Category Archives: Preparation

Nothing more Frustrating

Than house batteries that won’t play the game !

After 4 years of service, one of Rafe’s house batteries finally popped its clogs and a visit to the battery hospital was in order.

These images are all done from a cell phone.

Click on an Image for Hi Res

The original batteries

Batterytown came highly recommended by my son Andrew after he’d just upgraded our old boat Rorqual’s, new house batteries. He’d gone from 220 Amp hours to 450 odd something Amp Hours.. huge! .. plus he’d moved from lead acid to AGM’s too.

I’d been reading in some of the overseas forums that some of the British Fiat Motorhome owners had a few issues with the batteries that came fitted with some of the Fiat based motorhomes of the same age as Rafe. And sure enough, I had the same brand as well. Although to be fair, I always thought 4 years was about as much as you could expect from a bunch of house batteries.

They’re not easy to get at in the Globe 4 as they’re under the drivers seat but its only a 10 minute job getting the seat out. If you’re doing it yourself as I did, be careful when you pull the seat out that you carefully disconnect the air bag and seatbelt sensor cables when you lift the seat off the pillar! Its all in one big Yellow plug tucked down the side of the seat.

On a Dethleffs too.. Make sure that you disconnect the Solar Array by pulling the fuse out BEFORE you disconnect the old batteries or you’ll fry the control panel (Expensive!)

Only one of my batteries had died but you can’t put a new battery alongside an old one as the old one will kill off the new one in double quick time.

Top down of the new Batteries Handbrake lever on the right

The brand that came recommended in the UK was the German brand Varta and they were getting a much better run out of them than anything else. This also was the brand that Batterytown recommended as well so I was pleased about that.

Apparently they have some new technology silicone on the plates which stops the sulphation on them which stops them performing. This apparently gives them a lot longer service life and effectively increases their badged Amp Hour capacity to some degree as well.

It could be marketing stuff but it all sounds good and if its working for the Brits, it must be ok.

Greg load testing them.. passed with flying colours

So after fitting them I was off to get them tested,  just to give me peace of mind. I have in the past fitted brand new house batteries on Rorqual and found a couple over the years with dead cells straight out of the plastic wrapping !

After the load test.. from 10v up to 12.6 in a blink!

So all good.. we’re off now for another 5 or more years hopefully with some new Varta batteries.

The new Batteries all ready to go

They’re also a nice white colour too.

Faster, shiny Wifi !!

Just recently, the good folk at Netspeed showed me a new secret weapon for my Wifi.  A new router and its FAST!

Neat, something new

The big differences apart from it having some new shiny hidden bits that bring in a stronger signal and better management of the aerials, is that the new router is 2.4ghz and 5 ghz and also Wifi AC. The old router is Wifi N and 2.4 ghz only.

What does all this mean I hear you ask. Even as an ex ISP manager myself, I had to look it up to find out and this is what I found.

Once you have setup the router which you can do by just turning it on, its that simple. The router will send two signals for your phone or ipad,  the 2.4 or the 5ghz. Its your choice which one you use.

New Router

The 2.4ghz is slower but can reach further but is susceptible to interference from some other devices as it works on a crowded frequency. This is what most of us use now and is probably good for using outside and around your Motorhome.

The old Router with the new.

The 5 ghz is much faster as its a higher frequency but doesn’t do distance but within your motorhome, you won’t have a problem. It is FAST believe me!

The old and new back on

The other Major difference…. 
The Wifi AC is nice and shiny and new and as one techy told me, it is the difference between a Ferrari and a sedan. It has a lot more speed, supports a lot more people on the same router and does what is known as beamforming. As I understand it, this means it finds out where you are and strengthens the signal is your direction. Sounds a wee bit spooky 🙂

The speed improvements are something else.
Here’s what I got in our driveway in Devonport.

With the old modem..
Download: 41.77 Mbps
Upload: 33.28 Mbps
Ping: 51 ms

With the new one in the same location, the same day.
Download: 94.6 Mbps
Upload: 29.6 Mbps
Ping: 41 ms

While I did the speedtest, as the dial only goes up to 60mbs, I was waiting for the guage to snap 🙂

The new Router in place

Its fast. If you want one of these new shiny things and turbo charge your Netspeed connection, get in touch with the friendly crew at Netspeed.

Our first EBooks published!

Exciting… we’ve got our first ebooks away!

I’m really chuffed to get them away as it represents a huge amount of time to put them together.

It has been a lot of fun and a huge learning curve but having been involved in publishing some printed books for the Classic Yacht Association before, it was the next logical step.   I’m not expecting to get rich on them but if it covers a few bottles of Chardy and the odd tank of Diesel, then thats all good 🙂

The first two are now available on Amazon as of today and the others are coming. They are slightly  modified from the blog version so they don’t date so quickly and suit a book, and they’re in a fixed format horizontal format to show off the images to their best.

The first one is on our trip to Napier a year or so ago to the Art Deco festival. A great occasion and because its such a great event with some great images, it would be shame not to give these piccies another outing!

The other one is about our trip to the Pinnacles with friends via the Hawkes Bay last year. We were in several Motorhomes and it was a lot of fun. Some great adventures with some unusual places with a concert thrown in too for good measure.

These will both be available here by clicking on the covers above.

