Issue 85: Dec 05 2015
because getting there is half the fun...
Is Less More? Reader Report! Swift Rio 340
A waterproof power connector you need to see…
Battery issues and Mr iM tackles DIY!
$50 for the! best letter
Malcolm downsizes for a weekend away…
About iMotorhome | 3
iMotorhome eMagazine is published twice monthly and available by free subscription from www.imotorhome.com.au. Your letters and contributions are always welcome! Facebook “f ” Logo
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Published by iMotorhome PO Box 1738, Bowral. NSW 2576. Australia.
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E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.imotorhome.com.au Editorial Publisher/Managing Editor
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On my mind | 5
NOT SO APPY… The iMotorhome app has been generally well received and thanks to those who’ve given feedback. The main ‘issue’ concerns the inability to open magazine issues as normal PDFs and transfer them to iBooks or another folder/library. I share your frustration. Actual-ly that’s not true. You have NO idea how frustrated I am by my app people’s inability to deliver this simple feature, nor how tired they are of my almost-daily emails asking when it will be fixed! In fairness it’s not their fault. They are middle men (and women) who are the Australian representatives of a major online app-hosting company. To keep costs down the app is assembled using templates and to begin with I made one myself. One of the features I really liked was the ability to open the magazine ‘outside’ the app as a normal PDF. It was a simple check-box arrangement that somehow isn’t available now the design has become more complex. If all else fails I have a cunning plan that should cure it but won’t be as ‘elegant’ as desired. Guess you get what you pay for – or don’t – if you know what I mean…
Swift and Unsure This issue we feature a Reader Report from the UK on a new Swift Rio 340. The owner, Ian, has been in regular contact since we ran the test in Issue 72 and bought the mo-torhome as a direct result. Oh such influence! Last week I was in Brisbane and dropped into Swift RV Brisbane for a nose around. They had some very interesting models in the yard with layouts quite unlike any locally pro-duced motorhomes. There were also a couple of more upmarket Bessacarr models, but surprisingly no sales person came out to greet me during my 20 minute exploration. So I ducked inside to say g’day and found several sales people siting at their desks and anoth-er, who turned out to be the marketing manger, at a
desk at the rear. I had to approach one before any contact was made – they were all very busy with paperwork/computers – and eventually I was able to introduce myself to the marketing manager. I don’t think any-one in the office was over 25 and it left me wondering how they relate to Grey Nomads like me and what possible understanding they have of the market? It’s already a struggle for imports to gain a foothold in the Australian RV marketplace and while young people are the future of every industry, there is a place for those older and wiser to bridge the experience and knowledge gap. I’m not having a go at Swift RV Brisbane; mine was just a disappointing encounter that made me realise how important it is for every business to match its frontline people with its customers.
Motorhome 101? In conjunction with Southern Spirit Campervans in Brisbane we’re looking at running a free Motorhome 101 day in mid March, just before Easter. It would be for ’beginner’ motorhome and campervan owners – and potential owners – looking to understand the ins-and-outs of vehicle systems. The day would provide hands-on experience in simple things like hot wa-ter system operation, toilet cassettes, water connections, TV aerials, gas cylinders, batter-ies, etc, plus we’d try and answer any questions. Let me know if you’re interested and we’ll firm up plans from next issue.
6 | Contents
Who we are, where and other legal stuff
Find back issues and more on our website
On my Mind
On your Mind
Share your thoughts for the chance to win $50!
Touring Test: Talvor/Apollo HiAce Hitop Campervan
Reader Report: Swift Rio 340
Product Review: Ampfibian RV02-MAX
What’s happening in the wider RV world and beyond
The latest Marketplace offers
Our monthly roundup from the world of freedom camping
Malcolm spends a weekend in a smaller vehicle than he’s used too…
A UK reader reports on his new coachbuilt motorhome!
Battery troubles and a replacement saloon light are this instalment’s news…
A legal way to connect your RV to a domestic power outlet
Awning maintenance in time for summer!
What’s coming up and which shows are on soon!
Mobile Tech Financial apps to help this Xmas
Leading the industry since 1965
New 2015 modeLs
• 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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll share it with our readers. We’ll also reward
All keyed up!
Hi Richard, I have an ex rental Kea Dreamtime on a Ford transit chassis. I had problems with my keys not working on an intermittent basis and finally tracked the problem down to the car battery not being fully charged. My Transit has two batteries under the driver's seat (both calcium) and one provides starting power and the other drives all other electrics. It was the supplementary battery which needed replacing although I replaced both at the same time. The key wouldn't work after the vehicle had been left standing for some time. After driving it for a short period, the battery would recharge and the key fob would work again.
the most interesting, useful or thoughtful letter each issue with $50 to help you on your way.
need to buy a new replacement you are better off going to a locksmith who will provide what you want and program it at much less expense than Ford want to charge. Hope this solves your problem. Regards, Bob PS. I also had intermittent problems with the onboard computer, which were also caused by the recalcitrant battery.
Thanks Bob, some very useful information there for all Transit owners. Funnily enough I’ve also just had a battery check done (see this issue’s Project Polly) and found an issue there. Like you I toured the internet looking for a cheap Something else I found online is the ability to solution to the problem. Unlike you I only had buy key blanks for the Transit (sans remote fob) one remote fob and one other non-remote for just a few dollars, which presumably you key, so I wanted another remote. Ford was could have a locksmith cut. It would likely be extremely expensive to purchase a key from a much cheaper way of getting new key than but I felt I had little alternative. I was not sure of from Ford, should one be required. Please my ability to purchase the correct replacement accept this issue’s $50 for your efforts, which battery and/or my ability to solder it in. I ended will partially offset the cost of your new battery up buying a key from Ford and then had to pay and key system! another $120 (I think) to have it programmed. I could have saved my money had I purchased the new vehicle battery in the first place, but that is another story. My wife and I now have a remote key each and the spare non remote key is kept in our safe with the gas cylinders, should we lock ourselves out. If per chance you
12 | On your mind
Jayco Nowra cudos Glamming up! G'day Richard, just wanted to "ditto" what Ray said about Jayco Nowra in iMotorhome Issue 82. We bought a Jayco Conquest 20.1 on a Fiat Ducato in November 2012 and Peter and the team have been more than helpful in fixing a small number of ‘issues’. Thanks again for the Mag! Cheers, Lloyd Thanks for your email Lloyd; what a refreshing change to hear good things of a dealer!
Dear Mrs iMotorhome, Can I just say that the glamorous photos in Issue 84’s Project Polly have made it much easier for my wife to embrace the idea of motor home ownership! Thank you, Rodger (fellow traveller to Singapore) On behalf on Mrs iMotorhome, Rodger, may I just say your appreciation has made the extensive effort to glam-up entirely worthwhile.
Glad you enjoy the magazine, too.
Hi Richard, I have downloaded your new app. My question is can iMotorhome magazine be stored on the new app? Dose it have a library, or do I keep my library in iBooks? Otherwise, I find the new app good and easy to use!
Which all terrain tyres are suitable for replacement tyres on a Fiat Ducato platform type and size?
Cheers, Conrad There’s a problem with the app at present that prevents the magazine opening as a PDF that you can then move to iBooks or wherever. My ‘people’ are looking into it and I’m hoping for an answer/solution shortly. In the mean time you can still download the magazine normally via the email link, or from the website. Fingers crossed they find an answer soon. Glad you like the app and thanks for reading iMotorhome!
Thanks, Kerry. Thanks Kerry, I’ll put that out to our readers and see what they say!
14 | News
ast issues review of the Briggs & Stratton Powersmart P3000 sine wave generator had an incorrect phone number in the Fast Facts section. It should be 1800 356 632. Also, the link to the video review of the generator changed following an update. You can now view it by clicking HERE.
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Each Wirraway Model is unique! - All are a Must See!
