Spent an hour or so yesterday cleaning and re-sealing the body side seams where the body and side raves join. I had originally made a very small fillet for neatness, but in places that wasn't enough and the sealer has cracked with body movement in places. Not huge cracks but enough to let water capillary down into the interior. Algae growth has also made the seams dirty, so a toothbrush and some washing up liquid in hot water cleaned the seams up, then I went over with new sealer which I smoothed to a larger fillet.
I also tested the water pump to see if the water inlet filter was leaking, but no water coming out and there were no air bubbles inside when you opened the taps.
I've got a small shelf cut for the TV satellite receiver to sit on, but couldn't find any extrusion to cap the ends. Nothing in B&Q and Wickes, but we had in fact bought it from the window company down the road, so I popped in this morning and picked a couple of pieces up. They come in 300mm lengths.
Also ordered some ali bar, 30mm X 20mm to make up a couple of satellite dish mounts, one for each end. Will have to drill an offset hole in one bar end and get it slotted, so I can use an M6 wing bolt to tighten up the dish mounting post. Later on we would adapt one of the mounts from the portable satellite dish kit.
A good weekend at Barleylands, I went down on the Thursday afternoon and got the Ruston engine out and positioned before Philip and Rita arrived.
Everything worked a treat, the satellite TV was nice to watch the GP Practice highlights on, and occasionally we had the news and other stuff, but for what we needed it was fine.
Solar Panels worked unobtrusively, the batteries never gave any hints that they were lacking capacity at any time, and generally we had 12V power whenever we needed it.
We did have a possibly smoke alarm failure, one of the new Kidde units alarmed one evening after we had gone to bed, and it is pretty piercing when it goes off! Couldn't find anything that would have caused it to go off, the other one is on the other side of the bulkhead and that stayed silent. We did find a minor gas weep on the feed for the water heater, but there is 6 feet of height and 6ft horizontal separation, plus two sink vents adjacent to the pipe joint, so we don't think it was that, and a test the following day with the leak confirmed as cleared still gave us a random alarm, so we are sending the unit back to Kidde for inspection.
Towing was fine, cost us about £32 each way (100 miles X 2) and we used 12.9 litres of Autogas at 72.9p a litre for housekeeping. We did buy some food on site, but also took plenty of our own, including bottled water.
There was another issue, but not super-significant. When we checked the LPG tank gauge, we noticed that it read 2-20 litres. The tank is 36 litres gross and 28.8 litres at 80% capacity when the built-in shutoff valve operates.
We had about 8 litres on the gauge yesterday morning, which should have meant that we needed 20 litres or so to refill, but it only took 12.9, so the gauge is not the right one. I talked with Tinley Tech this morning, and their guy said that it should be 0-100% with the last 20% in red, but I double-checked again and have emailed them with the details of the gauge.
Interestingly, the gauge is quite nicely engineered by Schramifa BV in Holland:
They even list spares! The gauge head needle follows a magnet on the arm of the float, so all we should need is a gauge head for the 300mm tank calibrated 0-100%. Two M3 screws to change it.
A new smoke alarm turned up in the post this morning, so we guess that Kidde did find a problem with the one we sent back to them last week.
No letter with it, just a new bubble-packed unit in a jiffy bag.
Replacement gauge for the LPG tank turned up today.
We have finished our travelling for the year, just got back from 12 days in Cupertino CA, helping our friend Tim out with his old Studebaker and Hudson cars for a while
We have to winterise the trailer now, probably a good wash first then we will throw the cover over it and secure it for the winter. Batteries go back onto the mains charger as the solar panels are covered up, water is drained out of the taps and shower etc., and we will probably run round with an oil can on the door hinges etc to keep water out during the winter.
We still have a wish list of jobs we would like to do, nothing super-big, mainly tidying up the wiring in the back, fitting a 13-pin car electrics cable and plug rather than the dual-plug arrangement we have at present and a couple of other items. The Autogas system has to have another filler point added at the front of the trailer so we can fill more easily in service stations with restricted access, and we will be replacing the 8mm 5/16" copper tubing on the high pressure side with steel tubing throughout.
We have to take out the shower tray and vanity unit and finally seal it all in place, as we haven't had any issues with it, but before then we may look for some GRP honeycomb panelling to replace the chipboard we have at present, both from a weight and strength point of view. The batteries will stay in place, we may fit a protective box around them.
