Newbie from Stoke

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A truly excellent build along with some superb photographs along with excellent dialogue that you will no doubt use in a very professional application to the DVLA.
Well done

Phil
 

Gary Wrench

Active Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2017
Location
Crewe
Hi John, looking really good, love the woodwork. Think we have a mutual friend Ian Howell. I’m only in Crewe and just got my Boxer L4 H3 yesterday.

Gary
 

jjturner

Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2016
So here's an update to where it is now, mainly done this since Goodwood and getting ready for race of remembrance. This is a charity race for Mission Motorsport who help use Motorsport to help Wounded Injured and Sick service personnel rebuild their lives, get retrained and get jobs. Its in November at Anglesey circuit.

Anglsey is cold, windy and no power hookup, so is a challenge for a self build running an electric fridge for 4 days.

First thing to install was the heater.


This is 4000W gas / 1800W electric air/water heater where you can heat either the air or the water or both. It also is able to be used whilst the van is moving. It is temperature controlled and has a timer. This all allows you to set the timer so the van is warm before you start driving.

Next thing was something to cook with as we couldn't use the microwave as no hookup and an inverter might just use too much power.

So installed a 3 ring hob/oven, this model was picked as the oven fits a M&S family pizza. No point slumming it.



Then needed to solve the power challenge. I've now wired in the engine battery so it charges the leisure batteries whilst driving so should arrive with a full charge, but 4 days on site would be a stretch.
Solar panels were the answer, managed to get an ebay offer and got 2 110W panels for a a reasonable price. These are flexible panels so fit the curve of the roof and glued straight onto the roof.


The panels can't be wired straight to the battery as the voltage varies depending on brightness of the sun, so you have to use a solar controller. The one I've gone for is a 350W MPPT I+II controller. What does that mean?
350W - that is the maximum capacity the panels can be, so I have capacity to install another one if needed. I could have got bigger, but you don't want to over size the controller as you loose efficiency.
  • MPPT - Solar controllers effectively put a resistance on the panel and then convert the voltage to charge the battery. MPPT (Maximum power point tracking) effectively varies the resistance to draw the maximum power, it ends up being 10%+ more effective.
  • I+II - It supports 2 batteries, charging the main (leisure) battery first, then charges the secondary (van battery) when the main is full so it never goes flat.

The controller also has a cut off and an isolator. The cut off stops the batteries being overcharged and the isolator means the panels don't draw power from the batteries when its dark.


I also got an external display for the solar controller to allow you to see how much power being generated.


The issues with RoR is its November, so the sun is low in the sky, reducing efficiency and its cloudy, so only saw 4A. This setup could theoretically produce 16A, but I'd only expect that in north Africa in the summer. It was enough to top the batteries up so they lasted 4 days, which is great as this is the heaviest use it will see.

The control panels were just sliding about the place so I made up a board to mount them on temporarily.



Low charge rate, lots of heater usage (gas heater but uses an electric fan), lights being used all the time, charging phones and tv usage.

Yes, TV.


22" 12v TV, which is actually an Android TV. It was too windy to hook up the satellite dish (£25 from aldi) so we streamed some TV over 4G.

The van worked brilliantly at Anglsey, was a warm place to sleep, really comfy.
 

jjturner

Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2016
The last trip of the year was to Rockingham and first time it was towing the boxster.
With the trailer, its nearly 13m long so fun to manouver and any help is useful. It has a rear camera as standard (as its the top of the line model, but that not saying much) but its not good for hooking up the trailer.
So I bought a reversing camera set and mounted the camera low so I can use it to hook up.


And got monitor that mounts on the mirror, or where it should be, so got a mirror.


Gives a great image for reversing and allows surprisingly accurate moves.

The other problem with it being a van is there is no rear view mirror, but get the right camera (i.e. a narrow angle one) and you can replicate one.


But these camera's have another trick, they are infrared, so get a great picture at night but headlights do mess it up as with any camera would anyway.


Also took a spare set of wheels to Anglsey and they fit perfectly and installing a couple of rings to utalise ratchet straps.
 

misterg

Active Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2017
Location
North Wales
Great write-up, thanks :)

I'd be interested in how you get on with the solar panels - I keep flipping between flexible (because they're neat and unobtrusive) and rigid (because they seem to have a better reputation for reliability). Decisions, decisions...

