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Latest Technology DIY projects 1 week 4 days ago #463580

  • David_A
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Hi
Sadly, I am a bit of a DIY fanatic and have just finished 'Techifying' our latest caravan for the coming season.
So if anyone would like practical advice on fitting any of the following systems themselves, I may be able to help with the following topics:

iNet Box, Truma Air-Con, remote Climate Control - Truma mobile phone app, Thetford toilet extractor fan, (SOG), Reversing Camera, Sky Q for caravan, Satellite system, E&P hydraulic levelling, Gas bubble tester, Security trackers, Solar panels, Inverters, how DIY work effects warranty.
I came into this world with nothing and am proud to say I still have most of it left. David A
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Latest Technology DIY projects 1 week 4 days ago #463581

  • Anseo
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Hi DAvid_A, welcome :)

Reversing cameras and solar panels would be of interest to me.

For all the topics you mention it would probably be easier for you to commit your modifications to a blog that we could refer to ;)

Anseo
Sir Haggis

Bailey Pegasus GT65 Ancona (year-2013)
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Latest Technology DIY projects 1 week 4 days ago #463582

  • David_A
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Hi Anseo
Thx for your response. As you will know, all these systems have installation instructions available online, so fitting procedure is not the issue. What they don't tell you is how to overcome the difficulties that each caravan model will present, or whether a 'not so new' caravan has original equipment that will be incompatible with the latest innovation.
It is a bit of a mine field, and what starts out as a good idea can easily end up a very expensive project.

For instance, the Bailey Pegasus is a brilliant caravan, so do you actually need a solar panel? What will you gain from it?
Silly questions, but we use hook-up most of the time and a 100watt panel will only provide basic battery charging - great for maintaining charge in storage, or at home if you can't reach with a mains lead, but often simpler in those situations to remove the leisure battery and put it on a smart charger indoors.
Of course, wild camping and CL sites without hookup are a different matter, but then a generator can be a better option.
I fitted a solar panel on our previous motor home and it completely messed up the dual charging system, when hook-up was plugged in. Nobody told me that would happen - had to buy a very expensive solar panel controller. to cure the problem.

Bye the way, Garmin B30 is a great reversing camera - provided you have a compatible Satnav - but a 10m extension cable is required to reach the front gas locker.
:)
I came into this world with nothing and am proud to say I still have most of it left. David A
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Latest Technology DIY projects 1 week 4 days ago #463589

  • ProfJohnL
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I am concerned that all the extra kit seem to have added will have eaten quite a chunk of payload. This will obviously make even more critical for users to be incredibly frugal with what they take, even to the point of becoming quite Draconian and some of your family not being able to take things they'd really like to. Or the real possibility the caravan may be overloaded.

Incidentally I'm guessing you must have entitlement "Be" on your licence for such a heavy caravan?

There are plenty of caravanner who do have solar panels, and even as little as a 50 watt panel çan be sufficient for off grid caravanning. 100Watt panel should be more than you need unless occupants are being very careless and leaving things on for much longer than is necessary.

As for using generators, on many sites they are banned or severely limited. In any case generators are an incredibly expensive and inefficient way of generating power. It is far more efficient to use gas for fridges and other long-term use or high power operations and also much quieter. Generators should be a last resort.

How do you use your glass bubble tester? And where have you fitted it?
Unless I use quotes, All advice and opinions given are my own and are given in good faith. Never act on anything you read on a forum unless you can validate and verify its source and content.
Last Edit: 1 week 3 days ago by ProfJohnL. Reason: Typo's and added comment
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Latest Technology DIY projects 1 week 3 days ago #463595

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Hi ProfJohnL

Your comments are all valid and worth noting by all caravanners contemplating adding heavy alternatives to original specifications, such as motor movers etc.

I believe that all caravanners need a 'Be' classification licence, unless their caravan weighs less than 750kg.

