5 essential DIY techniques

By: Michael Borg, Photography by: Matt Fehlberg


Not good with your hands? Become a tool-wheeling guru with our exclusive crash course on essential DIY techniques.

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Let’s face it, not all of us are magicians on the tools. In fact, if you’ve never been the DIY type there’s a good chance you’re still trying to figure out the business end of a screwdriver, right? Don’t worry, we hear you! We know for some of us just the mere thought of getting a bit more hands on are darn right scary. The good news is if you’ve ever had the inkling to tackle a DIY upgrade on your 4WD or camper trailer, we’ve got you covered.

Yep, we’re about to give you one heck of a crash course! We’re talking about all the basic skills, techniques and user-friendly tips you’ll need to know to absolutely nail a whole variety of DIYs. Sure, your hands might get a little dirty, and a few spanners are likely to get thrown around the shed, but one thing’s for sure: you’ll absolutely love it when a plan comes together! Better yet, there’s a pretty high chance you’ll wind up addicted to the world of DIY upgrades.

So buckle up peeps: you’re about to get elbows’ deep in some of the handiest DIY techniques this side of the planet!

FIRST THINGS FIRST

Before you get too excited, you’re going to want to pick the right DIY job. Obviously you want to challenge yourself a bit, but you don’t want to be rebuilding a rocket ship while you’re still learning the ropes either! Start with basics and working your way up to the more technical stuff!

1. EASY ELECTRICS

Easy -electrics

When it comes to dealing with electrics a few simple tricks can keep you safe and save you a heck of time. Here are our top four to help make your life easier.

SAFE CIRCUIT

To ensure you don’t accidentally short circuit the electrical system while you’re working on it, simply remove the fuse for that particular circuit before you start, and replace it when you are finished.

MULTI-CORE WIRING

If you are installing several accessories in the one location, you can use multi-core wiring instead of several different strands. This will help keep your wiring neat and tidy, and can make it easier to route the wiring through channels or holes.

CONNECTION PROTECTION

To help keep water, moisture and dirt out of any electrical connection you should always use heat shrink wrap (see right). Simply slide it over the join and apply heat until it shrinks down in size enough to cover and seal the new join.

SOLDERING PERFECTION

Soldering electrical joins would have to be the hardiest way to make a connection, but it’s got to be done right to be effective. The simplest way is to weave or wind the wires together. Then heat the exposed wire strands up by placing the soldering iron underneath. Insert the solder via the top so it melts through the individual strands of wire. Be careful not to heat it up too much though... you’ll chargrill the insulation!

2. PLAYING PLUMBER

Playing -plumber

Ask any plumber and they’ll tell you: water will escape if it gets half a chance, so you really need to think about the way it flows when you’re working on your next project. Our top tips will help point you in the right direction.

TIGHT HOSE AND FITTINGS

Soaking rubber hoses in boiling water (see below) will cause it to swell up, allowing it to slip over tight fittings.

AVOIDING KINKS

When it comes to installing water hoses, make sure you don’t bend them around tight corners. Instead, use a suitable angle fitting to help stop the hose from kinking. You can also fit inline taps while you are at it, which will allow you to stop the flow of water if there is a leak.

WATER PUMP INSTALL

If you’re fitting a new 12V water pump, always look for the arrow which indicates the direction of water flow on the pump. It’s also a good idea to install a one-way valve between the water tank and the 12V pump to stop water draining back to the water, which would make the pump run dry until it sucks the water back through. Make sure any hoses attached to the electric pump are of a flexible nature like rubber, the idea being it can absorb any vibration making it much less susceptible to damage or fatigue.

THREAD TAPE

To avoid water leaks, always use thread tape on threaded connections. Ensure the tape is applied in the anti-clockwise direction. This will stop it the end from getting caught and unwind as you tighten to start threading on the fitting.

DRINKING PURPOSES

If you are plumbing anything to be used for drinking water, make sure it is certified for drinking water, as some other materials can release toxic chemicals into your water supply.

THE PIGGY TALE

When it comes to breather hoses on water tanks, you want to make sure nothing can enter the tank from the top of the hose. A simple filter will get the job done, but they have tendency to get blocked over time.  A cheap method is to simple curl the end of the hose up like a piggy tale, which will trap anything that gets inside in the bottom of the loop.

3. STUCK NUTS

Stuck -nuts

Can’t get your fasteners to loosen up? There are a few tips to get the job done. The first and easiest is to spray a bit of WD-40 on the threads. If that doesn’t work, try tightening the nut first; sometimes it can crack the nut just enough! Another option is to give it a quick knock with a mallet to loosen up any corrosion on the threads. And, as a last resort, you can apply heat, which will change the composition of the metal and cause it to expand.

4. INCREASING LEVERAGE

Increasing -leverage

If you find a fastener is just too tight to undo, one of the best ways to get the job done is to increase the available leverage on your chosen tool. You do this by increasing the tool’s length from the desired pivot point (the nut). If you’ve got a breaker-bar handy, great! If you don’t, you can simply slip a bit of pipe over the end and use that. When it comes to using spanners you can get fancy and double them up. Do this by linking the ring end of a larger spanner over the open end of the smaller one.

5. REMOVING STUDS

Removing -studs

The easiest way to remove a stud is to wind two separate nuts onto the thread, then lock them together. Using a spanner start rotate the inner nut anti-clockwise. As the inner nut is not able to wind backwards, it should re-direct the torque to unwind the stud.

PUT IT TO WORK

Okay, so your eyes have been glued to the pages as you read all about some of the handiest tips and techniques you could learn. What’s next you ask? Well you’ve got to put these new skills into practice! That’s right; it’s time to get stuck into your next DIY project. No doubt you’ve already caught the DIY bug, so we’ll let you get to work...happy tinkering! 

Check out the full feature in issue #108 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.