Today I mostly .....

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Zelandeth
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Thu Jun 04, 2020 1:24 am

Up until today, the arrowed line in the image below was the main drainage line that the kitchen sink and draining board dumped into.

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That bit of pipe is no more...This is now the main waste line heading out of the van from the kitchen.

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Doesn't that look better?

This is the contraption just below the floor to hook it up to the existing line that runs forward to the grey water holding tank (which sits just in front of the living area door step).

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The grey pipe with the white tip on it at about 8 o'clock is the original waste line from the kitchen which has now been removed. The larger grey line running from about 10 o'clock to 3 is the fill line for the fresh water tank which you can just see the end of to the right of the image.

The drainage side has now been hooked up inside and secured with a bracket in the cupboard.

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(Yes I fouled up the position of the outlet the first time around).

When I came to fit the taps I discovered that even though it was way thinner than the one I had removed, the worktop was still too thick...so I had to do a bit of modification.

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Sorted.

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I did consider completely re-running the lines for the taps, but instead decided to just pick up from where the sink used to be.

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The last couple of inches of the feed to the cold tap has been run in red hose...I quite simply needed a last couple of inches of hose and I didn't have any more blue to hand.

It almost looks like a sink again.

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I did wonder how well things would flow given my Frankenstein's Monster of a hookup to the original drainage system.

It used to take a good few minutes to drain this sink, and it couldn't drain quickly enough to keep up if you were rinsing your hands etc. If you just left the tap running it would eventually overflow the sink. How's it looking now?



Much better!

That's a huge improvement. That low profile trap is never exactly going to allow mammoth flow rates anyway, but it's certainly decent enough for the intended application.

This is quite a big milestone. Next steps are to get everything actually attached to the worktop, then just tidying things up really. Few gaps to fill around some edges in the cupboards, seal around the pipework (including patching up my foul-up from earlier with the drain outlet positioning), a couple of brackets to install, some trim to add, and a few screw heads to trim off etc...then we can start tidying up the horrific mess I've made!
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Fri Jun 05, 2020 12:03 am

Time to start actually putting things back together.

I discovered a bit of a problem when I came to attach the draining board and the sink.

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These originally used a very specific type of fastener...Which vanished somewhere after the kitchen was pulled apart long before I got the van. I couldn't find a replacement locally and I wasn't prepared to wait for something to arrive from eBay.

Hmm...We can work around this.

*snip*

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*Rummage in box of fasteners*

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There we go.

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Note the thick rubber gasket around the edge as well to stop any spilled water getting under the edges. There's an O-ring under the tap as well though it's not visible once it's fitted.

There we go! Both the sink and the draining board are now properly fitted.

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Sadly I did chip a bit of enamel off the draining board because I over-estimated how tightly to do the fasteners up. My mistake - though at least it was already chipped in one corner so I don't feel quite so bad! A little paint touch up will sort it.

Annoyingly there's a "but" as well. That cheap and nasty low profile sink trap...it is indeed cheap and nasty, and is a complete joke. It's utterly useless, the whole outlet section is held on by two tiny little plastic pegs, one of which has snapped.

Back to Toolstation tomorrow for something more suitable. We'll stick a straight pipe under the sink and add an in line waterless trap in the drop pipe in the gas locker - Probably this one. It's what I was originally planning to do anyway, then I tried to save a few quid...Should have gone with my original plan!
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Fri Jun 05, 2020 9:25 pm

Having discovered that the sink trap I had bought was as much use as a chocolate teapot I did what I should have done in the first place and grabbed one of these.

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This is a "water free" sink trap. In case you wondered what's inside one, this is the answer.

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The blue section is a very flexible material which feels like silicone to me.

While it required a bit of rearrangement of the pipework this really is what I should have done originally.

Before:

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The fitting wedged under the trap is the only thing stopping the outlet section falling off in the above photo.

After:

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Yes, I utterly fouled up cutting the new hole for it vertically. That's what I get for rushing to get finished before dinner. I knew pretty much the moment I started that this was going to fight me, it just felt like one of "those" jobs.

Obviously this also required changes to the main waste line as the kitchen outlet was in a different spot. The less said about this the better probably!

Not proud of it but sometimes that's just how it goes.

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Patching up the cupboard wall won't be a problem - it's just irritating at this stage.

Really irritatingly though I apparently managed to nick the line from the draining board while cutting the new hole in the cupboard wall, so I needed to pull that off and replace it. Thankfully this was just standard so I was able to use the original hose that the sink was originally hooked up with.

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Hob needs bolting in then I can tidy up and call it done!
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Sat Jun 06, 2020 11:42 pm

Finally we've made it to a point where all the heavy construction in the kitchen is done.

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Few cosmetic things that still need to be done such as fitting these edging strips around the worktops.

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These will tidy up a few of the gaps and rough edges like this (this bit was a particular pig to do as every edge of the space I was putting it into was off-square). It's just sitting here at the moment as I'll need to get some sealant to go behind it - and more edging as I currently only have one strip.

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You get the idea. It will also hide the gap I've been left with behind the worktop on the offside due to the drop in height.

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It's actually starting to look halfway decent in here I think.

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I had however created a certain amount of mess that I had to then tidy up!

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It looked worse than it was though to be honest and half an hour had things looking far less manic. Jobs like this always make a lot of mess, but when you're working in such cramped quarters it tends to pile up even more.

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I do still have a bit of a to do list in here, but it's all little things really.

[] Patch up dividing wall between the gas locker and under sink cupboard.

[] Dremel the ends off a few screws.

[] I'd like to tidy up the drain pipework in the gas locker. I reckon I can get shot of that triple elbow nonsense with an angled connector and an elbow which should flow better.

[] Apply edging at back of units.

[] Make a door for the cupboard under the oven (may make it a drawer actually as it's so low down).

