Archive | October, 2015

A last look at an alternative caravan before modding the Microlite

29 Oct

trigano rubis exampletrigano rubis 310

Before starting to modify our Microlite caravan we decided to view a Trigano Rubis 310 similar to that shown above. We were impressed with a new Silver 310 at the NEC but it was a whapping £16k plus. The dealer failed to call us back so we set off anyway , having an alternative visit close to the dealer site. The dealer was open and gave no excuse or apology for not phoning back to let us know a viewing was possible??????????????

The “shower” room had no shower lead or hot water and needed replumbing to achieve what was claimed in the advert. There was LESS space to shower in the Trigano than in our converted Microlite.I think that the shower tray was just a drain for a stand up “sink wash”, certainly not a wet proof door. Goodness me, it took a very short time for me to fit a drip cover on the microlite door!  The sofas were huge and offered good upholstery and comfortable lounging. There was much more storage cupboard space at eye level but the underseat storage was even mor difficult to access than in the Microlite due to the very long lids under the equally long seat cushions. Further hindered by the long table, this reinforced our ideas on what we were planning on the Microlite.

Although a power mover was fitted, the lack of any heating or hot water, plus the need to start modifying to get it to what we wanted was very offputting. Sticking cupboard fastenings, a damaged wall clip and no decorative curtains killed off any desire to purchase. The blinds did provide good privacy but for atmoshere and to soften the interior, my wife would have wanted some fabrics over the windows.

So now we have seen two or three motorhomes and a similar number of caravans. I just feel more decisive than ever to stick with the campervan and just improve on the  existing caravan to enhance what we are doing already. Even if we spend generously on some modifications, it will still be much much cheaper than physically swapping to an alternative. It’s a bit like giving your favourite cute pet a nice grooming and shampoo treatment. You can certainly spend a great deal on some of the motorhomes and caravans available and still not get exactly what you would like, in my opinion and some of the design and engineering leave a lot to be desired.



Pre-planning to upgrade the Caravan

28 Oct


snip k and c mod

To make the experience more comfortable we are considering the following additional modifications. (The caravan has already been kitted out with a small wet room/shower)

  • Replace the roof lining. This is a very common fault on older Freedoms
  • Remove the fridge. The Campervan fridge freezer is superb.
  • Extend the offside sofa into the fridge space for extra leg room when lounging
  • Investigate if removing the wardrobe is feasible and extend the second sofa?
  • Modify the table for extra legroom when accessing the sofas
  • If required replace the use of the table with lathes on webbing for the bed support.
  • Make good exposed walls with appropriate trim

This should give two long sofas for “feet up” lounging and make moving around the little caravan more user friendly.

If it all works we may go further and fit hot water/heating and maybe a motor mover. This would make it much easier to shuffle the caravan around on our frontage.

LE layoutThis is the layout now. The fridge is shown here as Chest.

If you imagine the table shortened by between one third and one half ,you can see that a lot more floor area is exposed and more wall will be seen where the fridge and the wardrobe once were. It should give a much more open feel to the Microlite. We shall have to watch weights if we fit hot water and heating as well as a motor mover. Local weighbridge is friendly (ish).

The elusive Firefly

26 Oct

devon transit firefly hi-top

We got in touch with Todds Leisure of Preston today, our “local” Devon Conversions dealer. They sold their only Devon Firefly some weeks ago. They were very helpful and phoned back to say that a Firefly should be available for viewing late December or early next year. Devon’s HQ is some 175 miles from us and it’s a little too far just to have a second viewing, mainly to see if a shower tray could be fitted in the washroom area. I think that it IS possible, sitting over the spare wheel which is underslung on this model Transit.

We did visit a caravan dealer to see if he had the Eldiss 302 caravan in stock, which should have been pert exchanged but that too was elusive. The Eldiss 304 was rather smart but a bit too long for our cottage parking spot. So, it looks as if we cannot be in a hurry to swap anything at present. I am very happy to continue with the Kampa. I am going to have another look at further modifications to our Microlite caravan and possibly use some winter days to DIY our way to a slightly more comfortable caravanning experience. Towed by our trusty campervan, of course!

