Archive | March, 2014

Old meets new. Nissan campervans.

29 Mar

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Whilst picking up yet more building materials on Friday, I met up with a chap driving a converted Nissan Vanette Cargo. I parked alongside and we had a quick chat. His van, a “Star” with raising roof, had a fore and aft side sofa opposite a kitchen with side cabinets on the nearside. It was in lovely condition and he got it for just £2,000 ! It looked a real bargain to me. He had bought a few weeks before and is currently holidaying in Wales for the first time. He had bought an awning for £45 from ebay. The photo shows a similar base vehicle to his. The mid-engine Vanette handles quite nicely. There were two facelifts and even an LDV re-badged version. He had owned classic VW’s before but found the running costs to be high and the performance not so good. Let’s hope that this camper runs as good as it looks. It brightened up another busy unscheduled working day !

Visiting the Diamond that is North Wales

25 Mar

north wales panarama
Yesterday, we visited the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty ( see http://www.clwydianrangeanddeevalleyaonb.org.uk/where-is-the-aonb-/) which was fairly recently extended into Llangollen and beyond. The diamond refers to the shape on the map joining Wrexham, Denbigh, Ruthin and Mold. We went to all four to seek out antiques. On the way home we diverted via the downhill stretch of the Horseshoe Pass, into Llangollen and skirting past one of my favourite ruins, Castell Dynas Bran

castell dinas bran llangollen
castel dinas bran
see marksadler.com
What a superb photograph ! The Castel ruin can be seen in the distance atop the mound. It’s a challenging climb up, so be warned ! I think the photo is taken from World’s End. My father trained in Surveying there and nearby when I was a small boy.

To lend or not to lend? That is the Question.

23 Mar

nv200 towbar
thule bike rack

“Dad, can the kamper carry two bikes?”. A good question. The van is indeed equipped to carry three bikes via a Thule (pron Toola (I believe)), towball mounted rack not too dissimilar to that above. It fits comfortably on the Thule towbar (pron Toe Barr)). We used it on our previous Motor home and it did a sterling job.
My son wants to take his girlfriend cycling. (It’s my fault, I introduced him to cycling at a young age. He wore out the nylon bearings on his first tiny Wolfcub bike , riding round and round the Lac de Maine , Angers, France. Swynerton’s bike shop could not believe it. No one had done such mileages before!
Of course, I will loan the Kamper to him. But he will have to commit to not thrashing it! It does not need to be thrashed. It makes good progress using just 2,000 rpm and the 6 speed gearbox.
Years ago I had a 17 year old mate who used to drive his Dad’s Daimler V12. He was trusted. He never crashed it. He did however achieve very high speeds on the roads of North Staffordshire !
Am I mad or I am I mad to do this ?
Daimler Double-Six Coupe
This one is a Coupe. Only 400 sold in UK I believe. “Brooksey, are you out there reading this?”

Campervan design. Risk taking and Intellectual property

22 Mar

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Years ago, for almost a decade, I made a very nice living from experiences built up in a very specialised, high risk (health and safety) environment. By the end of the decade, I had to contract my customers not to steal my knowledge from me. How times change!
There are not too many converters out there in the UK using the NV200 Nissan as a base vehicle. It is a big investment in time, money and effort to put together the necessary “package.” Just think how much work goes into making, say, a fibreglass composite raising roof as an example. It is almost as complex as making a speed boat with all the engineering considerations. Once you have actually got a roof with a lovely finish that will fit correctly, not flex too much whilst travelling then your next worry is ” how long will it take to get back our investment?”. In these fickle times it is not an easy question to answer. A great deal of financial risk is required. A calculated risk based on marketing research and experience from previous endeavours but risk none the less! Don’t forget to add in the cost of research and previous experiences , both good and bad.
Imagine then, someone coming along and copying your design or worse still, taking a mould from your roof, for an example, and then selling it as their own. No doubt some clever dodger will have contractual reasons why they can take such a risk but in my book, it’s theft. No ifs, no buts. Theft.
Personally, if I could prove, without doubt that someone had stolen my intellectual property I would publish it to the world and encourage potential customers to boycott the thieves!
Now all of this, is of course, pure speculation but some of the stories from converters are quite alarming!

Back to lighter topics soon.

First test of tunnel tent

15 Mar

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This is the actual tunnel tent that we bought yesterday for a tiny amount! It is not as grand as the example photo I posted yesterday but incredible value for money! I am not experienced in putting up tents and this one was made even more difficult because the instructions, which were quite poor anyway, were in Hungarian! Hence the low price no doubt! LOL.
I used Google translation to at least give me a guide. On the first word, Google detected the language as Estonian but changed it’s decision to Hungarian once a sentence was typed into the box. It could not translate all the words typed and at one point, I had two four letter swear words in my English translation box. One of the words could definitely have referred to the instructions. (see French ” Merde”). The other swear word was muttered by myself several times when I got around to putting up the tent.
It took me about an hour to actually put it up. I did make written instructions and a couple of sketches in case my son borrows it.(Told you I was inexperienced at this stuff……..). The end result was however quite pleasing. Despite the freakish high wind which had crept in suddenly during this time, the tent itself (Outlander Geo 6) was impressive. A huge enclosed space with an inner tent with three compartments, each with sown in groundsheet and insect mesh curtains. Lots of ventilation and extra spare tie cords.

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Conclusions : 1. I am terrible at putting up tents and awnings due to chronic impatience. 2. This tent is a bargain. Well made for the price to put it mildly. 3. Not the most stable in the wind but that is compared to an all year round, heavy duty Raclet caravan awning with steel frame. 4. This tent is a good alternative for use with the kamper, the caravan or as a warm weather camping tent. It should do a good job in Angers in June

Campervan, caravan, awnings and tents

14 Mar

roadsign tent camper
six man tent example

We saw a six man tunnel tent for sale at our local market town bargain basement warehouse. It is similar to the one in the photo. It can double up as an awning for the Kamper, the caravan or as just a tent for us to all use.
Putting it up on the lawn this weekend to see it in the flesh. I am putting the Raclet caravan awning up for sale on here very shortly.

