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Fireman Iain

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About Fireman Iain

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  • Towcar
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    Swift Kudos 530sb

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  1. Fireman Iain

    Disc Brakes

    Many years ago, I worked as a mechanic in a cracking bike shop in Guisborough, and I’ve kept my hand in over the years. Your first sentence sums it up, ‘cheap mountain bike’. Unfortunately, cable disc brakes are never the most reliable things, there’s no reason they can’t be made to high standards, but the market rightly dictates hydraulic brakes at higher price points and specifications. So cable brakes are cheaply made and fitted. Cost for cost, rim brakes are more efficient and reliable at that end of the market, but marketing insists on discs. When you think of the cost of the bike, and all the parts on it, I’d be surprised if the brakes cost a tenner a set at assembly. Which doesn’t buy a whole lot of quality.
  2. Fireman Iain

    Stolen Vehicles.

    I’m not sure a public forum is the best place to discuss how to steal a car, but there is a way that will work on nearly all modern cars. It takes no more than a couple of minutes if you have the right kit and knowledge. And doesn’t need the fob. Much as with caravans, using hard security will make yours less desirable than another without it. The big steering wheel locks and suchlike that were much used in the 90’s are making a comeback and becoming popular again.
  3. Fireman Iain

    8ft thoughts - after the NEC

    I think the 8’ vans are great. The extra space inside feels out of all proportion to the small increase in width. When we bought our Swift, we really liked the Adria Isonzo, but as a novice caravanner, I thought 8’ might be a bit daunting, plus it was on the heavy side for our then towcar. 3 years on, I kind of wish we’d gone for it. We love our Swift though, it’s a great van, and we have no plans to change it until it’s at least 10 years old.
  4. Fireman Iain

    Is gas worth it.

    I’d be surprised if your maths works out. The cost per unit may be as you describe (I haven’t checked) to a retail customer. The manufacturers buying several thousand units per year will be getting them much, much cheaper. Ok, the cost per unit of electrical appliances will come down in bulk purchases too, but it’s likely that the gap will narrow. The fact is that a proportion of the market will always want dual fuel capability, so if any manufacturer were to produce an electric only van, they’d need a dual fuel version to run parallel to it. That also increases costs at manufacture by having extra variations in design and on the production line, plus losing some economies of scale in purchasing. I take your point that a lot of purchasers rarely use their gas appliances, we mostly use ehu and so have limited use of gas apart from cooking but I don’t see things changing. If, as above, electric only vans have been tried and failed, it suggests the market doesn’t want, or isn’t ready for it.
  5. Fireman Iain

    3500kg towing capacity cars

    I’ve only had my Grand Cherokee Overland a few months, but am hugely impressed. Very comfortable and refined, build quality is leagues ahead of earlier generation Jeeps. For the same sort of money as a Shogun, it’s way more refined and better on fuel. I’ve always liked Land Rovers, and really would have liked another following 2 Freelanders over the last 10 years, but a big Discovery was a good £10k more for a similar spec car. The Touareg would have suited me very nicely, but they’re nearly all R Line and I find the ride in them very harsh. Finding one on air suspension was impossible. The Jeep will do 34mpg solo on a motorway run, about 30 knocking about and about 24-25 towing 1500kg if I take it steady and legal, drops to 21-22mpg at my usual towing speed, which is faster than most folk. Some healthy discounts off list from Jeep from new. Mine was a few month old ex demo with 3000 miles at a very nice price.
  6. We bought our Swift from the show in 2015. Our first ever caravan. The staff on the manufacturers stands are dealer sales staff, not manufacturers own salespeople. So you could easily end up negotiating with someone from hundreds of miles away. Unlike the car industry, caravan dealers are not obliged to carry out work on vans they haven’t sold, so buying fairly locally is definitely a good idea. We found by playing a few dealers against each each other we got a substantial discount off list, well into 4 figures, and were able to get a starter pack included in the deal (aqua roll, wastemaster, battery, gas cylinder, loo chemicals, towing mirrors, etc). You’ll be ordering a van which isn’t built, so be sure to get a firm delivery date, it’s not unheard of for vans to be delivered late. Ours was promised for March, and arrived early, a friend didn’t get his Show ordered Bailey until mid May. I’m not a natural haggler, but dealers were falling over themselves to get our business. It’s a pretty full on day, enjoy it.
  7. Fireman Iain

    getting BE quick and easy?

    I can’t see why it’d matter. Once you can reverse a trailer, you can reverse a trailer.
  8. Fireman Iain

    Closing up for winter!!

