Category Archives: Close to home

The Sunburnt Bumper

It seems at this time of the year, there is an endless demand on outgoing funds for the Motorhome.. Service, Insurance, COF and a rattle or two you’ve discovered that could be silenced.

This year, the big one was repainting the Bumper just to add to the list.

Click on any Image to enlarge

looks like a peely shoulder !

To be fair, a new vehicle where ever it is made should not have to have its bumper repainted after only 6 years so that grates a wee bit, but not being one to dwell on these things, it had to be fixed.

Before.. you can see the yellow tint in the lacquer from the sun.

The deterioration started about three years ago and when I raised it at the time with the dealers, I was told it came under the Fiat warranty which had by then expired.   ….Hey Ho as they say.. Lets get on and get it fixed…!

It started with the whole bumper going a yellowy colour and then the paint peeled off in bits. I progressively sanded parts of it to blend the colour and make it look a bit better as it got worse.

About to be taken off

After talking to one of my favorite RV repairers Peter at RV repairs who is also a qualified spray painter, he advised that I should leave it as long as possible so as much of the peeling paint would fall off and remove the need for a massive sanding job!

.. It couldn’t wait any longer !!

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

In Devonport where I live, there is a great family run business which many of my mates at school have worked at over the years, run by Dennis  and Nathan Hale, called Fleet St Panel beaters.  They have a great reputation for doing things properly and are well known around the community as being really nice people.

In getting the newly painted Bumper. reattached

Where they are next to the supermarket in Devonport is pretty tight for big vehicles so it was a case of getting the bumper taken off and taking Rafe back home until the painting was finished.

All sanded and primed.

The bad news came on day 1 when after taking it off, we found that the bumper was actually fiberglass, not plastic. This meant it couldn’t be dipped to strip the paint off and they couldn’t bake the new paint on. It also needed to be sanded thoroughly before applying a special primer for the fiberglass. The good news part of this is that fiberglass is really strong.

Sanded and ready for some colour

Nathan was telling me it they budget on a couple of hours to prepare a plastic bumper. This one needed a day and a half of sanding as a lot of it was by hand. .. I could see my budget being blown sky-high and Fiona giving me a stern talking to 😐

All finished and waiting for Rafe – pic by Nathan

Unfortunately, they had a couple of staff off sick  and with the extra preparation, the 4 day job turned into two weeks but the outcome was well worth the wait. The finish was just sensational.

Although I was given the German paint codes, Kris the painter used a fancy machine that could read the colour off the side of the van and match it wirelessly to paints in NZ that can deal with our UV.

All done .. – WOW – pic by Nathan

An amazing colour match and friends who have known the van from new and know a bit about paint reckon it looks better than it was at the beginning.. I agree!!

Yes, it cost a bit more but I’m not complaining with such a great paint job.

Looking really good.. also with the polished headlights.

I’ve ordered a new logo sticker from Dethleffs and have my friendly local signwriter Tom putting the blue and white decals on over the next few weeks.

Wow

1,000,000 Hits

The last 100 k odd seemed like it was taking a lifetime but we made it. 1 Million Hits..

After 5 years or so we’ve made it!

The first post! August 2015

Now that we’re back in a house again, it has been a real struggle to keep up with the content and I’ve found myself doing trips just to get something to write about.  I’ve also just retired last month as a Commercial Photographer, so I will be taking things a bit more quietly from here so you will notice the posts only being made when there is something to publish.

One of our first posts.. Fiona and Rafe at Coromandel Motor camp

But this is the Milestone that matters… !!

Our first trip away in the South Island in our Caravan . wee Rafe.

Thanks again for checking in and thanks to everyone that made suggestions and offered help.

More to come…!!

At Simpsons Beach Coromandel

David and Liz’s Cosy Rapido

Fiona and I first met David and Liz at an annual Dethleffs do at Miranda years ago when they had their new A Class Esprit.  They had it for several years until they fell in love with their 2010 Rapido A class Motorhome on Trade me.

