Saturday, September 30, 2006

After camping vacation

I wrote couple days ago that I was going for a summer camping vacation. So now I'll write about how the camper worked on that trip.

The LED lamp and my camping solar set worked great! I don't have to guess if the energy stored in the battery is enough or not. If the energy runs out, the charge controller simply disconnects the lamp. At that moment you need to use the energy from the car's battery or candles (BTW, I have a large stock of candles in the camper). The LED lamp gives less light than the original lamp above the window, but it's better than nothing.

Connecting two water tanks together (I'll write about it soon) was a great idea, because it simply doubled the car water supply. It seems that nothing's changed, because it's the same two tanks of the same capacity. True, but taking the water pump from one of the tanks and putting it to the second one is disturbing. My modification halves the chance of running out of water in the middle of doing dishes.

I had some trouble with engine temperature gauge. While I was accelerating uphill, the LED started blinking red and indicator went to the right end of the temperature scale. Some time later it went back to its normal position. Perhaps there's not enough water in the cooling system?

Summarising -- I drove 900 kilometers (560 miles) with average fuel consumption below 8l / 100 km (35 MPG). I must admit, I drove slowly (70...80 km/h - 44...50 mph).

Monday, September 25, 2006

Camping solar set

From Volkswagen Transporter T3

The photo above shows my camping solar set. It is the beginning of what will power all my camping appliances. I am going to power all the camping stuff (refrigerator, lights, water pump, even CD player) from second battery, charged with car alternators and also with solar panel).

The solar panel can be folded and put in backpack. It has connectors (gray, can be seen on the photo) which allow it to be connected paralelly to another photovoltaic panels (paralelly - the same voltage, but more power). The solar panel also has connector for plugging car lighters, for example I can put there my cellphone car charger.

The charge controller has three sets of connectors: one for battery, one for solar panel, one for the stuff that's to be powered with the battery. It protects the battery from being discharged too much but also from being overcharged and discharged by solar panel during the nights.

For now, the set consists of old (not fully operational) 45 Ah car battery I used in my Fiat 126p, charge controller, solar photovoltaic panel and LED lamp (made of LED bulb for home halogen lamps).

In future I'll install there bigger battery and connect all the camping equipment to it. Perhaps I'll buy a 12/230V inverter?

My beautiful headlights

From Volkswagen Transporter T3

This is a photograph of one of my beatiful headlights. It is a tuning lamp for VW Golf, with flat glass. It's visible that it is not the original one, since it is tilted clockwise a bit.

On the box there's an information that it gives a lot more light than the orignal lamp and uses H4 light bulbs.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The day of unfinished business

I planned some very important things for today. We're leaving with Ania for our summer holiday. A long awaited one, so I had not much time to do many things.

First I wanted to put my tuning headlights, the ones Tomek bought for my birthday. They are made for Volkswagen Golf Mk II, so were supposed to require some extra work to fit them.
The second thing I wanted to do, was to put together a solar charger for my camping battery.
The last thing was adding taps for both clean water tanks and connecting those taps with a hose. This would connect them together and thus "double" the car water storage capacity.

Let's start with the beginning.

The lights were more difficult to be installed, because they have bolt holes in wrong places. Only two of three bolts were used, the third point of contact with the frame was made with a piece of wire. They're tilted clokwise by couple degrees, because the holes were in wrong places. They're installed, but I'm not satisfied with the results.

The solar charger was to be connected to my second car battery (an old 12V 45Ah capacity battery, from my Fiat 126p), solar battery, solar charge controlled and a LED lamp, connected by some wires. I wanted to connect all this stuff to existing car wiring, so it would be charged by car's alternator while driving. I didn't make the lamp (I had only a LED bulb and some switch, didn't have the time to put it together), so this makes the job only half done.

I removed windshield washer fluid tank. As I written some time ago, it has broken pump. The second pump I connected to the wires also didn't work. I checked both on an external battery, they are operational. I checked if the wire has enough power to move the pump but was unsuccessful - I saw that it does have some power, but couldn't measure the voltage because I had only a test bulb and no voltage meter. The job is not done at all, though I wasted some time.

I had no time at all to install the taps on the tanks. :(

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Link 4? No kidding...

I received an email ad of Link4 (they say they have the smallest prices for auto insurance, but can be contacted only by phone), so I figured I'll call hem, see how much would they charge my camper's insurance. Mine is valid till january, but I want to prepare the cash in advance.

First, a nice lady asked me where do I live, when did I get my driving licence, do I have any bonuses to my insurance for safe driving, and so on.

