Issue 90: Mar 05 2016
Time Traveller! Malcolm samples Bürstner’s stylish Ixeo Time IT 726G… Project Polly
Webasto heater installation!
A quick dash to Melbourne and back
Keeping your gas cooker in top condition…
$50 for the! best letter
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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.
Design and Production
ABN: 34 142 547 719
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Richard Robertson T: 0414 604 368
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Roadtest Editor Malcolm Street E: firstname.lastname@example.org
On my mind | 5
ANSWERS AND QUESTIONS You might be wondering where the promised Frontline VW T6 campervan test and the article on Blue Ox TrueCentre steering control system and Sprinter sway bars are. Thing is, Issue 90 has been a difficult child. Our poor roadtest editor Malcolm has been struggling with an ongoing respiratory illness that has knocked him for six. Thankfully he’s on the mend and all being well will have the test for us next issue. I underestimated the time required to put the other two articles together as well as attend the Melbourne show and get this issue out. They’ll now appear in one of the next few issues. Before Issue 91 in two weeks time I’ve got a road trip to Brisbane and back for our Motorhome 101 Day with Southern Spirit Campervans, plus a side trip from Brisbane to Auckland to attend the Covi SuperShow. Nothing like cramming it all in! Just a reminder, if you’re new to recreational vehicles and want to find out all about the various systems and how they work – from toilet cassettes to fuses and awnings – this is you last chance to book into our Motorhome 101 Day on Saturday 12 March. See the ad on page 19 for full details.
The Questions Where are all the new motorhomes? According to offical figures, somewhere around 1100 new motorhomes we're registered in Australia last year. But a quick tally-up in my head of the figures manufactures provide puts the number around the 2000 mark or even a bit higher. The two manufacturers who claim to be the largest should account for more than 1100 new motorhomes between them. Either there’s some seriously ‘creative accounting’ going or a lot of wishful thinking! Next, just what is “Australian made”? For such a small market – even one with such ‘flexible’ production figures – we are fortunate to have some truly world class manufacturers. But whenever fully imported motorhomes are mentioned I hear talk of “Buying
Australian Made” and it got me wondering just what that is. Australia doesn’t manufacture any motorhome base vehicles, appliances or building materials that I’m aware of (although I’m happy to be corrected). I guess what it means is buying Australian designed and assembled, and that’s certainly a good thing. The whole exercise made me realise once again what a globalised world we live in and how very few things are cut and dried. “What the hell is going on at Ballarat Council?” is my next question. When it approved the trial of a supervised free camping area at Pioneer Park last year it appeared a victory for common sense and the city as a whole. The approval was even sweeter following an aggressive and, I’m told, often misleading and scaremongering campaign by one or more local caravan park operators. Now Council has decided to close the Pioneer Park experiment – early – and look for an alternative site, with the main one in contention being more than 20 kms away. One can only surmise that continued pressure from the local caravan park industry has finally won, which is a great loss for every other business in Ballarat. The only winners are those who fought against the trial, but they’ll lose too because the Bush Telegraph is very efficient and along with iMotorhome’s Project Polly, many others will never spend a night in their parks. Finally, we’re planning the next iMotorhome get together! It will be a terrific three night affair in Dalgety from 28 to 31 October and will combine fun, food, wine, nature, history, campfires and friendship. Details including costings are still being worked out, but if interested drop me a line to richard@imotorhome. com.au as spaces will be limited. Should be a hoot!
6 | Contents
On my Mind
On your Mind
Who we are, where and other legal stuff
Find back issues and more on our website
Answers and Questions
Share your thoughts for the chance to win $50!
Freedom of Choice
Day Test: Bürstner Iexo IT 726G
Project Polly: Webasto diesel heater installation
Travel: There’s Always Plan B!
TechTalk: Gas Stoves
What’s happening in the wider RV world and beyond
The latest Marketplace offers
A freshen-up for our regular look at the world of freedom camping
Malcolm spends a day in this stylish Euro B-class…
No more cold nights now Polly has her own diesel heater!
A very quick dash to the Melbourne Show and back…
Keeping you cooker in tip-top cooking shape
An A to Z of who’s in this issue!
Next Issue What’s coming up and which shows are on soon!
2015 MANUFACTURER OF THE YEAR Motorhomes, Campervans & 5th Wheelers
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
AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND
Accept no imitations.
The Most Recognised Name in Motorhomes
2015 motorhome range now available nationwide. Proudly Australian designed and built in our Brisbane factory.
Find a Winnebago dealership near you. Visit: www.gowinnebago.com.au Licensee and authorised distributor of Winnebago Industries Inc., Forest City Iowa USA
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 the most interesting, useful or thoughtful letter each issue with $50 to help you on your way.
Thanks to everyone who took the time and made the effort to share thoughts, experiences, tips and observations in 2015. Thanks also for the many good wishes for the festive season, which were most appreciated. Please keep writing in and feel free to share whatever’s on your mind. This is your forum and we know it’s also one of the most popular sections of the magazine, so keep those letters coming in 2016!
Youcamp Hi Richard, I came across this website and thought it may be useful for motorhomers. There seems to be a range of properties across Australia and some are quite cheap. It maybe an alternative to expensive caravan parks Regards, Dave
Thanks Dave, very interesting. It could certainly be a great way for people to find a whole new range of places to stay, far from the madding caravan park crowds. Please accept this issue’s $50 for bringing it to our attention, which you can spend trying it out. Enjoy
Battery Charging Insights Hi Richard! Regarding the letter last issue from Paul about mains power charging of house batteries. I’ve had several customers report that their battery was always on mains power and then all of a sudden became crook. I have checked this with the battery distributors and manufacturers of 240V chargers. Basically they told me following: Yes, batteries can be on
mains charge, but if left on all the time they have nothing to ‘work’ on and can still fail. Ever since I advised customers put on mains carrying for sure, but also have a small power consumer running, such as an LED light, so the battery has to work a bit. Alternatively, run the mains power on a timer set to two hours per day. That's more than fine, assuming everything is switched off inside the van. continued...
12 | On your mind continued...
Interestingly, Redarc battery management systems have a extra setting – touring or storage – where the battery gets charged a different way. Its also depends which type of charger is fitted (3 or 7 stage for example) and if it has a stage called “flow charge”.
Bye, Pia Southern Spirit Campervans Thanks Pia, that certainly makes sense to me. I especially like the idea of charging for a couple of hours a day on a timer.
German Motorhome Sharing Opportunity Hi Richard, I am planning to purchase a new or near new 4 berth motorhome in Germany early in 2017 to travel around Europe for 5 to 6 months every year for the next 3 years. As the vehicle will only be used by me for up to 6 months each year I am looking for one or two other interested parties who'd like to use the MH during the remaining months and proportionately share purchasing and maintenance expenses. Short term storage, rego and insurance cover will be no problem, as these can be organised through my German contacts. Any tips on
ownership like this, or if anyone can help to draw up legal docs would be appreciated. They can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if interested. Cheers, Dieter Haspel Sounds like an interesting proposition Dieter. If any readers are interested you’ll probably hear from then soon. Good luck!