It is 7.4 metres long, has a huge payload and is rear wheel drive with a Mercedes 185HP motor which “goes like stink”.

David and Liz both come from a long NZ Army background like us and David knows Fiona’s Dad, Uncle and they have many common friends.. love it when that happens!

We met up with them again at the Covi Rally at Ellerslie Racecourse.

Nicely finished. I love the woodgrain on the dash.

Since they picked it up 8 months ago, they’ve done 20000k’s in it so they really enjoying it.

Galley area
Galley

David’s favorite spot was Mt Cook on a beautiful clear day when they went on the Alpine Track.

Most French beds are tucked up against the wall and hemmed in top and bottom, making it hard work to make the bed.. this is the real thing!  Access to 3 sides !

Corner Bed

What I liked about this Motorhome over their last Motorhome was its nice cosy feel, it looks and feels solid but is still under 4 tons GVM.

A good solid look to it too.

Really nice people enjoying their really nice Motorhome.

New Batteries – UPDATE

One of the first things I do after publishing a post is to link it through to several Facebook pages relating to Motorhoming.

I’d only just posted my post on my new Batteries from AA Solar when several people commented on how they were not optimally wired. They weren’t incorrect but I would get more life out of them if they were changed and several made suggestions on how it could be improved.

To be fair, Thorsten the Technician, only rewired what he inherited from the previous setup and increased the wiring size while he did it.

I actually thought it looked much better than how it was but when I posted into the NZMCA facebook forum, the advice came back on improvements that could be made and it was worth giving it another look.

How it was

I called AA Solar and after seeing my photos, they agreed and were more than happy to reset the wiring. What a difference!  Its got a much more obvious flow to it and even tidier than before.. It should perform better too.

Its a Beautiful thing
Thorsten finishing off the changes.

Thanks to all those who pitched in with the advice and thanks to Thorsten and AA Solar for a job well done.

New Batteries ..maybe before time.

Isn’t it funny how as you go through the various upgrades on your Motorhome or Caravan and someone tells you, “buy this, its the best there is” and you say to yourself later “more homework was required!”

In early 2018, I did just that and bought some new batteries which were then the best thing since sliced bread as they had a new fangled silicon plate system.

Click on an Image to Enlarge

Not long after I had them installed, I took Rafe back to get the new batteries load tested as I thought they were dropping their voltage too quickly but they passed with flying colours.

Over the last few years I’ve persisted with them and we’ve found ourselves being plugged in to power more often than we’d probably like to prevent  voltage range anxiety.

A nameless friend and battery advisor has  explained to me that the batteries I had, due to how they’re made were  not  known performers as house batteries for Motorhomes.

So here we are only 3 and a bit years later replacing them with Champion Deep Cycle AGM’s from AA Solar in Silverdale.  With the NZMCA discount, these batteries are known performers as house batteries and are quite a bit less expensive than the 3 yr old ones I’ve replaced.

The empty space under the seat for the new batteries after the old batteries were removed.

Thorsten was the technician on the job and got into taking Rafe’s seat out to get at the batteries underneath.

Thorsten re doing the cables for the terminals.

Out they came and with a quick test, although they had lost a significant amount of power, they were probably ok as low load crank batteries for a year or two. I made the decision to dump them as I could see them sitting in the back of our carport in three years time 🙂

Just about done.

In went the new batteries.. the new Champions were a bit longer but just fitted in under the seat. Thorsten took one look at the wiring for the second battery and declared it to be vastly undersized.. so he replaced this with colour coded heatshrink and new terminal bolts.. very tidy.

I was really pleased with how it went with the wiring and the batteries and am now looking forward to now being able to be off grid a bit more than we have with known performing, Deep Cycle batteries.

All done !

With the new wiring and all cleaned up it really is a big improvement just looking at it and it almost seems a shame to cover it all up with the seat 🙂 Thanks Thorsten for a really tidy job.