[] Add proper latches to all the cupboard doors.

[] Paint inside the cupboards.

[] Cap off worktop retaining screws.

[] Wire up in cupboard lighting (waiting on arrival of parts).

[] Touch in paint on the draining board.

[] Give the sink a really good scrubbing to see if I can remove any of the stains in the bowl.

[] Fit some surface dressing on the cabinet faces/frame.

[] After a bit of actual testing of the kitchen we'll make a decision on whether to trim the edge of the worktop back at all. Once that's made I'll trim a radius on the front corner and apply the edging trim on there.


As any van owner will tell you there's a rule that you're never allowed to finish one job without finding another. While I was tidying up today I got dripped on. Right down the back of my neck.

A bit of a search revealed water beading on the two forward edges of the roof light over the living area.

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This roof light has already been noted as being worse for wear because several of the screws look to have been overtightened and it's cracked the frame as a result.

It was absolutely hammering it down today so if we were going to have water getting in at any time it would have been doing so today. Conveniently it's dripping off the frame in very specific locations so a temporary solution has been deployed. I'll need to move "buy and fit new roof lights" up the priority list a bit it looks like.

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Despite the appearance of a leak I feel quite positive about what we've got done today.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Wed Jun 10, 2020 1:52 am

Yesterday I had a few things turn up in the post.

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In here we have:

[] 1/4" EPDM hose to replace the leaky brake fluid reservoir to master cylinder lines on the Jag.

[] Afterburner Heater Control kit for the van.

[] A Series 1 Ford Ka dash clock just because I've always liked the design and I stumbled across one on eBay for £0.99 and fancy sticking one in a nice little case to put on my desk.


Our first task was to do the brake feed line on the Jag as it seemed a pretty simple job.

This is the overcomplicated mess that was on the Jag when I started out.

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Small stubs of hose coming off the reservoir (I don't imagine the orange hoses are original), which then feed onto steel lines, before jumping to fabric braided hoses (which do look original) which connect on to the stubs on the master cylinder itself.

Looking closer the hose ends being the source of the leak was evidenced by the fact there was brake fluid running down the cable ties which I'd used to help stem the leaks a few days ago.

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My intention was to do away with the metal lines entirely here. Too many unnecessary joints. There are eight potential points of failure here rather than four. So this lot came out.

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With that destined for the bin (figuratively speaking...those metal lines will be cleaned up and definitely stuffed into the "box of potentially useful things" for future use), this is what replaced it.

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I've sleeved the one where it's just sitting on the air cleaner housing since the photo was taken, I don't think it's likely to be a problem, but best to be sure.

Why Jaguar didn't just do this originally rather than messing about with those metal lines I've no idea. So far "because Jaguar" is the best I've got! While it's obviously not, I think this looks a lot more "stock" than it did.

Interestingly given that this didn't involve actually interfering with the brake system (I had the pedal held down while the hoses were changed), suddenly the car brakes a lot more evenly! It's always had quite a pull to the left on braking since I picked it up...but now it does it far less! So yeah...a full system bleed through definitely needs to happen sooner rather than later.

That was a relatively simple job, only made slightly profanity inducing because of the master cylinder being buried under that brace.


Next in line was a bit more of an involved job, fitting the Afterburner controller to the heater in the van.

The Afterburner, in case you haven't heard of it is a replacement for the controller that the Chinese diesel heaters which are widely available ship with. While the heaters themselves aren't actually bad the controllers are...sub par. This came to the attention of an engineer over in Australia who decided that this was a ridiculous situation, and took it upon himself to "build a better mousetrap" as it were. He reverse-engineered the communication protocol used by the heater and the stock controller and basically built a better one. In doing so (the design has been refined over a few years) has allowed in addition to far better basic control of the heater, addition of a far richer feature set including wi-fi connectivity, timers, frost protection modes, several GPIO channels which you can access, a humidistat, and a proper high quality temperature monitoring head.

The details can be found on the creator's webpage over here.

Looking at the back of the PCB it's immediately obvious that an engineer is behind this thing...Immediately obvious and labelled programming/debugging headers and a plethora of status lights blinking away at you.

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When you initially hook it up you need to attach it along with the original controller (there's a socket on the harness for that purpose) to download the unit specific fuel tuning data from the original controllers. This is clearly documented in the instructions that came with the unit and took all of about 30 seconds. After this is done and the power is turned off the original controller can be unplugged and removed. I gave the system a good test with the controller just lashed up to make sure everything was behaving, got it hooked up to our household wireless network etc.

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In these days where more and more devices hide away as much data from the end user as possible the data this little screen is willing to show you with one button press is refreshing...and has that look of "yeah, an engineer has put this together."

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Quite a bit of data here...so here's the run down.

Doing this left-to-right unless otherwise stated.

Top row: Wi-Fi signal strength (it also shows additional network status messages there when relevant). Current time. System voltage & battery charge state.

Middle: Current running mode.

Bottom row: Current room temperature. Target room temperature (also shown by the arrow on the thermometer graphic on the left). Fan speed. Fuel pump rate in Hz. Fuel used since last reset. Current burner case temperature.

In recognition of the fact that everyone doesn't want to see all of this all the time, the home screen can be set to show either the current room temperature or the current time as shown below.

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In addition to the data which the main system display can show in person...having this hooked up to your Wi-Fi network means that there's the ability to get data out of it that way. There is actually a HTML server running on there which you can access from anywhere on your network.

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This gives you the ability to turn the heater on/off, change modes, adjust the thermostat etc remotely...which is pretty cool. You can access all the stuff from the GPIO ports as well, so the ability exists to turn things on and off in the van remotely as well if hooked up to this controller.

