Archive | June, 2016

NV200 + NC500 = One hell of a Scottish Trip!

27 Jun

scotland north coast 500 route

milestone cc site
The Scottish North Coast 500 is a 500 mile round coast route with Inverness as the “official” start point.Inverness itself is about 400 miles from our current home. Parts of the route are extremely hilly and the route itself is recommended for “cars, cycles, motorcycles ……..”. Mmmmmmmm , no mention of caravans. So, unless further research proves otherwise, a SOLO Campervan trip would prove least stressful and costly.This route, “officially” promoted as an alternative to Route 66 has captured my imagination. Can we fit it in?
It is possible to Wildcamp as Scotland has it’s own rules about Land Access. You can read more about this here https://www.visitscotland.com/accommodation/caravan-camping/wild-camping/ This would obviously help keep costs down but we would probably make the odd B&B or even hotel stopover when convenient. I shall also be researching campsites where we could fill up with water, top up the leisure battery (if needed) and empty the chemical loo.It’s a bit like refuelling a helicopter and can involve quite thorough thinking ahead.Not knowing very much about individual locations along the route will mean finding out lots of information on points of interest, the best scenery (no shortages there……..) and recommended pubs, cafes and village food shops. Quite a task. Oh goodness ! It’s got me started……………..

There are several websites offering free download for sat nav routes and maps, in addition to written route descriptions. Untried but here is just one http://www.routeyou.com/en-gb/route/products/3681807/car-and-motorcycle-route/north-coast-500-route

Here are some tempting photos. Inverness:

inverness scotland

John O’Groats.

John_O_Groats

Heavy seas at Wick Marina

Travel - Scotland

Travel – Scotland

Better get a couple of new Macintoshs (Macs to you.) How appropriate for Scotland!

Oh Dear ! Spent a few minutes researching further. There are 4 Caravan Club Sites not far from the NC500 route (I know, I know what I said recently. Told you that I am tolerant)   plus several campsites across the top of the Highlands coast. Applecross and the roads and scenery around Ullapool look simply wonderful. Seafood seems quite widely available . It just gets better and better. I am wondering if we can tie this in and extend our Steam Train trip from Glasgow to Mallaig????? Must EBay some junk..

 

Electric Campervan anyone?

26 Jun

e-nv200

hillside

e-nv200-camper
Laurent got in touch via the Father’s Day posting comments section. (see below).Questions about fitting cab swivel seat on an e-NV Evalia. Hillside produce an e-NV based campervan (above) called the DALBURY. Hillside Leisure are a good source in the Midlands. I think that for some people, an elecric campervan could be an option. I have discussed this before on the Blog but welcome comments from any e-NV variant owners now that the vehicle has been available for quite some time
With a range of just over 100 miles claimed, if you are not in a massive hurry, you could meander around the campsites perhaps limiting your travels to around 200 miles per day? allowing for a mid journey charge. I have seen some very busy charging locations on the M1 service stations particularly but not as yet seen an e-NV on charge. There are a couple of e-NVs locally , running around in silence and costing pennies per mile in fuel. No one could convince me that electric vehicles are totally non polluting. The elctricity has to be generated and although some may come from solar or wind or perhaps wave powered sources, most will still have to burn fossil fuels and their effects will be felt through power station emissions.
Has anyone used an e-NV????????? Please send in your reviews. Please…..

An attempt to help calm some post Referendum concerns.

25 Jun


On this Blog, if you have read it all, you will have read about many people’s dreams, which they have turned into reality. Building their own version of a “perfect” campervan. Their websites each tell an individual story of winning over adversity and overcoming obstacles but also compromising some things in order to achieve an overall winning solution.
Again, this morning, I have listened to quite shocking bias against the Democratic Majority on the BBC Breakfast TV.
To perhaps put into words , how I certainly feel about the result why not take a look at some scribings from Lord Digby Jones? If you can stomach more politics , I think it’s worth a look see http://www.digbylordjones.com/

Most older people have experienced for themselves, what damaging effects result from loss of democracy. I certainly have.Ask my friends. BUT you have to bounce back. Seek out those coming opportunities. Grasp them , embrace the challenge and put this 4 decades of experimental political empire building (for the few) behind you. A new World lays in front of you. We could not predict the future before the vote, we cannot predict it now. Dust yourself off , expect a short term rough ride, but get on with the joy of life. 

