Archive | January, 2018

So what do you find when you check on your garage?

28 Jan

Compressed air powered tools in a garage are a real benefit. It speeds up the job, eases your workload and can provide for accurate torque settings when bolting up safety essential components. Like wheel nuts. Have you ever watched those Russian Dash Cam videos on YouTube? Have you noticed how they seem to still be losing far too many wheels from vehicles ? Are their standards not up to ours?

It is critical to torque up wheel nuts to the correct level. My alloy wheels require quite different settings to the standard steel wheels for example.

Under tighten and risk a wheel coming loose. Chafing of a loose wheel then quickly, very quickly, shears the stud and the wheel parts company from the vehicle.

Over tighten and risk shearing a wheel stud or damaging the threads. The end result will be the same, loss of a wheel in motion. Not big, not clever.

Today I swapped the Cooper/Avons from the front to the rear to put the newest tyres up front where they belong.The first thing I found was that the special adaptor socket for the anti-theft nuts was chewed up. It looked as if the wrong size drive socket had been used. It is a twin size which will take a 19mm and a smaller drive socket. It was still usable but chewed up nonetheless.Also all the nuts were overtightened on the nearside and I needed an extended caravan wrench to loosen them.

Then I found on the offside front that the anti theft nut was not tightened ! I spun it off by hand ! The other three nuts were fully tightened, thank goodness and had prevented any wheel to hub movement. I carefully inspected the stud and anti theft nut and the threads were undamaged.

I am SO glad that I decided to do this work myself. These errors can and do occur but double-checking that all nuts are tight is essential. Using the correct torque settings is EXPECTED from your garage staff. We got away with it this time but I  am not giving these people any more benefit of doubt.

Be warned. Check for yourself or get a competent person to check for you. In these circumstances it is my word against that of the last fitter to work on a wheel. Further investigation is taking place before any finger pointing.


But it needs to be resolved before somebody DOES LOSE A WHEEL at speed with obvious, tragic results.


Now ready for anything Spring throws at us

27 Jan

Although not completely down to the legal limit, with Spring fast approaching, I had two rear tyres replaced yesterday. Ordered online for best price and appointment arranged, it was a straightforward job. Or it should have been !

Booking in, I asked if I could get one of the new tyres fitted on the front. Sharp intake of breath ( really ?) from office manager and told ” yes, but will have to charge you.” No hint of cost so when asked I was told £20 for this additional service. I thought it would be about a tenner. After all it is a case of  “bump, bump, bump on trolley jack, Five spins on the compressed air gun and wheel is off.”  Repeat and wheel is on. It’s only one additional swap. I declined. I can get my own tools out for that much and spend a few minutes of my time. In retrospect it does seem a bit tight of me but it was the attitude behind what was being said.

Then, chatting to a lady getting her little Ford MOTd., she told me that she had paid for a cambelt swap at that site. After a problem she realised that the work had been sub contracted out and her engine had destroyed itself on start up. It took ages to get justice done and she had swapped the car on it’s return once repaired. Prior to my own cam belt swap, they told me that they no longer carry out this type of work.

As I was leaving with my new tyres fitted, I got a very poor “apology” for having to charge me ( it IS actually the current going rate, I now know) but then as I continued to leave , I got “instructed” to “hang on ! you need to know why we charge what we do!”

I have been visiting this chain for several years for my own car and my son’s total needs. I have also bought three caravan tyres. Prior to a recent change in what appears to be all the staff (?), customer service was great. Pleasant, smiling , customer focussed welcome and spoken to properly with mutual respect. Here endeth my dealings with these clowns.

Compare this to the wonderful treatment by competent engineers when the cam belt was done. (scroll down to read). Guess where all my business is heading.

That said, now ready for this year’s travel. Cam belt renewed, all serviced and good tyres all round, let’s get on with the fun side of motoring!

Fresh Aire at Loch Katrine, Scotland

13 Jan

Loch Katrine is in the  Trossachs National Park. It has just opened an Aire de Service for motor caravans.


it’s all you need to know.

Martin has sent in this breaking news and it could not be more topical for 2018. Thanks Chumbley ! In advance of our publishing our travel plans, it could well be THE place for us to camp in 2018. Twelve places are available and you need to book in advance. I predict demand will be huge, so book early. This is not easy for insecure, “flexible” nutters such as ourselves. With highly changeable family events, it is difficult to commit to firm dates within our planning. We are able though to move at very short notice. It’s a target. I still have to share a Chardonnay with Martin and Libby and a BBQ alongside their beloved nearby Loch Lomond. It’s a must ! Can we fit it in with the NC500 ? Watch this space.

We have again been out and about, visiting Audlem, Nantwich and Dagfields Antiques. Confidence in the timing belt change ( at 57,000 miles (5 years) ) is now back to ” I don’t even think about it” level.  Bizarrely and difficult to explain, I can definitely detect less diesel rattle from cold and the engine does seem “softer” and smoother on the road? I don’t think that this is wishful thinking. I have checked the old belt, the tensioner and the water pump and apart from a little resistance when turning the pump by hand (?) it all seems almost as new. Perhaps a minute change in valve timing ? Whatever it is, it is very pleasing and I am delighted with the work carried out by C&S Haynes Ltd., Silverdale. We could have risked pushing the envelope to 75,000 miles but what the hell. Too risky for a nervous type like me ! Bring on the Spring ! Let’s go !