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The Afterburner itself broadcasts a wireless access point as well (if turned on), so if you're away from home you can still hook up to it with your phone etc to get into this interface - probably the most useful item there is the priming option as that's a bit buried in the menus on the actual unit, and is something that you might want to access while standing on your head wherever the heater itself is buried in your van. In mine it's quite a ways from the controller.

Quite cool.

Having it working hanging out of the spot where I'd had the original controller was one thing...however I wanted to actually get it neatly integrated, ideally where the original heater control for the gas fired heater was. That looked like this by the way, which is why I chose the black and red enclosure for the new one as a nod to originality.

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Getting this in was always going to be a bit of a pig of a job.

I need to get the cable from the hole down in the locker under the bed to the hole in the wall behind the driver's head.

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This sadly wasn't as simple as dropping something in there and fishing it out. Firstly the plug I needed to get through was bigger than the holes, so they were always going to need to be enlarged a bit...secondly it had to come up from the bottom as the other end is tethered to the heater body.

What made this fifty times more difficult I discovered is that there is hollow fibre insulation material in the wall so even if you drop something in there it won't fall all the way down. I was able to with a bit of swearing and attaching a weight to the end of a bit of wire to get it about 3/4 of the way down but that was the best I could do. The only option I was left with realistically was to cut an access hole at the bottom that I could get my arm or at least my hand into to try to get hold of things to pull it past the insulation.

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You can see here the red wire going in the top and out the bottom - I wedged a bit of pipe I found laying around in the locker on there as a weight to help it drop down inside the panel and to be something big and obvious enough for me to get hold of when hunting for it inside the wall cavity.

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While cutting a big hole in the wall wasn't ideal I'm not too bothered about it. This is within the locker under the bed so making a perfectly functional cover will be easy, even if it's not maybe invisible. Additionally, I will be wanting to install a junction box here to allow connections to the additional input/output options from the controller in the future anyway - so that can also cover a significant portion of the hole.

I was then able to hook the heater loom onto this wire and drag it back up through the wall cavity (after enlarging the hole very slightly so it would fit).

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Bingo!

Then it was a simple matter of attaching the new controller to the wall. Oh...and figuring out where to put the room thermostat. I had a brainwave at this point, remembering that when I upgraded the thermostats in the house to wireless programmable ones I kept hold of the housings that the sensor heads used to live in. Being made to house a temperature probe they would obviously be designed to handle airflow correctly etc...and being from 1981 when our house was built, would look at home in the van.

Temperature probe fitted nicely into the enclosure sideways. A small cable tie around one of the posts in there will make sure it can't work loose and rattle around.

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With the cover refitted I think this looks absolutely like the enclosure could be original to the van.

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The base could do with a splash of black paint at some point, but I'll worry about that at some point down the line. It looks smart enough I think. Especially from a distance I think that I've achieved the sort of "it could be stock" look I was aiming for.

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One of the additional digital inputs I will be wiring to a switch in the cab as a simple override to turn the heater on, the other I will probably hook up to a float switch as a low fuel cut off. Not major features, but "nice to haves" I'll look to add down the road.

I've probably waffled on about the Afterburner more than enough here already, but if you've got and questions about it please feel free to ask. I think this will be a really nice addition to the van though and well worth the money.


Last little project for the evening was to track down the connector wiring for that Ford clock. Didn't take long to find, so I'll look at getting a case made up for that somewhere down the road. For now...here's an example of one of the worst examples of backlighting of instrumentation in a modern car.

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Trying to read this while driving at night is like trying to do a crossword while riding a unicycle. I still like it though, and look forward to it living on my desk. The dim backlighting there will work well as it won't be annoying at night.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:58 pm

Now I have the air conditioning compressor clutch assembly in my hands it's time to start looking at getting the system recommissioned.

There are a couple of limitations in the system on this car which means I want to do a few checks before just bolting the new clutch on and sticking the belt back on.

The biggest of these is the lack of what are generally considered to be standard safety devices that we are used to be seeing on HVAC systems. Most notably pressure switches. Instead there is simply a thermal fuse on the compressor which cuts out if the compressor itself gets too hot. There's also no way to run the car with the A/C off unless the entire ventilation system is set to "off" - whenever *anything* on the heater is turned on, the A/C is running as the system on the XJ-S is a true automated climate control system...Quite unusual for a design from the 70s.

As such I wanted to do everything I could before getting things set up to give everything the best chance of working correctly. Obviously the very first thing that will happen once everything is back in place is it will be getting taken to someone with all the gear to be the remains of any residual charge recovered, leak tested etc and recharged. Before I go to that expense though I'd like to at least have some idea of what's in there and to be reasonably sure that it will pass the leak test. While the condenser looks like absolute hell, there was some pressure still in the system despite it not having been touched as far as I can tell since 2012, which has to be a good sign. Not very much pressure at all...but anything that's enough to move the gauges has to be considered at least vaguely hopeful on a system this old.

Given the state of this I was surprised to find anything in there!

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I'm not kidding myself for a second...This condenser will need to be replaced at some point in the (probably not too distant) future. Aside from the fact that it's probably going to leak sooner than later, the heat rejection capacity will be greatly reduced in this state - and the system will already have taken a performance hit when it was converted from R22 to R134a back in 2012.

Having explained the situation to the garage I normally used for this sort of thing they agreed to do me a favour and stick a scoosh of nitrogen into the system for me so I could go around the car and do a check for any major leaks.

While it's hard to see the whole thing, there weren't any obvious leaks on the condenser, and watching the pressure it seems that we're not dropping massive amounts. This ties in with us still finding some pressure in the system. A dig around with the leak spray though did track down one obvious one in the engine bay. Give you two guesses where.

Yep...You remember those two connections on the line from the compressor to the condenser which are held on with jubilee clips which made me skin crawl as they have no place on any HVAC system beyond a condensate drain line?