We were overweight by 160kg 350# when we went to Barleylands, but we were carrying a lot of extra parts, tools and things like a ladder etc., so we will be looking to get that back down below 3500kg 7700# with everything loaded, except water. We travel with empty tanks and use two 40Litre Aquarolls on site.
Running gear hasn't been touched in 18 months, so brakes will be checked and adjusted, and the drawbar greased up.
Solar panel prices are falling all the time, we looked at 2 X 250W panels, but they were too big for what we need, 160W gives us enough autonomy for now.
"Fighting The Flab".
Before we left for Barleylands, we weighed the trailer with everything in it (and as we were en-route, we didn't leave anything behind) and we were 160kg over the top.
When we got back, we made a list of things that were probably not needed at a pinch, although some items like the wooden blocks might need to be reinstated. The list is just being weighed and set out, and here are the results so far, with a few bits to do:
Food, tinned and fresh in the fridge 25kgs
R&H Starting Handle
6 Packs Asda Water @ 3kg per pack 18kg
2 packs Asda drinks @ 1.5kg per pack 3kg
1 very large adjustable spanner 3kg
1 large PVC/Nylon Sheet 12kg
1 larger PVC/Nylon sheet 16kg
5 blocks of wood @ 5kg each 25kg
1 lighting equipment box with cables etc
1 ladder (!) 9kg
Tool box and loose spanners 15kg
2 boxes of screws and fasteners 6kg
2 spare wheels at 15kg each 30kg
1 portable tyre compressor & Ext Lead 13kg
1 5L of gearbox oil 15kg
1 Airbed pump and batteries 1kg
2 Mains Extension cables at 3kg each 6kg
1 Toilet Fluid 7kg
2 X Aquaroll Water Containers at 6kg 12kg
2 X Wastemaster containers at 7kg 14kg
1 X Caravanstore Awning 8kg
1 X Miscellaneous bits and piece on shelves 5kg
That's 243kg so far, with a few bits to go. Just shows how much junk you carry round with you!
When we built the trailer, we used some 21mm thick GRP/Polyester honeycomb sheets for the main floor, the back half of which has to carry the weight of our engine on its trolley, which it has done well.
We are going to extend that now, with the bathroom walls which are chipboard laminate being replaced by 14mm honeycomb sandwich. We're replacing it as the quality of the chipboard (Focus DIY) is not that good, certainly not what we expected, and it would take out the only item in the area that is susceptible to moisture.
It also means that we can seal the bathroom off completely from the rest of the trailer and contain any water spillage etc within that area. As the floor and walls are all GRP, it is effectively a sealed box.
8' X 8' sheets are £247.00 plus carriage plus VAT, so not exactly cheap, but it's a winter job that we want to do before we get into the next trip which is 16th May when we go to Nuenen again. I'll post some pictures as we go along. The sheets will be bonded in place with Parabond600 sealant/adhesive.
I'll start stripping out the bathroom this weekend, hoping to get that done and the new panels cut before Xmas, then will start to refit everything with the new material. We reckon that by removing the chipboard and the heavy stainless splashback behind the sink and cooker,m we will save over 50kg of dead weight.
The floor covering is being changed as well, the cushionfloor we originally fitted has not reacted well to having any damp under it, and we have patches of black mould showing up through the top. Most of the damp goes back to the building period, just taken that long to cultivate.
Two more solar panels turned up today, 80W and the same as the two existing units. Connections weren't too brilliant:
I have made up the connection box already:
Started getting the connections sorted out this morning, got the first one done pretty quickly, and found the odd length of HO7 2G6 cable that I used last time as well :) The connection box cable glands accept 6mm cable OK, but it's a bit tight to turn round in the short space you have to get to the terminal. I could have used solder-on rings, but the crimps are OK and quite secure.
Both new panels are modified and ready to go up on the roof, but unfortunately it's blowing a gale outside and snowing, so I'll quietly forget that for this weekend!
Ordered a front towbar for the Discovery, left hand and additional centre socket (the tow ball is detachable) got a bit of trade discount as well, so quite pleased with the result.
Despite pretty low temperatures, we got the two new panels up onto the roof today. The connection box will go on tomorrow, just waiting for the second MPPT controller to arrive, it has been at Coventry over a week now.
All wired up into the trailer, just the controller to come now and it's all done.
Gave the roof a clean while I was up there!