Issue 84: Nov 21 2015
because getting there is half the fun...
$50 for the! best letter
Reader Report! Knaus Sun Ti 700MX
Sine of the Times?
Briggs & Stratton enters the generator market
Happy Camper Gourmet Fresh food without refrigeration!
Auto-Trailâ€™s EKS Hi-Line is a thoroughbred with a very different bloodlineâ€Ś
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About iMotorhome | 3
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On my mind | 5
The Longest Day (trip)… The fortnight since last issue has been a blur: I escaped for a few days to Singapore with Mrs iM while she was working and we ate our way across the island nation on a trip down memory lane (from the days when we both spent a lot of time there). I also nipped across to Perth on Friday the 13th just for the day, to catch up with a friend over brunch for her birthday. I’m not superstitious so what could possibly have gone wrong? If you catch the 6:30 am flight you can be in Perth before 8:30 am local time, thanks to the 3 hour time change. Coming home, the 1:30 pm flight gets you back to Sydney at 8:20. It’s a long day, especially when that first flight means getting up three hours earlier, but mostly there’s nothing more stressful about it than waiting for the flight time to pass. The day went perfectly until, after two hours sitting at the gate, the Captain of the return flight finally announced defeat at the hands of a compounding string of technical issues caused by a 37ºC spring day. We all disembarked and it was soon announced there was no replacement aircraft, as by that stage we’d arrive too late to beat the curfew into Sydney Airport. Chaos ensued as locals reclaimed their bags and headed home, while us ‘out-of-towners’ queued at the service desk to find out what was happening. The long and the short of it was I overnighted in Perth and managed to get a flight at 3:30 pm the following afternoon to Canberra, which landed at 10:30 pm due to the time change, and Mrs iM drove down in rain and fog to ‘retrieve’ me. After a fuel and coffee stop we arrived home some time after 1 am Sunday. The experience was interesting because in a world where things mostly run to schedule and travel is so easy, this simple disruption caused all sorts of inconveniences. For example, I had nothing with me other than a laptop and the clothes I was standing in. I also had plans for the day after the
trip that involved other people and they had to be rearranged. Finally, we had to make a special trip to Sydney following my return to retrieve a car from the airport. None of these were big things, but they were significantly disruptive at the time and for much of the time it was the not knowing that made them worse. However, after my unexpected overnight in a Perth Airport motel I awoke to the news of the Paris terrorist attacks and my ‘problems’ were quickly put into perspective. I’m sharing this because for all our advances, travel is still an uncertain business. Those of you on the road who have experienced breakdowns or incidents will know how disruptive they can be, and that the secret is to remain calm, breathe and think logically through the situation. Having as much insurance (breakdown assist/travel insurance) or as many support systems (phone/internet) as possible makes a big difference. But it’s good to remember this isn’t personal and you haven’t been targeted just to annoy/inconvenience you. “Why me?” isn’t the question to ask. “What’s the solution?” is.
Road Test Blues We had scheduled a Jayco Conquest road test this issue but the dealer sold it – on immediate delivery – two days beforehand. “Why me?” I asked, wondering what would fill the void at the 11th hour. “Here’s the solution,” Malcolm said, pulling the Auto-Trail out of a hat. Seems any situation can have a silver haired lining…
6 | Contents
Who we are, where and other legal stuff
Find back issues and more on our website
On my Mind
On your Mind
The Longest Day(trip)…
Share your thoughts for the chance to win $50!
Day Test: Auto-Trail EKS Hi-Line
Reader Report: Knaus Sun Ti 700MX
What’s happening in the wider RV world and beyond
The latest Marketplace offers
A British motorhome from a very different design school
Seasoned owners find much to like about their first Euro motorhome
Things have slowed as we ponder future improvements…
Briggs & Stratton P3000 sine wave generator
Keep your loo in tip-top shape!
An A to Z of who’s in this issue!
Happy Camper Gourmet
Productivity apps to keep you working!
What’s coming up and which shows are on soon!
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• NeW FULL length slide out • Two new floorplans • massive bench space • Increased storage • New upholstery design
• First time with slide out • Two new floorplans • All new interior look • Large 190 L two door fridge/freezer • New stove (3 gas/1 electric)
• First time with slide out • Two new floorplans • massive bench top design • Integrated mood lighting • Large 190 L two door fridge/freezer
Contact your Avida dealer for further information 1300 4 AVIDA or www.avidarv.com.au
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Resources | 9
because getting there is half the fun...
Magazine Resources Ask a Question
because getting there is half the fun...
Esprit de Cor Blimey!
Dethleffs ‘baby’ A-class is something to ogle at… Review and images by Malcolm Street
Enjoy the ultimate go-anywhere off road adventure with the Jabiru 4x4 Xtra. From Alice Springs to Halls Creek and via Tamani Track, reach isolated camp spots which require solid ground clearance and traction with this high performance luxury vehicle.
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On your mind | 11
Win $50 for the best letter! It’s only fitting that since Ed has his say in On My Mind, you should be able to have yours too. If you have anything to say – or ask – just drop a line to email@example.com and we’ll share it with our readers. We’ll also reward
Gases Ain’t Gases In last Issue’s TechTalk it was said that a gas detector should be at floor level as LPG and natural gas are heavier than air. When you check the specific gravity of LPG and natural gas, however, they are different. LPG is 1.5, meaning it is 1.5 times heaver than air and will sink to the floor. Natural gas on the other hand has a specific gravity 0.5, meaning it is half the weight of air and will float to the ceiling. So LPG detectors should be placed as you say, close
the most interesting, useful or thoughtful letter each issue with $50 to help you on your way.
to the floor, but natural gas detectors should be placed close to the ceiling. Cheers, Ken Thanks Ken, good to know. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a natural gas appliance in a motorhome to be honest, but it’s still good to know for home use. Please accept this issue’s $50 prize for bringing this to our attention.
Appy Reader Hi Richard. Have just downloaded your new app. Congratulations on a great idea! I like reading it in landscape mode on my iPad and so far no hiccups. Looking forward to using it more. Your whole 'imagazine' concept is terrific and I really enjoy reading each one. Kind regards, Margaret
Great to hear thanks Margaret! An iMotorhome app update is already in the app stores and I’ve asked ‘my people’ to look into a couple of things with the hosting company – but we’ll get there. Thanks for your feedback.
12 | On your mind
Insurance Blues My Sunliner motorhome was recently damaged and I subsequently lodged a claim with my Insurer, CIL Insurance, which is part of the Suncorp network. CIL immediately arranged a tow-truck and my pride and joy was taken to a specialist truck repairer in Wagga, some 260 km from my home. The vehicle is a Sunliner Pinto 3 on an Iveco 45C17 chassis, with the damage mostly confined to the front end and engine compartment – bull bar, mudguards, grill, bonnet – with some other minor damage to the grey water drainage pipe and towbar. Internal damage is restricted to the rear shower recess which has a cracked floor, damaged shower screen and soap holder. The repairer sent quotes to CIL for approval
but nothing has happened in the month since. When I phoned to query the length of time taken I was advised that if the damage had occurred when I was far from home they would have expedited repairs, thus implying that damage that occurs close to home can be delayed for as long as they like. This situation is intolerable and I will strongly advise anyone who asks that CIL Insurance is to be avoided at all costs. Sincerely, Mike Thanks for your email Mike and sorry to hear of your experience with CIL. Very disappointing. Taking so long to get on with repairs does seem inexcusable. I’ll run your letter to advise other readers and see if anyone else has had similar troubles.
Closed Shop? You might recall that earlier this year the Caravan Industry Association of Australia hosted the international conference for the rest of the World’s RV industry? Last thing I read from them was that it was a big success. Not so according to the rest of the world, apparently. It seems some heavyweights from Hymer, Trigano, etc were in town and not impressed by the closed-shop attitude of the local industry, or that compliance was so rigid that no one else can even get a look in. It’s like the Australian industry is suggesting that the Germans don't know how to build a motorhome or caravan. Additionally, a Chinese speaker lamented out loud in a speech that the Australians had failed to provide any translators for the large Chinese contingent. Those
of us on the ground found it all rather embarrassing, to be honest. Name withheld by request Hmm, I’d like to say this comes as a surprise. How long Australia’s tiny, parochial market can withstand international competition, not to mention possible legal action via the World Trade Organisation (which I’ve heard rumours of), is an interesting question. While nobody wants to see the demise of local manufacturing, the arrival of major international players on a large scale does seem inevitable. The longer Australian industry bodies fight the inevitable rather than looking for opportunities, the uglier the outcome will be, I believe.
