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mat_the_cat
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OK, some positivity at least with the Airstream itself. A mate of mate is a chippy, and had agreed to come out and fit some new worktops for us. I wanted a neater job than I'd probably be able to do! We had a bit of a wait (not helped by the gearbox on his 16k mile Vivaro going pop!) but today he came over to sort it. The weather was predictably Welsh, so the LT was pressed into action to keep the rain off.

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I need to put the plywood end panel back on, but it's starting to look really nice inside now:

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The sink and hob section was made from two pieces, which were biscuit jointed together.

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Yep, I think he's done this before :-)

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One of the offcuts was turned into an extra piece of worktop space, as there isn't really much otherwise.

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  • 3 months later...

It's been a while since the last update, but progress has been made! Remember the septic tank saga? Well, it turned out that even when encased in concrete, groundwater pressure can seep through and is enough to crush the tank.

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Getting this out was both back and heart-breaking, but it had to go. The potentially infrequent use ruled out a mini sewage treatment plant, so in its place we are simply fitting a large storage tank, which will be emptied when required. As we aren't planning on running mains water to it, it shouldn't fill up as often as one attached to a house.

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Obviously this needs a decent sized solid base, so a wider area was dug out (note the weather is definitely not on my side with this project!)

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The drainage gulley is connected to the soakaway I put in back in the summer, to hopefully avoid water puddling around the tank. The rock in the left hand corner I couldn't move with a 6 tonne digger, so have left alone! The base was filled with hardcore, leaving 100mm for the concrete.

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And 2.8 tonnes of shovelling later!

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Once this had cured for a few days, I built up the corners behind the Airstream, to allow more of the tank to be underneath it. And after a week, I reversed it into position, with the aid of the old Disco.

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There is a slight (unintended) gradient on the concrete, so water still does collect in one corner after the heavy rain we've had recently. But all in all, pleased with the job. Once we've put some decking up, and added a few plants, I think it'll be hidden quite nicely.

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  • 5 months later...

For months we'd drawn a blank getting anyone to re-cover the cushions for this at a reasonable price. The two quotes we'd had back from the companies which weren't too busy (for 6 cushions, us to supply the material) were £1000 and £1300!!! Bearing in mind that it cost £300 and something for 8 cushions for the LT, including material, this seemed a little steep but sadly the company we'd used previously only supplied material nowadays.

Eventually we found someone who'd do the job for a more reasonable £180, so here is the finished result!

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With this milestone now complete, it felt only right to celebrate with our first meal in it, on a temporarily supported table!

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We were just at the point of buying a water tank from CAK tanks, but been hearing they are having supply problems. The fact that emails just bounced back wasn't exactly confidence inspiring either! So have gone for 3 standard Fiamma tanks, which will fit neatly in the space where the old tank was, and give an extra 30% capacity.

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We're just waiting for a load of parts to arrive from the US, mainly plastic bits and bobs which have gone brittle over the last 50 years. It's great that so much is available, although the door lock we have fitted sadly isn't. Although it's functioning reasonably well, there's a fair bit of play in it and I'm worried it may not stand up to the odd mechanically unsympathetic visitor. So I'm going to try and repair. Otherwise it'll have to be a padlock and hasp!

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  • 4 months later...

There has been a bit of progress on this, which will hopefully be faster now I've quit the proper job. One of the tasks was to finalise the gas supply - as the original water heater (more on that saga later, once I've stopped crying) has a pilot light we may use a fair bit of gas, so Calor bottles will be pricey. Especially as we'd need two of them so we can get one refilled while the other is in use. There is also a significant supply issue at the moment - all of our local stockists have run out and have been for over a week. Lastly, they don't look in keeping with the Airstream, as they originally had unpainted aluminium bottles.

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Although I'd already fitted a fixed regulator, the bottle was just a temporary supply for testing.

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The obvious answer seemed to be a refillable cylinder.

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Not only is this a third of the price to fill, we can top it up between stays from the local LPG station, so no need for two cylinders and a changeover valve. There's a level gauge built in so little danger of running out. Plus, as we own rather than rent it we can paint it a more subdued colour!

The mounting on the A frame needed alteration though, as it was designed for smaller bottles, and two of them. I cut the base mount off, bent it to an approximation of a circle, then welded it together.

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After working with rusty car bodywork, being able to crank up the amps was a delight!

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This is the final set-up, and £13 for 11kg is better than £38.50!

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Moving onto the interior lights, the diffusers were incredibly brittle and yellowed. The latter didn't really bother me, but were apparently "manky". Two of the rotary switches had disintegrated too, so work was obviously required.

