MOTORHOME MATTERS


This page describes some minor and major modifications of a new camper (Rapido 7087, Fiat Alko, 160 multijet, 2007), in order to improve the convenience in authors opinion. The description is in the first instance a documentation of the different works for personal use. But those who are interested in it are invited to have a view in this matter. People who are more interested in my english style than in my technical contribution are advised not to visit this site.


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MODIFICATIONS and SUPPLETIONS

sun collector
In some cases the battery delivers not sufficient power. In winter time when the heater is used the fan consumes quite a lot of electrical energy. When no long distances are traveled the battery is not charged completely resulting finally in a shortage of electricity. For that reason it was decided to install a 12V, 150 W sun collector at thet roof of the camper. Most of the cables were already factory installed so that it was rather easy to connect the collector. Also at the roof there was a pre-installed possibility to mount the collector in a rather simple way. The panel is mounted by a hing so that the space underneath can be cleaned easily by lifting up the panel. An additional unit takes care that the battery is charged in a well controlled manner.
It is believed that we do not longer need electricity at campings. Electricity is rather costly at campings, so that the investment will save money at long term. Furthermore it is not longer necessary to connect the camper to 220V power when parked at home.



electric bike lift
When getting older it becomes more difficult to lift the bikes at the bike carrier. In particular when the back wheels of the camper are lifted by blocks it was rather heavy to get the bikes in place.
To make the system more convenient a motor controlled bike carrier has been purchased. It is a nice design which allows to move the spout to ground level. The wheels of the bike then simply can be moved into the spout. The existing holes in the camper wall could be used to fix the new carrier. However, the adapters of the old carrier are raplaced because they are not so robust than the new ones. It appeared also be more convenient to cover the bikes with a rain protecting cloth.
A cheap wireless control unit (purchased in China) has been adapted to operate the lift. Furthermore additionally a connector is installed to allow simply removal of the device. Because the new carrier lifts the bikes somewhat higher, the rear view camera has to be placed to a higher position.



Although the lift is waterproof it is not recommanded to subject it to humid weather conditions all the time. Since the camper is parked in the open air during the whole year a cover has been purchased to protect the lift during rainfall. Clips are designed and 3D printed in order to fix the protection shield to the frame of the bike lift.



caps bike lift
The end caps of the spouds of the bike lift were damaged. As a learning project new end caps are made using a 3D printer. The printable drawing has been made using photographs of the object. To improve the contrast the object was immersed in sugar.



unlock alarm
In the kitchen area a large drawer is available and a refrigerator. During driving the drawer and the door of the refrigerator must be locked to prevent the drawer/door going open when making a curve. Since the drawer contains a rather heavy load the sliding mechanism can be damaged when this happen. When the refrigerator opens during driving the stuff inside can come out, causing a lot of trouble. For some reason we forget quite often to lock the drawer/door. Therefore a system has been designed which emits a beep when the engine is started while the drawer/door is unlocked. This is realised by placing a micro switch into the locking mechanism. Surprisingly this was a rather easy operation in both cases. Concerning te dawer only a small amount of material has to be removed to make a location for the switch. Also the refrigerator offers a very suitable location for the switch. The cirquit becomes active when the D+ power comes up, so that the beepers can make noise only when the engine is running.


UPDATE: The problem with the switch of the refrigerator is that it is located at a humid position. As a result water is infiltrating into the switch causing erosion and failing contacts. For that reason a solution with a reed contact has been designed. An adapter has been designed and 3d printed so that the switch can be mounted in the same way as the micro switch. A small magnet is mounted on the slide which activates the lock. .



measuring liquid level toilet cassette
In order to reduce the number of actions to empty the cassette a better insight is needed in the increasing of the liquid level in time. A visual inspection is not so accurate and the use of mechanical tools is not very attractive, also. A contactless system has been designed using a laser distance meter. To day rather cheap devices are available.
Since there was not a suitable location for a permanent fastening the device was mounted at the door of the cabinet in the wet room. The laser beam can be directed in the cassette by open the



heating instant food.
Since there is no microwave oven in the camper instant food has to be heated in a cooking-pan. This is against the advantage of instant food; being easy and not generating dishes. In principal the food can be eaten from the package. In this case the food has to be heated by placing the package into boiling water. However, mostly they are too big to fit in a cooking-pan. Therefore a couple of baking tins with appropriate size are used to heat the matter. One of the tins contains the food package and water, were the second one is used as a cover. The cover is additionally provided with handles, holes and pins to guarantee a proper operation. Two food packages can be heated at once. Potentially a cooking thermometer can be used to follow the heating of the interior of the food.



adapter tooth brush
An adapter is required to charge the electrical tooth brush. Normally an adapter is delivered which requires 220 V. In the camper this was not a very handy device. A power point is needed, the cable is not convenient and the tooth brush stands not very stable in the adapter during driving. Furthermore a 12 V to 220 V converter is needed if 220V is not available.
To eliminate these problems a charging device has been purchased which can be feeded bij 5V via a micro USB connector. To enable a stable positioning of the tooth brush a special adapter has been designed and manufactured by a 3D printer. The adapter could be mounted at a permanent place close to a 12V power line, while it is not in the way.



additional power connector
The original connector for the 220 V power supply is located at the side pannel of the camper. In some cases the camper has to be positioned so close to a hedge or a wall, that it is difficult to attach the connector. For that reason a second connector would be convenient. In the first instance a similar connector as the original one was planned to instal. However, a very large hole has to be made for this device. Therefore a new design has been made which needs a smaller transit hole threw the camper pannel. A so called devices connector (C14) has been used for this purpose. This connector can transmit 220V 16A power, which is sufficient for our camper. A special box has been designed and manufactured by a 3D printer in order to protect the connection against weather influences. By means of a relay it is prevented that the open pins of an unused connector are energised. The relay also prevents a short cut when two connectors are inserted by accident.



lock can
The tea can has to be stored in a save way to prevent that it drops at the floor during driving. Up to now this was not always effective resulting in a wet floor. Therefore a new sytem has been designed to fix the can.



darkening sky light
The sky light in the bedroom area is mostly open in the night for getting fresh air. However, in the morning the bed is illuminted which is not promoting our sleep. Mostly we are closing the screen early in the morning. However, the screen is not so convenient to operate, in particular when you are sleepy. Therefore a more easy system has been made, based on lamellae. They can be moved easily over a few centimeters to close the sky light. Potentially it is rather easy to automatize this process.


In the meantime an automatic system has been built which closes the sky light in the morning at sunrise. If a light sensor detects dark to light transition a logical electronic circuit causes a rotation of a disk with holes over 60 degrees. If initially in open position the system will be closed. By means of a pulse switch the system can be opened manually. The required parts are manufactured by a 3D-printer.

UPDATE: Although the actual design works fairly well some improvement could still be made. E.g. when short after closing a dark cloud passes the electronics goes in the night mode resulting in opening of the light sluice when it becomes light again. Furthernmore it would be nice if the sluice opens after some time.automatically. These requirement and some other are realized by controlling the sluice with an arduino control unit. Only a few additional components are required and the cost are much lower than the original design. A small program has to be written for this task. The advantage of a program is that it can be changed much easier than it would be the case with hardware. Up to now the system works perfect.


parking sensors
Initially, it was believed that after some period sufficient touch was build up to estimate the distance between the back of the camper and objects. However, even after 4 year experience a small collision has been taken place when driving backwards. The camper is equipped with a reversing camera. Objects short behind the camper, however, are not noticed by this device. In order to prevent that more collisions take place four ultrasonic sensors are mounted in the rear bumper. The electronical control unit is housed in an unused battery box. The belonging display has been glued at the sun screen of the reversing camera (it is always nice to see how things, which are not related to each other, fit so well). The display shows the distance graphically and numerically and a sound signal which indicates the distance can be activated. A large part of the installation time was devoted to connect the control unit with the display. A suitable path had to be found for the cable. Furthermore is was necessary to lengthen the masked seven leaders cable. The power supply for the system has been taken from the contacts of the reversing lights, so that the warning system is only active when driving backwards.



traffic indicator sound
Several times I have been warned by a motorist that my indicator was still on, where there was no reason for it. If the indicator is used in a curve the indicator is switching off automatically. Because there is little steer wheel rotation during a passing action the indicator must be switches off by hand. The problem is that the sound signal of the indicator is too soft in relation to the motor sound. Furthermore the light signal is not good visible at day light.
To improve the warning signal an additional beeper is connected to the indicator. To avoid dismantling of the dash board the required control signal is tapped from the indicator lights at the rear side. It has to be taken into account that only a low amperage can be drawn from the power line of the lights. To reduce un-necessary noise a timer is taken in the control cirquit. The adjustable timer can be set so that the extra signal starts after e.g. 35 sec.



connector wit power indicator
When connecting the plug to a power point at a camping it was found that in several cases there was no power at all. Mostly this problem can be solved by choosing another power point. To make it easier to find a working power point a led has been mounted in the plug of the power cabel. The led is connected via a resistor and a diode.



daylight running lamps
A pair of daylight running lamps have been installed to improve the visibility of the camper. The lamp units are situated in a circular opening in the front bumper, which was reserved for the fog lights. The control unit is activated by the slight voltage variations of the generator. Furthermore the control unit takes care that the daylight running lights are dimmed when the head lights are switched on. For this action the control unit uses the power supply of the dim light as an input. Following the instructions the connection with the feeding cable of the dim light should be made at a location behind the headlamp units. To make that point accessible the headlamp unit must be removed. To avoid this work an alternative solution has been found. In this case a hole of 3 mm is drilled in the house of the headlamp and the sensor wire is connected to a cable which feeds the adapter of the lamp of the dim light. In spite of the cable blocks the hole very well some additional sillicone compound has been supplied.





