Category Archives: Preparation

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.

Cracks in the Shower

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.

Click on an image to enlarge

Shower base showing cracks. Pressure on drain outlets.

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.

Shower base with cracks

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.

Wall linings coming out.

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.

Shower tray removed.. easy to see why it cracked.

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.

With the base out ready, sides cut down waiting for new plastic thicker top

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.

New base supported properly
All done and solid as a rock

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 🙂

The new Monstrous Battery

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 🙂

Cleaning those MPK vents

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.

Click on any Image to enlarge

Yuk… grubby vent

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.

The torx screws on the arms

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.

Dirty vent on its back ready for dismantling.

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.

The Torx screwdriver to get at the handle screws

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.

Tab missing and catch!
One with a tab still!

Be careful with the perspex outer cover as it can scratch really easily.

The new catch ready to go
Sliding in a new catch

As you re assemble it, be careful not to over tighten the screws as you will strip them in the plastic.

All clean ready to reassemble.

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!

All done and clean.

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.

Nice and clean and back together.
Its a beautiful thing !

Two Fat Bottles

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!

Not much room to come and go on.

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 !

Bottles in their locker

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.

Its is so much easier to get them in and out too.

Locker safely locked up.

Truma Trauma

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 Truma on the Truma test trolley

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.

The exploded element

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!

Peter W with my old Truma

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.

The break

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.

My stuffed element

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!

How a new element looks when being installed in the Heat Exchanger

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.. 🙂

The workshop is HUGE

New Saloon Lighting

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

Nice lights in the track.
Nice lights in the track.

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.

The plastic Tab
The plastic Tab

New Lights

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 screws for the glass at the waist of the light.
The screws for the glass at the waist of the light.

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.

Now to get rid of the Track
Now to get rid of the Track

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.

And they can turn right around and direct light where you want it.
And they can turn right around and direct light where you want it.

The lights are fabulous. We recently had the first trip away with them and the light was awesome.

The Covid Lockdown

We’re now into our fourth week of lockdown and I think its safe to say, cabin fever is starting to set in.

Just before lockdown started.. Fiona bought a table and chairs for her garden which is pretty much finished apart from some paving. That’s the one you see at the top of this page.

Click on an Image for Hi Res

The images below are a look back over the last few months..

Rafe’s parking pad to be extended.. Before !!

Cleaning up
The day we got Rafe stuck in the grass trying to get onto the pad :-). Alans (my helper) cell phone pic
Rafe’s first day on the pad
Raised Garden beds, rebuilt and new fence.
More dirt
Looking good.. extra parking for a car will eventually be shells

Easy parking

Here’s the whole Gardening process for those who want to see it all.

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!

Enjoy and stay safe!!

Rafe’s new Landscaped Park

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

Boxing on. you can see the original bit
Boxing
The ready mix going in. Ryan floating off the slab

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.

Rafe’s first day
Some of that fence has gone

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.

The Digger off to pull out the clothesline

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 🙂

Ryan supervising the first scraping off the grass

 

Click on the Gallery below to see the progress!

A big thanks to Ryan, Jordan and Ray for their fantastic efforts.

Easy parking

Thats it for now for a while on the house so we’re back in Rafe on the road for summer.

Rotating Tyres

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

All ready at Carters

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.

On the way up

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 !

Spot the decorations

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.

Off with the first tyre
All done !

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.

Mohit with a front (left) and rear tyre (right) .. not a lot of difference

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.

Front tyres being balanced

An hour later, we all ready to go again. .. for another 10 k’s until the next rotation 🙂

Ready to go for another 10k