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About micktheshed

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    Over 1000 posts

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  • Interests
    Caravanning & Enjoying Retirement
  • Towcar
    3L Auto Nissan Terrano
  • Caravan
    Swift Elegance 530, 2018

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  1. I've spent my life in engineering (with a large proportion of it being design) so I can't help but 'improve' things, no matter what they are, hence my sympathy is with 'BGB': I've found good reason to modify every car & caravan I've owned since 1964! Can't stand inferior products, especially those due to penny-pinching. Hence, on my present 'van in it's first 5 months (in no particular order): 1, removed the poorly designed AL-KO spare wheel carrier, made a bag for the wheel which is now used internally to help correct side-to-side imbalance. Save 5Kg o/a 2, Move battery inside under bunk, where it is more secure, & used the original (laughably small & fragile) box for level blocks & chocks. 3, Fit TV folding arm onto central cupboard. 4, Remove unused microwave & convert to storage using matching overhead locker door (but flat type) from older Swift. Save 9Kg o/a. 5, Fit folding towel rail. 6, Fit 5 more coat hangers. 7, Invert utterly useless pelmet in bathroom so it now serves as a very useful deep shelf. What was the 'designer' actually thinking of when he did this? (I use the term 'designer' as the preferred, more descriptive, expletives are apparently not allowed). 8, Remove unused bunk, ladder & curtain. Save 4Kg approx. o/a. 9, Remove unused Table. Save 10Kg. 10, Remove jack (don't consider it a safe enough design anyway). The one off my 4X4 is much sturdier (if Green Flag haven't got one of their own LOL). 11, 1/2 length EHU cable carried (2. 6Kg) only when required (also alternatively used with solar panel (6 Kg.)). For ref. full length cable weighs 5Kg. 12, Speakers removed from bathroom (what is the point of these?), hole edges trimmed & now giving access to new, long, storage area. Saved 2Kg. 13, Tracker unit removed (not economic) so battery drain reduced. Saved . 5 Kg. 14, Twin gas pipes fitted to front locker. 15, 2 Storage trays lined with mesh to make them usable for small items. 16. 4 extra vents added to bunks to improve air flow to Alde radiators. (Poor show Swift!). 17, Blanking pad made for use in bathroom vent during cold weather. 18, Stick-on soap & knick-knack dishes fitted in bathroom. Soap dish not required as standard?.... Really Swift? 19, Carpets replaced by runners (wife's idea, not mine) apparently only to the benefit of the next owners LOL. 20, Tyres balanced. 21, Baffle fitted to reduce bypass gap between fridge & wall. When will some-one sort this? 22, Remove unused mover cables. Saved 1Kg+. 23, Varnished fridge switch & Thetford circuit board. (A stitch in time & all that). 24, Sealant added to tyres. Not to mention the many things I've fixed that have fallen off, or just stopped working etc. Still to do; 25, Reduce voltage drop to fridge (revert to 7 pin plug?) so that 12V actually works. 26, Fit Fiamma door handle to add security & easier access . 27, Fridge fan. Not to mention fixing the things that have yet to fall off, or just stop working etc. I still blame the fellow worker that first got me into this lark 50+ years ago, I was a care-free tent camper up 'till then LOL. I dread to think how things would have been if I didn't have the capabilities to put these things right though. Never mind, next year everything will all be perfect. .....
  2. micktheshed

    not a lot changes in 19 years...

    Thanks for that Wispman. Don't know how to do it but I did try. ...several times!
  3. micktheshed

    not a lot changes in 19 years...

    Just a clipping I came across during a clear-out. Thought it might be of interest to some-one. No serious message intended. As to getting updated figures, there's not much hope of that whilst the relevant clubs are cow-towing to their sponsors. BTW: Sorry about the 4 images, can you tell that I don't really know what I'm doing?
  4. micktheshed

    not a lot changes in 19 years...

