It’s time to wrap up the bike rack install. I had to wait a few days for the final rack to arrive. Although I had ordered a twin pack of the Thule FreeRide 532 from Holdcrofts via Amazon and they had shipped out a twin pack, it would seem that their courier had ‘lost’ one and to Holdcrofts credit as soon as I emailed them they dispatched another… which the courier took four days to deliver.
OK, so now to fit the actual bike carriers onto the rack I had previously installed a couple of days ago.
We had opted for the Thule FreeRide 532 over the ProRide version. What put me off the ProRide were a couple of videos on YouTube showing just how easy it was to remove a bike supposedly locked on to the rack. The FreeRide 532 has two arms supporting the bike and offered an option for additional security…. which I’m not going to go into for obvious reasons!
It’s been a few months since we bought our VW Amarok and I hadn’t originally intended it to take this long to install a bike rack or carrier. What slowed us down was sorting out the bits needed for mounting a bike carrier above the bed of the Amarok. In the USA, pickups are plentiful and there are various companies that make carrier systems and mounts for pickups. My initial thoughts it would be fairly easy and started perusing the Thule website. Unfortunately they did not sell the correct mounting hardware for where I wanted to mount the rack.. on the side rails for the Roll-N-Lock cover.
Searching the internet found plenty of results for the type of mounting I wanted… all in America and the most promising system was produced by Yakimar. Continue reading
This is really a follow-up to my previous post – Smart Alternators: how they affect Caravans and Motorhomes….
While at the NEC show one of my big tasks was to get a number of technical questions answered by the industry players. One of my first stops was to Westfalia and to meet up with Rick Sykes and his colleague on the Westfalia stand. Rick is the national training manager for Westfalia and I was able to get answers to a number of questions that you have asked me and I’d not been able to answer fully. Continue reading
One of the little things that has been on my “must do something about that” list for a while is to address the problem we have with not enough places to plug things in and charge them. When we are in the caravan in the evening the front looks like a tech gadget table top sale… Macbook Pro, WiFi router/MiFi device, two iPhones, camera battery chargers, Fitbit charger and all these needed plugging in. The 4 way surge protected power strip I put there just wasn’t cutting it any more.
A few days ago I fitted the Black Vue DR650S-2CH 16GB twin camera dash cam to the Amarok. All in all it was a vey easy install taking me less than two hours to accomplish. The longest part was actually tucking the wires in along the edge of the head liner so they can’t be seen. Helpfully Black View supply a little blue tool that helps you do this without damaging any of the interior trim. I also installed the Black Vue Power Magic PRO that allows permanent connection to the vehicles electrical system and gives you the ability to use “Parking Mode” which records continuously when you are parked with the engine off.
If you have considered a dash-cam but don’t know where to start, one of the best introductory guides to Dash Cams that I have seen is by Techmoan.com. Just click on the link to watch it. There are also dozens of dash-cam reviews on His channel.
A few weeks ago Abigail from Ecocamel contacted me asking if we’d like to test out the Ecocamel water saving shower head. I’d seen adverts for these and noted that some caravans were now having them installed but I never really gave them a second thought until Abigail contacted me.
The shower heads arrived just in time for me to fit one of the Ecocamel Jetstorm shower head to the caravan for our trip to Leek.
Now, sometimes you subconsciously prejudge things and I really wasn’t that excited about a new shower head, after all what amazing things can you do spraying water about. The first time I went to use it I turned on the shower in the caravan as normal and adjusted the temperature by swivelling the tap into the position I normally use and lift it for the flow. What surprised me was the water seemed much hotter than I’d thought it would be. I re-adjusted the tap, and as the shower head had a better spray pattern (who thought that adding air to water would make that much difference!) I could reduce the flow and this meant I had to adjust the temperature down a bit. So what does this all mean?
Well, reduced flow saves water and as you are not using as much hot water for a similar spray pattern your hot water lasts longer. This was borne out by the fact Sue could have a shower straight after me without waiting for the hot water tank to come back up to temperature as it filled up with cold. Admittedly they were ‘navy’ showers but it took away that early morning decision…. whether to dig out all the shower stuff… brew a cup of coffee… stare out the window for a bit and pluck up the energy to schlep over to the site facilities or just hop out of bed straight into the shower.
Home again, I decided to replace our rather expensive and heavy shower head in the upstairs bathroom. Again, I was a bit taken back by the improvement a simple device could have. We have a combi-boiler and when the old shower was turned on max flow, it did struggle to keep up temperature wise. The water was hot but not really skin reddening hot. What a difference, as we could now turn down the flow a bit, the water was HOT and I had to adjust the temperature knob down on the tap from almost max to about half way.
