There were no questions for The Mechanic this issue, but with the weather tuning cold and some members continuing to use their campervan through the seasons, that means heating. There are gas heaters on the market and these are becoming more affordable. Gas is also used for cooking in many campervans, so it’s time to talk gas safety!
Types of Gas Let’s start by looking at the different types of gas available in the UK and beyond. All European countries have their own gas bottle suppliers and each of these have their own regulators and adaptors. Campingaz is available all through Europe in small bottles which is great for quick trips or for solo travellers. We (Editors) use campingaz 907 bottles as they’re fairly readily available in the UK and abroad and they fit nicely in the cupboard under our storage trunk! LPG (or Liquid Petroleum Gas) is the most common kind used in campervans and motor homes and it comes in two types; Propane and Butane. Without going into the differences between them in chemical structure, here are the main differences: Propane Usually used in vehicles where multiple appliances will be running off it. Ideal for cold climates as it operates down to -40°C! It’s much lighter and less dense than Butane. Butane Operates more efficiently than Propane. It’s denser than propane, so a bottle of the same size will hold more gas. Butane can’t be used at temperatures below 0°C (It cools down to a liquid state). Different appliances may need one or the other of the main LPGs to operate effectively, so it’s always worth checking that before you buy. Gas Safety Rules The standard that applies to campervans is BS EN 1949: 2001 + A1:2013. If you ever want more information, it is worth looking that up. There isn’t the same level of regulations for fitting gas and gas appliances to motor homes and campervans as there is to houses, but would still recommend that anyone installing an appliance is registered. If you’re installing gas appliances into your campervan, the British Standard isn’t mandatory, unless you’re going to be hiring that vehicle out. If you are going to be hiring, ensuring that everything is compliant with the law is down to you, just as it would be if you owned a house or flat that you were renting out. You’re allowed to undertake work yourself if you’re not a registered gas engineer, as long as you’re competent. (The definition of competence is vague, but you’ve got to ask yourself whether you’d be happy to undertake the work and have the responsibility on your shoulders). There’s a lot that could potentially go wrong, and the stakes are certainly high, so it may well be worth getting a registered engineer to fit it. Registered gas engineers can charge anywhere between £30 and £100 an hour, but it’s worth looking around in your area if and when you need one.
Top Tips for Gas Safety Ensure the gas is turned off before you travel. If you’re using your vehicle for work purposes and carrying compressed gas, you must show a sticker to alert people. If you’re not using your vehicle for work, but still carry compressed gas, it is advised to have a warning sticker displayed whilst carrying the gas. Unless your campervan or motor home has a rotating rooftop device, you’re limited to carrying two 10 litre bottles of gas in the UK. All flammable gasses must be carried upright at all times. Make sure you’ve got a Carbon Monoxide alarm. They might not be stylish, but they’re potentially lifesaving. Note that LPG gasses are heavier than air, so will form a ‘puddle’ on the ground in the event of a leak. Floor vents must be kept clear. If parked up in snow/mud/etc then ensure that the vents aren’t blocked. Changing the bottle is the most dangerous time, always make sure that you know how to remove and fit the regulator and keep well away from naked flames when changing the bottle. Don’t use a naked flame to look for a leak (sounds obvious!) and check for pipe leaks by using water and washing up liquid solution, bubbles will appear at a leak. Make sure you have a fire blanket and/or fire extinguisher, as well as a fire alarm. If you’ve got an older VW it is recommended to carry an extinguisher any way, in case of a dreaded engine fire. Can you really have too many extinguishers in an old VW? The rules and tips for gas safety aren’t complicated and if you keep to them, the use of gas in your campervan is perfectly safe and an excellent resource.
August 14th 2021 saw the return of RAF Odiham’s Family Day. The club had several vans in attendance as part of the show’s classic car event and members camped for the weekend at a nearby pub. The day involved displays from resident Chinooks, Typhoons and also the Red Arrows, who put on an excellent 40 minute display. This event is getting better and better each year and we are privileged as a club to be invited to attend. Photo credit to David Eaton.
