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No LPG available? Run on calor gas!

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Many of us have found that the underfloor LPG tanks have several advantages: efficient storage and economy being two obvious ones. However, whilst touring in Greece in 2012, we were confronted with a major disadvantage – what do you do if you are running low on gas and there is no LPG filling station within a hundred miles or so? Yes I could find service centres with bottles and connections of all shapes and sizes, just no LPG at a pump. Such is the Peloponnesian Peninsular, a wild camping haven, which we had to abandon slightly earlier than planned in order to continue cooling the beer via hook-up. Well the temperature was getting way into the thirties! This also accounted for the fact that our fridge had been working so hard for around three weeks that it had consumed most of the contents of a full LPG tank.

This all set me thinking about my first 2005 Murvi. There was the inconvenience of the small standard gas bottle taking up valuable space in the shower room cupboard, but the advantage of the second tail and regulator for a 907 Camping Gas bottle. Camping Gas is now very expensive of course, but can be easily obtained almost anywhere.

So would it not be possible to rig up a similar system in conjunction with the LPG system of my present Murvi?

Well yes and it was quite simple really. First turn the gas off! Next cut the fridge supply pipe, where it is easily found behind the nearside rear door, in order to insert an 8mm Tee. Onto the Tee fix an 8mm gas tap and then the correct fitting onto which can be securely attached a length of orange gas hose which terminates at a Camping Gas regulator. I checked that the Camping Gas regulator delivers gas at the pressure which is specified for my fridge. With the main supply turned off I find that the fridge works perfectly from the Camping Gas supply. The whole conversion stores very conveniently in the space behind the hob. (See photograph)

Needless to say, as a DIY job, you must be totally confident about being able to make secure connections!

So how did gas supplies work out when we returned to the Peloponnesian Peninsular in 2017? LPG pumps have certainly increased in number, but we still ran low on gas in a remote area. Our emergency supply worked perfectly and enabled us to stay put rather than having to drive many miles for a fill-up or to find hook-up. Additionally the whole system can be secured inside the van, with the gas bottle sitting on the shower floor, or in the XL, on the kitchen worktop. So it can be left running when parked up in public places with no possibility of interference. I guess the temptation to leave the bottle in the XL rear store should be resisted where there are electrics, but no ventilation.

The full 907 bottle was surprisingly economical even in the high temperatures we experienced. Even with a generous thermostat setting I estimate a full bottle would have kept our largish fridge running for around 8 days.

I should mention that our underfloor tank was never actually empty. We continued to use that limited supply for cooking, but just isolated the supply from the tank to the fridge. However our emergency supply could supply both if need be.

By Vince Wright

Alan York  comments:
A slightly simpler solution: Gaslow sell an adapter called a reserve cylinder connection hose. This plugs into the autogas filler and allows
you to fit an adapter at the other end to fit any type of LPG bottle. It
is £18.00 and ideally suited for countries where Autogas is in short
supply or non-existant.

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Some of you may have seen the letter in the April 2017 MMM magazine about paintwork problems with a couple of Fiat Ducato based campers. The campers in the article were a 2004 and  a 2005 Sea Sloop. The photos and the descriptions of the problem rang a very loud bell with my wife and I. My 2005 Morello started to show the same symptoms last year. At first there were small blisters in the paint on the passenger door, just below the window seal. After a few months I noticed blisters on the front near side wing. Not knowing anything about paintwork I stuck my head in the sand and ignored them. Then in late summer last year, when I was giving the van a good clean, I realised that the blisters had all now burst and the surrounding paintwork was starting to flake off. The patches without paint were around an inch deep by about four inches long. It was only the surface paint that had come off – the primer coat was intact and there was no evidence of corrosion.

I showed the van to a family member who used to be involved in paint spraying and his initial feeling was that someone had done a poor respray on the van at one time. The problem would have been down to poor preparation of the primer coat before the top coat was put on. He then checked the whole van over but couldn’t find any evidence of a respray having been done. He therefore concluded that the van hadn’t been resprayed and that the problem must have been there from initial manufacture. He advised me that there was no problem with corrosion as the primer was sound, but that more of the top coat would almost certainly come off. Prophetic words!

Late last autumn I gave the Morello a really good wash down ready to lay it up for the winter. Prior to giving it a final polish I used a hose to wash off the shampoo. I just used a garden hose with a normal spray head on it. As I idly played the hose on the door, with my mind in freewheel mode and not really watching what was happening, I washed large chunks of paint off the door. In shock I swung the hose off the door and onto the front wing and knocked more paint off. At the end of this I had a patch of missing paint the full width of the door and to a depth of around nine inches. The patch on the wing was about six inches round. Close examination showed that the paint around the edges of the missing paint was easily removable as it wasn’t properly keyed onto the primer. Where would this end? A completely paintless van showing a nice dull grey primer colour? Time to call in the experts.