I have re-plated our caravan to the maximum permitted by the manufacturers, which I did not mention earlier and which was a free option 'from new'. This reduced the impact of weight additions and, of course, there is always the car boot available for those 'must have' family extras.
I await a break in the weather to take our completed caravan to a local weigh-bridge to check the full impact of my modifications. Perhaps I will start a new warning topic, if it turns out to be over-weight, though calculations indicate that we should still retain adequate payload, provided the on-board water tank remains empty whilst travelling.

Bye the way, a generator is essentail to run air-con - off grid, as the units are mains operated and sites that ban generators will have mains hook-up available.

The Adle bubble tester should be fitted horizontally after and as close to the gas regulater as possible. It has a red knob, which is pressed down to check that there are no leaks when all gas appliancesa are switched off. Any leak will be indicated by bubbles passing through the glycol liquid in the plastic sight chamber.

It should be fitted by a 'Gas Safe' registered installer, and any leaks found professionally investigated as they are potentially life threatening. I believe bubble testers are an important addition for seasonal pitch users.

If your caravan is properly serviced annually, then the system should be pressure tested by the workshop, but in between, I like to feel safe by my own quick checks, and carrying round a manometer to connect to the test point is too much of a faff, when I am trying to enjoy a holiday.

One final point - the Government have become very interested in 'Weigh-in-Motion' technology as a revenue stream - because so many Mini-buses, motorhomes and other vehicles that operate close to their MTPLMs' are driving around over-weight - food for thought, I feel.
I came into this world with nothing and am proud to say I still have most of it left. David A
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Latest Technology DIY projects 1 week 3 days ago #463601

  • Danddandy
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David A, . An interestering mix of modifications.. . I like the E&P levelling system but can't justify the cost.. Did you fit it yourself? I have tried to purchase the system to fit myself but no one will quote me a price.

Danddandy
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Latest Technology DIY projects 1 week 3 days ago #463602

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I had the same situation - no, E&P won't supply direct for DIY fitting. You must use one of their network of installers, and having watched the fitting process, I don't feel it would ever be a viable DIY project, unless you have access to garage hydraulic lifting ramps and a perfectly level floor for calibration purposes.
You would also need 'chassis specific' axle adapters.
The 'Compact' version is better value if you have a twin axle unit, as it overcomes the wheel lock fitting problem, but still a bit of a luxury item.
Some big manufacturers are now fitting E&P levelling systems as standard on top end models.
I came into this world with nothing and am proud to say I still have most of it left. David A
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Latest Technology DIY projects 1 week 3 days ago #463604

  • ProfJohnL
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David_A wrote:
Hi ProfJohnL....
I believe that all caravanners need a 'Be' classification licence, unless their caravan weighs less than 750kg....

Not true.

Please take some time to review much of whats been written and reported in this and other forums.

BE licences were only issued as standard prior to 1st Jan 1997. With a BE licence you can tow any normal caravan provided its is within the cars towed weight limits, though the industry advice (which takes account of the ungainly and difficult nature of caravans) suggest drivers should aim for a caravan with an MTPLM of no more than 100% the tow vehicles kerb weight, and novices should aim to be below 85% of kerbweight.

Since Jan 97,the basic licence does not get BE but only B which has a restrictive limit for braked trailers where the combined MAM of tow vehicle and trailer must not exceed 3500kg. There are plenty of outfits that fall within this limitation and can be towed by drivers with only the B entitlement.

There are still many caravan sites that ban generators and do not have mains hook ups, but more sites are installing hooks ups, but there will be a die hard few sites who don't want the hassle and expense of installing site mains electrics. Using a generator to run an AC unit is a very inefficient and noisy use of power. Many sites will not allow them.

Whilst I agree for everyone's safety all gas work on caravans should be carried out by a registered fitter it does not have to be a Gas Safe registered fitter. There are other approval system for LPG in caravans and self propelled motorhomes. Also and whilst i don't condone the practice, it is one of the specific exceptions in the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations. where by the owner of a privately owned and used touring caravans or self propelled motorhomes may undertake gas installation and other service work on gas systems in the caravan or motorhome. BUT the work must still be compliant with the codes of practices and safety tested. It is a debatable point but only the owner may use the caravan. if any other person even a family member, then it could be argued the fitting must be compliant with the domestic regulations and carried out and tested by a registered fitter. Dangerous or poor gas fitting is a criminal act and can be prosecuted in the criminal courts with fines or prison sentences.