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14 | News
Alice Security Alert
ecurity was being stepped up at Alice Springs caravan parks after reports of knife-wielding raiders searching vehicles. Police are investigating after at least two men were allegedly disturbed while looking for valuables. "A number of tourists reported that
two males were seen in the area using small torches to search vehicles," a spokesperson said. "When they were startled, they fled, one dropping a knife as he ran away." Police have released a COMFIT picture of one the raiders. He was described as skinny, about 165cm tall, aged between 20-25 years with short dark hair and a small amount of facial hair. He wore a yellow and purple singlet and knee-length shorts. A similar report was also received in the early hours where a male with a similar description was confronted while rifling through vehicles at another caravan park. Police said the reports were "concerning" and they have appealed for anyone with information to contact them.
Bird Brains? arrived to make sure RVers were safe from the bird droppings. Despite a brief protest from one man, the trees quickly came down. One caravanner from New South Wales said the lorikeet noise did not bother him, but the faeces stuck on top of his caravan did. He also said each afternoon a group of campers, “Grabbed a beer to watch the bird show”.
aravan parks like guests to be comfortable and so it was quickly deemed unacceptable that some Queensland campers were being disturbed by lorikeet noise and ‘bombed’ by lorikeet faeces. The solution, according to Fraser Coast Regional Council, was to fell the 10 pine trees at the Scarness Beach Caravan Park where the birds liked to hang out. After councillors last week voted 6-5 to spend $10,000 taking the action, the chainsaws
Still in the area, the Fraser Coast has always been an area that has provided various free camps, like Tiaro Memorial Park, Petrie Park, Bauple, Teebar, etc. Tiaro in particular does very well out of RV tourisism. The Fraser Coast Regional Council has initiated a $10 charge for a 48 hour permit to camp in these places and it will be interesting to see what effect it has on local businesses. It’s also interesting to note the Council’s infamous Shop and Stop program only gives you 20 hours for the same money.
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16 | News
Fusion Android App
usion, a leader in marine audio and with a growing presence in the local RV market, has announced the release of a new platform for its Fusion-Link Remote Control app. The app now allows for Bluetooth control of compatible Fusion marine entertainment systems directly from Android mobile devices. Designed for smartphones and tablets the app allows navigation, streaming and control of music sources and independent audio zones. The company says users are able to navigate albums, artists and playlists with the same ease as the Fusion stereo interface. Additionally, the app allows users to navigate the menu of DVD enabled systems with most functions replicated by the Fusion-Link Remote Control.
“Once we released our Fusion-Link app for Apple devices, we knew we were on to something big,” said Chris Baird, Managing Director, Fusion Entertainment. “Now that we have released an Android version of the app, regardless of what platform our customers prefer, we give them the easiest, most versatile control of the highest quality marine audio systems on the market.” The app is now available as a free download from the iTunes App Store and Google Play. For more information on the app, compatible stereos, Fusion or its line of audio products, visit www.fusionentertainment.com.
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18 | News
ayco recently threw a 40 th anniversary celebration for about 250 members of the Jayco Owners Club. Some 150 RVs reportedly packed into Victoria's Nagambie Lakes Leisure Park near Melbourne for the three-day event. Owners were bused to the Jayco factory where they were met by founder and boss Gerry Ryan. After a VIP tour of the workshops and assembly lines they were treated to a barbecue lunch. Saturday night saw a slap-up dinner at the caravan park, while Club members were also given tours of the local Mitchelton Winery and a chocolate factory. All festivities were free, with members only paying their caravan site fees.
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News | 19
72-year-old man was arrested after thousands of dollars worth of suspected counterfeit money was found at a caravan park in an Evans Head, NSW. It happened when $1700 in $100 notes was passed at the local hotel and the ink ran while they were later being counted. Police were alerted and found a further $7000 at the man's home at Silver Sands Caravan Park. But they have now cleared him of any wrongdoing after experts examined the suspect notes – and declared them genuine. They explained the ink can often run when notes are buried!
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20 | News
ome Grey Nomads heading for the Northern Territoryâ€™s renowned barramundi season before the end of February 2016 are hoping to net a fortune. Fishing fever has gripped the Territory thanks to the Government's Million Dollar Fish competition, in which 76 barramundi have been tagged and released, with one carrying a $1 million prize. The others have $10,000 prize tags. More than 30,000 people have already registered for the competition, sponsored by CrownBet. At least two $10,000 prizes have already been claimed. Fishers who strike it lucky have to photograph a winning tag and call a special hotline. The competition runs until 29 February 2016.
News | 21
Volunteers Needed "There is little literature examining the impact of travelling on the health care systems in popular nomad destinations and on the experience and logistics of health care for the nomad." Dr Stephens said the researchers were interested in looking at the health care needs of the travelling population. The project is part of a larger body of work that will address key issues. These include: • Mapping the journeys and locations of health service needs for Grey Nomads
cademics at the University of Wollongong are looking for volunteers for a new study into the health needs of nomads – grey and otherwise. The University's School of Nursing wants to hear from travellers young and old who have been on the road for more than three months during the past year. Researcher Moira Stephens, herself a caravanner, said Grey Nomads, young families and 'everyone in between" were invited to take part in the online study. "Many Australians, including young Australians, families and older Australians take to the roads following the sun," Dr Stephens said. "The transient nature of the nomadic life provides challenges for both receiving and delivering health care to support health in general and healthy ageing in particular," she said. The findings in travel and tourism literature usually focused on the economic benefits of Grey Nomad tourism in particular and their travel behaviours.
• Exploring the impact of the transient population on health care service delivery • Exploring the prevalence of chronic conditions among Grey Nomads • Their preparedness to travel with regard to self-managing chronic conditions • Understanding the fit between health service delivery systems and the needs of Nomads • Considering innovative interventions that can assist in promoting the health of these individuals and families. "The first phase of our project is to undertake a national survey," Dr Stephens said. "It takes about 10-15 minutes to complete and participants have the opportunity to leave their contact details to be contacted for a further interview. "There is no obligation to do this and it is otherwise anonymous.” For more information or to take part in the survey, click here
22 | News
he CaraBoat caravan-boat crossover vessel scooped the Excellence in Product Design gong at the 2015 Hunter Manufacturing Awards. Designed and built by NSW boat builders Composite Cats, the CaraBoat doubles as a caravan or houseboat. It took three years to design and hand-build the prototype. Composite Cats' Rob Shenn said it was ideal for Grey Nomads because they could combine caravanning with boating and thereby economise on site fees.
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News | 23
WA Tourism Boost
he West Australian Government will spend $20 million building two spectacular skywalks at Kalbarri National Park, complete with parking facilities for, “large caravans”. The skywalks, to be funded by Royalties for Regions, will extend 12 and 20 metres beyond the rim of the Murchison River Gorge. The Government said they would become a major tourism drawcard for the region and would be accessible to, "People of all ages and abilities”.
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24 | iMotorhome Marketplace
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We design and manufacture air suspension kits for all types of vehicles including motorhomes. Easy to install they let you ‘level up’ for stability and safety.
Batteries, solar panels, inverters, alternators and all electrical parts including cables and switches for your motorhome! We can find and fix all electrical faults and are 12 V power specialists.
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iMotorhome Marketplace | 25
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26 | Day Test: Auto-Trail EKS Hi-Line
Back on the Auto Trail! Revisiting the updated Auto-Trail EKSâ€Ś by Malcolm Street
Day Test | 27
The updated Fiat is a good looker; so too the distinctive Auto-Trail body. For a C-class motorhome (which means it has an over-cab bed) it has quite a low profile that should produce fuel consumption benefits in the long run.
'm not long back from New Zealand, having spent time with a number of motorhome dealers and manufacturers following the Christchurch Show. I only mention that because although the Australian and New Zealand Recreational Vehicle industries have much in common there are also a number of differences, particularly in customer preferences. These seem to demonstrate, to some degree at least, how we have been conditioned to accept our vehicle design and layout preferences. For instance, the time honoured "New Zealand" back – a club style rear lounge surrounded by windows – was at one time very popular in NZ but no so here. Conversely, Australians are fixated on island beds, which Kiwis seem much less interested in.
