Project camper

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Project camper

Post by Roadie on Tue Feb 09, 2016 8:39 pm

I was inspired by Woodie to add a bit of content to this fine forum, and put together a bit of a build log as I work through getting my camper back in roadworthy condition. It was a thing I've enjoyed on other forums, granted they are usually doing more interesting stuff than this, but it may be of interest to some of you.. and it may give some others something to rip the p!ss out of. You'll see why soon.

My MOT ran out at the tail end of last year because I was trying to move house so that took priority. I've finally got motivated to tackle the first of them, which I thought should be headlights. The driver's side one had always been a bit slow to come on/switch between high and low beam, now was barely glowing. I hate electrical problems, never sure where to start. While looking for a solenoid to jiggle (told you I didn't know where to start) I noticed there was a plastic cover in the footwell, behind where the headlight was. Only 2 screws, that's worth a punt. They're siezed stiff as hell. Of course they are... After a few turns I slipped once with the screwdriver, that was enough to chew the head up. Ended up using vice grips to take it the rest of the way out. Exact same thing happened with the second one, except the bitch sheared with about 2 turns to go. No idea how it managed it after making it that far, ho hum. Took the cover off and was surprised to just see the connector at the back of the bulb. I had replaced the bulb before, but had taken the entire headlight out to do it, didn't think to look for access to the back of it inside the cab. Anyway, the contacts were clean and tight so I decided the problem wasn't there, so I went back to looking for things to jiggle.



I have to hope the wiring isn't like that in all of them, I know they are Italian under the skin, but dear god there's random wires and connectors and holders everywhere. The black fuse holder was my next bet, because it said Headlight on it. I'm good at problem solving. One of the fuses was corroded badly, after scraping on a sanding flap wheel and some WD40 later and I've got 2 functioning headlights. Never thought I'd feel as triumphant after something so simple. So after that victory, I decided to check the back lights. The number plate bulbs were both not lit, so I popped off the cover. Would you like to count the isues together?



Left hand reflector partly melted, right hand reflector made of kitchen foil, black wire joined with rubbish push join thing, blue wire terminating in mid air, red wire wrapped in electrical tape terminating in mid air, right hand bulb ground wire taped on to the bulb and everything including my number plate light contacts is covered in green slime. Didn't have proper sandpaper so I did what I could with a chisel and more WD40.



Nothing short of a miracle.

It was getting dark so I was going to call it a night, but I wanted a proper look at the engine first. I think I've always been a bit scared to look too closely at it incase it disintegrated. Attaching to a pipe which goes to the diesel version of the "strangled octopus" there looks to me like the top of a thermostat. Is the bolt in it a bleeder? It may come in handy because I squeezed one of the pipes leading to it, to see if it actually had liquid in it and it made a crunch sound like a lot of crud breaking off the walls and going into the coolant so I'd quite like to take them off and clean properly. Where the pipe joins the metal looks like it may have been wet anyway, so could be a good idea to check it's seated properly. I just can't think of hearing anyone mention a bleeder at that part of the engine bay.



Anyway, kudos if you've made it this far and let me know if I should post more like this. I don't mind buggering off to resume being a lurker Laughing

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Re: Project camper

Post by danielfrisbee on Thu Feb 11, 2016 1:22 am

yes you should definitely post more stuff like this and the pictures make it a lot easier for people like me, as I suspect I know even less about cars than you do. Or perhaps you know more than you're letting on...

My left headlight doesn't go to full beam, no idea how to fix that but currently installing a sound system and accidentally discovered that fuse box, so will try your fuse cleaning thing and see if that makes any difference.

I've also gone a bit mad with the stereo having maybe 10 speakers so half wondered if that will drain the battery too much, and whether replacing all the bulbs with led versions would save on power consumption..?

I've clicked 'watch this topic for replies' and await with keen interest your next update, thankyou..!

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Re: Project camper

Post by Raggy on Thu Feb 11, 2016 8:13 am

Briliant, thats exactly what we need. Its good to see what others are doing and that I am not alone in my somewhat clueless nature on electrics! Keep up he build log.

