The water issues with the Accordo 120 have been playing on my mind sine our first proper trip out to Walnut Lakes (A great little campsite - take a look at this review of it) over the Bank Holiday weekend. We had fun and games with the water system from the off, and we were plagued with issues right up to the time we drove off the campsite to return home and our “Motor home water woes” have been biting me ever since.
Well, almost three weeks on and I think we have finally cracked it and now have everything we need to sort out the Accordo’s water system. We have had to throw even more money at the motor home (I am starting to think the costs of owning a motor home will never end) to get everything sorted, so now I should be able to put the matter to bed.
Following our purchase of some bits and pieces (I never realised how little you get for twenty quid in hose pipe attachments) from a local DIY store (if you missed it check out this blog post) and an Amazon order our collection of water accessories comprises:-
Whilst there is still a little more room in the gas locker (even with a spare bottle – I decided we needed 2 gas bottles after all) we have decided we are not going to buy any more water accessories. Whatever we don’t have or may “potentially” need now is tough although I can foresee a 5m hosepipe being too short in the future. When this is going to happen I don’t know. Where this is going to happen, again, I don’t know. All I know is that a problem will arise, and when it does I will just use the water carrier and make several trips to fill the tank. Filling the tank with the water carrier is going to be a faff but then we will be on a camping holiday and we need some things to do to fill the day times, don’t we. I refuse to spend any more money on water accessories, until something fails or breaks and needs replacing of course. But until that day……………..
If you read my blog post “We will get water in the Accordo” you will be aware that at that time I still had a few more bits and pieces to get, i.e. the collapsible bucket, the digital water gauge and the water carrier. Since writing that post I have since sorted these items, and thought you may be interested in my thoughts.............................
"The digital water gauge - may seem a bit of an overkill but it's going to be useful"
Amazon is my go to shop for everything, and is my first port of call for everything. I have a boss who lets me have anything and everything delivered to the office, so Amazon works very well (perhaps a bit too well – which is why I keep buying stuff from there) for me. I was struggling sourcing a digital water gauge locally however Amazon came up trumps, so I promptly ordered it.
A digital water meter gauge may seem like a bit of an overkill, but at least we will know roughly how much water I put in tank whilst filling up at a campsite. If we are only doing a one night stop over I can make sure I put in just enough for what we need, and no more. Similarly, when we move on to the next campsite I can make sure I put in just enough water to see us through until we reach the campsite and can replenish the tank. By not over filling the tank I won’t waste any water, and by not over filling the tank and having to drive with it I won’t be carrying excess weight either, which should make sure I don’t use more fuel than I need to. Thinking about it, this digital water gauge was a great purchase and I can see it paying for itself in no time at all.
Before taking our next trip out in the motor home I thought it best to test the digital water gauge to see just how accurate it is so I put it on the outside tap and filled up a 2 litre bottle to the brim. The water gauge registered 2 litres. I also filled up a 10 litre bucket and a 20 litre bin running the water through the water gauge to see if larger volumes of water affected its accuracy, and I have to say it performed very well. When filling the 20l bin I noticed the gauge read 19.9 litres, so it does seem a little out – however this could be me not getting water to the brim or it could even be the bin being slightly larger than 20 litres. Whatever the reason, the small difference is not something I am going to get too excited about.
The water gauge is a Gardner branded one, and I have to say it seems an okay bit of kit. I have never bought a water gauge before so I have nothing to compare it to, but on the face of it this water gauge seems good. Water measurement accuracy is the most important thing for me, and this water gauge did well in that test. The build quality of the water gauge appears pretty good, I mean it feels solid enough and well made. One thing I did note that there is a tiny little leak (i.e. water only dribbles out) between the bottom of the water gauge and the part that attaches to the hosepipe if I really crank up the pressure and open the tap. If I back the tap off a little the dribble stops and the water gauge doesn’t leak at all. Fortunately, I can back the tap off enough to stop the dribble and there is still sufficient pressure to get the water through the hosepipe and in to the water tank, so it all good.
"Strong and sturdy and packs away very small"
The other item I bought off Amazon was a collapsible bucket, and I have to say that I took a punt on this. I did go to Go Outdoors to see what they had in the way of collapsible buckets and the only thing available was a brightly colored plastic bucket (that looked like something a kid would take to the seaside and build sandcastles with) comprising of six sections. The bucket had a concertina action (like those extendable pet tubes for hamsters and rats) and whilst it did fold up small it didn’t seem very sturdy at all. The collapsible bucket not only looked cheap and nasty (it wasn’t cheap but it was nasty) but it was terrible quality. Looking at the bucket the weak point looked like it was going to be where the sections folded in and I suspect these joints would break after 5 minutes of use. It was not good.
The collapsible bucket I found on Amazon was made from a single piece of material and didn’t have any sections or joins at all. This collapsible bucket is bright blue, and whilst it is still not pretty is looks a darn site better than the plastic buckets from Go (and also from Amazon for that matter) and it is a lot sturdier. I say this collapsible bucket was a punt because I couldn’t see a single review on it. Zero reviews usually get my alarm bells ringing but then I saw what I thought was the main reason people stayed away from this collapsible bucket, and that was the cost. At just over twelve quid this bucket was twice the cost of plastic equivalents! In the big scheme of things six quid is nothing but why pay double for something you’re not going to use that often?
