Over Seven Years from new, decision time?

8 Sep

I reached that age where you start to really consider what lays ahead. I call it the Twilight years. Approaching the “three score years and ten” , biblical prediction. The last two decades have flown by and some urgency has crept into decision making at home.

We have been sometimes towing a two berth Elddis Xplore 302 SE caravan with the camper van. It is a beautifully matched combination, offering the best of both worlds. A fully equipped home from home caravan to park up on site with almost every facility that you could wish for. Coupled with the camper van for those seaside or forest or mountain ” days out”. Your own toilet facility, washbasin and cooking hob, plus heating for the winter months.

So, when we began discussing the camper van being seven years old and the mileage of over 84,000 miles, we asked the questions ” do we move on? Do we sell the campervan? What do we get in it’s place?”

A brand new replacement camper van with all of the many features that ours provides would cost somewhat more than £36,000 , still far short of a broadly similar VW version. I still firmly believe that the Nissan NV200 is a superb, reliable and quality alternative to any other brands available. It’s the ” secret” bargain compact camper van.

We did a LOT of research, seeking an economical alternative tow vehicle for the Nevada , our pride and joy , from the lovely folk at DRIVELODGE.

We did consider some ” Hybrid” cars but found them to be surrounded by smoke and mirrors. Self charging ones claiming to defy the laws of physics at times ! They were VERY expensive too. Even a tiny Nissan leaf plug in electric costing over £28,000 and being unable to tow the caravan anyway.

Then we found the Dacia Duster range. A dear friend has a Dacia Estate car and swears by it. It does of course, have the same Renault/Nissan/Mercedes Benz alliance engine as the camper van. A ” Nissan K9K” diesel Turbo motor. This engine is so good. Keep it serviced properly and it pays back with economy. torque and reliability. I cannot speak highly enough of this engine.

Dacia has a Duster which is ” Bi-Fuel”. It can run on petrol or switch seamlessly to Liquified Petroleum Gas ( LPG) which is a mix of propane and methane. LPG is effectively a waste product from the oil refineries and due to low taxation is about half the price of petrol at the pumps. But the engine in the Bi-Fuel Duster is the diminutive Tce 1.0 litre (!!!!) petrol version. Technically it can tow our Elddis caravan which weighs just 950 kg max.

The three cylinder, Turbo Control Efficiency (Tce) , 1,000 cc engine is a low friction , high tech design and follows similar engines from Ford and VAG group. I test drove the Dacia Duster Comfort Tce 1.0 Bi-Fuel and was VERY surprised. A punchy little motor offering peak torque at about 2,000 to 2,700 rpm but without fitting a towbar and actually hooking our caravan on, would it match up to the ” Good Match” report on http://www.whattowcar.com and other similar websites?

The camper van is still in very good condition in every way. I checked and we can afford to continue to own it AND buy the ” child friendly” , Isofix kitted Duster. So, the campervan will be getting some day to day assistance from a ” Bi-Fuel” anytime now. I will fit a tow bar in time and see if miracles can happen. Will it tow to acceptable levels? We have many unfulfilled, camper van ambitions. Watch this space.

Airbag Light staying on?

24 Aug

This post concerns my mate’s Fiat Ducato 2.3 TD 2016 but similar comments will apply for other vehicles.

Burstner Gin Palace LOL !!!!!

My friend’s super Fiat Burstner motorhome was showing the Airbag warning light continually. We cleaned, checked and re-connected all the usual ” sub-seat” connectors but still the light remained. We disconnected the three HUGE batteries and unplugged the 240 V EHU as this was still powering the dash etc !!!!!!!!! We then removed the Airbag ECU similar to that shown above.

We phoned the Airbag ECU repair company and drove up to Liverpool. They checked it whilst we waited. Found an error code ! YAY ! Fixed it and charged us about £80 ish for the job. The EHU constantly being plugged in at home had overcharged the unit to about 14.5 V plus and it had tripped it causing a fault. Refitted it after tea and the fault was gone !!!!!!!

Another picnic break in Shropshire

22 Aug

Moreton Corbett Castle near Shrewsbury.

Acton Burnell Castle on a previous , similar trip.

Electric vs Diesel Costs

20 Jul

Dethleffs ‘ electric Caravan

29 Jun

Friend, Martin McDowall came up trumps yet again when he sent this information about the caravan that pulls it’s weight.


A sofa bunk bed , how cool

28 Jun
Imagine this adapted for camper van self build use !

Another look back.

26 Jun

The kampa is still going strong well into it’s seventh year now. But here is our old Trigano Tribute.


The Trigano was well sorted. I even fitted a manual wind up TV satellite dish, imported personally from the USA. Cutting the hole in the roof took real confidence ! It was superb, giving us fabulous TV pictures from around the world at the touch of a few buttons. We used to take a fan blown, air cooler with us to France and bought 1 kg packs of ice to keep us comfy on those hot nights in the Loire region. The Kampa goes in to get an error code sorted by diesel specialists , G W Dale of Burslem, Stoke-on -Trent. A P0202 code indicating an open circuit on number two injector. Depending on what they find, I may go the whole hog and get four new injectors fitted. The kampa has done 84,000 miles now.

Wild Camping ? You decide.

26 May

This lady put a great deal of effort into sorting out what is and what is not permitted. I think that she did a great job in explaining the current situation. For me, I think I will stick to campsites but I have mates who regularly still wild camp. Both of my mates are responsible, clean and enviro-friendly, litter free campers.

Error reading P0202 Injector fault.

22 May

Had an Engine warning light come on a couple of times , then resetting and running normally again. This time it seemed more persistent so I searched YouTube for a solution. This worked perfectly for me although I used WD 40 and my airline to clean the connector to the ECU. My engine is similar to the dci 1.5 on a Qashquai.

Job done, all sorted and running normally. Strangely the ESP -off light had come on with the Engine management light but this reset itself after the connector was cleaned.

How to free a seized thread.

19 May

Recently, I had an oxygen sensor seized solid in the exhaust manifold on my Ford Sportka. It would not budge despite being heated, tapped and having an extended lever on the socket. I researched and applied real science to the problem and this is how I easily got it removed.

I bought a tiny bottle of pure Acetone from the chemist. Mine cost just £1.10p
I rooted about in the shed and found some automatic transmission fluid ( ATF)
I mixed about 4 teaspoons of 50/50 ATF and Acetone

On my car, there was a horizontal little ” dish” around the threads of the sensor so I put a couple of teaspoons of the ATF/Acetone mix into the “dish” and left it overnight. Next day I gave the sensor a sharp tap downwards towards the threads and applied some torque to the socket using a half inch square drive lever. It immediately freed off without drama ! There was some resistance to withdraw it. It did not become finger tight and I needed a socket and ratchet but out it came ! I used copper slip on the new sensor and made sure it was sealed back into the manifold. THIS METHOD WORKS. IT IS THE BEST RELEASE ” OIL” THAT I HAVE USED IN OVER HALF A CENTRURY OF DIY MECHANICS.

How it works : The acetone chemically attacks rust , converting it to iron and water and a carbon dioxide gas. The ATF rejects and holds the water. the oil in the ATF acts as a friction reducing lubricant. If the sensor or bolt or nut is at an angle, try making a surrounding funnel around the area to make a “dish” to hold the mixture overnight. I have done this in the past to free seized wire cables on vintage motorcycles.