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Bubbly bubbly! Only one end though, the other side seems gas tight surprisingly enough. So we will need to get this line changed before we can look to get the system properly charged. Obviously we may well find more issues when we've actually got a decent head pressure on the system, but it's a start at least.


Nothing major done on the van today other than tidying up. I've now removed all of the tools and nonsense from the construction work so it's actually in a usable state again.

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The eagle eyed of you might notice a black thing at the far right of the worktop. That's the switch which will control the lighting in the cupboards once I've fitted it. This was scavenged from a dead minibus years ago.

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Knew there was a reason it was staying in the parts stash...see it's finally got a purpose for which the legend on the switch makes perfect sense! Plus being illuminated means we're slightly less likely to leave it turned on by accident.

While I was on a roll with cleaning today I also set about clearing the upper kitchen locker, which has been full of random tools and bits of general vehicle maintenance nonsense since about two or three days after I got the van. This is I think only the second time I've actually seen the back of it!

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There must have been the best part of about 20kg of assorted detritus in there...That can't have been helping the amount of rattles in the cabin! Following on from this I then went to have a rummage through all the lockers, cubby holes etc and pulled another five bags worth of miscellaneous junk out of the van. Given we've only got 78bhp to play with, lugging around unnecessary weight isn't something we want to be doing...plus getting a camper into a state where driving around doesn't sound like you're in a tumble drier full of spoons falling down a flight of stairs is enough of a challenge without having unnecessary nonsense floating around in drawers, lockers etc. One thing I will be doing now most things are empty I'm going to be putting non slip rubber matting down in all the drawers etc to help keep things still and further reduce the potential for things making a racket.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Thu Jun 11, 2020 9:46 pm

Well that alone has made the work worthwhile!

Had the van out for a run today and can confirm at least a 90% reduction in squeaks, rattles and general racket from the living area compared to before work started on the kitchen...and I'm nowhere near finished the noise reduction phase of the works yet.

That will make it a far less tiring companion on long trips.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Neil Chowney » Fri Jun 12, 2020 12:33 pm

With you on that one, it the one thing that drives me mad is rattles, squeaks that those small random noises that just appear then disappear and no amount of intense listening can pinpoint them. Especially the ones that go silent when you turn round trying to find them..... grrrr......

Drove my old freelander around for around 10 miles once with all the boot liners taken out and my mate curled up in the spare wheel hole trying to find the rattle.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Fri Jun 12, 2020 11:51 pm

Neil Chowney wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 12:33 pm
With you on that one, it the one thing that drives me mad is rattles, squeaks that those small random noises that just appear then disappear and no amount of intense listening can pinpoint them.
Advice them is never to buy a Classic Saab 900 then! While I loved all three of mine, the interiors had more squeaks and rattles than in any other car I've owned!

-- -- --


Something very boring but very important was refitted today in the kitchen.

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Hopefully it's never needed, but nice to know it's there. Has been installed a good distance away from the hob, given that's where it's most likely (though hopefully never) to be needed.


Thinking about the air conditioning hose I need to replace on the Jag a bit yesterday and remembered and that was I had actually already tried to replace the condenser hose...however this happened when I actually tried to order the replacement.

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Digging around in the evening on the internet revealed that there don't seem to be any actually available outside the USA (other than one stratospherically expensive one in Germany). Hmm.

Okay, we'll pull the pipe off and take it around to Pirtek and see what they can do with it. Couple of fittings and a properly crimped hose and we should be sorted. I'll bet it will be cheaper than getting one shipped over from the US.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Sat Jun 13, 2020 11:39 pm

A single mains socket was probably sufficient for the needs of the camper van owner in 1990 when they would have had maybe a kettle, hairdrier and possibly if they were fancy a portable telly. In 2020 however not so much. Thinking about it though, we don't actually have much call for direct access to actual mains electricity these days...I think the only thing which is routinely plugged into the socket in there is the vacuum cleaner. 99% of our things are battery powered these days, and nearly all of them at least in our case charge from a USB socket these days.

The single socket was therefore swapped out for one with an inbuilt USB charger.

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The round pin socket is a 12V DC outlet. The only thing I currently use it for is to hook up the submersible transfer pump for shifting water from the Aquaroll to the onboard tank. I'm not likely to even need this much longer as my intention is to fit a 12V socket outside for that purpose to save me having to dangle leads out the window. Once that's done I will probably replace this with a 12V based USB charger solution, assuming I can find something that will fit into a standard faceplate. The mains meters aren't really necessary, but are simply there to act as a visual indicator that the mains hookup is connected and live. I do need to tweak the position of the ammeter though, it's a hair too low.

As I had a hole in the front of the locker where the original controller for the new heater had been so this made sense as a place to install a second mains socket. That gives is four USB sockets in relatively close proximity of the bed, that should be sufficient to keep everyone's phones and assorted tech charged hopefully.

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That red switch to the right of the socket by the way is the master switch for the heater and controller.

While I had the locker open it seemed a good time to attack a few of the other tasks I'd been putting off sorting in there.

A lot of these matters surrounded the heater.

Particularly I had been wanting to add a bit more of a safety margin in the "Making sure it can't set fire to stuff" department for a while...but especially now that the new controller is fitted, which essentially has command authority to start the heater up under certain circumstances now irrespective of whether the van is occupied or not.

When I originally installed it, I cut the hole in the floor for the air intake and exhaust lines using the nice little template in the instruction manual.

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I did foil line everything after that trial fitting by the way.

At a glance this might seem fine enough, especially given the original 1.5kW gas heater didn't bother with any clearance...but it's very easy to forget how powerful this thing is. 5kW is a lot.

Putting that into perspective, the most powerful electric heater that you can plug into a domestic electrical socket is 3kW. So this thing kicks out some serious heat - a significant portion of that being that it's combustion based goes straight out the exhaust. So it gets toasty. Toasty enough to have blued the metal over the entire length of the exhaust. I'd *really* rather have more than 1/2" clearance between that and my floor thank you very much.