View Our New Website to view All Models, Download Brochures &Virtual RealityTours For details contact: Rob Tonkin - Wirraway Motorhomes, 6 Hynes Court, Mildura Vic 3500
Phone / Fax: (03) 50 230 230 - New Email: email@example.com & New Website: www.wirraway.com.au On The Road Wirraway 260SL Slideout Motorhome - 2012 © Rex Willmer
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16 | News
he Australian Securities and Investment Commission’s (ASIC) Moneysmart website now has 12 money tips for Christmas. The website says, “Christmas can be a busy and stressful time of the year arranging gifts, food and decorations, let alone working out how you are going to pay for it all. In the spirit of the classic hit 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' we have put together 12 money tips to help you enjoy and financially navigate the holiday season”. The website is an excellent resource for all things financial – from basic budgeting to calculators, tools and teaching – and includes a valuable section on financial scams.
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18 | News
STAY SAFE IN BUSHFIRE SEASON
ne of the most important things to consider when going on a trip is fire safety. Summer can bring significant risk of bushfires in many areas of the country and an RV fire can burn quickly once started. You must have a plan and also the right safety equipment on board to deal with a fire. These simple tips could prevent your holiday going up in smoke: Before you travel: • Ensure all gas equipment for your RV is tested and in good working order • Gas cylinders should be external and secured with valves facing away from the vehicle • Purchase a fire extinguisher and fire blanket and locate them near an exit where they are easily accessible • Install a smoke alarm with a hush button close to the sleeping area • Ensure all fire safety equipment such as smoke alarms, fire blanket and fire extinguisher are maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions • Develop an emergency escape plan that considers all occupants • Ensure you turn off any pilot lights before driving or when the engine is running • Check the weather. Stay up-to-date with weather reports and heed any fire warnings and fire bans in the local area. Take a portable radio so you can keep up with local news reports.
At your destination • If staying in a caravan park, find out where firefighting equipment, such as hoses, are located • Choose a safe spot. If free camping park in an area clear of flammable vegetation such as long grasses. Park at least five meters from other RVs and ensure there is an escape route • Secure flammable liquids. Dangerous compounds such as mineral turpentine and spare fuel should be stored outside the main living quarters and well away from ignition sources • Check underneath. After parking, doublecheck under the vehicle for any flammable plant matter. General safety tips • Keep heaters away from curtains and internal fittings • Never cook with open flames annexes or under awnings • Never leave appliances unattended while cooking • Make sure camp fires are downwind from vehisle, awnings and annexes, and put them out before you go to bed • Never attempt to go back inside a vehicle that has caught fire. Instead, dial 000 emergency services immediately • Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children
News | 19
• Before lighting a fire or using a barbecue, check whether there is a total fire ban in force • If possible, use an existing fire site and do not surround the fire with rocks as some types explode. If caught in a fire:
• Turn off the engine and turn on headlights and hazard lights. • Close windows and air vents • Cover yourself with a woollen blanket • Drink water
• Call 000
• Cover your mouth with a damp cloth if there’s smoke
• Park off the road in a clear area away from trees
• Stay down until the sound of the fire has passed
• Face your vehicle towards the fire
• Carefully leave the vehicle (it will be hot to touch) and drink water.
• Stay in the vehicle and get down below the windows to protect yourself from radiant heat
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20 | News
INSKIP POINT REOPENS
Aueensland Parks and Wildlife Service has reopened campsites at Inskip Point where a giant sinkhole swallowed a caravan, 4WD and camper trailer. But it has introduced No Camping and No-Drive zones along sections of beach in high-risk areas, after considering an engineerâ€™s report on the near-shore landslip. National Parks Minister Dr Steven Miles welcomed the news ahead of the Christmas holidays. "Rainbow Beach is well known to Queenslanders as the gateway to some of the most amazing natural attractions to be found anywhere in the world," he said. "I recognise the importance of camping to the many families that make their annual pilgrimage to Inskip over the Christmas holidays and to the local Rainbow Beach economy.â€? Read more HERE
News | 21
BLUES, BOURBON AND BBQS TOURS
ide the Eagle Rider’s Blues, Bourbon and BBQ Tour and you will find great roads, food and music at every turn. The rolling mountain roads will have you on cloud nine, while the soulful sounds of the South penetrate to the bone. From New Orleans, the birthplace of Jazz, to the Country Music capital of Nashville, and all the way to the Chicago Blues, the roads sing the history of America. Nightclubs, juke joints, speakeasies and honky-tonks abound, and the mouth-watering BBQ and bourbon will satisfy the biggest of appetites. Make sure you pack your Lust for Life in your suitcase, you’re gonna need it!
motorcycle maps;custom ‘badge of honor’ tour patch; unlimited mileage, fuel and oil; daily tour photos uploaded to Facebook; hosted welcome celebration; helmets for the driver and passenger; daily breakfast; professional tour leaders and support vehicle with doorto-door luggage service; all taxes, fees and environmental surcharges, plus National Park entrance fees; hotel parking fees; discounted activities; one way transfer fees (when applicable) plus transportation between hotel and the EagleRider location (restrictions may apply at certain locations); EagleRider legendary private farewell celebration with live music; preparation and orientation.
The 15 day tours start in May 2016, is priced from A$6225 per person, twin share, and includes: Guaranteed first bike choice; EagleRider concierge service and hotel accommodation; custom riding jacket and leather-bound custom road book; custom
What’s Not Included: Airfare; food, snacks and beverages; tips; personal souvenirs; any tourist visa fees. Prices are based on summer season pricing, one motorcycle and two passengers and are subject to change.
22 | News
RUSSIAN ROYAL DIES
n heir to the Russian throne spent his final years living anonymously at a Northern Territory caravan park, it has been revealed. The 72-year old great grandson of Tsar Alexander III, Leonid Kulikovsky, was finally identified two months after his body was found under a tree near Katherine's North Bank Caravan Park, where he had lived alone with his faithful dog for six years. He had suffered a heart attack. Park owner Peter Byers told Caravanning News he was surprised when he discovered Mr Kulikovsky had royal heritage. "It was a shock. He never spoke about it," he said. Read more HERE.
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News | 23
EBOOK FOR RVERS
ruckie Glenn Farmer is trying to make the roads safer for caravanners and other drivers. The 39-year-old father of two, who has been driving trucks for about 17 years, has produced an informative 61-page ebook revealing safety techniques used by the professionals. "The reason behind the ebook is basically to make long trips more enjoyable and safer for everyone. This ebook is not an attack on anyone," he emphasised. "I know that trucks can hold up traffic just as much as caravans, campervans and any other vehicles which have trouble doing the posted speed limit safely." Read more HERE.
Thinking about a self-drive touring adventure? Find all the inspiration and information you need for an awesome journey with our ebooks for iPad. Touring Victoria’s Kelly Country: Learn about Australia’s most famous bushranger, Ned Kelly, on a wonderful tour through northeast Victoria. The Old Ghan Heritage Trail: Follow the legend of the Old Ghan railway from Quorn in South Australia, up the Oodnadatta Track and on to Alice Springs. The Googs Track: This remote 4WD adventure explores the southeastern extremity of the amazing Great Victoria Desert, SA. To The Inland Sea: Inspired by explorer Charles Sturt’s 1844-46 Central Expedition, To The Inland Sea takes travellers from Adelaide to the edge of the Simpson Desert at Birdsville.
Get your FREE eBOOK for iPad* www.ebooktraveller.com.au * Applies to Touring Victoria’s Kelly Country eBook for iPad
24 | News
STONE THE CROWS IN 2016
he fourth annual Stone the Crows Festival is on again in 2016; a unique event held in Wagga Wagga that’s designed specifically for Grey Nomads. It doesn't matter what sort of recreational vehicle you travel in, you’ll be made welcome. There are old friends to catch up with and new friends waiting to be made. The 2016 Festival starts on Tuesday 22 March and finishes up with a gala night on Monday 28 March. You can book for the full seven days or just the four days of Easter. To find out what’s on or make a booking visit the website link above or the Facebook page.
caption this... We’ve got special mystery prize for the best caption for this very ‘interesting’ photo. Email to email@example.com – and good luck!
iMotorhome Marketplace | 25
Bony Mountain Folk Festival • • • • • •
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This great Aussie festival in the bush is on again, featuring the legendary Murphy’s Pigs! Many other great artists, a Bush Poets breakfast, billy tea, damper, great tucker – don’t miss it!
