Tag Archives: Clever changes

A Tune Up for Rafe’s Dome and Some Smart New Technology!

I had to pop in to Apollo TV to get my now nearly 4 year old Apollo dome serviced as I was having trouble getting some of the channels. Chris was very happy to sort it all out for me!

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All is revealed.. looking good

Ever since Prime moved, it has been really difficult to get and TV1 and TV2 suffered badly from rain fade where TV3 didn’t!

Chris checking over the Dome

After talking to both Chris and Duncan, I made and appointment and off I went to their office in Whnagaparoa. Nice guys that were only too happy to help me with the dome. It also turns out that my Dome cover has just about done its dash so there is a new one coming. $399 fitted. They get hammered by our high UV and get cracks in them. Mine has cracks around the screw holes on the edge so is all good for a wee while.

Chris got the ladder out and within 10 minutes or so, had it reset and pointing correctly at the Satellite fixing all the problems. Apparently my dome has a GPS in it to it knows where it is in the world and sets itself and the skew based on position and the signal strength as well.
Chris was telling me that when they first starting bringing in the Domes, they realised that the Dome Cover was much bigger than the Dish so they had the Dish made as large as they could and still fit under the Cover giving us TV watchers more signal!

I couldn’t get over the friendly customer service and speed at which they dealt with my wee problem.

The sample straight out of the Box

While talking to Chris, he was telling me about the new Avtex Sound Bar which fits on the bottom of the Avtex 19” TV and vastly improves its sound while only drawing .75A and they’re only $375 retail.

Chris with the first Sound Bar

Duncan set one up for me to have a listen and the sound is stunning. The power and sound is all sourced directly from the TV where they mount underneath. All very easy and tidy. They can also be used as a remote Bluetooth speaker for your cell phones too.

Their first shipment is arriving shortly and is already just about completely spoken for!

The sound bar fitted to a 19″ TV

Some of the new technology in this space is amazing with so much happening.. now to just win Lotto and I’ll be very happy 🙂

Holiday Rambling

Meeting Peter, Wendy, Grant, Sharron, Mike and Pam in Northland and checking out their American buses was a lot of fun. They’re a great bunch and have been travelling together for a few years. Three of them even knew each other from back in their school days !

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L to R, Peter and Wendy, Pam and Mike, Grant and Sharron with their Motorhomes.

The Holiday Ramblers are on a Ford chassis with 6.8 litre V10 petrol engines with 6 speed auto gearboxes and honestly, when you stand next to them outside, you can barely hear them running. They’re so quiet.

Peter and Wendy’s Rambler

They’re 10 metres long with centre island beds on a 9 ton ticket. They all have slide outs which makes them huge inside. The décor is very similar with the only difference being that Mike’s has a bigger single slideout on one side.

Home on the Range!

As they pulled up beside Rafe, there was a whir of engines with the Hydraulic rams levelling them up, the slideouts coming out and the awnings rolling out. All of them at the same time ! This is Motorhoming the easy way 🙂

With the two slideouts. Peter and Grant’s Motorhomes are like this.
You could play a game of footy here! Mike and Pam’s Rambler

They were imported as a bunch of 12 by a Tauranga importer who had them specially designed for NZ road conditions (width) and wired to conform with the NZ electrical standards, several years ago.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

Peter, Wendy, Grant, Sharron, Mike and Pam are either on the phone most nights planning their adventures together with their amazing Motorhomes or on the road.

The bedroom

Ready Steady Go

One of the discoveries we made in Europe was the huge impact on life in a Motorhome when you have drop down steadies. Our Uk rental, Ralph had quite squishy air suspension and had a couple of steadies on it but being a rental, the steadies had been damaged. The thread had been stripped on one side but we were able to get enough out of it to make a difference.

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Welding on the feet

From this, I made a decision that we would get some added to Rafe when we got home to NZ.

The other discovery was finding better door catches for holding the doors open against the wind. The ones that come of the Dethleffs and a lot of other brands are small plastic things which are as effective as an ash tray on a motorbike 🙂

Waiting for Bolts

While we were looking through the huge Motorhome accessory store, Berger in Berlin, I found bigger catches for roughly 2 Euros a pair and got 3 pair for the habitation door and the garage doors at the back of Rafe.

Dropdowns clipped up

The day came when we could get the Drop Downs installed and while we were there, get the catches changed.

Vantage RV had some Alko Drop downs which had brackets made for another Dethleffs customer who had changed their mind and so were left with them in their store cupboard.

One ready to go

The ones they had were set up for an A class vehicle which is higher that Rafe so they had to be shortened and have the feet re welded on.

The old clips

They look fantastic, they work well and although Rafes suspension is a lot stiffer than Ralphs being a lot younger, they work brilliantly.

Clips all finished

The catches make a huge difference too and it was all done in a couple of hours. Brilliant!!

Campsite Automation

This campsite in Dresden takes the cake for value for money and its a great easy to use tidy campsite and is well used. It is completely automated with entry barrier arms where you take a ticket like a carpark and you pay when you exit. There is a graphic based machine which allows you pay with different languages and also dispenses tokens for both the showers and the power.