This is why some layouts that work well in New Zealand take a while to be accepted here and vice versa. Similarly, British and European layouts are often different and passed off in Australia as being impractical.
ll that brings me to the Auto-Trail EKS Hi-Line motorhome. It's actually quite a short looking motorhome, but at 6.4 m (21’) isn’t really. One of the reasons it looks relatively small is to do with its sleek appearance. Although a C-class motorhome – Hi-Line in Auto-Trail jargon – it has quite a low profile and in my opinion looks quite schmick. Since I started with layouts in general I'll keep going with them. Entry to the EKS is via a rear
28 | Day Test Right: The master electrical control panel includes clearly labelled circuit breakers and fuses that are easily accessed. Some Australian manufacturers should take note! Below: Fiat’s Ducato continues to get better and the latest update model, with its flatscreen infotainment centre, is the most car-like of all light commercial vehicles.
door. Most of the kitchen bench is partly across the rear wall, with the rest of it being to the left of the entry door along the kerb-side wall. Filling the driver’s-side rear corner is the bathroom and further forward, a wardrobe. That leaves all the front area for two inwards facing lounges and the swivelled cab seats. Both lounges are 1.95 m (6’ 5”) long, which provides a generous and comfortable seating area. What there isn’t of course, unless you count the overcab Luton, is any sort of fixed main bed. Is this an issue? Read on…
ritish motorhome decor has a certain look and the EKS, with its faux-timber captures it very nicely. Like the outside, the moulding for the Luton fits in very well with the rest of the motorhome. Adding to that look and also the natural light is the large Skyview hatch above the Luton bed and the front area of the motorhome. What’s not quite so obvious on first glance is that everything is well fitted together and appointed. That might sound like an odd statement, but in Britain and across the Tasman (where I saw them) is a cheaper,
Day Test | 29
A feature I really liked was the open plan living area at the front. With windows all round it's a bit like the New Zealand Back in reverse! differently-branded motorhome range that also comes out of the Auto-Trail factory and there's quite a difference in the quality, as well as price. Given the EKS does not have a fixed lower bed, I thought I would start with the Luton. Access is by the usual clip-on ladder, which passes the barefoot test and
accesses a bed measuring 1.89 m x 1.18 m (6’ 2” x 4’). It's actually a bit larger than that, but that's realistically the usable area given the low roof height towards the front. Two ceiling mounted reading lights are fitted to the kerb side while for ventilation, the aforementioned Skyview hatch does the deed up to a point. There are no side
windows and I suspect the Luton area would get warm in hot weather. A solution I would be investigating would be a 12 V Sirocco fan (or two). To improve daytime cab access the mattress can be folded over and the shelf pushed back, but that does mean having to make the bed up every night.
30 | Day Test Below: There are an abundance of seating options, living room, natural light and fresh air in the front of the AutoTrail EKS Hi-Line. The trade-off is the lack of a permanent ‘downstairs’ bed but the sleeping options are very flexible. Bottom: The long, inwards facing lounges can be made up as single beds or a giant double. Each lifts on gas struts to reveal a posture-slat base and generous storage.
Still on sleeping, the two inwards-facing lounges can be used as single beds. They measure 1.95 m x 0.7 m (6’ 5” x 2’ 4”) but can also be made up into a giant double measuring 2.1 m x 1.66 m (6’ 11” x 5’ 3”). It's also possible to have two singles, one much wider than the other, with a narrow walkway in between. In this area there is also a surprising amount of storage space. Overhead lockers run down both sides of the motorhome and there is under-seat storage on both sides. A great feature of the under-seat areas is that the seat/ bed bases (posture slat) are hinged and have gas struts to hold them open. No wrestling around with unattached seat cushions and simple plywood bases here. How novel! Between the seats there isn't a fixed table. Instead, a free standing table is provided and when not being used is stored in a purpose built cupboard in the rear.
Day Test | 31
It's actually quite a short looking motorhome, but at 6.4 m (21’) isn’t really.
32 | Day Test
Above: The rear mounted kitchen is split by the entry door. A full cooktop, grill and oven is a bonus, but there’s no bench space immediately alongside – it’s across the way (Right) on top of the fridge, which at 106 L capacity is a bit on the small side for most Australians.
Her & Him Indoors
ost of the functional kitchen items – cooktop/grill//oven and sink/drainer – are fitted into the bench across the rear wall. There still leaves room though for two overhead lockers, two cupboards and three drawers. Of course this setup offers no bench space but the cabinet on the other side of the doorway provides that (mostly because the under-bench fridge is only 106-litres, which could be a bit small for some). On either side of the fridge are small cupboards; one containing the free standing table, while the locker area above the cabinet is mostly taken by a microwave oven.
Day Test | 33 Squeezed into an amazingly small space is the bathroom, yet it’s large enough to contain a separate shower cubicle, Thetford cassette toilet and vanity washbasin. There’s also a large wall mirror and cabinet for bathroom essentials. It's that happy medium of not being oversize but having everything you need. Electrically speaking the EKS is well appointed, with LED lights – both concealed and more direct – for reading and general illumination. There are 240 V mains power sockets fitted, but not really enough for my use and, apart from the TV, no 12 V sockets. A feature I do like is the Sargent power switchboard, which has both 240 V circuit breakers and 12 V fuses: The British manufacturer seeming to have the novel idea that fuse circuits should be comprehensively labelled. Wonder if that will ever catch on here? One tricky feature is the master switch on the switchboard that has to be turned on to get anything else to work, while there’s a second master switch by the entry door that turns everything off. Sophisticated, but simple to use. Still on utilities, the EKS has a Truma Combi water heater, something very common in many European motorhomes, that combines water and space heating in one unit. Very nice!
ike many motorhomes the EKS has a composite wall structure with a ply timber interior. These feature 40 mm (walls) and 45 mm (roof) polystyrene cores for insulation and a fibreglass (GRP in Auto-Trail speak) outer skin. One thing the Europeans do well is insulating for the cold, which of course also means it works well in the heat. Auto-Trail claims the interior can be kept at 20º C even with outside extremes of -15ºC or +40ºC. Auto-Trail also likes to
Top: Access to the over-cab bed is via a foot-friendly ladder, but the bed is best for one person due to the sloping Luton nose. Middle: Looking rearwards, the Auto-Trail is quintessentially British in decor and layout. Bottom: The lounges convert to single beds or this massive double, which is close to the size of a king.
34 | Day Test
The bathroom seems to occupy minimal floorspace in the driver’s-side rear corner. However, it manages to include a separate shower cubicle, swivel-head cassette toilet and stylish hand basin plus a decent amount of storage.
talk about their corner aluminium extrusions, which are designed for strength and to keep the elements at bay. The company obviously has confidence in its product because it offers a 10 year warranty on the body construction. I commented earlier that the body looks very swish. That’s because it’s moulded together very nicely and that includes the awning, which looks like it’s part of the body structure rather than an afterthought (sound familiar?). On the outside, apart from the gas cylinder box, are two external bins: one on the kerb
Day Test | 35
side that gives access to the under-seat storage area and the second at the kerb-side rear, which has a cantilever door. It’s good for hoses, power cords and the like. Powering the Auto-Trail is the much loved and recently updated Fiat Ducato; in this case the Multijet 150 with a 2.3-litre 109kW/360Nm turbo-diesel and 6-speed AMT gearbox. Having been brought up on a diet of Fiat 3.0 litre turbo-diesels (there’s that conditioning thing again), I’m always a bit sceptical of the lower powered engines, but in this case the 150 did seem to deliver with the smaller motorhome. I have to say the AutoTrail approach is better than one of their competitors, who seem to think the Multijet 130 with its 96kW/320Nm turbo-diesel is adequate for any size motorhome. Top: Style abounds outside as well as in. Note the integrated awning moulding, rear mounted spare wheel protector and high visibility LED taillights. Above: The door even comes with a furled umbrella (how British!) and a rubbish bin.
What I think
have to say the EKS is quite an impressive motorhome. Yes, it's not a conventional layout but it's quite an attractive one and
36 | Day Test
Horses for courses. The Auto-Trail EKS Hi-Line will appeal to those looking for something different to what they can find in a locally manufactured motor home. surprisingly versatile. And if you can live without a fixed double bed then there are plenty of options in the sleeping department: two singles, the Luton over the cab, one up, one down or make up the giant double bed each night. Additionally, it's a great layout for a single person. I'm not a big fan of making a bed up
every night but something like Duvalays would work very well for me here. A feature I really liked was the open plan living area at the front. With windows all round it's a bit like the New Zealand Back in reverse! In short, the Auto-Trail EKS is a motorhome with much to offer and much potential.