The Duvalay Memory Foam Sleeping System – No lifting, no tucking, no fighting over the doona and bedding that stays put. Find out why it’s Europes bedding of choice for caravans & motorhomes. The premium grade memory foam ensures total comfort and the award winning design cover means your bed is made in seconds.
duvalay.com.au | (02) 6653 4640
Our new App is now available for Andriod & iPhone
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26 | iMotorhome Marketplace
Connect at home! Connect anywhere!
15Amp to 10Amp Adaptor with RCD and overload protection
Australia’s leading solar power and satellite TV manufacturers! We stock the revolutionary In Flex and Mini Flex panels, Plus our Complete Traveler Satellite TV package is perfect for motorhomes.
In the heart of Victoria’s Gippsland region. Come and enjoy our natural beauty, famous lakes, High Country and expansive beaches. Find ‘Experience 40 Great Things to Do’ on our website too!
T: 1300 483 249 W: itechworld.com.au
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Roberts RV World
Parkland RV is the official dealer for Avida Motorhomes, Crossroads RV and Opal Caravans in WA. We stock quality used RVs and our modern service department can look after everything.
An official Avida motorhome dealer, with more than 50 new motorhomes in the largest undercover RV showroom in the Southern Hemisphere. Our service department is here for all your needs too.
Australia’s leading fifth wheelers, designed here in Australia and built to suit our demanding conditions. Fifth wheelers from 24’ to 36’ available. Call 02 4953 7141 for information!
T: (08) 9493 7933 W: parklandrv.com.au
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T: (02) 4953 7141 W: summerliferv.com.au
Battery Traders Super Store
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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.
Visit our world famous 300 ha open range sanctuary, home to some of the most exotic and endangered animals on earth. Explore by foot, bike, electric cart or in your motorhome!
T: 1800 AIRBAG W: airbagman.com.au
T: (07) 3209 3144 W: batterytraders.com.au
T: (02) 6881 1400 W: taronga.org.au
iMotorhome Marketplace | 27
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Our vehicle-specific insulation screens are Australian made from specially designed and tested material to keep you cool in summer and warm in winter. As featured in iMotorhome’s Project Polly!
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Over 11 years cover manufacturing experience Australia wide.Free Measure & Quote Call in Factory 1:354 Mons Road Forest Glen : Sunshine Coast Queensland PH-‐1300 304 332/0754564818 www.caravancovers.com.au firstname.lastname@example.org Qld Stockist of Duvalay.
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Nomadic Solutions hitches fully ADR compliant no swaying increased towing safety easy reversing offroad vans available
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Nomadic Solutions - the original, quality constructed ‘lifestyletable™’ that is easily attached to the side of your motorhome. Now available in ‘mill finish’ for custom painting.
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America’s favourite motorhome is now available in Australia! Tiffin Motorhomes Australia is proud to offer the Allegro Breeze 32 to the Australian market. Click through to find out why they’re fast becoming Australia’s favourite too!
T: 0411 616 617 W: tiffinmotorhomes.com.au
28 | Feature
FREEDOM CAMPING O ur regular feature keeping you in touch with what’s happened and happening in the world of freedom camping in Australia.
These stories and more can be found in detail at the Freedom of Choice website, indexed by state and town, while you can also find the latest news and updates on their Facebook page. 2 Nov – Rum City Mayor makes no promises RVers pressing for low cost or freedom camping near Bundaberg City Centre in Queensland have held face-to-face talks with local mayor Mal Forman. "We had a very fruitful twoway conversation and look forward to further discussions to see where things lead. I didn't make any promises – it has to be the majority of Council who support this”. He said RVers were not complaining, just asking why they could not have space nearer the city. The 'Rum City' has been criticised for allegedly not supporting Grey Nomads and other travellers. But Council argues it already provides four reasonablypriced caravan parks together with several free overnight camping facilities within driving distance of the CBD. And Dale Kelly, manager of the family-owned 95-site riverside Riverdale Caravan
Park commented: "There are already cheap sites available here. Unpowered ones at our pet-friendly park cost just $15”. 2 Nov – C aravan park owner sparks debate on Wilks Park again Debate has erupted over the future of the Wilks Park camp site, with one caravan park operator slamming Council’s regulation of the site, while some campers believe its time limit is too restrictive. 6 Nov – Toowoomba embraces RV tourism Listen to the interview on ABC. 6 Nov – N o overnight stop in Rotary Park Lakes Entrance The proposed short-term overnight parking trial for recreational vehicles at Jemmy’s Point, Lakes Entrance, will not go ahead, East Gippsland Shire Council has decided. Following community consultation a trial was to commence. However, Council requested further investigation by Council staff. 7 Nov – Where is the welcome mat for RVs? The call for the Fraser Coast to become more RV-friendly has been growing louder and louder in
Feature | 29 recent months and it's easy to see why so many people are in favour of the idea.
25 Nov – Warwick Council forces campers to pay at popular reserves
9 Nov – Wilks Park a drawcard for Wagga
Campers staying overnight at the Allora and Dalveen Park Reserves will soon be required to pay a small charge. The overnight camping fee was introduced by Southern Downs Regional Council at today's general meeting. Mayor Peter Blundell said the decision to introduce a nominal fee of $10 was prompted by the costs associated with maintaining the facilities and removing refuse.
Dubbed “The Uber of camping”, self-contained caravans and motorhomes pitching camp at Wilks Park each day injects invaluable money into a town they would otherwise bypass. 12 Nov – Redland City to welcome overnight campers Good news for grey nomads travelling in the Redlands area. Redland City has tentatively earmarked sites in Cleveland and Capalaba for tourists to stop overnight. Redland Council aims to have both set up before Christmas. Not everyone loves the idea, including Ron Chapman, CEO of Caravanning Queensland. 16 Nov – Fraser Coast becomes less friendly 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 tourists and it will be interesting to see what effect a move by Council will have on the businesses of the town. While $10 is not a lot of money it seems strange the fee applies whether you stay one or two nights, and whether the site provides facilities like toilets and showers or absolutely none. Also strange, the $10 permit give you 48 hours but their infamous shop and stop program only gives you 20 hours for the same money. 20 Nov – Finally an apology from the paper Remember the ruckus over Port Pirie which we found out was extremely poor reporting? The paper finally retracted. 20 Nov – Monto a Friendly place for RVs The CMCA has officially declared North Burnett's Monto as an RV Friendly Town, following in the path of Biggenden, Eidsvold, Gayndah and Mundubbera. 22 Nov – End of the road for Bruce Chick Park From Monday the 23rd of November a Tweed Shire Council ban will be in force for Bruce Chick Park at Stotts Island. The site has been a popular free camping spot for the RV community.
28 Nov – Honestly we don’t want it, businesses fear camping charges Business owners at Allora fear a council decision to charge overnight campers in a popular park could drive away visitors and damage their businesses. Allora's Dalrymple Creek Park is popular with Grey Nomads and weekend visitors due to its proximity to town and tranquillity. Currently, campers can stay in the park for free for up to 24 hours. But locals fear a controversial Council decision to charge $10 through an honesty box will put that to an end. 28 Nov – Councillors plan to overturn camping fee decision An outspoken Southern Downs councillor has revealed his plans to overturn the council's decision to set up honesty boxes to collect camping fees in Allora and Dalveen. Cr Jamie Mackenzie, who is strongly opposed to the measure, has given notice of motion to overturn the decision. It's likely the motion will be voted upon at the December general meeting. The Daily News understands the motion was supported by Cr Vic Pennisi and Deputy Mayor Cr Ross Bartley. Cr Mackenzie said the idea of having honesty boxes at council-run camping grounds was 'financially irresponsible'.
