It was a slow news day. We faffed about first thing, had another chat to our Brit neighbours, packed the bikes up for a picnic, cycled into town where the second cafe we tried said they had wifi but it didn’t work and couldn’t care less, cycled about a bit more, came back, went for runs and did some reading and writing. Oh, and apart from a gusty wind, the weather was fair.
So I thought I’d tell you about what’s gone wrong in Doris of the past eight months, bearing in mind that inside she’s fifty percent plastic and fifty percent thin wood, and we chuck her around and bounce her up and down daily. Try that with your fridge at home and see if it likes it.
From the front (and I’m ignoring the Ford bits which, notwithstanding some still minor coughing and wheezing, I love to death). The captain seats which swivel are great and comfortable. They both work fine. The acme extra door locking system with the chains and the strap holding the front doors together has not, I’m pleased to say, been tested. But I’m confident will deter all but the most persistent thieves. The TV and sat dish have worked well. You move the sat dish up and down and side to side with a winder in the loo, and this has fallen off a couple of times, but you just stick it back in. We have had UK TV for all but a couple of weeks of our tour, which has been great.
that’ll stop them…
The 12 volt system has worked well, except for minor tripping when we’re driving. It’s not happened for two weeks until the other day when it tripped once. I find that unplugging all of the leads from the distribution box and plugging them back in again seems to do the trick. The solar panel plus the new 105 Amp/Hr battery has worked a treat. We now use the 12 volts system with impunity and it has always remained charged. I reckon we can easily do four days without 240 volts back up and that includes recharging all of our electronic equipment, most of which I do when I’m driving. We have rechargeable batteries for everything and a small battery cell which can charge phones and iPads when needed.
I charge the bike batteries when we’re driving if we haven’t got access to the mains. That works well. In terms of power, then, I don’t fret about it at all.
The fridge has worked without issue. If you read way back you’ll remember last Easter we had problems with it staying alight on gas. I cleaned the back of the fridge to an inch of its life a number of times and now it seems to work fine. It could have been a bad batch of gas. The cooker cooks cakes, bread and anything else you want and the three ring hob is perfect.
The water system has been good. The main water tank leaks a tadge if you over fill it but with practice we have that right. The pump which failed about a year ago and I replaced is working well. The hot water system work perfectly and delivers hot water on gas or from the mains to order. The kitchen sink tap runs slow and we need to sort that, but the leak we had in the bathroom where the shower tap was dripping into the loo area, is fine after I played with it last summer.
All of the storage works well (we have brought too much stuff) and as Dethleffs design their vans so there’s an air gap between cupboards and the main wall damp does not appear to be an issue. Talking of which after the horror of a big leak sixteen months ago when rain was getting into Doris from the loo cassette entry, the work done under warranty has fixed that and she seems as dry as anything at the moment.
The heating system works on gas and mains. It is unlikely to burn your socks on mains, but on gas Doris can be as warm as toast in no time. The Gaslow system, where we fill her with LPG from a petrol station has been cheap and very efficient. Again we started trying to reduce our gas usage, but as we use so little of it we’re much less careful now so we always have hot water and heating.
The bed is a boon. It is king size and whilst frankly it could do with being a couple of inches longer so I can stretch my toes out, we both sleep as well as we have at any point in our lives. Having a decent bed in life is crucial. But you know that.
The three roof lights work, well two do. You’ll know that the main roof light’s gearing is shot and as a result we don’t open it anymore. This is a shame as on hot days (and they’re going to get hotter) were going to need to open every window we have (by the way the blinds work really well). I shall replace the gearing when I get back to the UK but the best answer would be to buy a roof light that lifts manually with a simple lever – not gearing, but that’s not going to happen.
The garage and roof box (and rails) have again all worked perfectly – except a slight leak in the roof box, but as everything is in plastic bags that doesn’t matter that much, but I will fix it. We have eventually got the packing of the garage off to a tee and there seems to be more room in the back than hitherto. When we lose some kit this summer it will get better still. The outside gas cooker works well, although as is always the case with these cookers, it can’t simmer so you have to be on guard against burnt offerings when cooking.
Finally Campernet, other than a broken antenna which I have splinted, continues to work tirelessly for us. We have had free internet for about seventy percent of our stopovers and I will get a directional antenna when we’re back in the UK so we can get a better signal again. The LED lights around and about work well, with only one of the bulbs breaking. At about six pound each (three times that over here) they’re expensive to replace, but they are low wattage. And all the radios we have brought with us work well, but things are at their best when we have wall-to-wall wifi and can get Radio Two.
So that was dull. But dull is good when it comes to wanting things to work in your house. I am amazed that Doris holds together so well and we are lucky that she’s well made and that we have not have a major incident (other than the leak in the loo which was fixed by the garage).
Further southwest today. Rain has come but it’s still warm. Oh, and for Pete P, I have finished Chapter Fifteen which will be posted in Sunday. Getting there….