Archive | April, 2017

Coming soon. Tales from the USA. Another petrol auto and much more.

30 Apr

Still collating all the photos and stories but here is a taster of what has been going on.

This Dodge Grand Caravan SXT has been home , day to day on the roads of Eastern USA. A 7 seater with 3.6 litre petrol V6 engine offering 283 bhp and huge comfort. Filling the petrol tank costs around $40 for about 17 US gallons of ethanol laced petrol (10%). I wonder if we could distil the Ethanol out?

Here’s a taster of where we have been.

Do you like seafood ? I do and it’s to be found here in plenty. The Liquor stores are something beyond logical thought. With the exchange rate out of kilter by about 40% (my estimation………) it’s expensive. Gulp ! but a truly lovely area to visit. All meals are twice what is needed even for the larger appetite. Greedy pigs queue here !

A lot like parts of Cornwall with hints of Newborough Warren (Anglesey) . We stayed at one Condo which had a view outback just like a river scene of Truro , England. There is a Truro on Cape Cod too. And a Falmouth and a Chatham and a Barnstaple. Plymouth looks nice……… which one? Folk seem very warm and friendly. What’s not to like?

Only one little complaint and that’s probably down to the state of my bony bottom. I once spent over 14 hours in the saddle of my faithful old Yamaha FZ750 and I got off that machine without an ache at all. The same could not be said after just 6 hours or so on the flight over to Boston. That’s Boston, USA., by the way, not Boston UK…….

In the words of that famous old TV Soap series….. “Soap”. Confused ????   You will be.

A Niche no more ? Sussex Campervan’s Petrol, Auto NV200.

22 Apr

The advantages of a compact Nissan NV200 campervan are well documented on this Blog. I recently publicised the Petrol , Automatic version of the Sussex Campervan PT Camper Car. Their M.D. , Daniel has now produced a video with  some interesting background details. Best seen in it’s context here:

http://sussexcampervans.com/index.php?cID=259

For anyone with concerns about the Government drive against Diesel, it is a MUST SEE.  For petrol and/or Auto transmission lovers, such as myself, there is little choice out there. I think it is a winning combination for what I believe will become a growing niche. Growing Niches fast become Non-Niche !!!!!

It’s not that I don’t love the characteristics of modern diesels. The latest Euro VI versions are said to be particularly user friendly. Super torque curves, relaxed driving style and economy, directly as a result of the inherent efficiency of the Diesel Cycle. They are a very efficient way of using imported fuel. Government be aware! It’s not just about pollution. (see Danel’s video on Euro VI below in previous post)

Now for another Niche and adding to an exciting combo of Petrol /Auto. Some time ago, we needed an economic little workhorse for our property business. I found a 1400cc petrol Ford Fusion which was already converted to also run on LPG. I bought it. It was a very succesful move. A double whammy of small engine using very cheap LPG. We hardly paid out any money for fuel !!!! Oh, by the way, it had the Ford semi-automatic transmission too. It was a delight to drive. In town, shipping around house maintenance equipment and materials it was so relaxing , especially in City congestion.

I just hope that the converter, based in Worcester, is still in business. It was hs own car, converted as a challenge. You know what’s coming don’t you. I wonder if he would convert a Camper Car PT? Conversions now seem to be termed Bi-Fuel. There is no tax concession but they are very reliable devices. From experience with the Ford Fusion and with our old factory converted, LPG Minnie Winnie “Gin Palace”, availability of LPG is NOT a problem. We never ran out of gas.

We are not currently in a position to dash out and swap our beloved Drivelodge conversion for a Camper Car PT., having just made another business aquisition to keep Chateau Dinkum running! But it’s logged away for when we can. Now wondering about reduced (?) towing capacity of an auto NV200 and whether we could cope with our current Elddis Xplore caravan. Exciting times……….

Antiques Hunting in North Wales.

20 Apr

One of our favourite trips is to North Wales and the borders. Wrexham has Bryn y Grog and Acorn Antiques plus it’s not far to Oswestry and Cambrian Antiques. Antiques Emporium seem to be the coldest places on Earth but to heat such vast warehouses would defy economic sense. Therefore, scarf, gloves and an “Uncle Joe” mint or two are advisable.

I always have a smile to myself when we visit Acorn Antiques. It used to be a short series of comedy shows, gently ribbing Crossroads, itself a tea time TV series with questionable acting, continuity control and low budget (and I believe, LIVE performances) to contend with.