An additional feature of the daylight running lamps is that a power source becomes available, which is on only when the engine is running (a so called D+ point). The power feeded to the lamps can be tapped and used to activate a relay. Since the lamps are dimmed when the headlights are switched on a relay is required which works at a large voltage range. A solid state relay is suitable in this case, because an activation voltage of range of 3-30 volt is possible. In the diagram as shown also a rectifier and a condensator is incorporated. This is necessary because else the intensity of the frequency controlled led lamp would be influenced by the condensator. In my case this option is used to switch on the 220v converter after the engine has been started and to control the daylight running rear lights.


UPDATE: An unsatisfactory situation is that there is no rear light in combination with the daylight running lights. This means that the common lights still have to be switched on when entering a tunnel. In particular for short tunnels it would be convenient if no care has to be devoted to the lights. For that reason some additional rear lights are installed. The additional rear lights (including reflectors) are replacing the factory mounted reflectors. The lights are switched on via a relay using the power of the daylight running lamps. A second relay has been activated by the original rear light, so that the daylight rear light are switched off when the head lamps are switched on.
Be aware that only a small current can be tapped from the supply cable of the rear light.



dashboard cam
A dashboard video camera has been purchased. It allows the driver to make video records of interesting routes and it is an additional eye in the case of an accident. There was chosen for a cheap device, ordered at a Chinese web shop. The main functions desired are; loop recording, automated power up start, power down stop and a time/date mark. Originally the device has to be fixed to the wind screen by means of a suction cup. In this case, however, the adapter of the unused back view mirror has been modified somewhat. This adapter can now easily be removed or placed back.
A mini USB power supply has been extracted from the light module in the roof, so that almost no cables are visible. A 32 Gbyte micro memory card enables the recording of more than three hours HR video. The video records can be played back on the computer screen, but it is also possible to connect the device to a tv by means of a HDMI connector. In spite of the low price the device produces quite a good image.


UPDATE: Since the dapter of the mirror has been use to hold the compass the dash cam was fixed by the original sution cap. However, the suction cap was not very reliable. After a while the cap looses the adhesion, so that the camera falls down. A new adapter has been designed using the 3D printer. One part was glued to te windscreen with silicone compound. The camera can be fixed by means of screw thread to the screen.




pressure sensors tubes
A system has been installed which measures the pressure of the tubes continuously during driving. The system consits of four sensors which are replacing the caps of the valves. The pressure as well as the temperature are send wireless to a display, which has been placed at a location which is good visible for the driver. A limit can be adjusted (e.g. pressure below 4 Bar; temperature above 70 deg C) to activate a sound signal. It is an additional safety to prevent serious damaging of tubes in the case they start extreme loosing of air during driving. Of course it is also a convenient way to watch the course of the pressure of the tubes over a longer period. The spare wheel is not equiped with a sensor. On the other hand there is a need to check the pressure of the spare wheel regularly, also. Since the valve of the spare wheel is not accessible in stored position an adapter tube has been applied. Thank to this modification the pressure of the spare wheel can now be measured if the wheel is still in place.




homemade adapter navigation device
A dash board adapter has been made for a tomtom start 60 navigation device. A special feature available in the cabin of the Fiat Ducato has been used. At the dash board a clipboard is integrated, which can be moved up to hold paperwork. By means of a bended metal sheet the adapter is pinned if the clipboard is in closed position. Since the space underneath the clipboard is just above the radio it was easy to make a power supply. A 12V power line has been used which is on only when the radio is on. A DC-DC converter has been applied to generate a voltage of 5V. A USB cable with a mini USB connector is direcly connected to the 5V power supply. Actually the navigation device needs a micro USB connector. However, it is not so convenient to connect this connector and the experience with another device is that the micro usb is rather sensitive for damaging. Therefore an additional short cable with a micro/mini connector has been applied, which has been fixed permanently to the device by means of tape.



UPDATE: Recently I am the owner of a
3D printer. One of the projects was to manufacture a new adapter for the navigator.

installation digital compass
When lookimg for a suitable place at a camping it is important to know the orientation of the site. We like to have a good position in relation to the path of the sun. It is not always easy to determine the north south position. For that reason a digital compass is installed in the camper. The mount for the rear mirror has been used to fix the device at a good visible place.


LPG gas system
Since a few years it is allowed to use LPG for cooking and heating in campers. The advantage of this facility is that the cylinders can be filled at a petrol station. This is a much more universal system in Europe in comparison with the propane gas cylinders. Furthermore the LPG is cheaper and it is rather heavy work and time consuming to replace and fill the propane cylinders.
The gas bin can contain two cylinders of 27ltr each. Because the cylinder can be filled at any time only one cylinder was replaced by a LPG cylinder. A transparent cylinder of synthetic material is used as a reserve tank. To reduce the weight there was chosen for an aluminum cylinder. It seems that LPG is less clean than propane. Therefore it has been recommended to install a filter in the low pressure section. This was quite a complicated operation because of the lack of space and because of 10mm conduit-pipes are used in the camper where the filter was designed for 8mm tubes. Furthermore the opportunity was taken to make an external connection to enable cooking in the open air or to operate a gas barbecue This requires several connections, so that great care was needed to get a perfect closed system.
After some month experience with the system it was observed that dirt can also be introduced during filling. In order to protect also the pressure reduction valve, an additional filter has been installed in the high pressure section.
Although it is possible to mount the filling adapter directly at the cylinder there was chosen for an external adapter. This seems to be more acceptable at the fuel stations abroad. Furthermore the LPG cylinder has been tied up stronger because this seems to be recommended in some countries.
Each time the appropriate adapter has to be mounted. In some cases it is difficult to unscrew the adapter. Therefore a special tool has been made to improve the grip at the one of the adapters.




Originally the LPG cylinder is equipped with an analog device to show the degree of filling. This device has been replaced by an electronical device, so that is becomes possible to watch the gas stock on a display in the camper. The display is located at a spot at the dashboard, so that a quick view is needed to decide if it is necessary to fill the cylinder when a petrol station is visited.



UPDATE: After about 1 year the display of the gas level indicator did not work properly. Only one of the four leds was on, while the gas cylinder was completely filled. Testing the device at the work bench it was found that the indication was working well for a few days if some components have been subjected to a mechanical force. However, it appeared that this was only a temporarily improvement. Apparently there was at least one bad soldering contact which disturbs the operation. Since it was difficult to find that particular contact almost all the soldering connections have been heated so that the tin melts. Because the device is now working well for several weeks it can be concluded that this operation appeared to be helpful.




locking frost protection system
To prevent damaging by freezing the water system of the camper is equipped with a temperature controlled tap. The tap opens if the temperature drops below 4 degrees Celsius. However, when traveling about the temperature can also decrease below the critical value at night, while there is no real danger for freezing. As a result all the water is drained away, including the storage in the clear water tank due to siphoning. In order to prevent needless water loss a rotating metal sheet with a cut-out has been constructed to enable temporarily locking the automated tap. The support has been fabricated by a 3D printer.
Since this is a risky situation the locking system has been equipped with a switch. A warning light in the camper is now on if the tap is locked.



cap fuel tank
The fuel tank is equipped with a cap which can be locked by a key. Although there was nothing wrong with the cap it has still been replaced. The new cap has a mechanism which makes it impossible to place a petrol pistol into the filling opening. This protection is not really necessary for myself, but I like the additional feature; which is, that the cap needs not to be removed when filling the tank. A flap with a spring closes the opening, so that the tube of the pistol opens the flap when pushed into the opening. Very convenient.
The new cap cannot be locked. I am not very afraid, however, that they will stealing my fuel.



life time battery
It is interesting to know the actual capacity of the batteries. When the battery is new the capacity is known, but how good is the battery after e.g. 4 years. Since we are spending the nights mostly at campings the house keeping battery is not often used for a long period. But nevertheless the capacity decreases and will reach a point that the capacity becomes unacceptable low. In order to get a better insight in the actual capacity a measuring system has been developed. In this system the battery is loaded by about 5A, being some light spots in the camper. The battery voltage is measured and digitized by an interface connected to a computer. The digitized voltage is plotted in time on the screen. A typical output is shown in the graph below. The start voltage is related to the charger in drop charge mode. Next the charger is shut off, resulting in a somewhat lower voltage. Then the 5A load is switched on, resulting in a more or less linear decreasing voltage in time. The load is based on the initial voltage (12.8V). Since I=V/R the load will be decreasing somewhat with decreasing voltage. After about 9 hours the load was cut off by the low voltage (10.5V) control system of the camper electronics (to prevent battery damage by too much unloading). Next the 5A load is shut off, and as can be seen the battery voltage is still about 11.6V. Next the charger is switched on, so that the battery is charged again. After some hours the battery is filled and the charger is switch into the drop charge mode, which was the beginning of the cycle as described previously.
This battery is 4 years old and exposes about half the initial capacity (90 Ah). It is interesting to see how much the capacity will be decrease in time. Moreover this measurement would be most interesting if the test is also performed with the new battery. This will be a research item when the battery is replaced by e new one.


UPDATE 1
In May 2011 a new battery has been purchased (PBQ; agm; 100Ah). This battery has been tested in August with a 5A load. As can be seen the capacity is good in agreement with the specifications. This test will be performed each year, in order to measure the decrease in capacity in time.