30 | Touring Test: Talvor/Apollo Rentals HiAce Hitop
Ho Ho Hitop!
The spirit of camping is alive and well in this simple but roomy campervanâ€Ś by Malcolm Street
Touring Test | 31
Toyota’s HiAce is the campervan world’s entry level workhorse these days. It’s tough, roomy and reliable but hardly an inspiring drive. The hitop conversion adds permanent headroom and even an ‘upstairs’ sleeping option, but at the expense of weight, fuel efficiency and appearance. It also restricts day-to-day use in carparks and could limit home parking options.
must confess I a have minimum standard for my motorhome travels: not having to make the bed up every night. This means a Mercedes Sprinter/Fiat Ducato or similar large van conversion is usually the way I like to travel – small enough to be easily manoeuvrable but large enough to be comfortable in. However, when the iMotorhome Joadja weekend happened back in September the only vehicle available – other than the back of my trusty Subaru Forester – happened to be an Apollo Hitop two-berth campervan. Given hoards of backpackers seem to get around happily in these little campers I thought it couldn’t be too difficult, could it?
n the rental motorhome world there are few options in the engine/gearbox department. Normally the engine is diesel and the
gearbox is automatic. In the rental campervan world, however, the base vehicle of choice is Toyota’s HiAce (in Apollo’s case at least) and the engine could be petrol or diesel while the gearbox might be manual or auto. In my case it turned out to be a 2.7 litre petrol engine with a 5 -speed manual gearbox. The latter is something of a novelty these days, so it looked forward to a couple of days of fun driving. At 4.7 m (15’ 5”) the HiAce Hitop is small compared to the motorhomes I usually get around in, but it’s surprising what can be packed into a van this length. Especially with its distinctive fibreglass ‘hitop’, which adds vital headroom. Indeed it’s the top that gives the game away that this is something other than just another plain, white HiAce van. Take away the Apollo/Talvor decals and there are only a few other clues that this is a campervan, like the driver’s side gas cylinder bin, power socket
32 | Touring Test
Whichever way you look at it the HiAce cockpit is strong on practicality but short on creature comforts. Through-cab access is limited to the gymnastic, while frontal collision protection is just limited. The plus side is Toyota’s legendary reliability and strong resale values.
and water filler, and the external light above the sliding door. Sliding doors, which are of course standard on a van like this, seem to attract the ire of many people for their ‘whiz-bang’ noise, but I’m not one of them. Indeed, given the somewhat cramped interior, I reckon the big sliding door is a real asset.
lthough the doorway is quite wide, much of the entry area has been taken up by internal cabinetry, so clambering into the
Hitop is done with care. There are a number of good reasons for having a Toyota HiAce as a base vehicle, but the principal downside is the lack of walk through access to/from the cab. That might not sound like much, but compared to a Volkswagen T5 it changes the dynamics of the interior entirely. One obvious drawback is the front cab seats are not suitable as camper seats, unless you don’t mind sitting with your back to your travel partner/s! The lack of easy through-cab access – caused by the front seats sitting on top of the engine
Touring Test | 33
Given hoards of backpackers seem to get around happily in these little campers I thought it couldn’t be too difficult, could it? and front axle – at least allows the kitchen to be positioned up front, behind the seats. It results in a very narrow walkway to the cab (so you can clamber over if desired), while part of the cabinetry takes up part of the sliding door entry area. Having the kitchen at the front leaves all
the rear area for two inwards facing lounges that can also be used as seats, single beds or made up into a double bed. Being a rental camper there were no surprises in the décor department: it’s practical and functional, right down to the curtains and the marine carpet that lines the ceiling. Marine-
style lighting is included, which is adequate but a bit basic.
Living and Sleeping
’m something of a simple cook so the kitchen setup suited me in many ways. Fitted into the entryway cabinet were a stainless steel sink and drainer. The rest of
34 | Touring Test Below: Single beds or a double are the downstairs sleeping choices and Malcolm chose the latter. Note wires to stop the curtains flapping over the bed. Bottom: The front-mounted kitchen is compact but about what you’d expect in a budget campervan, except perhaps for the microwave. Note the bed boards stored over the cab that provide an ‘upstairs’ bed, although the vehicle is only a two seater.
the appliances were in the cabinet along the wall behind the driver’s seat, with a two-burner cooktop above and a microwave and 80-litre fridge below. There was a reasonable amount of shelved cupboard and drawer space, but the narrow walkway make getting to the main cupboard a tad awkward. That certainly wasn’t the case with the under-sink cupboard, which is easier to get at. Being a rental campervan, all the necessary cooking utensils, cutlery, plates and cups were supplied, yet there was still decent storage space for food and personal items. Something to keep in mind with the Hitop is that it isn’t really set up for long term remote camping. It does have a gas cooktop and 12 V fridge, but the toaster, kettle and microwave are all 240 V mains supplied. Given this little campervan will likely be used by the backpacker set who might well have their iPhones and iPads along with them, it’s not exactly set up for 12 V chargers or even 5 V USB leads either.
Touring Test | 35
Given the somewhat cramped interior I reckon the big sliding door is a real asset
36 | Touring Test
Above: Campervanâ€™s often have the cooker on a swing-out unit by the door, but not this one. The sink sits in this fixed door-side cabinet with storage below, while the cooker is inside, above the microwave and fridge. Right: A flip-up outdoor table is handy, but a bit too low to provide easy sinkside space if youâ€™re standing inside washing up. In the rear there are two sleeping options: a large double or two singles. Ordinarily I might have used a single bed, being on my own as I was, but the supplied sheets made the double easier. Making the double bed up is a bit of a fiddle as it requires using the table to make up the bed base, adding an extra board or two for the rest of the base, fitting in the seat cushions and finally making up the sheets and blankets. It certainly gets quicker with practice, but fitted sheets or Duvalays would certainly be more convenient. By day there is plenty of room to stretch out along the lounges, while the Lagun swivelledmounted table is large enough to be practical but small enough not to get in the way too much. Both under-seat areas can be used
Touring Test | 37 for storage; the kerb side one being larger and useful for the fly/drive set for travel bag storage. Lifting the rear tailgate gives easy access to the seats and under-seat storage. On the road, the HiAce is definitely not as smooth or refined as its nearest competitor in the campervan market, the VW T5. Itâ€™s certainly more tradesman than car-like, whereas the VW is the other way around. Someone recently told me the HiAce is designed for the Asian market, where the requirement is for a short nosed van with a tight turning circle, and it fits the bill very well. All that said, the 2.7 litre engine is a willing performer, especially on some of the windy roads on the way to Joadja.
What I think
o how did I cope with having to make the bed up every night? Not too badly I have to say. Frequently I use a motorhome as a mobile office, which tends to dictate my requirements elsewhere. However, in this case I was more or less just having a relaxing weekend and so the office
Top to bottom: Some under-bed storage is still accessible when the bedâ€™s made up; under-sink cupboard could be more space-efficiently designed; thereâ€™s decent bench space by the cooker and storage in the two drawers below.
38 | Touring Test
Campervans are ideal for those moving up from tent camping but still happy to live predominantly outdoors. The downside is still needing public amenities but the upside is low cost and easy manoeuvrability. bit wasnâ€™t there. I have to say that in warmer weather it would be possible just to leave the bed made up. In conjunction with the clipon table that attaches to the side of the sink cabinet in the doorway, and a camping chair or two, all eating could be done outside without
much trouble. The bottom line here is that if a relatively cheap and highly manoeuvrable campervan/motorhome is the requirement, the Hitop is going to fit the bill very nicely.