I liked the look of the blue collapsible bucket, I like the fact there were no sections and I liked the fact it even came with its own carry bag. I also had the advantage of knowing what the alternative was (which I didn’t like at all) so all things considered I took the plunge and ordered one.
Now the collapsible bucket has arrived I have to say that I definitely made the right choice. In the flesh the bright blue material doesn’t look too bad at all, and I am more than happy to be seen carrying it. Call me a snob, but that’s the way I feel about it. The quality of the bucket is very good and the material is thick and appears strong, and the metal handle is securely fastened to the top. This collapsible bucket feels very well made, and when I filled it full (and I mean full to the brim) with water nothing seemed to flex, bend, creak or give way. There’s no way I am ever going to fill the bucket completely on the campsite but I thought I would to test it out.
I did look on Amazon for a water carrier and whilst there were several to choose from none of them got good write ups and they all seemed too cheap to be any good. I used to have a collapsible water carrier when I used to go carp fishing many years back and I wanted a similar water carrier for the Accordo. I knew the type of carrier I wanted but couldn’t see it on Amazon so I thought I would have a look at Go Outdoors to see what they had to offer. The selection of water carriers at Go Outdoors isn’t vast at all and there are only two or three different carriers to choose from. Fortunately, one of the water carriers Go Outdoors stocks is the same carrier I had when I used to go carp fishing, which was perfect, so I grabbed one of them off the shelf. What’s equally as good is that the cost of the carrier is only a couple of quid more than what I paid some fifteen odd years ago, so it was an absolute steal.
I am now pretty bored of water accessories, and am now done with it. Time to move on to the next thing to sort out in the motor home…………………
Prior to driving the Elddis Accordo 120 the larges vehicle I have driven is a BMW X3, which was the car we used to tow the Conway Countryman. Okay, we didn’t need anything as big as the X3 to tow the Countryman (it only weighs 750kg), I just fancied owning an SUV. I thought the X3 was a pretty big car, so I was happy it had reversing sensors as standard.
During my ownership of the X3, and the Passat and Astra before that (both of which had reversing sensors) I learned to rely on the sensors as a reversing aid, which is a bit of a bummer as the Elddis Accordo doesn’t have them. The Accordo does have a reversing camera, but I struggle with the wide angle of view when backing up. There are times when it looks like I am virtually touching something with the rear of the van and when I get out and have a look I have loads of room, and there are times when it looks like the back end is miles away and when I get out and have a look I am virtually touching something. Hmmmm……. I just can’t seem to work it out.
I was seriously considering getting reversing sensors fitted to the Accordo, however I don’t know how this will affect the Elddis warranty. The other problem I have is that the wife doesn’t want me (or anyone else for that matter) cutting holes in the rear bumper, and since the motor home is half hers I have to respect her wishes.
Without sensors the reversing aid is my wife, and she is more efficient than any parking sensors. In the past I have found reversing sensors throw a wobbly when they get dirty, get wet or get covered in cobwebs and will give a false signal. I don’t have the same problem with my wife.
The problem I have with my wife as a reversing aid, and never had with reversing sensors, is the volume and the fact that everyone outside the motor home can hear her and I often struggle. My wife and I are the sort of people who like to blend in to the back ground. We don’t like to be the centre of attention and we neither do we like people looking at us, especially when I am shunting the motor home around. Having the wife jump out of the van, run around the back of it, start waving her arms around yelling instructions not only attracts a lot of attention but also gives the wrong impression about us as a couple.
If we are sitting on a campsite enjoying the peace and quiet and a unit (motor home, caravan, folding camper or anything else) turns up and the occupants jump out and start being noisy it instantly makes us think the worst of them. Rightly or wrongly, first impressions count and if you annoy other campers as you first arrive it doesn’t stand you in good stead for the rest of your stay does it?
Anyway, after realising that we started to attract unwanted attention and also potentially annoying other campers before we had even unpacked we decided it was time to think of an aid to help me reverse on to the pitch and make sure I didn’t hit anything (or anyone) in the process.
We considered using mobile phones however we are both on the O2 network but, as you O2 customers will be well aware, the reception is patchy at best and there are loads of places where you can’t signal for love nor money. Based on our experience with the O2 network we knew this idea was not a goer.
Whilst visiting my sister I noticed my four year old nephew running around with a walkie talkie chatting away to one of his buddies, and I had a Eureka moment. Looking back it should have been obvious, but we didn’t think of it. D’oh! Never mind, the decision was made to buy walkie talkies.
I have to admit that I would have like minion shaped walkie talkies like my nephew’s but the quality was rubbish, the range was rubbish and there was too much distortion. Besides, my wife wasn’t too keen on them. Oh well………………………….
