Babe 101: Monitoring and Supporting

Owning my VW camper has been exactly what I expected it would be… a learning experience. And I’m enjoying it.

I’ve gone through some surprise learning curves as well as some I was prepared for and actually capable of dealing with in an informed way. Over the past month or two I’ve been trying to take that up a level and see if I’m a little more capable. I’m sure some of the gurus will see these as baby steps and I think they’re right. Have to start somewhere though.

So baby step 1 is to learn more about what’s actually going on. The problem I had with the house battery came to be a bigger problem that it should have been because I didn’t have a way to see what was happening easily. A simple solution was to get a couple of plug-in volt meters… a better solution would be to get some permanent gauges and I likely will. For now the socket version do nicely, I’m spending the money on real gauges for things that are even more important. More on that later!
Update: Thanks to Jim (who also got these same voltmeters) I learned how to adjust them both to be more accurate. They both read lower than my “good” voltmeter and they weren’t the same. Now they read the same and are within .01 volts of my baseline reading. As long as they’re consistent I’m happy!

In addition to monitoring things I found that there was a shortcoming in the configuration of the awning I have. It’s a Shady Boy and I love having it. Compact, easy to set up and pack up and it’s a great size. I’ve had it out in some strong winds though and it’s been wreaking havoc on the mount points (front in particular). I’ll have to figure out how to make that more secure and as a start I decided to order the down-draft poles that Wolfgang ( has. These are the version with the male clips to mate with the fly poles (the design has changed over the years and he made sure to get me the right version). I’ll be testing them out at Shelter Valley, the poles will fit into the awning case no problem, I need to add some pegs since the lines will no longer go to the side of the bus (am I right in thinking I now have to peg them down?). Anyhow, that’s baby step 2.

The first serious change I’m making is adding oil pressure and temperature gauges so I can really see what’s going on. This involves installing new senders (ones that will work with the existing gauges plus the new ones). I’ve been able to source those from a place that ships to Canada without extra charges ( so that’s looking good.

Next up are EGT (measuring the exhaust temp) and boost (how the turbocharger is working). I haven’t found a source for those that I’m happy with yet though. More research required, stay tuned for photos from both of these upgrades as they evolve.

I’m also about to try doing my first oil change on the camper… not sure why I didn’t do this a year ago but it is what it is. I picked up an Mann oil filter from Dave (my go-to mechanic) and have the right 15W40 oil on hand (I like Rotella T) so I’ll see how to sort out that process. Shouldn’t be hard, just another small first.

What it’s all about though: using the camper to get to places and do things. Today’s “do” was a visit with my mom that included a nice lunch stop. Yay for Balm Beach!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.