Air Compressor Hi Richard. Thanks again for your most informative magazine. No matter where we are, providing we have mobile coverage, we receive your magazine as we travel throughout Australia. Currently we’re in the Snowy Mountains escaping the heat. I read with interest Robert’s letter in Issue 89, asking for advice on where to pump up tyres on a motorhome to 80 psi pressure. We had a similar problem in outback areas around Australia, so I did some research for portable 12 volt air compressors on the internet and decided on an OUTBAC 12 V 250 L/min portable compressor that I purchased for $199 on eBay from AGR Machinery and had delivered to me C/- a Post Office in our travels. I
have used it a few times for both our motorhome and car and it works extremely well. I am very happy with it. It gives us independence as we travel this great country of ours as we stay in a lot of ‘out of the way places’. Regards, Ronald Cheers Ronald and thanks for sharing. I’m sure there’s no shortage of compressors out there, but it’s good to have a personal recommendation about an affordable one
14 | On your mind
Jimny Towing I enjoy your iMotorhome magazine and would like to comment on your article 'In the frame’ in the last issue. Despite what was said in the article you can tow a Suzuki Jimny. I have a 2015 Jimny Automatic that I tow using the Hitch-n-Go A frame. It has a 'Suzuki Wizard' dog clutch that has been inserted by shortening the tail shaft. It operates by a lever beside the handbrake lever, and when towing, is disengaged so that the auto gearbox and transfer case are completely separated from the rear axle. The Jimny is rear wheel drive in 2WD mode and the front hubs are free, so only the wheels and the rear differential is moving. Further, the base plate for the connections to the A frame is quite wide compared with conversions I have seen with other conversions. The vehicle tracks perfectly. As with all these conversions they require Engineers Certificates for registration.
My conversion was done by Mobility Engineering of Hornsby, NSW
Having just returned from a two month trip from Sydney to Perth and back with the Jimny on the back of my Avan M3 Motorhome, and exploring all sorts of places on the trip, I can report no problems with towing at all and only two stone chips. I can recommend this combination to anyone interested.
Re Hitch-n-Go, the Northcoach guys know the owners well and have worked with them on the Jimny, but they had the same issue with a standard vehicle. It’s interesting that you’re towing with a Fiat Ducato. So many people are convinced rear-wheel drive is the only way to go.
Regards, Kevin Ps. The Hitch-n-go system is cheaper than the one in the article and I think is shorter, so the towed vehicle is closer to the towed vehicle. My wife and I have no difficulty with the hitch process. I have made my own rack on the back of the Motorhome to store and secure the A-frame when not in use. Thanks for your email Kevin. I’ve been waiting for someone to comment on towing a Jimny as I’ve seen plenty of pics online, so know it can be done. What you’ve said is very interesting, but it is a bit of a business to make the mod and get it certified, and for many people it will be easier to buy a ‘normal’ Vitara.
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16 | News
FREEDOM CAMPING REPORT
reedom Camping Australia has released the results of its national survey into free camping. The organisation's 104-page report contains information gleaned from campers at 195 locations around Australia. The travellers provided information about themselves and their RVs, as well as financial details covering 2800 days on the road. It is claimed to be the most geographically extensive free-camping survey undertaken in Australia. The report is critical of the alleged rigidity of Australia's caravan park industry in its failure to address the needs of travellers in self-contained RVs. It also provides a window into the self-contained RV revolution that Australia's travel industry will face over the next decade. To download a 32-page summary of the report click HERE. To download the full 104 page report click HERE.
18 | News
DUCATO CUP HOLDERS reach of both driver and passenger. Now, just open the glove box and our tray sits in the top on its rattle-free rubber trim. The glove box can still be used as normal. We make 2 models of cup holders: One for Euro 4 vans from 2007 until around 2010 with a grey dashboard. The other for Euro 5 vans from 2010 up to and including the new 2015 models, with a black dashboard,” a spokesperson said.
UK company Mirrorguard has added to its product range with this cup holder/tray.
At this stage the product is only available from the UK and the cost is £40 plus postage. To visit the website click HERE.
“We came up with this design as there are no cup holders in the Fiat. The ideal place to fit it had to be the centre glove box making it within
NORTHCOACH EQUIPMENT PTY LTD
iMotorhome FREE Motorhome 101 Day: 12 March – Brisbane Calling all Beginners and Future RV Owners! Southern Spirit Campervans, in conjunction with iMotorhome, is running a special event for anyone new to motorhomes and campervans who wants to learn about the basics. If you’re looking to buy your first vehicle; a new owner or just heading off on a rental holiday for the first time and want a head start on how things work, this is the day for you! This special event will start at 10:30 am on Saturday 12 March and include the following topics: You! • Information to help figure out what kind of traveller you are and which type of vehicle best suits you and your travel needs and desires. For example, are you a free camper, so needing solar, or a caravan park person who likes all mod cons? Pre Departure • Helpful tips to help get you into a travelling routine, plus a checklist for pre-departure packing and while on the road. What's What in My RV • Locating and understanding the house battery and battery charger, fuse box and fuses, water pump and filter, and so on. The Basics • Understanding and step-by-step operation of appliances and systems including the toilet and its cassette, hot water services, awnings, etc.
Tips for Safe Travel • How to safely secure your belongings so they don't kill you by becoming flying missiles inside your vehicle. Also, how to properly distribute weight and avoid overloading. Simple Troubleshooting • What to do if your cooker isn’t working, you have no power inside or you've spotted a water leak. Not every problem requires a professional repair. Q&A • Time to ask an expert any questions and learn from what others are asking. There will also be a free sausage sizzle and refreshments! Caravan park and motel accommodation is available near by and details will be supplied if requested upon booking. You’ll also be able to book a one-on-one session with Southern Spirit Campervans for a small fee after the event, if you’d like a personal rundown on your vehicle’s individual systems and features.
Book early as numbers are limited! Email your name and contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Pia on 0401 797 179.
20 | News
JAYCO AXES FIFTH WHEELERS
ow demand has prompted Jayco to scrap production of its fifth wheelers. National sales manager Shane Holloway said, “The decision was based on a re-evaluation of the Australian fifth-wheeler in today's market and a greater focus to our existing core caravan business.” Launched in 2013, Jayco had planned to produce around 250 annually, believing there was “a significant market”, particularly among people who were more or less fulltime travellers. Though popular at first, there has been a significant fall in fifth-wheeler sales generally in Australia. This has been attributed largely to competition from modern all-inclusive luxury caravans and expensive tow vehicles for the bigger models.
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News | 21
VW BEGINS RECALL
lthough owners of VW Transporter diesels are unaffected as far as iMotorhome is aware, the recall of other Volkswagen diesels affected in the global emissions scandal has commenced in Australia. The program has started with 8,694 Amaroks, while other models will follow in the coming months. To read the full announcement click HERE.
22 | News
CANOWINDRA BALLOON CHALLANGE
he Central Western NSW town of Canowindra is once again inviting motorhomers to join in the fun and festivities of it’s annual Balloon Challenge. “Join in the magic as the burners roar and the sky bursts into a kaleidoscope of colour at the Annual Canowindra International Balloon Challenge this April 9 to 11. The balloons will be flying every morning and afternoon, weather permitting, and we encourage you to ‘chase’ the balloons and watch them until they land.” Organiser Jan Kerr said.
overlooking the golf club with its clubhouse and Chinese restaurant. There is plenty of room for motorhomes, so bring your friends and have a mini muster.”
