Dodgy 240v socket wiring

The habitation report that was done on the motorhome in August 2016 noted that the 240v electric socket didn’t work when tested, so we knew it needed repairing. There were a few other jobs that needed to be done as well so we contacted a local mobile motorhome repairer.

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no earth!

The strange thing is that under the worktop there is a factory fitted 240v junction box, this meant it was an easy fix with discreet wiring that can’t be seen.

We are safe now and it’s another job done.

Dave

Dash Cam purchased & installed

We had a dash camera installed at the same time as the reversing camera by Lee of DB Audio as it seemed to make sense to have both jobs done at the same time (September 2017).

My mind was on european driving and if were involved in an incident, hopefully we won’t, but having a recording could make our lives a whole lot easier.

I bought a Nextbase dash cam model No. 212 via eBay, it was a refurbished unit from a recommended seller for just £36 against a new unit for £69. it arrived and it looked brand new with no marks or scratches, it even had the the thin film over the screen.

dash cam1

Also purchased a genuine Nextbase hard wire kit for the dash cam via eBay for £11.99 saving £8 against the normal price of £19.99.

Having it hard wired to the vehicles ignition meant that I don’t have to fiddle about with 12v chargers leads, cigarette lighter points and messy wires. Wanted it to be easy to use with a minimum of fuss, it’s a great little unit and don’t forget to buy the correct SD micro card.

dash sat nav

Once mounted it does not obscure our view through the massive windscreen and we don’t notice it’s there now.

The installation and hard wiring by Lee at DB Audio cost £110 and he did a very neat and tidy job with no wires on view, thanks Lee.

Dave

Exhaust problem!

During September 2017 I was casually looking around Pogo and spotted a weak rusty exhaust bracket, looks like yet another repair is needed.

Later that day I took the van to the local ATS, about 5 miles away for an inspection and get the bracket replaced before the exhaust fell off. The guy at ATS said the exhaust is unusual because it’s a right hand system that been adapted for the left hand drive vehicle, urm I am not sure about that I thought. Next he said the bracket can’t be purchased separately as it is part of the exhaust system, therefore I need a whole new exhaust system or maybe have it welded, ok I said can you weld it please? Ah, we don’t do welding here, you need to find someone else. Can you recommend anybody, err, no sorry.

Once more we have a problem to sort out, I started ringing around and the MOT station I used last month said they would have a look and if it can be done, give me a quote. Made an appointment for next week, they are too busy this week.

I drove Pogo to the MOT station the following week and they quote me 1-2 hours work to weld and make good, using a knurled bar and some skill, can you bring the van back in 5 days time.

Job done a few days later, the welding is of a high standard and I am pleased with the work undertaken by Dan at MOT Northwest, cost £54 including VAT, I am happy once more!

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A neat welding job

It’s great having a local, friendly company nearby that can do jobs like this.

Dave

 

 

 

Alternator problem!

During August 2017 our motorhome went in for the annual MOT, although it passed the tester called me over, we got under the van and he highlighted a potential problem.

Using his torch he pointed upwards and said can you see the alternator up there? yes, well the long bolt holding securing it to the sub frame has worked loose and it’s just hanging on, that’s an accident waiting to happen!

Can you fix it here? No sorry we don’t do that type of work, ok I said. Called Peter at GEP Motors and arranged for it to be repaired there next week, but I didn’t fancy driving the van to be honest.

A week later after the repair we went to collect Pogo, Peter showed me the alternator belts and said we were lucky as they were badly damaged and it was only a matter of time before they snapped off or the alternator fell off.

altenator

The bolt has slipped to the right, no nut, dangerous!

 

I felt better now that this potential problem has been fixed and we can drive with peace of mind, this could have fell off on our journey to Lincoln a few weeks ago and that’s a scary thought, maybe we had a lucky escape!

The repair cost was £119 including VAT, once again great service.

A few days later I popped back to MOT Northwest with a four pack of lager for the Paul the tester, I explained I was grateful to him for discovering the problem, he was surprised and taken aback, well it’s not often customers come back with gifts!

I didn’t know then that I would be back for more repair jobs!

Dave

Four New Tyres

It’s time for some new motorhome tyres (September 2017).