UPDATE 2
This update has been supplied sooner than expected. The reason is that the new battery behaves very dissapointing within a year. When staying free without external power supply it was found that the battery was quite soon at the end. Therefore a measurement has been performed while the battery was loaded with a consumer of 5.5 A. The measurement has shown that the battery has lost a lot of his initial capacity, indeed. A complain, and a graph have been sent to the internet company (http://accuweb.nl/). They have sent this matter to the manufacturer. After two weeks I got a mail that the battery will be replaced next day (nice service). A new measurement has been performed, which shows that the capacity of the new battery is in according to the expectation. Hopefully the new battery will have a longer live.



UPDATE 3
The conventional batteries I have used up to now were rather disappointing. Several times the power shuts off because the battery voltage was below the limit. More amperage of conventional batteries was no option; too much weight and no space. The most convenient option at the moment is the use of a LiFePO4 battery. The capacity at the same weight is about four times more that the conventional batteries. They have a longer life time and they deliver the same voltage until they are empty. They have their own charging controller on board, sothat the existing charging device of the camper can be used. Furthermore using an app significant parameters can be read on the mobile telephone. Although they are rather costly I purchased a 125Ah (comparable with a 250Ah lead battery) LiFePO4 with a weight of 15kg. Two important limitations are the maximum charging voltage (14.6V) and that it is not allowed to charge the device at a temperature below zero degrees. Since the battery case is hanging in the open air underneath the camper floor the battery is isolated with foam. Furthermore a heating element (folio, 3W) is placed underneath the battery. The temperature is controlled by a digital controller to keep the temperature at a minimum of ca 5 dergrees.

UPDATE
A problem was that the original battery charger is switching to drip feed when the battery is full charged. Normally the normal charge mode is started up again when the voltage of the battery becomes below 13 V. However, the LFP battery is staying above 13V almost up to the end of its capacity, so that the charger is not activated to switch to the normal charging mode. This means that the battery can become empty, while connected to a 220V pover line. This problem can be solved by switching off the charger periodically. After a fresh start the drip feed mode is left. When the charger is in the "GEL" charging mode every 8 hours the device has to be switched off for a while in order to guarantee the maximum charging capacity all the time. .





temperature measurements
Several temperatures which are of interest were not measured as a standard option. Therefore a system has been installed which can measure the temperature at 4 location. The signals of the sensors are transmitted wireless, so that no cable network is required to make the information visible on a central display. The system consists of a simple, so called weather station, which is positioned at a good accessible place near the door of the camper. One temp sensor (for indoor measurement) is on board, and 3 external sensors can be read. The three additional sensors are used to measure the outdoor temperature and in the deep-freeze and the refrigerator, respectively. At the display the external temps are given one by one, with a cycle of a few seconds. The outdoor sensor can also be read when laying on the bed.
Additional information given by the control unit is: DFC time; history atmospheric pressure; sun(moon)rise and sun(moon)set.



additional heater
Although the camper is equipped with a gas heating system it is convenient in some cases to be able to use an electrical heater. In summer time mostly little heat is required, so that switching on an electrical heater for a while is more simple than starting the gas system. But in particular in the winter period when the camper is parked in the open air it will be better for the interior if the air is heated up now and then. In order to avoid dragging with heaters a simple fan heater has been build-in in the camper. The heater can be set at 1000 or 2000 Watt and is controlled by an adjustable thermostat. After visiting more than 100 campings, the capacity of 1000 Watt appeared to be never a problem. For safety it contains a reversible overheating switch and a not reversible melting element.
It was found that there was enough space underneath the refrigerator to house the fan heater and control unit. A point of concern was the height. Because if too critical the fan can be blocked due to deformation of the fan house. For that reason the grip has been cannibalized somewhat. In order to operate the refrigerator, a 220V power line was already there. Fortunately the capacity of the power line is strongly oversized.
Some holes were made in the cover sheet for passing the warm air and giving access to the control panel. Since the space already contains an additional heater using the cooling water of the motor, no extra provisions had to be made to guarantee sufficient air circulation. However, originally the air was suctioned via gaps from the wet room. Since this not always smells nicely the gaps to the wet room could be closed now.
A special option of the in home made control system is that the operation of the heater can be made dependent on the temperature difference between inside and outside of the camper. The idea is keeping the temperature into the camper always a few degrees higher then outside temperature. This will preventing condensation of moist. To obtain an indication of the costs, an hour counter device has been added.
In the normal mode the thermostat of the fan heater is used to control the temperature. Of course the electrical heater works only if a 220v power supply is available. When the power supply is disconnected the control unit always goes in the off mode. Human action is required to switch the heater on when power supply is connected again.
For our convenience the heater can be switched by a wireless control system. So, it is not necessary leaving our bed if the heater has to be switched on in the morning.



The heating system described before was not found to be convenient to keep the camper free of freezing in winter time. The problem was that the analog control system was not so accurate and displays a rather large hysteresis. It was therefore difficult to adjust the temperature critically. For that reason a universal digital temperature control unit with pin connector has been installed. The on and off temperature can be adjusted independently. Since the device has a remote sensor a fixed place was preferred. This was most compactly achieved by using a recessed pin connector. An additional fan heater is used in this case. The temperature in the camper can be watched at my desk using a wireless thermometer.



forced cooling heat exchanging element of the refrigerator
The cooling of the heat exchanging element is originally based on natural convection. Since it is planned to visit warm countries it is not sure that the natural convection is strong enough to keep the temperature sufficiently low all the time. The heat exchanging element consist of a tube with sliced metal sheets in order to increase the cooling surface. It was easy to mount three fans (cannibalized from old computers) with some metal aids on the slices. A forced air flow can now be generated. A home made electronical temperature switch has been implemented, so that the fans are only spinning when the exchanging element is hot. At normal temperatures the fans can be switched of, so that no additional noise is generated. It is believed that the fans are also improving the operation somewhat at normal temperatures. The effect, however, is difficult to measure. On the other hand it was found up to now that the refrigerator operates also satisfactory in warm countries without a forced cooling system.



combustion gasses gas oven
The camper is equipped with a gas oven. Although this is a nice tool, it was not used very often up to now. The main reason is that the combustion gasses are flowing to the interior of the camper. In particular in the colder seasons, when the windows are closed the smell is quite strong. Actually it would not be difficult to make an outlet in the roof of the camper, however, the designers of the camper had some reasons not to do this. I am not happy with an additional hole in the roof, also. However, recently I discovered that is was easy to direct the combustion gasses to the open air. The back side of the oven is covered with a plastic case, in order to prevent that combustion gasses of the cooling system of the refrigerator enters the interior. The back side of this cover is close to the opening used for cooling the heat exchanging element of the refrigerator. By making a hole in the cover and mounting a fan, the combustion gasses of the oven can be directed to the open air. The outlet of the fan is so close to the cooling opening that it is hard to believe that combustion gasses of the cooling system of the refrigerator enter the interior of the camper. Nevertheless the fan opening is equipped with a flap to prevent air flow in the reversed direction.



speed control cooker hood
The fan of the cooker hood is rather noisy. The control panel suggests that different speeds of the fan can be adjusted. However, in reality only one ( full) speed appeared to be possible. Since full speed is not always required it has been made possible to reduce the speed (and so the noise). This is achieved in a simple way by means of a resistor (4 ohm, 20W), which is placed in serial with the fan. The full speed can still be adjusted by an additional switch, which passes the resistor. Also the opportunity was taken to modify the tube to the outlet. Originally a flexible rubber ring (causing much resistance) tube with about half the diameter of the fan opening was used. It was believed that a larger tube would be much more effective. Therefore an edge segment of hard plastic with the same diameter of the outlet was used to connect the fan with the outlet in the camper wall.



power supply navigator, mobile telephone and dash-cam
The navigation system, the mobile telephone and dash-cam are connected to the screen by a suction cup. As a result all the cables with adapters has to go down to the cigarette lighter connector in the dash board. This is disorderly and looks not very fine. A better solution has been made by placing the adapters in a space behind the cabin light. A continuous 12V power supply during driving was available in the cabin light unit. Since the devices are placed at the upper side of the screen, almost no cable are visible now. In order to reduce the amount of adapters a cigarette lighter adapter with two USB sockets has been used to feed the telephone and dash-cam.



damage prevention power supply connection
When situated at the parking place at home the camper is always connected to 220V power supply. Of course the connector has to be disconnected when leaving the parking place. But with Murphy's law ("Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong") in mind is looks to be wise to incorporate an additional safety. For that reason an extra connector is added. This connector will be disconnected when the cable is subjected to mechanical tension. When traveling around this safety is not applied, because the departure protocol is in that case more clear than when leaving from home. Up to now, however, the safety connection has not been activated.


UPDATE: Because a cable with several leaders has been drawn from the dash board to the gas cabinet it was easy to design an electronical warning system, to prevent driving while the 220V power cable is connected. A 12V power line of the radio interface has been used, because there is power on this point, only when the contact lock is activated by the key. Close to the gas cabinet there is a 220V power point. By means of a relay a beeper is connected to the mass. The beeper is activated when both, the 12V and 220V are on.
Sometimes the beep is not wanted, e.g. when checking the score of the kilometer counter. Therefore a momentum switch has been included in the cirquit, so that the beeper can be switched of temporarily.

some minor electrical suppletions
In the standard camper actually only one 220V plug-socket was available (in the kitchen area). This appeared not to be a convenient location in many cases. Therefore some additional plug-sockets have been made. One of them in the basement underneath the bed (eventually for heating the bed when using the camper in winter time), one close to the camper door and one in the front area. The second location is convenient when using electric light when sitting outsite in summer time.
Furthermore an additional 12V light spot has been supplied. A lack in the design was that there was no good light for reading a book when sitting in one of the turned pilot chairs.
Also an ampere meter has been inserted in the 220V power supply cable. The 12V power circuit was already equipped with an ampere indication, but not the 220V supply. On several campings the 220V power supplies have a limited capacity, so that it is good to know how much ampere the different devices will need.