The local spray shop I went to were very surprised at what had happened. Their first suspicion was of a poor respray but they then also concluded that the van hadn’t been resprayed. They gave the van a really good check over and identified the parts that needed to be resprayed. They would need to do complete panels as the problem was too extensive to simply try a touch up operation. They did the front wing and the complete door, and touched up a couple of places where there was minor evidence of very localised blistering. The feedback they gave me was interesting.

The problem was restricted to only parts of the affected panels. When they came to prepare the panels for respray, they found that large areas of the paint simply came off in sheets. However, other parts of the paint were properly keyed on and needed to be removed using normal panel preparation techniques. This sort of problem where the top coat simply lifts off the primer is unusual. The owner of the spray shop felt that the probable cause of the problem was that there was some water in the spray system during the painting process. This would explain why some of the paint keyed properly to the primer and some of it didn’t. However he did also point out that it would be impossible to be 100% sure what the actual cause was!

Anyway the bottom line is that I now have a shiny Morello once again, all the same colour with no primer showing, and my bank balance is £400 lighter. If I had acted sooner, would the cost have been lower? The answer to that is no. The door and the wing would still have needed complete resprays.


By Stewart Cormie


Automatic Changeover Upgrade for Dometic Fridge

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You know the scenario – you stop at a motorway services for a coffee. When you turn off the engine, your fridge bleeps at you and you change over to gas. And then, when you drive off for your next stint, you forget to change the fridge back to engine generator and waste gas. Or perhaps when you arrive at your pitch, you put the fridge onto gas until you are settled and hooked-up. And forget to change over to mains.

Wouldn’t it be nice if, instead of the Dometic RM8501 that you had fitted, you’d persuaded Rex to fit an automatic RM8505? As it happens, Dometic do a retro-fit automatic panel for the RM8501 to change it to an RM8505. It is a ten-minute exchange job. The new panel looks exactly like the old one, except that there is an extra button with a letter ‘A’ for Automatic. The new panel comes with two ribbon cables already attached – see picture DSC05658. The two-way cable has a thermostat at the end, and the nine-way cable has a connector at the end. I unplugged the hook-up for safety and turned off the fridge. I’m not sure if it was necessary but better safe than sorry. I removed these new cables – they are each held in place by small plastic lugs. It was necessary to loosen – not remove – the four small silver screws that hold the printed circuit board in place. You can see the four screws, but not the lugs, in picture DSC05659. The old panel is held in place on the fridge by three plastic catches. The first needing to be released is under the panel and is a large square one that can be pushed up and the panel gently pulled out. There are then two more catches, one on either side, which need to be pressed in to finally release the panel. The two cables need to be released from the old unit by loosening the four screws and easing the cables out of their plugs. The old cables are then attached to the new unit, the screws tightened and the unit gently slid back into place. Switch on and the gas should fire up. Reconnect the hook-up and the fridge should automatically change over to mains. Start the engine and – Hey! Presto! – the generator will take over.

There are several different units, and you need to get the correct one by telling Dometic the product number of your RM8501. You will find this on the info panel at the bottom right of your fridge, behind the salad drawer. In picture DSC05660 you can see the product number of mine at the top – 00921078394. Dometic will supply you with the replacement number of the panel – mine was 2890187020.

I ordered mine from Leisurespares (who will also find the replacement part number for you, if you ask). The price was £137.86 including P&P.


Brighten your life - upgrade your Heiki to LED

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Do you find that the fluorescent tubes in the big Heki are more decorative than useful?

MMM and Alan Major have both shown how to replace these tubes with LED tubes, but both methods require you to cut the cables and remove the ballast units. At the Peterborough Show I found a company that has commissioned 12” LED tubes that are straight replacements for the fluorescents, working with the ballast units and without any scary cable cutting. The company can be found at www.ledbulbs4u.co.uk

Replacing the fluorescents is very straightforward. The three perforated plastic trims over the tubes are eased out – they are a push fit. The tubes are pulled out of two clips and the two push-fit connectors at each end are slid off. The new LED tubes are connected in the same way and put into the plastic clips, pointing downwards. A quick switch-on to check that they are working and the perforated trims can be pressed back into position.

The picture shows the LED tube at the right and the fluorescent tube at the left. The LED tube uses 60% less electricity and is 50% brighter. I had to use the pliers on my Swiss Army Knife to gently crimp the connectors to give a secure grip on the pins on the end of the LED tubes, but that was the only technical activity needed. The tubes are listed at £16.99 each on the website, but at Peterborough they were being sold at £32 for two, so you could try haggling. As far as I know they are the only straight replacement tubes available – the much less expensive ones on Amazon and E-bay need wire-cutting and ballast unit removal.

Vince Wright