The reason for wanting a set of new tyres is;

  • the tyres are too old now, date stamped 2009, sailed through the MOT in August though
  • but good tread depth of 7mm all round
  • no M&S (mud & snow) markings or snowflake symbol on the tyre, required for Germany and Austria in winter months
  • confidence i.e. not driving on old tyres

After reading and researching all about tyres I can see why this subject can become a bit confusing and hazy. There is a lot of opinion, reasons, personal preferences, price, quality, braking distance, grip on wet grass, rain, snow, wear ratio and so it goes on.

Whilst reading the forums Brian’s name kept cropping up as the man to ask, he owns a tyre business and is a motorhomer, a perfect combination. I contacted Brian at P&B Tyres through the forum page and we chatted over the phone. During the discussion he listened to me thoughts, he asked all the relevant questions, tyre age, winter markings, weight of the van, spare, size of the tyre. Brian was really helpful, knowledgeable and patient & made me feel at ease,  he suggested I thought about it for a few days and to contact him again if I wanted any further info, there was no hard sell.

Over the next few days I looked at the tyres and specifications that Brian mentioned and in particular the Continental and Evergreen brands. We chatted once more as I still wasn’t sure and I then chose four Evergreen tyres and arranged a fitting date.

  • EW616 Tyre
  • Tyre size 215/75/16R
  • Radial
  • M&S markings with a snowflake symbol
  • 10 ply – other brands were 8 ply
  • 4 new tyres cost £352 including VAT, fitting etc

Brian mentioned that almost 90% of the worlds tyres are manufactured in China including the popular, expensive and recognised brands, Evergreen are an up and coming company focused on tyre development and product enhancement, they also provide a tyre life guarantee, click here to view this.

We made our way to Oswestry to have the tyres fitted and made a little outing of it, we did some wild camping and visited beautiful spots, click here for our trip.

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Pogo at P&B Tyres

I am pleased with the tyres and recommend Brian at P&B Tyres, fantastic service, great guy, very helpful and knowledgeable.

Dave

 

 

 

LPG Refillable System

In one of the motorhome lockers there are two 7kgs calor gas bottles. These bottles provide gas to a Truma heater/boiler/water unit and provides hot water and blown hot air heating inside the van, the gas is used also for the 3 ring cooker hob and cools the fridge.

After reading motorhome blogs about travelling through Europe and some research we decided to install a LPG refillable system.

We like the convenience of using just one LPG system on the motorhome and avoid buying different LPG bottles in different countries.

Having two bottles and use one at a time, close one off at the valve on the top of the bottle and use the other one. When the first one runs out, switch to No.2 and fill up at your next opportunity.

On the many forums the LPG discussion boards are full of comments, ideas and personal preferences. The most common systems seem to be Gas It and Gaslow, Alugas & Prakto. Each one has merits and drawbacks and there didn’t seem much differentiation, apart from maybe Alugas as their bottles are aluminium so therefore lighter than the others.

However, the dimensions of the gas locker meant there was only two choices for us due to height of the locker at 580mm plus a smaller upper recess rising to 600mm. We were looking at the 10-11kg bottle size.

For your information, the bottle heights were;

Gaslow – 580mm, click here

Alugas – 600mm, click here

Prakto – 550mm, click here

Gas It – 550mm, click here

The full kit quotes in 2016 for two 11kg bottles and hoses were circa £450, plus a further £110 – £140 for installation by a professional.

I had to buy a 7kg calor gas bottle recently and paid £22.50 from our local garage (we didn’t have the LPG system then) and LPG at the pump was 58 pence per litre.

We realised that the purchase of an LPG refillable system wouldn’t really pay for itself, it would take a lot of refills over a long time before it broke even. This was solely about the convenience, hassle-free fill top ups with the minimum of fuss at petrol and service stations.

We weren’t in a rush, but I kept an eye on the adverts for both Gas It and Prakto systems, when a classified advert on Motorhome Fun popped up; for sale 2 x Prakto 10.5 kg bottles with some hoses. I made contact and we agreed a price £180.