A display has been included which indicates the voltage of the external power supply. It was found that at several campings the power supply is far below 220 volt. In some cases the voltage was so low that the refrigerator did not work on electricity, but choose automatically for using gas. Since the display is only lightened if 220 volt is connected it can now be observed threw a window if there is power available at all (this is not always the case).
Also, a display has been installed which indicates the actual voltage of the house keeping battery. Since this value is an indication of the available capacity, a continuous display of the voltage is helpful to follow the condition of the battery.




Finally a display has been installed, which continuously indicates the voltage of the starting battery of the engine. Since the battery is in service for more than six years, more attention is needed to estimate the remaining live time. It is believed that the course of the voltage (e.g. after an engine start) indicates if the battery is ready for replacement. The location of the display is at that particular place, because there is a direct connection available to the electrodes of the starting battery.



installation 12 to 220 converter
For several low energy applications it is convenient to have a 220 power supply during driving. Therefore a 300 watt, 12-220 volt (sinus wave) converter has been installed in the camper. The converter is positioned in one of the two (unused) battery boxes in the back of the camper. The 220 pin connector and a simple control panel is located just behind the drivers pilot chair, so that some cables have to be laid out from the back site of the camper to the front side. It was succeeded to lead the cables out of sight using the appropriate canals. However, quite a lot of panels had to be removed to get access to the required locations.
The converter can be switched on by a remote controlled input. This option is used to force that the converter is on only, when the camper is driving. Initially the power supply of the rear light (most close point) was used to switch on the converter (we always drive with light on). However recently day light running lights are installed. The electronics uses the rippling of the dynamo to ignit the lights. A signal is tapped from the lights for switching on the converter.
Nevertheless sometimes it will be convenient to have 220 volt when not driving. In order to prevent that it will be forgotten to switch off the device a timer can be activated by buttons on the control panel. If not switched off manually the timer will cut the power after 2.5 hour.



UPDATE: An additional option which has been realized is that the power supply of the converter connector is replaced automatically by wall current as soon as the camper is connected to wall power.


storage of the mat
Sometimes it is convenient to have a mat in front of the camper door. However, this mat becomes dirty and the question is where to store the mat during driving. A solution was found at the back of the camper. In contradiction with the actual trend this camper is equipped with a spare wheel. Actually this appeared to be so unusual nowadays, that a provisional structure has been made by the dealer to store the wheel. This structure is also used to make a place where two mats can be stored. Eventually the mats can also be used to prevent slipping wheels if parked on a slippery surface.



improving spare wheel storage
In contradiction with the actual trend the camper is equipped with a spare wheel. Actually this appeared to be so unusual to day that a structure had to be made by myself to store the wheel. Although never tested the system was not expected to be very convenient. The wheel was hold by two separate edge profiles. By removing 4 bolts the wheel will be available. However, it would probably not be easy to place the wheel back. To improve the system the two profiles are connected to each other to form a frame and two hings were applied to enable rotation of the frame. Now two bolts have to be removed to get the wheel. The wheel can be placed back at the inclined frame, where the hings allow lifting of the wheel.



water level
In order to have a convenient night it is preferred that the bed is in horizontal position. This can be checked by a water level. Water levels are commercial available which measures the level in two directions. The point is where to install this device, so that it is visible when sitting on the drivers chair. The best place found was on the rail of the passenger chair. A bold was there already, so that the water level could be fixed easily after it was mounted on an additional rigid platform. The water level has been callibrated with the bed in the good position. The device is illuminated permanently by a LED, so that the water level can also be observed when arriving at some place in darkness.



improvement table
In order to be able to change the table size the flap consists of two hinged parts. A conflict arises when a few matters are located at the top. The matters have to be placed somewhere else in order to fold out or fold up the flap. Dry matters can be put away easily, but filled cups and e.g. cans should be moved to the kitchen area. This is not convenient. Therefore an additional leaf has been constructed in the support unit of the hinged flap. Now cups etc. can be placed temporarily at that leaf while folding up or out the flap.



enlarging case in kitchen
In the kitchen area close to the floor a case is available. The size of the panel promisses some significant space. However, when opening the panel only a very small space appeared to be present. Some investigation has been shown that much more space is available, which has not been used for some reason. Since the case is convenient to store matter like potatos and vedgetables a larger size would be convenient. Therefore the unsused space has been exploited by some additional pannels. A nice storage compartment has now been created.



fly certain
The fly certain consist of a number of strings which covers the opening of the camper when the door is open. Since the door is rather thick a problem appears when the door has to be closed. This was solved by using two short chains, so that the certain could follow the contours of the door. However, there was still the problem that the strings are jammed in the locking mechanism. This was solved by using a strong magnet. When the door is open a good sealing can be obtained by clicking the rail of the certain to the magnet. On the other hand more space can easily be made by disconnecting the magnet (strong magnets can be cannibalized from hard disk drive units).
The certain can be removed easily, but it is also possible to wind it up by means of an additional chain.



paper role
In the kitchen a device was wanted which keeps the paper role. Commercial devices are often rather robust and has additional functions, which are not required. Therefore a simple device has been made. Be aware that a brake is required, because without a brake the paper is winded off during riding.



sticking door wardrobe
The camper is equipped with a rather spacious wardrobe. However, it often happens that the door cannot be closed simply because a garment is in between the door and the door-post. It needs some handiness in this case to close the door. In order to solve this problem a metal strip has been mounted at the door-post. Now the garment is hold by the strip, so that it will not block the door.



making the bed more rigid
Although the bed looks fine it is not rigid enough for our convenience. Therefore a simple solution is applied to make the bed more rigid. A beam (aluminum pipe or wooden beam) was fixed to the bed segments by means of cable ties.



drying the laundry
A commercial available drying frame has been mounted at the bike carrier. The frame is foldable, so that it can be in place all the time.



improvement of some structures
In a first view the interior of the camper looks quite well. However, my first step on the embankment in the basement underneath the bed results in a crack, and when I was sitting down a little bit hard on the bank after a biking tour I hear a crack also. In order to keep the weight of the camper as low as possible the factory uses rather thin wooden sheets in the construction. To increase the loading resistance some improvements have been made. A detailed example of the improvement of the bank is shown, but also in the basement underneath the bed some extra support has been implemented. Now it is possible to put my weight (still carefully) on the embankment.



modification belts bike carrier
Four belts are used to fix the wheels of the bikes to the bike carrier. Originally rubber belts are delivered with the carrier. However, after a few years the rubber cracks and breaks finally. Since the rubber belts are not found to be convenient in use, an alternative solution has been created. The part of the rubber which is connected to the carrier is still in use, but the belt is replaced by a textile band with a clasp. The openings in the rubber band allows a good combination with the textile band.


UPDATE: Because some belts are weared out they have to be replaced. This was a moment to think about a beter idea to fix them to the bike carrier. Since I have a 3D printer an in house designed could me made. The solution is shown in the picture below.


Water system

filling
The camper has a 120 l water tank, which can be filled via an opening at the outside of the camper. A problem is that at home the camper is parked very close to a hedge, so that the filling opening is not good accessible. Therefore an additional opening has been made at the roof of the tank, which can be closed by a screw cap. The water hose can be connected to this opening and it is also possible to fill the tank with a water can. Two water bags of 10 liter each are available for this task.


A question could be; why not using the large opening. The problem is that the large cap is sealed by a rubber ring, which has to be tighten rather heavy in order to guarantee no leakage. Due to this it is rather hard to open this cap. A special
tool was made for this. However, recently it was found that the cap turns much easier when the rubber ring is covered with teflon tape.

drying the tank
If the camper is not used for a long term it is recommended to dry the water tank. Even when the large cap is removed this will take a long time. In order to shorten the drying process a fan connected to a short pipe can be used to force the air flow in the tank. If the water is discharged as good as possible the tank can be dried in a few hours.



cleaning water system
If the camper is used again after a term of rest it is required to clean the tubes to the taps. In order to flush the system without using the internal pump an additional connection is made after the pump. The water hose can now be connected to the water system, so that water system can be flushed simply. A cheap timer has been purchased, so that the time of the water flow can be adjusted in advance. The timer can also be used when filling the water tank.
It is now also possible to clean tubes and boiler with additives without using the water storage tank. For this work a simple additional pump is used. The clean water tank is always discharged and dryed with a cloth and air flow, when not used for a while.
Following the specifications of the boiler the pressure of the water tap is somewhat too large. Therefore also a pressure reducer is inserted in the supply system. The pressure is set to less than 1 bar, so that it is also not possible that the water tank is overloaded during filling.
In order to remove water from the tubes (in case of freezing) the additional connection can be used to blow air in the system. Up to now rather good results are obtained by a simple aquarium pump.
Finally a connection has been made outside the camper, so that it becomes possible to connect the water system to a tap at home or to taps which are sometimes available at camping sites.



