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.
This issue, The Mechanic takes a look at an often overlooked but important issue, windscreen wiper condition.
Windscreen wipers are an invaluable part of any vehicle, providing the driver with a clear, unobstructed view of the road when it is needed most. Whether it is rain, sleet, snow or leaves covering your windscreen, the wiper blades will quickly and efficiently clear the obstruction, meaning you can continue your journey in safety. However, of all the parts of a car which are subject to wear and tear, windscreen wipers are perhaps the most fragile. Manufactured from thin rubber, they are designed to operate smoothly on the windscreen without damaging the surface of the glass, yet despite their fragility they are often required on a daily basis, possibly for long periods of time during wet weather. In winter they become frozen to the glass and in summer they are used to help to clean the windscreen, while being subjected to high temperatures. It is hardly surprising then, that windscreen wipers do not last indefinitely and require regular replacement. Often the need to replace wipers is overlooked, although regular servicing and MOT testing should identify if they are becoming worn. However, rather than relying on these tests to assess the condition of the blades, car owners should be aware of the common signs that the windscreen wipers are failing, especially with autumn upon us. So what are they? Streaking: blades that are in good condition should clear the rainwater from the windscreen effortlessly, in one complete action. This means there should be no streaks of water where the blade has failed to make contact with the glass. Unusual noises: windscreen wipers should operate with minimal noise or ideally should be silent. Sounds such as squeaks, screeches or scrapes could indicate that the blades have become worn. Irregular movement: wiper blades which are in good condition will move smoothly across the windscreen. As they become worn over time, you may notice that the blades judder on operation which is an indication that replacement may be necessary. Ragged or distorted blades: visually inspecting the condition of the windscreen wipers should be a weekly task for all vehicle owners. By lifting the arms of the wipers away from the windscreen, you can quickly assess the condition of the rubber. Ragged, jagged or distorted edges, where the blade makes contact with the glass, should prompt you to replace them immediately. Worn blades may not only hinder your vision, but can also damage your windscreen, which will in turn not only cost you dearly in a replacement screen, but also hinder your vision even more, making it dangerous to drive with the vehicle in such a condition. Replacement blades can be picked up very cheaply for all types of van, so there is no excuse not to check yours and change if required, but remember… “Buy Nice or Buy Twice”.
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.
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.
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.”
Spring has sprung and those classics will be starting to come out of hibernation. After months in the garage with the occasional start up to keep it ticking over, your engine can suffer. I have personally experienced this after months of an engine sitting during restoration work and being moved from one side of a workshop to another. Once the work was complete, trying to drive away from the workshop, my T2 Bay Campervan wouldn’t accelerate down the road. Reason – fouled spark plugs.
I have also had a spark plug with a closed gap (don’t even ask how that happened, but it involved losing part of the carburettor through the engine… lucky it didn’t do any other damage!) The condition of your spark plugs can make a massive difference to the running of your engine, so it’s worth checking them every so often, especially after a period of time unused. Hopefully the following information will help to make you a spark plug expert. Before starting work on checking your plugs, it is helpful to have the right tools to hand; accessing the rear two spark plugs at cylinders 1 and 3 can be a real fiddle, especially on later twin-port engines where access is further compromised by the inlet manifolds. A short 21mm socket and universal joint may give you a bit more flexibility. When checking the plugs, it can help to remove each lead and plug individually so that you don’t get them mixed up. This will cause an incorrect firing order and your engine will not run. When removing the ignition lead from the plug, be sure to pull it off by the connector, not the lead itself, as you’ll run the risk of pulling the lead off the connector (trust me!) If you notice any damage to a connector or if a lead is a lose fit, it is best to go out and buy a new HT lead set. Make sure you have the socket on the plug properly when you’re undoing them and it’s also best to do all this while the engine is cold to avoid burning yourself! Once the plug is out, take a good look. Is it brown, grey, sooty or oily? If the engine is running right, it should be light brown or grey. If it is sooty but dry, your engine is running rich and not burning all the fuel. If the insulator is white and flaky then your engine is running too lean. Either way, you’ll need to tune your carb to adjust the fuel/air mixture. If the plug is wet and oily, there are a couple of possibilities. The first is that you’re not getting a spark, in which case you may have noticed a misfire. If this is the case, check the HT lead connection at the plug and also where it pushes into the top of the distributor cap. A worse scenario is that your engine has worn piston rings and/or valve guides, which means a rebuild is on the cards. If there is serious carbon build up on the plug, or what looks like molten bits of metal, chances are your ignition timing is out. Whatever their condition, while the plugs are out of the engine they will benefit from a good clean up using a brass wire brush. While you are at it, check the spark plug gaps using a feeler gauge. For most air cooled engines the gap should be 0.024” or 0.6mm, however check your workshop manual because the gap will be different on some engines. If the gap is correct, the gauge should slip in and out without much resistance. If it is too loose, you can adjust it with a gentle squeeze in a vice to close it slightly, or if the gap is too tight, carefully prise open the contact with a flat bladed screwdriver. Spark plugs should be checked every 3000 miles and replaced every 10,000 miles as part of your service routine. If you suspect a poor running engine there is no harm fitting new ones sooner, they are relatively cheap for a set. When refitting, always start screwing the plug back in by hand, only using the socket for the final tightening, otherwise you risk forcing a cross thread. If you feel any resistance early on, unscrew and carefully try again