Edit:

Just realised... Two heaters? Or did you get rid of the diesel one?
 
Last edited:

jjturner

Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2016
Great write-up, thanks :)

I'd be interested in how you get on with the solar panels - I keep flipping between flexible (because they're neat and unobtrusive) and rigid (because they seem to have a better reputation for reliability). Decisions, decisions...

Edit:

Just realised... Two heaters? Or did you get rid of the diesel one?
Flexible seem ok so far.
Yes 2 heaters for diversity of fuel. It gets very cold on the trackdays and don't want to risk my other half going cold if we have to save gas for cooking.
 

jjturner

Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2016
So we never wanted a motorhome that looked like a van but that's what it looks like.
I've been browsing the sticker kits on ebay and although cheap, looked it.
The charity we support called Mission Motorsport that helps support wounded, injured and sick service personel tweeted about the livery service they had was being featured on TV so I thought I'd drop them an email to see what they could do. I didn't want a full wrap but just something to make it look less van like. I exchanged a few emails with Dave "off the telly" and agreed a design, plus the all important Mission Motorsport logo's

We arranged a time to drop it off and picked it up this weekend.







really happy with the results
 

jjturner

Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2016
Back in 2017....
I always planned to get alloy wheels for the van but they are limited in choice. Some of the VW lot fit car wheels but these aren't rated for use on vans of this size. The Ducato Maxi's front axle max weight is 2100kg and the rear is 2400kg (even though its a 3500kg van).

There are 2 different types for Ducato's, standard and Maxi. The standard van wheels are 15" with the maxi being 16" from the factory, but the standard wheel fitment is actually 5×118 PCD Centre Bore 71.1 and Maxi are 5×130 PCD Centre Bore 78.1 so need different wheels, not just the rim size.

Team dynamics do some, used by lots of Motorhome converters. These go for £350-500 depending where you get them. They are rated at 1250kg per wheel, so 2500kg per axle, in excess of the Ducato Maxi's axle rating.

I was in no rush and didn't want to pay stupid amounts so set an eBay search up. A set came up and sold for £300 but I was in no rush, then Xmas eve a set appeared, brand new in boxes from someone who just sells wheels, so I took a punt. They ended on Boxing day, I won, £140 for a set. Excellent.
Fast forward to March 2019 and I finally got my arse into gear to get them fitted.





Only thing that lets them down is wheel bolts, but a new set has been ordered.

Unfortunately I've noticed one of the rear tyres has a bulge in it, so a new pair has been ordered to replace the two original tyres.
 

jjturner

Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2016
So started a new bit of the project that meant taking out the fridge and that would be easier if I took out the kitchen bit and the drawers weren't working properly so it would be easier if it was out, etc etc.
End up looking like this...


I wanted to install another battery to get up to 150Ah of usable power as only 50% of battery is recommended to use.
I installed new clamps and relocated pipes and wiring to where they should have been had I not been in a rush previously.

Put the battery in and noticed it was cracked. I assumed I'd dropped it in wrong, but no, big scratch doen the side that gave way as I dropped it in. Luckily it was a AGM battery (Absorbant Glass Matting) so no leakage.
New battery ordered couldn't claim on the old one as it had sat in the garage for a few months. Fck....

So decided to do something about the another niggle we noticed whilst using it at Anglesey and actually make some progress.

The van is almost a Faraday cage, so the phone signal sucks. We were leaning against the window to get a signal which wasn't comfortable.

The answer is to install an external ariel and WiFi hotspot.
I found one online but looked expensive compared to the sum of the parts.

I found a WiFi hotspot with external ariel connections (Huawei E5577) and an external ariel (LGM 'great white') plus a couple of cables and a 3 mobile PAYG sim.
I decided to not go for the external ariel with WiFi, gps and phone as it would just mean more wiring and I'd never use it.

So the install was a simple drill hole in roof, install ariel etc.




So what's the performance like?
At home we normally get a full signal on 3
But in the van, without ariel..


With ariel connected


I then set up the TV to connect to the hotspot and did a speed test


Enough to easily stream movies.


Happy with that.
 

jjturner

Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2016
an update...
So whilst the kitchen unit was out I looked around it and decided it could be thinner so as to make more room in the walk way and this would also make the fridge easier to get out as there is <1cm clearance at the moment.

