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Sunday, 30 December 2012

13-pin Extension Lead #2

As previously blogged,a month or so ago I purchased one of these :-

13-Pin Extension Lead

Used it today to check that the lights and ATC on the Orion were all OK and there were no surprises in store come the spring,all OK as I expect you are all dying to know.

It is handy for attaching the van when you are by yourself as you don't have to reverse up to the van and risk a collision.

Space is a bit tight on our storage and manoeuvring is even more awkward on the drive at home.

Should the need ever arise it will be useful to attach to the van at home if the ATC memory becomes full and you have to connect to the car for 12 hours to clear it.

Can be recommended and the Caravan Accessory shop can be also be recommended ( no connection ).

There is another outlet on the net that sells them ( I only ever found two ) but they messed me around twice after of course taking my money so beware.


All Lagged Up.

John Bland,one of my correspondents and I have been having a discussion regarding heating pipes in the Orion.

John is of the opinion that the front of the Orion is not as warm as the rear and was looking for solutions.

I thought that the grey plastic pipe running from under the rear dinette to the front of the van via the offside wheel arch was the front to rear heating pipe.

This one :-

Of course it is nothing of the sort and John was quite correct in that the heating duct pipe from front to rear is on the other side of the van and runs from the rear dinette entering the van under the TV unit.

This is the correct pipe :-

I was intending to lag the grey pipe but now having located the correct one I have lagged that with ThermaWrap ( link in previous post ),fortunately I hadn't purchased any pre-formed pipe lagging as obviously it would not fit the real pipe.

It is not particularly difficult to do but entails lying on your back for an hour ( ooh er missus ) and sliding under the van as far as you can,or better still get the wife to do it.

The results are as shown :-

Hopefully now there won't be as much heat lost from the pipe and the front may be a bit warmer as SWMBO has also complained of it being a bit cool at times.

( Then again SWMBO would complain of it being a bit cool in the Atacama desert in midsummer,hormones I think, but I digress.)

If deciding to lag the pipe and using ThermaWrap :-

1. It says put the shiny side outwards but it is difficult to tell which is the shiny side as they both look much the same.

If you look closely the "inside" surface on the roll just about looks a little shinier so that went to the outside.

2.Because of the close proximity of the heating duct to the floor of the van you can only apply a short piece of insulation at a time.

3.There is no mention in the ThermaWrap instructions of using tape to fix it,you tend to get the impression that it attaches itself.

It does not,you need some tape. I used some UniBond clear all weather  tape for every piece and reinforced it along the length of the pipe with some further lengths of tape.

4.I couldn't go right to the end of the pipe as the Al-KO ATC module was in the way and I couldn't reach any farther anyway so I went as far as the second zip-tie.

5.I only used one roll of ThermaWrap having of course bought two.

It was getting a bit cold after a while and starting to rain ( aye it's bleak up north and there were't  whippets to feed and clogs to polish ) so I left it at that  but I will return later and add one or two zip-ties along the length to make it more secure.

Hope this assists anyone who wants to lag their heating duct,any questions then drop me a pm.


Monday, 24 December 2012

A Lagging We Will Go.......

John Bland,one of my correspondents,commented on the fact that he found the front of the van cooler than the rear of the van.

He pointed out something I did not realise,that there is a heating pipe which passes out from the Whale heater,through the floor to the exterior along the underside of the van and back in again to supply the front vent under the TV.

I had seen this pipe before and not realised what it was.

The pipe is normal grey ribbed plastic pipe which can obviously lose heat along its length as John pointed out.

I was pondering this the other day when up at the storage and decided to visit B&Q/Homebase etc. to see what I could come up with in the insulation line.

The pipe is about 12cm in circumference so the pre-formed polystyrene pipe lagging is too small ( or they just didn't have any bigger sizes in stock ).

Whilst looking in Homebase I came across this stuff :-

ThermaWrap Insulation

which looks just the job.

Bought a couple of rolls ( just over £8 for the two ) and will attempt to apply it after Christmas.

Will post how it went,hopefully with a few photos.