Postscipt   I am of the opinion that the EU was crumbling anyway. I felt that it could not be changed from within (it had become a self serving gravy train).I have heard first hand of a local British Lorry driver being surrounded at Calais by French lorry drivers, wanting to shake his hand and congratulate him on the referendum result! They were telling him that France should be next. We are not alone in Europe. We are NOT all right wing nutters.

Referendum over, but I Vote Leave?????????????

24 Jun

oil levellitre synthetic oil
Three days ago, the campervan was serviced completely. Today, prior to our bi-monthly pilgrimage to a Shropshire Antiques emporium and with the Referendum result ringing in our ears, I decided to just check the brake fluid level and the oil level as a precaution. Brake fluid level was , if anything, a little overfilled but no issues being felt BUT the engine oil level was sitting absolutely mid way between low and max levels. That is firmly central in the acceptable, safe range. I had however paid a £20 surcharge for premium synthetic, long life and highly protective oil. I would expect that following a service, the engine would have been returned to customer with the level just below max. For the following reasons:
1. To maximise the oil reserve until customer next checks the oil
2. To minimise the stress induced on the oil in protecting the engine
3. T o give reasonable value for the high servicing costs incurred.
I topped up with almost a litre of 5w/30 full synthetic costing about £12. I just could not bring myself to go back to the garage for a third time.
If you couple this with spongy brakes and a brake pedal almost reaching the floor, on collection and the need to return to the garage for rectification, the filthy bootmarks on the driver’s sill ( on my pride and joy) then, sorry, even with amiable and clearly hardworking staff , I am not satisfied with F1 service! I am voting Leave and will be taking my business elsewhere in future.

(must get back to more cheerful postings………)

A clean roof is a clean mind………

23 Jun

dirty caravan roof
I have a relative who was a highly skilled bricklayer. Proud to do a top class, quality job , he despised a phrase which was common at one time. The phrase was ” Bricklayer (clean trowel) seeks work.” He would get furious at the mention of these words. His reasoning was that ALL trowels should be constantly clean, smooth and pristine. I think that he had a point.He certainly had one of most of his trowels………..
So, above is an example of a neglected caravan or motorhome roof. NOT MINE, I hasten to add. Are you a “clean roof” camper? Or don’t you wash your trowel?
wile e coyote
Several months after toppling from the roof of the “old” Freedom Microlite I still have issues with microfractures in my upper right arm. You can self diagnose all sorts of things on Google…………… I plucked up courage, put on my parachute and padded jacket and wash waxed the “new” Elddis roof then decided to wax the campervan roof. This has been kept in good shiny condition by frequent wash waxing. fibreglass does seem to be easier to keep polished than a metal panel. It was certainly the case with our ancient Cox GTM., a classic Mini based micro sportscar , we once owned.It looked a lot like this one. Ours was a MK I fitted with a smaller MKII windscreen. I had to extend the roofline……………

cox gtm
Back to campervan stuff.

I used this:
triplewax shake shine
I like to pre-clean the paintwork first but if it’s not too bad and not covered with, say, abrasive builder’s dust, then it does an excellent job. I got mine at a very good price from B&M. Don’t pay top whack from a caravan dealer.

I then noticed lots of tar specs, mixed with rural road organic material , stuck to the lower sides of the campervan. I tried this:
simoniz
Very disappointing ! It removed the easier bits of horse dung but barely touched the tar spots. I tried twice, sticking to the limited advice on the bottle which lost it’s ability to spray after about 6 squeezes. Still no go. I then switched to the Triplewax Shake n Shine. Bingo ! It did the job, leaving just a few odd spots of tar to fight another day.

