As many of you know I don’t really do reviews… I occasionally buy things and put my thoughts on the product in a post. Companies do contact me and ask if I’d review their ‘Do-Hicky Mark 4’ on the blog and most of the time I decline. Why? Well a lot of them stipulate that they want to see anything I write before it’s posted, we’ll sorry no. If I think it’s crap, I want to be able to say so. There are a couple of companies that I deal with that say “We are thinking of importing/manufacturing/marketing the ‘Functionvardle Mark 9’ we would like to send one for your feedback and not for reviewing on your blog.” They do get an honest feedback and I never mention the company or the product in my blog…. Even if the “Functionvardle Mark 9” makes it to market. Continue reading
A couple of eagle-eyed mirror aficionados have spotted that we use Milenco Grand Aero 3 towing mirrors… but they also spotted that there was something different about the mounts. OK I’ll have to admit you are an eagle eyed bunch!
On the Amarok, the mirrors are quite big and if I get them adjusted about right I can just see down both sides of the caravan… we’re not 8 foot wide. However, driving without mirrors is more likely to attract attention and it’s easier and safer just to fit a pair. I first went for a brand that I’d used on the Land Rover Freelander, however the Amarok’s mirrors are quite deep and it wasn’t till I tried them that I realised how much of an issue that was….
The other issue I had… I didn’t particularly like the fitting….. it was about on the limits of extension and about 25% of the mirror was obscured by the Amarok’s door mirror… just at the point the would allow you to see the wheels of the caravan. Not ideal.
So I looked round for a mirror that would move the face of the mirror rearwards in about the same plane as the normal Amarok mirror. The added depth of the Milenco Grand Aero looked as though it would do the job perfectly.
Actually it was a little too much. As the mounting for the mirror was now on the door mirror plane, not as the previous mirror the back of the mirror housing it shifted the face of the Grand Aero too far rearwards. I liked the vision the Grand Aero gave and the mounting.
To the Bat Cave…
I just happened to have some lengths of 12mm steel tubing and a bending tool. Maybe I could solve the problem without searching round for other products.
I used a welding rod to hand bend a profile that seemed to put the mirror into the right position. I worked out I’d only need two bends to get the mirror in the right position.
I installed the two mounting brackets on the door mirror in the final position I wanted them and slid a length of tube into them. Marking where I wanted the first bend to be and using an angle finder to approximate the angle that would move the mirror far enough forward so the face was in line with the door mirror face… this then gave me the point to start the bend upwards to get the mirror at the correct height.
Ok before I get a lot of comments asking why installed the mounts on the lower edge of the mirror… two reasons…. if they do move about or squish down on a bit of grit any scratches won’t be seen in the painted area of the door mirrors and from the driving position they don’t obscure my view if I have to look past the top of the door mirrors. I’ve also noticed when its raining I don’t get nearly as much water running down the face of the door mirror. And another reason…. the bottom of the door mirror on the Amarok is not quite as curved and the clamps fitted more securely. I’ve got everything dialed in now to the point where I don’t actually need to adjust the mirrors each time I fit them.
At this point I hadn’t cut the tube to length on the vertical section so I had the chance to adjust the height of the Grand Aero. After a bit of trial and error that involved a clamp and running round to the driver’s seat… and back again to adjust I got what I thought was the right height for me.
As you can see in the photo above, the reflective face of both mirrors is in near perfect alignment… and for me that makes it easy when driving as I don’t have any perceived shift in focus. The picture below is from the drivers position… I put the camera as close as I could to where my eyes are and I get a great view rearwards. Note that installing the mounting clamps on the bottom edge of the door mirror does not block the forward side view over the door mirror.
The driver’s side was bent the same… just opposite ‘handed’ and the length worked out right for the height too.
When seen from the front… even though I’m not quite ‘square on’ to the caravan, I’m angled slightly to the left when sat in the drivers seat, the mirror is fully outside the extended side line of the caravan giving me a great view.
I gave the now bent and drilled tubes a light emery and de-grease followed by couple of coats of grey acid etch primer. This was topped off a few days later with a fine bed liner spray. This game the arms a durable coating plus the bed liner finish is quite ‘grippy’ and allowed the clamps the hold fast without too much yanking on the knobs.