That teeny tiny hole was made rather larger to get the floor further away from the exhaust.

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Then some heat reflective tape was applied around it (this stuff has adhesive sufficiently strong to remove your fingerprints), wrapping well around onto the underside of the floor on all sides - there are three or four layers here.

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I will obviously go back and trim some of the excess later.

While I had the heater free of the floor it seemed a good opportunity to replace the worryingly squidgy original fuel line to the burner with a nice bit of Nautilus Fuel Master, I trust that a couple of inches away from a burner exhaust far more than something that came in a box from China that has nothing by way or markings on it.

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I wrapped the first couple of inches in foil as well...I know this hose won't need it, but it makes me rest easier knowing I've given that extra layer of protection.

It's very clear that the exhaust hasn't been fully sealed, so I made sure to put a smear of sealant on there before it was reattached.

In the cabin I wanted to make an alteration to the outlet. Previously I had just hooked it in to the lower one from the original heater because it happened to line up nicely. This wasn't ideal however as it results in the lower panel of the door getting very warm, but the rest of the van taking a good deal longer to warm up than it needs to. Being completely flush with the front of the locker made it far easier than I'd like to block the outlet completely too. So an adjustable outlet was fitted into the upper cut out instead.

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The lower one serves as a return duct, though obviously it's not exclusive as the locker is far from airtight. I will add a grill or screen to it at some point just for aesthetics and to try to stop quite so much dog hair finding its way into the locker.

I do want to add some additional ductwork at some point though. Rather than the one outlet we currently have I'd like to branch three lines off. One venting out the rear of this locker to heat the kitchen area, likewise at the front towards the cab (or possibly an adjustable one like above) and I'd like to tap off a small line to provide a little background heat into the bathroom. I don't need it to be as well heated as the rest of the van, but currently it's like walking into a freezer in there at night. It's a job for the future, but would definitely make things more comfortable. Would probably make the heater a bit quieter too. Decent safety feature too as you'd have to be trying pretty hard to block off four outlets at the same time.

With the heater back in place I started doing something I should have months ago, and generally tidied things up a bit. It's always going to be a bit of a rat's nest down here with all the wiring, but I can at least try to tidy it up! It's still a work in progress as I ran out of time today, but we're getting there.

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The conduit will obviously be attached to the side of the locker once I'm finished. There will likely be one along the other side too as there are quite a few random wires wandering along that way. Still need to remove the remains of the old gas line for the old heater as well.

That carpeted box all the mains stuff is sitting on I'd really like to get rid of. It just makes accessing anything incredibly awkward. I may well just pick up a small consumer unit like the ones for sheds or garages and redo that whole lot from scratch at some point as this is just a mess. Especially bearing in mind I've vague plans to install solar on this van at some point in which case I'll definitely be wanting to bring some sanity to this spaghetti. The DC stuff is a mess too, there's a lot of nonsense like red wires being used for multiple purposes (as you can see on the battery charger output at about 1 o'clock in the above photo) that I inherited with the van. I'm guessing that's a former keeper to blame rather than the factory...though with hand built vehicles you sometimes just never know...

Before anyone says the supply line to the front socket is too small, it will be fine. It's rated for 13A, and the two sockets are both attached to a single 7.5A RCD, so it will never be stretched. I'd be massively surprised if anything ever gets plugged into the mains socket up front anyway!

I would really like to install a guard of some sort to ensure that there's no way that the air intake on the heater body could be accidentally blocked. I will probably install a partition to separate the utility area at the rear from the general luggage locker at the front. That should do a pretty good job of keeping things away from where they shouldn't be. Though I will need to include some means to still stow the supports for the awning (the metal things to the left in the above image) as they do extend a fair ways back.

It was at this point we ran into a slight snag which took me a couple of hours to get to the bottom of.

Having changed the fuel line I needed to re-prime it. Didn't figure it would need much though given it was only the 10" or so between the fuel pump and the burner. Plan was to just run the pump in priming mode for 10 seconds or so. Given the control panel is a bit awkward to get at when the locker is open like this I decided to use the web interface to do this. Which would have been fine if my phone hadn't decided to drop my wifi connection the millisecond that I turned the pump priming mode on. I then spent a good minute fighting with it before realising that I could just turn the master switch off.

I was expecting this to result in some pretty impressive white smoke on startup then as there would obviously be quite a bit of unburned fuel having been dumped into the burner. It should clear after running for a bit though.

Except it didn't. In fact it got worse, and started to become denser and darker. This just doesn't look right.

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It was also lingering impressively enough to attract the attention of our next door neighbours.

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Something clearly wasn't right.

Thanks to the additional data visible on the Afterburner display it was obvious in addition to the smoke that it was struggling to make it up to full running temperature. The heat exchanger usually stabilises at full power around 220C, however it was struggling to get over 120C, despite blanketing half of our neighbourhood in smoke and the fuel pump running at the maximum rate of 5.0Hz.

After a certain amount of head scratching, and messing around swapping controllers back over in case it was a problem with the fuelling map etc, the fault was found.

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You remember how I put some sealant on the exhaust? Yeah...a bit of it had managed to ooze into the pipe itself, where it had then puffed up when the pipe heated up and blocked a good 2/3rds of the pipe. So we were getting poor airflow due to a choked exhaust.

Once the system was started up with this removed and it started to get actually up to temperature the amount of soot that got blasted out the exhaust was truly impressive. There were honestly bit chunks of it. Not quite the fireworks you sometimes see from DPF equipped cars doing the first forced regen after months of town driving, but still impressive enough.

