A Bit Of A Review…


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We or more probably me don’t normally do site reviews. That said we recently came back from a few days away at Donkey Creek Farm in Freckleton, and we liked it that much I had to put pen to paper…. or in more modern parlance lay fingers on keys.

The site is located on Naze Lane East just south of Freckleton and is just the other side of Naze Lane from the eastern end of BAE Warton’s runway. Don’t let this put you off though. At weekends you may get the odd light aircraft doing low approach and go-rounds but in the main it’s quiet. Weekdays, there are a couple of BAE’s scheduled staff planes in the morning and evening and the occasional fast jet. Having spent 7 years working there in the 90’s I don’t notice it.

The site is well laid out and only a few years old so most of the pitches are fully serviced and the facilities first class in every respect. The last time I was impressed this much was when we went to The Old Oaks site at Glastonbury, which at the time I said was the one to beat.

The pitch are level and firm under the gravel, all service roads are tarmac. Our pitch backed onto the small pond which was home to a pair of ducks and twelve ducklings which mother took for a walk umpteen times per day. She seemed to be getting the ducklings used to standing in front of caravan doors as they would all gather outside the door at the slightest sign of activity from within.

We also had a family of coots as frequent visitors who had also made the pond their home….

As I mentioned earlier, you do get the occasional fast jet through the weekday…

They don’t seem to bother the wildlife and they didn’t bother us…. apart from me scrambling to find my camera…. a retired pilot is still a person with jet A1 running through their veins.

OK, here’s a few pics…

If you want to find out more visit the website : Donkey Creek Farm

While we were there…

Cycling is quite easy and on the first day we cycled into Lytham for morning coffee. The route from Donkey Creek Farm is an easy ride and from the farm to the Lytham Windmill is exactly 5 miles…

We found a suitable cafe called “Central Beach” on the corner of Bath Street and the main shopping street Clifton Street. We sat and did a bit of people watching while having a coffee and toasted teacake.

The total round trip only took us 1h and 17m of cycling, a distance of 17.4 km which is a little under 11 miles.

Day two was interrupted by the need to visit a local caravan accessories shop (fell over at the cost of everything!!!) and the odd light shower passing through, but day three was blue skies and worth a bother outing on the bikes…. so we went back into Lytham, a little further this time past Fairhaven Lake to the beach cafe.

An easy ride again totalling 1h 43m of peddling and a distance of 27.16 km (16.8 miles). These are a lot shorter distances than we are used to, but a few months ago Sue was diagnosed with a heart condition…. ironic really considering the job She spent most of her working life doing! So we are building up slowly, on the flat with plenty of options to stop for a rest…

We indulged in a strawberry Cornetto at the beach cafe before heading back to Donkey Creek Farm. The next day we were supposed to be heading home, however the weather was kind, the site superb, the ducklings cute and even Henry was relaxing to the point he didn’t want to get up in the mornings.

So we decided to stay another day, the pitch was available and that gave us the chance to cycle into Lytham one again this time for a lazy lunch at “The One” in Clifton Square. Again sat outside people watching.

Why did we choose Donkey Creek Farm?

We normally kick off our season with a trip to Southport C & M Club site, but when booking for four nights on a serviced pitch had a bit of a shock… £175.20. That seemed a bit steep so I started looking round on Pitchup.com for sites within a 25 mile radius and scrolling through recognised the name Donkey Creek Farm from YouTubersThe Caravan Addies” and “The Caravan Nut“. (Go on tell me I’m name dropping!) Checking the prices for the same 4 nights on a fully serviced pitch was £136.00 a saving of £39.20. Which was a bit of a jaw dropper…. realising just how expensive the C & M Club has become.

I’ve just booked our next trip to Sutton-on-Sea on the east coast…. and this time for 5 nights on a fully serviced pitch I’ve saved £83.50 based on the same dates for a fully serviced pitch on the Sutton C & M Club site. I’ll let you know how we get on soon!

Something that may be happening later this year…

As you may know, since we started caravanning we always try to cycle Blackpool Illuminations. Usually in October and we have done it from 5 different sites. However I was thinking of maybe doing it from Donkey Creek Farm this year.

Set of around lunchtime from Donkey Creek Farm and cycle to Squires Gate or The Pleasure Beach for a coffee. Cycling along the prom past the Tower continueing to Bispham for an afternoon snack somewhere. Around 5 easy cycle along the prom up to Redbank Road ready for the illuminations to come on and start the trip back through Blackpool. We have cycled from Squires Gate to Lytham in the dark and it’s OK as most is on a cycle path… and having cycled Lythan to Donkey Creek Farm several times, cycling that route should not be a problem as it is on a separate cycle path apart form about a mile stretch around the entrance to BAE Warton where it’s a cycle lane on the road but the road is well lit.

We normally do it before the clocks change in the Autumn so it means setting off around 7 from Red Bank Road, I recon it will be about a 2 hour ride back and overall about a 28 mile round trip with 2 or 3 breaks

I’m not going to say it’s an organised ride…. but I’ll work out a bit of detail and a date we are going to do it. It will be mid week and an option of two or three days to allow for weather. Anyone is welcome to join.