Gas leak Bubble testers are not a legal requirement in caravans, nor do they replace the accuracy or a proper gas soundness check at the limit pressure. It is sometimes argued that the bubble unit is an additional potential leak point on the system. The fluid used must be of teh approved type and it should maintained diligently.The instruction for use of the tester should be kept handy and visible near by the unit.

Weight in motion is certainly an expanding area of roadside metrology, and I am certain it will catch some caravanners who really don't bother to check their weights and loading methods.
Unless I use quotes, All advice and opinions given are my own and are given in good faith. Never act on anything you read on a forum unless you can validate and verify its source and content.
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Latest Technology DIY projects 1 week 3 days ago #463606

  • David_A
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Hi ProfJohnL
Thank you for correcting my misconception of the B licence. You are totally correct in what you say and yes, I have a 'Be' licence (for far too many years).

It is also important to check that the particular model type of your tow vehicle is actually suitable for towing an intended caravan purchase. For instance, take two identical looking Mercedes cars with the same size engines - one may be suitable for towing and the other not so. Blutec vehicles are one example. Then, if you fit a tow bar and dedicated electrics, you still have to get a Mercedes dealership to program the car's computer so that it makes the necessary towing adjustments to its many control systems. Your local garage usually can't do that unless they are Mercedes specialists and pay for full 'Star' programming access.

Regarding the Adle bubble tester, I used the word 'should' be installed by a 'Gas Safe' fitter to avoid a protracted explanation of how I avoided multiple compression joints and the different sealants used with gas joints, etc., etc. I am aware that it is not essential to have it professionally fitted, but you don't mess with gas, it can kill you.
Thank you for expanding on that subject.

It is comforting to know that there are Gurus' like yourself carefully vetting posts from contributors, to avoid misleading others.
Thanks for your knowledgeable additions to the topic. - we can all learn something new every day.
I came into this world with nothing and am proud to say I still have most of it left. David A
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Latest Technology DIY projects 1 week 3 days ago #463619

  • ProfJohnL
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David_A wrote:
...It is also important to check that the particular model type of your tow vehicle is actually suitable for towing an intended caravan purchase. For instance, take two identical looking Mercedes cars with the same size engines - one may be suitable for towing and the other not so. Blutec vehicles are one example. Then, if you fit a tow bar and dedicated electrics, you still have to get a Mercedes dealership to program the car's computer so that it makes the necessary towing adjustments to its many control systems. Your local garage usually can't do that unless they are Mercedes specialists and pay for full 'Star' programming access...

This is one of the first stages that anybody who is considering towing must do. And we have seen some posters who don't believe what their told when their car has no Gross Train Weight figure on the VIN plate. The fact is that each car manufactured for sale in the EU has to go through a whole vehicle type approval process, which establishes the models capabilities. Even where common components are used elsewhere in a model range it does not automatically mean all the attributes transfer so each model even within a common range has to be assessed on its own merits.

We have posters who do not appreciate that some models are simply not approved for towing or for towing the size/weight of trailer they wish, and they ask for ways to circumvent the problem. There are no ways of changing the limits for a car.

Towed weights and limits and licence restrictions often grace the forums pages, and sadly it is an area where there is considerable misunderstanding amongst caravanners, and where traditions are commonly believed over factual/scientific information and regulation. In point of fact despite teh length of time teh weight limits and weight regulations have been in force, the underlying documents may be difficult to read but they actually do make sense and follow good scientific and engineering principles in most areas.
Unless I use quotes, All advice and opinions given are my own and are given in good faith. Never act on anything you read on a forum unless you can validate and verify its source and content.
Last Edit: 1 week 3 days ago by ProfJohnL. Reason: changed a comment
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