Fiat Ducato Multijet 150
2.3 L 4-cylinder turbo-diesel
109 kW @ 3600 rpm
320 Nm @ 1800 rpm
6 speed AMT
Gross Vehicle Mass
6.39 m (21’)
2.35 m (7’ 8”)
3.10 m (10’ 2”)
1.88 m (6’ 6”)
Main Bed Size (single beds)
1.95 m x 0.70 m (6’ 5”) x 2’ 4”)
Main Bed Size (double)
2.10 m x 1.66 m (6’ 11” x 5’ 3”)
Luton Bed Size
1.89 m x 1.18 m (6’ 2” x 4’)
Caprice 3 burner, grill & oven
Dometic RM 8501 106 L
12 V LED
1 x 100 AH
Truma Combi gas/elec 10 L
Truma Combi gas/elec 10 L
Thetford Cassette 19 L
1 x 9 kg, 1 x 4.5 kg
Grey Water Tank
Price - on-road NSW
Day Test | 37
• A motorhome with a different layout • Swish looking bodywork • Open plan lounge/dining area up front • Generous internal storage space • 12 V lighting • Main power board
• Not enough 240V power points • No 12 V sockets • Smallish fridge (a compromise) • No fixed bed apart from Luton • No windows in Luton
Imported by Elite RV
T: (07) 5593 6140 E: email@example.com W: www.eliterv.com.au
Sydney RV Group
Click for Google Maps
13-22 Lemko Place Penrith. NSW. 2750. T: (02) 4722 3444 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.sydneyrvgroup.com.au
38 | Reader Report
My Motorhome Knaus Sun Ti 700MX by Bob and Maureen Nicolle
e previously owned a Winnebago Birdsville for four years, a Winnebago Esperance for one year and a Winnebago Eyre for two years, so I feel qualified to report on our Knaus Sun Ti.
the van we were immediately struck by the very upmarket, innovative design and finish. Closer examination revealed excellent workmanship and attention to detail. We were impressed by the soft closing cupboards and draws with auto locks, the Cbus LED lighting system, Knaus Tabbert is one of the largest motorhome the amount of storage space, and the leather builders in Europe. A’van is the Australian trimmed seats. importer and distributor for Knaus. A’van orders the Fiat base vehicle from Fiat Australia, who The A'van team were keen to sell and agreed to has them delivered from its Italian factory directly fit 2 x 120 watt solar panels and an extra 100 to the Knaus factory, where the motorhome is AH house battery, and supply with 12 months built. However, all 240 volt and gas appliances registration and stamp duty for $149,000. We are installed or connected in A’van’s Australian couldn't resist. factory so there are no compliance issues. The Knaus was delivered on time three months The Knaus Sun Ti is a very smart looking later. I was familiar with the superb Fiat Ducato motorhome and it was this that attracted us to although this was an update model and came take a closer look at the Adelaide Caravan and with a five year Fiat warranty. It also had Fiat Camping show, earlier this year. As we entered suspension and chassis. On the drive home I
Reader Report | 39
Previous page: Despite its European origins Bob and Maureen havenâ€™t been afraid of heading bush in their Fiatbased Knaus. Above: Exterior LEDs are very bright but attract insects above the entry door. Dimmers and/or separate switches would be a good idea. noticed a rattle in the cook top that was easily fixed by attaching a small felt stick-on button between the glass top and the metal surround.
Living The Dream
e have now done a few trips, the last being just under 10,000 km from Adelaide through NSW, Qld and the NT to Darwin and back. We travelled on corrugations, sand, dirt roads and grass. The Fiat averaged 9.8 L/100km (28.8 mpg) as calculated by the Fuel Map app. The Knaus has no rattles or squeaks, whereas our previous motorhomes have all been noisy. The Knaus has a sandwich construction that features aluminium rather than fibreglass, which contributes to its lightweight. It has a double floor with about 200 mm of space between, which is used for storage with access through
internal floor hatches plus external hatches. The inter floor space is also used to run the ducts to the eight heater outlets and provides great insulation for the living area.
lso accessible through a floor hatch are the 120 litre fresh and grey water tanks. The tanks each have a screw top for inspection, so thereâ€™s no need to crawl underneath to drop a tank. The fresh water system is different to anything I have seen in Australian vehicles. The pump is a submersible and all taps have a built-in micro switch that turns it on. The pump is also silent and as you adjust the mixer taps there is no pulsing water supply, just silent water at the flow you want and perfect for a shower. The hot water and space heating system is an
40 | Reader Report
Water tanks are accessible through the floor and have big screw caps for easy cleaning or inspection, while the submersible pump is silent in operation. Note â€˜secretâ€™ under-floor storage compartment. LPG Truma Combi CP Plus with digital control panel. The hot water system is completely silent and can be set to turn on and switch off at any time, and comes with a choice of two temperatures. The space heater has eight outlets and can also be set to turn on and off at any time you choose, while room temperature can be set to any temperature. It is also quiet, which is a pleasant surprise after our previous diesel heaters. The shower and toilet are separate and on opposite sides of the van, and can be shut off from the living room by a solid door, similar to the layout in the Avida Eyre. The door in the Knaus has an innovative magnetic strike plate that draws the bolt from lock as it is closed. It also has a slide-out wall extension that gives more space in the toilet. The roof vent in the toilet has an insect screen that can be simply opened from the inside to clean. The shower has a wonderful wand that is very economical with water but still gives an excellent shower. There are two drains in the floor so being level is not so important, but if you are bigger than average the shower may be a bit tight. The roof
vent in the shower is fixed and not able to be opened or closed, but works perfectly and there is a touch-operated LED light that also works perfectly. Most motorhomes in this category have 2 x 4 kg LPG cylinders, while some have 2 x 9 kg cylinders, but in a compartment where you must remove one to access the other. The Knaus has 2 x 9 kg LPG cylinders side-byside and either can be removed independently. Unfortunately, A'van didn't fit a change-over tap when they did our gas installation. The bed is an island unit accessible from three sides. It has an interesting manual mechanism that enables you to slide the base to provide a back support, a bit like a hospital bed. It works quite well and also provides a little extra space in the bed area. The bed has slats with a very comfortable mattress. The TV is in the living area and cannot be viewed from the bed, but another could be mounted in the bedroom. The kitchen is small and there is no oven. However, we always cook outside so this is not
Reader Report | 41 a problem for us. The fridge is the new Dometic RMD8555 190 L 2-door as fitted to many new motorhomes. We found the performance on gas to be outstanding and even in Darwin it performed very well. The main rear boot is huge and has an access door on each side of the motorhome, plus a light and heater vent. The floor is checker plate aluminium and there are adjustable eyebolts that slide in tracks along the front and rear wall to provide safe restraint for heavy items.
here were some things that were disappointing, however, and could be improved:
• The fly screen door is a phantom screen style. My guess is they don't have a screen in Europe and A'van installed it. It did not slide easily, continuously catching on the very nice Knaus mat. I was able to fix it by fitting a small length of aluminium angle at a cost of $3.50 from Bunnings • A bigger problem is the main door cannot be closed if the screen is closed, as it would break the screen from its fixings. If you want the screen closed you must make sure the main door is latched open and cannot blow closed • The outside LED lights are very good and there is a motion detector light above the door that actuates a light in the very nice handrail. In the tropics all these lights around the door attract insects so it would be nice if there were a couple of exterior LEDs away from the door. Overall we have found the Knaus to be an outstanding motorhome for the price. The design, quality and finish far exceed anything we have previously owned. While the little disappointments are minor, we are still discovering new features that just make us say, “Wow!