“Canowindra Showground is the place to be, right across the road from the main launch site
Volunteers are also wanted and many jobs are available, from manning gates to marshalling to assisting at the targets for the balloon
This year the expanded Night Glow, the Fire and Light Spectacular and the food, wine and craft markets will amaze all on Saturday the 9th. Tempt your taste buds with local produce and chefs from the region. The gates will open at 3:30 pm and the entertainment starts at 4:00 pm
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
News | 23 ...continued.
competition. Balloon flights will also be available through the official carriers, Balloon Joy Flights. The world-renowned Age of Fishes Museum, home to the NSW State Fossil Emblem ‘Fred’ and unique fish fossils up to 360 million years old is open daily, with handheld audio tours. Canowindra is also part of the Cowra wine
region and has several boutique wineries and cellar doors. For further information, showground site bookings or to book a balloon flight free call 1300 908 825. To visit the website click HERE
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24 | News/ iMotorhome Marketplace
WAIKERIE’S NEW CARAVAN PARK
small South Australian town on the banks of the Murray River may be getting a new $5 million caravan park. The Edwards Group plans to build the park in the Riverland region and says it would generate an extra 20,000 visitors nights for Waikerie each year. Peak tourism body Destination Riverland is supporting the plan, pointing out that it would add an extra $2 million to the local economy annually. Waikerie currently has a single caravan park, rated 3.5 stars on TripAdvisor.
Are you living that dream? Tax returns need lodging? Do you have income from working or investments? Use a tax agent who understands. We do, because our office has 4 wheels and a Luton peak. Whether you’re in FNQ, WA or Tas., email for info Grey Nomad Tax Advisers ABN 76 114 458 058 Eric Taylor, FIPA, CTA, Reg. Tax Agent Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.greynomadtax.com.au
Southern Highlands Service Centre • • • • • •
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An Authorised Repco Service Centre just off the Hume Highway at Mittagong. Auto electrical and mechanical service specialists happy to look after your motorhome or campervan! Call Mark or Sharon and tell them iMotorhome sent you!
T: (02) 4872 2822 E: email@example.com
iMotorhome Marketplace | 25 MOBILE
Our new App is now available for Android & iPhone
Scan QR code or click below to download
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Bony Mountain Folk Festival 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.
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26 | iMotorhome Marketplace
Parkland RV Centre
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
T: 1800 253 136 W: robertsrv.com.au
T: (02) 4953 7141 W: summerliferv.com.au
Battery Traders Super Store
Taronga Western Plains Zoo
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
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
T: (03) 5144 1108 W: tourismwellington.com.au
Connect at home! Connect anywhere!
15Amp to 10Amp Adaptor with RCD and overload protection
iMotorhome Marketplace | 27 ®
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!
T: (07) 3398 5500 W: solarscreen.com.au
The E-Twow Electric scooter for adults LATEST TECHNOLOGY FOR RV OWNERS
The alternative to a bike!!
25km/h with a range of 40km in ideal conditions! Super light too at 10.8kg
Australian-built In-vehicle Dual Battery Chargers, Battery Management Systems and 52mm monitoring gauges that won’t let you down.
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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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Southern Spirit Campervans FLEXIBLE STORAGE SYSTEMS FOR YOUR CAMPERVAN OR MOTORHOME Full & part fitouts Hitop, Poptop and Reimo roofs True custommade conversions Repairs & improvements BYO van from Hiace to Sprinter
Store those additional items up and out of the way using our adjustable, transportable and modular storage system!
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!
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28 | Feature
FREEDOM OF CHOICE! A new take on our regular roundup keeping you in touch with what’s happened and happening in the world of freedom camping in Australia… Since the beginning this feature has itemised the events discovered during the preceding month by the team at Freedom of Choice Camping. It’s been decided to update the format, so from now on we will pick the more notable ones and pass a few comments. 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.
It would appear Gympie is awakening to the potential of RV Tourism, according to a report in the Gympie Times. While the town has always had welcoming camps both to the north and south, the Council is now proposing to open up the showgrounds to RV parking right in town. Gympie is just one of the towns in Australia awakening to the potential of the RV Tourism boom.
We often show posts regarding the rubbish problem in Australia. Well we came across this story and just couldn't resist putting it up on our Facebook page. The story brought a massive response and was shared widely across social media. It has become obvious that the average camper is very concerned about the environment and sustainable camping. Three cheers to the 4WD guys.
Feature | 29 Isn’t this what we’ve been saying for years?
Ballarat closes Pioneer Park early
"Economic expert Michael O’Neil, an associate professor from the South Australian Centre for Economic Studies, has come out warning regional communities that as mining continues to go into decline, the grey nomad travel dollar will become their primary source of income”.
Probably the biggest story of the month was sparked by one small item in the The Courier newspaper in Ballarat simply titled Freedom Camping Cancelled. This small story started a social media frenzy with even Ballarat councillors joining in the debate on the Free Choice Camping Facebook page. More than 22,000 people followed the story and it was shared by nearly 60 other sites. After conducting a highly successful trial of freedom camping at Pioneer Park that was extremely popular with RVers, Council is now looking at “other alternatives”.
Some might say this is stating the bleed’n obvious, but when the advice comes from highly qualified researchers it’s time communities sit up and take notice. The story had a massive response on social media and was a demonstration of the power of this media in RV tourism. Towns and communities will ignore these types of stories at their peril.
Fraser Coast, we told you so Free Choice Camping was quite vocal at the time this policy was introduced. Anybody with any experience in RV Tourism could see what the outcome would be, now we see one member of the “advisory group” being honest about it. The policy has come in for quite some criticism in letters to the local newspaper editor, articles and on social media. It will be interesting to see what comes out of this review
Back flip or not? We found this article quite interesting. It raises the question of firstly is it possible for a town to turn around its reputation, and if so how long does it really take for people to forget the past? The writer has raised a real question here. Is this a genuine effort to reverse the previous situation in Geelong or just a token effort to make it seem things have changed. We suspect the latter. For a start the concept of RVFriendly Towns as designed by the CMCA is a totally different concept to the RV Friendly concept of the Caravan Parks Associations. One comment, written by someone who has been in the front line of retailing, just about says it all. "Speaking as an ex retailer I pity the local businesses that had no say in the matter, but are required to bear the loss of revenue”.
Alternatives lining up! While some towns are closing down freedom camping trials many others are embracing them. A 12-month trial of short-term RV parking on the corner of Barwon Terrace and Mercer Street in Winchelsea, on the Princes Highway just east of Geelong, will start in April 2016. Surf Coast Shire Council will run a trial after seeking community input on making Winchelsea an RV Friendly Town earlier this year, following a petition of 192 signatures from Growing Winchelsea Inc. The site, along the Barwon River, provides an attractive and scenic stopping point for RVs just off the highway. Council’s community engagement process revealed majority local support for the idea of Winchelsea becoming an RV Friendly Town, despite some opposition to the proposal and mixed views on the site.
30 | Day Test: Bürstner Ixeo Time IT 726G
Great Expectations! It seems our roadtest editor Malcolm Street had a dickens of a time handing this one back…
Day Test | 31
The Ixeo Time’s sleek lines are impressive, although a white cab would have blended better with the body’s finish. Driver’s-side entry door is common on right-hand drive Euro motorhomes built for UK delivery and is less of a problem than might be imaged, Malcolm reports.
ertain motorhomes catch the eye. Sometimes it’s simply their size, occasionally it’s a glitzy paint job and sometimes it’s just a sleek and stylish design, like the ones we often see from Europe. Such is the case with the Bürstner Ixeo Time IT726G, hereafter referred to as the Ixeo Time. In Bürstner language it's what is known as a Semi Integrated motorhome, which is B-class to the rest of us. Both from the front and rear, the smooth fibreglass moulding adds to its classy looks and when the bright looking decals are taken into account, it's a motorhome not going to go unnoticed. But is it all just style without substance? Let's take a closer look. Like most of the Bürstner fleet, the Ixeo Time is underpinned by a Fiat Ducato cabchassis, in this case a Multijet 130 which has a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 3500 kg. The body is a mixture of fibreglass mouldings
and vacuum composite walls with aluminium for the external finish. There's little framing, except where it is needed for fixing internal furniture. In the case of the furniture, it's made from lightweight ply, with the doors having a honeycomb construction to keep them light. Measuring 7.14 m (23’ 5”) the Ixeo Time is a German built motorhome and although it's right-hand drive, the motorhome entry door is on the driver’s side. Although that might sound a major problem it isn’t really and is occasionally an advantage. Apart from the usual external bins for gas cylinders and cassette toilet, there is but one external storage bin. However, it's of considerable capacity and will fit, say, one RV journalist – or more practically – a set of golf clubs, a couple of bicycles or several pairs of snow skis and all the accompanying gear. Tie down rings are fitted for securing larger items.