When she heard that this is a camper, she said that they don't have good offers prepared for camper vans. The campers are charged extra money. It was very odd for me, because in any other normal auto insurance company one gets charged less if one has camper instead of normal car. Anyways, I asked her, how much would I be charged for the insurance. PLN 2,600 ($1,050) per year.

No kidding...

I asked in some other insurance company, the one that has representatives and thus should be more expensive. They told me that I'd pay for my car PLN 1,600 ($650).

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Visit on Cargo

Yesterday I went with Ania to Cargo (a place near the Warsaw Airport Okęcie Cargo Terminal) to look at airplanes starting and landing on the airport. There is nothing more pleasant than comfortable car, nice company, nice view and a pack of potato chips.

From Volkswagen Tr...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Camping trip around Baltic Sea

Some time ago we (Tomek and I) started thinking about driving two campers around Baltic Sea. Not precisely around the sea, because we aren't goint through Russia, so we make a shortcut from Estonia to Finland by ferry.

I filled a route on Map24, got a result of around 6,500 km (4,040 miles), including a ferry from Copenhagen to Germany. If we drove that part of journey on roads, it'd be probably over 7,000 km (4,350 miles). I couldn't make Map24 to predict the route on land, because I had no other stopovers to use.

Since I drove my camper 3,000 km (1,860 miles) since I bought it, the trip will probably be no trouble at all. But it will require a lot of money to go there. :)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Camping stove/refrigerator

My Volkswagen Camper is equipped with refrigerator and gas stove. The refrigerator doesn't have a compressor, because it is absorption refrigerator. It's powered by heat source, not by electric motor. The heat source is electric heater or gas burner, so it can be powered by LPG from gas tank, or electricity, both 12V DC from car alternator / battery or 230V AC from grid.

The refrigerator is large enough to fit some stuff inside. But I am not sure if it works as it should. From what I saw to this moment, on 12V it does a nice job, but on gas doesn't work as good as on DC.

The stove works very fine. It has two burners. I bought a small kettle so I can boil water for tea on Warzywniak meetings. While I am driving, the kettle is placed in the sink, for safety.

All the burners are equipped with auto-shut-off valves. It protects the passengers from inhaling the gas if the flame extinguishes. I am glad that the car almost 30 years old has the technology that was introduced to polish homes couple of years ago.

Below is the photo of the cupboard that holds stove, sink and refrigerator. After folding one of the sides of the second case it makes a shelf for preparing food and stuff. The front side of this cupboard is equipped with 230 V socket. I am not sure if it does work...

After opening up the roof one can stand inside, prepare food on the stove, wash the dishes, as long as there's water in two 10 litre (2.64 gal) tanks. ;)

From Volkswagen Tr...

Monday, September 11, 2006

I saw a high VW T2

Today I saw high Volkswagen Transporter T2 (bully) while driving to work. I didn't have enough time to park near it and shoot a photograph.

9/12/06 addition It was there today. I had the time so made the following photo.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Window curtains

The car has curtains for all the windows. Those for back and side windows are installed permanently, but can be opened or closed. The three front are installed with naps to the window frame. The picture below shows one of those curtains, on passenger door.

They're made of dense material, so don't let sunlight through and allow to sleep long in the morning.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

The camper's fold-up roof

Is a fold-up roof in camper van any good?

It is... First of all you can stand up. I am 182 cm (6 ft) tall and have at least 10 cm (4 in) above my head. I don't have to bend over the kitchen stove, sink or anything else.

The second advantage is the possibility to ventilate the car. It's back windows aren't cannot be opened, so folding up the roof gives me some fresh air that can't be obtained elsewhere.

One can use the handle (for closing the roof) to hang a towel or something else.

This is the look from inside, with three "windows" open. Those hanging cloths don't look well, but I can't tie them at the moment, 'cause there's no cord or anything similar.

That's the roof seen from the outside.

It has one disadvantage. Leaks. It has no holes or anything, that's not the cause. But when the rain is strong, the raindrops splash on the camper's roof and make the tent cloth wet. Then the water slowly pours down and pours inside. The cloth needs water repellent. One such experience is enough.

Monday, September 4, 2006

Weekend in T3

We had family meeting in our summer woodland cabin last weekend. We had a family meeting there. There wasn't enough beds or floor spaces for everyone so we (I and Ania) slept in Camper. These were my third and fourth night spent in the car since I bought it. Till that moment I thought the Camper's bed is more comfortable than the one I have at home, but now I think it is only as comfortable as the other one.

I also found out that the car is silenced pretty well. It wasn't loud inside, despite all the screams, shouts and other sound from outside. Of course when the roof is retracted, the tent cloth can't stop any noises... It is an important feature when you camp on a campsite with people who like to listen to loud museic, sing and talk a lot at night. Very typical in Poland, where people don't know how to behave themselves in public.