42 | Project Polly
Bits and Pizzas! Over a glass of red and terrific pizza we’ve considered Polly’s future improvements… by Richard Robertson
Project Polly | 43
After a tub the old girl has come up like new. Well almost. Our bargain Bunnings stick-on soap dish and shower caddy seem to be holding their own – literally – on the smooth fibreglass shower walls. Let’s hope they stay that way.
nce again Project Polly has progressed at a glacial pace since our last issue thanks to a short non-motorhoming break away to save our sanity and a Perth day trip that went on for days (and nearly cost me my sanity). The short break allowed time to think about where we’re headed with Polly and reminded us we’re on a budget – like many of you. That means not every upgrade or improvement can or needs to be the most expensive or latest whizz-bang gadget. The recent addition of a new Webasto 12 V fridge and Air Top diesel-fired heater – terrific as they are – have used up a lot of our budget, but they are also probably the last two big ticket items we’ll need. That’s unless we add solar and/or upgrade to a lithium battery with compatible charging system. There’s a growing list of smaller accessories taking up garage space that we need to fit and we’re working on it. We did get a laugh, however, when a reader we met while travelling
told us she’d seen the photo in the last issue of a stern looking Mrs iMotorhome replacing the suction cups in our Solarscreens. She said it took the glamor out of RV travel and that her husband was going to have to work extra hard to convince her to go motorhoming! She was speaking tongue-in-cheek, of course, but Mrs iM has promised to ‘glam-up’ in future. Such pressure…
olarscreen suckers aside, we recently bought a soap dish and a shower caddy from Bunnings, with what appear to be quite substantial suction cups. The problem with Polly’s bathroom is it has no fittings apart from the dual taps and height-adjustable shower. But, it does have smooth fibreglass walls, and since Mrs iM ‘stuck up’ our bathroom accessories a couple of weeks ago they have remained in place. Fingers crossed! While away we came across a cheap set of
44 | Project Polly
stick-on LED lights: one motion activated, the other touch on/off. Like many vans Polly has no light switch you can reach without stepping inside. The motion-sensing light will go opposite the entry door and come on as the door is opened. It will provide welcome illumination even when all electrical systems are off, while the other light will go up near the microwave to shine into the wardrobe, which is where Polly’s main electrical switches and systems reside. The motion sensing light has an easily reached switch to select between modes, which means we can leave it off at night when in the van, and/or when parked at home.
gave Polly a bath and tried some 303-brand Aerospace Protectorant ($21.99) on the dulling grey plastic front bumper and grill assembly, plus the side mirrors and door surrounds. It’s a spray-on wipe-off product that doesn’t air dry, so you need to rub the
Clockwise from Top: Glamming it up by reader request while positioning the touch operated LED, so we can see into the wardrobe to find all the other light switches; the light in action; putting up the motion activated LED to give us an automatic entry light.
Project Polly | 45
treated area with a soft cloth and immediately dry off the excess. It didn’t take long and while I’d be lying if I said it brought the plastic back to showroom condition, it’s certainly a big improvement. I would have done the rear bumper/step at the same time but it was in the hot sun, which is a real no-no with this product. I also tried some ArmorAll Wheel Cleaner ($10.99) as the fronts wheels were especially black from brake dust. It’s another spray-on product, but the difference is you hose it off after 30 seconds. It did a pretty reasonable job using just the hose and a quick wipe around with a sponge removed the final gunk and brought the wheels up nicely. Transits often have wheel covers over their basic steel rims and I think Polly will look a whole lot better when I hunt down a set. Watch this space!
Top: Halfway through treating the grill and front bumper with 303-brand Aerospace Protectorant. It’s harder to see in the photo, but after just a couple of minutes work the old dull grey plastic was looking much better. Above: The front wheels were laden with brake dust, but a spray with ArmorAll’s Wheel Cleaner and hose-off 30 seconds later removed most of it. A final sponge over and the old wheels have came up well. Just need to find some suitable Transit hubcaps now.
46 | Project Polly
I didn’t realise the key is a two-piece unit until trying to replace the non-replaceable battery. At least it means you can replace the key and remote fob separately if one breaks/dies. Thanks Ford for small mercies…
Transit Tech Note
screwdriver, but once apart there’s no obvious way to open the remote to change the battery. olly came with three – yes three – Apparently that’s because Ford doesn’t want ignition key/remote central locking units. us to. Lately the remote locking units have only worked intermittently and I’ve suspected Some Internet sleuth work revealed a very a fault in the vehicle’s locking system. After all, cunning thing: The remote’s battery is not all three remote-unit batteries could go flat rechargeable, getting it’s power through the at once. Or could they? key when the ignition is on! Who would have thought? I’m told there is a way to replace the One problem with a non-functioning remote battery, but it effectively involves breaking the is the Transit only has a lock for the key on plastic case and soldering in a new battery. the driver’s door. Also, all doors lock when It will be interesting to check Ford Australia’s the vehicle exceeds 8 km/h, but you can’t pricing but $250-plus seems a ballpark figure. open the sliding side door from inside, once A new rechargeable battery is about $15-20 stopped, without the remote (I suspect an and a quick look on eBay revealed plenty of activated double locking feature I can’t yet empty remote cases for just less than $10. I fathom). All-in-all a flat remote is a pain in the guess I could transplant the electronics from a you-know-what. broken Ford case, solder in a new battery and see how that goes, but it sounds like a project The key and remote appear to be one unit, but in fact are separate pieces that fit together for someone with the dexterity of a surgeon and patience of a saint. Now where has she like a hand in a glove (the remote into the gone??? key). They’re easy to separate using a small
Project Polly | 47
The motion sensing LED works a treat, illuminating the entry area and front half of the vehicle when the door is opened. It goes off after about 30 seconds but can also be switched off manually, or left on full time. Left in sensor mode it doesnâ€™t come back on until you near the shower door, if inside the vehicle, which will be great for nighttime you-know-whatsâ€Ś
48 | Product Review: PowerSmart P3000 Generator
Sine of the Times? Briggs & Stratton enters the sine wave generator marketâ€Ś
Product Review | 49
ike our American cousins, Australian motorhomers are power obsessed. Multiple house batteries, solar panels and portable generators rule the roost for those of us who like to overnight away from the convenience of mains power. Portable generators are particularly popular, both as a back-up in case of grey-skied non-solar weather and for running ‘big power’ items like air-conditioners and microwaves. Honda and Yamaha are the main players in the quality end of this market, by which we mean generators that are quiet, reliable, economical and produce acceptably consistent sine wave power. What is sine wave power? In simple terms it’s a type of mains power that doesn’t fluctuate (or fluctuate more than within acceptable limits) regardless of variations in the speed of a generator’s engine – like when electrical load is added or removed. In recent years there has been a tidal wave
of imported Chinese generators. Many claim to be sine wave units and all are cheaper – sometimes considerably – than the established Japanese players. The nagging question is, are they really sine wave generators and if so, how ‘pure’ and reliable is their output? It’s this unknown that probably helps keep Honda and Yamaha on top, although there are some Chinese brands imported by reputable Australian companies that are establishing good track records. Enter Briggs & Stratton.
n iconic American small engine manufacturer, Briggs & Stratton is a household name to anyone who has bought or investigated a new lawnmower, firefighting water pump or other small home/ farm powered implement. So it should come as no surprise the company has entered the quality portable generator field and its first offering is the PowerSmart Series.
50 | Product Review
The StatStation screen has three modes and here is displaying electrical load as a percentage of generating capacity. Interestingly, cleverly or by just plain common sense, Briggs & Stratton has taken the tack of manufacturing in China but to its own specifications and quality standards. The result is a two sine wave generator range – 2 kVa and 3 kVa – with all the feature of the top sellers but at about half the price. iMotorhome was approached to assess one of the new P3000 3 kVa models and from our brief trial it seems to have a lot going for it.