Continuing our 2020 Social Distance Summer Road Trip, we left Wales and headed north to Scotland, but we had to reach the border first and decided to spend a night in the Lake District on our way north to break up the journey. The journey from Wales to the Lake District was long and uneventful. 200 miles in a VW Camper at 55mph is quite a slog, but we are used to long durations on the road and somehow in the camper it never seems as bad as being in a car. Maybe that’s because the camper feels like being at home? At least you can pull over pretty much whenever you like and make a cuppa! On arrival at the Lake District, we hit Windermere. We aren’t staying here, but it’s the starting point for a road through the mountains that I have wanted to drive ever since coming to this location by accident four years ago; the Kirkstone Pass! For those who know the Lake District well enough, you may know there are two places called Troutbeck. One of them is close to Penrith and has a campsite, the other is near to Windermere and doesn’t! Four years ago I drove to the wrong Troutbeck and haven’t been able to live it down. The Kirkstone pass pretty much runs between the two, but we weren’t brave enough to take on the pass last time we visited (first time towing the camping trailer and didn’t know if we would make it!… bearing in mind one of the roads on the pass is called “The Struggle!” and so we took the long way round instead. From the Windermere side of the pass in the south, it’s a long uphill jaunt along harsh mountain roads with tall, threatening, exposed rock faces, narrow sections and tight bends. After what seems like a lifetime with my foot flat on the throttle (I don’t dare back off incase we can’t get going again!) we make it up to the summit of the road, which is surrounded by even taller mountain peaks and rocky landscape
The area is partly submerged in cloud, but there is a cafe at the top and there are bikers gathered (cars too) who have been enjoying the twisty black stuff. The road back down the other side towards the North is very similar; steep, twisty and narrow! One main difference now is the pedal choice. Instead of the right one being hard to the floor, I am covering and pumping the middle one in the hope that we don’t get brake fade! (That’s a story for another day!) The route down treats you to magnificent views over Ullswater in the distance and when you do eventually reach it, the road follows the undulating contours of the shoreline, providing a few places along the way where you can stop and enjoy the views over the water, maybe even have a paddle. We don’t stop as we are keen to get a decent pitch secured for the night and head to our campsite at Troutbeck Head. To get to the site from Ullswater you have to climb the hill at Aira Force waterfall, which is understated at steep. Don’t forget to look in your mirrors to appreciate the stunning views! We have visited Aira Force waterfall in the past. It’s a very popular National Trust attraction and has a sizeable car park, but on a day with decent weather it gets extremely busy. Here’s a top tip: Visit the waterfall on a really rainy day. It will be virtually empty and the falls will be even more spectacular! Just make sure you pack your waterproofs as you will get wet! After checking into the site and enjoying a cuppa, we head back out down to Ullswater and see if we can find a spot to stop on the shoreline to let Ruby (our springer spaniel) have a paddle. It’s rammed. It’s summer, it’s the school holidays and people have been in a covid lockdown for 4 months! We follow the road around Ullswater and up to Penrith to get some supplies. If you’re in the area, this is a great spot to pick up essentials before heading off into the wilderness for a few nights. Within 5 minutes of each other, there is a Morrisons, an Aldi and a Booths! There’s also a Pets At Home and a Go Outdoors. So everyone, including travelling pets, should be well catered for. With stocks of essential supplies and the fridge filled with dog food (should really be cold alcoholic beverages in there), we head back down to Ullswater again and Bingo!.. The crowds and families have now left as it’s tea time, so we park up and head down to the shore. I pack a towel and my swim shorts… just in case.