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Re: Project camper

Post by PFM on Thu Feb 11, 2016 8:16 am

Could be your headlamp bulb gone but first look at the wires going into the plug the bulb is connected to - often the wires come loose as the metal in the plug corrodes.

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Re: Project camper

Post by Woodie on Thu Feb 11, 2016 8:35 am

Hi Roadie. Well done. Good article and good diagnostics. The Romahome rear lights are cheap and nasty things but still available new from good Caravan Acessory shops as you can still find them fitted to older Towing Vans and trailers and lighting boards.
It is not worth the hassle of trying to do anything with them other than remove and throw away the back plate. Keep the lenses of course.
Getting at the Nearside light unit is easy. Offside one can be a pain to remove if you have a fridge fitted. If not, you are laughing. That has to come out to get at the 8mm nuts on the bolts that hold the light unit on. If you do go this route and despite the hassle, it's worth it, when putting the fridge back in getting the aluminum exhaust flue back on the burner chimney AND lining it up with the external vent, can be quite challenging.


I have got a couple of brand new ones that I keep permanently in my own Romahome as they are so easily damaged. I don't want to get stuck in Cornwall or Devon with a smashed light as so easily happens, be it self inflicted or by a third party.

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Re: Project camper

Post by Woodie on Thu Feb 11, 2016 8:37 am

I keep new  replacement H4 bulb holders in stock complete with wires to crimp to your existing wiring.

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Re: Project camper

Post by Roadie on Thu Feb 11, 2016 8:15 pm

Thanks guys, I'll try to keep putting updates on here if I do anything noteworthy. Seems like poor timing right enough, I started this on Tuesday, Wednesday morning an MOT renewal reminder came through the door for my Smart which is also currently unusable because of a siezed alternator. I suppose I should attempt to get it moving again first.

Daniel, I generally know the theory of what I want to do but putting stuff into action is a totally different case, I dare say I just need to get stuck in and try. Though if you're worried about power, you could think about wiring a voltmeter in somewhere or buy one of those ones you just plug in to the cigarette lighter socket (do any of these vans have cigarette lighter sockets?) which is what I bought for a friend with an old 306 when he bought a stupid 600w subwoofer. I think it was about £1.50 on ebay and was well worth it. If it goes much below 14.4 volts with the engine running, you're probably taxing the alternator. I was also thinking of LED headlights, though proper legal bright ones aren't cheap and don't use massively less power. All being well, the alternator should be able to keep up I would say. There's a caravan shop on my way home from work, might drop in tomorrow to see if they have the right type of rear light cluster. If not then possibly some new LED ones (not obsessed) and try and make a better job of the wiring than the last owner. Also want to have a look for corner steadies, using axle stands is a bit of a faff, seems like something it should have come with new.

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Re: Project camper

Post by Woodie on Thu Feb 11, 2016 10:12 pm

Actually it is very unusual to have a Demountable Romahome without the rear Corner Steadies or Jack's. Without them you can't demount the body, ( Here we go - - field day for Logi). It wasn't unusual to buy them without the front side jack brackets as the two side jacks cost a fair bit. Even now you can pay £50--£75 for a pair but definitely unusual not having the corner jacks.
Have a look in the nearside rear cupboard and see if you can see two of the three 12mm holes in the floor indicating that jacks had been fitted. I have got a pair of rear Corner Steadies off a demountable, which ideally you need when camping. It stops the van moving about when you are moving about in it, or when you get in and out or in strong winds. Saves getting cups of tea or hot meals in your lap. affraid

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Re: Project camper

Post by Roadie on Fri Feb 12, 2016 10:44 am

It definitely has holes in the floor at the side where the fridge is on fancier ones, but it's a bunch of them all in a circle so are probably only to let gas escape since it's where the bottles were when I bought it. I think mine is a really early model, not sure how to figure out the year though, there's no branding or badges or anything on it as far as I can see.
It would make it easier working on the pickup itself if I could whip the demountable off, it would fit in the garage for one thing. Is there any documentation or procedure on how to demount?
It's a bit unpleasant being in the back without having it sitting sturdy on something, and I also feel sorry for the soggy old leaf springs which probably weren't designed for that much weight all of the time. Will be looking into some form of spring assisters as part of my project.

