Renovating older German Motorhomes - Mines an RMB

Discussion in 'RMB' started by Sheepskin, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. Sheepskin

    Sheepskin Read Only Funster

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    As many of you know i bought my 1991 RMB Motorhome in Palma, Majorca the van was on German numberplates and owned by a German couple who had basically used the van to travel around europe so that they could find a holiday home to buy. This is my story, as to what has been done, over the last month, and may be of interest to anybody with an older motorhome, or anybody thinking of buying an older motorhome. I have been given some great advice, and have picked up some good tips.

    After the deal was done, I travelled from Palma to Barcelona with the ferry company Balearia in a truly massive storm, we were supposed to get into Barcelona at 1800 we arrived at 0230 the next morning.

    The beast in France

    [​IMG]

    Then had a lovely drive back up through Spain and France, good calm sunny weather, then Dieppe to Newhaven and home

    On the way back home i had a good week to think about what upgrades needed to be done, so i contacted Viable Logistics in Bordon Hampshire. Viable provide storage for motorhomes, it is actually in an old tank workshop within the working Bordon Army camp, dry and centrally heated, i asked Rod the owner if i could work on the van, his reply no problems at all, so i booked for one month and got to work.

    The work that needed doing was

    1 The roof was already about 50% checker plated, and had very slight de-lamination in the area that was not checker plated, so i decided i would checker plate the whole roof area. The RMB is a one piece monocoque construction in Glassfibre. You actually have a layer of glassfibre, then plywood, then about 3 inches of closed cell foam, then another layer of plywood, and then a layer of 1.5mm aluminium, which the carpet roof lining is attached too. To say that this is a very strong construction is a huge under statement.

    2 While up on the roof i was going to remove, the old Oyster Analogue Satelite Dish, and my damaged 12V roof air conditioning unit. the problem was that the outer cover was badly cracked and actually holed, i suspect tree branches were to blame. I was then going to cut the roof to fit another new 500mm X 500mm hatch at the point where the old AC unit was removed.

    3 Reseal the existing 5 roof hatches

    3 Remove the old Solar panels and controller they were well past there sell by date and were producing virtually no amps at all !!!!!! Fit a new 100Watt Solar Panel, and MPPT Controller.

    4 Fit a new Leisure battery, the two old ones fitted were also well past there sell by date, Fit LED interior lights, and some 12V sockets.

    5 Fit some soundproofing to the engine bay

    5 Huge clean inside and out, TCut wax and polish

    The checker plating of the roof was quite easy, i really cleaned the roof thoroughly and degreased with methylated Spirits, after cutting out the checker plate panels, you need to do this accurately and really maximise your cuts to avoid waste as checker plate is expensive and you need quite a lot of it, a motorhome is big !!!!. I then glued the checker plate down using Sikaflex 512

    Removing the Old Air Conditioning Unit, Solar System and Sat Antennae

    [​IMG]

    Removing the Oyster sat dish was also easy enough, but the air conditioning unit was really stuck down with Sikaflex 512 and took a lot of work to remove, that Sikaflex really sticks down hard, fantastic stuff.

    When the AC unit was finally removed the hole through the roof was about 350mm X 350MM and i needed to enlarge this out to 500mm X 500mm. I marked it all out very carefully, and enlarged the hole using a jigsaw and angle grinder. i used the angle grinder to grind big grooves in the checker plate that the AC Unit was fixed to so that it would be easier work for the Jigsaw, this idea worked very well. The hatch fitted perfectly.

    Trial fitting the some of the new checker plate, you can see the hole where the old AC unit used to be, this needs to be enlarged, and the Sat dish at the rear which is about to be removed

    [​IMG]

    The new hatch was bought from Germany for 77 Euros, and is identical to the existing 5 hatches. I sealed all the hatches using 19mm W4 Mastic tape. On my hatches you have a flat area which is about 19mm wide, then on the outside of this you have a small groove, and then the outer edge of the hatch. I also used IDL 99 Sealant in this groove. resealing the hatches is an easy job to do, however i recommend THAT YOU DO NOT use Sikaflex 512, this provides too strong an adhesive, and you would have a really big job to ever remove the hatches again. without tearing up the roof or cracking the hatches. Do not underestimate just how strong the Sikaflex is.

    With the Solar System i simply used the existing wiring connected to my new 100w Panel, i then removed the old controller and wired in my new MPPT Controller.

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/130561973155?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2648

    It all works fine. the only problem that i had was connectors. The Germans when the old panels were fitted did not use MC4 connectors. So i bought an IP65 waterproof Junction box and joined the new solar panel to the existing wiring using a standard large block connector. Sikaflexed the IP65 box to the roof and sealed up the cable entrances

    Lots more checker plate now fitted, although far from finished, notice i left some drainage gaps and new solar panel trial fitted.