A surprising and swift decision!

25 Oct

wilax citroen pulsar

We visited Wildax at Halifax yesterday and braved terrible wet conditions on the way. They had put on a spendid display of about ten motorhomes and a few pre-owned vehicles. All the staff were welcoming and a cup of coffee and a couple of cakes went down well on a chilly, damp morning.

The Pulsar was parked with the roof up and the whole place was very busy with potential buyers. With it’s metallic maroon paintwork, the Citroen Pulsar really looked the part, even better than at the NEC. I did not declare this in a previous post, but if this van hit the spot, I was going to buy one! It’s 5 metre length, low profile and  full specification fitted our needs.

Wildax did not really want to part exchange although they did go to some lengths to obtain a guide trade price and an offer from within the industry. As it happens, as with our caravan , we have people already asking for first refusal, IF we ever decide to part with our wheeled loved ones!

On our way home, we began to discuss whether or not to part with around £44,000 for a new motorhome which would be ready in July 2016. We both (unusually………… ahem !) were of the same opinion. It was a no go ! I was very disappointed but here’s why.

Bizarrely, in our  NV200 compact campervan, we do not have to inhabit with the pop top roof open. Being vertically challenged does have some benefits! In the Pulsar, to fully appreciate the lovely ambience of your £44k residence, I am of the opinion that the roof does need to raised. Fine in calm, sunny conditions, but from past experience not to so acceptable on a wet, dark windswept night on the coast or mountainside. I find it acceptable to drop the roof on the NV200 for sleeping securely , comfortably and quietly but not so in a much more expensive aspirational Motorhome.

We did have other concerns too. There was no dedicated space for bedding unless you added £995 or so, on top for the roof bed, which could possibly left partially set up. Similarly, where does one keep your towels for that wonderful shower room? The wardrobe would struggle with two sets of clothes for more than a day or two. Winter wear ??

The two rear seats with belts slide forward to make up the bed just behind the cab which remains available for reading with the cab seats either forward facing or part swivelled, which is a good feature. The slides , however, resemble those IKEA style heavy duty drawer runners which telescope out. Unless I missed something ,I do wonder how durable they will prove to be carrying the cantilevered weight of a restless , stockily built person.

I really do not want to put anyone off and you should inspect for yourself as the Pulsar may meet your personal needs. For a 5 metre motorhome, Wildax have done a great job! Innovative and stylish.

Sadly, not tempting enough to tear us away from our NV200 Kampa.

STOP PRESS. Wildax are going to produce a Hi-Top (non Pop Top) version of the Pulsar, I believe. A Hi-Top should offer extra eye level storage and answers many of  our personal concerns. One to watch.

If the Preston dealers have a Devon Firefly in stock we will be viewing very shortly. One thing is absolutely certain. It has to be something very special to tempt us away from our little gem of a Nissan!

Motorhomes, 5 metres long or less.

23 Oct

devon transit firefly hi-topwilax citroen pulsar

Ford Transit Devon Firefly and the Pop Top Wildax Citroen Pulsar

Although we love our NV200 dearly and adore our little customised Freedom caravan, we do enjoy checking out other options which become available. At last, two manufacturers. at least, have come up with sub – 5 metre long motorhomes.

It was so busy at the NEC that we did not completely get the full picture of what the Wildax Pulsar and the Devon Firefly can offer. Tomorrow we are visiting Wildax at Halifax for a better look but later we shall have another very close look at the Devon alternative.

I am going to try to go through the full process of which comes out on top for us. It will not be achieved in one post but here’s our immediate thoughts. (Some follow on from Martin McDowall’s comments which highlight things which I had not thought of . Thanks Martin !)

Wildax Pulsar vs Devon Firefly Hi-top.

Initial thoughts.