I have to admit I have never bought walkie talkies in the past so I thought I would hit my favorite online shop (Amazon) to see what the options were. Wow! The search bought up hundreds of different types. Some were cheap, some were expensive, some were brightly colored, some were plain colored…… where to start? I didn’t have a clue on how much to spend (I obviously didn’t want to spend too much, but then I didn’t want to buy too cheap and have to replace them after 5 minutes either), I didn’t have a clue what brand to buy (I didn’t need/want the premium brand but then I didn’t want bottom end un-branded) and I didn’t have a clue what to go for. What a mind field.
I started reading some Amazon reviews, and then realized it was a pointless exercise because there were hundreds of them. I found one particular pair of walkie talkies with rave reviews and they seemed to be the ones to go for, until I found one particular review (right near the bottom of page three) stating that the walkie talkies were provided free of charge to road test and then write about. Hmmm…… in my experience if people get something for nothing and are asked to review it they will give it a good review, in hope of receiving more free stuff. Needless to say I dismissed it straight away.
The problem is I had to choose something and stumbled across some Binatone and Motorola Walkie Talkies. I had heard of both of these brands and recognized them as reasonable sized players in the telecommunications market. The Binatone walkie talkies were bright yellow, whereas the Motorola was red and black. Neither was understated, which I would have been my preference, so I the decision was made the only way I know how in these situations – on the flip of a coin. I left it to destiny, flipped heads and ordered the red Motorola walkie talkies. I was a bit miffed, as the Motorola were £5.40 more expensive (almost 25% more) but the coin had spoken, and who am I to stand in the way of destiny.
We have had the chance to use the Motorola walkie talkies, and I have to say it is the best solution ever and reversing the motor home is easier, and there are fewer arguments too as I can clearly hear what I need to do, whereas no one else can. We have not had the Motorola walkie talkies long enough to confirm their longevity but first impressions are good as they feel pretty sturdy and well made. Regardless of how long the Motorola walkie talkies last I will definitely be getting more walkie talkies to replace then when they finally do give up the ghost.
"Won't be like this in November - but I'll enjoy it nonetheless"
This year’s holidays and vacations have been royally messed up. We ordered the motor home months ago, and whilst I am sure Elddis did the best they could to build our Accordo 120 as quick as they could, it didn’t coincide with our timings. When we ordered the motor home we were originally given a collection date of the first weekend in July, with a strong possibility of it being the middle of June, which sounded perfect at the time.
Needless to say, things didn’t go quite to plan and the delivery date kept being put back and put back. Once the delivery date to the dealers was confirmed the next key date was our collection date. The Elddis Accordo motor homes were distributed on a “first come first served” basis by the dealer, which is only fair, but given we took the last one (or so we were told by the salesman) we had to wait until last of all to collect our new motor home. As if being last in line wasn’t enough, we then had the problem of having to wait for a weekend (both my wife and I are in full time employment) and we couldn’t get a day off work because my wife changed jobs and was in her probationary period at that time.
We finally collected the motor home on the last Saturday in July, a month after originally planned, and given my wife had commitments in August booking time off work simply wasn’t possible. Ideally, my wife would have cancelled what she was doing in August, but to cancel at the last minute simply wasn’t fair. Besides, when my wife took on the commitment we thought we would have already had the Accordo for at least five weeks and had the chance to get out in it.
The first proper trip in the Accordo was the last weekend in August, i.e. the bank holiday, and we spent it at a cracking little campsite near Boston in the county of Lincolnshire called Walnut Lakes. This trip was the tester for our proper summer 2016 holiday (that should really be autumn holiday) comprising a week in the Lake District and a week on the Welsh borders. The trip out was definitely an experience and we learned a lot from it. If you want to check out our experience (and share our happiness, sadness, embarrassment and frustration) take a look at this blog post.
Since my wife and I haven’t had a holiday in 2016 yet we still have loads of time left to take between now and the end of our holiday year therefore we thought we would book another trip out in the Accordo, which is in November. Yep, we are going to brave the weather and take a week out in November, which we plan to spend on the Suffolk coast.
We were going to go further afield than Suffolk but because the weather is so unpredictable we thought we would stay closer to home. Going North in the winter months is, I have been told by many people, not the best thing and we should head south for the better weather. Cornwall, Devon and Somerset is further than we want to travel and the south coast is very expensive (and I mean stupidly expensive for low season). The Suffolk coast seems to be the best compromise.
I chose the campsite and the location, and I have to admit that I was quite selfish this time around. I love the coast, more so in the autumn/winter months than the summer because it is such a wonderful place for photography (which is a massive passion of mine). When I was a kid I used to dabble in a bit of sea fishing, which s best over the autumn/winter months, and going to a coastal campsite will allow me to dust of the sea rods and cast a line for a few hours a day. Sea fishing is dependent on the tide and being right next to the sea twenty four hours a day will enable me to get the tide just right, and then as it changes I can pack up and go back to the motor home and warm up.
We usually stay at quieter campsites that are typically adult only and comprise of a small number of pitches. The large commercial campsites with shops, club houses, swimming pools, playgrounds etc. aren’t our sort of thing, however I have booked a commercial site for the November trip.
Even though it is a large commercial site I am expecting it to be pretty empty in the middle of November and I am expecting most of it (the club house, playgrounds, restaurants etc.) to be pretty much closed. At least that’s what I am hoping.