The mechanic has noticed a recent uplift in questions and concerns surrounding the upcoming introduction of E10 fuels. The following is information provided by the Federation of British Historic Vehicles Clubs that we hope members will find useful. Federation of British Historic Vehicles Clubs – Introduction of E10 petrol After an extensive consultation process, the Department for Transport has announced that they will legislate to introduce E10 petrol as the standard 95-octane petrol grade by 1 September 2021. They will also require the higher-octane 97+ ‘Super’ grades to remain E5 to provide protection for owners of older vehicles. This product will be designated as the ‘Protection’ grade. The introduction of the 95-octane E10 grade and the maintenance of the Super E5 protection grade will be reviewed by the Government after 5 years to ensure they remain appropriate to the needs of the market: In relation to the E5 protection grade, such a review will examine market developments over the period. HM Government have sought to reassure FBHVC members and historic vehicle owners that, without a suitable alternative becoming available, it is highly likely the Super E5 protection grade would continue to be available. Filling stations that stock 2 grades of petrol and supply at least one million litres of fuel in total each year will need to ensure one product is the Super E5 protection grade. While not all filling stations meet these criteria, almost all towns across the UK will have a filling station that supplies the ‘Super’ grade and currently one major retailer, a national supermarket group, has committed to offer the product. The main exception to this is in certain parts of the Highlands, north and west coast of Scotland, which will be covered by an exemption process and allowed to continue to market the 95-octane E5 grade. The Federation therefore recommends that all vehicles produced before 2000 and some vehicles from the early 2000s that are considered noncompatible with E10 – should use the Super E5 Protection grade where the Ethanol content is limited to a maximum of 5%. To check compatibility of vehicles produced since 2000, we recommend using the new online E10 compatibility checker: https:// www.gov.uk/check-vehicle-e10-petrol . It should be noted that some Super E5 Protection grade products do not contain Ethanol as the E5 designation is for fuels containing up to 5% Ethanol. Similarly E10 petrol can contain between 5.5% and 10% ethanol by volume. Product availability varies by manufacturer and geographical location and enthusiasts should check the situation in their location. Latest News: The federation’s fuels specialist Nigel Elliott has received some new questions with regards to ethanol and the use of E10 in historic vehicles and his thoughts are as follows: There are three key areas of concern with Ethanol compatibility with historic and classic vehicle fuel systems: Corrosion of metal components Elastomer compatibility – swelling, shrinking and cracking of elastomers (seals and flexible pipes) and other unsuitable gasket materials Air/fuel ratio enleanment Corrosion of metal component Ethanol has increased acidity, conductivity and inorganic chloride content when compared to conventional petrol which can cause corrosion and tarnishing of metal components under certain conditions. These characteristics are controlled in the ethanol used to blend E5 and E10 European and UK petrol by the ethanol fuel specification BS EN15376 in order to help limit corrosion. Corrosion inhibitor additives can be very effective in controlling ethanol derived corrosion and are recommended to be added to ethanol in the BS EN15376 standard. It is not clear if corrosion inhibitors are universally added to ethanol for E5 and E10 blending so as an additional precaution it is recommended that aftermarket corrosion inhibitor additives are added to E5 and E10 petrol. These aftermarket ethanol corrosion inhibitor additives often called ethanol compatibility additives are usually combined with a metallic valve recession additive (VSR) and sometimes an octane booster and have been found to provide good protection against metal corrosion in historic and classic vehicle fuel systems. Elastomer compatibility As the ethanol molecule is smaller and more polar than conventional petrol components, there is a lower energy barrier for ethanol to diffuse into elastomer materials. When exposed to petrol/ethanol blends these materials will swell and soften, resulting in a weakening of the elastomer structure. On drying out they can shrink and crack resulting in fuel leaks. Some aftermarket ethanol compatibility additives claim complete protection for operating historic and classic vehicles on E10 petrol. The FBHVC is not aware of, or has tested any additives that claim complete fuel system protection with respect to elastomer and gasket materials for use with E10 petrol. The FBHVC therefore recommends that elastomer and gasket materials are replaced with ethanol compatible materials before operation on E10 petrol. Air/fuel ratio enleanment Ethanol contains approximately 35% oxygen by weight and will therefore result in fuel mixture enleanment when blended into petrol. Petrol containing 10% ethanol for example, would result in a mixture-leaning effect equivalent to approximately 2.6%, which may be felt as a power loss, driveability issues (hesitations, flat spots, stalling), but also could contribute to slightly hotter running. Adjusting mixture strength (enrichment) to counter this problem is advised to maintain performance, driveability and protect the engine from overheating and knock at high loads. Modern 3-way catalyst equipped vehicles do not require mixture adjustment to operate on E10 petrol because they are equipped with oxygen (lambda) sensors that detect lean operation and the engine management system automatically corrects the fuel mixture for optimum catalyst and vehicle operation. Operating classic and historic vehicles on E10 petrol If you should decide to make the necessary vehicle fuel system modifications together with the addition of an aftermarket additive to operate your classic or historic vehicle on E10 petrol. The FBHVC strongly recommends that you regularly check the condition of the vehicle fuel system for elastomer and gasket material deterioration and metallic components such as fuel tanks, fuel lines and carburettors for corrosion. Some plastic components such as carburettor floats and fuel filter housings may be become discoloured over time. Plastic carburettor float buoyancy can also be affected by ethanol and carburettors should be checked to ensure that float levels are not adversely affected causing flooding and fuel leaks. Ethanol is a good solvent and can remove historic fuel system deposits from fuel tanks and lines and it is advisable to check fuel filters regularly after the switch to E10 petrol as they may become blocked or restricted. If your vehicle is to be laid up for an extended period of time, it is recommended that the E10 petrol be replaced with ethanol free petrol which is available from some fuel suppliers. Do not leave fuel systems dry, as this can result corrosion and the shrinking and cracking of elastomers and gaskets as they dry out