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It did smoke for quite a while too, though given it spent probably an hour running with a very restricted exhaust that didn't really surprise me. It did clear up though after 20 minutes or so, and the heat exchanger temperature soon stabilised at its normal level.

Stupid mistake on my part using too much exhaust sealant! Entirely self inflicted.

I set the temperature control to max and just left it running for a full hour at full throttle to make sure everything was properly cleaned out. This also meant I was able to check and confirm that the floor around the cutout under the van is no longer getting worryingly hot. The fixing plate still gets quite warm, so it does get pretty toasty, but no longer *alarmingly* hot! Given it only takes about 20 minutes to get the cabin from 0C up to a comfortable temperature anyway it's pretty unlikely to be left running flat out for all that long anyway so this was a pretty good test from that perspective.

Hopefully get most of the remaining tidying up of the locker done tomorrow.
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Current fleet: 96 Citroen Xantia Activa, 90 Mercedes 208D Autotrail Navajo, 85 Jaguar XJ-S V12 HE, 85 Sinclair C5, 73 AC Model-70.

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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Mon Jun 15, 2020 1:55 am

Finally got the money refunded for the parts I ordered for the Xantia back in late February so a replacement replacement exhaust system has been ordered.

Of course since February I've lost the note of which bushes I need for the control arm now so will need to track that down later and get those reordered.


Nothing much to say really about today's work on the van other than "That's a lot of work for something nobody will ever see!"

Yesterday:

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Today:

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Didn't get a before shot of the other end but it looks like this now.

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I also did a bit of bodge undoing. For some reason I cannot for the life of me figure out, the slide out section of the bed had been cut in two. This meant that it was near impossible to deploy or stow it because the two sections would immediately get out of line with each other and wedge the whole lot in place. The rear section only sat in a runner at the one end too. The upshot of this was that when the locker was open, the rear section would random decide to detach itself and drop. Usually on my head. Aside from one occasion when it managed to land on my right pinkie. That was reassembled into one piece. It is now far less likely to fall on me and can actually be stowed and deployed by one person without major swearing.

Well it would have been if the second of the three hinges hadn't then snapped. Though not really surprising given these were what passed for hinges.

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Five actual hinges made of metal replace the original three bendy plastic things.

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This was when I realised that a lot of the internal support structure under there wasn't actually attached to anything, so what are essentially some legs for the bed. You can just about see those in the photos above.

The mains wiring needs a complete do-over at some point, though that's a job for another day.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Tue Jun 16, 2020 1:57 am

The state of the heater's fuel pump wiring was bugging me so I happened to it.

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Better, I don't want to cut it down in case I do wind up moving the pump at a future date as I've not discounted the idea of moving it outside the cabin in the future yet. So it's just been tidily bundled up for now.

Probably going to leave the van alone for a little while after today and turn my attention back to other things. Main immediate task will be getting the Invacar hub pulled so I can finally get a replacement Fiat one ordered and machined to suit. That should get the car back on the road with a bit of luck. Likewise it looks like I'll have bits on the way to get the Xantia through an MOT shortly.

One last bit of kit I want to get installed in the van is this.

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It's a good bit older than the van, but just happens to be floating around in the garage following a kerbside skip find, and it works perfectly and I don't know what else to do with it! I can't really see a situation where we're likely to need mains voltage power while off-grid but it's one of those things where should that wacky situation arise one day it's something that you could be very glad to have on board. I will probably wire this up so that it's in the same circuit as the DC feed to the fridge, so will be powered from the vehicle battery only when the engine is running and the charging circuit is active. As it isn't really intended to be for general use it will get its own socket probably tucked away around the front of the locker next to an isolator switch (there are no controls at all on the unit) rather than trying to hook it up to the main sockets and have to mess around with changeover switches and suchlike. I will install a prominent indicator light to alert me that it's on as well - not that it should really be possible to miss it given the racket that it makes!

Not wired up just now, but I have bolted it in place in the corner of the locker to be returned to at a later date.

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For now though I've put that whole area back together.

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I've done a bit of fiddling around in the config options for the Afterburner and found I could set it so that it defaults to the detailed view when the heater is powered up and the thermostat view when it's off before the display blanks after about ten minutes.

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The original mains socket that I removed seemed well worth saving. It's one of these Clipsal units.

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I don't think this has actually faded and yellowed, I think they were this cream colour from new.

I believe these were quite commonly used in campers and caravans from around this era. If anyone wants this one for their van so they have an extra which matches their existing sockets let me know. Happy to pass it on to someone who can make good use of it. The little blanking plugs for the screw holes are still present and are stored inside the body at the moment.

Last thing I wanted to do for the day was to make a bit of a tweak to the lighting over the bed. I had replaced the original 15W incandescent lamps in there with LED ones a little while ago simply to reduce the DC load and the amount of heat thrown into the fittings. However they're quite a cold white which isn't exactly pleasant. Plus given that we're generally using these only when reading in bed or watching a movie they were honestly too bright. I'd come up with a bit of a plan for this based on some lamps I had rolling around in the random parts box. These are also LED based, but are amber (they're meant to be indicator replacements). As they're phosphor based amber LEDs the colour is actually really quite pleasant, quite reminiscent of the colour of low pressure sodium lighting.

You can clearly see the contrast here!

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Much warmer.

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We'll give it a try and see how it works for us. I suspect I'll end up switching to some very warm white ones and a dimmer system, but this is a bit more pleasant for now I reckon.

I think this is likely to be the last real work that is done on this, certainly to the interior for a bit. I do have a few other jobs in mind for the near future, but they are mostly exterior based (I want to replace a good portion of the weatherproofing sealant for one thing...which I'm really not looking forward to as it's a horrible job!), so we'll be moving on to other things for a bit. Probably be some Invacar work next unless the exhaust for the Xantia arrives unexpectedly quickly...though we'll see how long I can ignore that for as I hate exhaust work!
LOZ: Oddball cars, lighting information, and anything else I remember to upload!
Current fleet: 96 Citroen Xantia Activa, 90 Mercedes 208D Autotrail Navajo, 85 Jaguar XJ-S V12 HE, 85 Sinclair C5, 73 AC Model-70.