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I cleaned up the aluminium as best I could, then wired in a new switch, of a slightly more robust design.

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Before unwrapping a very expensive bit of plastic!

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And the first one back in...

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...just repeat 4 times and job done!

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Not that I'm aware of - they are designed for motorhomes and caravans so would be less than ideal if they had to be empty! I've read that some filling stations haven't come across them, so try and stop you filling what they think is a standard cylinder. So you can purchase a normal Autogas inlet, and plumb that into the cylinder so it just appears you are refilling the vehicle.

I just can't get my head around how it's so much cheaper than Calor, even paying the road fuel duty on it!

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If you wanted to go for ultimate cheapness, if you have a bulk LPG tank with a liquid take-off port on it, you can then get wholesale LPG delivered in bulk, and then refill bottles/vehicles from this at your leisure.  Last time I checked it was less than 1/2 the price of pump LPG, meaning you could buy 47kg for about £25, which would be about £50 from a pump, and is something like £70+ bought as a calor refill.

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If we'd got an LPG'd vehicle on the road, I think I'd do that. We use a couple of 47kg cylinders for the cooker, so a tank would enable us to do away with them. Trouble is, we only use one every 18 months or so, so needs heavier usage to justify. Man maths suggests buying a thirsty car running LPG would be the answer.

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1 hour ago, mat_the_cat said:

If we'd got an LPG'd vehicle on the road, I think I'd do that. We use a couple of 47kg cylinders for the cooker, so a tank would enable us to do away with them. Trouble is, we only use one every 18 months or so, so needs heavier usage to justify. Man maths suggests buying a thirsty car running LPG would be the answer.

*cough* rover v8 lpg conversion 🤔

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12 hours ago, twosmoke300 said:

How close to renting out is this ? Only asking cos the missis and I are up that way for a few days holiday and puttering around on small motor bikes on week beginning 6th sept .😂

What year? :lol:

It's a way off yet, unless you're happy with no running water and a gaping hole in the wall where the water heater was! If you're looking for a place to stay though I can recommend this one ;-)

https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/49401717

Sadly booked up for when you want though. But seriously, if you want a few pointers for rides in the area let me know.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 8/20/2021 at 11:34 PM, Noel Tidybeard said:

*cough* rover v8 lpg conversion 🤔

On the Stellar, I'd have to fit a mixer system, which would reduce power. So having spent money on a decent carb, I'm less inclined to spend more money (albeit to save money) on an LPG system which then makes the carb effectively redundant. But possibly the Series 3...

 Anyway, back to the Airstream. Although the original pump worked, it was rather noisy. And if we're renting it out, I want a reasonable chance of reliability. 

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I also wanted to rectify the bodged method of connecting the flexible hoses to the rigid pipework, which was just crimping of the copper to reduce its diameter! 1/2" hose joiners were the perfect size to slide inside the copper, and solder in place.

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New pump was then fitted, and temporarily wired in...

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...linking into the 3 new tanks.

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Time to pressurise, and see what leaks!

Surprisingly, nothing, but there was a blocked non-return valve in the water heater. I planned to remove it, as it's only required if you add antifreeze to the heater over winter, to stop it mixing with the drinking water. However, when I removed the elbow for access, the threaded part of the stub crumbled away :-(

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This is after cleaning it up, as I wanted to braze on the elbow (after drilling out the NR valve) as a cheap, quick repair - not yet knowing whether the tank holds pressure when up at temperature. New tanks are available, but around $200 plus shipping. 

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 Repaired! Time now to replace the burner control.

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I'd previously got it working, but without the flame failure cut-off, and the thermostat had seized. A new burner controller was very cheap, so made sense. Fairly simple to swap over - except...

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This is the aluminium pipe to the burner, with a flared fitting. American 3/8" pipe, so not a standard UK size. Bugger.

However, the flare itself was a standard 45° angle, and as it seals on that rather than pipe diameter, I reckoned that UK 10mm would be close enough. I had to open out the flare nuts by around half a mm, and it started to look possible!

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Note, a single flare like this is perfectly ok for low pressure gas pipework, although not brake systems.

I bent the pipe to suit, then cut and flared the other end.

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New thermocouple and pilot burner went in next, and a new feed pipe was also needed. This had to be bent in-situ, as it was impossible to thread upwards whilst bent.

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 So with a bit of trepidation, I lit the pilot!

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All good so far, so allowed the main burner to fire up. Woo hoo!

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All that remained to do was the simple job of reconnecting the water pipes internally - what could possibly go wrong? 

