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mat_the_cat
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You'll see from this photo that the mains electrical system needed some work!

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Not too easy, as all access is via a small panel in the bathroom. The old consumer unit was removed, and replaced with a UK version complete with 30mA RCD.

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The US wiring was then sleeved, and all connected up.

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I ran the orange mains cable into the rear bumper compartment, and fitted a plug which I will attach to the metalwork, probably with a couple of half washers welded on.

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I ran an earth cable from the consumer unit, and connected it to the chassis so that now the whole skin should be earthed.

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Job done!

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I've also added a socket so I can plug in the battery charger once the wiring is complete.

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That's something I need to work out. I'm not sure what earthing system the house has (other than it's not TT) and the caravan will be around 100m (in terms of cabling) from the house.

The feeling is to run a length of SWA cable to a 16A socket on a post, and fit the earthing rod at that point. But I wonder whether an impedance check would say whether that's actually required or not? Need to do some research! 

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Is it an old cutout, does it have a sticker on it saying PME. If it does then it'll be a TNCS. If there's an armoured cable and the outer sheathing has a plumb joint on it and that's providing the earth it's TNS.

Probably best to put a rod on it anyway, proper sites all have the vans on one or a TT system as it's called. When I was a kid the caravan we lived in lost its earth completely, EVERYTHING was live on the bloody thing, door handles and window frames included.

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On a related point, does anyone let out a room in thier house with Airbnb? 

I'm just toying with the idea of it instead of via spareroom.co.uk.  

Uttoxeter has a race course and Alton Towers is 20 mins away as is the Derbyshire Dales and Staffordshire Moorlands. 

Room is big enough for a family. 

Anyone got any tips ??

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Yes, thinking of something like that for the outside. Burning through paint is obviously of no concern, so no need to go for the safer but slower DA option. 

As of tonight, it has working mains electricity! A quick and simple test suggests no major faults, but I want to check the earth resistance with at least a better plug-in tester.

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I figure that if we're renting it out, the least I could do is regularly test the circuits with something a little more advanced.

I've also bought a cheap UK to US transformer, so I can plug in the mains side of the control panel.

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Little practical benefit, although has a polarity light but would allow any American visitors to plug in their own appliances.

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I mentioned earlier that I couldn't light the oven, not even the pilot light. I wasn't sure whether it was a blockage or a problem with the thermostat but I wanted to keep the original if at all possible.

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I basically just worked way through each gas connection in turn, to see at what point it was being stopped. There is a valve block in the bottom of the oven for the main burner, and gas was reaching that point but not being allowed to flow any further. This I worked out was because the pilot light wasn't on, so the thermocouple was not allowing the valve to open.

Cleaning the pilot jet with a bristle from a fine wire brush and WD40 seem to do the trick, and I got the pilot light lit. Followed by a whoosh as the main burner fired up!

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The oven seems to be lined with some kind of non-stick surface, as the years of grime came away very easily.

Next job is to work on the plumbing, as several pipes seem to have been severed for some reason, and joined by lengths of garden hose, held on by silicone and jubilee clips...

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/16/2019 at 11:04 PM, Scruffy Bodger said:

Is it an old cutout, does it have a sticker on it saying PME. If it does then it'll be a TNCS. If there's an armoured cable and the outer sheathing has a plumb joint on it and that's providing the earth it's TNS.

Right, as I understand it, if I have a PME/TNC-S earth then I *have* to fit a rod for the van, otherwise it's advisable. Unfortunately it's not clear from our incoming cable what we have!

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(Note the jaunty angle of the main fuse, after we had the meter replaced!) So will use the house earth to protect the armoured cable, then a rod to protect the 'van.

In other news I've managed to fire up the water heater! Took a bit of cleaning out, and the thermocouple cut-out doesn't seem to be working, but the manual override is stiff so can be temporarily jammed on - strictly for testing only. I've had to drill out the screws holding the thermostat together, so I could strip it all down.

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The pilot light lit:

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Then by cycling the thermostat the main burner kicks in and out.

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I'm still waiting for the correct sized pipe couplers for the water system, so I couldn't see how long it takes to heat up the tank. I'm in two minds whether to rely on a 50 year old gs heater for renting it out, so may still replace with a mains powered heater ot a more modern gas unit. But always satisfying bringing something back to life :-)

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That board layout of yours is a bit odd btw. Looks a newish one but it's not a split board with twin RCD protection. Does the RCD protect all the circuits and there are just 3 blanks in the middle or does the RCD only protect the circuits on the left side of the board. If so it'd mean you've no RCD protection on the outside/downstairs sockets which would be far from ideal...

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Is that new CU alright in the van? I thought they now needed to be fireproof (i.e. steel).

 

I did a bunch of tests with a 12v battery and a multimeter I can't really remember to test my new earth rod for my garage, and when an electrician tested the earth before fitting the car charger with some fancy kit I can't afford he was quite impressed to see his readings were within 5% of my handwritten notes.

 

He was obviously pretty impressed as he signed off the whole garage as his own work without asking ?

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2 hours ago, Scruffy Bodger said:

That's a TNS system. That's an SWA cable coming in with an old plumbed joint on it with the earth coming from that.

I'm not certain about that - would an overhead line be armoured? I'll grab a photo of the other end, at the nearest post to see if that sheds some light. I assume that if 3 connections are coming into the house, it proves TNS, but could it in theory be TNC-S at some point earlier in the supply?

2 hours ago, Scruffy Bodger said:

If so it'd mean you've no RCD protection on the outside/downstairs sockets which would be far from ideal...