Putting overall price to one side for the moment. The Citroen Relay based Wildax Pulsar has a lower profile than the Ford Transit Hi-top from Devon. This is due to the pop top roof on the Pulsar.
The advantage of the smaller cross sectional area , which the engine has to push through the air and is one of , if not THE, most significant of factors in fuel consumption. This may be offset, however by the added weight of the large, comfy looking roof bed in the pulsar. I will compare vehicle weights to see if this can be confirmed or not. Stop Press! You do not have to have the roof bed if 2 berths are sufficient.
The big advantage of a fixed Hi-top roof is reduced noise from the weather in wintery, wet and windy weather. Also, a Pop-Top canvas CAN leak if faulty or poorly stitched. The Pulsar can offer 4 berths against the 2 berths on the Firefly though and in Summer, what’s nicer than sleeping in a well ventilated “tent” on the roof? In the lanes, with a Hi-top, care is needed not to drag the roof through low tree branches. You get used to watching for this but it is a factor in stress free usability..  We would never buy a large overcab motorhome again particularly.
Both these short wheelbase motorhomes offer round the clock access to the kitchen facilities and the toilet washroom. The Pulsar has a particularly stylish shower room but I believe that I could fit a shower tray in the Firefly between the toilet unit and the washbasin on the opposite side of the van. A cushioned filler floor board would cater for day to day stomping about. Not sure, at this stage if just a shower curtain would waterproof the surrounding cupboards etc but I will be looking closer. It took 5 leisurely DIY days to make a wetroom in our Microlite caravan , but it functions.
A couple of asides. I do consider these RV’s to be motorhomes rather than campervans due to the 24 hour accessibility of all facilities within the van. These sub 5 metre vans offer almost as much as 6 metre plus motorhomes which , from past experience ,can be difficult to park. There are campervans available which have full, 24 hour access to a toilet and some have half height privacy panels but none that I have seen have full shower or washrooms. Unless you know differently? Again, thanks Martin (see next post).

At this point, Wildax;s  Duncan Wildman, appears to have tapped a significant niche market again !

Nissan Maintenance, again. Resetting indication

23 Oct

nissan maintenance

Just had the Kampa serviced again and paid extra for full synthetic oil. This time the service centre did manage to reset the “Oil Filter” maintenance indicator which appears on the dash, but they could not reset the “Maintenance Other” indication which also appeared around the same time. This “Maintenance Other” is a common feature on lots of different Nissan models, not just the NV200. It’s there so that a vehicle user can keep a live notification of basically, whatever they wish and the system will let you know when that “something” is due. For example , you could, if nerdy enough, remind yourself at what interval in miles or kilometres, of when you should change your wiper blades.

To reset “Maintenance Other” you follow similar procedure (which is outlined a couple of posts beneath this one) but scroll to “Other” under the “Service” selection. On my vehicle it showed a choice of 10,500miles/10,000miles. I scrolled to the 10,000miles choice and zeroed it using the left hand button on the speedo dash panel (see post below 20th October,for more detail.Click on October 2015 in panel to the right and look for the post on the 20th) By selecting zero, and exit, you remove the custom notification and the warning disappears on start up. Hope this helps some frustrated Nissan owners!

Scottish Trip Day Nine. Loch Lomond

21 Oct

loch lomond cruiseinversnaid hotel

We drove to Loch Lomond and I pointed out the old road below Rest and be Thankful. Somewhere at home I have Betamax footage of old RAC Rallies run on this mountain road. Pretty sure that one video features Michelle Mouton (the gorgeous and extremely capable, French lady) in a 500hp short wheelbase Audi Quattro. Group B ! Where art thou ????

michelle mouton 1985 1985

We booked the trip across Loch Lomond and lunch at the Inversnaid Hotel. Despite a few issues, which the helpful staff sorted quickly , we had an enjoyable lunch. Some pensioners from Glasgow had made the boat trip great fun, helped along by Magners cider and a wee dram. Warm, amiable people who seemed genuinely interested in us. The hotel had previously been known as the Achray Hotel.

inversnaid hotel and fallsachray hotel

To be honest, I thought that a boat trip on Loch Lomond would be “touristy” . It was far, far, better than just that. A memorable and visually stunning experience. Scotland is one of THE most atmospheric and enjoyable places to holiday. Scotland……. we shall be back again. Soon.

kampa rhumhor lodge

The Kampa, ready to leave Rhumhor Lodge, Carrick Castle, Loch Goil. The trip home took us less than 6 hours. Sad to leave but loaded down with memories!