    [​IMG]

    The new Leisure battery is a Varta LPD 90 Ah, i then wired in these LED Light panels to my existing light units.

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/360507518120?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649


    I have 3 Light Units which were fluorescent units and i wired in 2 of these panels per light unit. It is very easy to do, just a bit of time with the soldering iron. in my opinion the LED gives a nicer light and seems to use a lot less power. Today i switched on all 3 lights units, my mobile phone and Ipad were charging and i seemed to be using just over 1 amp, even though i am in a garage i am directly under a big skylight, so the solar panel was probably contributing about 0.5 amp. So use, in the region of 1 to 2 amps. We only really need lights, and mobile phone, ipad charger, so i am hoping that with the Solar Panel we should be self sufficient most days so no need for EHU

    Amp draw with 3 lights on, mobile phone and Ipad charger ON !!!!

    [​IMG]

    i am trying to make as much of the charging 12V as possible, the van is fitted with 2 Hella/DIN 12V sockets so i bought 2 adapters for these so that i have another 2 standard 12V sockets. I also fitted 2 more 12V sockets, obviously all feeding off the leisure battery.

    On Ebay i bought a Griffin 12V USB so that i can charge both our smartphones and i also bought a 12V USB with a 2amp output to charge the Ipads. For some reason Ipods and Iphones use a 5W Charge, but an Ipad needs a 10w Charge. If you try and use the Ipad with the Ipod 5W charger you get a message that it is not charging, it is charging But very slowly. If we bring our laptops then i already have a 12V laptop charger.

    On the road, i use the Vodafone Euro Traveller you pay £3 a day, but then basically all the countries in Europe as far as Vodafone is concerned become the UK, so you can use your Minutes, Texts and Data in Europe. With our Samsung Galaxy S2 you can then tether your phone to the Ipad, so you get to internet browse on the Ipad or Laptop via the phone. If you simply receieve calls and texts you are not charged the £3. It is only when you make a call or send a text, or use data that this £3 is activated.

    i used this system on the way back from Spain and it was faultless, If you have an Ipad or Iphone a superb App i recommend is called AIRES CC. It shows all the Aires in France, it is in French but very easy to use.

    to be continued .......
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2012
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  2. mitzimad

    mitzimad Funster

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    cracking looking van id love one like that but the london lez makes it impossible
     
  3. Wildman

    Wildman Read Only Funster

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    I trust you have not dumped the old solar panel. If you find your way to Devon I could make use of it on my workshop roof, every little helps.
    You started with a quality van and are oviously making it better. Nice to be able to do it under cover. Coming on a treat.
     
  4. Snowbird

    Snowbird Funster Life Member

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    Cracking job there Ceri. The van looks well and is exactly the same as mine externally but the hab door is further to the rear. Some good advice there re the Sikaflex. These RMBs should become a family heirloom as they will quite possibly outlast us.
     
  5. Sheepskin

    Sheepskin Read Only Funster

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    Costs So far

    1 month hire of workshop £100

    Solar Panel £87
    Fixing kit £19
    MPPT Controller £74

    Hatch £63

    Checker Plate £183
    8 X Sikaflex 512 £88
    2 X IDL 99 Sealant £13
    2 X Rolls W4 Mastic tape £11

    Soundproofing £31

    Varta 90ah Battery £87

    Misc £60 ( LED Lights, 12V Sockets Etc)

    TOTAL = £816

    I have put 80 hours of work into the project.

    My thoughts are that with a basic tool kit and a dry/ light and recently warm !!!! place to work it is not difficult to work on these motorhomes BUT and this is a big BUT it takes quite a lot of time. Without being able to do the work yourself what would 80 hours of workshop time cost in a motorhome dealers today?

    it shows that an older motorhome can be kept going for years, if you can do the work yourself. This same work would simply not be economically viable if you were paying a dealer in the region of £50 to £60 per hour to complete it for you.

    but with basic tools and a bit of effort you can do nearly all of it yourself, in my humble opinion.
     
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  6. alfandM

    alfandM Funster

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    Enjoyed reading and looking at the photo's thanks for sharing:thumb:,it feels great when you can do the renovation work your self, you have now made it your's, nice job on a great old van, as the Germans would say old timer, our old timer is 30years old on January 1st and over here she is TAX FREEfrom now on, yea ,got the champers ready for the old girl, over the years that we have owned her we have travel d many Km,and have enjoyed every project we have done on her,so enjoy many happy years owning your old timer, Happy Christmas , regards Alf:Smile:
     
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  7. Sheepskin

    Sheepskin Read Only Funster

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    I also removed the KASSEREIN antenna, so that i could move the new 100 w Solar Panel back towards the hatch. This is because the original system was for 2 smaller 55w panels. So i have retained the original wiring for the other panel and i can therefore fit another 100w panel in front of the existing one if required, using the existing wiring. Joined up through the existing IP65 Junction box. the MPPT Controller has a 20amp input capacity, so can easily take 2 X 100W panels.