Flushed With Success…


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We have just been for a short stay at Donkey Creek Farm in Freckleton, near Warton…. just up the road from Lytham…. that’s near Blackpool. OK you get the idea. We can’t recommend this site highly enough, in fact in a break of usualness I’m going to write a little review.

OK back to the main event. We pitched, set up shop and sat down to the usual post pitch brew…. “Ah I thought… I’ll just pop to the loo before sitting down”…. Pushed the blue button on the Thetford toilet and….. nothing, nada, not the slightest hint of a flush pump running. OK we had this once before and it was the fuse that had corroded, probably since it was located in one of the dumbest places possible…. but I won’t go into that. Nope not the fuse, terminal looked clean (probably because I’d given them a coat of protective terminal gel. Phooey it had to be the circuit board.

Using my trusty Swiss Army knife I peeled back the big Thetford sticker on top of the loo… and retrieved the circuit board. It wasn’t looking too clever.

The circuit board was connected to the loo’s wiring via an edge connector… OK for some applications. However on removing the edge connector the copper circuit board tracks had simply corroded away tot he point there was not much copper left on the circuit board.

The other issue was the edge connector was an IDC type (Insulation Displacement Contact) which basically means the wire is squeezed into a knife like ‘V’ in the terminal cutting into the insulation to make the contact.

The upshot of this was the circuit board had corroded, the contact surfaces where the connector contacted the circuit board pads had corroded and the cables had corrosion on their conductors. (in fact I had to cut the cables back by about 60mm to get to good un-corroded conductors)

Going Full MacGyver….

I did have a spare circuit board…. back in the Bat Cave at home….. wouldn’t do much good though as the edge connector was toast. With a Swiss Army penknife…. and my trusty tool bag… Time to do a “MacGyver” and get this thing flushing. I just happened to have a strip of 6 amp terminal block… well doesn’t everyone have a spare strip of terminal block? I cut the connector free from the wiring loom one lead at a time and transferred this across to the terminal block. Once all 6 were moved across it was a simple matter of finding Positive and Negative, jumping the Negative to the Negative side of the flush pump and providing a short fly lead that when simply touched onto the correct terminal on the terminal strip would run the pump.

The rest of the stay went well…. got some cycling in to Lytham for morning coffee’s… watched a few planes and watched the wildlife.

Back In The Bat Cave…

Back home it was time to fashion a contrivance that would not suffer the same fate…. heading into the Bat Cave I had an idea…

The terminal strip offered a way to still make the circuit board removable and replaceable but without the drawbacks of the edge connector.

I did try to source an edge connector but as per usual it was something that was a bit of a bugger to locate… unless I wanted 50 of the things shipped direct from China.

Here is what I cam up with. I’d directly solder short leads onto the circuit board and protect them with a coating of track varnish… something used to coat bare circuit board tracks on prototype boards to stop them from corroding. The short leads would be crimped with a boot lace ferrule after dipping the stripped ends of the cable in a protective anti-oxidising grease.

The finished article prior to coating the soldered terminals with a protective circuit board varnish, and finally assembled back into the circuit board holder…


Installation was fairly quick and easy, the wires from he loom that I’d previously terminated on the terminal strip while away in the caravan were removed in turn, cut back to make sure there wasn’t any corrosion in the conductors, dipped in anti-oxidising grease before having a boot lace ferrule crimped on and being fastened into the new terminal strip.

The whole lot fitted neatly into the space below the circuit board and hopefully my little fix will keep the loo flushing successfully for the foreseeable future.

Another Little Job…

A while ago I swopped out the two LED spotlights above the bed (reading lights) for two that were a little less bright and that had USB sockets in their base. This left me with two ‘spare’ LED spotlights that matched those in the lounge area.

We have always thought that the location of these existing spots are great for reading, but not if you are having a meal. The lights provide a saintly halo behind your head but you plate of nom nom’s in front of you in shadow.

So I installed one of the lights right slap bang in the middle of the front overhead lockers points down at the table. So now when we are having a TV dinner with the lights low I can still see what I’m stabbing my fork into. It’s also handy of you want to do one of those artistic foodie shots…. here’s what we are having tonight.

That’s it for the moment…. unless you want to see a picture of a vary lazy cat who didn’t want to get up. Everything is better with a cat… especially if it is Henry.

Lighting Up The Scene…


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A while ago I upgraded the lights on our caravan by changing the functions round and added two new LED reversing lights which I can’t understand why I hadn’t done this years ago. In daylight they are bright… and at night they are really bright… retina burning bright according to reports. Reversing into a dark pitch is a lot easier and safety wise having an additional set of tail and brake lights with two large bright rear fog lights instead of the single factory 21 watt light mounted almost as low as you can get on the rear of the caravan is a vast improvement in my mind. You can read about my changes here… “Put Yer Lights On Mate…

Following that article I had lots of people contact me letting me know they liked what I had done and considering upgrading themselves. Not a clue if anyone did, but that’s how these things go. I did have another email from a gentleman which was a bit different. Now I’ve edited it a bit as it was originally two emails and included a company name and some specific details which I’m sure they would not wish me to publish to the world…. here’s the gist of it though:

“Hi Simon, been reading your blog for a while and I read your post about upgrading your caravan lights. I was wondering if you might be able to help with something we would like to do with our trailers or could put us in touch with someone who can? We have around eight trailers that are used on various locations separately or as a group and are towed by a variety of vehicles, mostly our own but occasionally by contractors. Most of our trailers have additional side lighting powered off the trailers own batteries which are charged from the vehicle or while on site from generators. A lot of our set up and tear down is done at night and we have had issues at dark locations where the vehicles reversing lights don’t really help. Is there any way we could get the side work lighting to come on when the vehicle reverses but could be controlled from the vehicle without any additional switches or alterations to the vehicles but could be turned on and off as reversing on a public road with them on might not be legal”

From an exchange of emails, I do know what the company does and some of the sorts of places it works. They don’t always have access to mains power when setting up or tearing down and would like something that can easily be installed in a trailer without too much alteration to the electrical services. Nothing could be installed in any of the tow vehicles as the vehicles were not always their own and I first suggested a cheap(ish) remote switch that could be used by the driver to turn them on and off as required. I was told this was not an option as the remote switches would likely get lost/damaged or need batteries or be with the wrong crew, some sites they could not use any radio equipment.

Time to put my thinking cat on…

Polo…. always a great thinking cat, sadly no longer with us.

I had a bit of an idea forming. Something I’d seen on a Class A American RV (Prevost I think) was a set of spotlights set in the side panel of the RV pointing backwards and located near the front wheel. These lit up down the side of the RV and the ground to the side when reversing…. I’d thought about adding a couple of simple cheap LED lights to the underside of the caravan between the wheel and front of the caravan angled outwards by about 60 degrees mounted under the floor… so when I reversed they lit up the caravan wheel and the ground it was going over so I could see it clearly at night in my mirrors. I had pondered how to switch this on and off using the Amarok but not add any more wiring between the caravan and vehicle. So I’d already come up with a solution.

Here is what I came up with…

It’s a simple two relay set up. The two triggers for this to work are the vehicle reversing lights and the rear fog lights. The top relay in the box is activated by the vehicle being in reverse with the reversing lights on. The lower relay is activated by turning the vehicles rear fog lights on. Only when these two conditions are met, is there a circuit across the two relays switches made thus activating the work lights on the trailer.

Quite simply when reversing to turn on the work light simply turn on the rear fog lights and the work lights will come on.

Cables 1, 2 & 3 connect to the road lights. Cables 4 & 5 are for the switched load. The cost was around £15 for the components for each unit and that included Bosch relays & sockets, the die-cast box and fuse holder. I guess putting it in a plastic case and using cheaper eBay sourced relays could halve that cost.

I did also think that as an upgrade or option the relay operated by the reversing lights could be a timer relay. Set it to say 15 seconds, then when reversing you turn on the work lights and they will remain on of 15 seconds after reversing as long as the rear fog lights are on. This would give you time to reverse, pull forward and reverse again. Each time you select reverse the timer would reset and as soon as you disengaged reverse the timer would start its countdown again.

High level work lights could be a boon to reversing into dark pitches or storage sites. Image take from the internet, copyright not mine.

It was as simple as I could get it using existing signals from the vehicle that already pass through to the trailer. I guess it could be used to turn anything on using any combination of lights operating from the vehicle.

The wiring between the road lights and work lights is kept separate as I wasn’t 100% sure how the trailers power system worked and how it was connected to the road lights (if at all) The two relays were installed in a die cast box with a grommet for the 5 cables. All the trailers were fitted with one of these and apparently they have all been working fine for several months.

Why did I opt for reversing lights and fog lights?

I wanted something that would not be used generally through the day so reversing on a public road during daylight or even at night the work lights would not illuminate. Running during the day with lights on and your fog lights will not operate the working lights… and if you are running in weather that requires headlights and rear fog light… then I guess having the working lights come on while you reverse in those inclement weather conditions just makes you more visible to everyone around. So apart from that I don’t think that you will cause a danger on the road with this set-up.

So…. I think I might just have to install one of these on my caravan…. just in case!

Low level scene lights down the side of the trailer can be just as effective as high level work lights. Image taken from the internet, copyright not mine.

Its a fairly simple DIY job to build a box and install it without too much messing about with the original wiring. Now someone asked me about getting the orange side marker lights to flash in time with the indicators…. and remain as side markers when the indicators weren’t being used. Is this something I need to put my thinking cat on for? Let me know in the comments.

Keeping Electrons Contained…

One thing about being retired… you have way too much time to think about things. One thing that has been wandering round my grey cells for the last few months relates to an email I had September last year and it was from someone who was fitting out a van and had a few electrical issues, which I managed to help him remotely sort out the problems.

Something that struck me was an off the cuff remark about being able to separate the vehicle side electrical system and the habitation electrical system but still have them work together.

So here is my thoughts and a bit of a sketch (you all know I like sketches) on a possible but workable solution…

Taking a bit of inspiration from the world of aviation and how systems are split into individual bus systems and master bus system that can be combined and isolated as safety procedures require, I thought about how the current wiring on conversions could be improved.