32 | Day Test Like most Euro designs the interior can feel a bit ‘close’ compared to the more open plan styles Australians and Kiwi’s are more accustomed to. But there’s no denying the space efficiency, innovation or quality of finish. For example, the table has a bottom leaf that swings out to provide space for everyone who can find a seat at the dinette, and there’s even a drop-down secondary bed overhead!
n the road the ‘little’ 2.3-litre 96 kW turbo diesel, working in concert with the 6-speed automated manual gearbox performed willingly enough on flat and slightly hilly roads. But on steep hills, of which there are more than one or two in New Zealand, it struggled. Unfortunately, many of us are used to driving Fiat's largest turbo-diesel, the 3.0 litre engine, and we are used to the luxury of more power and response. Fortunately, if you want more power either the 2.3-litre 109 kW or 3.0 132 kW turbo-diesels can be ordered. I should point out that the cab radio is a touch screen
multi-media system that includes a DVD player and has both USB and auxiliary inputs.
tepping inside the Ixeo Time reveals a very well thought out layout. Once inside the entry door, the first impression is of a slightly cramped interior. However, a closer look reveals some very clever thinking in terms of effective use of space. Up front both cab seats swivel and integrate nicely with the kerbside dinette and the inwards-facing driver’s-side lounge. To the
Day Test | 33
Certain motorhomes catch the eye and sometimes it’s just a sleek and stylish design, like the ones we often see from Europe. left of the entry door is the bathroom, which faces the L-shaped kitchen bench on the opposite side. That leaves enough room in the rear for single beds that are set slightly high to allow for the large rear boot underneath. Like the rest of the Bürstner range, the Ixeo Time has a
very classy decor that looks good – everything from the leather seats to the roman blinds on the windows. There are several surprising features about the motorhome that are not immediately obvious. Up front, the lounge/dining area can seat five. With the cab seats swivelled the table is a double deck arrangement
with the lower section able to be swung around into the walkway area. It's quite a cosy but versatile area if needed. When driving, this is a four seat motorhome but it also sleeps four. The extra bed, measuring 2.0 m x 1.38 m (6’ 7” x 4’ 6”), is a drop
34 | Day Test Below left to right: The bathroom uses a clever, hinged central wall panel that provides a well equipped bathroom with vanity and plenty of storage when in one position, and a shower cubicle when swung the other. Bottom: The 150 L fridge is a slimline single-door model, with space for a microwave above if desired. Note steps up to the single beds
down arrangement above the rear seats. It's quite a simple arrangement thatâ€™s electrically operated from the kitchen. Clever design extends to the lockers above the seating on either side being fitted to the bed base and lowering with the bed. A short ladder is required for access because the bed can only be lowered to the rear seat back height.
Keeping Clean and More
nother bit of creativity happens in the bathroom. It has a hinged wall in the middle, which when swung one way sees the bathroom consist of a Thetford cassette toilet, multi-shelf cupboard and a vanity complete with wash basin, large mirror and lower cabinet. When the wall is swung the other way, it closes off the toilet and vanity area and hey presto, you have a shower cubicle! Something the Europeans in particular seem to favour is the L-shaped kitchen. It works on the basis of being both practical and space
Day Test | 35
Single beds work well and are set high to allow for a huge tunnel boot. Wide steps provide easy access and thereâ€™s good storage, light and ventilation too.
36 |Day Test
Above: Compact L-shaped kitchen is Euro-typical and has little usable workspace, and a sink lid would be invaluable. Right: The secondary bed is electrically operated and ladder-accessed.
saving. In this case the kitchen benchtop comes with both a three burner cooktop and round stainless steel sink, sans drainer. This really doesn't leave a great deal of bench space, apart from the smoked glass lid on the cooktop. Under the bench are three good sized drawers and a large cupboard, complete with shelf. Fitted into the space between the kitchen bench and bedroom is a quite large 151-litre Dometic fridge. It differs slightly from other larger Dometic fridges, being a slim tower model and having only a single door and a separate freezer compartment inside. A single cupboard is fitted above the fridge, which I would imaging could be used for a microwave if you really want one.
Day Test | 37
The single beds in this motorhome are probably the most practical arrangement in the bedroom area. They are easy to clamber into via two steps; they both share a well sized ‘tween-bed cabinet and each bed has a good sized window. There's plenty of storage in the bedroom, too. Overhead is a row of lockers across the rear wall while both the beds have under mattress compartments and even the step has a hinged lid, under which can be stashed smaller items. Slightly deceptive in its simplicity is the electrical control panel by the entry door. It has but a few main switches and a combined water tank/voltmeter gauge – analogue, oddly enough. However, it hides quite a sophisticated electrical system. If I was being a bit picky it would be that all the power points are just single sockets, including the inverter-supplied one near the entry door. Also mounted on the wall by the entry door is the flat screen TV. It’s probably the best of the locations available, but it can really only be seen from the swivelled front seats.
Top: The shared bedhead table is a good size, but the overhead cupboards prevent you sitting up in bed. A single, central cupboard option would be good. Above: Storage is everywhere, including under the beds. Note control panel for the Truma Combi hot water and space heater.
38 |Day Test
What I think
ne of the problems in taking a test drive in something like the B端rstner Ixeo Time is that it raises expectations and you tend to get used to driving around in a sophisticated and stylish motorhome. It's layout is very well thought out and put together, and shows quite a few years of motorhome building experience. Everything from the way the cab area is set out to the drop-down bed represents a very smoothly functional motorhome. It's not hard to adjust to at all!
Top: Room for an average-sized RV journalist: Not many motorhome storage lockers can match this! Right: Ready for take-off? It seems Malcolm would have happily brought this one home.
Day Test | 39
The problem in taking a test drive in something like the B端rstner Ixeo Time is that it raises expectations and you tend to get used to driving around in a sophisticated and stylish motorhome.