parking place
We are lucky that the camper can be parked at our own area. This appeared to be very convenient. The camper is accessible at each moment, so that maintenance, modifications and repair are easy to perform. The camper can be made ready very quickly for departure, so that there is a low threshold to use the camper. Of course it means that the camper is in the open air for the whole year. However, after several years no signs are visible that this should be bad for the plastic protection sheets. Probably most sensitive is the roof, in particular because at one location some water is accumulated. For that reason the roof is cleaned regularly at that location. It appeared that growing of algae could be prevented rather effectively by scattering regularly washing powder on the roof.
To be able to place the camper next our home some modifications had to me made in the garden. In the first instance a part of the hedge had to be removed in order to create an entrance. Two strips were made with concrete tiles (40x60x5 cm) at a distance of about 160 cm apart). The level of the tiles are adjusted in such a way that raining water is forced to flow threw the center of the wind screen of the camper (this guarantees the best discharge of water without wetting the motor compartment). The space between the tile strips is covered with sand, in order to guarantee a rather dry floor. The area underneath the camper is too dark for vegetation. It has to be prevented that vegetation is touching the camper because it stimulates corrosion and it is a path for insects like ants to attack the camper. Up to now there was no indication that ants are entering via the wheels. Probably the smooth braking disks could not be passed.
Finally two doors were installed to be able to close the entrance of the parking place. Since we are situated in a so called "living district" there are no special walking ways for pedestrians. Therefore no special permission was required to drive from the street into the garden.



UPDATE: improving parking place
Actually the parking place was not very optimal. Since there were only two strips it is quite humid underneath the camper. This can stimulate corrosion. Furthermore it was not convenient to wash the camper and also during raining it becomes rather muddy, because of the vegetation was gone.
The parking place has been improved by covering the whole area by tiles. In total more than 10000kg of material was handled. The strips of larger tiles are still there, where the space between and around is filled with smaller tiles. Also a cesspool has been made, which is connected to the sewer. Now the camper can be washed at the location and raining water is discharged. Since the soil was open the opportunity was taken ta make a fixed water tap and power supply close to the camper. This makes it very easy to flush the water system regularly.



sink hole for water discharge
In order to discharge the water of the dirt water tanks a sink hole has been made at the parking place. The discharge tube is connected to the sewer pipe underneath the floor of the house. When the camper is parked on its place in the garden a tube segment has to be placed in order to discharge the water of the dirt water tank.
An unsatisfied situation was that there are two more significant water outlets (the outlets to empty the clean water tank and the boiler). This water was not collected so that it was dropped on the tile path. This was not improving the stability. Therefore a tube system has been mounted underneath the camper so that the discharged water from boiler and water tank outlet is led to the outlet pipe of the dirt water tank. Now al water can be drained away at one location.



damage prevention discharge tube
The outlet of the discharge tube of the gray water tank is most close to the street surface (14 cm). As a result the tube is very sensitive for damaging; e.g. it was damaged a few times when parking backwards against a kerbstone. During the latest repair a system has been designed which enables increasing of the distance to the street. In this design the end part is not fixed by sticking the tube segments, but instead a commercial available connection element is used with O-rings. After discharging the water the outlet can be turned over 90 degrees. This increases the distance to the street with 7 cm. The rotation is so smooth that the pipe will also rotate when touching e.g. a kerbstone. It remains to be seen if this solution is helpfull.



electric valve waste tank and video monitoring
In some cases it is convenient to open the valve of the tank of the waste (grey) water by remote control. To realize this feature, an electric valve is installed in the discharge tube of the tank. The valve can be operated by a switch at the dashboard.



Since the discharge pipe of the waste water tank is at the right hand side at the back of the camper, it is always difficult to estimate if the outlet is positioned above the cesspool. For a better control, a camera was mounted underneath the camper. A wireless camera has been used. By means of a remote control the video signal can be exchanged with the video signal of the rear view camera, so that no extra monitor is required. To protect the lens of the camera, a cap is mounted which covers the lens during driving. The cap is operated by the wind, generated during driving. In order to reduce the flow of dirt a mud flap was mounted behind the right hand rearwheel.
An additional advantage of the camera is that better positioning of the camper at the parking place at home is possible. UPDATE: The wireless transmission of the video signal was not very successful. At many times the transmission was disturbed by some stronger signal. Therefore, finally a cable was used to transport the video signal.


UPDATE: The idea using a banner to operate the protection cap of the lens by wind, was not so effective. A more reliable system was made by means of a motor controlled mechanism. The electric motor is controlled using the signals of the valve. If the switch of the valve is in the neutral position the lens cap is closed. The lens cap is open if the valve is activated by the opening or closing signal. The electric motor is connected to a D+ line, so that the device is working only when the engine is running.
The cover is of transparent material, so that also view is possible in closed position.



additional burglary prevention
Unfortunately several weak point, such as the camper door and windows are inviting thieves to attack the camper. However, probably the most weak point are the standard locks of the cabin doors. Because this is the same locking mechanism for many campers, specialists are able to open these doors in a few seconds almost without making any noise. For that reason the doors can be locked with an additional commercial available lock.
Also an alarm can be activated which detects movements inside the camper. Question is in how far people are still impressed by an alarm of a car.
Fortunately up to now not any attempt has been made to enter our camper.

fixation licence plate
It can be read regularly in papers that thieves are using stolen licence plates, to refuel their car at petrol stations without payment. From that point of view it is amazing that licence plates can be taken away so easily. Therefore the securing of the plates of our camper has been improved by fixing them additionally with two M8 bolts. Ofcourse it is still possible to remove the plates, but it will take now much more time.

clock for at night vision
When I awake at midnight I like to see what time it is, without doing all kind of actions. For that reason a clock has been installed above the head end of the french bed. The digital radio controlled clock has been mounted underneath one of the storage cases. Because in a battery powered device no permanent light is available some modifications have been made to make the light continuous. Since a battery should be soon exhausted the clock is connected to the 12 volt system of the camper via a 12V to 1.5V DC -DC converter. A 12V connection point was available in the double floor of the storage case above the bed. Since the light was initially to strong a variable resistor has been build in to control the intensity. It feels good to see that the you can sleep on for a while when you awake in the middle of the night. An additional option is a build in temperature sensor. It helps you to decide if the heater has to be switched on before leaving the bed.


testing the gas system
In order to be sure that the gas system is save it has to be investigated periodically on leakage. Several methods are available for the investigation. One of them is to measure the pressure drop in time after pressurizing the system. In this method the valves of the gas cylinders are closed. The required test pressure is about 150 mbar. It was found that this pressure could achieved approximately by means of an aquarium air pump. After pressurizing the system and closing the tube to the air pump the pressure is monitored by a digital precision manometer. If the absolute pressure is measured a correction has to be made for changes in the atmospheric pressure. And also temperature changes are influencing the pressure. The air pump and manometer are connected by means of a T-bar to the outlet of an un-used valve. Be care that there is no leakage in this provisional connection. Next the pressure is followed in time. Depending on the volume of the gas system some pressure drop is allowed. This seems to be approximately 5 to 10 mbar per hour. Beside leakage, visual inspection of rubber tubes, rubber rings and the colour of the flames is required. Finally the date of some components have to be inspected in order to decide if the have to be replaced.


How to feed the cat
When leaving home for a few days it is convenient when the cat can get his food. Therefore a
feeding machine has been developed, which can supply several meals. The machine is controlled by a clock, in order to supplies two times per day the food.
The operation can be monitored at distance with the mobile telephone by means of a webcam. If in operation the feeding times are at 8:00 and 18:00.

TROUBLE SHOOTING

USB adapter for cigar lighter
The USB connection has become an universal way to charge the battery of all kind of devices. Adapters are available to convert 220v or 12v power to 5v, where a USB cable can be used to make a connecten with the device. Cheap adapters can be purchased in China. However, some types of adapters for the cigar lighter in the car can cause a short circuit. The problem is that the mass contact of the adapter is too close to the end. Cigar lighters which are designed to heat an element contain an additional + contact which can hit the mass contact of the adapter, resulting in a short circuit. This problem has been solved by bending the additional contacts. The Cigar lighter will not work longer in this case to heat the element, but a short circuit is not possible anymore.



battery connection
Since in the showroom the camper was all the time connected to 220 power supply it was found at home that the domestic battery was not working well. After a lot of measurements it was discovered that there was a bad contact in the connection of the cable with the battery. The problem was that the shrink tube to protect the connection between cable and ring runs for a rather large part over the ring. Because the wing nut is completely made of plastic only the under site of the metal ring can make electrical contact. Due to the isolation material the ring will be wiped up after getting some pressure of the swing nut. This problem could be solved easily by removing the isolation from the ring. Difficult to find, but easy to solve.



door not open
After a few days during the first holiday it appeared no longer be possible to open the camper door. The lowest one of the two locks could not be unlocked. This problem was solved as soon as possible by un-screwing a part of the lock at the inside and by bending a part. Once at home the problem was investigated in more detail. After removing the cover the control system of the locks was good visible. It was soon clear that a bold was un-screwed by itself (see arrow right figure), so that the lock could not be controlled by the bar. The bold was still there so that this could be repaired easily. Most of the work was to bring the bended part back in its original shape.



water leakage in the motor compartment
A problem of the latest models of Fiat is that there is not a good sealing of the front screen. Water which is running from the screen is infiltrating in the motor area. This causes that several parts of the motor becomes wet during raining. Perhaps this is not a big problem if this happens now and then. However, in the case the camper is always parked in the open air, it is not a nice view that al parts in the motor compartment are wetted after each raining period. Up to now the most effective way to prevent leakage was using tape to close the gap between the screen and the sealing. It looks perhaps not nice, but it is has proven to be very effective. A problem was to find a suitable tape. Several types are sucking up water and becomes puckered. Types with a textile core are shrinking when heated by the sun. The best solution up to now appeared to be tape of thin aluminum foil.
Another problem were two small compartments (left and right) to collect raining water. The outlet are spraying water over components in the motor compartment, also. Furthermore the outlet holes were so small that they blocked very soon, so that the bearing of one of the wipers is under water all the time. Overflow causes also wetted components. This problem has been improved by significantly increasing the diameter of the outlets. A funnel with a tube has been installed underneath the outlet, so that no longer motor parts are wetted. To prevent accumulation of dirt a piece of a fly certain has been used to cover the side compartments. This looks to be a very successfull modification. Almost no matter is accumulated now at all. Finally a small spout has been constructed on both sides, so that most water is directed to the center compartment.
The center compartment for catching water is equipped with a sufficient large discharge tube. However, that tube was ending at such a place that still water was spraying over several motor part. Therefore the big tube has been redirected and lengthened somewhat, so that the water is discharged directly to the street.