    sorry about extra images. .. you can correctly assume that I don't know what I'm doing LOL.
  5. As promised this is my proven method for DIY damage repairs to your 'van. Since I never anticipated writing this article it might get a bit long-winded, due to lack of 'photos, but for what it's worth here goes. ... Aluminium is, unfortunately, not the best material to use body filler (BF) on, unlike steel or glass fibre (GF), as BF does not stick to it all that well. I overcome this major problem by 'stitching' the body filler to the alum. using a small (about 3 mm dia.) nail to physically punch holes in the panel & initially using GF reinforced BF to fill the damage. If this has already put you off then you don't have the necessary nerve/ability to proceed further, for which I don't blame you at all. I have decades of experience working on cars to give me the confidence (ie. have-a-go attitude!) required. For those of you who are just that little bit curious read on. ... There are some ground rules that require religiously observing: 1, Cleanliness at all stages cannot be stressed too much, use copious amounts of water & household soap to float-off debris. 2, Lightness of, eg. applying paint or an abrasive pad, wont do any harm but over application spells disaster. A little & often, & the patience of a saint, is the only way to get successful results. 3, Allow plenty of time & do not be tempted to rush anything. Rushing the job will not produce the best results. If possible allow a day between paint coats to ensure drying, & quicker drying of following coats. 4, To build some confidence try it out on a scrap panel: that's how I learnt! Now to my modus operandi: 1, Wash off any polish from the area to be painted use petrol or something similar. Do this at least twice using a clean cloth each time. If the damage is within a hand span of, say a locker door or a decal etc. then the finished repair will be less obvious if this area is part of the treatment. This alone can be quite alarming ! 2, Abrade the damaged area itself down to the metal using coarse grade wet & dry paper (W&D). The object is to provide a 'keyed' surface for the BF. Note '1'! 3, Punch holes into the dent using a sharp point & quick taps so as to avoid depressing the surrounding area excessively. 4, Apply some BF containing GF, pushing it into the holes. It's of no importance if it looks a bit of a mess. If more than 3mm deep this should be done in stages. 5, Using medium W&D backed by a flat pad go over the area in a figure-of-eight motion until the area looks flat. Note '1'! Don't panic as the area being worked on gets bigger. It's amazing what paint will cover LOL. 6, With the repair dry apply a small amount of ordinary BF. When this has set use fine grade W&D to flatten it. Wash area well! Dry off & apply TR. 7, Using a suitable under-coat LIGHTLY spray the abraded area. It can be masked-off by ripping a hole in some newspaper (to give a 'feathered' finish). Mount the paper on small rolls of masking tape to raise it off the surface. This coat will show-up any less than perfect areas when it is further lightly abraded with fine W&D. 8, Repeat the above, as often as necessary, until you're satisfied that the surface is acceptably blemish-free. There's no rush. 9, Abrade the whole of the area to be painted, frequently washing off any debri, with fine W&D, & ensure it is clean. Also wipe over with a 'tacky rag' (TR). From now on ensuring the surface is dry, clean & dust-free is essential. Do not apply any paint unless the weather is reasonably dry. Wait for a better day, if necessary, as everything hinges on this! 10, Mask-off the total area to be painted with masking tape & newspaper. Note that spray paint easily travels so use lots of paper to mask off a large area around the damage, this is the only time too much is good LOL. Use the ripped paper technique around the damage if applicable. 11, A very light layer of u/coat should be applied to the whole area. The secret is applying several LIGHT coats to build-up the cover. 12, After the paint is thoroughly dry (1 to 2 days) abrade very lightly, using fine grade W&D, with frequent washing & soap applications until a matt finish is evident. 13, Re-mask, wipe down with the TR & lightly apply a top coat. DO NOT OVERDO THIS. Several thin coats should be built-up allowing plenty of drying time in between & use of the TR. This is where the patience really comes in. The object is to finish with a thick-enough coat to allow final finishing with rubbing down paste (RDP). After the surface looks covered apply at least 2 more coats. 14, Restrain you're enthusiasm by allowing at least a week for the paint to harden. After, yet again, wiping over with the TR use a soft none-abrasive cloth apply the RDP to lightly polish the new paint in a circular motion. Use a new surface of the cloth frequently. Any paint edges can be blended in at this point. How much effort you're willing to put in will dictate how good the finished result is. 15, After at least a week (preferably 1 to 2 months) the area can be polished. It's a bit long-winded but just think of the money you're saving & the knowledge of a job well done. Well it works for me LOL. Specific paint can be obtained from ebay.
  6. micktheshed

    Vauxhall Amongst The Most Unreliable Cars

    My 1973 Viva C 1256cc had a long 1/2" bore steel 'u' shaped breather pipe in the boot. Always wondered if the petrol would leak out if the car was upside-down LOL.
  7. micktheshed

    Came home without the van

    I'll compose a thread on the subject of alum. panel paint repairs & post it under the title of . ....'Paint/body filler repairs to alum. panels'. It might take me a while so have patience. Unfortunately I didn't think to take 'photos at the time so it could get a bit wordy LOL.
  8. micktheshed

