After our recent trip to Meathop Fell it was time to say goodbye to an old friend. We have had our leisure battery since 2011 and for 11 years it has given us great service. For the last year or so I have thought hard about converting over to Lithium and drew up plans for a high capacity charging link between the tow vehicle and caravan and converting the caravan over to a Victron based system. However I think that for this caravan it would not be worth it.
We had bought a 120Ah Numax battery (left one above) from ABS and it had worked well, even now it still hold a charge and is sitting in my workshop on trickle charge waiting for a project to come along. I went back to Advanced Battery Supplies and opted to go for a 120Ah AGM. It wasn’t too expensive and hopefully it will give us years of service like it’s predecessor. I’ve used ABS for batteries a number of times over the past 12 or so years and can recommend them. I’m not sponsored by them and I paid for the battery but I have found that for me they give sensible advice and great service. That’s why I’m happy to mention them. You can call in personally or they do ship overnight ordering from their website – https://advancedbatterysupplies.co.uk
Battery taken care of now it was time to head into the workshop for a bit of construction….
Henry’s Conveyance Contrivance…
If you have read any of my posts over the last few years you will know that we have Siamese cats…. well sadly Oscar our health and safety officer passed away a while ago leaving us with just his brother Henry. Up to this point we have always had a cat sitter whenever we were away but June has now retired and honestly we could not face the thought of leaving Henry in a cattery or on his own with another cat sitter. So, a couple of exploratory trips up to the caravan for an hour just to let him sit in it and explore round lead us to a two night stay at Burrs Country Park…. only about thirty minutes away from home, that went well and so did the next trip to Meathop Fell. It was now time to build Henry a suitable transport platform for the vehicle.
After a bit of head scratching I came up with this….
I built it out of 12mm Ply and painted it grey. I used an off cut of black car carpet to cover the top and sides and a couple of lengths of pipe insulation on the edges where it comes into contact with the car seat and door. To secure it I used the ISO FIX points and it takes less than 30 seconds to remove or install. Without Henrys carrying cage it’s a handy place to put things and the space underneath come in super handy for all my bits that I normally have rolling around on the floor behind the drivers seat. It’s high enough for Henry to be able to see out around in all directions and there is still enough space for two people to sit on the back seat and use the seatbelts if required.
We have used it for two trips now and Henry seems to like it. The rear windows are heavily tinted in our Amarok which will cut the heat from the sun and we can open the rear window for fresh air as required. We are looking round for one of the stick on baby sun screen thingy’s if we think the sun is going to be too strong. Of course we would never leave Henry in the vehicle unattended for more than a couple of minutes… the only time we have done this is while we were hitching up the caravan. If you know Siamese then you know they can be noisy talkative beings…. so far he’s not had anything to say about it. Is that a good sign?
In the eleven years we have been at our storage site we have never had any break-ins but it’s aways in the back of your mind…. and couple that with us sometimes leaving Henry in the caravan while on site I decided a little security upgrade was required (there are others but I’m not going to tell you about them!) I’d looked at the various offerings of additional door locks and after some thinking… and several coffee’s decided to go for the Milenco Door Frame Lock Version 2 offering that allowed us to operate it from inside as well.
I ordered it via Amazon ( https://amzn.to/3sHywnd )and it arrived within two days. It was easy enough to install but I ‘upgraded’ the interior fitting with a custom stainless steel strengthening plate…
The stainless I used was 1.4mm tooled finish, cut to size and drilled using the template provided with the Milenco lock. After measuring the location, I bent the stainless on my sheet bender in the workshop. I chose the location as this was the strongest part of the door frame where the existing door lock was located and would help protect the original lock so a small extent. Ideally I would have liked the arm to have been a bit longer so it covered up the keyhole for the original lock. But I’m happy with it.
Down the drain…
Long time readers will remember that several years ago I wrote a post about how we solved our connection to the drain while on serviced pitches. After ten years of use It was time for an upgrade and I had seen the COLAPZ products and thought it was a rather nifty idea. Having a mooch round the web I ordered directly from the website https://colapz.co.uk/?ref=yjXJSsLdBkh5d and opted for the Flexi waste pipe kit – 8 pipes for £55.
The first use was great and easy to set up. No modification was needed to my original manifold that connects to the caravan and it seems to drain OK….
However you can alway improve on things…. and if you have ever watched any Youtube videos about American RV’s then you will know that for their ‘stinky slinky’s’ they have a few upgrades…. I ordered one from Amazon….