So I disassembled the unit, took 8cm off the top and sides and reassembled it. This meant I had to fit a rear access panel to tighten the fittings for the gas cooker, but that was always a faff anyway.

I then built the drawers, what a PITA, but finally got them done.

Then to tackle some electrical issues.
Whilst we'd been in Anglsey the battery charge dropped low and the solar panels didn't charge well. In the UK you don't get full efficiency due to our position and certainly not in November, when its cloudy and rainy.
I decided a 2 prong approach, fit another battery and fit another solar panel.
Out came the fridge as the batteries are located underneath and in went another set of battery retaining clamps. We now have 300Ah of 12V battery, which means 150Ah useable power enough for a few days with no charge in bad weather as we're quite power hungry campers. I also took the opportunity to tidy up cabling and reduce the panel size at the back of the fridge, both to improve airflow.



On the roof I installed another 110W panel. The solar panel controller I'd already installed was rated at 350w as I thought I might upgrade someday so that was fine.

New cabling for the panel and 3-1 junctions installed.
so on a reasonably bright but cloudy day I was peaking at 190w+


On a recent trip, which was cloudy and rained a bit, I was getting 50Ah charge a day, which is enough for what we use.

I also upgraded all of the battery cables to 300A as I'd just purchased a 1600W pure sign wave inverter so we can run the microwave of battery if needs be, along with remote switch. It works the microwave ok, but not some other devices like the tassimo or a jigsaw for some reason. Its only an emergency option anyway and we wanted one to charge laptops etc if needed.

As seems to be the pattern with me, the jobs I need to do are driven by what we are going to use the van for. So very "Just in Time" development.

We were off to bluedot festival, a 4 day music and science festival. So of course we wanted to take the van, but 2 issues.1) At Goodwood last year in July I noticed the van got hot when cooking so more ventilation would be great and 2) At bluedot you pay for the showers and from looking at the map they were a long way away from the van parking.
So the answer was fit roof lights in the van, one in the kitchen and one in the shower area which also needed fitting. I would also have to fit the toilet and sink properly.

The roof lights were a 400x400 for the kitchen and a 280x280 with fan for the bathroom area.
usual approach, make a frame, cut a hole, glue frame, build up area round hole so it's square. Inset window.
Apart from I needed to take all the insulation off I'd already fitted.


and the roof in the bathroom is a weird shape with a 20mm gap so needed lots of padding out.


Unfortunately I was pushed for time so didn't take many photos.


outside


kitchen


bathroom
 

jjturner

Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2016
And so to the shower/bathroom...
My wife (and occasionally I) do open water swimming and it would be great to be able to rinse out the wet suits. So I thought it would be useful to fit an external shower rather than haul a wet suit inside the van.
I did some research and found a bullfinch external shower unit that allows you remove the hose which would be great.
Easy to fit.
Drill a 60mm hole.

Screw the unit in.

And connect on the inside.

And connect the hose outside, which auto shuts off when removed.


Its a good little shower with a on/off press button on the shower head to control the flow.

In order to fit the shower tray, I needed to create a wooden support frame, to raise the tray off the floor and provide support for the edges in case anyone treads on them as they don't look strong.


I'd already drilled the holes for the drains, but wanted to recess the back of the drain holes so the drains were not taking all the weight of anyone standing on them.


Then installed the shower tray and stuck it down with Dekaseal so it doesn't move and is removable if really needed.


And connected up the smooth bore hoses so the would be able to drain through the floor in a clear area with no cross members but would drain efficiently.


I then uninstalled the sink and toilet and installed the shower tray and cutting the hole in the floor. I used a bulkhead fixing that I cut up a little to prevent the pipe from rubbing and yet provide a good seal.

Next was the rear toilet wall.

I put battens across and installed a 2 piece faced hardboard (waterproof) wall with a H joint strip. Big mistake I made was the joint was too high up and where the wall curved quite a bit which put too much stress on the joint so took ages.

The next issue I saw was the shower which extends from the sink would be tight fitting to the wall and could be a pain to use. It would also mean always having the sink down when you shower taking up space.