Installing two fuses, one on each pole between the vehicle and habitation, would limit the maximum current between the two systems… the habitation system and the vehicle system. I’ve called these the “Habitation System Isolation Fuses”

In my sketch, the DC to DC charger is a 50 Amp unit, so I have sized the fuses at 50 Amps… (I’d actually install Tyco W23 thermal switch circuit breakers… more about that later) Fusing the positive (live) is normal, but adding a fuse in the Negative / Neutral line is not normally considered. However I have a sound rational for doing this.

Looking at the right hand side – the Habitation Side, we can see that there are two LiPo batteries located some distance apart and connected by a battery bank interlink cable. The feed from the battery bank goes from one battery via an isolation switch and 200Amp fuse to power the habitation equipment and the return is via shunt to monitor the battery bank to the opposite battery. The interlink Positive cable is fused at each end with a 200 Amp rated fuse. All that is pretty normal.

However there is the possibility that the battery interlink cable could be routed through bulkheads or the cable from the battery bank via the battery isolation switch could be routed through vehicle bodywork bulkheads to a distribution point. If this cable was to chafe, there is the potential for a direct short or intermittent / low resistance short to the vehicle ground. As this battery bank is fused at 200 Amps, you could end up warming up a bit of vehicle cabling to the point of PVC fumes filling the van or a full blown fire. Remember you can stick weld steel with 150 Amps!

By inserting a fuse in the Neutral /Negative line – the Habitation System Isolation Fuses, you have effectively fused any potential short to ground from the habitation side battery pack to 50 Amps which if a direct short will blow the fuse before any of the 200 Amp fuses have started to even warm up! Note… if your DC to DC charger is only 30 Amps then these two fuses would be rated at 30 Amps.

Could This Be Improved?

Well yes, everything can be improved. Upgrading the Vehicle Charging Isolation Switch to a double pole would mean when you are parked up, turn the switch off and the habitation electrical system is completely isolated from the vehicle electrical system… down side is some solar chargers have a trickle facility for the vehicle battery (normally connects to the vehicle side of an isolation switch to work and relies on negative continuity between the two systems)… and one day you will forget to turn it on when you are going to do a days driving.

Load sensing on the Neutral / Negative at the Habitation System Isolation Fuse would show if you had a drain from the live side of the habitation system to vehicle ground.

Prerequisite …

The big prerequisite to doing this is of course you haven’t been a cheapskate and only used one wire to supply equipment on the habitation side and used the vehicle body as the Negative / Neutral path.

Short story… someone contacts me, can’t get a device working properly. Tracing the power side, no issues, tracing the return path… some resistance. Turns out the body panel is bonded on to the vehicle and there is no electrical continuity between the body panel and vehicle neutral… so in order for the 5 watt interior light to work, the vehicle manufacturer installed a 75mm long flat beaded strap between the body panel and the section of chassis it is glued to. I recon this strap was good for about 2 or 3 amps… so when the fridge was running and the 5 amp accessory powered up the combined negative wires that were screwed to this body panel slowly heated up the bit of flat braided bonding strap installed by the manufacturer.

Morel of the story…. if you are supplying electrons to something…. also install a route for them to go home! Don’t rely on others to have done it for you. They don’t know what you were planning to do when they designed the thing!. (OK Physics majors will now be sitting upright, drawing their keyboards close and about to compose a long winded essay on why I’m wrong… Yep I got it… I know electrons, negatively charged, move the other way).

Not using the body as a conductor has been known about for a long time by the Professional Audio Boys… you know the ones on You Tube… stereo bass kicks in and the girls….. hair…. that’s a better word… jiggles about with the sound pressure driven by speakers that consume enough energy that even Doc Emmitt Brown would raise his eyebrows at ( I wonder if that where he got Jigga Watts from?)

Tyco W23 Circuit Breakers

On aircraft anything that is powered by electricity goes through circuit breakers and nearly all fall into two types… W23 / W31 or W58.

W58 are pop out breakers that you push in to reset, but W23 and W31 are switch breakers. W31 look like a toggle switch while W23 have a button that can be pulled out to turn it off. I like W23 style breakers….

They are made for 240 volts AC, 50 volts DC and have been around for 40+ years. I’ve flown planes built in the 60’s that still use the original CB’s in them. Now they are mostly made in Mexico or China but are all to a very well established spec and testing standard. You can get them in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7.5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40 and 50 Amp ratings so you can best match them to your system. The spec sheet even tells you what to torque the cable screws to when installing. Personally I’d replace all fuses with these things…… oh yesssss…. I do like a good CB panel… pat on the back if you guess the aircraft type.


Well I’m not an expert in 12 volt systems and although I have designed and worked on aircraft electrical systems, that really means nothing in this context. These are my thoughts on something that may or may not be needed but it’s how I’d probably go about doing things.


If anyone from INEOS is reading…. I love the new Grenadier and especially the aircraft style panels…. quite happy to do some tow testing for you…. hello…. anyone there?

Something for BMW X3 owners…


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A while ago I had an email from a chap called Roy. I thought it was going to be an easy one to sort out but never expected what the eventual issue was.

Rather than try to explain all the steps, which is difficult sometimes trying to diagnose without actually being hands on, Roy did a fantastic job, so I thought I’d simply post the email exchange…..

