Tag Archives: Clever changes

The Turkey Lounge

We’re 7 k’s odd out of Kaikoura parked in the country next to a country pub and along comes a stunner.

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Rex and jenny

I had just been for a walk around the grounds of the pub and was returning to Rafe when in comes Rex and Jenny with their beautiful homebuilt Teardrop Caravan and WOW!!

Stunning

Its roomy too, much bigger than your average teardrop. They have a Queen size bed in it along with a wall of wardrobe and shelves.

The back lifts up for the Galley area and there is a great little hideaway for their slide out Barbeque.

Arriving at the Park.. what a sight

Having taken 2 years to build from scratch, they’re returning to their home town of Tauranga after a 3 month trip around the South Island. They finished building it 3 years ago and are now are getting to enjoy it.

Click on the Gallery below to see a great Slideshow!

Matched with the 1957 Chevrolet, it is the full package and sounds it too.

The ultimate sound and vision package !

On their way

#1 NZMCA

And that would be the newly restored 1928 Reo Speedwagon, once owned by the founders of the NZMCA, Andy and Gladys Anderson.

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4 of the volunteers that could come up with #1, L to R, John, Alan, Brian and Fergus

Once used as passenger and freight bus in Te Karaka, it later went on to be a bus for the Gisborne freezing works.

#1 sporting its new Headlights

Andy Anderson bought the old bus in Gisborne and converted it to his Motorhome and then started the NZMCA as #1 !

Looking forward

Fast forward to June 2016, it was collected from the Eastland Museum of Transport and Technology and taken to a workshop at Hallright Plumbing.  It spent the next 2 and a half years here being restored by a small army of 34 volunteers.

Looking back over the Galley

It was completely stripped down and rebuilt bolt by bolt and the result is stunning.

Click on the Gallery below for a Sldeshow

Seeing it on the NZMCA stand at the 2019 Covi show, it was a joy to behold. The attention to detail from the volunteers is amazing. Ferg Mckenzie along with 3 other volunteers came up to the Covi show to look after and show off their work.

Storage on the back

Well done too to the board for supporting the restoration. A great part of the associations history.

People queing to see it on the stand

A new life for the Chevron

Shortly after we arrived at Kaupokonui, there was a knock at the door with two smiley chaps wanting to have a quick look at Rafe’s interior.

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Aimee and Brenton outside the Awning

It turned out that one of them was Brenton who  was a long way through the restoration of a Caravan. Brenton with his wife Aimee and two kids were from Wanganui and were staying right next door.

Comfy Bed
Looking across to the Galley

I later wandered over to have a look see. It was a 1974 Chevron lightweight which Brenton and  Aimee started on about a year ago. When they first got it it was full of dark stained cupboards, the roof leaked in several places and it was generally a bit of a mess.

The new Awning

This is not what I saw when I went over.. Its looking great and doing the work themselves, has kept the lid on the cost. The biggest job was reroofing with a bitumen roll on product and then completely repainting the exterior and then redoing the interior.

A Bed at the other end too.

Along with a new Awning, its was great to see them away with other friends and family with their own two kids, enjoying their Caravan.

Looking good

Painted Handles

On our way back from the South Island last year, we stopped over in Taupo  for a few days to catch up with friends Gary and Dianne. Staying with them as well were other friends Ian and Lynda in their Dethleffs XLI.

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Rafe in Taupo next to Ian and Linda’s XLI

One of the common issues that we had with Ian and Lynda and our Dethleffs Motorhomes was the state of the plastic outside door handles for the Garage, the Gas Locker and vents for the heater and oven.

Rafe on the ferry showing all the faded hatch handles.

They were originally white but had faded with the UV light and gone a dirty yellow/creamy colour which didn’t look too flash. I’m sure this applies to many other Motorhomes and Caravans with NZ’s harsh UV light too so this might be something many of you can do to your own Motorhomes to solve this problem…. read on!!

Ian found a way to take off and strip down the door catches and with special plastic paint with primer, painted them white which looked amazing. Ian even made a spray booth out of a cardboard box so the overspray didn’t end up all over Gary’s Garage 🙂

Rafe’s handles were looking really scruffy so after talking to both Ian and Gary, I took the handles and the vent covers off. After stripping down the handles and masking the key locks, I cleaned all the bits with Sugar Soap and the sprayed them with Plastic Primer.

Click on the Gallery below to see the process in a Slideshow

The Primer only takes 30 minutes before you can top coat it so it was time to make a cardboard box spraybooth 🙂

The Oven vent and the Truma heater vent covers on

Rafe’s habitation door handles and front Fiat door handles are all black so Satin Black was the colour.

Two hours and several coats later, I reassembled the locks and stuck everything back on Rafe and it looks fantastic.

Looking the part

All thanks to Ian for his great idea and some tips from Gary too!

Weights and Tyres

At the recent NZMCA Motorhome show at Mystery Creek, I caught up with Phil from Carters Tyres.   After 59000 k’s, Rafes tyres were down to 2mm and I needed to replace them before my next COF so I was keen to find out the ins and outs of tyres.

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Phil from Carters

One of the things I wasn’t aware of that Phil highlighted was that many Motorhomers and Caravanners weren’t really aware of the weight limits on the tyres themselves. While we are all very aware of GVM’s and Axle weights, as that is what you get fined for if you get them wrong, many of us overlook the per wheel weights on our tyres.