Wzzzzz and up it goes

I’d just switched the engine off and was plugging in the power point when Lance and Sophie pulled up alongside in the next door Camp spot. They were huge plots so we had plenty of room.

Click on an Image to Enlarge

It turns out that they has recently just bought it online from Palmerston North and was only 5 weeks old ! This one is a Flagstaff Mac made by the great American RV company Forest River.

Lance and Sophie with their trailer

This is their second one of this type although the first one was no where near as flash as this new one. They leveled it on the ground, plugged in the power cord to the post and flicked a switch and up it went! Quite impressive if you haven’t seen one before. Apparently their last one was a wind up one.

With a slide out dining area and the end bedroom areas that po out, its amazing how much room there is. It has a built in BIG gas heater for those cold nights too. Despite the fact that it is mostly canvas and several layers of blinds etc, it really holds the heat in.

Roomy!
Galley area

Lance was saying they got theirs second hand but they are available here new for around $32k fully kitted out which is an option for families who have a limited budget and don’t want a big Caravan.

Extra bed space
Dining area slideout

This was one of the first trips away they have had in it apart from bring it up from Palmerston North and they seemed very happy with it.

Looking across the slide out

A great couple enjoying their time on the road.

Above the waves at Muriwai

Only 40 odd k’s from the centre of Auckland is the fantastic west coast surf beach called Muriwai and directly behind the dunes is a raised campground.

Click on an Image to Enlarge

The view

Being so close to Auckland it is super handy if you’re not looking at doing any serious miles and it feels like you’re miles away.

I checked in during the week as they have a minimum of $46.00 during the weekend. It was just $23 for 1 during the week. I wondered about the wisdom of doing this as a lot of people in Motorhomes do travel on their own and now there are no international tourists, it is excluding a large section of those travelling.

Cheryll and Denise were very welcoming and gave me a brief guided tour and allocated me a park up on one of the top terraces with a view over the sea.

Before I’d even plugged in I had met my immediate neighbours also both from Auckland !

New Showers

The campground is leased from the council and about 4 years ago, the council demolished the old tin shed toilets and showers etc and built brand new concrete and really upmarket new buildings.

BBQ area

I tried out the shower and all it has is a push button which once pressed, the shower delivers the perfect pressure and temperature and automatically turns off afterwards. You can turn it off earlier I’m told by simply pressing the button again… very smart… and super clean.

Its a simple hop skip and a jump over a small park and over the sand dunes to the beach.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

While I was there, there were dozens of young people catching waves and enjoying the surf.

Great surf
The Gannet Colony

Muriwai goes for miles so if its a walk you’re after, there is plenty of scope for that too!  I was impressed with the camp, its facilities and the friendly hosts.

Looking North
End of the Day

A nice spot and if you like the beach, the perfect place for a long weekend.

Rafe’s Tracker map – Armada GPS

The Piano Man

While staying recently at a Motorhome parking spot in Muriwai we met John who has a massive shed on his 150 acre farm up on the hills. We were parked on his farm.

Click on any Image to enlarge

John with a 1870 organ made in Chicago

While we were getting set up, he invited me in for a look in his shed. John emigrated from the UK with his wife Jane, many years ago with degrees in both engineering and agriculture. In his words then, “They wanted people like me”! and looking at the stuff in his shed, he’s a really clever guy.

John showing me a Pianola that he had revived.

John and Jane started an Orchard in Kumeu and grew the business to three orchards over several years. He was once of the first, if not the first to export Figs and Feijoas amongst other things too.

John playing an 1896 Clark organ made in Chicago.

Now in “retirement mode” he just sticks to his specialty of fixing Organs and Piano’s! I thought to myself, that’s a long way from being an orchardist but he is an engineer too!

Another Piano key masterpiece.