Scottish Trip Day seven and eight.

21 Oct


With the weather extremely calm and mild, we took a “scorched earth” approach to potential midge attack on my wife and she wore wristbands and her clothes and headgear sprayed with “agent orange” insect repellant(s). We did not want to see her hospitalised with reaction to insect bite again! We set off for the hills around Lochgoilhead and had virtually a midge free couple of days hillwalking.

circular path eastcircular path east one

First day we did a circular walk on the east side of the Loch, climbing about half way to the highest point of the surrounding mountain. Great exercise and fantastic views. The second day, we were on the West side of the Loch and reached the scenic waterfall above Lochgoilhead. A much higher and steeper climb.

west path waterfallswest path below the falls

We met a friendly Scottish couple from Warwick who were moving back to Glasgow. They chatted to us for some time whilst their two dogs played around on the steep forested hillside. The Forestry commision had put in a picnic table with superb views over the valley. A fabulous, energetic couple of days!

Oil filter maintenance and other maintenance warning and re-setting

20 Oct

nv200 dash

I have covered a surprising 10,500 miles since the last service in February this year. The Oil Maintenance warning comes up when starting, on the reversing camera screen. A second warning saying Other Maintenance then makes an appearance. So the Kampa is booked in for a short service and full synthetic oil change. In anticipation of the major National servicing centre being unable to re-set the system, I have copied one of my previous posts on how to do it.


INTRODUCTION: When your service is about to come due, a spanner motif appears on your dash panel and warns of how many miles until Service is Due. Mine came on at about 184 miles before. Then as you get closer to the service mileage, on switching on the Ignition, a larger Spanner comes on to tell you that the Service is now due. After you have had a service done, this then needs switching off to be reactivated for the next service period.

1. With doors closed and Ignition ON
2.Using the Left Hand button seen above
3. Press the LH button multiple times until “SETTINGS” appears on the dash panel
4. Twist the LH button to Scroll to “MAINTENANCE”
5. Press LH Button once
6. Scroll to “SERVICE”
7. Push and hold in LH Button until “CONFIRM” appears
8. Release and press once again . The service indicator is reset and the “Spanner” disappears.
9 Scroll back to exit. (Mine did this automatically on reset.)

NOTE When scrolling through the Menu, under Maintenance/Service is “OIL FILTER”. I had to reset this on my system before it would let me reset the service indicator. It may be because Nissan did the previous service ??

A celebratory Sunday trip out

18 Oct

croft castle

To celebrate our wedding anniversary we headed south on the A49 to Croft Castle near to Leominster in Hereford. There were lots of bikers, caravanners, sports cars and fellow day trippers , all enjoying the yellow autumn sunshine. Just beautiful. On the way down we dived off the A49 to have a closer look at Ludlow. A super town ,well worth visiting. We shall definately be going back there to focus on Ludlow itself.


Ludlow. The bridge over the river reminded me of Llangollen, another favourite spot.

As we left Croft Castle we had a look around the quaint little Church adjacent. With absent friends from all those years ago, at our wedding, I lit a candle in their memory.

The sat nav said that Berrington Hall, another National Trust property was just 8 minutes away. We set out to catch “last orders” for a tour around. The Hereford countryside was still and quiet. Everywhere we went there was the faint smell of woodsmoke. Wondeful!

berrington hall

Berrington Hall differed from Croft Castle. Berrington, with it’s marble furniture and pillars seemed a world away from the 1920s rooms at Croft Castle. I preferred Croft, my wife preferred Berrington. Perhaps that’s part of sticking together for all this while. (My looking like George Clooney at his best is the main reason………. he laughed!)

Altogether, a busy , full day out. We diverted off the A49 on the way back just to witness Ludlow for a second time. In Shawbury, we could have visited the well known “Gastro” pub but my wife insisted on Fish and Chips in the campervan. Oh it’s just a perfect day…………… (Think how much dosh I saved on that “Gastro” pub dinner!)