Hi Simon,

I have a problem with the drivers side lights on my 1997 Bailey Unicorn caravan.

I bought a new BMWW X3 in 2020 and had a BMW tow bar and electrics fitted in the factory.

I towed the caravan with the X3 for the first time this year. After driving using my headlights for about 70 miles the drivers side lights on the caravan stopped working and I got a message on the dash telling me “trailer electrics were overloaded. Trailer not or only partially illuminated, switch off unnecessary electrical consumers in the trailer and have problem checked by your service engineer”. I switched off the fridge but it made no difference. 

I bought a 13 pin caravan plug and short piece of 13 pin cable and checked the wiring with a multimeter. I connected the black probe to the white no. 3 pin and the red probe to the black no. 7 pin and I was getting a reading on the multimeter, I then checked the brown no. 5 pin which feeds the drivers side but I didn’t have a reading (I have checked for continuity on the brown cable and that is okay). 

I continued to our destination, it was daylight, I had nearside lights on caravan and car but no drivers side lights on caravan.

When we came to leave the caravan site I connected caravan to car and all the lights were working on the caravan but after about 10 miles the nearside caravan lights went off and remained off. I found that if I tried to connect the 13 pin plug the nearside lights on the caravan came on and then immediately went off.

I took the car back to BMW and they can’t find  a problem on the car.

I took the car to a caravan dealer and connected up to one of their vans and the lights on their van all worked.

Is this a problem you have come across as I do not know and also the caravan dealer doesn’t what the problem could be.

Kind Regards.

Hi Roy

Not heard of this before, but I think I might know what may be happening.

The number plate lights are usually connected to one side or the other…. near side running lights or off side running lights. The slight load increase because of this ’trips’ the electronic load sensor in the BMW and it shuts down that circuit. It should reset when you shut off the engine and start it up again.

One quick temporary solution would be to remove one of the side running light bulbs from the orange marker lights running down the side of the van.

A longer term solution would be to swop out the incandescent bulbs for LED ones. These have a lot lower power draw. Just changing over the tail lights and number plate lights should do it.

Let me know how you get on



Good morning Simon,

Thank you so much for your very prompt reply.

I shall take your advice and change the bulbs for led ones. I will let you know how I get on but it won’t be for a couple of months as the van is stored for winter.

Thank very much.

Kind regards. Roy

A short while later…

Hi Simon,

Just an update. I collected my car from BMW this afternoon, I asked why if there was no fault found, why I had a reading on my multi meter for the nearside but not the offside. He said that this did sometimes happen with multi meters. He got his meter that they use for MOT’s and this showed that there was current on both sides, he also did a lamp test which showed the same result. This proves that it must be a problem with the caravan so with the help of your articles I will check all the running light electrics on the caravan. Incidentally, the front sidelights and the marker lights are all led units but all the backlights are incandescent bulbs so I will take your advice and change them. Can I replace the incandescent bulbs with led bulbs or will I have to change the whole units?

The light units are available from Bailey’s.

Kind Regards


Hi Roy

Never known a multimeter to behave in that way…. you can get a voltage reading, but when you try to pass current across the connection if the connection is high resistance, the voltage will drop. That’s why testers usually have a mini trailer board with bulbs in to enable them to test the voltage when the circuits are drawing current.

The existing tail lights can simply be updated  with LED bulbs. I replaced all mine …. https://caravanchronicles.com/2021/09/09/finishing-off-a-few-jobs/ I included details for a company I used on this page. I have had mixed results buying LED replacement bulbs in the past so asked some of my readers for their suggestions for companies and this one was suggested by many people. I’ve used them a few times and the products they supply are IMHO the best quality I’ve come across.



Hi Simon,

Thank you for replying to my query so promptly.

Re.the multimeter, I bought a 13 pin caravan plug & a small length of 13 core cable. I have used this with my multimeter to check the current, I have tripled checked the continuity of and all is good. After “witnessing” there is current coming through at the BMW dealers, the dealer was checking using the 13 pin socket on the car I wonder if there is a problem in the 13 pin plug connection supplying current to the o/s caravan lights. I will start checking in that area first. When I took the van in for service earlier this year I had difficulty connecting the 13 pin plug and they fitted a different make for me, I.have checked the wiring in the plug and it is all okay. While I am at it I will rewire the plug.

Re the led bulbs, thank you for that address, I will order a set of bulbs & replace all the incandescent bulbs with led’s. Strange that they fitted incandescent bulbs at the back and led on the side & front, probably cost came into it.

Thank you once again for your knowledge and advice, I will let you know the outcome.

Kind Regards 

Hi Roy

Where the 13 pin cable comes into the caravan and terminates there is usually a small fuse board for all the road lights. This is a good place to check the voltages when connected to the vehicle…. as you should be able to pull each fuse and check (with the lights on of course) the voltage being supplied to the fuse from the vehicle then with the fuse inserted the voltage with the circuit ‘live’ and under load. I would not expect more than a 2 volt drop. If it’s more then possibly time to take the 13 pin plug apart.

