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The 2 Tops

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  1. Our sentiments, too. Over time we have lost a few friends to the vagaries of age, and one or two have sadly passed on. Only this week two couples we are (were?) hoping to meet up with this season have informed us that they are not sure that they will be camping this year due to health issues, and one friend is wondering at the moment if it means an end to caravanning. Very worrying. We all know that it will come one day, but this knowledge does not help that dread. Best wishes, Gumdrop.
  2. We used to use Camping Cheques. About three years ago, whilst in France, I got talking about Camping Cheques to the man on the next pitch, and he loaned me his ACSI guide to have a read. For the six weeks we were there I discovered that, for exactly the same pitch and amenities, ACSI would have given me a saving of £106 against Camping Cheques. No prizes for guessing which we use now!
  3. Friends of ours have a large Bailey with fixed beds. I was surprised how cramped the remaining living area was, and the washroom was small compared to ours. The small amount of kitchen surface area made everything look cluttered. Everyone to his own, of course, but the situation wouldn't suit me.
  4. We changed from a Coachman Pastiche 460/2 to a Swift Challenger Sport 524. Two reasons for the change were that we wanted the dinette facility; and the circular shower in the Coachman was ridiculously too tight. But I think we lost out on quality. SWMBO has been hankering after a van with twin fixed beds to the rear - just before the washroom. I have resisted this for several reasons. (a) I like the long settees, which we use as twin beds, and Duvalays for the bedding. ( I won't give up the dinette. © I can't see the point in having a permanent bed(s) and lose all that available daytime living space - important when the weather is bad and there's not really anywhere you wish to go, and if you have visitors in for coffee and a chat at times when the awning isn't erected. As I pointed out to her, this bedding takes little time to unroll/roll up, is very comfortable, and the short burst of energy is good exercise. Think I'm on a winning streak at the moment!
  5. Haven't caravans changed over the years? Our first one had just 2 gas lamps for light. And only cold water which you drew out of the jerry can by means of a foot pump on the floor of the van, There was a hob (no oven) and water was boiled on the hob when you wanted it hot. Windows were glass - no double glazing - and the only privacy at night was fabric curtains. When we changed to a more modern van with electric lighting, the first thing we noticed was the silence - no hissing from gas mantles.
  6. WE mostly go for a hardstanding if available, but are equally at home on grass. On hardstanding, we put down a tarpaulin before laying the groundsheet. This keeps the groundsheet clean - rising damp during wet weather can otherwise make the groundsheet dirty. Sometimes there can be a problem in getting pegs to hold on a hardstanding, and even moderately windy weather can loosen them. On grass, a good breathable groundsheet is used, and pegging is more secure. For levelling we use a 6" x 1" board, and the large plastic feet on the steadies are essential to prevent any gradual sinking, particularly when wet weather softens the ground.
  7. Forgetting to unhitch the breakaway cable and wrecking it is inconvenient enough. But has anyone forgot to disconnect a 13-pin plug? I nearly did. Unlike the old 12N/12S plugs, the 13-pin one turns and locks into the socket. Forget, and the whole assembly is ripped apart, leaving you with having to buy new plug and socket and completely rewire them.
  8. Whatever time you travel, the best course is to plan for as much time on the journey as possible. It is usually easy to take more prolonged rest periods towards the end of your journey so that you can arrive on site within the appropriate time. The last thing you want is to be under any pressure to meet a deadline.
  9. Good choice. I had a Mammut mover which was "auto", and one side refused to engage. No way to sort it except to follow Al-ko support advice and take it to dealership. Not a practical solution, so scrapped the whole thing in favour of a new (DIY fitted) Powrtouch Evolution. Went for the "manual" version for same reasoning as yourself. Also, as I don't need the 'one side only' actuation, I left off the transfer bar (don't need it at home and not likely to set up that close on site). This makes the engage/disengage operation even less of an effort. The Evolution is much more precise. The Mammut had a joystick on the remote, and you could not be certain of a straight-ahead direction when starting to move - the slightest offset would cause a jerk to left or right. Not nice when between the high gateposts with only 40mm-50mm clearance on either side.
  10. SWIMBO not being a driver, I don't have the luxury of a changeover. I also set out in more than good time, and my average speed is of no consequence. The major plan is to arrive safely at our destination. In the event of making better time than expected, it isn't difficult to find somewhere for a rest period near to the end of the journey.