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Re: Project camper

Post by Woodie on Fri Feb 12, 2016 1:32 pm

With the rear jacks and side jacks the body can be off in under 10 minutes. Absolute piece of cake. Is there a box section demounting plate under the front of the Pod?
It is possible to demount the Pod with a trolley jack and some home made wooden stands at the front but you will need a good, flat, level surface. I can talk you through it over the phone.
The year of manufacture is stamped on the aluminum door frame by the top hinge of the stable door. I expect that it will be an 83/84. It will have the year 83/03 for 1983 March etc. I expect you have fixed side windows. If so it is likely off of a Honda Acty. If you are lucky enough and have opening side windows you have the Mk3 Pod. Any questions, ask away.

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Re: Project camper

Post by Woodie on Fri Feb 12, 2016 2:07 pm

The holes under the fridge are to let air in or gas being heavier than air, let it out if there is a leak. Have you got a 2 way or 3 way Fridge? 2 way is LPG and 12volt and 3 way LPG, 12VOLT and 240volt mains.
The rear springs could have an extra leaf put in them or there are coil spring assister kits but they are very expensive. I made my own up on one of my Pickups. Don't waste your money on the clamp on type of leaf assisters. Pick up springs are different to van ones. Get yourself a couple of pick up springs and rob the thicker leafs out of them. It will mean getting 4 new longer U-bolts made up to accommodate the extra 1or 2 leafs you put in. Better to get a pair of as late as possible 1300 spring and use them and put leafs out of your old springs in.

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Re: Project camper

Post by danielfrisbee on Sun Feb 14, 2016 2:47 am

led headlights would be great. Driving about in the countryside I couldn't see anything with the headlights, then drove a Ford Ka and it might as well have been daylight, so my headlights on the hijet are definitely rubbish, slightly dangerously so. If your headlight adventures lead you to a brighter future I hope I can follow your footsteps-
and good idea on the volt meter. Mine does have the cigarette thing, it's hanging by it's wires as I've dug a hole in the dashboard.

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Re: Project camper

Post by Roadie on Wed Feb 24, 2016 10:30 am

There isn't a fridge fitted to mine, which I'm kind of glad about. It makes me uncomfortable how low the suspension sits as it is so I'm glad to not have the extra weight hanging out over the back, and having the extra space for shoes and stuff. An electric cool box works just fine for me and has the benefit of being portable.
Had a look under the back and I should have remembered really: there's a dirty great towbar fouling where the corner steadies should be. I think it is there from when it used to be used as a pickup but instead of taking the towbar off when it got the demountable put on, they ripped the steadies off instead. That's far less functional, it can barely move its own weight, put a trailer on and you'd be doing 20mph everywhere! All the bolts holding it on look well rusted in place so I have the feeling it might be somewhat challenging to remove. May have to borrow my dad's 6ft breaker bar...

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Hijet roof

Post by robinhood2 on Sat Apr 09, 2016 9:10 pm

Would some kind person point this 79 year old man to where he can purchase a elavating roof for my X reg Hijet camper van, the popup thats on it is so heavy I cant use it,

Many thanks

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Re: Project camper

Post by Woodie on Sat Apr 09, 2016 10:12 pm

Sounds like a tin or two of Spinach would be a cheaper answer to your problem. Gas Struts similar to the Tailgate ones would assist in lifting the roof, but it is not a job for a novice, especially an elderly one.

Finding somewhere to mount them on your now flimsy roof edges is the first problem. Finding Struts of a suitable length is the next problem. Getting the balance between lift and pivot points correct would be trial and error. Your best bet is to find a small Motor Caravan Engineering Company. We have several over here on the Isle of Wight who turn out some very innovative Conversions. Either that or find yourself a female companion to take away with you who can add an extra pair of hands lifting the roof. Laughing Rolling Eyes

From your Forum name do I deduce that you live in the Nottingham area??