We have been using these now for about two years and for me they work out just fine.
I had all this stuff in the Bat Cave as it was purchased for other projects, so the mirror arms didn’t really cost me anything. Both arms were made out of one 1 metre length of 12mm steel tube.
The tube bender I paid less than £30 for it about 12 months ago from Amazon. The 12mm Steel tube, again from Amazon was around £4 for a 1 metre length and the Truck Bed Liner paint was around £8.
You can find links to these and other bits I use in the Caravan Chronicles Shop
Just for comparison…. the original supplied arm against my contrivance…. and yes… I have now sorted that bit of surface rust out! (I missed a bit when spraying)
Its been quite a while since I did my first review of a TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring System) back in September 2015 in fact, on a Tyre Pal system sent to me for review. I did like it but it did give me a few things to think about. Later on I got to test out the Fit2Go TPMS and I ran with that for about 12 months. However I still wasn’t convinced this was the one for me.
With the Tyre Pal I did like the information, but on a screen that size I would have liked to be able to see all the pressures and temps altogether rather than scrolling through each wheel. Although it did cross my mind at the time “do I really need all this info” and that’s why I liked the Fit2Go unit. It sat there quietly monitoring the wheels and just occasionally flashed at me to say everything was OK…. or beeped if there was something wrong. I did eventually miss not being able to see the pressure and temp of each wheel and started to think my earlier statement was flawed.
I had an issue with the Fit2Go unit at around nine months of using it. The batteries in one of the wheel sensors failed… and a couple of weeks later a second battery went down. This was a bit of an issue as the sensors on this unit were sealed and the batteries weren’t replaceable (a plus point for the TyrePal here!) Credit to guys at Fit2Go… now re-branded as Michelin – they sent me out a complete new unit and four sensors. I installed the replacement unit and sensors and ran with that for a while.
Going into work at around 04:45 in the morning, I pulled off our drive the unit started beeping, indicating a low pressure tyre. I pulled over and checked the small LED on each sensor… no flashing red indication. Tyres looked good, checked the pressure with the Fit2Go hand-held unit and all as they should be. I carried on. The beeping stopped. A few days later as I had just got onto the motorway it went off again, pulled onto the hard shoulder, checked each sensor and wheel… no flashing LED and all wheels looked OK. I also took the time to check the pressures again, all OK. On the fourth or fifth time this happened I gave up checking. It only seemed to happen with an early morning start and I started to doubt the info I was getting from the unit.
I started looking around for alternatives… mainly in the US for RV TPMS systems as they seemed to have a greater number of options. It wasn’t long after this that I got the e-Trailer unit to test. Which as well as checking the leisure battery voltage, monitoring the fridge temp and a host of other things had TPMS monitoring for your caravan wheels and sent alerts directly to your phone. With this fitted I had at least covered off the important wheels when towing. I just needed something for the truck. Looking around at what was available on Amazon.Com in the USA made me realise how much we are actually paying in the UK for this stuff. There were units branded for the American market that were identical to those in the UK for a lot less even with the poor exchange rate.
This set me thinking… could a cheap TPMS available in the UK be as good… were we paying too much? I found a unit on Amazon.co.uk for £50 and ordered one. https://amzn.to/2wv49TS
The unit had a couple of options for mounting. The sensors had replaceable batteries and were pre-coded to the unit. Each was marked with the correct location… FL, FR, RL and RR.
After much procrastination about where to put the display (it’s a man thing) I could not make my mind up so for the time being it sits on top of the steering column….
In the few weeks since I installed it.. which was really easy, it’s worked well. I can set the upper and lower limits for pressure and temp for each wheel and it is fairly accurate on pressure. To test it I used my digital tyre gauge fitted to my compressor in the work shop and checked with a standalone digital check gauge I used to use for aircraft tyres. It always matched the same PSI as both my digital gauges showed and as it didn’t decimal point readings on the PSI setting (you can change it to BAR, as well as from C to F for temp) it seemed to round-up from about .6 which seems acceptable to me. (32.4 PSI would be displayed as 32 and 32.6PSI would be shown as 33)
It comes complete with a small spanner for the lock nuts, a do-hicky for replacing the battery in the sensors and for £50 it seems like reasonable quality. It does what it states on the box, it’s small enough to put almost anywhere (and that’s my problem… where!) and if you have amazing eyesight… it even has a vehicle battery voltage display right in the centre! And if that didn’t clinch the deal… it even alarms when the batteries are low in the sensors.