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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Wed Jun 17, 2020 2:49 am

You remember me saying I wasn't planning to really do anything else with the van this week? Yeah...about that.

A question that you never want to end up asking yourself on any vehicle is "Wait...Where's that water coming from?" On a camper van though it brings double the feeling of dread as there's a whole extra plumbing system worth of potential trouble.

When I noticed a slow drip hitting the ground just behind the nearside rear wheel I had a horrible feeling that I was in for trouble.

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Standing on my head the area it's coming from is pretty easy to see.

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That's not a good answer. The precise area that drip is coming from is right under the shower tray. That is very thoroughly incorporated into the fabric of the bathroom now and cannot be removed without a huge amount of hassle.

A bit of thinking however suggested that something was odd about that as a location for a leak. There were only two pipes in this area: the suction line from the fresh water tank running to the pump (which lives pretty much directly above the wheel arch) and the pressure feed back to the kitchen (the bathroom one just goes straight through the wall from the service locker). I hadn't done any drilling or screwing of things anywhere vaguely near to this in the best part of a year and there are no connections there - it's all continuous hose. I had a nose around in the base of the service locker under the wardrobe where the water pump lives, bone dry. Unless something had rubbed through (unlikely, this hose is good quality stuff and seems pretty resilient) or I've got mice, it seems more likely that the water is running from somewhere else. Where though?

The only other thing in this neighbourhood is the toilet. It's not been used in months, but worth investigating. Cue much surprise when I pulled the cassette out I found the whole area beneath it swimming and mouldy. It was bone dry and spotlessly clean a couple of months ago when I last cleaned the cassette tank out. A few moments later I spotted a drip and my heart sank.

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I was really hoping that the hose connection you can see would be responsible...however I'm not that lucky. The water is dripping down out of the moulding up at the top. There's only two possible sources for a leak up there occurring when the unit hasn't been used...Either the hose connection onto the solenoid valve for the flush button or the solenoid valve itself. These both however are buried deep within the moulding so can't be checked in situ. I'll need to remove this from the van to investigate. This is...Sub optimal as it will require me to remove a metric ton of silicone, about three million screws and a bunch of tiling. I guess that's the chance you take when you reuse 30 year old equipment though. That's a job for another day. In the meantime I will cap this line off to stop the leak so I can still use the sink, which given I regularly use the van to take the dogs out it really useful so I can wash my hands before driving home.

When I was looking for the source of the leak it did give me a good chance to look better at the drain line routing and assess how hard it will be to upgrade. I don't reckon it will be too difficult at all to get rigid lines run back all the way to the tank. There are a few awkward things I'll need to work around obviously and I'll probably take a different route to the original flexible lines, but I may well do this sooner than later as it would be nice to just have it ticked off. The original convolute still leaks in several places too despite me having patched a bunch of it up.

While crawling around under the back of the van I did find something which *really* annoyed me though.

Long time readers of this blog may recall that I was quite surprised when at the last MOT the garage proclaimed that the entire rear braking system was basically scrap. The drums were worn oval and had bevelled the wearing surface, both wheel cylinders were leaking, the handbrake wasn't working to a satisfactory level, and apparently one of the brake shoe linings had detached. This surprised me rather a lot as the brakes were fine, I'd never detected the slightest bit of vibration through them, the handbrake was quite capable of stopping the rotation of the planet and it had never used a drop of brake fluid. However I needed the van sorted for a trip in less than a week so just told them to get on with the work. Ended up with a bill for pocket change short of £600 which was mostly the brakes.

Since that work was done, the brakes have been noticeably worse. The pedal is far more spongy and the handbrake really needs a good tug now on a gradient whereas it used to have a really good bite at what felt a more reasonable level of force. When I got the van back the brake fluid was massively overfilled to the extent that it had flooded all over the bulkhead on the drive back home from the garage. It's taken me the best part of a year to get the oil stain out of the driver's seat cover too as they never used slip covers.

In addition to the brake issues, failed the MOT initially for things so trivial as missing rear reflectors (which weren't missing...the tester was just blind - including missing the *additional* ones I fitted to satisfy them when I went back for the retest, and sticking MORE on themselves (squint too!) which wound up pulling the paint off when I removed them), and pulled up advisories for a very slightly frayed seatbelt and a tarnished headlight which I've since had apart and have been able to find absolutely nothing wrong with. They mainly do PCV and HGV testing though, so I wasn't sure if I was just being unreasonable in my expectations for them to be picky.

...If that were the case though, I might have expected them to at the very least flag up these rear brake hose ferrules up as an advisory.

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The top one there in particular really is quite crusty (there's no way my MOT tester back up north would have passed it)...I'm not thrilled by the state of the rigid line on it either in a couple of spots and the hoses are quite perished. It goes without saying that a full set has already been ordered.

I've crawled over the front of the van quite a few times (especially investigating an erroneous brake pad wear warning indicator) and things are fine up there...I'd never really looked in that much detail at the rear end though beyond changing the oil in the diff...which was done on a day when it was pouring with rain so I was rather mission focused at the time.

Absolutely a demonstration that an MOT should never be taken as a clear bill of health...you should always give your car a thorough check over yourself.

This discovery absolutely guarantees that I will never, ever be darkening the door of Egerton's Fleet Services ever again.