Finally a solution has been found to prevent water leakage of the air inlet. In particular when the motor cap is opened after a raining period water is spread over the engine, but probably there is also some leakage in closed position. This problem is solved by mounting a spout underneath the air inlet. The water is now drained away so that it is not wetting the engine. Since the spout is now available it was easy to catch the small amount of water which passes the join of the gutter underneath the front screen. However this amount is now negligible because the join is closed by means of silicone compound and aluminum foil.



A minor point of leakage are two slits on both sides of the engine cap. When it is raining for a long time a significant amount of water is infiltrating in the motor compartment. Therefore the slits are closed with strips of thin aluminium, which are glued at the border of the plastic side panels. The aluminium strips are folded like a spout, so that the water is directed to the plastic cover of the head-lights.



The plan is to protect the front with a cover in winter time. However, the smooth shape of the front of the camper roof causes that water is running around the profile. In this situation the water will infiltrate underneath the cover. As a test draught strip with an appropriate profile was used to prevent the water following the profile. However, this profile seems to be just too small. So I am still looking for a better solution.


UPDATE: After several years a better profile has been found to prevent that water is runnng around the front profile of the camper. Actually it is a self adhesive gutter, which is used upside down. Since the place was not so good accessible a simple scaffolding has been built to glue the gutter at the front of the camper. Also the opportunity was taken to repair some damaged letters of the word RAPIDO, written at top of the camper.


rain protection
Since the camper is in the open air for the whole year some precautions have been taken to prevent infiltration of water at some places during raining. A large overall cover is not preferred, because it is time consuming to remove it and has some disadvantages, also.
The leakage of front screen was successfully stopped by means of aluminum tape. Another problem are the cabin doors. Without prevention raining water is infiltrated between the glass and the sealing. This will cause that inside space of the door will be wetted regularly and algae will grow on the sealing. This area has been protected by plastic folio. The folio is jammed by the door at the upper side and the mirror and door handle are used to jam the folio at the down side.

The camper has to sliding windows. They are moving in a spout which is covered with textile. This spout will be wetted all the time resulting in growing algae. To keep this area dry a front panel has been designed which is installed during parking only. Furthermore an aluminum profile has been glued at the bottom side of the window to prevent permanently water infiltration at that part.

Next the camper door can be infiltrated by water which is running down of the window. This is prevented by a sheet which touches the window by some tension. The sealing with the window is optimized by means of the rubber of an old screen wiper. Since the whole door is made of plastic, the water infiltration is not so critically.

Finally an unwanted situation is, that some water is accumulated in a low area at the roof of the camper. At the moment the wet area is cleaned so now and then in order to prevent growing algae. A possible solution, being the use of a siphon based on e.g. a textile rope appeared not to be very successful. I am thinking about a better solution.
UPDATE1: A new system has been designed to keep the roof dry in the low area. The principle is shown with the setup in the figure below. A rather power full radial fan (220V; 30 Watt, cannibalised from a micro wave oven) has been installed in such way that it blows the remaining water over a ridge of about 5mm. The device is equipped with two electrodes (bolts of stainless steel) and a sensitive electronic circuit, so that the fan is switched on only if some water is accumulated in the low area. The electrodes operate with AC-current in order to minimize gas production.
Actually a rain sensor should be incorporated to prevent that the device is running during raining. This will be a possible modification for the future.
UPDATE2: The rain sensor is not necessary. When it is raining for a longer time the conductivity of the water becomes so low that the fan is not activated. If raining has stopped some matter of the dirt at the roof solves in the water, which sufficiently increases the conductivity of the water to start the fan.



UPDATE3: Although the radial fan was rather effective I was not satified about the system. One of the reasons was the rather high power consumption. I had already another system in mind for a few month, but the manufacturing was not so easy. However, recently I have build a 3d printer, so that it becomes rather simple to create the required parts. An important property of the pump is that low water levels can be handeled. On the other hand only a small capacity and pressure is sufficient. In the figure the rotor with rubber flaps is visible. The flaps are transporting the water to the outlet, so that the treshold can be passed. A timer takes care that the pump is in operation three times a day.


Since the camper is used regularly during the whole year, it is important that the aids can be removed quickly. Removing of the protection tools takes only 5 minutes.

sticking of a door
The door to the wet cell was sticking. Dependent on the flatness of the parking area it could be rather difficult to close the door. Attempts to increase the space by pre-stressing the rabbet temporarily did not help. A more effective method was found by pre-stressing the rabbet continuously by means of a wood screw. In this case the wooden sheet which supports the bed was used as anchor sheet. Now the space between door and rabbet can be adjusted easily by tighten the wood screw. If the anchor sheet is bending after a while some additional reinforcement can be added. As additional support the bed has been equipped with a snatch, so that the anchor sheet is prevented from bending too much.



protection safety switches
After be surprised for two times by a 220V power cut off a solution has been made to prevent this problem. The origin of the problem were three safety switches for the 220V power supply, which are located in the basement underneath the bed. When putting some matter into the basement it can easily happen that it touches the switches, so that they are moved into the off position. A simple solution has been made by covering the panel with a transparent head. A hinge makes it possible to lift up the cover in order to have a good access to the switches.



fixing cover connector
The 220V connector at the outside of the camper is covered with a flap. When the connector has been removed the flap will close the opening. Although there is some kind of locking system it happen quite often that the flap is not fixed well. The waving flap is then visible in the rear-view mirror. This situation has been prevented by fixing a magnet at the flap and a metal part at the counter part. Now the flap is fixed automatically as soon as the connector has been removed.

missing part
The bed can be lifted up to get access to the storage basement. To make the uplift easier two gas cylinders were installed, in order to decrease the weight of the bed. The mounting of the cylinder to the construction rail, however, was not very well. They are moving along the rail, making that the effect of the cylinders was not very reliable. After some investigation it was found that a metal plate was missing, so that it was impossible to fix the cylinders sufficiently well to the rail. This could be solved easily.



cold air flow
During one of the last trips with the camper a cold air flow was detected coming from the perforated cover of the speakers, located in the cabin doors. It feels unpleasant, because the cold wind strikes against the leg of the driver. Actually it was not detected so strong before. But during this trip there was a strong wind perpendicular to the driving direction. The origin of the air flow is a perforated location in the door.




Since the door is only sealed at the cabin side air can flow free through the perforated area. This is probably a precaution to prevent accumulation of condensed moist into the door compartment. Therefore it looks not wise to cover the perforation.
However, after removing the perforated speaker covers it was good visible that gaps where available through which air could pass to the cabin. This problem could easily be solved by closing the gaps with tape. It is not such a nice view, but when the cover is placed back it is not longer visible.



damaged water tap by freezing
Although the water system was dewatered and the (cold/hot water) taps were set open in neutral position still some damage has happened in the tap of the kitchen. A ceramic disk with holes appeared to be broken, so that leakage occurs when the tap is opened.




Fortunately the broken part concerns the hole of the outlet, so that there is no leakage in closed position. It also means that the pressure is low in this area. And so the stresses, so that the part could be repaired by sticking.
Because a small amount of residual water causes damage, the tap looks not very resistance against freezing. It seems therefore necessary to remove the interior of the tap in a next cold period. Since this is not a very convenient action the tap will be replaced in the near future by a tap with a conventional closing system (rubber disk).

protection button
A conflict was observed between the button of a door of a case in the kitchen and a drawer. When the button was not in the lock position the drawer could be hitched by the button. This has happened very often so that the button was damaged a bit.