Camco 43041 15′ Sidewinder Plastic Sewer Hose Support – https://amzn.to/3Fp2elM it cost £44 and came all the way from the great state of New Jersey. It comes with a carrying handle and honestly is really easy to use. I just stretched it out and lifted the pipe on to it. It is designed for a 4 inch sewer pipe… but as I was using basically a 2 inch version it would allow the hose support to stretch even further… I bought the 15 feet version and I recon it would stretch to 20 feet without any problems.
When we were packing up, I ran all the remaining hot water down the sink to flush the pipework out… including the Colapz pipework and honestly when disconnecting everything it really wasn’t that dirty, but breaking it down into individual lengths makes it easy if it does need a brush through it (which you get by the way in the kit).
Again we are not sponsored by either of these two companies but the links above will earn us a few pennies that will help provide biscuits for Henry. You wouldn’t want Henry to mis out on biscuit treats would you….
After all he can’t survive on just belly rubs…. I know it’s blackmail but EVERYONE said you need a cute kitty to get more views!
Totally agree with the agm choice, just come out from a monster victron caravan totally rebuild, its been hell to do. zero help from victron they actually refuse to help people like me in a caravan as non standard setups frighten them or they are worried about being sued, zero information on facebook, you tube or forums as well, millions on vans but nothing on caravans, am i the only person to ever want to upgrade a caravan electrical system to be far more efficient?
If you want a load of tips and hints let me know.
What i did was install solar and a 280w panel. 5 foot by 3 foot plus controller, Added a second AGM battery Split out the 230v supply from the existing 12v dc power supply, but left it in so I can remove everything pre sale. The old power supply fed the hook up power to the 12v system as well as battery recharging, battery recharging was crude and blunt and ate batteries. I installed a victron battery charger and inverter system. The inverter only powers one 230v socket, not all of them. But drives the whole 12v dc system. I had to build my own distribution board as I could not find what I wanted at reasonable costs.
Simon Barlow said:
I produced a number of technical drawings based round a Victron system and a 60 Amp feed via Anderson connectors from the vehicle to the caravan via a Victron DC-DC charger. I sent them to Victron in the UK and NL with a number of specific questions and to be frank they like you say were not as helpful as I would have liked. However, via a contact in Australia I was put in touch with a Victron dealer in the USA who had a lot of experience with travel trailers and fifth wheel systems and provided a lot of help…. even tot he extent of offering to ship kit over on a sale or return basis. However I’ve decided to put this project on hold with the current caravan for the moment.
Gone over to lithium best thing I ever did, like you my 2 Numax lasted 14 years in total and were still good but not 100% I kept the new setup separate after reading one of your other posts on batteries and charging. Also have the collapz pipes brilliant bit of kit good to see your still out and about
Ian Harrington said:
Like the idea for Henry’s carrier. We take our siamese away with us since his sister died for much the same reasons as you. He loves the caravan but is not happy travelling for any length of time so might have to try something similar to your construction.
Simon Barlow said:
Hi Ian, we found that as Henry can now see out of the windows rather than his carrier being on the seat he seems to be more comfortable travelling. He is quite happy watching the scenery pass by…. although I now wonder if he’s started to think the view out of our longe window should be moving! If we stop for more than a couple of minutes though he does start the “are we there yet” meow.
Grald Brady said:
Great update Simon, a few interesting “gadgets” to think about!!
We are venturing out sometime next month so having just had the caravan serviced we can now get things put back in ready for us and all the dogs!!
it will be a trip to a dog show of course!!🤭
Nice to hear from you again. LOL! We looked at the Collapz waste pipe, but could not justify the price so stuck with our 3 x 3m and 1 x 1m length. However we did buy the Collapz Flexi Waste Pipe Rock Pegs. I think they were cheaper than what they are now and they are very handy. We only use fully serviced pitches now. We have the AGM battery as standard in our Buccaneer and about 2 years ago due to me foolishly leaving the 12v master switch on, the battery drained down to about 6v. Put it onto a charge and it recovered and we have been using it ever since remembering to switch ff the 12v.
Simon Barlow said:
When we first bought the caravan I was reading all sorts of horror stories about leisure batteries… some only lasting 12 or 18 months. I talked to the guys at ABS and they recommended Numax and with a bit of care we managed 11 years out of it… and yep, I got it down to way where it should have been a couple of times. Hopefully the advice from ABS about our AGM battery hold good and it gives us many years of service. 2 days ago I installed a small 50W solar panel as a battery maintainer just to help things along.