Service time again and the first repair needed

21 Jun

brakes on spending
With over 37,000 miles clocked up, the campervan went in for a “Major” service today. All went well then a leaking nearside brake cylinder was found on the rear.
brake cylinder
I had prepaid online for the service which, with an upgrade to synthetic oil (costing £20…. what a rip off !) came to £155 in itself. The replacement cylinder and a side light bulb on the front cost another £153. I really do need to put a brake on spending! especially having just bought and fitted the awning.
Picked up the van and paid for the extra work but the brake pedal felt spongy with excessive travel and after a quick pumping it got better then returned to poor feel. A classic case of more bleeding required. A quick phone call and they had me back in a flash. Before I could finish a hot chocolate, it was back off the ramp with a nice firm pedal restored.The maintenance indicator had not been reset despite it clearly being stated in the online booking that this would be done. So I Googled NV200 maintenance indicator reset and got sent to my own Blog. October 20th 2015. Laptop in the cab and job done! You make up your own mind about standard of work.That brake cylinder does not look like one which is difficult to clear of air? perhaps the pipe runs are to blame? Not quite hitting the spot chaps. Good job that I am such a tolerant and understanding paternal natured soul…………….    People who know me please stop laughing! Must admit though that the engine feels silky smooth following that oil change. Apparently the oil filter is accessed only from below. It’s alongside the alternator which is easy to damage with a slipped wrench. You almostly certainly need a correct sized cup tool to remove the filter too. ‘Twas enough to put me off getting out the toolbox.This is the first repair/replacement part (wiper blades aside) needed in over 3 years and 37,000 miles. Let’s hope it continues.

A Father’s day posting to inspire you

19 Jun

offroad camper syncro
Regular visitors to the Blog will know that I adore VW Synchros and the like. Today I found some fantastic YouTube videos from
http://www.campervanculture.com The filming quality is superb with the use of drone and a very willing assistant who will stand , even in snow, to film the approaching Westfalia 4 x 4 !
This guy has got it right ! Who would not want him as your Dad?
I found the film actually moving in parts and there’s lots more. Get a cuppa and settle down for 20 mins and enjoy seeing these happy three. I for one cannot wait to view much much more. This is one link that I am proud to put on the Blog.
see https://youtu.be/QJcoUusTJx0 Dinkum

Fitting FIAMMA F35 awning to NV200 pop top

17 Jun

rivnut toolrivnut example
vw t4 lift roof bkt
I made a tool to fit the “Rivnuts” into the roof. It is simply a shed door hinge, drilled to take the 6 mm mounting bolts which are used to hold the VW T4 Lift Roof brackets to the roof. The bolt is a 45mm x 6mm but a shorter one will do, just do not use the actual mounting bolts supplied. keep them in good condition without stressing the threads when deforming the rivet nuts into place. The brass bit is used as a spacer between the hinge and the tensioning nut. The hinge helps stop the rivnut from turning and the brass bit reduces friction.I used some chain lube to further reduce friction. The tool worked very well indeed and did not damage the paintwork.One spanner holds the brass spacer and the other tensions the nut
rear f35 bkt
I marked out approximate centres of the brackets at roof height and then drilled the rear bracket holes first. You need 9mm dia hole for the rivnuts but I went up in stages from a couple of mm to the final 9mm so as not to distort the body metal. I checked the depth behind each hole to make sure that there was space for the rivnut to fully engage in the hole. The front upper hole on the rear bracket was closest but still enough space for the job. All other holes were clear as the job went on. With the rear bracket fitted, I moved onto the front bracket. The VW T4 brackets look as if they were made to fit the NV200 and I used the bracket to align themselves.A very good fit! I repeated the drilling and fitted the front bracket at around 50 inch centres front to back.
front f35 bkt
With the brackets in place and rivnuts siliconed as they were assembled, as well as the “Tee” shaped neoprene rubber pads under the brackets, we then tried to hang the awning. It was not all quite in alignment : rather like our kitten !
not quite aligned
This was due to the slightly downward sloping roof under the front bracket. I slackened the front mount bolts and we easily “rolled” the awning into the brackets helped with a little chain lube.see fitting instructions below