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Harry and Ralph on the Stellplatz

When we arrived at Schaeffer Mobile Stellplatz, we simply rocked up to a barrier arm and pushed a button for a card, just as you would in a parking building.

The entranceway

As we drove in there were 6 rows of parks on either side and it was simply just a case of selecting a park. After parking, there was just the job of plugging in to the power which is charged by the kwh.
All very simple.

The front of the dealers yard. Stellplatz behind.

There was no one anywhere near the site apart from the camping shop, and the Hymer / Dethleff / Concorde dealership in front.

Vans for sale. You can see the barrier arms and the camped vans out the back.

We ordered hot bread for 8 am in the morning for a couple of Euro’s .. magic!

The drive over grey dump and the pay as you go fresh water.

All you had to do was keep an eye on your power consumption as an electric jug would eat through your tokens for power depending on your consumption.

Fiona, Dianne and Gary walking baack to harry and Ralph.

For two days staying with free wifi, toilets, black and grey water the total was 30 Euros for two days stay and 4 euros for power (We had an electric jug!)

Busy and Popular Campsite

There was free Wifi and the water was 50c (Euro) per 50 litres and you could buy different amounts. Black and grey dumping was free.

NZ equivalent = about $60!! .. good value..

Harry and Ralph

I can see this working well for the NZMCA sites, even partially where they have power available and charged by the kWh for those who want to use it.

The Crystal Cabinet

It has been two and half years in the making but we’ve finally solved the Glass cabinet problem.

When we first picked up Rafe, unlike other Dethleffs, the Esprits, the Sunlights, the Magic series’s and the Trends.. all of them had Glass cabinets you could fit a glass in. The Globe 4’s cabinet had two shelves in it and was so narrow that only shot glasses and really small glasses would ever fit in.

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One of he narrow shelves. The Glasses don’t fit on them

The first thing I did was remove the shelves so normal sized glasses would fit if they were narrow enough. Then there was the problem on how to fix the glassware so it wouldn’t rattle or get damaged as we moved from place to place.

A couple of lengths of pine  screwed in across the cabinet and some tool clips to hold the glasses and we’re all done.

A tool clip around the stem of the glass

While we were in Martinborough earlier this year, Fiona found 11 cystal glasses in an antique shop by the square. They suited perfectly.  Her new name from friends Gary and Dianne is “Mrs Waterford” and I think she suits the name quite well 🙂

I’ve set the cabinet up for these glasses as we have a few spares if a couple get broken.

The Cabinet all done looking pretty sharp

Both “Mrs Waterford” and I are both pretty pleased with the way the cabinet looks and there no rattles at all.

Right on the Edge

We were right on the edge at Simpsons Beach by Whitianga.  A fabulous spot which we’ve been to a few times before.

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Ten steps to the water.

Its on a farm owned by the Simpson family which runs along the foreshore and behind which they’ve been letting people camp at for many years. They charge $10 per vehicle, Motorhome or Caravan per night and donate the money to a cause of their choice. A fantastic gesture and they’re super nice people.

The Beach

One of the quirky things about this area is the Netspeed Mobile Internet coverage. There is a 4G beam from Whitianga out over the water but Simpsons Beach is right on the edge of it but more in the beam for 3G. Because it is 1 click into the 4G, it can’t do anything useful and surfing the web or anything else is a waste of time.. nothing happens !  A lot more happens on 4 bars of 3G than 1 blip of 4G!

What I found you had to do is go into the Huawei App on your ipad or iphone and turn the “Auto” feature off to “3G” so that the router will settle for 3G and not be too ambitious 🙂

The Home screen on the app..Select the Settings Cog

The steps on a Ipad app.. Click on the settings cog on the right hand top of the screen. Then click on Network, then Network Carrier. You’ll see Preffered Network at the top.. click on that to get 3 G and select it and back out (without touching anything else 🙂 ) Its a good idea to reboot the router at this point and it will be away with plenty of throughput.

Click on the images below to follow the gallery in order.

This will affect any wireless carrier anywhere. Its all about your position relative to a transmitting tower.

There must be other spots around NZ where this happens too. Just remember to return the settings to “Auto” after you leave Simpsons Beach or another place like it.

Great spot

Despite this minor alteration to get Fiona her Netflix fix, Simpsons Beach is a fabulous spot and we love staying here. Once when it was chocker in the middle of summer, the local Mr Whippy van cruised through for ice creams 🙂

The Netspeed Speedtest from this site
Download: 9.11 Mbps
Upload: 4.01 Mbps
Ping: 69 ms
Connection Type: Wi-Fi
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&q=-45.872500,170.503600
Rafes Track to Coromandel from Simpsons Beach
From Simpsons Beach to Coromandel

New Saloon Lighting

Its interesting that while quite a few brands of Motorhomes have adopted tracklighting, many haven’t.

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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.