Touring Test | 39
2.7-litre 4-cylinder petrol
118 kW @ 5200 rpm
243 Nm @ 4000 rpm
5 speed manual
Gross Vehicle Mass
4.70 m (15’ 5”)
1.70 m (5’ 7”)
2.70 m (8’ 10”)
1.90 m (6’ 5”)
Main Bed Size
1.90 m x 1.60 m (6’ 5” x 5’ 3”)
Single Bed Sizes
1.90 m x 0.55 m (6’ 5” x 1’ 10”)
Dinette Bed Size
Smev 2 burner
65 L Waeco 12 V
1 x 100 AH
1 x 2 kg
1 x 55 L
Grey Water Tank
Black Water Tank
Price - Ex-rental
From around $25,000
Price - NEW
$62,075 on road
• Campervan great for driving and parking in built up areas • Highly manoeuvrable • Reasonable sized kitchen • It’s a Toyota • Relatively good storage
• The bed needs to be made up every night • Lighting a bit basic • Minimal 12 V/5 V USB charging facilities • Warm interior on a hot day
Apollo RV Sales Click for Google Maps
698 Nudgee Rd, Northgate. Qld. 4013. T: (02) 4722 3444 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.apollorvsales.com.au
40 | Reader Report
Swift and Sure! UK reader falls in love with a Swift and is sure itâ€™s the right machine for himâ€Ś by Ian Pedly
Reader Report | 41
The Rio’s tailgate is a excellent feature that providers easy rear access, be it for people, bikes or whatever, and really brings the outdoors inside when open while camping.
e were happy with our La Strada Trento, based on a Mk 7 LWB Ford Transit (a bit like Project Polly – Ed). We’re experienced travellers and had toured extensively – 40,000 miles and 10 years in a small Eldis tourer before that – until my recent cancer diagnosis made us rethink things.
by an open plan interior, large windows (tinted) and roof hatches. Fortunately, the tint makes it fairly private during the day as it's difficult for people to see in. Although it is bigger inside you don't notice this much on the outside, but it will still fit into a standard parking space and down the narrow Cornish lanes we love so much.
I had secretly been admiring the Swift Rio. It was a looker from all angles (bit like the missus!) and I liked the idea of the full size tailgate and drop-down bed. You could sit in the rear area and let the outside world in – a bit like the side door on the Trento. It is what's known as a 'compact coach built'. Being only about 6 inches wider and a couple of feet longer it was only slightly bigger than the Transit, but the spatial difference was off the scale. It seemed a lot bigger – partly due to a bright and airy interior of light woods and fabrics accentuated
On the basis that 'you can't take it with you' I found myself at the local dealer looking at what was probably the last Rio 340 for sale in the UK (until Swift makes some more). Hmmmm… And on the proviso it would fit on our quite narrow drive we did the deal. The dealer brought it round and we tried it for size a few days later. It did fit – but only just! The handover from the dealer took a good two hours as every aspect of the vehicle was explained (and this was the shortened version as we already were familiar with motorhomes!).
42 | Reader Report
The kitchen is well equipped and even includes a full cooker and oven. Front and rear lounge/dining areas are a real bonus, made possible by a drop down bed. During the handover it was mentioned that Fiat had some issues with jump starting techniques, but this was resolved and they have now confirmed in writing that the normal ‘standard’ method should be used – as per the handbook.
Ford v Fiat
e have had the vehicle for a number of weeks now, done a few thousand miles in it and spent some weeks touring Cornwall and Wales, so here's what we think:
lthough I prefer the Transit the Fiat Ducato drives well. It has better brakes, fab radio reception and is returning about 30 mpg @ around 65 mph. At the moment it is pulling to the left and the main dealers are scratching their heads! The gearbox is leaking oil and might need to be removed, but Fiat van dealerships are fewer and further between than Ford. There is nowhere in Manchester, the UK’s second largest city, willing/able to look at the vehicle re this warranty work.
Generally we love it. It has that extra bit of luxury we were looking for. It is well designed, well built and works for us on a number of levels. The body is a bonded sandwich woodless construction that has been cold-tested, comes with tank heaters and insulation and should be fine for ski trips/ winter camping. It is well kitted out. Swift has done a great job, it’s just a pity this is badly let down by the incompetency of its customer service dept.
The Ducato layout isn't as ergonomic as the Trannie – the handbook won't fit in the glove compartment (this is the first vehicle I have owned where this is the case); there is nowhere to mount a sat-nav or phone on the dash; the radio has no Bluetooth audio (I fitted a £10 Bluetooth audio receiver which works well); the seat belt warning is loud and incessant, which is a nuisance for low speed manoeuvres (I cured this by adding an £8 seat belt extender); there
Pros and Cons
Reader Report | 43 is no power outlet on the drivers side (or the passenger side for that matter); the fold-up dash clipboard is virtually useless (the Trannie had a handy fold-over table and two dashtop lockers with 12 V outlets); the dash power points turn off with the engine (Fiat must think life ends when you turn the engine off!) and the fuel range indication stops working at 35 miles – just when you most need it! Swift has thought of most things – the tow bar and reversing camera are pre-wired and so make simple retro-fit jobs. A glaring omission, however, is the lack of readings lights for the electric bed, especially as the rest of the vehicle is bristling with lights inside and out. Strangely there are no drain traps fitted in the pipe work to the tank. Consequently it doesn’t take long for smells to appear from the holding tank back into the vehicle if you don’t have plugs fitted. The external drains for the tanks are a bit ‘Heath Robinson’ (an English cartoonist and illustrator best known for drawings of ridiculously complicated machines for achieving simple objectives). You are supposed to use an implement to fold the (awkward) pipes down from under the vehicle. I can’t be bothered so usually end up skinning my knuckles. The arrangement definitely needs a re-think as they are a pain to operate and don’t drain properly. The electrical design and main equipment is supplied by Sargent, who make topend charging systems amongst other stuff and seem to be generally well thought of. It incorporates features like a warning if you start the engine with the power hook-up still plugged in, which should stop you taking the site bollard with you if you forget to unplug it! The Rio is also fitted with remote central locking but no deadlocking and the remote activates all four doors. Only two keys are needed: One for the ignition and the other for the lockers. Finally and quite strangely, the heating has to be manually selected for the energy source,
unlike the fridge which selects automatically between gas, 12 V and 240 V (and preferring electricity over gas). Why can’t the heating system do this? On the road it is generally a lot more noisy than the panel van. There is an awful rattle from above the cab that comes in around 60 mph and hopefully Swift will rectify this as part of the roof valance recall. The rest is mainly road noise apart from things like the door flyscreen magnetic strip (why don't they manufacture these items rattle-free knowing that it could be fitted in a motorhome?). I 'got' this with some Captain Tolley’s, a hyper-liquid glue that penetrates and seals.
he 'little' room is the compromise. It does it’s job (we use it all the time) but we would've liked a separate shower. Well
Bathroom space is limited and it’s ‘wet’, meaning when you shower the toilet and floor need drying afterwards. Combined basin tap/hand shower is a compromise, too.
44 | Reader Report constructed, it is big enough to (just) pick the soap up but lacks a separate shower, which means that the floor gets wet after a shower with standing water being possible as there is only one plughole and it's usually a safe bet the floor is sloping the wrong way! I'm on the lookout for a suitable duckboard. The shower head pulls out from the basin and is fine for showering but rubbish for cleaning your teeth as it doesn't have an adjustable head. The heating outlet is unregulated and could double as a sauna. The general construction appears to be watertight but the curtain is about 1" too short and some water can get under the door. Already, heat from the outlet has damaged some of the trim, while it would be nice to have a window to improve ventilation and natural lighting.
Living and Dining
he living area comprises two separate zones: the front dining area and the rear lounge area. This is great as it gives me somewhere to go if I’m in the dog-house! Also, the dining table can be set up in either area.
think it’s too big but the wife loves it! The hob is dual-fuel so you can save your gas when on a hook-up and the 4 rings are a real bonus. The sink is large enough to cope with aftermath of a dinner party, while the work top and fridge/freezer are both large enough for a family of four.
he Rio will sleep four comfortably. The drop-down bed is smooth, wellengineered, a joy to use and can be left made-up. We had the bed park height adjusted as it was a little low. A feature I really like is that the rear-most part of the bed is sort of a shelf, which I can put my brew on!