When we go away in November we are expecting it to be quite cold, and are expecting to have to use the heater in the motor home. My wife is a little concerned about the cost, and wants to stay on a campsite with a fixed nightly electricity charge so there are no unexpected surprises when it comes to leaving. Personally, I think we will be better off on a campsite using a “pay as you go” system, I mean we have already proved our usage is minimal (yet we still use what we want when we want) but she seems to think otherwise. The campsite I have chosen for the November trip has a fixed nightly electricity cost, so my wife is happy about that.
This trip is going to be a totally new experience for us. Our camping holidays have always been in the summer, in a bid to try and get some decent weather. In fact all of our holidays and vacations had been in the summer months, and I wouldn’t contemplate going on holiday in the autumn/winter. Last October we did our first ever autumn holiday to Austria (on a bus trip) and it changed my mind taking holidays in the colder months as I really enjoyed it. That said, I never thought I would be taking a UK camping holiday in the autumn/winter months, and I have to say that I am actually looking forward to it. How I’ll feel about it when we get back only time will tell, but I will of course keep you posted.
"This is all we could do with it - An expensive tent!" "To fit or not to fit?"
If you have read my blog post about the first trip out in the Elddis Accordo 120 (if you have not seen it and want a laugh feel free to take a look at this post) you will know that the (very expensive) Kampa Travel Pod Air Mini drive away awning does not fit properly, and consequently isn’t fit for purpose. Yep, the drive away awning we bought is little more than a stand-alone inflatable tent – did I mention how expensive and what a waste of money it was? Well……………………
I was talking about the fun and games we had at Walnut Lakes, Lincolnshire over the weekend with my work colleagues, one who owns a VW campervan, we got on to the subject of the Kampa inflatable awning and how disappointed my wife and me were with it, and how we simply couldn’t get it to fit the motor home.
The work colleague who owns the camper van has an inflatable drive away awning made by Vango and is convinced that it will fit, and the reason we struggled with it is because we were trying to set it up the wrong way. When I described how we had attempted to attach the awning to the motor home (obviously using diagrams and scribbles) and she said that she made the same mistake the first time her and her husband tried erecting their Vango inflatable awning.
Apparently I should pitch and attach the Kampa inflatable awning as follows:-
All the video tutorials on attaching inflatable awnings show the first step is to attach the tunnel to the sun blind and then inflate the body of the awning. My work colleague tried this method and said that squaring everything up like this is very difficult and frustrating, and that her method above is an easier way.
I really want to get out there and try her method and see if we can make the Kampa Travel Pod Air fit the motor home, however it is going to have to wait until we go to the Lake District at the end of September because we haven’t got the space available to attach the awning to the motor home on the drive way. It’s a bit of a pain, but that’s the way it goes.
Since the discussion with my work colleagues I have had a look around the internet for more video tutorials to see if any of them follow the ‘new method’ but none of them do. I have now reached the point where I am bored of searching for videos that don’t seem to exist so I have parked it and now playing a waiting game until the trip to the Lake District. I really do hope the above method works, however if it doesn’t we will just use the awning as a standalone storage tent, as we planned during our stay at Walnut Lakes.
When we collected our motor home I distinctly remember the bloke doing the demonstration saying “ooh that’s a bit tight, but don’t worry as it will loosen up with use” when he first opened the habitation door. Well, the habitation door problem hasn’t sorted itself………
During our first trip away in the Accordo 120 to Walnut Lakes in Lincolnshire we did have issues with the habitation door, and found it tight to open and also very difficult to close - requiring a fair amount of “slamming”. At the time we thought this was because it was new and that it would settle down with use, as we were told during the handover. Besides, we had so many other issues and problems during the trip (including water problems and drive away awning problems) that having to slam the door to close it was the least of our worries.
Last night, everything came to a head when I went in the motor home to get something and then couldn’t shut the door, and no matter how hard I slammed it the b****y thing simply wouldn’t shut. If it hadn’t been peeing down with rain and getting dark at the time I wouldn’t have been as bothered. As I am sure you have already guessed, I was getting pretty p****d off. There I was standing out in the rain (getting wet as I didn’t bother with a rain jacket) trying to make sure the inside of the motor home remained dry. Fortunately, the better half came out with the screw driver set, and after several minutes playing around we managed to get the door close and locked from the inside, having to exit from the cabin. It was too late to call the dealers, which in hindsight was a good thing because I was pretty angry and would have said something I shouldn’t, so it was time to hit the internet and the forums and see if this was a common problem, and what we could do about it.
The following morning my wife called the dealers to see if there was anything we could do, or whether we needed to make the 240 mile round trip to get the door looked at. The first person my wife spoke to at the dealers was the receptionist, who was less than helpful.
Initially, the receptionist told my wife to call back on Monday (i.e. during office hours). When my wife explained the situation, and the fact that we couldn’t close the door (I stupidly opened it) and wanted to speak to someone in the service department (the workshop is open 7 days a week) the receptionist stated there was no-one who would speak to her (the service team are working on vehicles only and not available to speak to general enquiries) so she advised to call back Monday or take it to the workshop. When my wife said the door wouldn’t close, and that we couldn’t drive it with the habitation door open (as detailed in the handbook and as we were told during the handover) the receptionist said she would email the service department and ask one of them to return the call.
