Yes, it is that time again. Hurray! Finally, after the long winter in our non-mobile houses, we can get out our beloved vehicles.
Hopefully you all followed the article Time for bed/ to help put your vehicle to bed for the winter. Now that spring is in the air and we are starting to think about getting out and communing in nature, this is a key time to get things ready.
Doors locks – there’s nothing more annoying than a failed lock. get it fixed now before the season really gets going. Door lock issues can be very straight forward but a simple lubrication can be key. Pun intended. A non residue lubricant is best to move the dirt away as WD40 can leave enough gunk to create issues. We favour silicon spray. A little into each lock.
Windscreen wipers – did they perish in the cold winter freezing them to the windscreen. Inspect and replace now.
Water – check the radiator if you have one. Ensure that the bottles that you emptied in the Autumn / fall have no mice, carefully hidden Christmas presents or mildew. Clean with a weak Milton solution if it is drinking water or food related.
Batteries – check the charge on each battery with a good meter. A flat battery can indicate an earth leak. A failed battery needs careful investigation.
Carburettor – Or equivalent. Check for good operation, no stuck flaps or other deterioration over winter. If you are a professional, this will be straight forward. If you are an amateur, a test drive very close to home will highlight problems! But only after the other checks.
Brakes – your vehicle should roll easily, otherwise this can indicate jammed brakes. Parking in gear for long periods of time can be better for your brake health than a jammed set of brakes. Check the brakes for operation. Check the brake fluid level. If it has been more than 5 years, change the brake fluid as it is hygroscopic and slurps up water incredibly quickly. Water is not a good fluid for applying the brake pads to the disks.
Seals – inspect all door seals for any signs of damage, water ingress or other problems and sort them out now. Glue any loose bits back down with the correct glue.
Windows – ensure that they all open and close fully. Or at least as fully as they did last year if applicable!
Ignition – Once you are feeling confident, get in to your pride and joy and turn on the ignition to number 2. Look at the lights on the dashboard. Check there ARE lights! Are they what you expect / are used to seeing? Have you got fuel (for those with a working fuel gauge)?
Crank it over – don’t expect it to start immediately but things should kick into life within a few seconds.
A little test drive on your driveway will allow you to test the brakes, maybe the steering and other important parts. Softly, softly.
Stay local, take your phone with you and warm clothing. Just in case!
Once you get home, assuming that you have a big smile on your face, make a list of snags, get indoors, put the kettle on and start planning for your summer.
Check out the events page and come and see us at a meeting soon!
Anyone with a vehicle knows that fuel is really rather flammable. This is why you do not smoke at a fuel station. Anyone owning or driving an old vehicle should be equally careful with the state of the fuel “line”.
From the tank to the engine, the fuel is permanently sitting in metal pipe, plastic pipe and rubber pipe. There is no off switch, so if this ruptures, you are dumping the entire contents onto the ground, so from a financial point of view it is a sensible idea to ensure this is all in good order. From a heartache perspective, it is imperative as well.
You do not want your pride and joy catching fire due to a leaking pipe spraying fuel onto something very hot in the engine bay.
Taking the Type 1 engine as an example, there are multiple systems in place as primitive fuel emissions systems.
The U shaped pipe number 9 is the one that you can see on the roof of the engine bay in a Bay window just above the number plate.
Red pipe numbered 24 needs a long arm and can be reached by putting your left hand up past the rear light cluster up the side of the bus and is quite a tricky little one to replace. If you can smell fuel always, especially if you sniff the air intake on the left side, that is often missing or perished.
The ones next to the fuel tank in the picture by green 24 are all behind the fuel tank firewall and need the engine to be removed.
My local VW mechanic recommends replacing all of the rubber components at least every 3 years and last time , we found that blue 24 in the middle of the picture on the pipe heading to the right was actually disconnected, causing fuel to spill over the top of the tank when turning right with a full tank! We had a clean section of tank and a lucky escape.
In summary. Ensure that your fuel system is inspected regularly by a competent mechanic and relevant parts are changed. The new fuels have either Biodiesel or Ethanol in them, which are not good on modern rubber pipes.
Prompted by a member called Robert who was asking, sharing in case it helps anyone else.
Robert had an issue with his starter battery and wanted to replace it but of course is space constrained in an older vehicle. His 72Ah battery was the right size, but how many Amp Hours do you need?
A standard 1.6 litre air cooled engine requires a starter motor such as the Power Lite one from JK. That one is a 1.4 kilowatt starter. Converting kilowatts to amps you need to change 1.4KW to 1,400 watts and then divide it by the voltage, in our case 12 volts.
1,400 / 12 = Around 120 amps.