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Re: Project camper

Post by verryoldman on Mon Apr 11, 2016 12:35 pm

Gas struts are not a real problem the mechanical length open \ closed is easy to determine, the pressure is more of a problem, but if you have angle & lift + weight to lift vertically the strut people will help.
Remember most struts can be increased in pressure but not let down, so if it is soft not a problem.
Fitting to roof again is not a huge problem alloy stiffeners to spread load pop riveted as a glass sandwich inside & out

http://www.sgs-engineering.com/gas-struts

We use these they seem to be helpful

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Re: Project camper

Post by Roadie on Tue Sep 13, 2016 10:29 am

It's been a while.

Last weekend, I got myself an MOT and went my first trip in the best part of a year. It's shocking how good some aspects of these vans are. After a really long time sitting stationary, the engine started up perfectly and none of the brakes were stuck on. If that was a Peugeot of similar age, the brakes would probably have been solid after a week.

To try and get back into working on it, I was thinking the main issue when driving it is the clutch, it works a lot like a switch because the actuation of it is notchy as hell. It also doesn't seem to totally disengage. The cable appears to have a built in adjuster at the pedal end similar to what bike brakes have. My question is, can it be rotated to take up some slack in the cable? I tried turning it with a spanner but it was very stiff to move, and it always rotated itself back to the starting position. Is it a situation which requires brute force or am I doing something wrong?

Since it's so notchy, I was thinking about dripping some 3 in 1 oil or similar down the top of the cable in the hope of making it wicking along the full length and making the cable travel a bit easier, has anyone else tried that? Course, it may be something in the clutch itself, but it wouldn't be the first time I've had a new cable fitted to a car and it's made an unpleasant clutch far nicer to use. It just seems like with the positioning of the cable on the hijet, dripping oil in would be an easy option to try.

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Re: Project camper

Post by Woodie on Wed Sep 14, 2016 9:04 am

Hi Roadie. Sounds like it would be a very good idea to lubricate the clutch cable. It is quite common for them to stick like that if they are well worn in the first place.

The operating cable is steel sheathed in plastic and the outer cable has a plastic liner inside it. The two surfaces wear through, and gets rusty and causes the kind of friction you seem to be experiencing. It might be an idea to invest in a new cable.

On the subject of the Adjuster, it is not on the pedal, it is down on the Gearbox Bell housing and is dead easy to adjust with your hands. No tools needed - - usually.

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Re: Project camper

Post by Logi on Wed Sep 14, 2016 12:26 pm

It's dead easy if you have old Iron Fist Woody hands Smile

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Re: Project camper

Post by Woodie on Wed Sep 14, 2016 11:14 pm

Please Logi, mobile Bear Traps

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Re: Project camper

Post by Roadie on Thu Sep 15, 2016 11:17 am

Thanks Woodie. I had suspected it may end up with a new cable but will try lube first because I'm an utter cheapskate. Just don't want to use something that starts to dissolve the plastic and makes it even worse, I know some oil tends to do that.
This shows my level of mechanical competence: I've tried to find the gearbox side of the clutch cable before and failed. It doesn't help that there seems to be loads of identical looking black tubes/cables everywhere, I've even had someone to sit inside and press the clutch to see if it would make itself obvious, but I can't seem to find where about it joins to the gearbox. Is it best to access from under the seats or reaching in from one of the sides?

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Re: Project camper

Post by Woodie on Thu Sep 15, 2016 11:39 am

Nope. Just lay on your back under the nearside of the van and you cannot miss it. It is two plastic knurled adjusters one fits inside the other. Turn the top one anti clockwise a turn to release the locking effect.
Then pull the whole cable back towards the front of the van until it stops then screw both adjusters clockwise to take up the slack. When you feel resistance turn both back a good turn and then turn the top adjuster to meet the other one and tighten both together to lock them in position. Job done.

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Re: Project camper

Post by Logi on Thu Sep 15, 2016 9:02 pm

Roadie wrote: I had suspected it may end up with a new cable but will try lube first because I'm an utter cheapskate. ?

Oh you're going to fit in here just fine lol!

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