After we ordered the motor home we had read the dealer’s after sales service wasn’t that good, but this was ridiculous. That said, we had to give them a chance and see if they returned the call or not.
In desperation my wife called Becks Motor homes, a dealer local to us. Becks are not authorized dealers, we didn’t buy our motor home from them and the only dealings we had with them in the past was when we went over to take a look at their Baileys 615 motor home, which we subsequently decided wasn’t for us.
Despite the above, the bloke from Becks was very helpful and took the time to go through the door handle, the door latch etc. and how everything worked over the phone. The bloke also re-assured her the latch (i.e. expensive bit) sounded like there was nothing wrong with it after a bit of trouble shooting. The bloke said a big problem with motor home doors is with the latch itself, the trim surrounding the latch (which often gets in the way) and the rubber seals around the doors (which are stiff but soon bed in after time and use). We were advised to spray a bit of oil in the door lock to make sure it was lubricated, leave the latch (i.e. don’t adjust it) and that rather than slamming the door gently push it half shut and then firmly push it the rest of the way home. We were told to persevere with it for a few weeks, and if it didn’t get any better to take it to them where they would have a look – if we wanted to rather than drive all the way to dealer from whom we bought the motor home. This is what you call service – and we aren’t even Becks customers. It’s a real shame Becks isn’t an approved Elddis dealer because I would be using them like a shot.
"The Cello 12 volt TV - great value this"
The first proper trip out in the Elddis Accordo 120 to Walnut Lakes (a fantastic campsite new Boston, Lincolnshire – for a full review of this campsite take a look at this blog post) was the first real opportunity I had to use the new 12 volt Cello TV I purchased for our new motor home. All things considered I was very impressed with the TV, especially given the cost of it compared to other 12 TVs. The Cello 12 volt TV was quick and easy to set up, had good picture quality and acceptable sound (for the full review of the Cello 12 volt TV take a look at this blog post). The thing that lets the TV down is the location of the TV bracket fitted by the dealer………… The TV bracket is far too high which means when the wife and me are sat down all we can see is a dark screen. Hmmmmm.
With a few hours to spare I thought I would try and sort the TV and make it watchable when we are sat in the Accordo 120’s lounge. Ideally, I would lower the bracket however if I do this I have a feeling I will need to drill more holes in the side of the wardrobe (something I don’t want to do) and make good the existing screw holes (which is going to be a lot of work and probably not look that good afterwards). The bracket, although described as adjustable, isn’t as all it does is retract out and back in again. The bracket does not move up or down and neither does it rotate. Yep, the bracket is static. One interesting point is the instructions state the TV can be tilted upwards or downwards by 15 degrees, however this does not seem to be the case.
I tried taking the bracket apart and reversing the last section to lower the VESA bracket, but this is not possible. I also tried reversing the other brackets, but this couldn’t be done either. After a bit of time undoing various parts of the TV bracket, doing them up again and changing their position it became clear this bracket was pretty much fixed and there was nothing I could do with it.
With nothing I could do to the bracket (other than change it of course) my next thought was to find a tilting VESA bracket head. After all, other people must have had the same problem with their motor home TVs right? Well……. Apparently not. After several hours researching the internet, scouring the motor home and caravan accessory shops and hitting the motor home forums I came up with….nothing. Nada. Zip. I spent loads of time on the internet and it was all wasted. There were no adjustable TV bracket heads (either VESA or non-VESA) that would tilt or rotate at all.
What did surprise me was that there are no forum posts from people with the same problem either. If I ever have a question or query, or are looking for a solution to a problem I have always found the answer in a forum, however not this time. Despite visiting several motor home forums, camping forums and the like I couldn’t find any solution whatsoever.
My attempts to sort out the TV were in vain, and I didn’t sort it. In the short term we are going to rest the Cello TV on the kitchen work top when we want to watch it. When the TV is not in use, and we are on site, I will leave the TV in the bracket just to keep it safe and sound and out of harm’s way. In the long term I am going to have to ask a local dealer/someone who knows what they suggest to sort out my issue. It’s a good job that the 12 volt TV is a backup plan for those wet days and isn’t a major part of our trips away.
My previous two cars were fitted with reversing sensors, and I am in the process of getting some reversing sensors fitted to my new car. Whilst I am at it, I thought it may be worth fitting some reversing sensors to the motor home at the same time. Many people consider reversing sensors aids for people who can’t park, however I have to disagree. With more and more vehicles on the road we are getting tight on space, and when you combine this with parking spaces that are getting smaller and smaller – reversing sensors just make sense, and when you consider a set of reversing sensors cost a little under £200 (professionally sprayed to match the color of vehicle and also fitted) they are a fraction of the cost of a new bumper and repairing a ‘dinked’ vehicle.
I have invested a lot of money in the Accordo 120 and reversing sensors seem to make financial sense. I don’t care much for the bravado and the “I’m a man I don’t need reversing/parking sensors” attitude is plain arrogant and stupid. If the technology is there to stop me denting my pride and joy, and I can afford it, I am going to get it.