Faith restored

13 Jan

Regular readers will know that on October 6th 2017, I posted about my newly discovered, favourite dark beer. Polygraph from Salopian Brewery , near Shrewsbury.

I bought a 20 bottle box, some for my own cellar but also some for the forthcoming Christmas visit to London, by the American side of our growing family. We have been on the receiving end of the best hospitality known to Man, from these delightful people in the past. This was part of our chance to return some warmth to them. With a September 2018 use by date on the bottles, all seemed well.

Sadly though, just after Christmas, I tried a couple of bottles with friends at home in the cellar and they had soured ! I immediately contacted my son , to discover that the batch left in London for our guests had also gone off ! This was a huge faux pas for me personally due to the importance of trying to share a boozy treat with our friends! An unusual event but disappointing in the extreme.

Yesterday, to test out the new timing belt kit , we headed for Salopian Brewery with the remaining few bottles of Polygraph as “evidence.”  We were warmly received and came away with a  belated Christmas selection box of premium Salopian beers as compensation. No Polygraph but these beers below to enjoy instead.







The Crown in this Jewellery box seems to be the hefty 9 % Lullaby. Reviews say it is devilishly easy to drink…………..Please drink responsibly.

Now, with the campervan refreshed and a further safe spell of life expectancy under it’s belt (geddit ?) faith in decent, honest, customer service is restored. Thanks to Salopian Brewery for the beers. Thanks to C & S Haynes Ltd., who carried out the engine maintenance! More about this in a seperate post later.

It’s time to change the cambelt

9 Jan

Having been a little disappointed lately with my usual maintenance Garage Chain. They would not, could not, quote for a cambelt change. Plus my favourite mechanic there has left. I got a recommendation from a close, respected friend and he pointed me towards a local, family run garage. The premises were pristine. They specialised, in part, in Mazda MX5 work but also had a thriving MOT station. They were the only garage I visited, out of three others, which mentioned the importance of changing the water pump at the same time as the timing belt and pulley(s) etc., which I was waiting to hear. Their all inclusive quote was equal to the other less impressive garages, so it’s booked in for later this week.

In the past, I would have done this work myself but with other , more pleasant things to keep me busy in this cold spell, I decided to pay up and enjoy my day elsewhere. Indeed, in the past, I replaced the timing chains, hydraulic tensioners and guides on a Porsche 911e 2.4 boxer engine, as part of a total engine rebuild I carried out.The tensioners on the old aircooled engine were known for failure and it was false economy not to do a proper job (to use Cornish parlance!). So, don’t cut corners on this important work on the NV200.

So far as I can judge, the recommendation is to change the timing belt every 5 years or 75,000 miles. So, at 56,000 miles but with 5 years looming, I felt uncomfortable NOT getting it done. I had also been advised at my last major service to get it done as soon as convenient.

I am hoping to feel much more relaxed once it’s done and will report back again with costs etc later. I am probably in for longer term ownership of Dinkum’s Kampa and so it makes sense to keep it maintained to as high a standard as I can. Let us see how we go on. I don’t fancy doing the NC500 or heading for France with a question mark over the timing belt.

Happy New Year. A low news day for campervanning.

6 Jan

Firstly, a Happy New Year to all visitors to the Blog. As usual we have ambitious plans for using the campervan in 2018 but more about that in a future posting to come.

Regular readers will know that I use both front and rear facing dash cams in the Kampa. I have previously used these for diverse purposes in the past including security monitoring at an elderly relative’s home , which proved quite successful and for filming some Tour of Britain cycle racing at Axe Edge near Buxton:

  Here, I fastened a camera to a wing mirror and got some surprisingly high quality video  of the service vehicles and riders which has been shown on the Blog. These little cameras cost as little as £24 including a high quality, reliable, 32 gb Samsung micro memory card.

Currently, we have a vandal in our otherwise, quiet (ish) village. We all think that it is probably one individual and a mate or two. Most of the vandalism has been after a local pub closes. Most of his work has been against publicly owned items including the Christmas tree (!) and a rooted fir tree next to it. Some damage has been done to privately owned property including at least one car having roof damage and Christmas lights adjacent to pavements. A sad state of affairs.

Consequently, I have brought my little stock of dash cams into play. Why pay out for CCTV when I already have some new and some “vintage” cams already? With a 32 gb card installed , the recorded “loop” when used continually is quite extensive. As long as the camera is switched off within  a couple of hours of an incident, it’s pretty likely that with 4 or 5 cameras in use, there will be some 1080p quality video for evidence.

With two cams running in the campervan during the early hours on night mode, they do consume a bit of battery capacity, even with the screen saver mode enabled, so I use the UHU to supplement the leisure battery. Two more cameras in an upstairs window give extra coverage. Easily powered from a twin USB , 240v supply plug.

So far, no damage done and no evidence but the local PC is on the ball and promises action if anyone can provide further video. A local shop got some CCTV  video when the Christmas tree got damaged.

Midsummer Murders ? It’s got nothing on our village. LOL.