Top: You can leave the bed made up when it’s raised and adjust its ‘down’ height to make access as easy as possible. Bottom: The lift-up table has been moved from the kitchen bench-end and now provides a handy space for a quick cuppa.
Reader Report | 45
Our La Strada Trento was an excellent Ford Transit van conversion, complete with real windows and a pull-down bed. Project Polly eat your heart out!
the mother-in-law will ever trust them again!
wift has issued a recall on the sunroof and I have submitted a list of snags to the dealer. This is mostly minor stuff to be fair, ranging from the steering to the reading lights, and they are in the process of dealing with it.
The travel seats were fitted with a metal frame to strengthen the base. I have removed this as it was taking up nearly all of the storage area (we don’t need extra travel seating). It now houses 2 x 120 AH leisure batteries along with a 1000 W inverter and charging equipment. The original 75 AH battery was under the drivers seat and this is now free for extra storage.
he fold-out table was moved to the front dining area as the worktop is already massive and doesn't need extending for our use. The main table was modified and moved from the wardrobe to the side of the door where the fold-out table had been. This gives more room in the wardrobe and makes the table handier to use.
The rear door idea is brilliant but is not strong enough to support bikes. Swift’s idea is to bundle them inside the rear lounge area, which might work for a bachelor but could very well cause a divorce if the missus found two muddy/ oily bikes resting on the seat cushions! Swift says a bike rack can't be fitted (they would!), but my idea is to fit a towbar which will support a rear step and a swing-away bike carrier – and ergo keep me out of the doghouse!
The ladders for the bed are stowed at the side of the entrance door on light-duty clips. Unfortunately they make for a natural grab handle for people entering the vehicle, but come Verdict: away in your hand (as the mother-in-law found espite a few niggles and a period of out too late). I have now put a positive fixing on adjustment from our loved ‘old’ Transit, them, which means that people can now use overall we love our new Swift Rio 340 the ladders as a handle, although I don't think and are planning to travel far and wide in it!
46 | Project Polly
THE LIGHT FANTASTIC! An LED saloon light makes a fantastic replacement in Project Pollyâ€Ś by Richard Robertson
Project Polly | 47
The old light above the entry door had to go. Bulbous, yellowed and relatively power hungry, a bright new LED was the logical replacement.
pgrades and work our ex-Apollo Rental’s Ford Transit – Project Polly – continue at a glacial pace due to early Silly Season commitments, but there have been a couple of developments since last issue.
isolator switch to prevent the main one going flat if accessories are run too long. A battery check seemed the first thing to do and after some tests it was discovered the ‘accessory’ battery was indeed ‘stuffed’. Sitting at just 10.2 volts it’s actually draining the main battery in An intermittent starting issue caused me to visit some circumstances, but quickly comes up my local auto electrician – Southern Highlands to power when the engine is running. It seems Service Centre in Mittagong – as the owners likely the battery has been run down too many Mark and Sharon are friends and I trust their times by unconcerned renters. If you’re in the work. The problem manifests as an occasionally market for an ex-rental vehicle it’s a good point flat battery. Polly will start easily for days and to check and even though batteries aren’t then suddenly ‘only just’ crank over, after which warranty items I reckon you could haggle on all is fine again. She can be hot or cold and price if a check found them dodgy. there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason. The decision was made to replace both Ford Transits of Polly’s ilk have two vehicle batteries even though the ‘starter’ is still fine. batteries (in addition to a deep cycle house Both are factory originals and at nearly six years battery), located under the driver’s seat. One of age even the good one is likely to develop is a dedicated engine starter battery while the troubles soon. Mark’s ordered them in and the other is to power accessories through the job is booked for 15 December, giving Polly vehicle’s own 12 V sockets. Both are charged a new lease of electrical life just in time for by the alternator when travelling and there’s an Christmas.
48 | Project Polly
LEDeed here have been three internal lights earmarked for LED replacements: two halogen reading lights above the driver’s-side bed (the two on the opposite side were replaced prior to purchase) and one fluorescent oval-shaped saloon light immediately above the sliding side door. It was time to replace the saloon light and my weapon of choice was a Narva LED Oval-S Interior lamp, part number 87516. The old light was rated at 9 watts, but the new one only consumes 0.25 watts at 12 V (it will work between 9 and 33 volts). In electrical terms the old lamp drew 0.75 AH while the new one draws just 0.02083 AH, meaning it could run for nearly 8 weeks before drawing the house battery down to the 70% recharge level recommended for long life! Not only that, it comes with a five year warranty. For $47 on eBay I think it was a good buy. If you’ve been following Project Polly you’ll known Mrs iMotorhome has been the DIY powerhouse behind the work done to date, but for this job it was time to ‘get my man on’ and get to work!
Top: The old fluoro light was complex but had done good service. Above: The new Narva LED is a wafer thin sealed unit that’s touch operated and a real power miser.
Project Polly | 49
Left: The old light’s wiring and vehicle wiring emerged easily from a hole in the wall. Right: With the old light removed I nearly lost the wiring back into the wall! A piece of electric fence tape prevented that while I attached new connectors. Phew… “This should be easy and quick,” I thought as I removed the yellowed plastic light cover and looked at the internals. Two screws secured the backing plate to the wall and with those removed the unit easily came away, revealing wires running from the light fitting into a hole in the wall. Pulling gently on them brought the connectors and main vehicle wiring out, but it quickly became apparent the connectors were made to last and there was no easy way to pull them apart. Summoning my best McGiver I decided to improvise, cutting the wires behind the connectors and resigning myself to having to make fresh connections. After all, what could possibly go wrong?
Because the roofline rises What indeed. I saved the vehicle wires from to meet the disappearing through the ‘black hole’ and into the wall for all time, by a gnat’s whisker. I Luton then grabbed aarea length of something nyloney I found tied to the back of our ageing quad above the cab bike in the garage and secured it to the wires in a big knot, (hopefully) preventing a future the ceiling is catastrophe. The need to make connectors necessitated a 30 minute round trip to very high..
SuperCheap Auto, where I looked at every connecting device available and settled on the good old spade type. However, I had noticed the wires from the back of the new light were considerably smaller diameter than the vehicle wiring, and so bought male and female spades of the same width (so they’d join) but differing diameters. Damn clever I thought…
Back to Work! ome again and the fun began. There wasn’t a lot of vehicle wiring to play with but each one was a double (no idea why), so I had to strip four ends – two power and two earth. For better or worse I decided to twist the exposed ends of each type together, attaching one female spade connector to each entwined pair and crimped them tightly shut. My second attempt was much more successful – they didn’t fall off – and with confidence rising I attached male spades to the new light fitting wires. Only one of them fell off.