Hope this helps


A few months later…

Hi Simon, I wrote to you about 4 months ago asking for your advice re. no offside road lights on my caravan and I thought that I would give you an update.
The caravan is a 2017 Bailey Unicorn and I tow with a 2020 BMW X3 diesel, the car has a factory fitted tow bar and 13 pin electrics. The first time that I towed with the car road lights all worked when I connected up but after about 15 miles the off side lights went out and a message came up on the dash telling me that the electrics on the car were overloaded and to speak to my dealer. They stayed off for the rest of our journey but when we came to return home the lights all worked for about 10 miles then again the off side lights went out and I got the message on the dash. 
I wrote to you and went through all the items you suggested and everything was fine, I even changed the 13 pin plug just in case there was a connection problem. 
I felt sure that the problem was with the car and not the caravan so I took it to my BMW main dealer. The technician checked everything whilst I was there and everything was was working fine, but when I got home and connected car to caravan I still did not have road lights on the off side.
My caravan was due for a yearly service so last week when I took it in I asked the caravan dealer if they would check it out, he said that they had heard of this problem. I got a call a few days later, and the workshop manager said that they thought that they had found the problem. He had spoken to an electrician and he seemed to think that I had been running with the lights on automatic, which was quite probable, he said that it has something to do with the smart alternator. His advice when connecting car to caravan was to switch of the engine and switch the light switch off, connect the 13 pin plug to the car, start the car engine then switch the headlights on (don’t use the automatic headlight function when towing). When I collected my caravan I went through the suggested procedure and the lights were fine. I took the car and caravan for about a 30 mile run and the lights stayed on all the time. Hopefully this has sorted out the problem. 
I had read on your site about the different problems people are having with smart alternators and as far as I am aware I haven’t come up against any of those, fingers crossed. I think that cars have become far too complicated and even the technicians are baffled with them.
Thank you for your advice Simon.

I’m so glad you got back to me with the results…. and even more pleased that you are all sorted!

Your email was quite timely…. I have just received an email from someone towing with a VW Toureg and he is having the same issue…. and as both auto light systems in the BMW and VW are made by Bosch….. I’ll bet it’s the auto light again.

I think this is a bit of important info, so with your permission, I’d like to write a brief article about the problem and steps taken to resolve it.



Hmm….. I have auto lights on my VW Amarok but don’t use them…. I can feel a little testing in the near future!

So…. it was the Auto Light function on the BMW. I have checked on my VW Amarok and this doesn’t happen, I’m waiting for the gentleman that emailed me about a similar problem on his Toureg to get back to me.

If you have a BMW with Auto Light function and this has happened to you can you post in the comments as it will help anyone else when searching on Google for a similar problem.

I get a few of these type of problems emailed to me from time to time and the results never really make it into the blog. As some of them could be useful for other’s with similar problems do you think this type of posting would be useful? Obviously permission is required for me to repost and I did confirm with Roy if I could tell his story… I was going do one of my usual articles, but them thought actually the emails tell a better story just as they are.

Let me know what you think.

Is This A Growing Trend..?

First things first… Happy New Year to you all. Ok so I’m a bit late but there you go, that’s what retirement does for you… no sense of time.

Right, I seem to be receiving a LOT and by a lot I mean 3 or 4 emails a week offering to provide content for my blog. Anything from selecting a new BBQ and the top ten best BBQ’s all the way to Best Hiking Trails in the US. They all start in a similar way…. “We love your blog and think that we have some really super articles that would fit right in with your readers“…. or something similar…. you get the idea.

Now most enquire what my rates are for publishing articles and a few offer a flat fee right up front. One outfit in California offered to pay $800 US per article. (Hmmm I could be rich!) However I decided to do a little delving into the articles and followed some links provided. It seems that most of the articles were designed to lead readers to YouTube creators channels by recommendation and direct link, or were just plain advertising for product sponsors of one form or another. I know the YouTube rules are getting silly forcing creators to produce more and more, which is actually having the effect of reducing quality of content IMHO. (Except Graham… see below… shameless plug warning)

I have never accepted advertising on the blog, I’m not here for that and I don’t like adverts popping up when I’m trying to read something and I guess you don’t either. So I’m not going to start now after ten plus years of Caravan Chronicles accepting paid promotion stuff.

Talking Of Paid Promotion…

I have received a rash of invites to review solar power stations for either free products, percentage of sales generated or cash payment after review is published.

Having seen the number of reviews by others I decided to respond to the requests slightly differently. I agreed to do a review of their products or product line on the understanding that return shipping was paid for for all products that were sent for review. Any review may or may not involve disassembly of the product and component verification and would be covered in any article I wrote about the product and testing would be real world and not based on the advertised performance of any product.

Needles to say you won’t be seeing me review and solar power stations. I would actually like one, but all the companies and importers that initially contacted me have strangely gone silent…. I think the modern parlance is I’ve been ghosted.

Graham, the internationally renowned caravan vlogger hit the nail on the head with his video… (shameless promotion of a fellow blogger ) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tNEkntgUIg Hi Graham… will that do?

What’s In Store For 2023?

Well Sue retired last year and we managed to get 46 nights away at 10 sites… It was great not thinking about how long we had before having to return home. Hopefully we will be doing much of the same, finding new places to explore on our eBikes. So look out we are on our way somewhere soon… well when I can stop fuming about the new C & M Club booking web site!