I called Autogas 2000 and was told the price of two Prakto bottles was £390 and in fact they fitted this system 6 weeks earlier and this was confirmed by the seller. Autogas 2000 quoted about £100 to install including the refill point in the body not the skirt.

Be aware that all LPG refillable bottles are date stamped and are good for up to 10 years.

There are two types of filler points available to you, internal and external;

1) a filler point mounted internally on a bracket or similar inside the locker, open your locker door and fill up or

2) a filler point mounted externally in the skirt or body of your van, no need to open the locker.

We went with option two, the filler point was mounted flush in the body like a fuel tank cap.

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Small white cap is the gas refill point, I should have washed the van!

For £138 including VAT, Autogas 2000 installed a white flush filler cap, my Prakto bottles and 3 gas filling adaptors for use abroad.

Therefore, the total cost was £318 excluding diesel costs to Lockerbie and Thirsk. You can read about the Lockerbie trip here and the Thirsk here.

The pipework had to be boxed in though because the hoses came through the body in to an interior locker and dropped down in to the gas external locker.

We now have 42 litres of LPG so it will last a reasonable time between top ups.

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Overall, I think we got a bargain.

NOTE;

How to put LPG in your refillable system;

  • Wearing gloves is advisable
  • Put the LPG nozzle on to your filler, inside the nozzle there are two slots, line these up with the two prongs on your filler.
  • Twist the aluminium sleeve on the nozzle a quarter turn to the right, it should lock on.
  • Squeeze the LPG trigger upwards, keep it there and with your other hand flick the clip inside the holster handle to lock the trigger in the up position.
  • Release your hands, the nozzle will remain attached and in position on its own.
  • Now on the LPG pump housing press and keep your hand pressed down on the button, this releases the gas through the nozzle.
  • It will cut out/off automatically when the bottles are full.
  • The trigger will release and return to its down/normal position.
  • Twist the aluminium sleeve nozzle a quarter of a turn to the left to release.
  • Replace nozzle in to the pump housing holster.

 

Dave

Snow this morning

Woke on Monday 12th February to a light covering of snow and a fence panel on the ground. That’s the task for today then, it shouldn’t take to long.

snowGot wrapped up and walked round to the neighbours to put the fence panel back up.

fence

A fresh, cold but sunny morning, I quickly got the panel back in position and made the panel secure using cable ties, dashed back indoors to get warmed up.

Dave

Landlord Insurance Quotes for your home

Here’s a tip for you if you are considering renting your home out to tenants. When you call the landlord insurance companies for a building and contents insurance quote for your home they will ask ” do you know what the rebuild costs are for you house?” this is not the same as the market value of your house.

You can find out your rebuilding costs based on your postcode and type of property at the RICS website here. This is a free service, however you will also need the square footage of your property, excluding your garden or outside area.

You can calculate it yourself or take it from your EPC (energy performance certificate) as I did.

epc

Our quote was £183 per annum for £147,000 rebuild costs.

Dave

Drink Up!

17 days before we leave our house and our tenants move in.

We have to empty all our food cupboards and eat all the food in the freezer over the next two weeks, we can’t take it with us.  We are not buying anything else to go in the freezer so we are cooking & eating strange food combinations, but we don’t want to waste anything. It also means that we have to drink the remaining assortment of alcohol, we are not complaining though!

Last night we drank the vodka, tonic with ice in gin glasses!

vodka

Cheap vodka but expensive tonic!

What should we do with all that flour and sugar, bake cakes Cathy suggested, so under Cathy’s direction I made these fairy cakes with currants. Not bad!

cake

Use the flour and sugar up!

They taste pretty good too.

Dave

ACSI books have arrived

acsi

Europe feels closer now

All the motor-home travel blogs we follow recommend joining the ACSI for cheaper site fees in Europe particularly in off the season. The membership is only valid for one year between January and December. Ours arrived yesterday, the usual cost is £17.99 but we bought it for just £12.99 via the Caravan and Camping Club website, cheaper because we are members.

The ACSI discount camping card is inside leaf of book 2.

P1020597The level of site information is amazing, detailed and very comprehensive including GPS coordinates, number spaces, facilities, address, telephone, email, etc.

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All we have got to do now is get cross the channel and use the books, we can’t wait!

Dave