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.
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.
Thanks to all those who pitched in with the advice and thanks to Thorsten and AA Solar for a job well done.
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.
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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.
Thorsten was the technician on the job and got into taking Rafe’s seat out to get at the batteries underneath.
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 🙂
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.
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.
Now that we’re back in a house and no longer living fulltime in our Motorhome, we’re in a position where we can get on with some of the bigger maintenance issues we should have done earlier.
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One of these was over the course of the last few years, we’ve been getting some cracks in the plastic base of the shower. I’ve been covering them in epoxy progressively to make sure water was not getting through underneath.
Apparently this is not uncommon in both Caravan and Motorhomes and is caused by stress in the plastic due to lack of support from underneath the tray.
Friends of ours have an almost identical Motorhome to ours have had exactly the same issue so its a common problem.
Having just had our Truma heater dealt with by Peter and his team at RV repairs and with Peter’s background in boatbuilding, I thought he’d be the perfect man for the job.
Initially Peter was talking about adding some glass matting to the under side of the shower tray to add some strength to the tray but once he opened it all up, that idea went out the window in favour of rebuilding the base to make it better able to deal with the load.
Fortunately, there was no sign of any water or moisture at all underneath so I was really pleased about that… my epoxy repairs paid off.
The base was basically a pedestal made of ply supporting the inner two thirds of the tray and not very well.
Peter changed the top to make a thicker plastic top which went right to the edge of the hole, drilled new holes for the waste (in the right places!) and then glued it all together.
It wasn’t a simple job as all the lining had to be removed to get the old shower tray out and to complicate matters, our bedroom TV was bolted through one of the shower linings up high so that had to come off too.
And .. murphy’s law, after 4 days of sitting in Peters workshop, he couldn’t get it to start! The start battery had finally popped its clogs after 6 years of faithful service so Peter jump started Rafe for me to go and get a battery … do not pass GO, don’t stop for the $200.. straight to the battery shop 🙂
We went away last weekend in Rafe and the shower feels completely different.. much firmer and absolutely zero movement. Peter has done a fantastic job.. and thanks for the jumpstart 🙂
As time marches on, things in a motorhome and caravan need to be cleaned and one of the trickier things to clean is the little MPK roof vents normally found in most showers and bathrooms in your motorhome.
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While you’re taking these out to clean, its a good idea while they are out to replace and broken catches that have lost their tabs like two of mine had.
I had the good fortune to have a friend Bruce who had replaced his so he knew exactly where to get some replacements. Moutere Caravans have packets of 4 for $30 plus a courier so well worth getting before you start.
I also went to Bunnings to invest in a Torx screwdriver kit which is like an Alun key set which was very useful to get in the tight spots on the vent.
Getting underway….. After starting on the inside by undoing the 4 Torx screws holding the arms to the motorhome and then gently lifting the vent off the roof, I moved the whole assembly to the kitchen table.
Out came a bucket of Sunlight dishwashing liquid in a bucket and a soft cloth.
With the vent on its back facing up on the table, I could easily get the Torx screwdriver down through the handle at each end to remove the screws holding the handle onto the perspex. It also holds the plastic inner to the perspex outer cover so expect it to all come apart at that point.
It makes it really easy though at this point to gently prise out the catches for replacement and give the whole thing a good clean. I got some replacement springs too so replaced those as well.
I replaced all the catches as the ones that weren’t broken were so brittle with the sun that the tabs broke anyway as soon as I tried to remove them.
Be careful with the perspex outer cover as it can scratch really easily.
As you re assemble it, be careful not to over tighten the screws as you will strip them in the plastic.
The whole process took me about 2 hours from start to finish and it makes a really big difference and the look when its all back together… there’s also something nice about doing it yourself too!
After 7 years of neglect on our roof, my whole vent was a different colour and as a result, lets in a lot more light.
Don’t you hate it when you’ve just filled your LPG bottles up when its a mission to squeeze it back into the Motorhome LPG locker!
