Archive | March, 2014

Old meets new. Nissan campervans.

29 Mar

nissan vanette cargoDCFC0051.JPG

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 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
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


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


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.


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


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.