I looked at installing another shower units but they encroach in the toilet area when not in use. So decided to fit another bullfinch shower as we will be using it very occasionally. Same installation as before.

Reinstalled the toilet and sink (both a pain now there is less room) and sealed using silicone sealant (a high flexible version). I used some silicone seal tools to shape the sealant and they make it so easy and such a better finish.


Next problem was the bathroom had no door. I ordered a shower curtain and a 2 m flexible curtain rail which I shaped into a L shape so the curtain could be pulled across the door and round to cover the sink and toilet so less wiping up.




I fitted velcro to the curtain and the sides of the door and the back wall to stop the curtain moving when you're showering and to get it to follow the curved rear wall.

I then swapped the shower head on one of the bullfinch pipes to a normal shower head and fitted a wall mounting point.



All done in time for bluedot. The shower worked great, drains well, we got 2 showers from each full hot water tank which is great and was so much nicer at a festival being clean and showered every morning (unlike some others).
 

jjturner

Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2016
One of the annoyances was the lights in the lounge area. Nice a bright when you need them but a little too bright when reading/watching TV. Id bought some reading lights to go in the rear of the van so needed to install them.
I'd already wired up a fusebox spur in the rear to allow we to simplify the cable runs for any rear lighting. so wired them into that instead of running cables to the front of the van.




On the way to the festival we called in the local weighbridge, just to see.
Van full of stuff, water, extra 25l water, fuel, gas, passenger, clothes etc but no driver came in at 3360kg, so a little tight. I would be ok normally but the towball weight is 140kg so would but me over if towing at max weight.
I know I can uprate it so will call the specialist firm SVP to find the deal for what should be a paper exercise on the Maxi. I'm ok on my driving license to drive up to 7.5t so no worries there.
 

jjturner

Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2016
probably worth an update..
I've done quite a bit but not much to see in some bits, so I'll try and describe some of the changes.

Last year I had some weird problems with the electric where the charging wasn't happening when the van was running, meaning I arrived without a full charge and the plug in charger wasn't the best.

I'd originally fitted the CBE kit, which has a nice display. fuse, split charger (which links the van battery to the habitation battery to charge it and a 240v main battery charger).

here's a diagram of the setup.

Black=earth, Red =van+, purple= habitation+, blue = signal/trigger

They way this solution works is when the engine is off, the habitation batteries are connected to the habitation electrics to power things. When the ignition is turned on, the habitation batteries are disconnected from the lights etc. (according to the law) and then connected to the van battery to charge when the engine is running at about 15A max. I also have separate 12v circuit for devices I don't want to switch off when the engine's running.
To get more charge when camping, I've installed solar panels which charge the battery via a charge controller. The one I've installed is a duo, so charges the habitation battery and also trickle charges the van battery, so great for off season. As well as main charger, for if a hookup is available.


here's a simplified version of the appropriate parts.

After messing around with a volt meter, I found the alternator was operating as designed but only generating just over 13v (point B). Split charging works, but it's not the quickest,most efficient or modern way of charging. A full battery management solution would be better, so doing the same multistage charging as a good mains charger. These do exist and the are called DC/DC chargers and boost/reduce the input voltage to match the charging desired. These don't use a trigger wire but sense the voltage increase to sense when to start charging the habitation batteries.
I also had an issue of only having 12.7v at the split-charger (point A) which I finally diagnosed as a faulty fuse but still only got 13.1v and for the batteries I use, ideally its 13.7v.
A DC/DC charger will sort this, so I bought a Votronic 30A DC/DC charger.
I read around and found an issue that occurs that can cause the van battery to discharge.
If you just swapped out the split charger with a DC/DC charger it would look like this:

The issue is when you get a small amount of trickle charge from solar at point B when it charges at around 1A, the split charger thinks the engine is runnind so kicks in and tries to charge the habitation battery at 30A, which could destroy your van battery if the habitation batteries are flat as they are a large capacity.
I had a couple of options, not trickle charge the van battery, which would not be desirable, or install a manual switch to turn it on and off, which I'd forget. So I installed a relay which is driven by the ignition circuit. When the ignition is off, the van battery is connected to the solar charger and when the ignition is on, it connects to the DC/DC charger.
so looks like..


and for the more complex simple diagram...