Ads will be appearing soon on the side of the Blog and you can keep up to date on this from the Books page.

Some time ago, I also did a blog about some older european images that I had posted for sale as prints etc. Again, I’m not expecting to get rich on them but some of you expressed an interest in getting some of them. They’re now available here.

A big occasion for me as a Blog person but there is more to come. .. Stay tuned 🙂

A Park for Rafe

One of the things we all have to do as Motorhomers or caravanners is to find somewhere to park our vehicles when theyre not in use. Not always an easy thing to do when they’re of larger proportions !Now that we’re back in our house for a wee while getting ready for our next adventure, I recently came across some old images of the parking area we developed for Rafe which I thought might give some of you some ideas.

Before with wee Rafe

Initially when we first got Rafe, we still had wee Rafe the caravan as although we had sold it and it had been paid for, it was waiting on transport to the its new home in Central Otago.

Cutting down the Oak

To make Rafe’s parking spot, we had to bowl a rather large Pin Oak tree and a couple of other insignificant shrubs but the hole created for Rafe was perfect. We were a bit lucky that the back half of the area was alreadyset up with concrete pavers.

Clearing the Green things

After the first few months, we found that the ground was getting a bit mushy and needed to be fortified with some fairly coarse gravel to stop Rafe from sinking in the front.

Sawdust and Mush

The other change we made was rebuilding a partly rotten fence and hanging it on hinges so it could fold out of the way to make it easy to back in.

Before the gate and Gravel

We also added in a 16 amp plug on an RCD circuit for getting the fridge down and keeping the batteries topped up.

All done
All Done
Rafe’s park complete with 16 amp power

Although is wasn’t hugely expensive, the cost was a few bits of wood for the fence, some hinges, the tree felling and the wiring and RCD. But well worth it to get Rafe off the street!

Its amazing how many people have asked me how I get Rafe in there too 🙂

Be kind to Your Fridge

One of the issues with the influx of a lot of European Motorhomes has been that many of them don’t have “Tropical” Fridges but instead have a Dometic fridge setup for Europe which it is generally expected to work in much cooler conditions than here in NZ.

Click on the images to see Hi Res

The Kit on the floor

An easy way to sort this out is to install a Fridge Cooling Kit which Dometic supply for approximately $110 depending on where you get it from.  This helps to get rid of any build up of heat in the cavity behind the fridge to help with  it’s efficiency, especially when it is sitting in a campground.

Before I go any further.. although this kit is relatively easy to install yourself, I found that it involved putting screws into the back of the fridge in an area I wasn’t comfortable with so if you have any doubts, get someone like Vantage RV to install it.

Make sure you fix the Fan the right way up

Rafe was booked in to Vantage RV for a week for a whole lot of maintenance as we have been living in it fulltime and had to defer several things that needed to be done. While it was there, it made sense to get a Fridge Cooling kit installed despite the fact that my fridge has never really had any issues. It all helps as they say 🙂

Click on the Gallery to see a slideshow

Johan was given the short straw to do the job…Once the 3.5 years off dust was blown out of the back of the fridge, he screwed on the fan unit and then clipped on the Thermostat. Next came the wiring. The cover came off and there were two terminals there waiting for the wires to clip on to.

All done.. nice and tidy.

It was all very straight forward but not a job that I’d want to take it on myself and the whole job was done very quickly but then Johan has done heaps of these and made it look very easy.

We tested it by turning the fridge on and directing a heat gun on the thermostat and off it went. I was amazed by how quiet it was.

Now to load up the fridge and give it a real test!

There is more information on this see Robs Fan and Mikes Fridge

Switch it on and up it goes

One of the nice things about talking to people in the Motorhome industry is you get to hear about some neat new things coming on the market.

New to New Zealand is a new range of  Automatic Satellite systems and Tv’s from France called  Alden.

Frankie with the two new Alden receivers.

This is unique as the controls are all in the matching Alden TV’s. You simply turn on the TV and are prompted to fold out and tune the dish which it will then go ahead and do. It will also fold down when you turn it off or when you start the motor to move away.. all automagically!

on the left and the Portable one on the right

The price is amazing too..with the top of the range partly transparent (see photo) Evo 65 retailing for $2695 incl GST. If you buy it with an Alden 22in TV, the whole package is $3200 incl GST. This seems to me to be a pretty good deal given these are the bees knees in TV’s for Motorhomes.

Showing the  insides of the Aldens are all precision engineered.

Vantage RV are the agents and can fit them for you too.

The Blue Beast

Its always a pleasure seeing an older Motorhome getting a new life from a bit of and overhaul or some good old fashioned TLC.

Click on any image to see Hi res

Looking Good

Alan and Keitha fom Matamata have had their 1990 Mazda Triton for about 15 years and about 5 years ago decided it was time for a makeover. The 9 month do up was mostly about the exterior but lots was done of the inside too.

Alan with his album of “Before” pictures

I really liked the hidden Waeco fridge in the double drawer. Nice touch.

The Waeco fridge hidden away in a drawer

The exterior was completely reclad and repainted with Aluminium panels with Insulation on the inside.

Click on the Gallery below to see a slide show

Alan proudly showed me a small photo ablum of how it was and when you look at where it is today, a different beast.

A lovely truck and a great do up.. well done to you both.