Two modification have been made. In the first instance the hinges of the door were made to rotate more smoothly, so that the door is not remaining always in a slight open position. Secondly a small wooden blok is mounted underneath the button, so that the drawer cannot longer be hooked by the button.

turning table leg
The table of the camper has a lot of freedom in orientation. The table-flap can be fold out, rotate and shifted. Also the height can be adjusted. However, the handle to fix the vertical motion was located at the same site as the bench. So you knees are hitting the handle when sitting there. Furthermore the handle remains an obstruction in the case the table-flap was moved in such a way that the space between flap and bench was at largest. This was in particular annoying when working on the water system, which is located underneath the bench. It was found that this could easily be improved by rotating the table leg over 180 degrees. The leg was fixed on the floor by six screws. Now the handle is directed to the drivers chair. Even when the drivers chair is rotated the handle is much less an obstruction than it was in the original position.


cap clear water tank
The cap which closes the outside filling input of the clear water tank was extremely difficult to remove. In particular when the cap was not removed for a longer time your fingers were almost broken to turn the cap. A study of this problem shows that the rubber ring causes a lot of friction. This friction has been eliminated by greasing the back of the ring with some butter. Actually the friction became now so low that the lock did not work. Therefore also some sliding planes of the locking system were greased.






repairing crack in bumper
As a result of a collapse with a snow wall, which was hiding a concrete wall a crack was formed at the back side of the camper. The crack is repaired by stabilizing the plastic cover at the back side using polyester and glass fiber. If once stabilsed the crack was made somewhat wider and the space is filled with white polyester gel. Next fine sand paper was used to smooth the filling. And finally a polishing pasta and wax were used to make the surface as smooth as the environment. Except a slight change in color, the repair is almost invisible.






repairing water pump
The camper is equipped with a Shurflo water pump. This pump is pressure controlled. A membrane in the pumping house is touching a micro switch, so that the pump is switch off when the pressure has passed some value. Fortunately the day before departure it was discovered that the pump was not working. An investigation showed that one of the flat contacts of the micro switch was completely eroded. Although some modification of a commercial available switch was required it was quite easy to replace the switch.
Also an additional modification has been made to limit the pumping time. This is to prevent that the whole water tank is wasted in the case that e.g. a tube has been collapsed. The limited operation is achieved by a timer. At the moment an operation time 17 seconds is adjusted. As soon as the pump starts the timer is set. If the pump is not stopped within 17 sec., the timer will stop the pump. A red light is switched on and the timer an be set again manually by means of a pulse switch.





lock refrigerator
The door of the refrigerator can be locked, so that it will be kept closed during driving. The lock consists of a rotating snap, which can be controlled by a plastic slide. When locked, the snap is fixed by a pin. A problem was announced when the door is closed, while the snap was in the locking position. Thanks to the shape of the snap the pin can rotate the snap too much resulting in damaging the plastic construction. If the damage is too much the snap rotates too far, so that it cannot be controlled any more by the plastic slide. Furthermore, it is no longer possible to close the door at all. To solve this problem three modifications have been performed:
- a metal sheet is added, so that the snap cannot easily damage the plastic construction.
- an additional buffer is added, so that the pin cannot pass the critical point
- the critical point is changed by flattening the rounded shape of the snap






Discharge valve clear water reservoir
A three way piston valve is used to enable discharging the clear water reservoir and the electric water pump. In winter time the valve is left in open position to avoid damaging by freezing. A problem is that the valve did not close always well after a period in open position. The minor problem is that there is a slight leakage of water. However, the major problem is that the water pump is sucking false air resulting in a bad operation. The exact operation of the valve is not good visible. It is believed that the piston is pushed down by a spring if the handle is set in closed position. Probably the spring is not strong enough. It was attempted to get a better operation by greasing the piston. However, also this greasing did not reduce the leakage to zero. Finaly a special tool has been made which can be used to push the piston with a larger force in the sealing. This seems to work satisfactory up to now. However, it is considered to replace the valve by a tree way ball valve in the future.





repairing arm rest
The captain chairs are equipped with two arm rests. To allow leaving the chair easily the arm rest can be lifted up. In time the arm rests at the center could be moved more and more backwards. Therefore some investigation has been carried out to find out why this happen. After the cover has been removed it could be observed that a pin which has to stop the motion was bended. Obviously because they are handeled to heavy. The pin could be straightened more or less by hammering. After a cap was removed the pin could be pulled out and more accurately aligned.
The cap covers an interesting mechanism, which should not work well with a bended pin. This mechanism has to prevent that the arm rest comes down in the case of a crash and hurts the arm of someone.
In the future the arm rests will be handled with more care.
UPDATE: After a service in the garage the pins were bended again. Apparently the workers in the service station are not aware of the sensitivity of the arm rests. In order to improve the stability the weak pins are replaced by a version of steel. The diameter of the pin is 5 mm were a section of 3 mm needs a diameter of 6 mm. This is achieved by a piece of aluminum tube. Finaly the snaps which have to block the rotation are elaborated by a file in order to make the operation more reliable.





replacing door snapper
After several years the snapper of the camper door has become too smooth. A 3D printer has been used to make a new one.





condensation of moist into head-light
After several years, condensation of moist could be observed in the interior of the head-lights. Probably the sealing is not perfect, so that the vapor saturation becomes critical in time at low temperatures. This phenomenon was observed in one of the head-lights during a service. The advice was to replace a cap, covering the contacts, by a (quite expensive) new type. The difference with the original cap is that the new type is perforated. However, also this modification did not prevent condensation. A provisional solution is to remove the cap and blow air into the house of the head-light, until the condensed moist has been disappeared. Turning on the lights for a while is helpful. In winter time when it is freezing the opportunity can be taken to fill the house of the head lights with cold dry air.
I am thinking about a more permanent solution.
UPDATE: The new solution found is to put some bags with silica gel in the caps. The largest cap contains sufficient space to hold two bags. The bags are keeping in place by fly gauze and some kind of a plastic spring. In time it will be observed if this solution is helpfull.




lock door wet room
The door of the wet room is fixed in closed position by a snap. The snap can be controlled by a handle in order to open the door. Since the weight of the handle is rather large a spring has been used in the interior of the lock to keep the snap in the extended position. After 5 year of use the spring was broken. As a result the door could not be locked anymore because the snap did not come in the extended position automatically.
Although the house of the lock could not be opened completely it appeared to be possible to replace the spring. A suitable spring was found in one of my trash cases.





ignition switch gas cooker
The switch of the electronically ignition system of the gas cooker did not work well. After activaton the switch did not coming back in the off position, automatically. This becomes rather irritating after a while. After some searching it was found that a suitable switch (701120)could be supplied by Conrads.
The ignition system is always powered, so that care has to be taken that the contacts are not touching metal parts. If so, a fuse will be blown up.





dead engine
On a Sunday morning, when ready for departure the engine should be started. However, surprisingly nothing happened when turning the key. The lights of the instruments were on, but were going off when attempting to start the engine. Since the camper is always connected to 220 power supply when parked at home, and the battery was not older than 2 years, it was believed in the first instance that the battery charger was out of order. Therefore an attempt was made to start the engine with an additional battery via starting cables. The additional battery, however, was not in such a good condition so that the attempt fails. Before taken further action it was decided to measure the voltage of the system. It was found that this was more that 13V, which indicates that the battery must be well charged. However, when activating the starting engine the voltage drops to zero. Finally the idea comes up to measure directly at the electrodes of the battery. It shows that the voltage was still more than 13V, even during starting.
The problem was the conduction between the ground electrode and cable was not good. Because of the too large diameter, the (quick fix) terminal could not be connected tight enough, so that slight erosion hampers the conduction. Some jerking of the terminal was sufficient to improve the conduction sufficiently in order to start the engine. However, the quick fix terminal has been replaced by a conventional terminal, which can be fixed by a bolt and nut.


warning light on
At the third day of our 4 weeks holiday to Italy a warning light (motor management) kept on burning. Surprisingly, because the camper was in use for only about 25000 km. At that moment we were close to Briancon. Following the manual the symbol refers to a disturbance in the injection system. It was described, however, that the warning was not fatal, so that it was allowed to continue driving. Possibly the power could be decreased and more fuel could be consumed according to the manual. Since there could not be observed any change in the behavior of the engine I had the idea that it was a disturbance of the warning system itself. However, to have such a warning light in the beginning of a holiday did not feel fine. Therefore I called the Fiat support number to ask what to do. They advised us to visit a service station (the most close they could find was in Gap) to examine the problem. At the service station they were willing to elaborate the problem at the same day. Visually the cable to the injectors and the injectors themselves were treated with some compound. Furthermore a computer was during quite a long time connected to the engine in order to reset the warning system and to update the software.
When, after 2 hours, the repair was finished they presented us the key and we could drive away without paying any costs. It appeared that they had carried out a factory recommended modification, which is costless for the owner. The question remains why Fiat has not offered earlier to carry out this modification. Apparently the user needs to ask for it.

UPDATE 1
After about 20000 km the warning light was on again. However, there was not any feeling that the engine behaved unusual. In the mean time I have discovered that the problem is caused by a bad contact of one of the connectors, which power the injectors. Probably this is a result of the close fit of the connectors and a too low pressure between the contacts. When looking at the interior of the connector it can be wondering if the flat contacts are thick enough to obtain sufficient contact pressure.
This problem can be solved easily by sliding the connectors in and out for a few times. Eventually some contact spray can be supplied. If the problem will reveal again some extra filling will be supplied, such as e.g. thin strips of copper.



UPDATE 2
Although there was no problem anymore with the warning light of the motor management system, I was still curious if a bad contact of the connector of the injectors could activate the warning light. This was tested by disrupting the connector very shortly while the engine was running. And indeed the warning light was on after this action. The next question was, does the warning light went out automatically when the disturbance is only once. This seemed to be the case. After a ride of approximately one hour and a restart of the engine the warning light was off again.