  11. Then that would explain why these doors make more sound when being closed. Most cars have "anti-drumming" compound painted on their inner panels which can make quite a difference. Makes sense when you think about it. The commercial chassis builders do not treat their assembly programmes any differently, whether a chassis is going to a motorhome builder or for general commercial use. It would then be up to the motorhome builder to upgrade the insulation qualities of the cab - some possibly do so, whilst others may not - it all comes down to cost and profit margins. The previous mention of the sliding door on panel van conversions - which our Rambler was - reminds me of how noisy this actually was, both in the sliding and final shutting of the door. Yet our daughter once had a VW Caravelle with electrically operated sliding doors and these closed exceptionally quietly. Not a cheap vehicle, and probably a result of high quality build compared to the more commonly used vehicles for van conversions.
  12. Most campervans/motorhomes are built on a chassis where the cab part is simply a standard commercial vehicle. I don't know if anything has changed since we "motorhomed", but the cab doors did seem to have a 'bong' to them and could not be closed as quietly as a car door. Some of the problem was likely to be due to lack of sound deadening insulation as opposed to car construction. Have the manufacturers addressed this issue in recent times?
  13. Very true - and yet there have been occasions when a driver has ploughed into such a vehicle on the hard shoulder with all its beacons flashing. A sobering thought if ever caught stranded on the hard shoulder. That's why the advice given is to vacate the vehicle from the near side and get as far back from the M-way as possible whilst waiting for assistance.
  14. I used to drive overnight for our regular trips from Leicestershire to Cornwall - between 300 and 330 miles depending on which part of Cornwall we were heading for. As I got older, the drive was punctuated by stops at M-way services for an hour's rest and a mug of strong coffee. These days I don't travel overnight any more - instead I book an overnight stop at Cadeside CC site in Somerset, getting a good night's sleep and arriving at our destination still fresh and ready to set up the awning, etc. For travelling to France, we allow plenty of time to arrive early at the port, and relax in the caravan whilst waiting. We do take an overnight ferry and book an en suite cabin. Shower then breakfast, and again arriving fresh at our destination. Age prevents the marathon drives of yesteryear - tiredness cannot be held at bay so easily these days, and staying alert and safe is of prime importance.
  15. Seems I'm not the only one who can't stand poorly carried out work. I may be my own worst enemy in some respects. I served my apprenticeship working in radar, and everything was subject to AID checks - every soldered joint checked and painted with an iodine coloured solution to indicate it had been inspected, and every nut and bolt, unless subject to a paint finish, was painted with a kind of varnish to protect against corrosion from scratching of the cadmium or zinc plate. They do say that what we learn in our formative years affects our attitudes for the rest of our lives. And I'm not quite done yet. Over winter I will be tidying up some of the caravan wiring, including the primary 20 amp fuse for the 12-volt system, which at present dangles at the end of loose cables. This will be mounted in a proper fuse carrier, and in a sensible and accessible position. It does seem daft, considering that the PSU fuses and circuit breakers, along with the road light fuses, are all located in purpose made fuse boards.
  16. First point: Having spent my whole life in the engineering industry, I am still quite capable of this work, which has now been satisfactorily completed. Not being limited for time, I was able to carry out a high quality job which is prevented in the allowed time for a 'specialist' to do the work. The "trained dealership engineer" who did the work on the Mammut which I have thrown out, and which was a "dog's dinner" is testament to that. Second point: Any malfunction of the mover due to a fault is covered by the guarantee where the work is DIY, always providing of course that the fitting was correctly performed and the unit has not been abused. For example: I do the wiring to the battery slightly different than the instruction manual, so that I only have one pair of leads into the battery locker (very little space due to 110 a/H battery). I contacted Powrwheel Tech dept about this, and their manager assured me that this would in no way compromise the warranty. Under the van, the entire cabling is enclosed in 15mm flexible PVC electrical conduit - a fitter would simply not have the time to do this. Somewhere, there is a 2006 Coachman going around where I provided the same under-van protection for the mover wiring.
  17. We are again caravanners, but for just over 8 years we did change to motor caravans - both were of Autosleeper make. The first was a campervan (Rambler) with a sliding door, although we had a rear-ended drive-away awning, and mainly used the rear doors, which did not need to be slammed. We then had a Talisman, which had just the two cab doors and a caravan-type door towards the rear. This was our main route in and out of the vehicle, and the door closed with no more noise than that of a caravan. Never have thought about it, but I cannot understand why anyone should need to be constantly using the cab doors.