For two litre engines, you will need a little more. For a customised engine, who knows?!
If you know that you never use more than a minute on the starter motor to get the engine into life, that is 1/60th of an hour. Running that 120 amp starter motor for an hour would be 120 amp hours, so 1/60th of that is 2 amp hours.
As long as you have no current leaks and are not sitting in your vehicle draining the battery with a stereo, a fridge, lighting or other circuits on the starter motor, as you can see, a minute to start the engine on a 1.6 litre air cooled engine will drain 2 amp hours out of your battery. Even the smallest and cheapest car batteries will cope with that, but for peace of mind, don’t buy the cheapest battery in the shop!
Following on from last week’s article, this week we are talking about improving fuel economy.
Now that you know how to calculate fuel economy, let’s look at ways to improve it!
Improvements before you start the engine
Remove anything in the vehicle that is not required. Lighter vehicles use less fuel. Take it out!
Pump up the tyres to the manufacturers recommended pressure. Soft tyres create friction and use more fuel.
Ensure that the engine is well maintained and running well. Properly adjusted points / electronic ignition uses the fuel better and wastes less, good carb adjustment uses optimal amounts of fuel. It all adds up!
Similarly the drive train / brakes / hubs / wheels can create friction and drag slowing down the vehicle taking fuel to overcome it.
Remove the top box or roof rack if you do not need it. Aerodynamics makes a big difference even to a vehicle shaped like a loaf of bread!
Improvements once you are rolling
Drive safely and conservatively.
Stay within the speed limit.
Slower is better – every 10mph above 50mph will reduce your fuel economy by 10% on average. Enjoy the journey!
Find a route where there is constant speed – a few miles more around the outside of town with no slowing down is probably less fuel overall than going through the middle with the constant speed changes.
Accelerate smoothly without taking the engine to the red line.
Try not to accelerate up a hill if it is safe to do so.
Accelerate down a hill up to the speed limit if it is safe to do so. Remember being on a bicycle and how you used to get up speed downhill ahead of that big hill? That is the same principle of conserving energy!
Keep a diary of the fills. Monitor how things change through the seasons.
Observe any big changes and understand why – does one driver have a “heavier foot”? If so, is your biggest fuel saver asking them to be a passenger?!
If EVERYONE makes just a 1% change to their fuel needs, it will save 10 litres per person per year. 1% sounds like nothing but that is 3 billion litres per year in the US and 7 billion litres per year across Europe.
If you are spending £1,000 per annum on fuel, a well thought out strategy and a £200 service can actually work out cheaper overall but reducing the fuel used / money spent. Drive sensibly, maintain the vehicle well. Not only are you saving fuel and helping the planet, but you are also keeping the vehicle in better shape, making it last longer and stay in better condition.
You have a vehicle. It does not have “fuel economy”.
You have fuel. It ALSO does not have fuel economy.
Put the two together and you do have fuel economy.
Did you know that electric vehicles actually pre-date petrol / gasoline vehicles? The major downside even a century later is that electric power does not have the same energy density as a gallon of fuel. Your starter battery in your vehicle, whether it is a 2 seater light weight sports car or a large 4WD truck, will be somewhere between 20 to 50 pounds in weight / 10kg to 25kg.
Put that battery into an electric vehicle and even the most modern and lightweight electric vehicle will travel no more than about 6 miles. (Modern vehicles are approaching 150Wh per mile) and that is very optimistic. Take that same SPACE occupied by the battery and a petrol / gasoline engine will travel 40 miles / 60 kilometres conservatively. Take that same WEIGHT of the battery and you will travel far further. A starter battery of 50 pounds in weight (25kg) in a modern petrol car could travel more than 300 miles!
Due to this energy density, oil based vehicles, either petrol or diesel have dominated the market. They are however not overly efficient.
The above diagram of a passenger vehicle using the American EPA Urban cycle definitions shows that only 12% of the energy from the fuel ends up driving the wheels. A massive 62% of the energy is lost as heat.
Checking fuel economy
Fill up your tank as full as possible (initial fill). If you are using a classic vehicle, avoid supermarket fuel as some owners have found reduced fuel economy and other issues. Choose the RON fuel for your engine as applicable. Note the first odometer reading.
Drive normally and at a suitable point – ideally later in the tank not sooner to reduce the error margin, fill up again (second fill). Note the second odometer reading.
For those of you in America, you just filled up in gallons. For those in Europe, if you want to stay in litres then great. To convert to UK gallons, divide the number of litres by 4.56. So 45.6 litres is 10 UK gallons. Gallons are smaller in America!
(Second odometer reading) – (First odometer reading) is the distance travelled between fills. The fuel added in the second fill is how much fuel you needed to travel.