    Came home without the van

    I have quite a bit of recent experience of both car & caravan repairs (i. e.: steel & aluminium) using boyfiller on small areas. If there’s any interest I'm quite willing to share my methods with you all for those who have the nerve & some ability to try it LOL. Note that I have strictly DIY abilities so it can't be all that difficult LOL. Two years ago I managed to scrape my 'van quite extensively against a road sign causing a long crease & a split through the alum. skin! The area was about 300mm X 200mm. Quotes ranged from £400 to replacing the side @ approx. £3000! Since the side had been replaced at Bailey (cost £3500) 10 months before I was not best pleased but at least I can laugh at of it now! Undaunted, I repaired it myself for £30. It took a few hours & a lot of patience but I ended up with what others have described as a 'professional' job. Two years later it's still next to invisible unless pointed out. If anyone wants to know my methods I can post it on here.
  9. On every Vauxhall I've owned in the last 30 years + (FWD) the spigot has been a tight fit & the bolts have had conical seating faces. Apparently it is, therefore, centered by the load-bearing spigot with, presumably, just enough free movement in the bolt threads for them to seat securely. I've just been out to remove a wheel from my present Astra in order to confirm this. There has never been a requirement to keep checking the torques & the wheels have never shown any signs of coming loose during their 20K servicing schedual. Then again, I don't trust any-one else to do the job properly. The same type bolts are used on my 'van without a spigot & carrying approx. twice the weight. This is only done for one reason: it's cheaper! I note that the bolt threads have more clearance than my car's: bigger tolerances = cheaper to make! This requires attaching the wheels to my 'van to be a much more precise, painstaking & difficult job. I have grave doubts that my 'van wheels would reliably stay put for 20K. However, after each annual service I remount the wheels, cleaning the mounting faces & nipping-up the bolts with the wheel off the ground (to allow it to centralise) before applying the required full torque with the wheel on the ground. They are not touched again until the next service. This has been my standard practice since my first Al-co 'van fitted with bolts (circa 1990?). Even my mk1 Unicorn (renown for wheel loss, but I did balanced the assemblies) was treated like this with no problems for the 7 seasons I had it. So I can only reiterate my previous post: the correct method of fitting is essential.
  10. It's a change to see some interesting (as opposed to pointlessly biased) remarks on this subject. My take on it (as a 40 year 'vanner & retired designer/engineer) is this; 1, the problem became much worse with the advent of alloy wheels (as opposed to steel). A decision base entirely on aesthetics & saleability rather than suitability. Steel wheels have a 'spring' design built into the bolt seating which further resists any tendency to loosening (providing the bolts are not over-tightened thereby causing it to deform). Alloy wheels have no such advantage & therefore a tendency to shuffle under anything but near perfect conditions. 2, the change from studs to bolts & the deletion of a central location spigot (purely for financial reasons) made the act of mounting & centralizing the wheel much more difficult & much more important. 3, the almost universal fitment of the more expensive alloy wheel has resulted in the cheapest available being used. The quality of a lot of them leaves much to be desired e. g. large out of balance & true-running errors. (A good e. g. of this was the Mk 1 Unicorn, which I & others had, & was reported frequently on here at the time). 4, The cheapest tyres seam to have become the norm, ditto problems as '3'. 5, the almost complete lack of knowledge & expertise when it comes to fitting a wheel. If correctly fitted it should only need checking once (after about 30/50 miles), again using the correct methodology. Given all that we have a recipe for potential disaster. Personally I'm amazed we don't see more frequent occurrences of wheel loss. The obvious answer is better education regarding wheel/tyre use, maintenance & fitment. Some hope. ........
  11. micktheshed

    Fridge vent covers - required?

    It's nothing to do with the actual fridge internal temp. as such, rather the reduced efficiency of the cooling fluid in the fridge circuit itself which does not like temps below 8deg. C. Fitting the covers at 8deg & below helps the fluid to work better. If covers are not fitted then freezing temps. will stop the fridge working even though it will still use gas or electric. Well that's the theory anyway LOL.
  12. With all this well deserved attention regarding standards of eyesight I note there is no mention of tunnel vision or night blindness. These conditions are just as dangerous as poor distance vision yet are, apparently, being ignored. In (I think) USA there are restrictions attached to the license regarding such deficiencies. What's more they seem to me to be becoming more prevalent: 'I didn't see you' is a very common excuse heard after a collision. People these days are so use to always being in well-light conditions that their eyes are seldom called upon to work in the dark. The classic mode of focusing 30M in front of the bonnet (well documented) does not help either. The only answer to all this is an eye test upon application for a driving license or renewal. I've never understood why this hasn't always been the case. Surely it's just a basic safety requirement.
  13. micktheshed

    Build quality

    I have to agree with you there, the quality of my 2011 Unicorn was at least as good as any 'van I've ever had, & remained so for the 7 years i had it. Have to say I find the quality of newer Baileys is noticeably not as good; but then I think that probably applies to all makes.
  14. I wouldn't recommend any-one does a fluid change themselves unless a boiler-mounted pump is fitted (as opposed to an expansion tank-mounted one). This is simply because a boiler-mounted pump is speed-adjustable & self purging. This allows all the fluid to be forced out by feeding in new fluid to replace that drained out: firstly water, then new anti-freeze mixture. The colour change will denote when enough has been circulated. The tank-mounted pump is just too feeble to do the job.
  15. If it's the same 2 bolts every time I would suspect they have been over-tightened at some point, & stretched. The only cure is replacement ASAP.