I’m also going to stop answering question/problem posts on social media. Someone asks a question, I post a reply which is then followed by dozen other posts telling me I’m wrong but not answering the original poster’s question or solving their problem is not helpful really. hey ho… if they want to change the laws of physics or rewrite a new section on thermo dynamics I’m not going to argue anymore… I’ll just point them in the direction of that amiable “hauuustralian” John Cadogan.

Oh Another Thing…

Caravan Chronicles is designed in WORDPRESS and hosted on WordPress’ own servers and has done from day one (11 years now I think) It costs about £100 per year and that seemed fair…. I just had an email though telling me that as our super super government had changed the tax rules, as from the 31st January 2023 they had to charge me VAT! so that’s £20 more going to our governments pockets.

See you on the road… or on site, TTFN.

P.S. I set up a coffee buying thing a while ago… that thing on the left…. I thought it was a bit of a fad thing….. well blow me two people bought me a coffee… cheers!

Adapting Our Bike Rack for e-Bikes


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Getting to that certain age brings on some restrictions…. My left knee is a bit suspect and Sue’s hip is not as ‘hop’ as it was anymore, This meant of we haven’t been using our bikes as much and as Sue has now officially retired and Henry has settled in to caravanning we are getting out and about more in the caravan.

We had been mulling over e-bikes for a while and after being influenced by John & Mandy who used to live in the next “village” to us, watching Neil and Emma from Urban Vanlife and having a long conversation with a gentleman who was also staying at Wirral Country Park who had bought two MiRider One bikes for himself and his wife lead us to paying a visit to the MiRider factory in Wigan.

We had a try… and liked them almost immediately. One big question for me was would they mount OK on our existing rack above the bed of the Amarok. The guys there were great and allowed me to fit one of their test bikes and take some photos. It only needed a few tweaks here and there to accept the MiRider bikes without any issues.

Two days later we went back to pick our new bikes up. In the realities of todays internet, full disclosure – we paid full price for these two bikes, no discount, no “freebie’s” etc. so what I will say about them when it comes to a review will be honest comments.

The bikes fitted onto the racks easily, however I did want to move them forward as the existing setup was for two full size cross bikes which required some rear overhang. Moving to the MiRider e-bikes gave me the opportunity to move the bike mounts forward.

You can see the rear overhang in the photo above and the available space at the front. Sliding the rails forward and relocating the wheel mounts allowed the bikes to easily position forward of the rear tail gate.

The thing that now had me thinking was the weight distribution. The rear wheel is obviously heavier than the front, as it contains the electric motor and the battery is held in the frame forward of the pedal crank so weight across the two wheels is pretty much even. However, the overhang of the mounting rails meant the front wheel was well forward of the main cross bar.

This really could do with a support. So after putting my thinking cat on…. nope Henry wasn’t;t very helpful… In the best Baldrick fashion I came up with a cunning plan. The front of the pickup bed frame is quite strong and the strength was increased by the aluminium box that the Roll-N-Lok cover fits into.

I cut two pieces of 1.5mm steel sheet and bent them so as to fit under the lip of the Roll-N-Lok cover resting on the frame of the pickup bed and bent them to form a support under the bike mount rails. I made a couple of stop blocks out of recycled plastic to hold the supports to the mount rails.

The design means I can still remove the cover for the Roll-N-Lok to service it and I don’t need to use any tools to remove the brackets if I want to remove the whole thing from the pickup bed… just the 4 Thule key locks to release the whole bike rack from he mounting pads.

I gave the two brackets three coats of spray-on truck bed liner and let them harden for a couple of days before installing. Hopefully this should be enough.

All in, I think it looks OK and the functionality of everything still works. The bikes are secure with no flexing in the mount. We still have room for a narrow roof box or mesh cargo tray between the two bikes if we need more room. I always have the option of moving the bikes to one side and mounting a standard Thule roof box if we really get pushed for space.

Another little thing we can do is plug the bikes in to charge while travelling. I’m not sure how handy this will be, but its there just in case.

I hope this gives you some ideas for e-bike mounting options of your own. For us, it’s next stop Bridlington for a few days to do a bit of testing.

Has Bailey Built Our Perfect Caravan?…


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You know by now I don’t do caravan reviews. I leave it to people far better at it than myself. I have however over the years written a few articles about caravan design ( Never admit to being a caravan designer ) and waffled on as we looked around pondering the merits of changing our caravan. We kept ticking boxes…. but never enough boxes to actually go for it and buy a new caravan. Well a few months ago I received the marketing info from Bailey about it’s 2022 caravans and to be honest I only gave them a cursory look through. While we were away recently I started looking at what they’d sent out. I also had a link to a video done by the excellent Lee Davey (Twitter: @TinTent ) Bailey’s brand ambassador about the Bailey Alicanto Grande Porto

A full link to the Bailey of Bristol website with details is here: https://www.baileyofbristol.co.uk/touring-caravans/alicanto-grande/alicanto-grande-porto/

A few things that tick our boxes straight away are the centre wash room and larger bed (more room for our cat!) and the generous wardrobe space. One of our (Err… Sue’s) comparisons is always how much hanging rail space has a caravan got when compared to our current Swift caravan… and the Alicanto Grande Porto has three wardrobes which add up to slightly more rail space we currently enjoy.