So why has it taken a few weeks for me to pen this review? Well I like testing things and I wanted to know just how much water/energy we were saving so over the course of a few weeks I did some measuring and recording… not good enough for detailed analysis but just enough to satisfy me we were indeed saving water and that should mean energy too as we are not heating up as much water per shower. As long as you can turn the flow down a bit from your normal setting with your old shower head and you get the same spray/deluge you will save water and hence energy.
Are there any downsides? Well they are a bit noisy as the head sucks in air and mixes it with the water, however its only as noisy as one of these power shower do-hickys.
Are we happy with them… you bet Ecocamel is the only way to go now!
If you are going to the NEC show this week, stop by Ecocamel for a chat, they are on Stand 11.03 or checkout there website Ecocamel.com
Keep an eye out on the blog, as I have TWO of the Jetstorm shower heads to give away. I’ll post the details after we come back from the NEC!
The additions to the Wolf continue, despite the recent news from Glossop Caravans at our last service, that we have damp in the caravan. Hopefully we will hear soon whether or not its covered by the warranty. So, moving on, a couple of additions to the VW Amarok. After installing the sliding bed, I noticed that there was some space available between the end of the bed and the truck bed at the cab end. It was only 70 mm, but I thought with a bit of creative construction, I could come up with a contrivance to hold some of the stuff and tools that we normally schlep about with us. Using 18mm birch ply phenol finished board I came up with a storage box that is fitted to the bed and projects forward right up to the truck bed front wall… Continue reading
A lot of new caravans now have the ability on a ‘super pitch’ to be able to attach a mains water feed directly to the caravan without having to have an Aquarol as a water reservoir, and this seems like a good idea. I started looking at the options available and was surprised at the cost of the only suitable system for our caravan. I also wasn’t keen on the plastic regulator. This got me thinking, maybe it was time for a little Caravan Chronicles DIY project.
I wanted to come up with some sort of contrivance that was assembled from stock components that were easily available anywhere. After a brief search on Amazon I came up with my shopping list and ordered everything (see links below).
The result was a simple to use commercial pressure regulator that I could use our existing blue water hose that originally connected to the Aquarol and standard hose fittings that allow me all the options for connecting up.
As a temporary mount I used a couple of the small plastic hangars that Fiamma sell that slide into awning rails allowing you to hang things from. In this case a couple of cable ties held it in position. I’m currently in the bat cave folding a small aluminium plate to mount the regulator on that slides into the rail and has a foam padded back to protect the caravan. I opted to use brass fittings for the hose connections rather than plastic just for durability.
So how did it work out?
Well on a recent trip to Southport Caravan Club site (where the photos were taken) it worked extremely well. The initial set up was easy and to start with I reduced the pressure using the small screw on top of the unit to about 0.5 bar (7 PSI) to ensure I didn’t over-pressure the caravan plumbing. I increased this to about 1.5 bar and this gave an excellent flow rate with the added feature of not having to run the internal water pump.
Something that was in the back of my mind however was what if the regulator failed and full mains pressure was allowed through to the caravan’s internal plumbing? As I’d used a commercial unit, hopefully the chances of this would be very slim to non-existent as these units are designed to be permanently installed in commercial and domestic plumbing installations however I also added another little handy gadget at the tap end…
This ‘Y’ fitting has two small ball valves, one of each outlet. So when we go out, I simply turn off the appropriate ball valve. Having a ‘Y’ adaptor also allowed us to fill up our Brita filter jug or draw water off without having to turn the tap off and disconnect the caravan hose. All in all everything worked out perfect. (note I have since changed the blue hose adaptors shown for brass ones for durability).
One last thing…
If you are at all worried about water quality in your caravan, connecting up this way will allow you to thoroughly flush out your caravans water system and give you clean water from your caravan’s taps, (especially In summer too, when the sun has been warming up the water in your Aquarol all day) all you need to do is just run the tap for a minute or so to get cold fresh mains water.
I am often asked where to buy some of the products we use. Here are the links to the products. If you click on the links and purchase any of the items, a few pennies will go to helping the cost of running CaravanChronicles.com
Caravan Ultraflow Inlet Hose Assembly (I bought one of these so I could keep my existing one intact. You will need the correct model for your caravan water inlet).
15mm Adjustable Pressure Reducing Valve Including Gauge 1-6 Bar Reliance Water Controls The pressure regulator comes complete with a pressure gauge.
Brass Bush 1/2“ BSP Female x 3/4″ Male Reducing Bush “Converter (these were used to adapt the size of the fitting on the pressure regulator so I could fit the female quick release adaptors.
Garden Mile® Solid Brass 2-Way Double Outside Garden Tap Adaptor & Hose Connectors 3/4″ With 2 Quick Release Female Adaptors. An option, but very handy.
Silverline 598438 Tap Connector Brass I bought two of these for the regulator.