So was my £50 well spent? Well at the moment I think so. (I reserve the right to change my mind in the future) You know me by now and if I thought it was a jockey wheel with out a handle…. I’d tell you!
So if you don’t yet have TPMS and don’t want to spend a fortune on one this might be a suitable option. If you want one… go on you know you do, here’s my affiliate* link on Amazon UK – https://amzn.to/2PX6a3a
*It won’t cost you any more but you will get that warm fuzzy feeling knowing Amazon are going to give Caravan Chronicles some of their profit.
You might want to read Catch Me If You Can… (pt 1) first
After a quick four-day break at the Caravan & Motorhome Club’s site at Wirral Country Park (excellent by the way… already trying to work out when we can go back!!) and a bit of work getting in the way it was time to get going again not he catch can… really it should be called the “Air Oil Separator” Install.
Last time, I’d decided if IKB would have been shaking his head… then it wasn’t right. I decided to make a new bracket out of 1.8mm aluminium sheet and go into full on origami mode. (ps.. after the last post someone emailed me asking what IKB was…. Mr Brunel was not pleased). Continue reading
I’m installing a “Catch Can” can on our VW Amarok and this little posting is all about it, but first a bit of history on why I’m installing one.
If you look at modern high performance diesel engines one of the things that they do to reduce emissions is have a number of systems to reduce the harmful emissions. EGR or Exhaust Gas Re-circulation wich is feeding part of the engines exhaust back into the intake but probably the most widely known is the DPF… or Diesel Particulate Filter which captures fine soot particles from exiting the exhaust. The DPF needs to be cleaned regularly, through a process called regeneration. Either active, passive or forced, the accumulated soot is burnt off at high temperature (around 600°c) to leave only a residue of ash, effectively renewing or regenerating the filter, ready to take on more pollution from the engine. To regenerate, the vehicle electronics adjust the timing of the engine to increase the exhaust gas temperatures or commonly it can be achieved by passive regeneration usually on the motorway when exhaust gasses are generally hotter. Continue reading
I get sent lots of bits by all sorts of people to test and hopefully write about on the blog… and I think you can guess that I don’t write about too many by the lack of ‘reviews’ on here. Basically if it’s not up to scratch I don’t write about it. I don’t want to knock back a product or company because I have a problem with it or them… so I just keep quiet.
However a couple of weeks ago Erin reached out to me (as the Americans are so fond of saying) asking me if I’d like to review a couple of products… they would send them free of charge in exchange for a review. I agreed. Continue reading
A few weeks ago Andy Harris (yes that Andy… him off the TV) and of Road Pro fame called me to tell me about a new gadget that Dutch caravanners were getting all excited about. Now not one to turn down the chance to test a gadget or two, when Andy asked if I’d like one of the units to test I of course said in true reserved fashion said “Well I suppose I can take a look at it”. Who wouldn’t pass the chance to check out the latest piece of tech gadgetry being made by those clever Dutch people at e-Trailer. A few days later a large brown box arrived. Continue reading
I guess this really is the update to an update (Getting All Charged Up – Update…). We have been living with the Sterling Wildside unit now for about 6 months and a LOT of people have been emailing me asking how we are getting on with it and is it worth it?
Well I have done quite a bit of testing with my leisure battery in various states of discharge. With it at about 50% I have recorded a charging current of 15.9 Amps which is far greater than I could manage before and due to the fact that the Wildside unit uses the correct charging profile for my battery I’m not concerned that I will be reducing or damaging my leisure batteries life expectancy. Continue reading
Wow… it’s been quite a while since our last posting, and many thanks to all those of you who have emailed asking if we are OK. We are both fine, thanks.
Back in October we were due to go to the Caravan & Motorhome show and we had booked in to the campsite at the NEC for 4 days. However, the day before, we actually wondered why we were going. Plenty of other bloggers and video bloggers would be going and posting on YouTube. I guess the plethora of video bloggers filming each other meeting other video bloggers wasn’t what we were about…. so we went to the C & M Club site at Southport instead.