I was in having some work done on Rafe and Peter the Engineer said “what’s that tape measure doing in your gas locker?” ahh says I. That’s for when you get to an LPG station and you discover that your LPG bottle has expired and you need a new one and making sure it’ll fit in the locker.
The bottles can vary in diameter around the waist by up to 10cm each ! With two bottles in the locker, that’s the difference between getting them in or if you can get them in together, being able to shut the door!! Who would have known !
I found this out the hard way the first time, by just trying quite a few bottles to get two that fitted in the locker together.
About two months ago we suddenly found that our morning ritual of having the hot water heater come on at 7am to heat the water, and then switch over to take the ice out of the air, stopped working.
After reading up on some online forums, I found the most likely cause was that one of the two 900w elements to have failed. The gas was working perfectly and it still worked on power but just ever so slowly.
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The van was due to have its annual check for water ingress so I asked one of the really busy techies there to check the resistance on the elements. They were both the same.. strange.. if one is blown, it will have a different resistance reading.
A couple of weeks later, I took Rafe to another RV workshop where I was told there were a couple of “clever truma people” who would sort it for me. After a week of having the van and removing the heater, cleaning and reinstalling it, it still wasn’t working.
A big disappointment !
Back to square one.
So.. time to find a Truma Guru and get this fixed once and for all..
While we were in Wellington recently, we were in a shopping mall and Fiona was doing the shops. I was sitting in the “husband waiting chair” . I got on the phone and via some friends, I was put onto Peter Webster who owns RV Repairs who are just up the road in Albany.. yippee!
Still sitting in the “Husband waiting chair” I called Jan at RV Repairs and booked Rafe in for some heater surgery.
After taking Rafe up on a Saturday morning, Peter’s electronics man, a really nice guy also called Peter, who tested the heater with an amp meter found it was only pulling just over 1 amp on full bore.. it should be pulling about 6-8 amps. So he started to take the unit out of Rafe and stick it on their specialist Truma test trolley.
Within an hour, I got a phone call saying that one element had a normal resistance, the other was as dead as a dodo.
After trying to take out the old element, they found the element had virtually exploded in the heat exchanger and when it went, it had damaged the heat exchanger.. two choices, new heat exchanger or new unit.
Heat exchanger $2000 plus odd with two elements. There would be several hours to install the heat exchanger in the heater on top of this. The other choice was a new Heater unit .. mid/late $3000’s. I chose the heater. At last the thing will now heat properly again 🙂
Truma’s new policy for replacement elements is to provide a heat exchanger with two elements due to installation failures!
I was absolutely rapt with the two Peter’s getting straight in to solve the problem without any fuss.. They’re clever guys too . Peter W (the owner) is a boat builder and spray painter by trade and the other Peter an aeronautical engineer so they’re perfect for solving a Truma heater problem 🙂 and with lots of knowledge left over !
They’re also motorhomers themselves and great fun with not just two Peter’s but three.. 🙂
Yay .. its the end of lockdown.. we’re away again.. almost ! Here’s a couple more posts from early 2017 until we get away again.
Its interesting that while quite a few brands of Motorhomes have adopted tracklighting, many haven’t.
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Rafe started out in life having three tracklights for lighting. Two on either side of the saloon and one across the top of the bed for reading lights. They were probably a great idea in that you can twist and slide the lights and put them anywhere you want them and also shift them out of the way. The only catch with them is that the ones that we have, have very flimsy plastic tabs on them which are so easy to break off, its ridiculous.
To be fair to the manufacturers, they can’t be blamed for excited grandchildren accidently bumping into them with their heads when they’re standing on the seats but when the owners are reluctant to use them in case they break, to me means there is a problem.
The other issue is that we found that as we cruised around NZ, the screws holding the glass would undo and eventually the glass would end up smashing on the table below with glass everywhere.
In the end after breaking a few, we now travel with them in a box and tend not use them for fear of snapping the tabs or breaking them.