Amongst many organs in his shed is an old rotary hoe with tubeless tyres with a new petrol motor on which he has rebuilt for a friend.

Looking around the organs, John showed me the latest late 1800’s one he was working on which was a real mess when it arrived but he is slowly restoring it.

Johns bits draw with very fancy organ valve handles 🙂

He’s also a keen woodturner making serving platters and bowls from native timbers and he’s made some really interesting decorations/sculptures out of old Piano keys!

A really interesting and clever guy and you can stay on his farm for just $10.

Parking at Dusk
Muriwai much later in the day.

Muriwai Sunset

It was the first long weekend after lockdowns and already the traffic was awful but we wanted a night out of the house… where to go without driving endlessly through traffic.

Click on any Image to enlarge

Muriwai much later in the day.

Muriwai looked great and we picked a spot I’ve been looking forward to going to for months. John and Jane’s Charges Apply (CAP) parking spot high up in the hills overlooking Muriwai Beach.

We made the mistake of letting the GPS lead the way which was down an unsealed back road up to the road despite the GPS having “no unsealed roads please” loaded. We should have headed straight to Muriwai Beach and then headed up the hill.. still a little bit of unsealed road but only a 1k or so.

Our spot with Muriwai Beach behind

John met us at the electric gates and directed us up to a parking spot where we could get power too for an extra few dollars. Absolutely magic spot looking straight out towards Australia and north over the magnificent Muriwai Beach.

John’s cows with the best view in town.

We were both pretty knackered so just lazed around with some good Jazz on the stereo and I went for a wander around the paddocks to get some piccies.

Parking at Dusk

A lovely spot so close to town and fantastic hosts.

The Gannet Colony

On the way out the next morning, we stopped off for a quick look at the farmhouse Gannet Colony up on the rock on the southern end of the beach.

Rafe’s Tracker map ..The long route we took to John and Janes. – Armada GPS

Everyone has a Jetty

Another one from 2018..

Over our boating years, both Alan and I have had some amazing moments in both Bon Accord harbour at Kawau and around Kawau so being  driven around on the ferry so we could have a good look with a commentary was a real treat.

Click on an Image for Hi Res

Lidgards and Kawau Yacht club

Alan does one of the biggest, if not the biggest Wooden Boating Blogs around called Waitematawoodys.com and was on the Classic Yacht Association committee with me for several years.  We have been known to sneak away in Rafe for the odd boys trip which are always fun!

We left Rafe about 9:30 from the Sandspit Holiday Park and wandered along the road to the wharf to get our tickets and check in.  So after having a cuppa at the café on the wharf we set off about 10:30 for Kawau.

Mansion House

Being an Island and only accessible by boat, Kawau Island has only a handful of roads and a handful of vehicles.

His and Hers

Almost all the houses only have water only access and the way they’ve been built either on top of a hill with their own chairlifts (think electric Wheely Bin on a rail 🙂 ) with a jetty at the bottom or on the water. Some of them are amazing but I suspect most would be either baches, occupied by retired folk or who don’t have to commute.

Kawau Yacht Club

We were on the Royal Mail boat which started at Vivian Bay in the north and worked its way around to Bon Accord Harbour and Mansion House Bay and then down to South Cove where there was mail to be dropped off. On the way back to Mansion House Bay for lunch, we passed the Old Copper Mine.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

Kawau was huge source of copper in the mid 1800’s with a community of around 300 related to the Mine and its output at its peak. By the 1800’s it all fizzled out and most of the miners moved on to the Gold Fields.

The remains of the Copper Mine

After a walk around the Mansion House and the coffee shop, we eventually made our way back to the ferry. It was nice barrelling along at 15 knots in the sun with a glass of Pinot Gris in hand.

Alan getting off the Ferry
Friendly Peacocks on the lawn

We walked back to Rafe in the Sandspit Holiday Park and prepared ourselves for a meal at Sandspit Yacht Club.

Rafe’s Tracker Map