My brazed repair could fail, that's what. My mood was not great at this point, hence no photo. I was thinking that the only option would be to remove the tank again, in doing so cutting the pipe I'd just spent quite some time bending and flaring.

So I walked away for a while, then it came to me that why didn't I just repair with a length of silicone hose!? The braze which had adhered well to the aluminium could be filed into a bead to seal the hose onto, then I just needed the appropriate fitting to thread into the 1/2" NPT thread on the elbow. By a stroke of luck, only for the half-inch size, BSP and NPT threads are close enough to be compatible, so something like this was on the shelf at RS.

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A 22 to 19mm reducing hose was purchased, and after hacking away some of the outer tank skin, it all fitted with no leaks.

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It's not ideal, but it's functional and will do for now at least. For the first time since we've had it, we now have hot and cold running water!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well, I say hot and cold running water. All apart from the kitchen sink! The pump maintains a constant pressure of 55psi in the system, so as soon as a tap is opened, it kicks in and water flows. But for some reason the new kitchen tap only allows a trickle, and then stops.

It's a UK household tap rather than the original, but I can't see how a mixer tap could differ (or be faulty, on both the hot and cold taps!) I'll have to pull it out, and try it in the house to see if the problem remains.

A bit more progress on the bed, as I've used the original sofa bed as a basis for a new fixed bed. I've raised it up 120mm to clear the new water tanks, and all I need to do now is build a framework around the edges and clad it.

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The whole top section hinges up, for access to the pump and tanks if required. Would have taken me a while to make something like this, plus keeps it original-ish.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Most recent photo first, as I'm writing this from the comfort of the (almost) completed bed!

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With the original base in position I built a frame around it, a little sturdier than required, but I had the timber already.

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What appears to be a support at a jaunty angle is in fact positioned to allow for removal of all three tank caps, for cleaning.  10mm ply was used to cover the top, which took a while to get the curves correct for the end section.

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It all hinges upwards for access, and is propped up by a hinged batten which swings downwards. Gas struts a possible future improvement...

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Then as a temporary job, I've cut some foam to size, purely so I can camp out in it tonight! 

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I had a reasonable night's sleep, although not completely uneventful. As I was getting into bed I heard the door rattling, as if someone was trying to get in. I had a look, but as expected given where we live, nobody around.

During the night it didn't feel as warm as I'd hoped, although the heat pump was still blowing out warm air. Biggest problem was how draughty it was, so I resolved that I'd have to do something about that before taking in paying guests. Imagine my surprise when in the morning the door was wide open and fastened back, yet still locked.

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  • 1 month later...

We've converted one of the full length bench seats on this into a dinette area, and have moved the table from the front end, where the fixed bed now is. The table is quite a neat design (hence wanted to keep it), with a slide out extension and a flip-over section to double the size. Or at least there was, but the extra part was missing. The hinge was plastic, and after 50 years wasn't too great either.

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The T section fitted into a corresponding groove in each half of the table. To fit a conventional piano hinge, I needed to fill the groove, and also reinforce the framework if possible. So I added wood glue to the groove, and tapped in a strip of plywood.

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Once it had set then I trimmed it back to leave a flush edge, ready for the hinge to screw into.

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As the table is higher than originally designed, I needed to extend the leg. And as the floor where the table leg will be is at two levels, I need to make it adjustable, and no longer than original so it can fold up if required.

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Solution was to buy a length of tube which was a sliding fit inside the original leg. A slot was then cut in the existing tube, and the new tube drilled and tapped for a thumbscrew to lock in position.

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 The table pulls out like so, giving a support for the hinged portion.

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Which I made up using plywood faces, and battens of the correct dimensions to equal the thickness of the original part. Both will be covered in laminate I think, although the plywood looks ok as it is!

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It just remained to test it out, and it seemed daft to walk all the way to the Airstream with a cooked meal going cold, when there's a perfectly good oven already in there...

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200°C equates to 392°F (have to make up a conversion chart for guests!) and it seemed to cook pretty evenly :-)

Verdict: Great success! 

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  • 4 weeks later...

The only reason I can think for the door flying open in the middle of the night (although it hadn't done it before, or since) is the recess for the door latch has been bodged to death!

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Consequently the door is a slightly loose fit, so can rattle in high winds and is not properly compressing the door seal. As well as being offensive to look at from an engineering point of view.

So I cut one from a sheet of 3mm stainless, and countersunk it for fixing screws.

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The door frame is thick enough to tap directly into, so I was able to screw in place and file the aperture until the door just latched.

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I've also been working on the outside, as I've started to build the decking, supported by sections of telegraph pole cut to length to raise it level. Fortunately these were free, but even so the current price of timber makes it rather pricey.

