Over the years some ‘improvements’ have been made. They include:
Reversing (and front) Cameras
Despite having Reversing Sensors I have managed to hit posts twice! After the last time I realised it was time to fit a camera. The camera is just above the rear number plate and is powered up when reverse gear is selected. Trickiest part was threading the cables through the existing rubber sleeve between the rear door and roof and then getting the cables along the roof space above the headlining toward the front of the ‘van. The 5″ dash mounted monitor is sharp and bright. All parts were obtained cheaply on Ebay – that’s where I found the front camera, designed to fit in the ‘V’ of the VW bonnet badge. I used a DPDT relay to disconnect the rear camera and select front. Very handy when maneuvering in tight spaces.
A bigger ‘Loo’
VW Campervans are usually designed to accommodate the smallest PortaPotti available – the 335. The writer is now in his early 70s and getting down onto the loo is fine. Getting up requires a little more effort. By fitting the larger 345 we gained a few millimetres and a useful extra 2 litres of capacity. The extra space required was gained by removing the front under seat panel and taking just 15mm off the top and then refitting – lifting the panel up as it was fitted. I had to rehang the doors because the left hand door would not open sufficiently to allow the 345 to pass through.
As a full loo could contain up to 45lbs of unpleasant material I felt some form of restraint would be a good idea, It seemed sensible not to rely on a simple door catch in the event of a road accident!
The Water Filler Problem
In my opinion the worst design feature of our ‘van is the position of the water filler. It it located next to the bedding and, try as one might, getting the tank filled without soaking the bedding is extremely difficult. You cannot rely on the electronic display to tell you when you are almost full and standing with your ear to the filler listening for the change of note when the tank is full and the water is about to explode out of the filler is exciting but not fun! This year I decide to install a ‘sight pipe’ using a length of plastic tubing and a series of cable clips to indicate the water level. The bottom clip is at the point where the pump will start to ‘splutter’. The next three are at 10, 20 and 30 litres and the black mark is right at ‘tank full’. Result? A very successful modification.
Storage – always a problem in a small ‘van
The Gas locker is tall enough to hold Calor 4.5kg cylinders and this means, because we only carry CampingGaz 907s, there is enough space to fit a drawer inside. Constructed of 10mm ply, it holds lots of useful small items, tools etc. Purchased a Door Store from Kiravans to replace the trim on the inside of the sliding door. This was one of their original models without a lip on the bottom area so I fitted shock cord over plastic hooks to retain the emergency triangle and Fiamma table base.
Solar Power for the Leisure Battery
I originally fitted a 100W solar panel to the roof using Sikaflex – Big Mistake! When that cheaper panel died I was left with the difficult job of removing it. I purchased a much better panel, a slightly larger one – 140W and was able to stick it on top of the original. I installed an Epever Tracer 1210A MPPT controller and this has been a very worthwhile improvement. The images show the output of the panel at over 20V and the amount put into the battery both when the compressor fridge is running and when it is not.
A 2 metre length of ‘5050’ LED strip stuck to the underneath of the Fiamma awning. Just in case the adhesive turned out to be a bit suspect, I made up a clip out of acrylic and attached the front end with a pop-rivet. I thought otherwise it might strip off on a high speed autoroute trip! With a small remote dimmer the brightness can be varied from 100% down to 10%.
Inverter and a decent Torch
This 150/300W Inverter was fitted to charge the Laptop. It’s hard wired to the Vehicle battery via an ignition controlled relay. The temptation of connecting it to the Leisure battery would probably result in leaving on whilst parked up with potentially disastrous results. The Maglite torch doubles up as a convenient ‘loo roll holder.
Found this plastic container at a Leclerc hypermarket and realised it would make a good sized bin – but where to locate it? In a small ‘van you have to be tidy, but a fixed bin would have got in the way, so I attached a triangle of plywood to the back and ‘velcroed’ it into place, just by the doorway.
Always useful – if only for collecting the Croissants, Bread and Wine! The Fiamma Bike Rack sits quite high on the back of a T5 and so we have a couple of folding bikes to keep the overall height below the 2M point. For security they are padlocked to the rear towing ring.
Let’s be clear, the Celex only has a wardrobe to qualify for a National Caravan Council sticker. We find it’s much more useful when shelved as it holds more, and as mentioned before, storage is at a premium in such a small ‘van. The biggest problem though, is access to it. Most people will keep their bedding rolled up behind the rear seat. That way it’s just a couple of minutes to make up the bed. As can be seen in the left hand image, the door is hinged on the right and so is impossible to open when the bed is rolled up. My first attempt at improving was to remove the hinges and fit a lock on the other side, thereby allowing the door to be lifted out. I have now taken it one stage further and cut the door at about rear seat height and now the top half can be removed to give access to the top shelf.