Image (c) Bailey of Bristol

A key box ticker for me though is the great through locker at the rear of the caravan. There are very few caravans that offer external lockers on the off side, which is really where you need your ‘stuff’… be it mains hook up lead, waste water pipe, waste hog, fresh water hook up kit etc.etc. When setting up I find I’m always having to walk between the off side and front gas locker or near side lockers to get all my bits out. I can see that with the Alicante Grande range being able to store all that stuff in a locker on the off side will be a great feature. The only thing that you would have to be careful of is putting too much stuff in at the rear of the caravan, but Bailey have you covered to a large extent by having the gas locker close to the axle centre line and not at the front which always requires some counterbalancing by the designers you will have greater flexibility when loading.

So what else is ticking the boxes for me?

Well, you see the small lockers either side of the bed… Bailey show them with books in…

Image (c) Bailey of Bristol

Well to me these are shoe lockers… for some reason we always seem to have a collection of shoes by our caravan door and nowhere to store them without the usual routing through dozens (I may exaggerate here) of shoes that don’t belong to you to find one pair that is actually yours. That is a box ticker right there!

Another tick is where the powered roof vent is installed…

Image (c) Bailey of Bristol

….right above the stove top and above the microwave. It would have been ascetically pleasing I guess to install it on the centre line of the caravan, but for efficiency as close to above where all the steam and smells are created is as good as it gets (an extracting cooker hood would have earned a gold star not a tick… but they are getting close!)

Oh… here’s another one…

Our current caravan has the usual three gas and one electric ring… the only problem is that the electric ring is lower than the supports for the pans on the gas ring. This severely limits the size of pan you can use on the electric ring. Hurrah… The cooker has been redesigned, OK I know it’s not Bailey that have done this… but someone somewhere had a lightbulb moment and the electric ring is now raised up and you can use a larger pan. Small things I know, but it’s the small things ticking boxes that turn something from being good to being great.

While we are in the kitchen… finally a microwave that doesn’t have the spinning plate of doom. I always have the vision of our microwave plate sliding out and landing edge on to the glass cover of the hob breaking it each time we open the microwave door after travelling.

A quick visit to the bathroom…

Most mid bathroom caravans take advantage of the ability to close off the area from the rest of the caravan by having a door that is dual function… closing off the living area or the bathroom. Not unique I know but Bailey seems to have created a huge sink and toilet area even with the door closed and a massive area when the door is used to close off the living area. Enough room to swing a cat…. not that I would ever swing our cat Henry round! With the pocket door to the bedroom closed, it makes a great changing area with plenty of ‘elbow’ room without having to close window blinds each time.

I know it’s not a ‘first’… but top marks too for installing a roof vent in the shower cubicle… an easy way to vent all the steam when using the shower. Something lacking on our current van.

So what have they missed out on for me?

As most caravans are used on pitches which are designed with EHU bollards, water taps and waste outlets to the rear of the pitch… I still think that you could save punching holes in the sides of caravans to install water and EHU connections. With the Alicanto Grande Porto‘s design, you could install the electrical and water connections in the rear locker on the off side and have an access hole in the floor for your cable and water pipe. Rather than a 25 metre electrical cable you may be able to get away with only carrying a 10 metre cable. American RV’s and travel trailers have been doing this sort of thing for years. OK I know that for the electrics there are a couple of regulations that need to be catered for, but I’m sure they are not insurmountable and I’m also sure that not having to create holes to install and seal expensive “connection boxes” for power and water could be a cost saving.

The caravan comes with two (in the case of the Porto) ALKO wheel locks. I’d much prefer the Bailey Nemesis Wheel Lock to be supplied instead… or at least an option to choose between the two as a zero cost option when buying a new caravan.

Sue would really really like a hair/makeup mirror… one that can be articulated… maybe with lights…. and a perfect place would be for us on the TV mount in the bedroom. We don’t have a TV in the bedroom and maybe one of those useful accessories could be an optional illuminated mirror and mount to fit on the TV do-hicky…. I’m sure Sue wouldn’t mind if it had “Bailey” branding on it either!

Summing up…

I’m not going to go on about the onboard water tank, built in WiFi, it’s security features, Al-Ko ATC and flashy coloured lighting… I’ll just turn it into just another magazine style review if I’m not careful, but I just wanted to point out some of the things that have been ticking our boxes and made us take notice.

Thanks for reading all this… you get a tick in the box for that!

If you own a 2022 Bailey Alicanto Grande Porto, I’d love to hear what you think about it…. and if we see you on site… can we pop in and have a nosey round…. We’ve not been able to see one in the flesh yet!

Just a quick one…


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Lithium Upgrade for a caravan

I’ve had quite a few people email me asking for more information about the Victron system for a caravan that I was planning mentioned in the previous post. As this seems to have generated a number of questions, rather than give detailed answers to each one I thought I’d post the drawings. For the moment it’s on hold but here are the drawings.

While Victron would seem the obvious choice, there are a number of recent new products from Sterling Power that have rekindled my interest in the project…. watch this space.