Hours of play with not much to show

Written by ralph on March 7th, 2010. Posted in Ralph's blog

As I work away during the week I managed to spend about 4 hours outside today.

Last week we took a drive down to our daughter, Amanda’s place in Woodbridge (about an hour).  Outside their house is a large flat parking area which provided an ideal area for opening out the tent and awning and fitting all the sides.

P2270022 P2270021

P2270020 P2270018

What it demonstrated was that the awning was mounted too low and wasn’t sitting straight and level.  However it did give a good indication of just how much space we will have if/when we fit everything.

The car ran very well until the time came to switch off.  Despite turning off the ignition the engine kept running.  Obviously the fuel solenoid had become stuck open.  This is really quite annoying as this is the 3rd one I have fitted in 12 months!

As the car is automatic I couldn’t stall it so I removed the snorkel top to smother the air inlet.  Despite several plastic bags the engine refused to stop (so I now have a leak in the air systemFrown).  Eventually I disconnected the fuel line and waited for it to use up what was in the lines.

So today, the first job was to remove the solenoid, clean it up, flush through the valve holder and put it back.  I assumed that there was a bit of grit holding it open, so I removed the valve (I have a modified and cut down 21mm spanner for this as it is incredibly awkward to get to.  I will add a picture of the spanner next time).  Once removed I cranked over the engine to allow diesel to wash out any grit in the base of the valve holder.  I tested the solenoid by holding it against the engine (to act as an earth) and turning on the ignition.  The plunger operated several times so I was happy to put it back.  Unfortunately while I was showing Belinda how the solenoid works the plunger shot out and disapeared  somewhere into the bowels of the engine bay.  20 minutes of searching and there was no sign Frown.  So I put the body back to keep the dirt out and will order a replacement for fitting next weekend.

I then removed the awning and reshaped the front bracket and re-drilled the front and rear brackets higher to remount the whole assembly about 3″ higher.  I haven’t refitted it because I gave the front bracket a good coat of hammerite and I need to wait for it to dry.

Next weekend I shall refit the awning, in its higher position, and fit the new solenoid valve.

Further progress

Written by ralph on February 26th, 2010. Posted in Ralph's blog

Despite the grey, drizzly, miserable, cold weather I spent most of the day outside.

I used 8mm U bolts to secure the jackall ‘tube’.  Drilling through the pipe and using a 25mm flat bar inside the tube is held very securely.



I also secured the chequer plate using 6mm U bolts.  I also made the front bracket for the awning and re-fitted the awning.  With the new brackets the awning now sits nice and vertical.


I’m back at work next week so progress will now be a bit slower and at weekends only.

Hi Lift heaven

Written by ralph on February 24th, 2010. Posted in Ralph's blog

The fitment of the rooftent and awning to the roofrack left me with a bit of a dilemma.  With only one side of the rack free, what do I carry; waffle boards or Jackall (Hi-Lift)?

I was discussing this dilemma with Belinda (my wife) trying to figure out how to mount the waffle boards in the space between the rack and the roof when she hit upon a good idea.  Instead on mounting the boards why not fit the jackall in there.

What I needed was a ‘holster’ of some sort, so that I didn’t damage the roof lifting the jack in and out.  Alan uses a length of 100mm diameter drain pipe to carry pipes on his roofrack.  Doing a bit of measuring up I worked out that a short length would fit beneath the rack, behind the rooflights and was big enough to hold the jack.

Today I bought a 1m length from B&Q and tie wrapped it in place to try it for size.  The jackall fits perfectly, is nicely supported, doesn’t rattle and is easy to access.  All I need to do now is figure out the best way of securing the pipe and a method of holding the jack in and securing it.

Once secured I will fit a cap to the other open end.  With a draw string bag of some sort over the mechanism the jack will be easily accesable and yet well protected from the elements.

Here are a few piccies.  I will write a full article once the job is fully finished.

P2240018 P2240019

P2240021 P2240025


I also refitted the rear worklight and added the second one which I have had in the garage for months.  These will be wired up to work from the reversing lights and a switch on the dashboard.


A room with a view

Written by ralph on February 23rd, 2010. Posted in Ralph's blog

P2230022A lull in the weather gave me the chance I needed today and the rooftent was finally fitted.

I was surprised just how solid it felt despite a blustery wind.  I haven’t had the chance to drive with it yet to see how much it affects the handling (if at all).

Refitting the cover is an acquired skill which I’m sure I will get better at with practice.  All in all I am extremely happy.  It is a Howling Moon 1.4 tourer which normally sells for nearly £1700 complete with under awning.   I acquired it for £1000 from good old ebay and even though it cost £100 to collect it was still a bargain.

There are a few mods I intend to make including, interior lights (from Ikea), exterior lights (to provide and overhead light in the kitchen area), interior hand tapes (to help getting in and out) and remounting the rear worklights.

I intend to prepare a full article on the tent detailing all of these mods once complete and a full review of living with it.

I also managed to remount one of the ‘waffle board’ mounts on the drivers side.  This allows me to carry 2 boards in and easily accessible location.

P2230024On the opposite side will be the Hannibal awning which still requires the front bracket making.

I am now planning a method of storing the Jackall behind the front rooflight.  Once again more of this later.

Brackets and rain

Written by ralph on February 21st, 2010. Posted in Ralph's blog

Rain stopped play today. Strong winds and sleety rain isn’t really ideal for trying to fit a rooftent.

I had to make up some bracketry and took the opportunity to create a better method of securing the awning so that it sits level. the ‘uprights’ on the safety devices rack are at an angle. By bolting the awning to these it effectively pointed skywards when extended. By extending one of the rooftent securing brackets I have managed to create a near vertical surface at the rear of the rack to mount it to. I will add some photos when the weather permits. I still need to make a similar bracket for the front which I will do when I sort out the chequer plate.

The weather doesn’t look much better tomorrow so it may have to wait a bit.


Written by ralph on February 20th, 2010. Posted in Ralph's blog

Days to go: 224

After a short break I have now started to progress work on the car.  Yesterday she sailed through the MoT with 3 advisories; a leak from the steering box seal (quelle surprise Undecided), worn brake pads (these were planned for replacement anyway) and a slight leak from the transmission oil pipes (these requires further investigation).

Today I committed, what to some would be seen as, the ultimate sin.  In order to fit the rooftent I had to remove the ‘railings’ around the roofrack.  The safety devices roofrack is no longer in production and is highly sought after secondhand (some change hands for nearly new prices).  To cut it would seem detrimental, but I removed the rail in such a way that it can be re-welded at a later date should the need arise.

I bought it as a factory second in 2002 and modified it to fit (it was designed for the series 2 disco).  It has done sterling service in the intervening years carrying numerous canoes, kayaks, bikes and other loads so I felt that it owed me nothing and after all it’s just a roofrack.

P2200019It does look a bit odd now that the rear section has been removed but this will not be so obvious when the tent is fitted.  Thinking about it now I should have removed the entire rail as this would have gained me some more space up front.  Still I shan’t  change it now.

I intend to chequer plate the front ‘lower deck’ and mount the wheel carrier from Alan’s rear door (he has acquired a swingaway carrier) on it so that the 2nd spare is bolted down rather than strapped.  I shall also mount a water proof box alongside the wheel to store my recovery equipment (keeping it on the outside is a good idea in case you are so stuck, you can’t open the doors).  At the moment I am considering one of these as it seems quite robust, will take a padlock and is watertight.

Tomorrow I hope to fit the fitting and get the rooftent mounted on the rack.P2200020