  18. I am a member of Green Flag, but I don't see this as being automatically 'on call' for assistance, simply because I've 'paid for it'. I still carry out my routine checks and have my car serviced in accordance with the manufacturer's schedule. For example, when we and some friends were staying on the same site, he asked me why I was checking oil, water and tyre pressures. To my comment that it is routine, he said that he never lifts the bonnet - the car has its annual maintenance, and he has always got his breakdown service. To use this as a back up for not doing the routine checks is, to me, wrong. I am fully equipped to do a wheel change, and would only call for help if the situation was hazardous to life - changing a wheel on a M-way hard shoulder for instance. A rescue vehicle behind it with its un-missable array of flashing beacons is an obvious asset. My rescue service is there if I need it - but I do my level best not to need it.
  19. Well, a few days ago I tried out the new powrtouch Evolution that I have fitted, and everything seems fine. I did smile at the advice, for safety, initially operate it with plenty of space. Since the mover was fitted in a restricted space (between house and garage) I could not take advantage of this advice. First trial was to operate the motors without being engaged on the tyres, to be sure that their rotation was in line with the operation of the buttons on the remote control. Then the real test. The Evolution is my first Powrtouch with choice of speeds (4 of them), so the slow speed is where I started from. I have to say that the controllability in a tight space is excellent, and far more precise than the joystick on the old Mammut. Although this joystick gave step-less speed control (depending on how far over you pushed the joystick), the radial position of the joystick wasn't controllable sufficiently to ensure that the caravan moved in exactly a straight line. And where any tendency to veer to one side occurred, this was more aggressive than the straight-ahead speed. This could be unnerving once the van was between the gateposts of the high gates, when only about 40mm - 50mm clearance on each side is available.
  20. Not necessarily so. With no previous problems, I got the van out using the mover. Did a 300 mile trip to Cornwall. Tried to use mover to site van, but nothing! Had to use the vehicle. Then connected the EHU. Next day I checked the battery, and it was very warm. Disconnected it and left it for about four hours, then checked voltage. It was under 12 volts. Took battery to local accessory shop and a test showed it to be faulty. It was only 3 months old and still in warranty. So had to buy a new 110 a/H battery and drag the old one back home and argue for a refund - could not wait on hol for 4 weeks without a battery and did not want to be left with two of them.
  21. That's not far off the facts. A company I once worked for used to make Lockheed brake seals, among other things. I needed a brake cylinder seal on a Saturday, and couldn't be bothered to trek to the factory so I went to the local parts dept. of the garage for my make of car. The seal came in a little yellow box at 13 pence in old money. We used to sell the seals to Lockheed at about 16 pence per 100. Cars or caravans, the bought-in bits that make up a unit cost the car and van makers peanuts.
  22. Our 2012 Swift Challenger Sport has a forward-opening door, and it is towards the rear of the van and immediately before the end washroom. I have sometimes considered the possibility of it opening whilst travelling. I don't think anything would come out of the van because we don't carry anything light or rollable on the floor. Yes, it probably would swing fully back and latch onto the door holding catch. The real problem would be if it contacted anything/anybody during the actual swing back. The door is locked during travelling. I have considered the Milenco door lock, positioned so as to overlap the edges of both halves of the door.
  23. I am assuming the OP meant a garden container situated in his own garden at home. During the cold, wet months of the year, I would be a bit concerned about the awning being damaged by damp. I have fitted a slatted overhead shelf in my garage, and all things like awning, awning poles and groundsheets are stored here.
  24. With my car, a VW, I have found that due the close fit of the wheel on the diameter of the axle boss, surface rusting causes sufficient expansion to grip the wheel on the boss. I smear a film of copper grease on the locating diameter of the axle boss and the wheel comes off with no problem. Regarding our Swift caravan, if it is anything like our previous Coachman (also Al-ko chassis so most likely the same), I found locating the caravan wheel for refitting because of an excessively large clearance diameter in the centre hole of the wheel. Remedy is to have two, long, suitably threaded bolts with their heads cut off. These can be fitted in place of two wheel studs for maintaining alignment during the wheel change. Puncture when abroad. I take out personal and breakdown cover with Red Pennant. I did once have a car with no spare - just a tin of gunge and a 12-volt inflator supplied with the car. I was told that, in the event of not having a serviceable spare, call out for a puncture would incur a £100 surcharge.
  25. Just checked the door of our battery box. The seal runs right along the top of the door, down for about 50mm on the battery compartment side, and down for about 160mm on the side where the EHU is connected. And, of course, the foam seal between the two compartments. Also supplied as standard by Swift, there is a purpose-made, open topped "bag" which encloses the battery for its full height. So, if any gassing fumes are lighter than air (which I believe they are), the rubber seal would cause the gases to be trapped in the top of the compartment. heavier than air, and they would be trapped in the "bag". The whole set up seems a bit Fred Carno to me!
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