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.
Click on an Image to enlarge
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.
Click on the images for Hi Res
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.
Click on an Image for Hi Res
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 🙂
Click on any Image for Hi Res
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 🙂
We were just about to pick up our Grandchildren and take them down to Rotorua for the last weekend of the school holidays when a fault came up on the dash that I hadn’t seen before.
Click on an Image for Hi Res
It was an image of a door and a padlock in orange and prevented the motor from starting. It would turn over with the key but never fire.
Out came the Fiat handbook which said the fault was related to the key and the code that needs to come from it and go to the engine management system. If it persists to check with the dealer.
I tried taking the key out and putting it in the opposite way and the engine started straight away. I thought this was a bit scary so thought that given we were about to take the Grandies out of town, we should get it checked out, so off we went to the Andrew Sims Fiat service centre in East Tamaki.
After talking to their service manager Nick, he immediately said yep, its the way you’ve got the key in the ignition and you’ve solved the problem . It was all solved in seconds and I could relax 🙂
Because the keys flip out with the push of a button like a flick knife, the weight of my keys on the key ring and the fact that the lock on the key is getting a bit long in the tooth and isn’t what it once was, it is folding and preventing the code in the key handle from getting down the key to the engine management system. .. the answer… Take it out and put it in the other way so the key can’t fold and all will be well.
So after 5 years of owning Rafe and running all over the country and never seeing this before, a new little thing to know about an ageing key.
Even one of the senior Andrew Sims guys there at the time wasn’t aware of it either, so we all learnt something new that day. If you didn’t know this, you could easily get stuck somewhere and not know that the solution was so simple 🙂
Over the last month or so, our Motorhome Rafe has been stored up in Albany getting covered in Motorway dust and crap from a concrete distributor close by so it was somewhat of a relief to be able to park it back at our house again and give the van a good wash!
Our house is one of three units on a cross leased section which run down the hill overlooking each other and then over the golf course. When I say overlooking.. just our roof but we’re at the top closest to the road.
Click on the Image to see Hi Res
It had a parking ramp here already but it was in the shape of a triangle and we all know that Motorhomes and cars for that matter tend to rectangular 🙂
Our neighbour Doug is a semi retired builder who is a magic guy and was happy for us to do whatever we needed to make Rafe fit in the hole.
Enter Ryan and Ray, a couple of concrete experts who are good friends of my son Andrew to take on the project of adding to the existing pad to make it useable and also add another around the corner for an outside water cylinder and Heat Pump.
The project went without a hitch, even getting the concrete truck in to do the pour and the result is perfect.
Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow
Boxing on. you can see the original bit
Boxing and base for HW and heat pump
Since then, the Water Heater and Heat pump have been installed and we’ve managed to get Rafe in here but not without some drama!
The first time in. I got a good friend of mine Alan to be my eyes and ears at the back to help me in. The first obstacle was a hump at the end of the drive which I thought would grab the overhang but surprisingly for me, there was never an issue.
Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow
Start of the pour. Ray and Ryan at the back
The ready mix going in. Ryan floating off the slab
Ray filling up the slab for the Hot water and pump
The car testing it
all finished ready for Rafe
With extra soil
The tight bends around the front fence were a bit of a problem and I managed to get the front wheels stuck in a small patch of grass behind our letterboxes! After jacking it up and slipping some things in to jump out, it finally did but not without creating some stress and some mess of the grass.
Anyway, we’re in and it works a treat but I have decided since to convert a fence panel into a gate and add some gravel to make it a lot easier to get in and out.
We also have a 16 amp socket going in to keep the batteries topped up.
Thanks to Ray, Ryan for the great concreting, Pete the sparky for his wiring and Alan, a big thanks for helping me get in for the first time.
Just recently, I had the pleasure of having a guided tour through ACM’s Auckland Motorhome repair and manufacturing factory. Amazing stuff.
Click on an Image to see Hi Res
ACM was started 7 years ago by ex boat builder Chris Cunard (think Super Yachts) as a repair facility and later added his own range of manufactured Motorhomes. After chatting to Chris for a while, you very quickly get the sense that build quality is the name of the game and you can see this everywhere you look.
One of ACM’s Leading hands Daryl, showed me around a couple of the new Motorhome’s they are currently making for customers. Apart from having their own standard models, they make bespoke vans for those with special interests or hobbies. They also do repairs for other dealers brands too.
One of those I saw was one made for someone who was confined to a wheelchair. All the benchtops were lower. There was a special hydraulic lift at the back for entry and the bathroom and bedroom was all specially fitted out so they could enjoy Motorhoming. Fantastic!
A lot of slideouts in the industry are driven electrically. These ones have huge hydraulic arms to drive it instead which should make it a lot more reliable. The hydraulic drop down legs for levelling were huge too.
Click on the Gallery below to see a Slideshow
Nice pull out pantry
The bedroom slideout
The back of the Motorhome being prepared
One of their clients who liked his music so much, they designed and built his Motorhome so that he could take a built in piano with him and it looks like part of the Motorhome.
Good on them for taking their hobby with them!
Click on the Gallery below to see one of the finished Motorhomes
As seen in Hamilton
Athough I was lucky enough a few years ago to have a look through the Niesmann and Bichoff factory in Germany, it was really nice to see a local builder building Motorhomes basically by hand, doing a really nice job of them and providing employment and skills training for young Kiwis.