Over the past few years the vehicle that has proved to be the most reliable on the road and a real workhorse for holidays and trips has been the VW LT28 Reimo camper. Not written much about it but feel the need to update it’s status and throw in some pictures too.
Trips for the year started at Easter with a trip to the New Forest. It all started well but as we travelled the M3 we got some traffic problems and then a problem with front caliper, the front brakes seized on. Luckily we were close to a service area so we pulled in and called the AA. After about 90 minutes the patrol arrived and we agreed the caliper was seized. Together we managed to free the caliper piston but it was not working as it should. It was Good Friday and the beginning of the bank holiday weekend. The AA guy managed to arrange for a new pair of calipers to be in Southampton for 9am in the morning, we set off for some wild camping in Southampton, lead by the AA van and breaking only with the hand brake and tapping the pedal enough to activate the brake lights. We made it to a park in Southampton and waited for the AA guy until the morning. He arrived and we paid for the calipers, he fitted the one that seized and we were on our way. We spent a few days in the forest, horses and all.
We spend the May half term week in Paris and then a couple of days by the coast in Dieppe. What has become a typical start saw us driving to Paris in one day, nothing out of the ordinary, takes all day but worth the effort for a good few days camping in the Bois de Boulogne.
Late July took us on a trip to Cornwall, to the Port Eliot Festival, 5 days camping in grounds of the beautiful Port Eliot house.
In August we headed back over to France for a road trip taking in Metz for a long weekend, on to Alpirsbach in the high black forest in Germany and then down to Freiburg for almost a week where I spent some time looking to buy a Renault 4.
I eventually bought a Renault 4 in Freiburg but on eBay, in Essex. The LT works very well for a family of four, no mechanical issues or camping kit issues on this trip, the van just worked well, actually I remember one minor problem, after two weeks of sunshine we left Frieburg on a rainy morning heading north, joking about how on a trip to Glasgow long ago in the rain the wiper on the T2 camper came off and as if it knew, the wiper came of the LT! Finding a place to stop and do the repair was fun in the heavy rain but we were soon on our way.
I seem to remember Easter was early in 2015 so we spent the holidays in an AirBnB in Rouen, very good but just not camping.
The camper fun started in May with what had up until then become the annual trip to Paris. Another days driving and we were there. We did the normal things, find the pitch, sort out the bikes etc and fill the on board water tank under the bed with lots of water for a weeks stay. The next morning I went to fill the kettle with water from the on board supply only to find no water in the system, looking in the tank it was totally empty, I knew that I had put about 70L in the day before and we had used none at that point, so where was the water and what had happened?
Looking over the tank and feeling into the almost inaccessible areas where the water enters and leaves the tank I found that all was well there, not damp at all, turns out after much fiddling about that there was a hairline crack in the seam of the Fiamma water tank, all of the water that I put in had run out into the voids under the floor of the van, the ground was dry so all the water was still in the van, not good.
Over the next few days the floor of the van became ‘spongy’ as the water soaked into the 1980’s styrofoam insulation and 18mm old style MDF / fibreboard floor, by the end of the week the areas that you can walk on had become styrofoam porridge and van had started to smell quite interesting.
We made the journey home, windows open and hoping that the water damage was reversible. Over the next few weeks I stripped the van back to the original LT floor, everything was taken out and what could be salvaged was, the bed was fine, everything else on the floor needed to be replaced. We had a plan to leave for Cornwall on July 28 and it was mid-May.
Over the coming weeks I repaired the metal floor, primed and painted it, then treated the voids with waxoil and prepared the area forward of the partition for a new floor.
The first job was to install some battens to screw the floor to, I discovered SikaFlex 221 and stuck the battens down, opting for modern thin foil insulation I packed the voids under the floor with that and then measured, cut, shaped and installed a high quality 12mm ply floor.
The water had damaged about 8cm of the plywood walls of the van too so I retrofitted some new ply panels to the walls complete with some small vent holes to stop moisture build up behind. All of the new timber was treated with some extrior varnish. The bed was reinstalled but no water tank, I have opted for a jerry can located in the wardrobe, easy to fill, easy to see if it leaks!
When fitting the floor I needed some more orange paint, I couldn’t work out exactly what colour it was so I ordered some Rustoleum CombiColor in Red and a RAL 2000 (I think) Orange, mixing the red with the orange until I got it just about right for a match, the original colour is on the outside, my mix on the inside, turns out it is exactly RAL 2004.