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I'm not sure where Scotland has come from - I'm in Wales! One of the wettest places in the UK in fact - our driest month (July) has 30% more rainfall than the English average for its wettest month (although I may leave that fact out of the listing...) We aren't ready for people staying yet, so no listing at present. I'll drop in a shameless plug as soon as it's finished! At least the to-do list is down to one sheet of A4 now :-) 

12 hours ago, TheOtherStu said:

I’m loving this build, but more amusingly, it appears you pick the worst time for Scottish weather to make changes 😀

Agreed! But if I waited for decent weather, I'd never get anything done.

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10 hours ago, mat_the_cat said:

I'm not sure where Scotland has come from - I'm in Wales! One of the wettest places in the UK in fact - our driest month (July) has 30% more rainfall than the English average for its wettest month (although I may leave that fact out of the listing...) We aren't ready for people staying yet, so no listing at present. I'll drop in a shameless plug as soon as it's finished! At least the to-do list is down to one sheet of A4 now :-) 

Agreed! But if I waited for decent weather, I'd never get anything done.

Ah, sorry about that! The comment above about Scottish weather is what got me. 

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10 hours ago, mat_the_cat said:

I'm not sure where Scotland has come from - I'm in Wales! One of the wettest places in the UK in fact - our driest month (July) has 30% more rainfall than the English average for its wettest month (although I may leave that fact out of the listing...) We aren't ready for people staying yet, so no listing at present. I'll drop in a shameless plug as soon as it's finished! At least the to-do list is down to one sheet of A4 now :-) 

Agreed! But if I waited for decent weather, I'd never get anything done.

I picked it up from others. I know what you mean about Wales though. Did a driving and camping holiday in the MR2 a couple of years ago in July. Pissed down all week although we managed to get the roof down in between showers.

But all the views and particularly the few hundred miles we did driving around Snowdonia were well worth it. Did about 1200 miles in 5 days.

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Guess what the weather was doing today! Although Thursday looks great.

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Still, at least it's not snowing. Had a delivery of timber, so screwed all the beams together once I had double checked it was still square.

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I laid out the decking planks to make sure they fitted, and wasn't left with an awkward gap at one end. Then screwed down the first one at the ends only. Before adding any more fixings I stretched a plumb line from end to end, so I could pull it straight.

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Otherwise every other plank will have to follow the same shape as the first, or have non-uniform gaps. I try and get the gaps correct at 1/4 and 3/4 distances, then either pull or push the middle to the same gap. Finally the ends are tweaked to suit.

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I've still got to add a few hundred more screws and trim the ends, but all boards are down. Doesn't that look inviting to sit on and enjoy the sun? :lol:

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On 8/19/2021 at 9:40 PM, mat_the_cat said:

Not that I'm aware of - they are designed for motorhomes and caravans so would be less than ideal if they had to be empty! I've read that some filling stations haven't come across them, so try and stop you filling what they think is a standard cylinder. So you can purchase a normal Autogas inlet, and plumb that into the cylinder so it just appears you are refilling the vehicle.

I just can't get my head around how it's so much cheaper than Calor, even paying the road fuel duty on it!

Why Fuel duty???? and are you aware you are allowed 2500Litres of Untaxed fuel (or what ever they call Bio etc) a year..found that out after a chat with a copper while filling my Disco with Bio diesel ..at my mileage at the time it would had covered my the full 12 months

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10 minutes ago, bezzabsa said:

Why Fuel duty????

When you buy LPG from a filling station, around 15p/litre of the price you pay is fuel duty, compared with around 60p/litre for petrol.  

10 minutes ago, bezzabsa said:

are you aware you are allowed 2500Litres of Untaxed fuel

That's only if you are manufacturing bio fuels - I wish you could get your first 2500 litres a year tax free! I guess I could probably claim back the duty I'm paying on LPG used for heating, but it seems hardly worth the effort.

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Really not a worry in my case.  The only things gas runs in my van is the cooker, (on demand) water heater and if we're off grid, the fridge.  So one fill will go quite a long ways I'd think.

The 10 litre diesel tank for the heater only needs to be filled up a few times a year.

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  • 2 months later...
On 11/28/2021 at 10:19 PM, mat_the_cat said:

I waited for decent weather, I'd never get anything done.

Nothing much to add in the way of progress, but more to have a moan about the weather. Since doing the decking, it hasn't stopped raining long enough for the wood to actually appear visibly dry :-( We've had the odd day with no rain, but not enough sun to dry the wood. I'd like to put some stain on , but fat chance of that until the spring!

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