, we’ve left it in there, capped off, so you can’t use it.

The Vents

Also, one thing too, it’s got a CO2 device detection and also LPG device in there as well, which is great for a caravan, but no vents. In Australia you need a permanently high and low vent. So normally, most caravans, they just build them into the doors, but these ones didn’t have anything like that. So you could use that stove inside and it could burn up their oxygen in there. And then you could get a headache or even fall asleep and not wake up. So it’s very important, you have those high and low vents, and there’s a calculation and a formula you got to follow to make sure that they’re the correct size. So we had to cut holes in the doors, put a new vent in the door. And up the top, we put another vent through the sandwich panel. Even though we haven’t hooked the stove up. Eventually, he’s going to get a stove in there, of course.

The Benefits and Results

Now, they’re a really nice van. They’re super light, which is great. So you can tie them with quite a small car. They’ve got a really nice bathroom and a quality toilet. They’ve got actually a tub in the bathroom as well that you can stand in. So if you do have small kids, you can put them in there. So really nice van. The bed’s super high too, which is really nice. Well finished off. It looks pretty good. So there’s nothing wrong. It’s just the gas problems.

We also put a new gas burner underneath as well for them for their Marine grade barbecue with a flame failure device. It’s very important that you don’t just hook your normal Webers into them anymore.

So that’s what we’ve done. All new copper sleeved. So she’s up to standard now, but I don’t know what’s going to happen to the rest of them. Allegedly, that guy sold all those 30 something vans over in Victoria. So if you’ve got one of these vans that you’ve bought over from Victoria and you’re driving around, have a look if they’ve got steel pipes under there, and they’ve got some sort of suburban stove or whatever that’s in there. It’s best if you hook your caravan up, come over to WA, see if Steve from Nexus can fix it for you. And if he can’t, he’ll probably send you to us. And then we can sort it out for you and make it all safe for you. So make sure you get your gas approvals. It’s very important for your safety and for people out on the road as well.

Give us a call if you need any help.