40 | Day Test
Specs GENERAL Make
Ixeo Time IT 726G
Fiat Ducato Multijet 130
2.3 L 4-cylinder turbo-diesel
96 kW @ 3600 rpm
320 Nm @ 1800 rpm
6-speed automated manual (AMT)
ABS, ESC & Hill holder
WEIGHTS Tare Weight
Gross Vehicle Mass
Braked Towing Capacity
DIMENSIONS Overall Length
7.14 m (23’ 5”)
2.30 m (7’ 7”)
2.75 m (9’)
1.97 m (6’6”)
1.97 m x 0.80 m (6’ 6” x 2’ 8” & 2.03 m x 0.80 m (6’ 8” x 2’ 8”)
2.00 m x 1.38 m (6’ 7” x 4’ 6”)
Specs EQUIPMENT Slide-Out
Smev 2 burner LPG
Stainless steel round, with drainer
151 L Dometic RM 8330 Compressor
12 V LED
12 V Sockets/USB Outlets
1 X 12V, 1 x 5V
Truma Combi LPG
Hot Water System
Hinged wall, separate cubicle
2 x 90 AH
1 x 150 W
2 x 9 kg
Truma Combi LPG
PRICE As Tested
NZ$153,900 (on Road NZ)
Day DayTest Test | 41
• Well setup front lounge/dining area • Smoothly operating dropdown bed • Large external storage • Plenty of internal cupboard space • Functional and cleverly designed bathroom • Classy looking motorhome body
• Smallish kitchen • Multijet 130 is a bit underpowered • Single outlet power points • No microwave or grill
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42 | Project Polly: Webasto Heater Installation
Heat of the Nights With winter approaching you need a heater for all the cold nights and crisp morningsâ€Ś by Richard Robertson
Project Polly | 43 heating systems are fairly rare in Australia, primarily because our vehicles have limited LPG capacity. Polly has just a single 4.5 kg cylinder, so LPG was never a consideration. You can buy free-standing LPG heaters that use a disposable 1 kg cylinder and they come with a low-oxygen cut out to help avoid asphyxiation, but death by carbon monoxide poisoning is a real possibility and they shouldn’t be used in a confined space. For the same reason you must never use the gas cooktop or oven for heating.
What’s in the box? Here’s what you get when you buy a Webasto Air Top 200 STC diesel space heater.
inter is the best time to motorhome across much of Australia. But there’s little more miserable than spending night after night in an ice cold vehicle trying to will the sun up over the horizon. I know because I’ve had two campervans and a caravan and all have been unheated. That’s not including the numerous unheated test motorhomes Mrs iM and I have literally frozen our backsides off in on touring tests. When Project Polly came along a heater was high on the agenda. Very high. Top of the list, actually. Especially as I’m the one who has to get up and make the morning cup of tea.
hen it comes to RV heating there are only three real choices: LPG, electricity or diesel. LPG-fired central
Electricity is a viable option of you plan to stay in caravan parks and/or carry a generator. Polly has a Heron 2.2 kW air-conditioner with a heating element and although nothing flash in terms of heating output it’s still an invaluable inclusion. But it requires main power and we prefer free camping. It’s worth noting that most RV air-conditioners can also heat, but it’s usually an electric element the unit blows air across, rather than reverse cycle (although this is becoming more common in modern units). This basically leaves diesel-fired heating, which is the most common heat source in Europe – and they know a thing of two about cold weather. A distinct advantage of diesel-fired heating is the ability to run it while travelling. It means the living space of your vehicle can be toasty warm when you pull up, or simply while driving. In the same way a vehicle’s cab airconditioner often struggles to keep you comfortable in summer because it’s trying to cool all the air space behind you (unless you have a cab curtain), so too a cab heater can struggle in cold weather. So a diesel heater makes a lot of sense on a whole range of levels. It’s also great for drying towels and wet clothes, especially in the bathroom if you have an outlet there. And an RV heated to a low but comfortable level all night avoids most or all of condensation issues, especially if used in conjunction with insulative window coverings.
44 | Project Polly
Two controllers are now available: a new digital unit that now includes a fan-only mode for ventilation or the traditional rotary thermostat-style knob.
Air Top range. There are three models: the Air Top 2000 STC, Air Top Evo 40 and Air Top Evo iesel really is the Holy Grail of RV 50, and the main difference is heating power. heating. In a nutshell a small dieselThe smallest (the 2000) is rated from 0.9 to 2.0 fuelled furnace draws cold air from kW, the 40 from 1.5 to 4.0 kW and the 50 from outside, burns it and expels the exhaust gasses 1.5 to 5.5 kW. The larger the vehicle the bigger externally again. Meanwhile, a fan draws air the heater required but for most campervan from inside the vehicle and blows it across or motorhome applications – say under 7.5 a heat exchanger around the furnace, then metres – the 2000 should be fine (unless you’re through ducting to one or more outlets. The an extreme winter traveller or just cold blooded!) internal air temperature is thermostat controlled It’s worth noting Webasto also makes a petroland depending on the control unit, one or powered version of the Air Top 2000 STC, but more timers can be set to turn the heater on it’s only available by special order. and off at pre-appointed times. Think of it as intelligent central heating for your campervan or Hint Hint? motorhome. e bought Project Polly at the In Australia the best know diesel heater supplier beginning of last winter and by spring is Webasto. The German automotive supplier the folks at Webasto’s Australian also makes everything from sunroofs to office had noted my regular comments on fridges, including the excellent Isotherm 85 L the need for a diesel heater. They said I’d compressor fridge fitted to Polly in late October hinted enough although I believe it was more and which you can read about in Issue 83. like subliminal messaging! Anyway, they offered a Webasto Air Top 2000 STC, which Although generally known as Webasto heaters, also happens to be their most popular unit. Webasto’s diesel-heater line-up is called the RVs aside the Air Top range has widespread
Project Polly | 45 DIY person can install an Air Top 2000, but kindly/wisely offered to do the job in-house in the interests of, um, ‘technical fidelity’. Also, the iconic Webasto rotary on/off/thermostat switch has now been supplemented with an optional digital controller that has precise temperature settings, up to 21 on/off timer settings (3 per day for 7 days) and the ability to use the fan for ventilation without heating. I think Swarmy was keen to see the whole installation up-andrunning without hitches and I gladly accepted his wise offer.
applications from boats to trucks (in case you have one of those that needs heating too). By tapping into the vehicle's fuel supply a diesel heater avoids the need for a seperate fuel supply. Very low usage rates (0.12 to 0.24 L/ hr) and a fuel line positioned to ensure it can’t run the tank dry alleviate fuel supply and usage concerns. The only electrical requirement is for the heater ignition and to run the fan, which ranges from 1.17 to 2.42 amps in a 12 V system. Webasto Australia’s chief technical boffin, Ratish Swarmy – Swarmy – assured me a competent
If you’re not a competent do-it-yourselfer Webasto has a national network of authorised dealers. Installation prices will vary but I was advised a ballpark figure of $700 is realistic, depending on the location, vehicle type and job complexity. Having watched the job I’d be happy to leave the whole thing to a professional, especially the fuel tank connection. Not only does it save you effort, you have total comeback in case of any problems.
Down to Work
roject Polly and I arrived at Webasto’s headquarters in Kirrawee in Sydney’s southern suburbs a wet and cool spring morning. Ushered deep inside the workshop Swarmy first ran though the component parts
Top: The Air Top 2000 STC unit is compact and weighs just 2.6 kg. Below: Locating a clear place to cut through Polly’s floor was tricky. It had to be clear of the exhaust and other vehicle systems and provide clear space for outside air to be drawn in for combustion and then vented efficiently.
46 | Project Polly
Above: Once the installation site was selected a hole for the mounting bracket had to cut through Polly's motorhome and body floors. Right: Prior to drilling the hole the bed base was removed for ease of access of the heater assembly and we made video of it and the installation, which you can watch by clicking here. The first challenge was to find a suitable location in Polly for the heater unit. In a new vehicle build the unit and ducting could easily be integrated into the cabinetry, but as an add-on in a small vehicle like ours the options were always going to be limited. Considerations included space to cut through a clear section of the the floor for combustion air supply and exhaust routing, plus where to place it inside and how/where to run the outlet ducting. In the end the only viable place was under the bed head by the back door, on the kerb side. Even so this meant running 12 V power and the diesel fuel line a considerable distance aft from their respective sources. A 140 mm hole was cut though the internal flooring and floor of the vehicle body, with the preassembled heater and floor mount bracket
Project Polly | 47
A custom made wiring harness was made up and then run under the floor, from the house battery beneath the front passenger seat to the heater’s location near the back doors. then positioned in place and secured. Swarmy stressed the importance of pre-assembling the heater and bracket on the bench, which includes installation of the combustion air tube, fuel line, exhaust pipe and wiring harness. On a work bench it’s a straight forward job, but lying on your back under a vehicle and trying to do it – as many DIYers apparently do – is, “The hard way”.