ompeting squarely against Honda’s $3199 EU30ia Handy and Yamaha’ $3500 EF3000iSE generators, the P3000 makes a compelling case at $1799 – on paper at least. The Honda is 9 kg lighter and 1 decibel quieter (57 db v 58 db at 7 m) than the P3000, while the Yamaha is 13 kg heavier but 6 decibels quieter and comes with the convenience of electric start instead of recoil. These figures alone produce a bit of an apples v oranges
comparison because Yamaha quotes its noise level with the engine running at one quarter load, and the Yamaha’s engine is rated for 3000 W max and 2800 W continuous. Both others are 3000/2600 W, while Honda also rates it model’s noise level at one quarter load and Briggs & Stratton doesn't say. Both the P3000 and Honda units come with wheels and liftup carry handles – like airline luggage – while the heavier Yamaha has four wheels and fixed handles at either end. Our P3000 arrived factory fresh in its box and required setting up. At 44 kg it was too heavy to lift out and the instructions said to cut the box corners top to bottom to remove it, which we did. It also came with everything we needed to get it going, except fuel. That meant a bottle of engine oil and the funnel to add it, plus a small tool kit with the screwdriver required to remove the side service panel to reach the oil filler. Note to Briggs & Stratton: Nowhere on your set-up instructions does it say the supplied 600 ml bottle of oil is the exact
Product Review | 51
To check or add oil you need to remove the side service panel. Engine oil and even the funnel are included, but the filler’s recessed location makes dipstick operation a bit fiddly. amount for the engine. It would speed up the setup process considerable if you stated that rather than having people add a bit, put in the dip stick, add a bit, put in the dip stick, add…. Once oiled-up and with a bit of fuel in the 5.7 L tank (good for 5 hrs at half load) all that was required to get the P3000 going was full choke and two pulls of the recoil starter. Only the choke lever, rotary on/off switch and recoil handle are located on the generator’s side. Everything else is on the front panel, except the top-mounted car-style fuel gauge. Speaking of fuel, I did find the filler neck narrow and fiddly to fill from our 20 L containers, but you’d get used to it. The front panel has a pair of conventional 230 V 15 amp outlets, a 12 V socket and 5 V USB charging outlet. There’s also a port to allow two generators to be run in parallel. Centrally located is the StatStation, an LCD screen that displays a variety of information via a Load Monitor, Hour Meter and Maintenance Reminder. The Load Monitor displays the
output wattage (load) of all outlets and displays the percentage of total generator load. The Hour Meter simply records total engine hours run, to a maximum of 999.9, while the Maintenance Reminder tells you when it's time to change the air filter, engine oil or spark plug. There are also warning lights for normal operation, overload and low oil level.
he P3000 operates with PowerSmart mode either on or off. When on, the engine speed is governed by the electrical load, so as you switch appliances on or off the engine speed rises or falls correspondingly. When PowerSmart is off the P3000 runs at full speed all the time and you would use this, for example, when using the supplied 12 V cables to recharge a flat vehicle or house battery. On a day when the mercury was looking back at 30ºC we set up Project Polly, connected the P3000 to a 10 metre lead and turned on Polly’s 2.2 kW split system airconditioner to
52 | Product Review
Outstanding in its field! Running Polly's air conditioning, fridge and battery charger used just 39% the P3000's capacity. On a 10 meter lead the engine noise was hardly noticeable inside the vehicle. maximum cooling. As expected and with no It’s a shame Briggs & Stratton didn’t send its fuss the generator took it in its stride, with the 2 kVA P2000 model, which is more RV friendly SmartStation’s Load Monitor readout hovering and likely to find a broader market, but if we around 25% of capacity. That also included get the chance we’ll review it. Project Polly isn’t the house battery charger, which comes on generator friendly (nowhere to store fuel) but it by default when mains power is connected. would be good to see how the smaller model Next I added the fridge, setting it to maximum copes with the electrical loads. If you’re in the as well. The Load Monitor readout moved to market for a quality sine wave generator be around 39%, after which I turned off the aircon sure to put Briggs and Stratton on your list. It and it settled to just under 11% while running might be a SmartPower move in the long run… the fridge and battery charger. Even at the 39% mark the engine level was nothing more than Fast Facts: a subdued hum from just a few metres away; Briggs & Stratton Australia the grass seeming to act as a bit of a sound damper, as did a gusting westerly. T: 1900 356 632
rom my brief set-up and operational W: briggsandstratton.com/au/en experiences there’s a lot to like about Dealer Locator: briggsandstratton.com/au/ Briggs & Stratton’s new P3000 en/support/dealerlocator PowerSmart Series sine wave generator – not least of which is the price. It appears to be well designed and put together, while operationally it’s quick to set up, simple and quiet to operate. Watch this: At 40 kg it is, however, too heavy for many RV situations, while it’s also a fair size. But as a more home-based generator capable of a wide range of charging duties it seems to provide an excellent balance of features and price, and will likely give the Big Two some sleepless nights – or should do.
Product Review | 53 3000 POWERSMART SERIES™ INVERTER GENERATOR Engine Brand
Briggs & Stratton
Noise level @ 7m dB(A)
Engine Displacement (cc)
Run Time @ 1/2 Load (hrs)
up to 5 hours
Fuel Tank Capacity (Gallons)
Low Oil Shutdown Protection
Product Weight (kg)
Length with Wheels (mm)
Width with Wheels (mm)
Height with Wheels (mm)
Never Go Flat
Number of Wheels
Consumer Warranty (Product)
2 Year Limited (conditions apply)
Automatic Idle Control
Part of Statstation™
54 | Product Review: Happy Camper Gourmet
Pack & Savour!
Pack these gourmet meals away and savour when desired, no refrigeration requiredâ€Ś
Product Review | 55
ith summer upon us the need to store food safely as we travel becomes an increasing challenge. Fresh food is always the biggest concern and with many RV fridges being relatively small – and often inefficient – carrying supplies for more than a few days can be difficult. Tinned and dried/ powdered foods provide a viable alternative, but to anyone with a love of fresh food these (at best) usually play a supporting role at mealtimes. Our friends at Outback Travel Australia recently put us on to Happy Camper Gourmet, an Australian company making and selling a range of meals they reported as tasty, nutritious and highly practical for extended Outback touring. So we thought we’d better take a look. Neither dehydrated nor freeze dried, Happy Camper Gourmet meals are fresh food that requires no refrigeration, has a long shelf life and contains no artificial preservatives. Also, most meals require nothing more than heating and serving. “Sounds good,” I hear you say, so what’s the catch? That's what we wondered, so when a sample box load arrived it was time to put them to the test and find out.
As you might or might not know, Mrs iMotorhome and I are rather fond of our food and Mrs iM is a dab kitchen hand. We especially love fresh food and home cooking, so the thought of prepackaged meals as a viable form of on-road nutrition left us a little sceptical. There is always a trade-off between convenience and ‘authenticity’, and it’s usually found at the taste/enjoyment/nutrition end of the equation. So, with a pot of boiling water ready and our main meal choices selected it was time to see just how close the hype matched the reality. But first, a look at the product range.
Agony of Choice? The Happy Camper Gourmet range comprises nine ready-made meals: • Redwine & Rosemary Lamb Shank - 450g (serves 1) • Traditional Mint Gravy Lamb Shank - 450g (serves 1) • Aussie Lamb Drums in Nanna’s Gravy - 500g (serves 1-2) • Drover’s Beef ‘n’ Bean - 300g (serves 1)
56 | Product Review • Chunky Chicken Casserole - 500g (serves 2) • Bush Country Harvest - Veggies & Quinoa – 500g (serves 2) • Outback Beef Curry with Coconut Sauce & Lentils - 500g (serves 2) • Cattlemen’s Beef Stew - 300g (serves 1) • Beefy Meatballs in Tomato & Basil sauce 300g (serves 1) There are also two damper premixes: • Bushman’s Corn Cob Damper – 150g 1-2 serves & 400g 3-4 serves • Apple & Cinnamon Damper – 150g 1-2 serves & 400g 3-4 serves The main meals require nothing more then placing in boiling water for 10 minutes before serving, but with some of them at least you're likely to want more than just what's in the pack. After all, no matter how appealing a red wine and rosemary lamb shank is it's a pretty lonely offering sitting on a plate by itself. That's where non-refrigerated accompaniments like rice and pasta, potatoes, and tinned and freshly sourced vegetables come into play to round out the meal. Given the whole point of the product range is the provision of fresh ‘gourmet’ food that doesn't require refrigeration, we found the inclusion of two damper premixes a little odd. After all, the ingredients require no refrigeration anyway and you could easily make up a damper mix at home and put in a Ziplock bag for less – a lot less – than Happy Camper Gourmet charges. Two premixes are offered; a Bushman’s Corn Cob Damper and an Apple and Cinnamon Damper and I suppose one offers a meal accompaniment and the other a dessert option to round out the main meal range. It's worth noting, however, these require a camp or conventional oven to bake in.
Top: Just heat and serve. The packaged fresh meals are as useful at home as they are on the road. Above: Only the damper mixes require an oven of some sort, but the result is well worth it.