A good dry and warm day for waterproofing roof textile.

9 Mar

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Today we have had the warmest of the year so far. Weather is calm and sunny, so I took the opportunity to waterproof the raising roof with “Storm” waterproofer. Martin, a regular contributor to this blog warned of leaking on his Drivelodge roof. We have never had our roof up in the rain and so before we even commence wet weather camping it was time to prepare the roofing material just in case. The “Storm” waterproofer is a clear, water -like fluid which is brushed onto the material. I was particularly careful to get the stitched areas well sealed. The standard of stitching on my roof was excellent. As good as on an expensive tent. The treatment is quite strong in odour (like a solvent smell) and dried quite quickly , meaning some care was needed not to miss any areas. So working methodically, from large step ladders , it did not take long. I removed the cushions and used doubled up dust sheets to protect the felted roof of the cab and other decorative patches. Once dry, it is difficult to tell that the job has been done. The material perhaps feels a little more slippery to the touch. I also took the opportunity to clean and wax the usually hidden painted areas under the roof lip and around the hinges and mechanism. Another job box ticked ! Oh, it took 300 to 400 ml from a litre bottle to treat inside and outside of the roof fabric.

Small engines. Motor Caravans and tow cars.

9 Mar

ford 1.0 litre ecoboost engine

Prior to owning and driving the Dinkum Kamper, I was a little concerned about the 1.5 litre Turbo Diesel capabilities. I need not have worried. Our version has 110ps and 240Nm of torque. It copes with the Drivelodge campervan conversion easily. I have no doubts about towing our little Freedom Microlite Caravan with it. The Whattowcar website indicates a very comfortable towing match.

We used to tow with our Fiesta 1.6Tdci Mk Vii. No worries and excellent fuel efficiency achieving 45 mpg towing overall. Now a close friend has bought a similarly sized caravan to ours with a maximum tow weight of 750kg. His towcar? A nearly new Ford Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost. It’s towing capacity is listed as 900kg. The engine gives 101ps and a torque figure of 170Nm. the torque curve of this little 3 cylinder engine is quite broad. Much broader than a conventional petrol engine due to it’s turbo characteristics. I shall post reports of my friend’s experiences , towing with this innovative (much patented!) motor. I want it to work well. I love compact solutions and believe this is where the future of motor camping lays.

Something for the weekend Sir?

5 Mar

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Until I can find time to insert more dedicated NV200 info., here is a pic of my friend’s E Type jaguar.
He very kindly loaned it to me for several month’s and I got to use it when the weather was warm. My friend lives in the Middle East and is the biggest “petrol head” that I know. Our friendship goes back more decades than I wish to recall. Amongst his fleet of exotic cars (and motorcycles) was this lovely “F” reg open top Jag.
At the time I also looked after three motorbikes for him. A BSA Rocket 3, a 750cc Custom Triumph Triple and a Rotary Norton. I could only ride the Rocket 3 as my perversely short legs prevented me from daring go out on the Norton and I am truly too embarrassed to be seen out on a Custom high barred ‘Bike. Sorry any Harley dudes out there. I admire them but don’t like ridin ’em.
The Rocket 3 reminded me of the glory days in the early seventies of Percy Tait and others racing at Mallory Park. Oh the sound of the BSA triples at full chat!
Sadly the Jag has been sold to a gentleman in Germany and the bikes are elsewhere due to my home relocation.
My friend came over for a short visit to the UK recently to swap a TVR V8 for an MGC fastback and to buy some motorcycle tyres for his Enfield (bravely ridden in the middle east……. rather you than me “Miffy!”
Although he claims to not like motor caravans, (he did not say that when he lived in our old Minnie Winnie for 3 months whilst his cottage was renovated!) he loved the Drivelodge Nevada. Not what he expected at all. He was chiefly impressed with the overall equipment level in such a compact package plus the finish standard from Drivelodge. Praise indeed from a man used to driving and owning some very exotic motoring names.
Would I swap my Kamper for an E Type Jag? (plus some dosh, of course!). No way !That said what a nice way to spend some time on a warm weekend. Roof down, shades on, loads of torque and sweet handling. And that’s just the kampervan !

Spring has sprung

2 Mar

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Following on from the laptop issues, we have again been busy with unexpected business activity which have delayed this year’s motor caravan plans. We managed yesterday (the first official day of spring) , to drive to Newtown, Powys to visit the Laura Ashley outlet. In Newtown , we and our neighbours as guests, came across the Welsh Historic Rally which actually too place today. We saw a MK I Fiesta, a Ford Anglia and a MK II Escort all in Rally trim. Aaaaaaah the nostalgia! The joy of motoring ! It brought out the “Toad of Toad Hall” in me. Today I have actually been looking at Classic Rally cars for sale on the “interweb”.
Our thoughts also turned to this years voyage abroad. France of course. The pic shows our previous trusty Trigano Tribute adjacent to the River Garonne.
We did a fair mileage on Saturday. Found a lovely pub in Wales run by a Chinese guy and had a lovely pub lunch including huge king prawn, asparagus chicken and garlic with very eggy fried rice. The weather was lovely and shades had to be worn!
The Kamper handled well enough to slide the rear passengers about a little (sorry ladies!) Nothing a bit of Velcro wont put right though. We did not hold anyone up on the twisty Welsh and Shropshire “A” roads. The engine is lovely and free now it’s just bust through 5,000 miles.
Oh the joy of it all ! More soon