At the same time I swapped out the mains charger for a 30A Victron mains charger, better multistage and could be set up for the AGM batteries.

On the trip to Rockingham, 30A charging, left with 80% charge and arrived with 100%. Excellent...
 

jjturner

Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2016
The other device I installed to satisfy my power paranoia was a victron power monitor. This sits between the battery and any load (on the earth side) and uses a 1ohm shunt to measure power going into and out of it.

This has bluetooth so you can monitor it on your phone as well as the display in the van.


Works really well, apart from the bluetooth connection doesn't log any history unless your connected all the time and it had issues with Android 10 until the latest software update so had to use the ipad.

Clever bit of kit, allowed me to monitor usage exactly when we went to Anglsey for the weekend. The is the toughest power trip we have, electric fridge, no sun as the weather is terrible, heating on all the time as its freezing, lights on every night as its dark early in November and we stream TV to watch over 4G. You set your battery capacity (our is 300Ah) and it works out what charge you have left. We used 10% of capacity each day (30Ah), so can go 5 days without any charge and not damage the battery. Any other time of the year it would probably never need charging due to the 330w of solar panels, where we have seen 100W+ over large parts of the day and we'll use less power.
 

jjturner

Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2016
Carrying on with the electrics, here's what it actually looks like on the wiring board.

Top left is the 12v distribution/control unit
Top mid is the Victron mains charger
Top right is the main fuse unit
Mid left is the DC/DC charger
Mid center is the Solar charger
Bottom right is the 12v fuse unit for the permanent feeds

But this isn't very nice to look at and risk dropping things into the wiring.
So I made a vanity panel.


Which when installed, makes it look ok.


I've also installed a shelf and moved the microwave to make more room


I've moved all the dials and made a panel to house them


Here's the details.


Left is the gas gauge which is done via a magnetic level in the tank
Next is a switch that allows switching of the mains sockets feed from the external hookup to the inverter which is powered from the batteries
Next is the control panel for the inverter

The middle dials are, DC/DC charger, solar controller and battery monitor.


Finally are the air/water heater controls and the main control panel which shows water level for both fresh and waste as well as internal and external temperature


At the end of the panel is the temperature sensors for the internal heater and temperature display.


In the back of the van I've installed a 12v socket to allow connections there.


After using the van, we needed somewhere to charge our phones at night as we are nerds, so added 12V sockets rather than USB sockets as they have a parasitic draw.
 

jjturner

Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2016
Other stuff I have done this year that I forgot to update on:

Rear work lights, not the brightest in the world but enough for loading/hitching vehicles.


I built the drawers for the kitchen unit, but I need to redo the runners as they pop out sometimes when driving.


But look ok when they are installed.


Filled in the gap above the cab lining, there is a factory part for this but really hard to get hold of and also needs the shelf changing. So I made a couple of filler panels and covered them in lining material.


I then lined the roof, but not before installing extra insulation layer, so it'd now 50mm lining in the roof.
I also removed 2 lights from the lounge are to reduce the brightness and the voltage draw.


I also removed the strip light in the kitchen and replaced it with the "spot" lights, they actually a wide spread and draw significantly less current.

Then installed the lights in the entry area to complete the area so you can now have multiple lighting levels.


The other thing I "made" was a water container for use at festivals. It has a tap at the bottom and I've bought additional cap that fits a hose connector to allow connection to refill the water tank when you don't have easy access to a tap.
 

jjturner

Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2016
A few more bits done over the last couple of days.
Fitted an internal roof lining for the bathroom and changed the lights to match the rest of the van.


The roof light/vent is held on by tape in this picture, this because fiamma don't supply longer screws with the extension kit, just the handle. Anyone know the right screw size? They also don't supply any kind of extension for the 'tube between the external and internal roof so I had to make one using plastic strips heat molded to the right shape and the glued in place.

The other thing I did was box in the front heater outlet, it's a little more substantial than it really needs to be be but it's in a place it might get knocked and doesn't weigh much more than a hardboard one. I also made the floor around it so things don't get lost in the flooring.


Hint: phones will facial recognition don't work well at certain times.

The dust kicked up from the hardboard is really nasty stuff, so always wear the right gear. I invested in this a while ago as I was getting dust in my eyes with a normal mask and the amount of crap in the filters really shows it working.
 
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