During the refit I noticed that there was also a leak in the gutter of the van that was damaging the wall behind the sliding door, after much head scratching I decided to remove that section of wall lining and replace, this involved making a new window frame, new upper lining section and then lower section behind the spare wheel. After having discovered the SikaFlex stuff I just had to use a couple of tubes to reseal the gutter all the way around the van, it’s a job well done the front of the van is dry now and much nicer place to be.
The floor at the rear kitchen area of the van was replaced, the floor under the sink and fridge was left untouched as time was running out and Cornwall was calling, we spent another 5 days at the Port Eliot Festival before taking the Brittany Ferries ship from Plymouth over to Roscoff.
It was quite a wet time in France, lots of rain, I discovered that water was leaking in the rear doors, nothing could be done, just had to plug the holes. Further inspection when we made it home revealed the the ladder on the door had actually caused the door to loose it’s slightly curved shape and the seal no longer did it’s job. The ladder has sadly since been removed and the door repaired.
The van’s 30th year went well in the end, not bad for something as old as it is and what is basically a shed driving along the road.
The van year started early with an early MOT, why, because I wanted to start work on the floor at the back of the van and repair it properly. The cam belt, water pump, all the belts and leak off pipes have now been replaced as well and another of the injector pipes, an oil and filter and the engine was back to just how it should be, sounding great for a 2.4L straight six with 400,000+ kms on the clock.
Stripping out the kitchen revealed quite a bit of water damage, all of the floor needed to be replaced and the walls too, just like the rest of the van. I decided to replace the old fridge too, it was a 12v only unit from the 80s, totally inefficient and a bit to big for it’s internal size. The outer wall of the van need some welding to repair some of the rust / rot, this was done simply and correctly, treated, painted and sealed with wax oil.
I repaired the floor with the same method as I used in the main area of the van, cleaned and repaired the metal floor, primed it, painted it and installed some battens, insulation and new 12mm ply floor. Refitting the kitchen on top was quite straight forward and the van is basically back to how it was but essentially new, I am very pleased with that and it feels very comfortable to be in.
After all the work was done inside I spent some time tidying up the paintwork on the outside, fitting a new shelf / table under the side window and finally adding a small sliding window to the sliding door, more of a safety thing that a need for more light, it kind of opens up a blind spot, I let my dad loose with a jigsaw.
I had bought a new 3.2M Fiamma F45 awning in a winter sale, so I fitted that too, drilling holes on the inside of the van to secure the mounting plates to, a nice new addition to the van, looks modern too, all white!
In May time had come for another road trip, France again, well no, not this time as the French had decided to blockade the refineries and diesel was in short supply. We filled the van in Kent and headed left from Calais into Belgium and on to Brugge for a few days. Some great weather for a few days, cycling around and generally enjoying the more comfortable interior, until day four…
Day Four was wet and windy, in the afternoon we had arrived back at the van in a downpour. After drying off the rain out side got heavier until it looked like a solid wall of water. Suddenly there was a massive ‘bang’ and the van shook, sparks came out of the electric sockets and all of the wiring in the walls was glowing white for a few seconds then it was gone. I assumed that the post outside the van that has a campsite wifi aerial on it was hit by lightning, all over in a flash and apparently no harm done. A short while later after the rain had stopped a German guy came over to tell us that he saw the roof of the LT being struck by lightning, thinking about it I went onto the roof to look, there was a small hole in the fibreglass about the size of a new 5p coin, about 10cm from where my head was inside, all over in a flash.
I discovered a couple of days later that the strike had damaged the wiring to the rear lights, so a lash up was required and we moved on with limited rear lights. Further investigation also revealed that the on board battery charger, leisure battery and a couple of other driving bulbs had been effected too.
Not much more to say about that other than I spent a day upside down under the van replacing and repairing the rear loom including a new towing relay, the rear lights have never been better.
In late July we set off ffor the Port Eliot Festival in Cornwall, 5 days of sunshine and camping in the Cornish coutryside. This time we travelled back to Portsmouth for a Brittany Ferrries ship to St Malo and two weeks in France.
After all of the events with the van over past few years behind us we had a quiet trip travelling around southern Brittany, camping and eating AND no van issues at all.
Looking forward to 2017, what will happen next….