The real Acorn Antiques has some serious , interesting items in stock. An excellent cafe with simple but tasty fare. Friendly staff and helpful Unit holders. It makes for a relaxing, quiet day out in the camper van.

Not a good topic for Easter Weekend. Are you ready if we get Nuked?

15 Apr

MORETON CORBET CASTLE Aerial view of the medieval castle and Tudor manor house.

With Mr Trump and North Korea at odds, plus Japan concerned about Sarin attacks from N.Korea, things are hotting up. We are not yet at Cuban Crisis levels but if we return to the threats around the time of 1962 are you ready for it? Would your campervan come in handy? Once your house looks like a smaller version of the above, watcha gonna do?

see http://crosscut.com/2017/03/in-a-sign-of-the-times-doomsday-prep-is-bipartisan/

For some light hearted practical advice see  http://www.happypreppers.com/

You may have one of these, particularly if you are a “trailer” using a caravan.You are going to need plenty of water. A porta potti and a waste carrier may be useful too if you are lucky enough to have a cellar to shelter in. I won’t go into why you may need lots of bin bags and sticky tape.

If you don’t have a cellar, would you make a run for it in your campervan to “safer” places of refuge? How about the wilds of Scotland? A remote part of Wales maybe? Remember , if we got hit badly, the jails would empty and the “unprepared” would be on the rampage once the supermarkets were looted and empty.

Stealth , wild campervan users will already know some good spots where you can be low profile. Best avoid the cities. Is your fuel tank full? Food onboard and an axe and saw stashed away for log fires? How desperate would you need to be before you nick next doors 4 x 4 ?

A frightening thought is it not? Let us hope that humanity wins out and peace is maintained. Hope this tongue in cheek “horror” posting isn’t taken too seriously.

Here’s my next campervan. One more diesel won’t make much difference.

my next campervan

Diesel Campervan Sir? Sussex Campervans offer some Superb Comments.

14 Apr

The Sunday Times “Driving” section recently had a good discussion about “Green Motoring” and the Euro VI

Diesel specification.

see  https://www.driving.co.uk/car-clinic/driving-green-what-does-euro-6-mean-when-it-comes-to-emissions/

An excellent article, but Daniel Lopez from Sussex Campervans gives a superb view on where we stand for continuation of diesel powered campervans. The same applies to the myriad of Motorhomes of course.

Daniel gives his usual , articulate presentation here and mentions his automatic , Petrol version of the NV200 too.

watch this   http://sussexcampervans.com/video-faq-email-series/diesel-engines-euro6

I have toured Sussex Campervans and can recommend them. They offer a massive choice in furniture finish, colour schemes and base vehicles. British made campervans for today’s demanding conditions.

ADBLUE can be purchased for less than £14 per 10 litre pack. Claims of savings of up to 5% in diesel fuel consumption are claimed.

Rip Off. Garage Servicing Going Downhill.

12 Apr

A couple of postings ago, I wrote about my ” Service” provider only topping up the oil level to midway, or even lower, as indicated on the dipstick.

Yesterday, without any prompting, a very close friend revealed that recently he had to get the Turbo on his 48,000 mile Land Rover 2.4 Defender replaced. The bearing surfaces had been worn away in a massive fashion.

The car had been serviced regularly, on the dot , from brand new by the Land Rover main agent. This is a very well known, Nationwide, Land Rover dealers. They have  huge hourly labour charges and all parts are full retail price.

My friend, who is not mechanically minded, had noticed that when he picked up the vehicle, following servicing, it was repeatedly returned to him with the oil level just above the lowest indicator on the dipstick. He questioned this and was told that this was OK and “standard practice” at the dealership. At 48,000 miles the dealership diagnosed, a “shot” Turbo and quoted a huge sum to renew it. In fairness, my friend failed to top up the oil himself but the engine used no oil and ran at that level between services. A big failing, in my view. The low oil level was not reported when the sump was drained. Surely, a good, HONEST,  mechanic would pick that up and educate the owner???

Another friend recommended an unofficial Land Rover specialist. They quoted a much lower repair cost and all was completed , in order. The specialist returned the vehicle topped up to the maximum indicated level.

They pointed out that the engine had been used for 48,000 miles with a shortfall of around 3 pints of oil in the sump. They also suggested that the Turbo failure was  probably as a direct result of this.

I cannot state here that this was the case, but I do have my own views. How widespread is this practice ?Be warned!