Even though I have a reversing camera on the motor home I struggle to use this for backing up close to things. Sure, you can see what’s behind you but the angle of view is so different to what I would normally see I can’t judge the distance. There are times when the camera shows I am real close to something, and when I jump out of the van there is a huge (and I mean huge) gap. Similarly, there are times when the camera shows I have a good distance to reverse, and when I get out of the van I am almost touching it! The motor home wasn’t cheap and the last thing I want to do is bend it because I can’t use the reversing camera!
When I reverse the van I kick the other half out to guide me, and make sure I don’t hit anything. This is fine when reversing on to a pitch at a campsite but when driving to/from the campsites, or using the motorhome for days out kicking the wife out isn’t always a great solution.
The other problem with kicking the wife out to guide me is the weather. When it is nice and sunny she doesn’t mind. When it is cold but dry, she is not as keen but she does get out without too much of a fuss. When it is raining (or worse still wet and cold) my other half is a bit more reluctant and it doesn’t appeal to her, which I can totally understand.
I would arrange for Chameleon (the company who fitted the reversing/parking sensors on my previous cars) to fit the parking sensors tomorrow, however I don’t know if this would affect the warranty or invalidate it. I know that if I attacked the rear bumper of the motor home with a drill and wired up some reversing sensors I would invalidate the warranty, but if I had a professional firm do it?.......
I had a discussion with a work colleague who said that when they bought their brand new vehicle they had to get the extras done at an approved dealer (and suffer main dealer prices yet still have trainees and apprentices do the work) in order to keep the warranty. Using any other company or firm would invalidate their warranty regardless of how good the firm were or how long they have been established.
I have to say I am a bit concerned about this as the last thing I want to do is invalidate my warranty by getting a firm I trust (and who are more than capable of doing the job) to fit some parking sensors. I have emailed Elddis to see where I stand with the warranty, but I have not heard a thing from them. It has been a few days now, and I have to say that I am not overly impressed with the Elddis’ aftersales service/total lack of communication. Oh well…………………..
Rather than wait for Elddis to return my email I think I’ll end up calling them to speak to a person, or go to a local Elddis dealer and see what they have to say about my reversing sensors dilemma. I suppose the need isn’t ever so urgent at the moment, I mean I still have my better half to jump out and yell at me before I hit anything.
"The water kit - not quite complete but almost there"
Further to the “Motor home water woes” we recently endured I thought it was time to get out there and get the additional bits of kit we need to make sure we can deal with all eventualities in the future.
The main thing was to make sure we can get water in to the tanks. Sure, it would be nice to measure the amount of water we are putting in to the water tank, to make sure we only put in as much as we need, however the digital water gauges I need to do this aren’t available locally, so this is going to have to be an internet purchase.
After a bit of searching around on the internet I have identified the bits and pieces we need, which (fortunately) are readily available and a local DIY store not only has everything in stock but is also open late, which is great since I can’t get to the store during normal office hours.
The local DIY store has its “own” version of the bits and pieces I need which, as I am sure you have already guessed, are very cheap. I have been stung with this DIY store’s cheap and cheerful products before, so there is no way I am going to buy them. When you buy cheap from this DIY store you end up buying twice, and spending more than you need to in order to try and save a few quid. Consequently, I went straight to the branded products I know are well made, water tight and capable of doing the job.
Some of the motor home owners on the motor home forums I read are of the opinion standard hose pipe is okay for filling up the water tanks, however I am not so sure. I have heard that standard hose pipe deteriorates when the temperature changes from hot to cold, and back again, and will deposit the lining of the hosepipe, which will obviously contaminate the water. When I was younger I got really ill from a contaminated water problem on a family camping trips, so I am very careful (more than I probably need to) with anything water related.
The original hosepipe is the blue catering grade, and whilst the bit that attaches to the tap is utterly useless there is nothing wrong with the hose itself. Rather than buying a new section of hosepipe my plan was to use the existing hosepipe (and cut off the crappy tap attachment) and replace it with the Hozelock attachments.
"£21 doesn't get much - Hosepipe not included"
We ended up buying three Hozelock attachments - one to keep on permanently on the hosepipe, one that will screw on to threaded taps and another that clamps to thread-less taps. All the campsites I have been to have used threaded taps, and when I spoke to my “camper” work colleague she said the same was true of the campsites she had stayed at. Despite this I decided to get the attachment for thread-less taps as well. It would be just my luck that I wouldn’t bother than book that one campsite that uses thread-less taps.
The Hozelock attachments aren’t cheap (I could buy four of the DIY store’s own brand attachments for the price of one similar Hozelock attachment) but I think the additional cost is worth it. The Hozelock attachments were side by side with the own brand hosepipe attachments so it was possible to get a direct comparison between them, which is always good. The Hozelock attachments fell stronger, better made and more durable than the cheap and cheerful alternatives. The Hozelock attachments are also more aesthetically pleasing, and whilst this isn’t essential it’s always nice.