Swarmy also preassembles the fuel system – remember to follow the arrow on the fuel pump and make sure it’s pointing toward the fuel tank – while a new rubber mount helps isolate the pump from the vehicle and reduce noise.
It was interesting to note that Webasto requires the final exhaust outlet to point straight down, or within 10º of vertical. I’ve seen many motorhomes with Webasto heater exhaust pipes pointing out the side like a normal vehicle exhaust pipe, which is obviously an incorrect installation.
Prior to putting the heater assembly in position the edges of the floor mount bracket had sealant applied to ensure no dust or water ingress. It was then a matter of screwing the bracket to the floor and the first part of the job was done: The heater was in position.
ocus the shifted tounderneath Polly, where more sealant was applied around the edge of the mounting bracket protruding through the floor. The muffler and rest of the exhaust system piping was installed, keeping it well clear of the fuel pump and incoming fuel line.
It was then time to connect the 12 V power. That was done by making a wiring harness long enough to run from the house battery under Polly’s passenger cab seat and routing it beneath the vehicle. Meanwhile, Swarmy’s
48 | Project Polly assistant installed the heater outlet ducting, which we decided to run forward along the kerb-side wall, over the wheel arch and then right, to exit at the aisle by the foot of the bed (beside the main kitchen unit end panel). Because the bed is built on an aluminium frame this was a quick job that simply required cable-tying the duct to the frame at strategic points. In a ‘normal’ vehicle you’d need to cut holes to pass the ducting through the cabinetry, although at least that would make the final outlet (or outlets in the case of a twin-duct unit) neater. As it stands the duct in Polly just has the rotatable airflow nozzle pressed into it and it looks a bit odd/ unfinished, although Mrs iMotorhome has since constructed a box to house it and provide some form and finish. The plan is to attach a wooden panel to the bed frame to properly secure and finish it. One day… Webasto’s new digital controller has been positioned on the kitchen end panel, above the foot of the kerb-side bed. It’s easily accessible while seated, in bed or when standing in the kitchen, but nicely out of the way. With all the electrics connected it was time to fire the heater up, or at least the controller and fan to make sure they worked, as the fuel supply system was still to come. Everything worked nicely and it was time for the final phase. Well, almost.
Up and Under
he final phase involved removing Polly’s fuel tank and connecting the fuel supply. However, as there was no hoist in Webasto’s Head Office workshop – they don’t usually perform installations – they had to arrange access to one of their authorised installers and we had to return a week later to finish the job. Top: Heater ducting was cable-tied to the bed framing and vents into the aisle, by the kitchen end panel. Above: The new digital controller is simple and intuitive to use.
The following week and with Polly hoisted and the fuel tank removed, the final phase commenced. I’ve watched at least one video
Project Polly | 49 of a Webasto heater DIY installation and read various comments in forums and magazines in which the fuel supply has been taken from the vehicle’s fuel return line; that is, the line that returns excess fuel from the engine’s injection system back to the tank. While that might once have been okay, Swarmy was at great pains to emphasise that is no longer the case. He said that with modern turbo-diesel engines and their high-pressure common-rail injections systems, they also run quite highly pressurised fuel systems that operate as a closed-loop. Tapping into the fuel return line is likely to cause pressure problems that could affect the engine’s operation. Fuel supply must come directly from the tank. Polly’s fuel pump is a removable unit that sits inside the tank and was removed simply by unscrewing a cap on top. With the assembly Right: Polly’s tank with the fuel pick-up and line in place. Below: Polly’s fuel pump. Heater pick-up is the thin silver pipe that bends over the side. It’s shorter to avoid running the tank dry.
50 | Project Polly removed it was possible to drill through and then make a fuel pick-up pipe the correct length to avoid running the tank dry. Once reinstalled and with the fuel tank remounted – that’s where the hoist and a few burly blokes came in – the final thing was to carefully route the fuel line along the chassis to the heater’s pump and ensure it was leak free.
monster snow fall, as we did last July and loose power for days, at least I’ll have a cosy mobile office to work from. Heat of the nights (or days)? Bring it on…
The heater fired-up first go and in a minute or two was pumping out hot air. It was a shame that was the first week or so of November and summer was fast approaching. We’ve yet to fire up the Air Top 2000 STC in anger – or should I say anticipation – although it has been run a few times just to make sure it’s still okay. I’ve just got to go out now and check wasps haven’t at least partially clogged the exhaust. Apparently it’s something they’re fond of doing, Swarmy told me when I ran into him last week on the Webasto stand at the Melbourne Show. As I write it’s the last afternoon of summer and already the nights have been cooling, up here on the NSW Southern Highlands. Our ‘Webasto’ will certainly earn its keep over the next six to nine months. If we have another
Above: Exhaust outlet must be within 10º of vertically down. Below: All neatly done! Black canister is the combustion air inlet.
Project Polly | 51
Fast Facts: Name: Webasto Air Top 2000 STC diesel space heater
Output: 0.9 to 2.0 kW
Webasto Australia 423-427 The Boulevarde Kirrawee. NSW. 2232 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Control: Rotary thermostat or Digitally programmable Fuel Usage: 0.12 to 0.24 L/Hr Electrical Usage: 1.17 to 2.42 amps
T: 1800 244 494
Cost: As supplied $1883
Installation: Average $700 Click for Google Maps
Webasto – your gas free solution for independent travelling
Quiet powerful operation Low power & fuel consumption Use whilst parked & on the move
Dual Top – Combination Heaters
Heat & hot water from one unit Easy to use multifunction controller Low power & fuel consumption
Thermo Top – Water Heaters
Compact and efficient Fast heat up times Can be combined with fan radiators to provide cabin heat
Diesel Cook Top
High cooking power up to 1800 W No naked flame and no fumes Robust high quality Ceran® cooking surface
Webasto Thermo & Comfort Australia Pty Ltd 423-427 The Boulevarde, Kirrawee NSW 2232 Freecall 1800 244 494 email@example.com www.webasto.com.au
RV Compressor Fridges
Extensive range of Uprights and Drawers Available as DC Only or AC/DC Robust high quality with Danfoss Compressors
Air Top – Air Heaters
52 | Travel
Thereâ€™s Always Plan B!