Saturday, 22 December 2012


To those who read my occasional ramblings,a big thank you as the blog has had over 24 000 hits in just over a year.

Hoping you all have a happy Christmas and New Year.

Anyone out in their Orion over the holidays ( squelch,squelch ) have a wonderful time.

Incidentally,if anyone has got anything to sell that they wish me to post on the blog just drop me an e-mail.

Don't forget to include an e-mail address or phone number so any buyer can contact you direct.


Thursday, 20 December 2012


Contralube is a special synthetic grease that is recommended for electrical contacts and the like to prevent corrosion and degradation.

After reading a few posts of recommendation on CT I purchased some and liberally applied it to the 13-pin plug and socket of the Orion,also applied some to the battery posts.

The easiest way to coat the pins ( and the sockets ) is  to put a good blob on the socket holes and insert the plug which coats the pins and sockets nicely.

Contralube is about £7 or so a tube,got mine from Maplins but other outlets are available.



Saturday, 15 December 2012

Al-Ko Solar Light

Here is a review of the Al-Ko Solar Light that I posted on CT :-

During the Al-Ko "12 days of Christmas" promotion they had on offer the Al-Ko Solar Light.

I had been thinking about one of these for a while but the price of a shade under £90 understandably put me off.

During the offer period it was substantially reduced plus I got a further 10% off with an offer code which brought it down to just over half price so I thought I would give it a shot.

The photo and description on the Al-Ko site don't do this piece of kit justice at all,it is seriously impressive.

The lit area is a shade under 14cm across and it comes with all manner of connections to facilitate charging by various methods.

It is also provided with quite a hefty 26cm x 14cm 3W solar panel and the associated connections.

The torch can also be used to charge mobile phones,mP3 players etc.,all the leads are provided.

I hesitate to say it is worth £90,it is after all a torch,but if anyone is ummhing and aahing about one and wonders about the quality then don't worry.

I can see it lasting for a long time.

If anyone has any questions for what is a substantial financial layout then ask away.


The Gap Is Back.

Those of you sad souls who read my musings on a regular basis will remember from a while ago the gaps that were apparent at the tops of the plastic T-shaped trims to the right of the bathroom door and to the left of the wardrobe in the 440/4.

These were replaced under warranty at the first service,there was certainly no gap at the top when I collected the van

Well I presumed they were changed,I now begin to wonder as when I visited the van last week the gaps were back.

I have now surmised what the problem is.

The gap at the end of the trim should be at the bottom,presumably to accommodate the carpet,but over time the trim slowly slides down and the gap appears at the top.

On my next visit to storage I will remove the trims and apply some adhesive before refixing which should cure it once and for all.


Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Saving Your Alloys #2

As I have recently touched up the paint on the Orion's alloys where it had got scuffed and chipped,I was interested in a tip that was in Practical Caravan this month.

A chap had affixed some non-slip matting to the rear of the Al-Ko wheel lock to stop it scraping on the wheel.

He had cut a section all in one piece but I thought this would be rather difficult and not fit very well so I took a sheet of non-slip and cut out a section for each of the flat areas on the back of the lock and stuck them all on separately with Evo-Stick and let them dry.

It seems to work rather well.

The lock still fits into the wheel and the non-slip protects the alloy.

The non-slip matting can be bought from the pound shop for err.... well ..................a pound.

Other outlets are available.


Saturday, 8 December 2012

Whale Heater : Battery Usage.

Someone on CT was enquiring what the Whale blown air heating system would take out of the battery on an Orion without EHU.

There was a very useful reply from Dave which I repost here with permission :

 The Whale space heater takes 0.01amps when it's on, and 1.6 amps with the fan running. If you assume a 50% duty cycle (i.e. fan running about half the time - depends on how cold it is), you are looking at about 0.8amps average = about 20ah a day.

So assuming a 110ah battery and not running the battery down less than half way and considering that there is other usage ( 12v TV,water pump,toilet,lights ) then that is about two to three days on continuously,depending upon how cold it is of course.