Analysing our shakedown trip

A short trip is a good testing ground to see what works and what doesn't. Here we analyze what came out of the woodwork for us after our 500km round trip to Newcastle and back home. We certainly had our fair share of issues beforehand so we weren't anticipating too many major hassles.

After the hassles we had with the bus getting out of Wollongong, it is running OK now. We can get from one place to another but we are quite disappointed with the lack of power after spending all that money in reconditioning the engine and adding a turbo to it. We have been advised by our mechanic that we need time for the engine to "loosen up" and thus have a bit more 'grunt' getting up hills. (40km seems to be pretty average at the moment). The fuel consumption is not as good as we had hoped for either, averaging about 5km per litre. Hopefully this will improve soon too!

So that was our main hassle. There were little things too, most of which we can work on as we travel.

We had inadvertently burnt out the reversing camera by leaving it on but that was soon replaced. This gives us peace of mind as to actually knowing what is happening with the car which we are towing as well as giving us an idea of any vehicles queuing up behind us.

We noticed the fridge was struggling to cope with the 36 degree temperature with the internal temperature climbing to about 8 degrees however the freezer part was still well below zero. Rob solves this problem by installing some computer fans underneath the fridge which now working a treat. I guess anything would have trouble coping with that heat without some help!

The solar power and lithium batteries are working a charm. We are even running a 'household' split air con with this heat for an hour or two at a time when the sun has stuck it’s head out long enough to give us plenty of power. It has a soft start and uses 80amps at 24volts. One particularly hot night (coupled with my ‘lovely’ hot flushes), we ran the small 12volt fan all night which made for a pleasant night’s sleep.

The air con at the front of the bus
I must say I love NOT having a cassette toilet. Even flushing the toilet is simpler and hands free. And I believe it has less smell associated with the tank. This was the first time we have ever used our 90mm concertina drain hose with a turbo water and tank cleaner system for toilet waste that we imported direct from America since we couldn't find this system here in Australia and we were thrilled with how simple and easy it was to use. It certainly makes a necessary but unpleasant job as simple as possible. We also have a large capacity black water tank for free camping and we estimate we need to empty it only once every 3 weeks!

The black tank is the larger tank and the one on the right is our grey water tank.

Brava Toilet

We soon found we needed a toothbrush holder and cup for the ensuite. So off to Bunnings to buy a suction cup type! I love our hot water shower, it is so much simpler to use than the unit we had in the caravan. Rob's heating unit that he designed doesn’t make enough hot water in one go for 2 hot showers but certainly we can have 2 warm showers or we can alternate. We rarely get dirty enough to require a shower every day. One definite advantage is that it certainly doesn't gobble up a lot of power which is what we were after. Remember we don’t have any gas in the Robbiebago II – it all has to run from solar/lithium power.

We have a new style induction cooker. We had actually brought it inside the house about a month before the bus was finished as I wanted to practice on it, since it is different. I am so glad we did as I had only one frypan that worked on it. My house saucepans didn't 'close'  the magnets thus the cooktop wasn't going to work until I bought new saucepans. It did take a bit of getting used to. The larger frypan basically didn't get hot on the outside 3-5 cm other than by convection heat that traveled from the centre , the size of the magnetic rings thus creating a hot spot in the frypan. This is no problem if your pans are the same size as the magnets (The 'painted' rings on the cooktop). But other than this it doesn't create as much heat inside the motorhome, which is a bonus. We do need to have electricity to run it and we will use a butane gas cooker  or light a fire for those days when our batteries are low after a week or so of overcast weather. PS I love how we can slide the cooker under the little shelf we have purposed just for giving me more bench space when not in use.

It took a bit of practice hitching the car up. We found that both the car and the motorhome really need to be on flat level ground. So far we think if we are on uneven ground or a slope when it is time to hitch for towing then we will drive both vehicles to a level spot somewhere safe and then proceed with hitching. When we returned home, Rob worked on a storage solution for the A frame when not in use. He decided to store it in the rear bumper bar which of course meant cutting the bumper bar and modifying it. This way when we leave the motorhome to sight see in the car, it is not so obvious that the motorhome is vacant as t would be if the empty A frame or a trailer were left behind.

He also put in a spin weld into the drinking water containers so that we can dip stick it or drop a water purifier tablet in if necessary.

Rob built me a saucepan storage divider which is fabulous, even the lids and the frypan have a spot. I originally thought it would be too tight but it is not and it stops everything from rattling as well as giving me more space in that drawer for a few other things too!

The cutlery drawer was under utilizing the space so Rob inserted two strips of wood for the cutlery holder to sit above the base of the drawer thus creating a messy drawer space underneath for the odd item you want to have on hand but don’t need every day! So useful really. I have stored spare batteries and what not under here. I have yet to fill it up... I am sure that wont take long!

A Bamboo Ikea expansion cutlery drawer fitted perfectly as our top unit.

Just had an el cheap cutlery unit and a pen storage unit from a $2 shop and the non slip mat underneath.

Rob also cut some timbers to be leveling blocks for those uneven sites.

I am sure there will be more minor modifications made along the way. That is the nature of travelling especially with a handyman such as Rob who just loves to tinker with things.


  1. Thanks I really enjoyed the read and the informative pictures to go with it, newby's will get a great deal from your posts, Looking forward to following your blogs

    1. Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you get the opportunity to travel too.


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