Melbourne and back in Project Polly in three days for the Victorian show. Would I need a Plan B? by Richard Robertson
Travel | 53
Melbourne’s Big 4 Holiday Park was packed with small rental campers. It’s location seems odd for a ‘Holiday Park’ – slap-bang in the middle of very un-holiday-like Melbourne suburb – but it was very busy. It’s a small park that wouldn’t suit big rigs.
or iMotorhome the annual Victorian Caravan, Camping & Touring Show signals the start of the major show circuit we regularly attend. The event kicks off with a media breakfast at 7 am, which means an early arrival to find the exhibitors’ car park, collect an entry pass and locate the venue. In years gone by I’ve flown down the night before, rented a car and stayed in a motel, as the first flight from Sydney arrives too late. This year I decided to drive down and let Polly earn her keep. Because I live south of Sydney – nearly half way to Canberra – any door-to-door trip to Melbourne by plane is a six to seven hour undertaking: three hours to drive to the airport, park and get to the terminal; an hour and a half’s scheduled flight time (plus any delays) and then collecting a rental car and driving to my destination. By road it’s approximately 775 km from home to the centre of Melbourne, which Google Maps equates to 7 hours and 28 minutes driving time. Add an extra 60 to 90 minutes for stops and 9 hours is entirely realistic. Yes it’s still longer, but not that much, and it’s all freeway. When you factor in the ability to
depart at any time and the lack of traffic, airport hassles and airline schedule stress, it stacks up well. Very well indeed.
set aside Wednesday for getting there, Thursday for attending the media breakfast and show, and Friday for driving home. I ‘pre-flighted’ Polly over the preceding weekend and got her ready for an excellent adventure for just the two of us. It was a little bit exciting to be honest as I love a good road trip. Only I got the days wrong. I knew the show started on the 24th, but my ageing mind equated that to the Thursday and worked everything out from there. Imagine my surprise when an eagle-eyed reader commented on the day/date inconsistency they’d read in last issue’s editorial, at about 8 pm on the Monday. There I was with a full day’s worked planned for Tuesday and a leisurely morning departure Wednesday. As I lay in bed willing my self to sleep and muttering, “Stupid is as stupid does”, a hastily revised schedule formed in my mind.
54 | Travel Just before midday the following (Tuesday) morning I’d made a good head start on the work planned, packed clothes, added limited food supplies and final bedding requirements, packed up my mobile office kit and hit the road. Polly was surprised to be heading south a day early but I told her there’d been a change of plans (never admit weakness to an underling).
The Trip Down
ummer had passed mostly cool and wet by the time its last week commenced. Of course the combination of an RV show held at a silly time of year and my long road trip caused the Weather Gods enormous glee and by the time I reached Gundagai for my first coffee it was 38ºC. Stinking… When we replaced Polly’s original curtains we also replaced the one that runs full width across the back of the cab. In her Apollo Rentals days it was the only source of privacy as there were no cab blinds, but even though we knew we’d add Solarscreens or similar we retained it. Not only is it handy for quick privacy when you want to change or simply stop prying eyes, it’s also handy as a cab climate control mechanism. I’d read about curtaining off the cab to dramatically increase airconditioning or heat efficiency, and this was the day to test it. From Gundagai to Albury I drove with it fully drawn, and although it cut off the view though the rear vision mirror it seems to work quite well. Just before climbing out to fuel up at the Woolies service station in Lavington (think North Albury) I ducked under the curtain into the kitchen to grab water from the fridge. What an oven! Curtain theory confirmed I decided.
Top: $1 coffee from 7-Eleven is fresh ground and surprisingly good. Coles Express does 80c coffee that’s almost as good. Above: At 4:41 pm it was 38.7ºC at Albury and rose to 39.6ºC by the time I left the petrol stop about 20 mins later.
Albury was showing 39.6ºC by the time I departed and it was still and like an oven. It hovered either side of 40ºC all the way Seymour, about 110 km north of Melbourne, when storms and a few showers brought the temperature down to the mid 20s. The plan had been to free camp just north of Melbourne and drive in
Travel | 55
Sunrise over the Melbourne Showgrounds car park and Polly is Solarscreened up for the day. The screens certainly proved their worth. very early, but in view of the heat and Polly’s dismal natural ventilation I’d booked into the Melbourne Big 4 Holiday Park in suburban Coburg, abut 20 minutes drive from the show’s venue. I pulled in at 8:45 pm, having had dinner at the service centre just south of Wangaratta. In the office, which thankfully remains open until 9:00 pm, I got a receipt for the $49 fee for one night’s powered site for one person I’d prepaid by credit card, and instructions on how to find the site. My site was a concrete slab by a tall retaining wall beside the (closed) pool, and next to a well settled-in caravan on the other side. It was three sites up from the ammenities block and opposite a couple of smaller rental campervans. With power connected and aircon going I cracked an ice-cold non-alcoholic beer, answered emails and prepared for my first night alone in Polly. Like Malcolm when he travels by himself in a vehicle with this layout, I kept the table in situ
but swivelled it out of the way at bedtime and used the single bed opposite (kerb-side) for my Duvalay. By this stage it was just after 10 and I had the alarm set for 5:30 am for a 6 o’clock departure. I reckon I manage four to five hours actual sleep by the time the alarm went.
here’s nothing subtle about starting a diesel in a crowded caravan park when its still dark and nobody’s lights are on. Slinking as best I could out the gate spot on six I stopped for good coffee ten minutes later, before arriving at the exhibitors’ car park at 6:35 am. At least I got a prime parking spot. You can read about the show elsewhere in this issue; suffice to say it was a humid 30-ish degree day and my planned 3 pm departure didn’t eventuate as everyone wanted to chat – especially about Project Polly! Seems we’re getting noticed. Polly sat Solarscreened-up for the day and
56 | Travel
Powered site 63 was home for 9 hours. At $49 for one person it was far from a bargain… when I ‘unwrapped’ her at five pm she was coolish in the east-facing cab but hot down the back. One thing I’ve only just come to appreciate is the consequence of the fridge venting its cooling air inside Polly. The hotter the weather the hotter its available cooling air, and so the hotter Polly gets inside. It’s a vicious circle. It also means the fridge is less efficient and presumably uses more power, so it’s certainly something to remember. On this day it was compounded by forgetting to open the roof hatch. Doh!
elbourne cooled a little around closing time as another storm front approached. I’d walked and talked all day and could’t wait to slide in Polly’s comfy seat, get the airconditioning going and as
Mrs iMotorhome is fond of saying, “Blow this popsicle stand”. It took me about an hour to negotiate peak hour traffic and reach Melbourne’s northern outskirts. There I stopped at a newly opened service area for coffee and a regroup. Incidentally, 7-Eleven and Coles Express service stations have good machine-made coffee for $1 and $0.80 cents per small cup, respectively, with larger sizes available. They also have decent sandwiches with a variety of fillings for $5 ($7 for the super deluxe). Coffee and sandwich consumed and Facebook updated (it never ends) it was time to find a place to free camp for the night. The Hume Highway is strewn with places to stop overnight, especially when bone weariness can mask even the sound of
Travel | 57
Gundagai’s Shell service centre makes a handy food or loo stop, but its fuel is very expensive. There’s plenty of room to overnight out the back if desired, though. passing B-doubles. Outside Melbourne it had been another very hot day and the next day – Thursday – was forecast even hotter, including a predicted 38ºC at home. I figured if I could make the border around 9:00 pm-and leave by 7:00 Thursday morning I’d be home by midday and beat the worst of the heat. All I had to do was stay awake a few more hours. On this trip I brought along a $35 4-in-1 Bluetooth dongle that plugs into the 12 V socket on the dash. It not only provides handsfree phone calls, it streams music from my iPhone via an FM transmitter and has 2 x USB charging outlets. I bought it some months ago and keep meaning to report on it, but this trip it got a real workout. My iPhone tells me it has about a continuous week’s worth of music and so all the way down and all the way back I worked through it. Polly’s radio aerial broke a
while back and I have a replacement, but only recently figured out how to install it. So radio reception is very short range and on this trip this $35 investment saved my bacon. The further north from Melbourne I drove the hotter it got and soon the cab curtain was drawn again and the windscreen and side window we're hot to touch. At Woollies service station in Laverton again it was 34.8ºC at 9 pm, so there was no chance of free camping and sleeping, and I didn’t want to try an rouse a grumpy caravan park owner from his afterhours television viewing. Fortunately the coffee and music had kicked in and I felt quite good, and so decided to press on to Holbrook or Gundagai and see if it cooled down. An enormous full moon rose over the hills east of Albury. The only traffic was trucks and with
58 | Travel the music playing and another coffee in the cup holder – Transits have six of them you know – I pushed on. Holbrook was hot and I couldn’t be bothered, so we continued to Gundagai. It had cooled to the low 20s by the time I rolled in at 11:30 to scrub the third lot of bugs off the windscreen and headlights. A rental motorhome and a caravan snoozed in the Shell service centre carpark and I thought what a good idea it would be to join them. Except TomTom said home was just two and a half hours away. Road trips like this do strange things to a man. Especially a man with years of interstate driving experience in his (distant) past. There’ something about a highway truck stop late at night; the hiss of air brakes, moths darting around the forecourt lights, the low hum of a distant engine idling and the mixed smells of warm concrete, diesel fuel and the night. Another coffee, almonds from Polly’s pantry and with the music turned up a notch it was back on the highway and into the moonlight. Plan B was to stop another two times if required, or simply pull over. Trucks left the freeway while others rejoined at Tarcutta, the half-way point between Sydney and Melbourne. It’s where many transport companies schedule driver changes. The guy heading south swaps with the one driving north but both trucks continue in their original direction. For all the trucks I saw on the trip only one was a cowboy. Just south of Goulburn his northbound semi flashed past me at an estimated 130-140 km/h. So much for untamperable 100 km/h speed limiters. The front gate appeared through wispy moonlit mist at exactly 2 am. Polly hadn’t missed a beat despite the heat and had run like clockwork over nearly 1600 km in basically two days.
