Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Life After Spain.

We arrived fully home after our 6 month stay on the Continent with the motorhome after a brief stay in the south of England. Currently the weather is reversed - lovely warm sunshine here, and unsettled rainy weather in Spain.

Six months living in the van took it's toll on consumables, and once we were home it was my intention to give it some attention. The first thing I attended to was to spend a few quid on eBay replacing clips, fasteners, halogen and LED bulbs that had given up while we were away.

I also went ahead with a plan that I had intended to complete before we left, but never got around to it, and that was to fit a protector plate to the rear ladder. This is intended to prevent kids boarding the roof of the vehicle at traffic lights so they can take an exciting but dangerous joyride. It didn't happen to us on this trip, but I am informed it has happened to others. At least I have now tried my best to prevent it.

Next to attend to was a full major vehicle service and MOT test. This time I chose to use a garage nearby that specialises in the specific requirements of motorhomes, rather than take it back to the supplying (car) dealer who had to spend time having staff drive out to one, as their own workshop facilities are not geared up to these needs - height of lifts and garage entrance doors etc.

According to the MOT tester here one of the headlights needed adjustment, which was easily rectified before a full pass certificate was issued. There were no faults found within the service except a worn air conditioning drive belt which was replaced.

I had specified 3 new windscreen wiper blades after they had deteriorated in the heat of Spain, which were replaced, and a complete new exhaust system in stainless steel which was not, as unlike the MOT tester two years ago, the technicians here assured me there was absolutely nothing wrong with the existing one. I am not sure whether to be disappointed with that result or not, as I had requested a new stainless exhaust system to prevent any issues occurring while we are away travelling, but I suppose if the old one is OK, it is OK.

Today saw the completion of work that returned the van to first class working order, and ready to tour the UK over the coming Summer months. I arranged for an accredited mobile caravan and motorhome service engineer to attend the van on our drive. The weather was good, and a full habitation service was completed with all electrical, gas and water systems checked. There were no issues with anything except the 12V charging system while travelling, which I was already aware of. A gas safety certificate was issued at the conclusion of the service. The whole van was also given a clean bill of health on the issue of damp ingress. It is 100% dry on the interior, and well within the accepted readings from the damp meter.

As for the charging fault, the symptoms were that the leisure batteries were not being charged while on the move. The site mains charger was working fine, as were all other systems which are dependent on the vehicle engine running, such as the fridge freezer. The leisure batteries had failed on our way down to Spain last September, and I believe this is what caused the problem, the charging circuit being constantly overloaded as the batteries could not hold their charge. The batteries were replaced with a pair of quality AGM ones while we were in Spain, leaving only the charging problem to deal with.

And there lay the problem. The fridge was being allowed to function with the engine running, but the battery bank it was drawing off was not receiving its replenishment charge. Today, the fault was identified as being the relay that is built into the CBE 12V distribution panel. There were three ways to resolve this - have the panel repaired, or replaced, or as we chose to do, fit a modern electronic voltage sensing relay (VSR) piggy back over the old burnt out ignition voltage triggered relay that is mounted on the panel.

A Durite VSR rated at 12V, 140A was connected between the engine battery supply at the panel (already suitably fused at the engine battery in the engine compartment), and the leisure battery supply also at the panel and also already suitably fused. Just 3 connections - B1, B2 and Earth. When the engine is running and the engine battery voltage rises to >13.3V the VSR switch closes, connecting the leisure batteries and the engine battery together in parallel to be charged while on the move. Once the engine is stopped, and the battery returns to its dormant state, and less than <12.7V, the VSR opens, disconnecting the two battery systems and stopping the vehicle battery from discharging while on site.

The only downside to doing it this way is that the charge current through to the leisure battery, being outside the panel now, does not display on the head unit. However the VSR is equipped with a red LED to show when it is working, and the user panel still displays the voltages across both the battery systems, showing the increased voltages while on charge.

The advantage is of course cost. The Durite VSR was only £35.95 from an eBay supplier, and all is now back to normal in the charging department.

Our Rapido is once again fit to tour.

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