When we get down there, the views are simply stunning. There are some beautiful and picturesque places in the UK, but this has got to be up there. It is hard to believe that we are still in England, this could easily be the Italian lakes! The sun is shining on the mountains on the other side of Ullswater, which is flat calm and quiet. Ruby needs no persuasion and is straight in the water. I follow in my flip flops… wow! That is seriously cold!! Feeling brave, or possibly just delirious from driving all day, I don my swim shorts and head in. After 5 mins of walking up and down up to my waist with excuses about how it’s too cold and how I will develop hypothermia, I go for the dunk. I’m in. It’s freezing! As I paddle I start to loosen up and feel the refreshing water washing over me. After 5 minutes or so I realise that the water is so cold it is making my skin tingle and I feel bits of me going numb. I carry on a while before making the decision to get out whilst I am not shivering with teeth chattering together like one of those wind up toys! I dried myself off and we headed back to the camper. Ruby got to have her favourite towel dry and we head back to base at the campsite for dinner. We have a short walk in some nearby footpaths before the sun goes down and head to bed in preparation of another long day that will take us further north and across the border into Scotland! Phil Aldridge “Tales From The Driving Seat” is on Instagram @talesfromthedrivingseat and blogspot www.talesfromthedrivingseat.blogspot.com
The Club on tour – Just Kampers, Odiham, Hampshire
June 10 to 12 2022
6 members were in the dedicated club field with more coming over to say Hello. 15 new members joined on the day, lots of money raised for charity for the Phyllis Tuckwell hospice. Live music from multiple bands, open air cinema on Friday (Breakdance) and Saturday (Karate kid), a big raffle with prizes worth up to £700 each.
We head into Aberystwyth to pick up some essentials; dog food, milk and petrol! Not wanting to waste the trip into town, we head to the seafront and take a drive along the promenade. We are pleasantly surprised by the lovely Victorian buildings and a funicular cliff railway too! Stocked up with supplies and the tank full to bursting with petrol, we head north and are looking forward to today’s route which will take us on a B road that follows the coast around the southern part of Snowdonia rather than going through it and then into the National Park to camp for the night. The start of the coastal road happens immediately after crossing the river/estuary at Machynlleth via an old stone bridge and then turning left off the main A road and following the river on your left. As roads go, this one is beautiful. The surface is smooth, with a stone wall on one side and a cliff face the other, it undulates over and around the coastal features, giving us amazing views over the river and sea. As we get closer to the coast, the road becomes lined with old oak trees, growing out of the cliff and hanging over the edge. Our first stop on this route is a small seaside town called Aberdovey. There is a golf club, a beach and beach related stuff. We drive through, noticing people pointing and commenting at the camper… this often happens and I sometimes wonder if they are pointing at something falling off! But you get used to it and you soon realise that driving a bright blue camper van with an exhaust that announces your arrival everywhere you go is going to get you attention. The road picks up as it comes out of Aberdovey, but its only a short run before the next small town called Tywyn. On our way in we notice the large amount of static caravans surrounding the area. The town is pleasant and has all the makings of a seaside location, with a decent looking Co-Op if you need supplies! The beach is clean and there is also a narrow gauge steam railway here too.
From Tywyn the road heads inland to avoid another river estuary and make the crossing via a bridge.
There is a ferry that can take you across, but we took the road to save time. Once you cross over the river, the road heads back towards the coast and is it does, starts to climb. As the road meets the coast you are met with one of the most beautiful coastal roads we have driven. There are numerous lay by areas to pull over and appreciate the view, which we did. We followed the coastal road until reaching the larger town of Fairbourne. To continue from here there are a few options; a ferry direct to Barmouth, a modern road bridge several miles inland or an old rickety wooden bridge that resembles a seaside pier… guess which option we went for?! The old wooden bridge at Penmaenpool is a toll bridge, costing 80p for cars and £1 for motorhomes. We are technically driving a Motorhome, despite being car sized, but I don’t mind paying the extra 20p to keep the bridge maintained. The crossing is bumpy as the wooden sections are uneven, but we make it across safely without encountering any trolls who want to eat us for their supper! After crossing the bridge we head into Barmouth. Barmouth is a seaside resort with everything you would expect; amusements, chip shops, sandy beaches and a long promenade. It was busy. Really busy. We stopped for a while on the promenade and watched the crowds but didn’t venture out of our own space inside the camper. From Barmouth we follow the road all the way to the end of the coastal route at Penrhyndeudraeth and make our way up to the campsite which is only 5 minutes up the road. Nearby is the village of Portmeirion; a tourist village, designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis in the style of an Italian village, which is now owned by a charitable trust. We didn’t visit as we didn’t have any time left in the day, but it’s worth a look if you’re in the area!