Trip Map: click to view online
I stepped into the gloriously chilly, pre-autumn air as the Moon looked down and shook its head. “Don’t write about this,” it cautioned. “Say you stayed in Gundagai and headed off at sunrise after a few hours rest. Nobody will know”. I nodded. But who listens to the Moon? A shower to wash off the Show’s sweat and grime, then into bed. There are times when home never feels so good. There are also times you do things that on face value are silly, unless you know yourself and your limitations. There was always a way out, always a Plan B. That’s the beauty of travelling in a motorhome. I just didn’t need it. This time.
Travel | 59
Another coffee, almonds from Pollyâ€™s pantry and with the music turned up a notch it was back on the highway.
60 | TechTalk
Tips on keeping your gas cooker, well, cooking. From our resident Techspert at Southern Spirit Campervans...
TechTalk | 61
he majority of RVs have LPG cookers. Over the years, or if you have bought a used vehicle, there might be some little ‘road blocks’ here and there that stop it running at peak efficiency. Gas is a great and convenient way of cooking but sometimes it pays to take a closer look. General: • Always make sure that when your RV is in motion the LPG is turned off. You can do that on the gas bottle itself and also shut off the (yellow ) valve in the gas compartment or close to the cooker. Think of it as extra insurance. Safety: • Check that your LPG appliances are up to date and legal. Some older vehicles from a different state or DIY builds might not have been registered as a camper/motorhome and might not be compliant
Top: Combined cooker and sink units are common but incorrect installation can cause gas supply issues. Above: Ensure your LPG locker has a red warning sticker.
62 | TechTalk
This Dometic GasChecker makes checking LPG cylinder levels easy. Worn gas burners should be replaced and newer ones regularly cleaned to ensure efficiency and safety. • Consider installing a gas alarm inside • Make sure when operating gas appliances that you have sufficient ventilation
• Make sure any shut-off valves in the gas lines are open
• Make sure the 12 V power switch for the igniter is on. Sometimes you’ll find a switch • Make sure there is a red LPG sticker on on the panel for both the rangehood and the door of your gas locker, so in case cooker ignition. As a standby keep some long of a incident other people or emergency matches onboard in case of an ignition power responders know that you have LPG on board problem. and where the gas locker is • If your cooker has a glass lid make sure it’s • Cooking with gas means a open flame, open vertically (90 degrees). There is a stop so check that you know where your fire on the lid hinges that blocks gas getting to the extinguisher is and check that it’s still up burners. to date and unused (see Issue 83). Also make sure you have read the gas appliance • If you are a handy person try to have a look on instructions that are most often located on the the bottom of the stove. Maybe the door of the gas cylinder locker or on a sticker 12 V igniter cable is loose and needs to in the kitchen. be reconnected. If the connection is dirty be sure to clean it before reconnecting. Issues and troubleshooting NOTE: Make sure you never bend or pull on The starter button won’t ignite the stove: copper gas pipes as they can crack • It sound obvious, but make sure the gas or break. Always see an expert for gas cylinder is connected, turned on and has still plumbing work. has gas inside
TechTalk | 63
Gas supply lines under a three-burner cooktop. Any problems with gas supply should be left to a qualified expert. One of more burners has a tiny flame, or no flame at all: • This can often be seen on burners which are fitted in stove/sink units and on the burner closest to the water tap • Make sure the burner/s and lid are not damaged, misshapen or squashed. Give the burner a couple of light taps with a little hammer (no heavy hammering!). Any little builds-ups that can block the jets and/or gas outlets will hopefully loosen and the flame will come back up or get larger again • Alternatively, try to clean the jets with some compressed air and blow them clean • Keep your stove and burners clean and dry at all time • The flame shuts down or dies shortly after igniting the stove
Refer to the picture with the red arrow. This connection could be loose and need careful tightening. The picture is taken from the bottom of a three burner stove. Handy tip: In case you are wondering how much gas you have still in the cylinder: • Boil some water and pour it slowly over the cylinder. You’ll see a small white ring where the gas level is! • There are now some very handy gas level indicators, such as the Gas Pen from Dometic Please keep in mind that when you work on your stove you do so at your own risk and your are liable for any damage that might occur. If you are unsure about the problem with your stove please see a licensed LPG plumber who is authorised to work on RV systems, or your trusted local RV repair business.
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65 | Next Issue
NEXT TIME FOR SURE!
There’ll be a report on our inaugural Motorhome 101 Day in Brisbane and a pictorial look at Auckland’s Covi SuperShow, which should have a very different array of vehicles on show from the ones we regularly see here in Australia. There will also be an update on Project Polly, who has just had her first service after her first hiccup, and an app review for the techno buffs.
Issue 91 will be out on Saturday 19 March, so until then why not join our more than 31,000 Friends and followers on Twitter Facebook , Pinterest and Instagram ? Facebook “f ” Logo
ext issue we should be back on track with the Frontline Adventurer campervan test on the new and highly anticipated T6 Volkswagen. The test vehicle was on display at the Melbourne show and attracted a lot of attention with it’s striking bright orange and black finish.
Mar 04-06 08-10 11-13
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Gold Coast Caravan, Camping Expo
Brisbane National 4X4 Outdoors Show
South Queensland Caravan & Camping Expo
Metricon Stadium Nerang-Broadbeach Rd, Carrara. Qld. 4211.
Brisbane Showgrounds 600 Gregory Tce, Bowen Hills, Qld. 4006
Nambour Showgrounds Bli Bli Rd, Nambour, Qld. 4560
• • • • •
• Open 9:00-6:00 daily (5:00pm Sunday) • Parking: $12 • Adults: $18 • Seniors: $12 • Kids: Under 15 free with adult
Open 09:30-5:00 daily Parking: $5 Adults: $10 Seniors: $8 Kids: Free for accompanied school age
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• Open 9:00-6:00 daily (5:00pm Sunday) • Parking: Free • Adults: $10 • Seniors: $8 • Kids: 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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