50 | Project Polly
Slim, suave and sophisticated: The new Narva LED saloon light looks great and works a treat. It also uses a fraction of the current its predecessor drew, which with our limited house battery capacity is a real bonus. It was now time to test my handiwork. Flicking Polly’s main light switch on I touched the dimple in the new light (it’s one of those touch-sensitive things with two brightness settings you have to cycle through before getting back to ‘off’) and presto – there was light! As this was just a test the new light wasn’t attached to the wall, but being featherweight I let it hang by the wires while I went to turn off the main light switch. Zap went the two exposed spade connectors as they briefly touched, and out went the light. For a moment I thought I’d melted/blown-up/irrevocably stuffed the new light (what would Mrs iM say?) but then I realised it was just the fuse in the main light switch had blown. Note to self: THINK… Having carefully wrapped the two exposed connectors in about 2.3 km of electrical tape – I like to be certain; when I kill a wayward spider it’s VERY dead – I gently fed the wiring back through the hole (without breathing), turned on the power, touched the dimple and guess what? No, it worked. All that was left was to mount the light. Of course the screw hole positions for the old light didn't match, nor were the screw sizes the same (too big), nor did I have enough of the right-size screws, nor could I be bothered with another trip to SupaCheap Auto. So, with three matching screws in four freshly drilled holes I snapped the outer cover over all of them, dusted the thing off and stood back to admire my handiwork. Piece of cake this DIY lark…
Project Polly | 51
Project Polly Costings to Date Previous Accessories/Modifications Plastic storage containers
Doormat, cutting boards, non-slip matting
10 Amp fuses & electrical tape
Bamboo cutlery drawer
LPG safety switch
Fuses and tape
Curtain fabric, hooks, thread & magnets
Carpet-backed foam mats
Melamine sheet for shelf (half price)
Shelf brackets & screws
3 x 200 mm wire pantry baskets
Pantry unit with 3 baskets
Genuine Ford floor mats
Solarscreens â€“ cab ($350) and barn doors ($96) plus freight
Solarscreens â€“ custom side windows x 5
Webasto EL CR 85-litre Compressor
303 Spot Cleaner
Purchases This Issue Ampfibian
Narva Oval LED light P/N 87516
Total Accessory/Modification Spend to Date
Vehicle On-Road and Insurance costs in NSW
Total Spend to Date
52 | Product Review: Ampfibian
Plug & Play Plug an Ampfibian into mains power and play with your appliancesâ€Ś
Product Review | 53
The Ampfibian is a weatherproof joiner to connect your RV’s 15 A power lead to any 10 A domestic power point. It’s also the only way of making the connection legally…
here’s a dirty little secret in the RV world: Many people make up their own adapters to connect a 15 A power lead to a 10 A home power socket. It’s done so they can charge up their vehicle’s house batteries, cool down the fridge before a trip and even run all the systems if using the vehicle as guest accommodation. Not only is it illegal, it’s dangerous.
Project Polly spends a lot of time sitting on the driveway. As such we like to keep the new house battery topped up – we don’t have solar yet – and so plugging her in is the only alternative. We don’t have an outdoor 15 A socket, so the quickest/easiest alternative seems to be to find a legal adapter cable.
What’s the problem? A dodgy home-made plug connection can lead to electrocution and/or overheating, causing fire. And a fire caused by such a lead would void your RV and home insurance, so if it burns down or severely damages your home, your vehicle and/ or your neighbours’ property it could lead to police charges, legal action and even personal bankruptcy. The alternatives are to have an outdoor 15 A socket fitted at home or buy a legal 15 amp-to-10 amp power adaptor. Neither is particularly cheap, but like taking a taxi if you’ve been drinking; if you can't afford the cost you certainly can’t afford the consequences!
mpfibian is an Australian business located in Ballina on the Far North Coast of NSW. According to its website, “In 2005 Ampfibian successfully lobbied to change the Australian electrical standard, making it possible to connect 15 A devices to 10 A outlets under specific circumstances. It then developed and sold the first legal 15 A-to-10 A adapter (the RV-02) for use with recreational vehicles. The Ampfibian product range has since expanded to include domestic, trade, and industrial adapters”.
Ampfibian adapters are well known and chances are you’ve seen one of the bright orange devices (or at least an ad for one) in your travels. The RV02-MAX is the
54 | Product Review RVer’s Ampfibian of choice: It’s basically a weatherproof pod with a plug for your vehicle’s 15 A lead at one end, a 10 A plug on a 1.8 m lead at the other end, and a 10 A/2400 W circuit breaker and residual current device (RCD) in the middle. It even comes with a flip-out hook for hanging, if desired. With a recommended retail price of $269 it might seem expensive, but it’s a sturdy and well made device that should provide years of service. Also, compared to the cost of installing a 15 A outlet at home, you can take an Ampfibian with you when you travel. The only option is a Ampfibian-branded carry bag for easy storage. In use, the only ‘maintenance’ required is a recommended monthly testing of the circuit breaker/RCD, which is done by plugging it in and pressing the test switch. Connecting a 15 A power lead is straightforward; just release the latch on the clear plastic lid so it hinges up, plug in your lead and ensure it sits on a special tensioning cleat where it exits the device. Then snap the lid shut, plug the 10 A end into a home power socket and you’re in business.
esearching online we found a Mini Ampfibian for only $99 that does the same job and would take up less room in your vehicle. Reading the specs carefully it soon became apparent that while it does the same job it has a serious drawback: It’s not 100% weatherproof. For our usage intention that wasn’t actually a deal breaker as we could run a power lead from the garage, but for anyone with an external power point only it’s a no-go. While it does have a degree or water protection – it’s rated to the internationally recognised Ingress Protection Level 3 (IP_3) for protection against spraying water/rain at an angle up to 60º from vertical – the RV02MAX Ampfibian is rated to IP_5, which ensures protection from water from any angle.
Top to bottom: Inside the cable exit point is a waterproof seal; the Ampfibian Mini isn’t weatherproof and is unsuitable for RV work; a clear cover lets you ensure the 15 A plug is securely connected.
Product Review | 55
The RV02-MAX Ampfibian is rated to IP_5, which ensures protection from water from any angle. Bottom Line
he Ampfibian RV02-MAX now gives us the ability to plug into a domestic 10 A socket wherever we park – be it at home or when visiting friends, and in any weather. It’s legal, safe and provides 100% peace of mind – and that final point is priceless!
Fast Facts Name: Ampfibian Pty Ltd Product: RV02-MAX Cost: $269 +pph T: 1800-FIBIAN (342-426) E: email@example.com W: www.ampfibian.com.au
56 | TechTalk
A Word of Awning! Get you awning ready for summer with the help of our resident Techspert from Southern Spirit Campervans...
TechTalk | 57
A properly installed and working awning is a boon to summertime travel. However most units, especially smaller/lighter weight ones, aren’t up to strong winds or heavy rain, so take care where and when you use them.
ummer is coming and it’s good to find a shady spot under your awning to help make the most of outdoor living. The majority of campervans and motorhomes in Australia have what’s know as a box awning and the most popular brands are Thule Omnistor, Dometic and Fiamma. Box awnings are designed to protect the awning tarp when not in use. You can find models with manual pull-out or wind-out mechanisms and even a 12 V motor to extend and rewind the awning. Also, with some models you can retro fit a 12 V motor if desired. Usually they set up with their legs on the ground or in brackets on the side of your vehicle.
hen the awning has been wound in check the front and rear. You may discover that while the front end (lead bar) is sitting flush in the closed position the other end is still sticking out (see photo). This means the awning is winding-in unequally. It is important for the awning to close properly to ensure it’s secure while driving and also to protect the tarp and mechanism. If that’s the case try this: TIP 1: Extend the awning around 0.5 m and check that the legs are properly clipped into the storage position and lying flat in the inside of the lead bar.
One of the most popular box awnings is the Fiamma F45 and we’ll use it as the example in TIP 2: Click Here for a video guide from this article. As much as owners love the benefits Fiamma about fixing closing issues. of awnings – especially in summer – it’s rare they take a close look or take care of them until Keep it Clean the day the awning is not working properly. nother problem is that over time the Follow these tips to help avoid that day! awning tarp might get smelly and you’ll find mildew in several areas.
58 | TechTalk Lubricate!
f the legs wont clip easy into the storage position or their operation is getting a bit stiff this might be due to a lack of lubrication or the wrong type of lubricant being previously used (grease can trap dirt particles in the mechanisms). In the worst cases the legs/ mechanism have been forced in the wrong directions and are slightly bent, either by strong winds or human handling. TIP: Where you see dirt and old sticky grease, remove it completely. Use a non-grease-based lubricant and operate the awning a few times to ensure the lubrication penetrates all the way into the mechanisms. Then have another close look and carefully operate: You might see a slightly bent or damaged part is causing the issues. We have had good experience with a can of Lanolin spray in these situations.
Holes? Tear-Aid is an excellent product that can greatly extend a damaged awning’s life.