awning fitting to brackets

Bolted back up I only needed to fit the two locking nuts on the backs of the brackets. Easy with the pop top raised. Watch the clearance between brackets and pop top. Your pop top may be different than mine!
awning in placeawning mount nuts
You could fit a longer awning. This one is 1.8m long but I think it looks to scale and should be OK for what we want from it. The weather stopped me from unveiling the awning fabric itself and checking out the legs etc so still more to come.
awning scale
It is a bit of a gamble to fit an awning to an unknown vehicle. It all went to plan and hopefully this article will help other NV200 owners fit their own Fiamma awning. Just take your time. Make sure the Rivnuts are properly pulled into place. Don’t be too hamfisted, some spanner skills and judgement is required. Watch the alignment, especially that front bracket on the slight sloping roof. There is enough tolerance to adjust for that but it’s rack of eye or lots and lots of measuring.It all cost just under £320  inclusive. Awning, brackets, drills, marine silicone all in.

FIAMMA awning has arrived.

15 Jun

f35pro
The awning arrived this morning along with the mounting brackets. I unwrapped it all and checked it out. There are no brackets available for fitting to any NV200 models so I broke all the rules and scaled a few dimensions from a photo of the VW T4 lift roof version and made a judgement by eye of the roof profile on the campervan. I held the brackets in place this morning and it looks a goer. Just a few concerns that the “Rivnut” type threaded sleeves supplied to fit the brackets will miss any internal webbings on the roof “sill” and window surrounds. That apart, the drill IS ready for use. Not seen these “Rivnuts” before so had to search the Web for info. Here is more about their use:
vw t4 lift roof bktrivnut examplerivnut and tool
The fixing tool, rather like a heavy duty pop rivetter gun is quite expensive especially for fixing just six sleeves. So, YouTube came up trumps with details of how to fit them without a special tool.
see https://youtu.be/dkPhGIaPCVs and https://youtu.be/AfQIYLSKGwI thanks Keith !
I have bought a nice fresh 9mm high speed drill bit to bodge the holes in the roof and all I need now is some decent caravan grade Silicone such as Sika and some dry weather.
More on the actual instalation later. see above for more details

Three months to fill with trips

14 Jun

lake vyrnwy
In between bookings ranging from East Sussex and Scotland we have the luxury of almost 3 months to fill with travel. So, being  creatures of habit, we are again looking at Lake Vyrnwy in central Wales. This vast reservoir nestles in forested valleys and hillsides between the wild moorlands above Bala at one end and the Shropshire farmlands around Oswestry at the other. It has it’s own microclimate from our experience. The air is fresh and the atmosphere quiet and restful. We love it to cycle around it’s 11 miles or so of perimeter road. At the dam end , there are cafes and a pub with shops to keep your energy levels up after that respectable bike ride or forest walk.
lake vyrnwy sculptr
The small village of Llanwddyn can get quite busy with coach trippers, bikers of all types and frequent classic car appearances. Throw in the odd fighter jet on exercise, not to mention the abundant wildlife and you have a stimulating place to visit.
WHERE TO STAY?
There is a Caravan Club Certified Location as part of Fronheulog Touring Park and also Brook Mead Touring Park, both just a short hop to Llanwddyn.
Although we have camped out at Lake Vyrnwy in the past with our Talbot Excalibur and Trigano Tribute we have more recently visited as a day trip, but it’s a three and a half hour round trip and with a dozen cycling miles, it can become a bit of an ordeal. So, next time it’s either a solo trip with just the Kampa or commit to a couple of nights longer and hitch on the Elddy too. Now, we really must think of somewhere new to explore, to add to our desirable wish list of places to experience.