Checking the rear wheels

As Carters were weighing vehicles the next morning, I moved to where the scales were and Rafe was weighed.

The scales

Both the back wheels were 1100kg’s or within a few kg’s either side (without the bikes) and the front wheels were 970kg and 1020kgs.  The Michelin Agilis tyres that I had on have a weight limit of 1250kgs per tyre so no worries there.

While I was pleased with the Michelins and how they had worn, they were expensive to replace with prices from nearly $1800 – $2000 for four, depending on who you got at the counter 🙂

The Michelin Agelis after 59000k’s

Phil was telling me that the Giti company produced a truck tyre with specs similar to the Michelin for almost half the price.. the GT Radial. It has a per tyre limit of 1460kgs, has more belts in the tread to help it track really well and 10 ply on the sides which is plenty. Yippee!!

The new Gt radials

So I booked into Carters in Highbrook in Auckland and Patrick was the man weilding the tools to change my tyres.

Patrick putting one of the new tyres on

I couldn’t get over the technology now used to change tyres. I remember when I was 17 years old odd, I worked in a service station in between photographic jobs and for a while was in the tyre bay.  I remember a steel pole concreted in the ground with a circular seat half way up that held the tyre while you wrestled with a long steel pole to lever off the tyre. Lots of fun ! These days, its all pneumatics.

A Tyre Changer of days gone by 🙂

Back to Rafes new tyres.. Each wheel was balanced and filled up with Nitrogen and refitted to Rafe.

Click on the gallery below for a Slideshow

Patrick did a great job on the tyres and driving home felt very different. You could really feel the extra rubber and it seemed to track better at speed on the motorway too. They also seem quieter on the road as well.

Rafe in the Tyre Bay

They’re definitely the place to get your tyres and NZMCA members get a really good discount too!

A night in a VW

The iconic shape of the VW Combi and the bright colours were hard to miss.

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Tania with the VW’s

The happy voice of Bowentown Holiday Park, Tania  was only to pleased to show me through the amazing Combi cabins. With the bright Green and Orange exterior paintjob they almost glow in the dark!

What can you say !

They’re about 4 years old and were originally made in Auckland and are fully insulated, complete with heating and set up very comfortably.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

New owners of the Park, Mike and Bec are planning to plant some gardens around them and restore the colours to that of the original VW’s.

For those who want to stay with Motorhome or Caravan friends, this is the next best thing and in the off season, they’re just $85 a night.

A great sight to see and a fun way to spend the weekend away!

David’s Treasure Trove

Rafe is nearly 4 years old and it seems everything is expiring. One of those items is the Electrical Certificate and that was due to expire next month but while I’m doing inspections, oil changes and stuff, I thought I’d get on with it.

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Sunbeam

After making a time with David Allbon who was listed on the NZMCA website, I rocked up to his house in Glenfield with Rafe and David put Rafe through his electrical paces. I was impressed with how thorough it was. He tested all the 240v power points and devices and checked the RCD tripped off in the allotted times allowed. The lead was checked too. We passed with flying colours.

David with a new bike he is working on.

David then led me to do the paperwork on his desk in his garage which just happened to be the boot lid of his Triumph Stag. His Garage was amazing. There was a 1929 Sunbeam, a 1926 Douglas Motorbike, a lovely convertible MG which was covered in his Motorhome bits. He is also working on another lovely old bike which I forgot to ask what it was but a real treasure trove.

The MG

David was telling me that most of the cars he has owned for a “long time” which suggested 40 years or more in some cases.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

Looking at the Sunbeam engine bay with its 6 cylinder, 2 litre motor, you could eat your lunch off it ! Its lovely to see these old vehicles being looked after and loved to this level.

The 6 cylinder 2 litre Sunbeam motor

David and his wife Barbara also have a Nissan Motorhome which was away having some repairs done to it after it was damaged by a falling tree.

If you’re looking for an Electrical Certificate, David is your man..!

Pop up Caravan

And it was  2 C overnight !

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Anne and Dave

Dave and Anne were away for their first adventure in their new Jayco Eagle pop up Caravan and were my neighbours at Whangateau.

Jayco Eagle

Having a quick look through, its amazing how much room there is inside them and what you can fit in. They slept in one end and had their luggage at the other end with plenty of room for living space in between.

Dining area

I’ve always wondered how cold you would be in these in a really cold night but in the morning they both said they were as warm as toast so the inuslation in them must really work.

Galley

Apparently it tows beautifully and although it took him about an hour to put together for the first time today, it generally should only take 15-20 minutes once you’ve done it a few times and you get more familiar with it.

Master Bed area

From Kaiwaka, they were staying here in the lovely Whangateau Holiday Park for three or four days to try everything out with their friends.

Dave was telling me that they bought it from a retired School Principal three months ago, who is clever with his hands, and along with lots of other little modifications he added a stay and pulley system so that the Pop Up Top wouldn’t sway around in the wind.. a great add on.

The Stays to stop it wobbling in the wind

Having had a Motorhome before, they were happy to return to the more basic camping setup and were having fun.

Visitors Berth

Although they said it wasn’t an issue, I still wondered about the 2C overnight 🙂

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.

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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.