After looking for ages through lighting shops and RV places, I discovered some really nice LED lights for another model Dethleffs which I ordered through Vantage RV. They had to come from Germany and just arrived the other day so I didn’t waste any time getting them installed. These ones are screwed into the shelves and I’ve set them back out of harms way.
I really wanted to remove the track but found that it was glued as well as screwed so I’m still thinking about this as I don’t want to butcher the cabinets getting it out.
The lights are fabulous. We recently had the first trip away with them and the light was awesome.
I’ve been busy putting together some books and also doing a whole years accounts for the accountant… big job but keeping the boredom away 🙂
Given that we cant get away, its a bit frustrating not being able to do any new piccies… I’ve been going back through some of our really early posts, think 2016 odd when many of you weren’t aware we existed and over the next few weeks, I’ll repost some oldies!
One of the challenges we all have as Motorhome owners is where to park our Motorhomes. Over the last month or so, we’ve been progressively been making space for ours.
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In the last two weeks, one of the bigger changes we’ve made to our new place in Devonport is hard landscaping of our front yard. It includes a flash new raised Garden which Fiona has always wanted. A parking area for our visitors as parking is a premium around here and a few green things around Rafe’s park and making it easier to get Rafe in and out of the park.
A very good friend of my son Andrew, Ryan and his wife Jordan have done an amazing job. Ryan’s speciality is concrete but he has done a lot in the landscaping area too so we’re really chuffed with what we’ve got on a small difficult site. Ray helped too with redoing the fence and the raised gardens. A great job folks.
We’ve only been here a couple of months. In that time, the concrete parking pad has been extended for Rafe, Hot water cylinder replaced and moved outside, a heat pump installed, the Laundry shifted around to be more functional, and now this amazing Garden.
While the Garden was being done, the fence had to be rebuilt as all the railings were knackered. The posts and palings were reused into an arty random fence.. We like it, the neighbours like it but quite a few don’t 🙂 we can always trim it later !
We also left a few bits at the front off to make it easier to get Rafe in and out 🙂
Click on the Gallery below to see the progress!
The carpark being formed
dumping dirt into the raised beds
fine tuning 🙂
Dirt in the beds
Just about ready
Gravel arrives for carpark
tap it down
Down goes the Stones
South Island Stone in the North Island
All done with plants
A big thanks to Ryan, Jordan and Ray for their fantastic efforts.
Thats it for now for a while on the house so we’re back in Rafe on the road for summer.
During my travels through the last NZMCA Motorhome show in Auckland, I bumped into Phil Jackson at Carters. He made a point of reminding me to make sure I rotated my tyres to get the best out of them but at that stage they had only done 5000k’s odd, but now that they’ve done 10000 k’s, I thought I’d better get on with it 🙂
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So I duly made an appointment with Carters Tyres in Highbrook, where I had my tyres fitted and they were happy to rotate them for me. Carters are a big supporter of the NZMCA and if you’re looking for tyres, they give NZMCA members a pretty good discount. They saved me a fortune.
The Tyre Technician for the day was Mohit who was ready to get stuck in as I rolled in.
One of the traps with the Dethleffs wheel covers is they have some Alun nuts as a decoration and a couple that are actually functional. Sometimes its a bit of a mission to pick the real ones. The plastic ones have to glued back on if you get them by accident !
Mohit successfully navigated his way around that and whipped all the wheels off one at a time and rebalanced the wheels for the front as he refitted them.
While they were off, its amazing seeing them side by side to see the wear. On their own it was hard to see but definitely the wear can be seen next to each other. In the pictures, the front tyre is on the left.
As Rafe is a front wheel drive vehicle, the back wheels are just being dragged along behind for the ride so there is minimal wear until they’re on the front so tyre rotation is really important if you want to get even wear from your tyres.
An hour later, we all ready to go again. .. for another 10 k’s until the next rotation 🙂