Product Review | 57
Happy Camper Gourmet meals are fresh food that require no refrigeration, have a long shelf life and contain no artificial preservatives. Proof In The Pudding! The Red Wine & Rosemary and Traditional Mint Gravy Lamb Shank packs sat happily for 10 minutes in a large pot of boiling water. In the meantime and in quite the
wrong order, Mrs iM pulled a hot Apple & Cinnamon Damper from the oven. And so, while our main courses came up to temperature we tucked into fresh dessert damper complete with Golden Syrup. The damper had a perfect crust and was, frankly,
delicious. Mrs iMotorhome remarked that cardboard served with Golden Syrup is also delicious, and so in the interests of research and fair play we ditched the syrup and ate the damper â€˜neatâ€™. It was still delicious.
58 | Product Review weeks when Mrs iMotorhome resumes her work travels. Price wise, our lamb shanks cost $11.95 per pack, or $10.50 had we purchased a carton of 9 packs. Various value pack combinations are available that reduce the cost further and there’s a 10% discount if you spend more than $400 in a single order. While certainly not cheap, the ability to carry good food for up to about 18 months without refrigeration and to always have it on hand can’t be underestimated. And while I don't see these a lot of travellers being able to afford Happy Camper Gourmet dinners every night, they work well as ‘treat’ meals or a replacement for dinner at an RSL club or similar. The meals would also be good to have at home for emergencies (including when people drop in unexpectedly), and would be terrific for
To be fair, the meal had been thrown together in a hurry, hence having dessert first. It was also late in the process the thought of what to have with our lamb shanks surfaced. Mashed potato was the obvious choice, but with no spuds to hand it was rice and some quickly steamed vegetables. Regardless, we both agreed that the lamb shanks and their sauces were restaurant quality and highly impressive. Mrs iM noted almost every trace of fat had been trimmed from the shanks and the longitudinal connective tissue had been cut, allowing the meat to simply fall off the bone. Perfect!
o far we can honestly report the Gourmet part of the Happy Camper name is no hyped-up exaggeration. We still have quite a selection of mainly single packs to choose from – they sent us the whole range – and I'll be sampling them and bringing you a further update over the next couple of
It seems lamb shanks are the company’s hero product, but they require ‘sides’ to make a meal. Products like the Chunky Chicken Casserole include veggies and could be a meal in themselves (but a bit of mash on the side is always good!).
Product Review | 59 hiking and other camping trips where portability and convenience were key considerations. We finished off with – you guessed it – a little more Apple & Cinnamon Damper, which was holding its own, cold, under that wonderfully golden crust. Perhaps I was a little harsh on the inclusion of damper mixes in the Happy Camper Gourmet range. After all, with such excellent main courses who am I to put a damper on things?
fter this article was written and following a late afternoon out, Mrs iM decided to ‘rustle up’ a few more Happy Camper Gourmet meals for another dinner. Quite a few. Over a bed of buttery mashed potato we tried the Chunky Chicken Casserole, Bush Country Harvest – Veggies & Quinoa, and the Outback Beef Curry with Coconut Sauce & Lentils. All are gluten free and each served two, so we bravely attempted to eat our way through dinner for six in the name of research (so she said). Despite our best efforts – I believe the mash got us – there were leftovers, but Mrs iM’s thinking had been that so many packs say they serve two but really don’t, so better safe than sorry. The result? Each was quite different to the lamb shanks and could be eaten as a meal in itself; ideal if you just want a quick heat-and-serve without the bother of adding ‘sides’. Would each pack feed two people; two big-eating Aussie people who like a good feed? Yes. And no. At 500 grams per pack you’d probably be looking for a jam sandwich after just one pack if you didn’t add anything else. But with mash and/or some veggies it could easily work. Priced at $17.95 to 18.95 per pack (usual bulk discounts apply) they also make a cheaper dinner-for-two than their lamb counterparts.
appy Camper Gourmet meals are available from their online shop as well as at a surprising number of specialist retail outlets (check website for details). T: 1300 768 844 E: email@example.com W: www.happycampergourmet.com.au
Quality wise each meal was delicious, although our enthusiasm for a late summery afternoon drink meant the packs were boiled for closer to half an hour than the requisite 10 minutes. Consequently the Chunky Chicken was a little overdone, but the others came through unscathed and as Mrs iM commented at the end, “I’d be happy to have any of those for dinner at the end of the day.” And we can’t say better than that.
60 | TechTalk
Success? RV toilets can be Heaven or Hell according to our resident Techspert from Southern Spirit Campervans...
TechTalk | 61
Previous page: This is what a toilet cassette looks like inside after years of use without cleaning. Enough said! Above: Toilet cassettes require basic but regular maintenance, with the lip seal (66188) the most common wear item.
he primary thing that separates a motorhome from a campervan is a bathroom, usually complete with shower and loo. A bathroom makes your travels more independent and is certainly a must have during the night, but it’s likely the loo is also the feature you dislike most in your vehicle. Incidentally, I’ve seen a lot of motorhomes where owners did tell me they’ve stopped using the toilet and now just use the bathroom as a large storage cupboard. Sad. Most often they said the smell and hassle of waste disposal, plus leaks and discomfort were the factors that ultimately put them off. Disposing of toilet waste in most non-American vehicles is done by means of an externally accessed cassette, and that’s what we’re focusing on in this issue. So, how do you get the best from your motorhome’s toilet? One big thing is to use the toilet and any additives exactly the way recommend by the manufacturer. Also remember a cassette toilet needs a bit more
attention than your toilet at home. The distance from the toilet seat to the waste cassette is short and direct, so there are some rules you need to abide by to get the best from your system: • Always make sure you open the cassette BEFORE using the toilet • After use flush, then immediately close the cassette again • Only remove the cassette when lid is closed! • After emptying give the cassette a flush of fresh water and swirl it around to make sure EVERYTHING has left the tank • Make sure when you push the cassette back into the holding compartment that it ‘clicks’ firmly into position (the yellow or green plastic lever clips behind the white holding brackets on the bottom). If the tank is not in the right position it might not align with the upper part of your toilet and that’s when leaks happen, or the tank lid can become jammed
62 | TechTalk HERE to watch a short video of it in action. Alternatively, a oxygen cleaner can be used. Either way it should become routine to clean your tank from inside.
Maintenance, repairs or refurbishment
he part that needs to be replaced most frequently is the cassette lip seal. It seals the cassette to the toilet and if broken or full of scale and grime it’s most likely you’ll have odours and even leaks into the bathroom. Leaks can also cause waste to run down the outside of your cassette that can pool in the area below. Quite often you’ll see leaks making their way into the shower tray by running from the cassette compartment into the shower area – or even worse – under the shower tray where you have no access! An old lip seal in need of replacement. • If you have a toilet cassette compartment with small storage compartments beneath the cassette that are covered by white lids, ensure the lids (particularly the rear one) are in place. Without the covers the cassette doesn't sit properly into position and leaking can occur. Check such under-cassette areas and be sure to clean them on a regular basis.
Proper Tank Cleaning
ne product that’s great to clean your tank from the inside is Thetford’s Cassette Tank Cleaner. It’s the ultimate cleaning agent for regular use. Cassette Tank Cleaner is used to quickly remove the build up of stubborn calcium deposits and severe scaling found inside your waste tank – no scrubbing required! Thetford advises to use it after every major camping trip and a bottle costs around $11.50. Click
Replacing a lip seal is fairly easy and if you click HERE you can watch a video that shows how to refurbish a Thetford cassette, including replacing the lip seal. The seals themselves can be purchased very reasonably through RV online shops or even on eBay. Just be sure you check exactly which toilet you have before ordering any parts. In Europe Thetford and Dometic offer an overhaul kit for their toilets, but as yet these kits aren’t available in Australia, although you can search for them online. I suggest you use very thin toilet paper and stay away from 3-layer deluxe super soft products – they just won’t dissolve! Look after your cassette toilet and it should provide years of relatively trouble free service. But neglect it at you peril! Mr & Mrs iMotorhome suggest trying to use your motorhome toilet for liquid waste only, except in emergencies. This reduces odours and makes the job of emptying and cleaning that much nicer. Happy flushing!
TechTalk | 63 Suggested Products Here are some everyday products that will help keep your cassette clean, reduce or eliminate odours and breakdown waste. Product
Cost per usage
Odour B Gone
Australian made product with multipurpose usage options that can also be used in smaller half portions
• 20 disks per bag
http://www. odour-b-gone. com.au/Odour-BGone.htm
From $18.50 for 2L
• $1.70 (Kem)
http://www. portapotti.com. au/
•E co-friendly and easy to use • Non-perfumed.