Charge problem tomtom910
About six years ago I have purchased a tomtom910 navigation device. The device can be fixed to the screen of the car by an adapter, with a suction cup. I possess two screen adapters and a desk adapter. When connected to the adapters the battery of device is charged and communication is possible with other devices. The navigation device has been operated satisfactory for a long time. However, several month ago one of the screen adapters starts to show a problem with charging the device. The connection with the power seems to be interrupted. In the beginning the connection could be restored by hitting the device. However, gradually more and more hits were needed to continue the charging process. Finally, the navigation device was charged with the desk adapter and the screen adapter was only used to hold the navigation device. After some time, however, also the second screen adapter and the desk adapter start to exhibit the charging problem. This was a trigger to look at the internet if more people are struggling with this problem. It was amazing to see that so many forums are devoted to this problem and that so many people have the same problem with their device. Unfortunately no clear solution could be found at the forums. And since the device is quite old the factory support has been stopped. Therefore I have spent a day to analyze and solve this problem. Firstly the tt910 was dismantled somewhat, so that the connector could be better examined. It was found that there was a good contact between the poles of the connector and the board. Next it was found (by covering contacts with tape) that the contacts at the end of the connector are needed to supply charging power. However, also the circular ground contact of the antenna is a ground connection.
It was clear that the problem has been caused by bad contacts between the poles of the connector. As can be seen at the photographs the contacts of the device are surrounded by a rectangular case. The problem is that contacts at the end of the adapter are pressed down by the short wall of the case (due to deformation? of the case in time). Three modifications are carried out to improve the connections.
1) the contacts of the navigation device are lifted up slightly.
2) the short walls of the rectangular case are cut off for some part.
3) the outer contact strips of the adapter are bended vertically and moved a little horizontally in the direction of the center of the connector.
Probably not all actions are necessary. I think 1 and 3 are already helpful.
In one of the adapters it was found that the ground contact strip was disconnected and also the circular ground contact of the external antenna was not optimal. This has been improved by placing a drop of tin solder on it.
Finally all adapters are working properly now.

UPDATE: An additional opportunity has been created to connect the device to a power source. Two wires of a canibalized USB extension cable are soldered to a plus and minus point at the board in the interior of the device. A connection with a mini USB plug is now possible. A universal 5V adapter can now be used. Since the contacts at the board are small the soldering iron had to be modified somewhat.


A special possibility which has been obtained is that the device can now be powered by the dynamo of my bike. Because the battery (only three hours live time) can be charged during biking the device has become suitable for following biking routes.


engine failure during driving
On holiday in France, when climbing a slope the engine suddenly stops. Fortunately it was possible to find a suitable parking place by driving backwards. It appeared not to be possible to solve the problem at the location, so that the camper has to be transported to a service station. Because the diagnostic device did not indicate the problem it took about 1.5 hour to find the problem. After some resistance measurements en trial and error operations it was found that a relay (costs about 2 dollar) which controls the fuel pump was not working well. After this component has been replaced the problem was solved.
Again an example how a minor component can cause a large problem. In this case the traffic condition was rather quiet. It has to be realized, however, that it could be happen in a much worse situation.

Since I was interested in what was really causing the failure I have analyzed the interior of he relay in more detail. It seemed that there was no problem with the contacts. A resistance measurement of the coil indicates a disruption somewhere. Therefore the coil was unwounded. As was more or less expected the break in the wire was close at the end. At the photograph it can be seen that the coulor of the wire close to the break is different comparing to the normal coulor. This indicates that there was some heating at this location. Probably the wire was damaged during the winding process while a slight contact still remains. The higher resistance at that location heated the wire, which finally (after 75000 km) results in a total break. A strange phenomenon is that the break was not forced during starting, because induction should cause a peak voltage in the coil. Another question is why this defect is not noticed during a quality check. I think a resistance measurement should show the damage.
Anyway, some relays are now added to the reserve stock.

UPDATE: At some moment it was noticed that the major head lights were not working. After several hours of measurements, testing an trial and error operations it was found that a relay causes the problem. This relay should be activated by the switch located at the steer wheel. The relay was not really cracked, but the resistance appeared to be too large ( 86 ohm). It was found that a relay with a resistance of less than 70 ohm was working well. Measurements have shown that the relay is activated by connecting one of the poles to mass; probably by an electronical circuit, to allow both, flash operation and continuous burning. Apparently the resistance of the relay is critically in this circuit.
To find the cause of the previously described engine failure some relays have been exchanged. Probably not all relays are placed back at the originally location. Because the major light is used rarely the failure was noticed several month later.

damage camper door
During passing a narrow gate at a steep slope the door of the camper was opened by the gravity. Obviously the door was not closed well. Since we would stop at the waste service station of the camping we did not lock the door as seriously as we should do when starting for driving. I drove very slowly so that the damage looked not so bad in the first instance. However, the manipulation to drive backwards at the steep slope resulted in more additional forward motion. As a result cracks are caused in the body of the door near the hinges. Also the aluminium profile surrounding the door was bended and the plastic cover was deformed. Fortunately the door frame was not damaged.


In the first instance provisional work has been carried out, so that the door could be used during the holiday period.
At home the door was repaired in more detail. Firstly the aluminium profile was bended in good shape using the fastening points of the hinges. The cracks and the aluminium profile are fixed by a kind of glue and silicon compound, respectively. Additionally four metal strips are used to keep the aluminium profile better in place. A kind of bench vice has been made to keep the door in shape during the hardening process of the glue.
The rather small rip in the plastic cover of the door has been stabilized at the inside by means of polyester and glas fibre. Finally some minor signs are visible, at least if you know that there was a damage at some moment. These signs are hidden by stickers which warn for open door.


repairing roller blind
The roller blind of the camper door showed a rip at the point where it is connected to the operation beam. To prevent that the rip enlarges it looks necessary ro repair this. Originally a strap is sewed in the blind. A metal bar is placed into the strap, so that the blind can be connected to the operation beam.
It appeared not necessary to extend the whole system. The blind is closed half way and next the winding mechanism is blocked. Now the operation beam can be placed carefully in diagonal direction and taken out of the grove. On its turn the blind can be separated from the operation beam, so that the rip can be repaired easily by means of aluminium tape.





brake too hot
In spite of three visits (I was not satisfied about te replacement of one of the brake-blocks) to a service station of a fiat dealer in my neigbourhood I got a problem with one of the brakes. They convinced me that the repair was well done. However, during a long tour to the north of Scandinavia one of the wheels becomes so hot that I could not continue my way. The north of Sweden is not very dense populated so that I decided to investigate the problem by myself in the first instance. After removing the wheel it could be observed that one of the brake cylinders (there are two for each wheel) retreated too heavy. The retraction could be forced by a hammer and a screw driver. It was hoped that a more smooth motion could be forced by putting the cylinder in another position. This was achieved by placing a strip between cylinder and brake-block. The strip was made by cutting one end of a picklock. Fortunately this appeared to be a successfull modification, so that the remaining 6000km! could be travelled.
When back at home the brake unit has been replaced. Because I did not longer trust the previous service station another service station was choosen.





sinking of the refrigerator
At some moment it was observed that a lot of air was leaking threw the slit between refrigerator and the wooden case. It was a hard wind, so that it was believed that this was the cause. However, also at a later time with normal wind some smell could be observed related to the gas burner of the refrigerator. In the first instance I tried to close the slit by filling the slit with some plastic material. At some moment, however, I discovered that the refrigerator unit was settled. This happens because the supporting board was disconnected at one side from the side walls. This situation has created a big gap which was responsible for the airstream.
In the first instance the good side of the supporting board was supported to the floor by wooden beams. Next the settled side was lifted up by a jack and also supportet to the floor by some wooden beams. Also some additional supporting beams have been placed in the center of the board. The support of the refrigerator is much more stabel now and the leaking of air (with combustion gas) is not longer significant.



wind screen wiper not working
When leaving a camping in France at a raining mornig I was confronted with a failure of the wind screen wipers. Noting happens when touching the switch. In the first instance I have checked several items, such as connectors and fuses. Unfortunately there was not a simple solution. Accidentally we were close to Gap. There is a service station which has helped me 8 years ago. So I went again to that staion. Next day they were able to look at the problem. It appeared that the electric engine was out of order. The device was not in stock, but after 6 hours I could return to the station to install a new engine.
I was allowed to take the old engine with me. At home I opened the device. It appeared that the electrical motor and gear wheels are working fine. Only a few electronic components are in the device, including a relay. Up to now I have the idea that there is a bad solder contact which causes the failure.





failure of the gas heater
At some day the heater was out of order. After some investigation it appeared finally that the control board was defective and needed to be replaced. A rather costly reparation. Because the heater is rather bad accessible it was not seen before that three tubes (for transporting the heated air) were not fixed properly at the outlets. This causes that the warm air was mainly circulating in the small case which accomodates the heater, resulting in a rather high temperature in the case. Perhaps the high temperature has caused the failure of the control board.
In order to prevent that the tubes get loose from the outlets again they are fixed with a metal wire.





failure Omnistor awning
The Omnistor awning of the camper was not working properly. For safety snaps at both sides of the winding axis locks the system when the fabric is turned in. When extending the fabric two pins at eachs side of the winding axis are unlocking the system. This means that some fabric is winded off (max half a turn) before the system is unlocked. This results in a rather noisy effect. This is normal. However, in my device left and right did not unlock at the same moment (half a turn later). A closer look showed that one of the pin is just passing the unlocking mechanism resulting in an additional half turn. Probably this has become critical due to distortion as a result of some slight hits of the awning with e.g. trees. The solution to solve this problen is shown in the photograph. The plane which ativates the lock has been made somewhat higher (yellow part), so that the lock (green part) becomes in a position where it cannot be passed bij one of the pins.





Last edited January 2019

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