Hot Sun. Red Hot Rally Driving. White Hot Nightlife. London is Hot.

9 Apr

An early start on Saturday, once again, saw the Campervan speeding towards a very bright , sunny and 23 deg C Brands Hatch. A club day racing event was underway involving Mazda MX5s, Fiestas challenging each other and some fast single seaters. (Formula Ford?). We were not there for spectating though.

“We” being a group of six, Luc, Darren, John, Brendon, myself and Barney. Sadly, Kieran could not make it.I had booked the RallyMasters’ “full monty ” twin stage Rally Experience. We were to drive the fabulous Toyota GT86s. These are virtually identical to the Suburu BRZ using a non-Turbo, high revving, 200bhp boxer engine. Rear wheel drive for that “vintage”, Mk II Escort type , loose surface, handling experience.

During the pre-drive safety instruction, it became apparent that one of six GT86s had a clutch go pop and somebody needed to switch to a 14 years old 1600 cc Peugeot. Front wheel drive with lim slip diff for grip. BHP not given. RallyMasters thought that this was a problem and claimed that this was a faster car. Mmmm?? Not to worry, I felt like Brer Rabbit being thrown into the bramble bushes. This was a treat for me with my previous stage experience with British Leyland’s finest Classic Mini.

We each had one x  twenty minute session on each of two stages. As the time ran out, repeating each stage over and over, we would be given one final “run” to be timed for post session , bar time discussion.

I was quickly , totally,  delighted that this would NOT  be a “drive” cautiously, safety handcufted, leisure drive. Once your instructor was confident of your ability, he will let you loose and encourage you to red line that engine and go for it. I quickly went for the full attack approach. LOL . This is a must do event if you want to emulate your Rallying Heroes! My instructor, Ben, was both knowledgeable and latterly demonstrating his honed skills. All six of us said the same about each instructor, which you had for the entire event.

The others,in the Toyota GT86s, did have slight differences to contend with. One car had scrubbed tyres. Another had obviously new rear tyres. This can mean, all things being equal, much different stage times for the same driver. Only myself and Barney had any competitive karting and/or Rally experience but my brother used to do horrible things with a 1600cc VW Beetle.Then a Talbot Sunbeam Tii, a fast Fiesta and and and………..The other three drivers had different fast road experience. One virtually none at all but in the end all of us achieved decent stage times.

Barney set fastest time of day. A full 4 seconds over the two stages in front of me. Pleasantly surprising for his first time on the loose stuff in a 200 BHP Rally Car!  Things then got hotter !

After showering, fresh clothes and the best Papa Johns can deliveroo we had a cold beer and overland railed to the Old Truman Brewery area of Shoreditch , London E1. An exciting, young part of the immediate East End. You will either Love it or loath it. We LOVED it !

Weird for me, but turned out to be great fun. The Junkyard, crazy golf venue. Loads of bars, wild, freaky lighting and a young, tolerant, vibrant crowd.Try the Czech Kozel Black Lager. Chilled.  This picture below sums up the area:

We then moved on to the next booking. Thanks John! Cafe Kick. A table football theme pub. We mixed with a friendly, cosmopolitan crowd, which took me back to my student days. The group following us on to our table were a man short, so we stayed over to fill the gap. Everyone had a smile on their face!

   Another, slightly sobering walk, took us to Bounce. A massive ping pong venue, lit by lots of Ultra Violet. By chance, my white shirt with tiny black check made the best of my portly shape. My white laces took on a radioactivity of their own. We were still locked into our RallyMasters and Junkyard flourescent wrist bands. I hid mine, as they made me look as if I had just come from the A &E assessment ward or nursing home. One is conscious of one’s age…………. The people and place looked brilliant! We played out out time on the table tennis and enjoyed the later part of the night. We did bump into a hen party and when they realised that we were a “stag” party, a lot of slightly naughty pictures were sent by mobile phone to goodness knows where. Is my multi decade marriage safe?????? Definiitely yes !

A huge, brand UBER “taxi” eventually got us back to our accomodation.Thanks John!  Kebabs, more beer, tequila and the last of the pizza took us to bed. What a party!I did restrain myself though as I was driving next day.

I can honestly recommend all of the four event/ venues mentioned above. I am now home. tired but rejuvenated.

After a huge full English fry up, using the Blackwall tunnel and the M11, then M1 we whistled home in a record sub 3 hours 30 time. Bonus!