If you read have already read my blog post about the first proper trip out in the motor home (you can check it out here if not) you will know that we had to fill the water tank from the inside of the habitation unit using a kettle, which is not ideal, therefore we needed a funnel. Unfortunately, the only funnels available from the DIY store were its own brand, so it was buy one of these or go elsewhere. At the end of the day a plastic funnel is a plastic funnel, and this is one product that must be impossible to mess up. With a “one funnel is pretty much the same as another funnel” attitude the decision was made to buy one. One thing I will say, is that the screw in flexible pipe (essential to get water in to the water tank with the funnel) is very poorly made. Whilst it screws to the bottom of the funnel securely, the fit isn’t great and it leaks (not great for pouring water) and it is very thin and crushes easily between thumb and forefinger with little pressure. Yep, this bit of pipe isn’t going to last too long, but the funnel itself seems pretty well made.
Rather than use the flexible pipe provided with the funnel I intend to use a piece of the existing blue hosepipe, and the crappy tap attachment on it fits nice and secure to the bottom of the funnel. Perfect. A hose clamp probably isn’t necessary (I did test it and there are no leaks or anything) but I intend to buy one nonetheless.
In addition to the digital water meter the other items on the shopping list we couldn’t get from the DIY store was a fold up bucket (to empty the waste water when there is no designated motor home service point or drive-over drain) and a collapsible water carrier (to fill up the tanks when we can’t get close enough to the water tap to use the hosepipe).
Overall, it was a pretty successful trip and whilst we didn’t get everything we need we are on the way. It’s just time to get online for the other bits and pieces
We have finally had our first proper outing in the Elddis Accordo 120, which was a Bank Holiday weekend at Walnut Lakes, Lincolnshire.
On arrival at the campsite we were being shown to our pitch when I spotted the fresh water tap and had the idea of filling up, since I didn’t get the chance to do so at home before we left for the drive to Lincolnshire – basically, we were running late and had to rush to get to the site in daylight.
Stopping next to the cold water tap I instantly ran in to my first water related problem, which was removing the water tank cap. When we collected the motor home we weren’t shown how to fill the tanks, as the bloke doing the demonstration and handover had already filled it up for us to demonstrate how to get water out of the taps! At the time I wasn’t really bothered, but now I needed to do it myself I really wish I was informed. After ten minutes or so fiddling with the cap (and right in front of two individual groups enjoying their dinner outside – a little embarrassing to say the least) the cap finally “fell off”.
I say “fell off” because I didn’t have a clue how I did it. I unlocked the cap and twisted and turned it (in both directions), pushed it in and turned it (in both directions) and pulled it outwards and turned it (in both directions) and I couldn’t get the damn thing out. Then all of a sudden it fell to the floor.
Once the cap was off the next problem was getting the water in to the tanks. We bought a 5m blue hose from Go outdoors with one of those universal rubber funnels on the end designed to fit “all” taps. Well, the funnel did go over the tap however the fit was crap (it was way too loose) and we couldn’t get enough pressure to force the water through the hosepipe and in to the water tank.
We managed to get the water about a meter in to the pipe before the water came out of the top of the hose. It didn’t matter how tightly we held the funnel against the tap we simply couldn’t get a good enough seal to get enough pressure to force the water through. With a bit of begging I managed to borrow a piece of hose with a screw end (which actually fit the tap) and put some water in the tank.
We obviously didn’t put enough water in the tank (even though it seemed like we stood at the tap for ages filling the motor home, and the internal water gauge said the tank was full) because we ran out on the second day. The bloke with the bit of hose had gone home, and everyone else on the site were very cold and unfriendly toward us so we thought we would fill the water tank by hand.
As you’ve probably already guessed we didn’t have a water carrier (there seemed no point when we left home because we had a hosepipe) or any other vessel large enough. Another bit of kit we didn’t have was a funnel so there was no way we would be able to get the water in from the outside. Fortunately, the water tank is easily accessible from the inside under the seat so adding water meant several trips to the tap with the kettle! Fortunately, we didn’t have anything planned that day so had plenty of time to do this arduous task. Even though we didn’t fill the tank completely the water gauge still went hard over and indicated the tank was full.
Walnut Lakes campsite does not have a designated motor home service point or drive over drain therefore we had to get rid of the waste water (and the remaining fresh water) by emptying it in to a bucket and physically carrying it over to the drain. As you’ve probably guessed we didn’t have a bucket with us (all the campsites we stayed on when we hired a motor home from Unbeatable Hire) had drive over drains so we didn’t think we would need one) so it was a case of scrounging a bucket from the campsite owner to get rid of the waste and the excess water.
The first trip out in the Elddis Accordo showed we need a few bits and pieces to make sure we are fully prepared in the future, and as such I have a shopping list comprising:-
Even more expense – we seem to be spending out cash on this thing like there’s no tomorrow.
The next problem is finding room in the motorhome to permanently store the items. Our Elddis Accordo doesn’t have a garage (we opted for the Accordo 120 with the rear lounge instead) so room for the outside bits and pieces is a little tight. I am kind of hoping there will be enough room where the gas bottles are located however I need to buy a second gas bottle first and then evaluate how much room is left to play with.
There is definitely a learning curve with this motor homing lark, and I am wondering if we will ever get to the point where we have everything we need and know what we are doing with it.