In the evening we pop back into Penrhyndeudraeth to look for some dinner and find several takeaway options including a Chinese, Indian, kebab and chippy. What a fantastic selection. We opt for the Indian and head back to the site to rest up in preparation for the next day – Snowdonia!
We set off from our site the next morning heading for Anglesey. It’s a shorter trip today, taking in the sites that Snowdonia has to offer. On the route we pass through Beddgelert, which has an interesting story. The town is home to a legendary site called Gelert’s Grave. In the legend, Llywelyn The Great returns from hunting to find his baby missing, the cradle overturned, and his dog Gelert, with a blood-smeared mouth. Believing the dog had savaged the child, Llywelyn draws his sword and kills Gelert. After the dog’s dying yelp Llywelyn hears the cries of the baby, unharmed under the cradle, along with a dead wolf which had attacked the child and been killed by Gelert. Llywelyn is overcome with remorse and buries the dog with great ceremony, but can still hear its dying yelp. After that day Llywelyn never smiles again. You can park in the village and walk to the site, however the morning has brought much rain with it and so we decide to carry on with a journey.
We follow a road that takes us past a beautiful lake called Llyn Dinas, there are a few spots along the side of the road to stop and if you’re brave enough, take a paddle
The road starts to meander and climb slowly, this becomes more apparent as you come past Llyn Gwynant. There are some tight bends on the climb and I notice views in my mirrors! We eventually come to a small car park which boasts a view of Snowdon. The Peak of Snowdonia and the highest peak in England and Wales at 1085m. We get a few snaps here as the clouds break over the mountain and also take advantage of the ice cream van parked here too… it’s never too cold or wet for an ice cream! We continue our journey through Snowdonia, past Snowdon, and Pen y Pass, where there were many cars being turned away as it was so busy. We climb up and over the pass that flows in the valley on what started as a miners track, down to the village of Llanberis. You can walk Snowdon from here as well and if your legs aren’t up to it, take the train up too! From Llanberis we make our way out of Snowdonia, the landscape changes quickly from Mountains to flat land and trees. We arrive at Bangor, singing the famous song as we do and then travel over to Anglesey on the Brittania Bridge. We notice the large amount of farming and gorgeous rolling countryside. We stop at some beaches at Cemaes in the northern part of the island and on our way to our campsite stop off at a lovely harbour in Amlwch Port. The next part of our journey will see us leaving Wales and heading north towards the Scottish border, stopping over in the Lake District en route. Phil Aldridge “Tales From The Driving Seat” is on Instagram @talesfromthedrivingseat and blogspot www.talesfromthedrvingseat.blogspot.com
It was a real treat to head north in Dennis the Dormobile last month. We had three glorious weeks in Scotland in July (despite the roadside Yellow Storm Warnings on route!). We broke journey in Crianlarich and travelled on to Skye the next day. Probably busier than usual, the island was far from overwhelmed and Dennis loved the rolling single track roads. We did notice a huge expansion of motorhome hiring since last year. We were surprised by our 1978 T2 having become a rarity and a conversation piece; several people asked to take his photograph! All of which made the campsites even more sociable than usual. Set up in Glen Brittle, we hiked up onto the rugged Cuillin Ridge and got our only soaking of the trip on the way down. From Dunvegan, we used our bikes to explore a landscape that is still only a generation or two away from the crofting life. There was a whole trail of makers and artists on Skye and we dropped in on a weaving shed and a print and glass gallery.