    I’ve just done ours today as we’re unlikely to get away again before the new year. Remove all food, and clean any crumbs out of cupboards so’s not to attract rodents. I’ve put fine mesh around all the drop holes and around any inlets in the bottom of the caravan for the same reason. We take out anything that will be adversely affected by sub zero temperatures, basically, anything liquid. You’ll need to thoroughly drain the water systems so the pipes can’t freeze and fracture. I blow them through once drained with a Floe gadget that someone bought me to get rid of any vestiges of water in the system. As a minimum, open the drain valve, and part open all the taps to allow full drainage. I run the pump briefly to make sure there’s no water in that once everything’s drained down. I lubricate the toilet seal with silicone, leave the flap open, drain the cistern, and again, run the pump briefly. We leave the soft furnishings in, but move them away from walls to allow air to circulate. Same with the mattress, it’s stood on edge. All the cupboards and drawers are open, again to allow circulation. I remove my battery, and charge it once a month at home. Outside, it’s thoroughly washed, then fitted with a ProTec cover. I don’t leave any windows or roof lights open or use any sort of dehumidifier. There’s plenty of naysayers for covers, but ours works well for us. A pristine van when it’s uncovered and our damp report in March showed 8-12% after last year’s very wet winter. All I do is nip to our storage place on a bright day every now and again to check everything’s ok and let some fresh air in for half an hour or so.
  9. Fireman Iain

    Exterior door hinges lunar lx2000

    I’m no expert on the technicalities but aluminium doesn’t like being bent back into shape. It ‘work hardens’ when bent and becomes brittle. Forcing it to bend again often causes complete failure. If you do try bending it back into shape, be prepared for the hinge to break and have a plan B for if it does.
  10. Fireman Iain

    E&P Compact System

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding something, but doesn’t E&P replace steadies (at a cost!!) ? If all all you need is a level van, but 3” higher, why not just run the van onto a pair of 3” thick wooden ramps, then level the usual way using jockey and steadies. Worst case is you also need some additional 3” blocks for under the steadies. Might cost you a tenner on a bad day, and the OH can continue to enjoy winding your steadies.
  11. Fireman Iain

    Thinking of a new tow vehicle

    If you’re using a T5 as a towcar, I guess you’re used to the poor ride of lightly loaded commercials. Personally, I find the Hilux unbearable, desperately cramped driving position and lack of adjustability, noisy and coarse engine with a terrible ride. My limited experience of a Ranger is that they’re better in every respect, but I find all pickups harsh and crude compared to decent 4x4 SUV’s. If you’ve a need for a commercial vehicle, then they’re a tool to do a job. Would I choose one? Never.
  12. Fireman Iain

    Towcar & Towbar - Advice pls!

    Not so so far. It’s all been people praising what they’ve already got and saying either car should do an admirable job. Nice position to be in. Of course there’s other cars that will do the job. I’m sure your Touareg would do. So would my Grand Cherokee, but mentioning either is pointless when the OP has already got two very capable towing vehicles.
  13. Fireman Iain

    Caravan Show 2018

    We bought our first (only, so far) caravan at the NEC. Like you, we wanted the opportunity to look at loads of different options. We spent the morning deciding, and ended up going for pretty much what we favoured from pre show internet browsing. In the afternoon we started trying to do a deal. I’m not a natural haggler, but at the shows everyone’s trying to outdo each other. By playing a couple of dealers against each other we got a comfortable 4 figure discount off list and a load of kit thrown in. As above, buy from a dealer fairly local, and try and do some online research into their standard of customer service before you commit. Our dealer, Preston Caravans is 60 miles from home, but their service has been spot on. One in particular of our more local dealers has a very poor reputation.
  14. Fireman Iain

    New Swift Alpine 4 broke away from Towcar.

    Not as far as I can see. My Jeep has self levelling and ride height adjustment on its air suspension. I can easily lift the back enough on the jockey wheel to know it’s engaged. I’m fairly strong so I can lift the hitch instead if I choose, again enough to see the back of the car rise. Probably takes less than 100 kg of lifting force. This implies to me that the jockey wheel is only being loaded similar to the caravans noseweight on the ground.
  15. Fireman Iain

    Towcar & Towbar - Advice pls!

    I’ve driven a 3. 0 Q7 to the Alps and back. Rest assured, it’ll make light work of whatever caravan you should choose to hook on to it. And the big Disco has long been a top towcar. Although I suspect the 2 litre 4 pot won’t be as effortless as the bigger engines, it’s still got all the weight you need for stability. If the the dealer is cheaper than aftermarket towbar companies, go for it. If there’s any electrical gremlins after fitting, it saves any messing about over who may be at fault. Tell them you’re towing a modern caravan and you’ll get 13pin electrics, after that, electrically deployable, detachable or fixed is down to preference. If it’s dealer fit, you won’t get a choice of brands, but I can’t see that it makes any difference anyway.