TIP 1: If you have to rewind the awing while wet make sure that as soon as possible you wind it out again in good weather and let it dry. Another option is to wipe it dry shortly after being closed wet, then let it dry thoroughly at the first opportunity. TIP 2: Give your awning an occasional wash. Don't use a high pressure cleaner; instead, give it a hand wash on both side with some mild soapy water and include some drops of tea tree oil, which is anti-fungal. To reach the upper side more easily set the awning up on a steep angle. Just don't forget to let the trap dry thoroughly after the wash. Additional you can spray and wipe the awning with some vinyl tarp rejuvenating spray for future protection.
heck the tarp for small rips and holes. Once the tarp has been damaged, wind and further use will make these small little rips larger over time and a complete tarp replacement can be expensive. TIP: If you spot damage fix it straight away. We have used in the last years for urgent repair purposes Tear Aid Type B. The repair kit can be purchased for under $15 and has the benefit of not only being clear, it doesn't become gummy. And when applied from both sides the awning often lasts a long time.
he outside of the box awning – especially the front and rear caps – often suffer after a while from slide impacts and scratches (like when you ‘touch’ a tree branch when parking). Also, UV light can make the plastics brittle.
TechTalk | 59 TIP: F or small scratches use a plastic polisher after cleaning the caps. A spray-andwipe UV protector is a good way keep the plastic parts of your awning in a good shape, too. There are several suitable products like 303 Aerospace and others on the market that can be used
• Make sure you awning legs are pegged down to the ground • Don’t manoeuvre your vehicle while the awning is out or even partly extended!
he wall mounting clips for the legs on the side of the vehicle can often be hard to open and close.
TIP 1: Check they sit on a flat surface. On some vehicles the brackets are positioned where the body panel is slight curved and this can cause difficulties fitting the legs in. If that’s the case talk to a trusted RV repairer to see if the problem can be fixed. TIP 2: Clean and lubricate the holding clips. TIP 3: Change the plastic clips to the more sturdy solid aluminium ones that you can buy from your Fiamma Dealer.
Things To Watch Out For! For the longevity of any awning: • Don't use your awning in storms and strong winds and rain. It’s best to enjoy it in calm weather and/or very light rain • Don’t leave your awning set up and go away for a long time. The weather might change, which can harm it • Use an awning rafter (tensioning rod) to reduce flapping in the wind, especially on larger awnings 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.
60 | Mobile Tech
Tis the Season to Be… By Emily Barker
here is no denying the convenience offered by mobile devices and the multitude of apps available for them. Technology has reached a point where it’s firmly incorporated into our daily lives; whether it’s entertainment, business, connecting with others or organising the most mundane of tasks. There’s even an app to balance app usage; it monitors your screen time, letting you know if it’s on the excessive side, as – like anything – moderation is the key! The following is a list of apps aimed to help you get the most of this Festive Season:
Mobile Tech | 61 Australia Post Mobile Size: 18.1 MB Cost: Free Platform: iOS & Android Australia Post has recently thrown a great amount of effort behind its leap into mobile technology in what’s looking to be a successful attempt to boost performance. The result is a series of four individual apps all designed to make postage and product usage easier on the go. No-one enjoys the leisurely stroll through the post office as you wait in line to post or pick up a parcel; nor the battle to beat closing time or even the fun of finding a park, regardless of how joyous the crowds are. These apps, each with their own speciality, provide intelligent timesaving and convenient solutions. Australia Post Mobile is the broadest of these apps and allows you to conveniently manage your postal affairs, wherever and whenever you like. You can track and collect deliveries on your desktop or mobile devices, or organise deliveries to 24/7 parcel lockers, which are as convenient as they sound. Secure lockers are located at more than 200 locations across Australia now, including 7-Eleven stores and BP service stations. Each is activated by a unique digital code that’s emailed to you upon delivery and access is available at any time. You can also scan and pay Billpay bills, calculate postage costs, convert currencies, buy online and pick up from your local Australia Post retail outlet, search for a postcode and locate Post Offices and street posting boxes. For a free app it's packed with great value! Stop, Breathe & Think Size: 121 MB Cost: Free Platform: iOS & Android We can all benefit from a little pacing in our busy
lives. I’m regularly shocked when I have to write the date and quite frankly, I hadn’t finished with October! The Stop, Breathe and Think app is a free mindfulness, meditation and compassionbuilding tool that is simple, fun and easy to use. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but the basic principles of meditation have been scientifically proven to assist with so many areas of our lives including our physical and mental health, social interactions and certainly how we handle and experience stress. Taking the time to be mindful of yourself, to silence the continuous internal dialogue and focus for just a moment on the calm, while retreating from the chaotic, can be incredibly beneficial. This app really is simple to use, covers all the basics of how to meditate and provides a lot of detail regarding the benefits of regular meditation and mindfulness sessions. It’s certainly not extreme and is suitable for any level of experience. It utilises voice-led meditations that are in no way condescending or irritating, unlike some other apps that might or might not
62 | Mobile Tech much source any item, purchase it and have it sent anywhere in the world. Nice work if you can complete your Christmas shopping via your iPad while nursing a sundowner in Outback Queensland.
have the opposite effect of relaxation. Regular meditation has so many positive benefits and is a lot easier than people think. You can also use this app pretty much anywhere; walking, driving, sitting on the couch, standing on a bus. Despite some common misconceptions there is no need to sit cross-legged, stock-still and draped in linen for hours on end. You can if you want, but five minutes with your morning cuppa or upon a quiet park bench is all you really need. eBay Size: 60.4 MB Cost: Free Platform: iOS & Android When it comes to shopping convenience there is little better than eBay. There are no crowds, confusion or the chaos of trying to fit everything in the car (and hidden from the children). Online shopping has evolved greatly over the last few years; is far more secure than it used to be and delivery prices have stabilised somewhat. There is also a greater emphasis to ‘shop small’ and ‘shop locally’, which sounds absurd when you’re talking about a multinational company, but it’s true. The convenience of eBay is you can pretty
That being said, an app such as eBay international requires a little time to set up and optimise your settings. It naturally requires an online connection and while it is completely free, data charges might occur if you’re not on wifi. You also need to shop savvy: compare prices amongst similar items and check the seller's feedback and history. Ensure your settings are local, or if importing, make sure you are paying in AU dollars and that all import fees are covered in the postage costs. It’s not as complex as it sounds though, and there are excellent support and dispute resolution services should anything happen. Most retailers these days know online shopping is here to stay and in turn have stepped up to the plate and simply list their wares online too. Do your research and buy cautiously, but also enjoy the convenience such technology affords us!
Mobile Tech | 63
64 | Next Issue
HO HO HO!
flying trip to the Gold Coast last week rustled up a sparkling new Paradise Inspiration Black Edition that will be the centrepiece of our Christmas Edition. It’s built on the new Iveco Daily with all the trimmings: uprated 153 kW (205 hp) engine, 8-speed fully automatic transmission AND factory rear airbag suspension. Ho ho ho indeed! We’ve got a couple of products to review and a final Project Polly update for the year, plus another TechTalk – making an RV first aid kit – and apps of course.
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Newcastle Caravan, Camping & Holiday Expo
Adelaide Let’s Go Caravan & Camping Lifestyle Show
Victorian Caravan, Camping & Touring Supershow
Newcastle Entertainment Centre and Showground Brown Rd, Broadmeadow. NSW. 2292
Adelaide Showground Goodwood Rd, Wayville. SA. 5034.
Melbourne Showgrounds Epsom Rd, Ascot Vale. Vic. 3032.
• • • • •
• Open 10:00-5:00 daily (4:00 final day) • Parking: TBA • Adults: $20 • Seniors: $16 • Kids: U 15 free
• Open 9:00-5:00 daily (4:00 Sunday) • Parking: Free • Adults: $12 • Seniors: $8 • Kids: U 16 free with adult
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Open 10:00-5:00 daily Parking: Limited Adults: $13 Seniors: $10 Kids: U 15 free with adult
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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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