We had been keen to follow the last stages of Euro 2020 despite being away, which meant listening to a crackly quarter-final radio commentary on the road to Crianlarich (did they just score??) and also the semi-final at Dunvegan (the only pub in the village wasn’t open on a Wednesday…). At the small site near Staffin, we asked about the nearest pub for the Sunday night final and the lovely owners told us that they had a couple of spare TVs and they could lend us one to set up in Dennis. So with a low tech but safe hook-up and a bent wire aerial, we watched the match! A first for us. More hiking and cycling to explore the stunning Trotternish ridge and the coastline, before heading down to Loch Rannoch and a campsite near a remnant of the ancient Caledonian forest and some hot and sunny Munros. The evening midges were repelled successfully with some Miss Haversham-style headnets! Three nights with friends and family around Glasgow and north Ayrshire also gave us the chance to do a washing load (!) before our final week down in Galloway in Scotland’s overlooked southwest. If you get the chance, see if you can book a space at quirky North Rhinns campsite. It’s not many miles from Stranraer, but it’s another world; 12 or 15 pitches tucked among a small wood, well looked after by the enthusiastic and sociable owners, who would love to host a T2 rally sometime!! Linda and Stewart Shuttleworth
The Club on tour – Barnstones Caravan and Camping Park, Banbury, Oxon
May 12th to 16th 2022 saw the Club’s annual AGM, BBQ and Club Camp (ABC camp) in Great Bourton. Convenient for the M40 allowing many people to join us, we had nearly 30 vehicles after some late dropouts due to mechanical trouble. Over 60 people spent the weekend together with a lot of laughter, plenty of burgers and maybe the odd glass of something.
In addition to the AGM and BBQ, we also had the FA cup final televised in one gazebo, Eurovision later in the evening and some singing from our resident jazz singer Lorna.
On the plus side, 5 people joined the Committee. On the minus side, Derek Leary stepped down from the Committee after several decades shaping the Club into what it is today. We’ll miss you Derek (and Christie).
The hugely popular JK Weekender is back! Having been cancelled due to COVID, last year’s tickets are still valid in a rollover way to this year.
Set in a field next to the JK headquarters just outside Odiham in Hampshire, Mark and the team give us a chilled out, music, outdoor evening movies, stalls, displays and of course their shop.
Our club enjoys a dedicated club field for members only which includes a disabled toilet. We get plenty of space in a prime position and the club lays on a club tent for congregating is you feel sociable plus we are doing our famous BBQ on Saturday evening – come and get a free burger and have a natter!
If you are lucky, our very own Events Manager Lorna will be singing again! Check out the Events page on this site or see the latest edition of Transporter Talk
The Club on tour – Petruth Paddocks, Cheddar, Somerset April 22 to 25 2022
The first club camp of the season saw us down in the pretty down of Cheddar at Petruth Paddocks, hosted by the wonderful Jules.
What did you miss? Burgers, fire pit, marshmallows, bacon baps. Cheddar village, Cheddar gorge, the caves. Locally made cheese, 16 club member dogs, 33 adults, 2 children, live singer on Friday and Saturday and a lot of laughter.
Here is some feedback from a member:
“We have been VWT2OC members for a few years but had not previously got involved in meetings or attending camps. What have we been missing? The St George’s camp at Cheddar over the weekend was a fantastic event. The campsite was beautiful, clean and friendly; the club negotiated camping rates that could not be beaten; the Saturday evening social around the firepits, with burgers provided and lovely entertainment from Lorna was fantastic; and the coffee, tea and bacon rolls provided on Sunday morning was very welcome. I had nothing to do than enjoy myself. Big shout out to Lorna Williamson, Nick Gillott, Malcolm Marchbank and Val Lewis for all the hard work planning, organising and delivering the camp. You are stars. We were already booked in for the May BBQ & AGM, now we are looking forward to it more than ever.”