(Distance travelled between fills) / (Second fill) = Fuel economy.
Talking about a Volkswagen transporter, the older vehicles will be towards the 15 miles per UK gallon (12 miles per US gallon) or 1.6 miles per litre. More modern vehicles can get towards 50mpg (40mpg in the US or 11 miles per litre) and custom engines can make a big dent in this figure!
Some modern calculations are litres per 100 km / 60 miles. This is also valid but for this, the lower this number, the more efficient! MPG means a higher number is better.
Next week, we will be discussing improvements in fuel economy.
The Volkswagen Type 2 T5, the fifth generation of transporters went into production in April 2003 have been launched the previous October and continued until 2015.
If this twenty first century model tickles your fancy for its series of 2 litre to 3.2 litre petrol and diesel, front engine, water cooled engines with 5 to 7 speed gearboxes, modern refinement and equipment, this might be the one for you.
There is also a doubleback model that glides out an extra box from the back extending the length when parked to make a huge, spacious, luxury camper inside.
Here is a buying guide if you think this one is for you.
While the VW California is a hugely flexible and well-designed camper van its size means that one of its drawbacks is that storage and shelf space is sometimes at a premium. This is a first look at an additional shelf designed to address this issue.
I find that you need to be incredibly organised to live with a Cali. If you’re cooking, for example, the tendency is to lay out your ingredients on the nearest flat surface. But if you need to use the stove or get into the fridge then you need to move them to the folding table; I’m forever shifting things around to find the most convenient free space. Similarly at night we tend to use the top of the cooker and fridge to lay out clothes, books, glasses, keys and phones. Wouldn’t it be great to have a handy shelf to put your glasses, books or cup of coffee on so they won’t be mislaid ?
I bought the additional shelf from the VW California Club online shop (imported I think from CaliTop.de). It’s a simple but ingenious design which slots in underneath a horizontal rail just at the base of the roof area with two aluminium brackets. The shelf itself is 15 x 70cm and made of lightweight anodised aluminium which is absolutely in keeping with the Cali’s smart design. I bought the version of the shelf with a horizontal rail underneath, with six plastic hooks, but there’s a slightly cheaper version without the rail. Other accessories (eg a garment rail) are also available from CaliTop.de.
While there were no instructions with my shelf it was easy to put together. The plastic hooks snap onto the rail with a satisfying click, promising a rattle-free beginning !
I was puzzled at first trying to work out how the shelf attached to the van. But after a few minutes’ head-scratching I discovered the aluminium rail that runs along the roof line above the kitchen window. The two aluminium brackets slot in just behind this rail and hold the shelf in place without any fixings or glue.
The great advantage with the shelf is that it can be kept in place while driving and is therefore useful for when the roof is both up and down. Having driven around with it for the last week I can also report that it produces absolutely NO rattles which is a huge bonus.
In use I’ve found the shelf to be … well, just handy for putting stuff on. I recommend it !
What I like:
simple but effective design
stays in situ permanently
genuinely helps solve the lack of shelf space issue.
What I don’t like:
The rail version of the shelf is available from the VW California Club online shop for £56.99 including delivery [Note: deliveries are not made outwith the UK].
Hymer has launched six new campervans one of which is built on the Volkswagen T5
The Hymer VW campervan – called the Cape Town – joins five other all-new campervans – the Rio, the Sydney, the Grand Canyon, the Yellowstone and the Serengeti – which are built on the Fiat Ducato.
The campers have been designed and built by a new division of Hymer – called HymerCar – that has been created to allow the manufacturer to get a foothold in the growing European campervan market.
The new VW HymerCar will come to the UK next year, although left-hand drive models are already available and British dealers have already placed orders.
The VW Cape Town features a double bed that can be easily made up and sits across the cabinetwork.
It also features a unique pop-top rising roof that has a double joint at the rear so it allows for walking room inside when the ‘upstairs’ bed is not in use.
Hymer has also created a range of bespoke storage solutions for the new campervans
In addition, Hymer has created a clever bicycle-carrying system for the new VW campervan
The public will be able to view the new HymerCars, including the all-new VW Cape Town, at the October NEC motorhome show.
While prices have yet to be confirmed, expect the new VW Hymer to cost in excess of £50,000, which puts it in the same price range of the VW California.
You can read more about the new HymerCar campervans in the August issue of MMM magazine, which is on sale now. This issue also contains a FREE campervan supplement, which has details of campervans and manufacturers in the UK.
In addition, the September issue of MMM magazine, which goes on sale on 22 August, features an exclusive interview with the managing director of Hymer about his plans for tempting more British buyers through his dealers’ doors.