Friday, 24 October 2014

Refrigerator is installed!

On Wednesday the Waeco CRP-40 fridge arrived. Compressor, the smallest size model, with removable compressor which can be mounted up to 1.5 m away. I wired it up, and it is running fine, cooling down to 4 C. And with a small freezer compartment.

Somewhat no thrills, no light inside, no cover door for the freezer section. But very space efficient.

I also got a frame, which will make the fridge flush with the cabinet I am going to build around it. At the moment, it just stands in the rear of the vehicle, affixed with a few bunjee coords so that it does not turn over in tight fast curves.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

External Electricity Port

In order to operate electric devices which require 240V, this electric power needs to be led into the vehicle. I had purchased a mains inlet, grey, a "motorhome hook up socket". This has the usual UK motorhome connection with the three round prongs. I do have adaptors for standard UK plugs and also for Central European plugs. Now all I had to do is to cut an opening into the vehicle and affix this mains inlet.

First I drilled a pilot hole from the outside. I had identified the approximate location from looking at the inside, where a side panel had been removed and was showing which area would be best accessible. After the first small pilot hole had been drilled, I used a larger drill to enlarge it. Then I used a jigsaw and started to make the straight cuts. Made lots of noise, but worked very smoothly. I had used masking tape to indicate the exact cutting location. After the rectangular opening had been cut, I used primer to cover the blank metal regions to avoid rusting. Then I used silicon gel to cover the boundary of the inlet box, before pushing it into the opening.

I also added some foam padding to ensure that a tight fit would seal the opening. 4 self-taping screws were used for affixing the box tightly to the vehicle.

This was the very first time that I cut an opening into a vehicle. Feels first as if this means doing damage... but when looking at the completed mains inlet with its flush closing watertight door, then it is clear that I actually added some value to this vehicle.

The next step will be to add the actual power cable. Need to study which of the pins in the socket/plug is to be the Load and which the Neutral.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Interior insulation

I did now remove all the interior mouldings. The interior roof is now bare metal.

The solar panel on the roof had been affixed with 6 screws which were screwed directly into the roof metal. This was not very water tight, and during the rain storms in the last few days some water came into the car. No visible drops were at the ceiling, but one of the rear seats felt wet. I did now redo all the screws on the ceiling and added clear silicon. Hopefully this is going to remain tight and sealed.

I also did then add the aluminium foil with air bubbles and attached it over the interior ceiling as a first insulation layer. Then I used the opportunity to place LED strips right over the window.

Finally I affixed the fire extinguisher under the front seat, where there had apparently been another one, as the mounting still was there.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Floor insulation

The rear part of the cargo area hs its own floor already installed. There is a underfloor, and on top is a blue vinyl. But that part ends where the rear seating area begins. If these seats are folded, then there is a sudden transition from that solid floor to the carpeted area which normally is under the rear seats. I want to have this all as one single area. So I started thinking how to do this. Best would be to remove the rear floor and make one common underfloor. But I was not able to remove that floor with easy means: after removing a few screws from those metal tracks (for attaching apparently loosely moving things, such as a wheel chair) I saw that the floor did not move at all, and those tracks / rails appeared to be glued tightly to the vehicle. So I decided that I would just cover it with another layer of underfloor and place my final floor on top of that.

The area under the rear seats is carpeted. I could remove this carpet, but I decided to leave it in as part of the insulation. I got a pack of Selitac floor underlay and placed it onto the carpet area, cutting out parts where hooks and installations (wrench, seat belt bolt) were protruding. Even though it said on the instructions that no adhesive was required, I put adhesive onto the carpet to ensure that this underlay would not move around. I also removed the door entrance floor panels, laid the underlay, and placed the panels back with those underlays pressed under them. The result is not very sturdy, as this foam underlay is a bit flexible. But it is a first basis for whatever comes on top.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Installing a New DAB Radio

The built-in radio is actually not too bad: RDS, DC, and a reasonable sound. Also it has a built-in timer which keeps it on for a while after switching off the engine, before it automatically shuts down. This is quite convenient. But a major drawback is the volume regulation by key only. It takes me forever to set the proper volume. Also, after switching it on, it is at a low volume level of 20 - I have then to bring it up to 40 to have a decent sound level. And the two up/down keys are a bit fiddly to handle while driving, with slow reaction. I prefer a rotating wheel, which nowadays almost all radios have. So I was looking for a replacement, and found the Sony CDX DAB700U. This is a DAB radio, which is absolutely appropriate for a car: no hiss anymore, clear sound, and all those fine sound details which are a bit lost in the digital compression are not noticeable because of the general car noise anyway. A great feature set, and not too expensive: £ 115 + shipping.

I had no trouble getting the old radio out. Two of these special prongs were needed for pulling it out, which I already had. Installation of the new radio was also easy, although at the DIN opening in the dashboard there were two little plastic nudges which I had to remove, as they were in the way when I slid the metal frame into the opening. I also had to drill a hole into the top cover of the dashboard, for the additional digital antenna. DAB reception requires a separate antenna, as this is in a different frequency. I had to make the hole quite large, to fit the connector through. The cable itself is not very thick.

One small issue after the radio was wired up: Sony and Fiat seem to have different opinions on proper coloring the cables. Sony has the convention to use red for the 12V+ from the ignition and yellow for the constant 12V+. Fiat has it the other way round. So when directly connecting the out-of-the-box wire harness, the radio switched off completely after the ignition was turned off, and when switching the ignition on again, all the settings had been lost, indicating that the main power had been disconnected. This could be corrected by swapping the red and yellow connectors, as also shown in the instruction sheet. Fortunately, Sony had been very thoughtful in having separate plugs and sockets on these, so one could just unplug and replug these in the proper positions.

A better option would have been to guide the DAB antenna cable somewhere behind the dashboard, but I did not want to begin messing with opening the dashboard.

The antenna is to be attached to the front window, with self-adhesive surfaces. I did try to find in the manual some information about in which direction the antenna needs to be mounted (horizontally or vertically), but was unable to find the instructions. So I thought, since it is a dipole, I might put it up horizontally on the top edge of the window. This turned out to be a mistake, as I realised shortly later, when I found the small picture of the antenna mounting instructions on the foldable "first steps" flyer that was part of the instruction set. The antenna should have been mounted ad the side of the window, vertically. Now, that it is already attached, it is virtually impossible to remove it without damaging it. Well, I did drive with the radio on, and the reception with that wrongly mounted antenna was ok. In tunnels it was reduced to 0, but that was to be expected - is the same with the regular FM. So at the moment I will keep this antenna as it is, but I did already order a replacement antenna to be mounted in the proper position. Then I will compare which one is better, and will then be able to tell if this makes indeed a difference.

One criterion for choosing this radio was actually the fact that it had a remote control and therefore could be used as the main entertainment center for the campervan. The only thing I would have to do is to bring the power from the leisure battery to the radio, instead of from the vehicle battery. I could simply put a manual switch in, but I am thinking of putting an 8-pin relay in which would re-route the two power inputs to the leisure battery, once a voltage from that battery would be provided.