The realisation hit me this afternoon that I still had to finish up sealing up the the gas locker so I got that finished. It's not pretty, but it will do the job. I'll be installing some rubber floor matting and a proper gas bottle clamp in due course. I just want to leave the floor and the bottom of the rear wall open for the time being until I'm certain I've got to the bottom of a water ingress issue in that corner (down just above the bumper). For the time being I'm leaving it open so that any water that gets in can get back out again. I need to find a slightly smaller bracket for the waste pipe there too or pack it out a bit.

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There was a small gap at the top (because I can't measure for toffee) so this was sealed up and then taped for good measure.

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This foil tape sticks ridiculously well (it will remove your fingerprints if you're not careful) as it's basically intended for sealing joints on HVAC ductwork. It doesn't have much strength in terms of things poking through it, but it stick really well even to surfaces that aren't spotlessly clean - and can lay a really good foundation if you then layer something else over the top of it. I'll probably go over this lot with some good quality cloth tape just for belt and braces before throwing a bit of paint around in here. It's a bit "how ya doin'" but it will do the job. It's a cupboard at the end of the day rather than a Lamborghini showroom.

You can also spy one other thing I finally sorted today. I had been struggling ever since fitting the sink to get the hose running between the draining board and the sink drain itself to seal properly.

After what must have been ten attempts to get it to seal using three or four different pipes I lost patience with it today. I remembered that I had a bit of 19mm heater hose floating around in a box somewhere which according to my version 1.0 eyeball looked a close fit...turned out it was indeed a pretty much perfect snug fit.

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Job done! It should actually be better anyway as the smooth hose shouldn't be prone to trapping water the same way the convolute was. I'm actually tempted to do the same in our kitchen as we have a really long overflow line due to the way the waste disposal unit is attached and it's always been prone to getting smelly, and having to take the whole lot to bits every quarter to clean it is really annoying. I might swap it for a smooth hose like this and see if that helps now I've realised it's the same size.

The job I had actually set out with the intention of getting done today was to wire up the recently fitted inverter. The more I thought about it the more it seemed daft to me to have gone to the lengths of fitting it but not wiring it up.

As I am never planning the inverter to be used regularly I want it to be tucked away and not look like it's part of the main power system. As such it will have its own little control panel and I'll probably use a red socket faceplate. I had planned to get that done today, but with the above nonsense going on I never got any further than cobbling together the switch faceplate I'll use, tracking down a relay I'll use to switch the supply and find some wiring (just scavenged from the random bits box, so I need to pull out the bits I'm actually going to use from the bundle yet - the bit in the photo is just for reference!).

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I'll just use the originally removed mains socket for now. The switch panel has two indicators on it. The green one is a standard 12V automotive one which will show when the DC supply to the inverter is on, and the red one is a mains voltage neon to give visual confirmation that it's actually running. Figured this was a good idea as it can be a bit touchy about starting if there's no load (which is why I'm going to use an unswitched socket and have the procedure be to "insert plug, turn power on" to hopefully prevent that being a problem. The frequency meter...well...it's been rattling around for several years and I want to actually use it for something! The mains cable to run to the socket is just a random skinny one from a random bag of cables. It will be absolutely fine for this job bearing in mind that this inverter is only rated for a maximum load of 150W (so about 0.7A). There's no ground provision on the inverter so the socket will be labelled with a warning to that effect.

Hopefully time will allow me to actually screw this lot together tomorrow...Then we can report back once the new brake hose set arrives. I've ordered a full set for both front and rear axles as they're inexpensive and while they're not so visibly degraded as the rear ones the front ones are obviously still quite old and given she's not exactly a light vehicle it just makes sense to me to the the lot. Yes, I have made sure that I have rigid brake pipe in stock and will make double sure that I know where the flaring kit is before I start! I also hate doing brake work...so tend to work on the basis of "I hate it, so let's get as much as possible done in one shot" when I do need to tackle it. Will be a good opportunity to either fix or disable the brake pad wear warning light too as that playing up is really annoying.

An appointment with the most aggressive nozzle of my pressure washer, a few gallons of Vactan and the nation's entire stock of Dinitrol are also in the underbody's near future - though the underbody sealant isn't happening until AFTER I'm done crawling around under there sorting the brakes and routing plumbing lines. I did drown the underneath of the cab last year though as that was obviously in the most imminent danger of dissolving but the weather turned before I got to the rest of the chassis.
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Current fleet: 96 Citroen Xantia Activa, 90 Mercedes 208D Autotrail Navajo, 85 Jaguar XJ-S V12 HE, 85 Sinclair C5, 73 AC Model-70.

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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Neil Chowney » Wed Jun 17, 2020 6:19 pm

Another spiffing job Zel.

Just one thing from the photo, is that seal on the bottom of the sink on OK where it joins the black plastic trap, looks a bit Brahms and Liszt to me.....
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Thu Jun 18, 2020 4:05 am

Neil Chowney wrote:
Wed Jun 17, 2020 6:19 pm
Another spiffing job Zel.

Just one thing from the photo, is that seal on the bottom of the sink on OK where it joins the black plastic trap, looks a bit Brahms and Liszt to me.....
I think the washer has probably shifted a bit when the retaining screw down the centre was tightened up...but it's about 5mm thick and has a contact surface that's about 10mm across all the way around so it should be fine. The washer is a universal one too so it overhangs the edge of the mating surface a bit too which probably makes it look more dodgy...lighting there doesn't help either.

The goop on the threads between the black section and the elbow below it were from when I was trying to get the first trap I tried to seal properly. However it turned out to be such a poor design that it was as much use as an ashtray on a unicycle.

Looking at the photo I'm not 100% though so will double check it's seated properly tomorrow. Thanks for mentioning it.
LOZ: Oddball cars, lighting information, and anything else I remember to upload!
Current fleet: 96 Citroen Xantia Activa, 90 Mercedes 208D Autotrail Navajo, 85 Jaguar XJ-S V12 HE, 85 Sinclair C5, 73 AC Model-70.

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