It's not a current photo, but one I took after the meter swap, which was not too long after I did the CU. Yes, the downstairs and outside sockets weren't RCD protected at the CU, but the outside ones were at the time protected by fused spur units with an RCD built into them, as the previous CU was an old Wylex with rewireable fuses! So to avoid the main RCD tripping when the outside sockets were turned off in the house (via the test button) I wired the downstairs sockets to the unprotected side.

1 hour ago, loserone said:

Is that new CU alright in the van? I thought they now needed to be fireproof (i.e. steel).

Oooh, good question. I bought it based on what I had seen in modern caravans, but not sure what the current regs are.

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Water system next, and it became clear why some of it had been replaced with garden hose.

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After replacing several lengths of pipe in accessible places, it was time to connect to mains water.

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I've had to use various fittings to convert from US pipe sizes to UK 15mm, hence the apparent bodgery!

I've managed to thread a standard hosepipe fitting into the original water inlet.

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And success!

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Next step is to fire up the water heater and see if it does a decent job of providing hot water.

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  • 2 months later...

We've been replacing the door and window seals on this, to try and make it watertight.

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We've also been planning where we can site it, so today dragged it around the field to see where suits it best.

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Yep, that'll do I think! Next stage is to hire an excavator, and level the area, dig a trench for an electricity acble, and install a septic tank. Whether any of that is possible at the moment I have no idea, but I managed to buy enough SWA cable, a mains hook-up point and an earth rod before lockdown. If work does close then I guess I could try digging by hand to kill some time...

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On 11/12/2019 at 10:51 PM, mat_the_cat said:

considered a static caravan but put off by the massive depreciation.

What amounts had you looked at?  There are static caravans from about £1500 all over facebook marketplace, and several of them look very presentable.  Most of them are largeish 35' x 12' ones too.  The biggest issue really is moving them, as you need a transport company to do it, and hence you're looking at £500 bare minimum, likely more if there's more than a few miles to move it.

Maybe if the airB&Bstream makes some cash it could pay for a static.. which you could theoretically charge more for, as if you get a 3-bedroom one, a whole family can live in one almost indefinitely. (not that you'd want them to..)

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It was newish ones we were looking at, which do seem to have a sharp depreciation curve. Choice was limited to exclude the beige variety, living in a National Park...

Arguably a better way of doing it would have been to test the water with a cheap static, see what the income and pitfalls are, and then upgrade later. But I is just the (unpaid) labourer, and not the decision maker (to be fair I haven't stumped up the dosh either, so only fair she gets what she wants!) The logic was that if you're after a static to stay in, it's a buyer's market, but if you want something different this should stand out from the crowd. Plus makes for a hopefully more interesting thread!

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I've got some knowledge of statics. They depreciate like any car or white good over time so can be picked up for nothing. Many parks impose age limits at which point the customer has to buy a new unit to stay on park and the old one is part exchanged then sold on. It's basically PCP. Any static without a pitch is almost worthless so if the customer doesn't buy a new one they just dispose of the old for nothing. Even so, a 10 year old caravan that's been part of a rental fleet will be grim. Much better off with your Airstream or a self made 'glamping' pod.

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5 hours ago, Luxxo Waftybarger said:

if the customer doesn't buy a new one they just dispose of the old for nothing.

By "nothing", how much do you actually mean?  I've seen statics without a pitch (IE off-site sale) for anything from sub-£1000 for something that really is rather basic and grim up to >£5000 for a very tidy unit.  I can't imagine who would be buying them though.

No doubt if you actually wanted one, it's very much a case of shopping around.  A 10-15 year old static could be anything from lovely and barely used to utterly fubar.  Much like a 15-year-old car I guess.

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Imho, the idea of the Airstream is a cracker. Aside from perhaps buying a wooden lodge (serious money) you can hire statics all over North wales, so this is something different and hopefully a bit of a USP.  Who wouldn't want to wake up to those views?

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16 hours ago, mat_the_cat said:

As it happens, the owners of the blown over static are the ones who had your old XUD engine!

Bummer!  I hope that wasn't their home they lost there!  Having lived in a caravan in Wales, halfway up the side of a rather windy hill, I know only too well how hard you have to strap a caravan down to stop it blowing away.  Mine was only a 14' touring caravan, but it was held down with six 5-tonne ratchet straps to about 20 ground anchors that went down something like 350mm each.   And it still moved in the wind.  Actually the movement in the wind was the main problem I had getting a decent night's sleep.  Rain?  No problem.  Cold?  Another duvet.  Wind shaking the caravan?  Woke me up every single time.

I'm guessing you plan on putting some fairly significant anchors on the AirB&Bstream.  Although nicely aerodynamic, it would be very bad news if that started to roll away.

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In your siting of the lovely Airstream, have you given thought to the aspect of its doors and windows and also privacy from overlook for your guests?

Many holidaying folk want to be able to sit outside the door of a summer evening and enjoy the sunset, glass in hand. Also, having the long side with multiple windows facing south will heat it up inside fairly uncomfortably in the summer. Situating it with its long axis running NW to SE and the door facing SW should work out about right. If you can get it in a location where that enables that SW-facing space around the doorway not to have sight of the house or be overlooked by it, then that gives the privacy as well.

You may already have thought about all this, of course! I'll take my anorak off, now... :-)

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We haven't yet anchored it, but it has withstood the winter's storms so far! Maybe it's the weight which helps, with a steel frame it feels very different to a UK caravan. It even has a ceramic toilet, so clearly weight was not too high up the design brief...

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