• A Thetford • 75 to 100 ml per 10 product in liquid L tank • Aqua Kem form for use in • Non-perfumed cassettes and • Aqua Rinse the flush water tank.
• $1.00 (Rinse)
• The rinse product also protects flush water systems from developing biofilm Bio Pak & Porta Pak
SOG – A chemicalfree, nosmell toilet solution
Easy to use satchels to drop into the cassette. Some are septic friendly.
•C omes in packs of 15 From $17.50 or 30 satchels
Buy on eBay or online RV shops
http://www. biomaster.com. au/collections/ traveller/ products/flush-ittraveller
$180-$300 plus installation
http://www. Change filters every 6 months for aussietraveller. less than $30 com.au/pages/ products
100% biodegradable utilising natural bacteria to eat away smells and digests waste.
• 4 sachets per pack
A system where odours are filtered externally through a carbon filter combined with a 12 V fan
• One-off investment
• Very easy to use • No artificial deodoriser
• Chemical free
Ask The Techspert! If you have any maintenance questions or problems email us at techtalk@imotorhome. com.au and we’ll see what we can sort out. Please include photos as well as a description of any problems and we’ll share them and the answers with all our readers.
64 | Mobile Tech
Productivity on the Move
Apps to keep you productive as you travel…
aithout apps your iPad or tablet is simply an awkward paperweight. The flip side is that with the right combination of apps it can pretty much be transformed into anything you require: In terms of a productivity tool you’ll find little else these days more efficient, convenient or affordable. Mobile technology has delivered freedom to many people traditionally stuck in offices, allowing them to work from just about anywhere (you’ll never guess where I am right now!). Selecting the right set of apps to make this happen is the key. The following is a list of exclusively iPad apps, useful in a range of situations that would normally require a desktop or laptop computer.
By Emily Barker
Mobile Tech | 65 Microsoft Word (for iPad) Size: 361 MB Cost: Free
Microsoft Excel Size: 340 MB Cost: Free
It’s not common to receive much for free these days, especially from the big end of town, but surprisingly Microsoft has made available its three major players in its Office suite completely free for iPad. This move shocked quite a few people initially as Microsoft is renowned for not giving anything away freely, especially Office software. To begin with you could only view documents created elsewhere and there were limited editing functions unless you had a 365 subscription. But since November last year the ‘Core Experience’ of viewing, creating and editing documents has been made completely free. You can upgrade to the ‘Full Word Experience’, but unless you require some intensive features it’s certainly not necessary. All that’s required is that you log in with a Microsoft account, which is also completely free. Combine this with a little personal cloud storage and you’re pretty much set for all your document creating, saving and sharing needs!
When it comes to handling large amounts of data and numerical information most people will agree Microsoft has nailed it with its Excel spreadsheet program. With a variety of templates available from budgets, invoices, calendars, timesheets and annual financial reports to mortgage calculators and Christmas lists, Excel and its many formulas and functions pretty much have things covered. Enter Excel for iPad: for the everyday person using Excel for everyday applications it’s simply amazing.
Word for iPad represents neither a ‘stretched out’ version of Office Mobile for iPhone nor a stripped-down Office for Windows. Rather, it’s a custom version of Word designed specifically for the iPad and the result is quite impressive. Tablet-based word processing has long been a grey area for anyone used to using Word on a desktop. But now, being able to transition documents across devices while maintaining content and format integrity is huge. And it’s even better when done using the tools and settings you’re accustomed to working with. The app itself is quite beautiful and of a standard other app developers try hard to emulate. What makes these apps really useful is the seamless sharing of documents between devices, made possible only by Cloud storage. Word for iPad utilises OneDrive, Dropbox and iCloud.
Touchscreen data entry is far easier than I personally anticipated. Navigation around a workbook is a breeze and the simplified tabbed interface is one I could quite easily handle even in a desktop program. You can insert the usual tables, charts, text boxes, images and even utilise the camera function to add photos. There are extensive formulas, functions and filtering systems; indeed it’s difficult to picture what’s been omitted from the original version. Along with Word and PowerPoint it’s a large app at 340 MB, but has so many practical possibilities!
66 | Mobile Tech PowerPoint Size: 316 MB Cost: Free For creating powerful slideshows or just recording key ideas in a visual manner; Microsoft’s PowerPoint is a powerful app with plenty to offer. The fact it’s now free for the iPad has just opened up its range of possibilities impressively. There is something incredibly efficient, creative and enjoyable about touchscreens, and PowerPoint as an app lends itself perfectly to the role. You have an extensive choice of layouts, designs, transitions and animations to work with and the interface is so easy to navigate, with everything right at your fingertips. There’s no disruption or pause between the mouse and keyboard, making this app and program seamless. In terms of accessing files across a range of devices and sharing content directly, the same useful Cloudbased options exist. You can even send a completed file as a PDF or presentation directly via email. In fact the app is so comprehensive there is little apart from customisable colour and shadow options to be gained from upgrading with a Microsoft Office 365 subscription. I’m not sure why or from where this burst of generosity originated, but it’s certainly appreciated! OneDrive - Cloud storage for files and photos Size: 93.4 MB Cost: Free Cloud storage is a wonder of the modern world. OneDrive is Microsoft’s version and as you would expect its features are quite good. You can securely upload and store for free, personal files of every description. These can then be accessed from your iPad, computer (PC or Mac) and any other iOS devices you use. If you utilise Microsoft Office in any capacity, OneDrive is conveniently accessible as an automatic save option. There are a multitude of file management options available with OneDrive, including
search, share, move, delete, rename files and create new folders. You can even choose to automatically back up photos and videos as you take them, and share them via email. DropBox Size: 61.3 MB Cost: Free Dropbox is another Cloud storage system that syncs files across various devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops. You can access and share your files online literally wherever you are in the world (iMotorhome eMagazine is produced using DropBox – Ed). Cloud storage is one of the most efficient ways to store, backup and share files. With Dropbox you have some additional features such as making files available offline, which is perfect if you know you will have limited connectivity but need to access or work on documents. You can also automatically back up your personal videos and photos as you take them. You can even take file sharing one step further by efficiently sharing selected files with friends, family or colleges. Send large files easily by putting them in your Dropbox and sending quickly with a simple link by email, chat, or even text message. When you send someone a link to a file they can preview and download a copy, even if they don’t have a Dropbox account. Safe, secure and oh so convenient!
Advertisers' Index | 67
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Outback Travel Australia
Wirraway Motor Homes
Paradise Motor Homes Parkland RV Centre
68 | Next Issue
The Crystal Ball…
e’re hurtling into the Silly Season. That means manufacturers and dealers are racing to deliver new motorhomes before Christmas and we’re having a Dickens of a job finding new models to review, So it’s back to the Crystal Ball for next issue – wish us luck! What we do have is a Reader Report on a Swift Rio that the owner bought as a result of our roadtest in Issue 72 in May. What makes it particularly interesting is that the Swift and owner live in the UK. Talk about global influence! There are a couple more product reviews planned, another TechTalk article, a Project Polly update and of course, more apps.
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Bendigo Caravan and Camping Show
Newcastle Caravan, Camping & Holiday Expo
Adelaide Let’s Go Caravan & Camping Lifestyle Show
Bendigo Racecourse, Heinz Street, Epsom. Vic. 3551.
Newcastle Entertainment Centre and Showground Brown Rd, Broadmeadow. NSW. 2292
Adelaide Showground Goodwood Rd, Wayville. SA. 5034.
• Open 9:30-5:00 daily (4:00 Sunday) • Parking: Free • Adults: $10 • Seniors: $8 • Kids: U 15 free
Visit Website Click for Google Maps
• Open 9:00-5:00 daily (4:00 Sunday) • Parking: Free • Adults: $12 • Seniors: $8 • Kids: U 16 free with adult
Visit Website Click for Google Maps
• • • • •
Open 10:00-5:00 daily Parking: Limited Adults: $13 Seniors: $10 Kids: U 15 free with adult
Visit Website Click for Google Maps
Know of a local or regional show coming up that attracts and promotes motorhomes, campervans and the great RV lifestyle in general? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll happily promote it in this calendar.
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