"Driver side blind" "Front screen blind" "Passenger side blind"
The Norfolk Motor home show was on the weekend before we were due to collect our Elddis Accordo 120, and since one of the best thing about trade shows is all the offers and bargains – so what better place to go and buy some accessories for the new motor home.
Before we bought our motor home one of the items that was on the list of “must have” accessories were the cabin blinds, you know the thermal ones that keep the motor home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. When we hired a Chausson Flash from Motorholme/Unbeatable Hire for a test run there were no blinds. The Chausson had curtains for cabin privacy but there were no blinds to put on the screen and windows, which kind of surprised me. It was hiring the Chausson that showed us window blinds are an essential bit of kit.
There were plenty of trade stands at the Norfolk Motorhome show, as I’m sure you can imagine, and there were loads of different stands from which to buy thermal blinds. Whilst the choice of trade sellers was extensive the choice of blinds was not. The blinds were marked as premium and budget, and to the untrained eye (i.e. mine – being a total newbie and never having paid much attention to these blinds on motor homes on the campsites I have stayed at) they looked the same. The other thing I noticed was that all the blinds were “universal” and good for all motor homes.
I am wary of universal products as they are a “jack of all trades and master of none”. I didn’t have any doubts these blinds weren’t up for the job but I did have some doubts on how they would fit. I know there are only a few vans used for coach built motor homes (Peugeot, Fiat, Mercedes and Ford etc.) and I know that the Peugeot and Fiat vans are made in the same factory and are basically one and the same thing, but surely there must be some differences in the size, shape and curvature of the windscreen and side windows? Surely there must be some differences in the size, shape and location of mirrors that would affect the fitting?
Fortunately, I stumbled across the CountrySeatsUK trade stand. Compared to the other motor home accessory selling stands this was a small stand with a handful of products, one of which were the thermal blinds I was looking for. Unlike other traders the bloke on this stand had one of each type of blind on display, and I was given the chance to touch them, check the quality, see how big they were, see how they fitted to the vehicle etc. Considering I had never properly inspected one of these thermal blinds being able to see (out of its packaging) and feel the actual product was very useful.
Speaking to the bloke on the stand (who was not only very helpful but also patient in answering my “stupid newbie” questions) I discovered that there are subtle differences between the marques of vans and that his blinds were specifically tailored and cut to fit a specific cabin. The bloke on the stand pointed me to the campsite where there were different vans and motor homes with his thermal blinds on them so I could see how they attached to the van and also how they fit to the van.
Most of the traders advertised their products as “show specials” and therefore there was a “show only” price and to take advantage of that you had to buy now. The bloke on the CountryseatsUK stand said that the price was fixed and it would remain the same whether I bought a blind at the show or whether I bought one of the blinds in the future. I was assured there was no “show price” so I could go and look at the vans fitted with his blinds and make sure they were what I was looking for before spending my money. There was no pressure sell at all, which was a totally different approach to the other trade stands all of which were pressuring people to get their money out and buy, buy, buy!
After checking out the fit of CountrySeatsUK blinds I knew it was the blind for me, but didn’t buy anything at the show because we had not yet taken delivery of the Elddis Accordo 120.
Once we had collected our new motorhome the first thing I did was email CountrySeatsUK to order an internal thermal blind (for when the motorhome is on the driveway and not in use) and an external blind (for use when we are away on vacation). I didn’t get a response to my email until the following Monday (that’ll teach me to contact a trader during the weekend of one of the biggest motorhome shows in the country!) but I did get a response and ordered the thermal blinds.
The interior thermal blind cost £39, the external thermal blind cost £49 and delivery was £9. Under normal circumstances I would have baulked at a £9 delivery charge but given the low cost of the thermal blinds I didn’t mind. Yep, the blinds are well priced - especially when you consider the Milenco external thermal blind (which is universal fitting) is £79 (excluding delivery). I ordered the blinds 10 o’clock on the Monday and they were delivered by 11 o’clock the Tuesday. How good is that?!? I have to say that I was well impressed with the service.
When I opened the box and removed the blinds (each of which is supplied in its own zip up bag – which is perfect to make sure they remain clean when I am storing them) I was pleased to see the quality of the blinds was exactly the same as that of the blinds I saw at the Motorhome Show. The quality is superb, especially given the cost. The blinds didn’t come with fitting instructions which bothered me at first, but then after a few minutes I soon worked out how to fit them (yep – even stupid ‘ole me) so fitting instructions really aren’t needed.
I have to say that I am very impressed with my thermal window blinds from CountrySeatsUK and I highly recommend them. The blinds fit the cabin windows like a glove, they are top quality, do everything they need to do and are such a good price too. The service I got from CountrySeatsUK was exceptional, and whilst I had to wait a day or so for a response this was to be expected given they had a stand at another motorhome show. The bloke got back to me as soon as he could, and I can’t ask for any more than that. At £9 the delivery is a bit on the high side, but considering delivery was the following day and the goods were well packaged I didn’t mind paying the extra. Besides, the cost of the blinds was so much cheaper than the alternatives, the high delivery charges was an easy pill to swallow. If you are looking for some thermal blinds for your motor home you need to take a look at CountrySeatsUK.