Tag Archives: Clever changes

The Sunburnt Bumper

It seems at this time of the year, there is an endless demand on outgoing funds for the Motorhome.. Service, Insurance, COF and a rattle or two you’ve discovered that could be silenced.

This year, the big one was repainting the Bumper just to add to the list.

Click on any Image to enlarge

looks like a peely shoulder !

To be fair, a new vehicle where ever it is made should not have to have its bumper repainted after only 6 years so that grates a wee bit, but not being one to dwell on these things, it had to be fixed.

Before.. you can see the yellow tint in the lacquer from the sun.

The deterioration started about three years ago and when I raised it at the time with the dealers, I was told it came under the Fiat warranty which had by then expired.   ….Hey Ho as they say.. Lets get on and get it fixed…!

It started with the whole bumper going a yellowy colour and then the paint peeled off in bits. I progressively sanded parts of it to blend the colour and make it look a bit better as it got worse.

About to be taken off

After talking to one of my favorite RV repairers Peter at RV repairs who is also a qualified spray painter, he advised that I should leave it as long as possible so as much of the peeling paint would fall off and remove the need for a massive sanding job!

.. It couldn’t wait any longer !!

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

In Devonport where I live, there is a great family run business which many of my mates at school have worked at over the years, run by Dennis  and Nathan Hale, called Fleet St Panel beaters.  They have a great reputation for doing things properly and are well known around the community as being really nice people.

In getting the newly painted Bumper. reattached

Where they are next to the supermarket in Devonport is pretty tight for big vehicles so it was a case of getting the bumper taken off and taking Rafe back home until the painting was finished.

All sanded and primed.

The bad news came on day 1 when after taking it off, we found that the bumper was actually fiberglass, not plastic. This meant it couldn’t be dipped to strip the paint off and they couldn’t bake the new paint on. It also needed to be sanded thoroughly before applying a special primer for the fiberglass. The good news part of this is that fiberglass is really strong.

Sanded and ready for some colour

Nathan was telling me it they budget on a couple of hours to prepare a plastic bumper. This one needed a day and a half of sanding as a lot of it was by hand. .. I could see my budget being blown sky-high and Fiona giving me a stern talking to 😐

All finished and waiting for Rafe – pic by Nathan

Unfortunately, they had a couple of staff off sick  and with the extra preparation, the 4 day job turned into two weeks but the outcome was well worth the wait. The finish was just sensational.

Although I was given the German paint codes, Kris the painter used a fancy machine that could read the colour off the side of the van and match it wirelessly to paints in NZ that can deal with our UV.

All done .. – WOW – pic by Nathan

An amazing colour match and friends who have known the van from new and know a bit about paint reckon it looks better than it was at the beginning.. I agree!!

Yes, it cost a bit more but I’m not complaining with such a great paint job.

Looking really good.. also with the polished headlights.

I’ve ordered a new logo sticker from Dethleffs and have my friendly local signwriter Tom putting the blue and white decals on over the next few weeks.

Wow

Full Beam Ahead

Just recently, I noticed that my headlights were getting a bit foggy and getting a bit of a yellow tinge to them. After checking a few websites out for a remedy, I found that there were several kits available for restoring the headlights.

I bought one of these kits and it being one of the better well known brands, I applied it to my headlights and they came up like magic. .. but they didn’t stay like it for long. Then I found out that the sealer used in most of these kits only lasted a few months and the headlights reverted back to their hazy yellow look again.

Click on any Image to Enlarge

All ready to go.. (bumper off being sprayed too)

Looking up on the web again, I found a company that comes around to your Motorhome, professionally cleans up your headlights and applies a two pot sealer that lasts for 5 years or more. It is baked on using Infra Red lights which also makes a big difference.

Fully prepared

Scott arrived right on time and parked right next to Rafe and immediately set about masking up the headlights and covering the front of the van with plastic to protect the van from muck and overspray.

Once that was done, he fired up the generator in the back of his van and sanded the residue of the useless sealer I’d put on and got the headlights looking quite clean but very cloudy as they now had no protection at all. After changing grits on the sander progressively up to 3000 grit, the headlights then felt like silk.

Sanded but not sealed

Out came the chemist in Scott and he sat down and mixed up the sealer.. it looked like three different parts actually and it all looked very precise.

Mixing the sealer

Next came the spray gear and the mask and as he sprayed  each headlight, it was like someone turned the clarity filter on.. the difference was amazing. He then set the IR lights on to bake the sealant on.. After about 30 minutes, on went another coat and it looked even better.

Before !
first coat

Scott’s a really interesting guy having worked in the UK as an engineer supervising the manufacture of Computer chips for many of the worlds biggest manufacturers. When he came out here with his Kiwi wife a long time ago, it was time for a change.. A really clever guy and looking at my headlights, I felt pretty fortunate to have someone like him cleaning them up.

The cost was a little over $120 which I thought was pretty good value given the setup involved and what he had to do.

Click on the Gallery below to see the Sideshow

The danger of not doing it and ignoring your headlights is .. you fail your COF when the line between high beam and low beam gets diffused by the cloudy headlights.. by then you’re also likely to have crazing in your lights which can never be sanded out. The only remedy then is to replace the headlights which in most of our vehicles is a very expensive exercise.

Drying

An amazing process and I have that warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that our UV laden sun can go for its life on my now well protected headlights.

Scott’s email is scott@fullbeam.co.nz

Drying coat 2
All Done

One of those clever creations, the Water Pig

One of the nice things about doing a blog like this is every now and then, you come across a really clever person who has designed or invented a clever new way of doing things.. this time its Ross Parkes, an all round clever bloke who  after needing a spare part for his SOG system, decided he’d design and 3d print it !

The other side.. ready to go

From here, ho moved on to his Water Pig  Its probably better that I let Ross tell this in his own words as when you hear the background, its an interesting story…

Much tidier

Take it away Ross 🙂

The Water Pigs, it all started when the fan motor on our SOG started failing and I enquired as to the cost a replacement – some $162 – yikes so instead I looked into the practicality of making a replacement fan assembly using a standard 50mm computer type axial fan.

During that investigation I considered that 3D printing a fan unit might be fun so purchased an Ender 3 v2 printer. Spent a day setting it up and then designed and made the fan housings (pic below) and experimented with different fans until I found one that worked ok – a whole nother story…

Pic by Ross
Pic by Ross

After that I played around and made some other SOG parts such as the bayonet fitting that goes in the top of the cassette – really to get around the design issue with the factory fitting in that it allows liquid to get down the pipe to the motor if too much slosh going on. It also meant we could have a fitting on our spare cassette all ready to go when we do a swap and also played around printing our new house which is yet to be completed

At that point I had become fairly competent designing and driving the printer so started thinking what else could I make and the water filler attachment that we use on our van came to mind. Like many people I have something I made from bits and bobs that you can connect the hose to so as to not have to hold it when filling with water. (pic below) A bit of a consideration if you have larger tanks or if you are on your own.

Pic by Ross

And so was born the first “Water Pig” or “Poaka Wai” (pic above) which fitted the Fiamma brand fitting on our Traillite and out of interest I posted it on a couple of Facebook groups, “hey look what I made” and then had a flurry of people also wanting one but of course they were not all Fiamma…

So on with the R&D hat again and came up with 8 different piggy designs, some of which I am still refining.  It would not have been possible without the help of quite a few people out there who volunteered to be guinea pigs for the water pigs. There are still a few tweaks that I need to do to perfect some of them and I have quite a lot of “seconds” that I sell off for not very much, well actually, I sell the good ones for not very much as well 😉 It is important to note that there are “commercial” water filler fittings available on Amazon/Ebay for various filler types but these are quite expensive and from off shore sources.

A whole bunch of piggies – Pic by Ross

The process of printing the pigs is not quick with each taking 5-7 hours depending on the size. (pics below – A piggy for Rafe) I could print them quicker but they would not be as pretty and probably not as strong.

The one for Rafe hot off the press – Pic by Ross

Sometimes things go wrong (pic below) so the printer does need to be monitored during the initial stages to ensure adhesion to the build plate is good and also if I have messed with a design I sometimes get it wrong and create some mutant pig…

Pic by Ross

Anyway, its been good for my brain developing the eight little pigs (so far) and hopefully is helping some people out by making dump station stops more efficient and easier due to not having to hold the hose….

In summary.. I’ve tried it on Rafe’s water filler (I had to wash it first before I could photograph it !) and it works really well..

For those looking for one, Ross is an administrator of the Facebook group RV Happy Travellers.  You can contact him here

Well done mate   a nice bit of Kiwi ingenuity!!

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.

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.

Classic American Beauty

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.

What an amazing vehicle. Brian bought this 1981 Revcon of EBay sight unseen and had it shipped to NZ in 2012. It was in his words, “a bit of a mess” so he set to and spent the next two years renovating it.

Enid and Brian with their Recon

Most of the furniture is the same but recovered except the bedroom which went from single beds to a centre island Queen bed.
Of course, you can’t have a vehicle like this without having a cocktail cabinet.

Click on the images for Hi Res or a slideshow

The “Handle Bars” had to be shifted too to right hand drive which was a bit of a mission given its a 454 Chev V8 with a chain driven transfer box all driving the front wheels so there is a lot going on under the floor at the sharp end! Once it was all done, Brian and his wife Enid “the Nagivator ” 🙂 shipped it off to Oz where they spent a year or so clocking up over 25000 miles and loving every minute of it.

At 10 miles to the gallon, she’s a thirsty girl but what a great look and a comfy 30 feet of Motorhome history.

Bling and more bling

Brian is keen to do up a smaller GM and is currently looking for one to buy to get started with.