    Also i have only fitted 1 X 90Ah battery, the RMB had 2 X 90Ah fitted so i have the capacity to add another 90Ah battery if required, the storage box and wiring is already there.

    One thing i noticed most British vans have the positive battery post on the left hand side as you look from the front, the Germans use batteries with the Positive post on the right hand side.
     
  8. Sheepskin

    Sheepskin Read Only Funster

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    Thanks Alf for the kind words, i have worked hard on the old timer !!!! over the last month, it seems that you do a lot of work, and nothing much seems to be happening, then it all comes together and you think wow !!!!! that was definitely worth doing, also very satisfying you really get to know the vehicle and you learn a lot at the same time.

    I think with many of these older motorhomes they are so well made, that very little can go wrong ( famous last words!!!!) on the RMB you have basically a one piece glassfibre shell so no seams, so the only place it can leak is through any holes that have been made for cablkes, skylights etc. As long as these are all properly sealed up, you are fine.

    my van has no leaks on the sides, and is like new underneath.

    With the checker plate fitted, not only has it stopped any potential further delamination, it has really strengthened the roof as well, when you walk about on the roof now, no flex at all. The only openings in the roof that can now leak are the Solar Panel wiring ( resealed), and 6 skylights ( all resealed)

    I have done a lot of touring on the motorcycle and have nothing but superb memories, still in a state of shock as to how much was drunk when i met the Tirana Motorbike club in Albania, still in the bar at 0830, i was treated like visiting royalty, a British motorbike in Albania !!! or the vodka session in Volvograd (Stalingrad) with 2 old Stalingrad veterans and there sons, harrowing stories, but what a night

    we are both looking forward to using the old timer, and banking many good memories.
     
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  9. enery8

    enery8 Funster

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    What a great thread, very encouraging for someone (like me) hoping to buy an older German van, most likely a Hymer. Thanks for the info and advise.
    Bill
     
  10. Sheepskin

    Sheepskin Read Only Funster

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    Bill

    I wouldn't hesitate to import from Germany, it is a piece of cake. I have bought 2 vans now from Germany and both from private sellers, from a dealer it would be easier, as they would automatically get the export plate organised for you.

    You buy the van you want, go to the local German Vehicle Licensing Office with the previous owner, you purchase Export Plates before they give these you need export insurance which you can now get online ( I have the details of this company on my works computer, I will post in next few days)

    You then drive back to the UK, and you need to get an MOT all you will legally need to change for this are beambenders for the headlights ( make certain that they are for a LHD drive vehicles, and not for RHD vehicle going to the continent) you also need to change the fog light position from near side to offside.

    Some garages may tell you that you need new headlights this is not true and NOT A LEGAL REQUIREMENT FOR THE MOT

    You then take your MOT and your German paperwork to your local vehicle registration office pay the registration fee and also 6 months or 12 months tax. make certain that you are put in the right taxation class. My RMB is PHGV as it over 3500 kg so tax is therefore only £165 per year.

    They will give you a British number, go and have the number plates made, fit these and there you are British registered.
     
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  11. haganap

    haganap Funster Life Member

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    Great thread and great work.

    I love tinkering with my van even though its much newer.

    Never thought of hiring a workshop though that's a good shout
     
  12. Theonlysue

    Theonlysue Funster Life Member

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    rmb

    Hi, looks like you are doing a great job there :) any interior pics please?
     
  13. Philcott

    Philcott Read Only Funster

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    My 21 year old Fiat Ducato Europa FFB is ex German. I want to fix her up like you've done, so this thread is a godsend for someone who hasn't a clue where to start and virtually needs an idiots guide to replace anything! Thank you so much for sharing!

    Good luck with your old timer and may you have many happy miles under your bonnet!
     
  14. veevee

    veevee Funster

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    Hello

    Very much enjoyed your story, it will give many inspiration.

    Have to say that the comment about the non requirement for new headlamps is not quite right for all vehicles from memory. We registered a 2006 Spanish car in the UK during the summer, it had to have new RHD headlights and a letter from a garage to state that the 5? main points for changing from LHD fittings to RHD were complied with, an MoT certificate is not enough proof.

    That said I beilieve (again from memory) that this is a requirement only for 2002? vehicles onward, so your MH being older would not need these added details and letter.

    Thought that adding this may help others thinking of importing a younger MH.
     
  15. enery8

    enery8 Funster

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    Thanks for the info and for taking the time Ceri, it really is appreciated. Dave (snowbird) has also been advising me about importing German vans so with the info I am gathering from more experienced motorhomers I should be much better prepared when the time comes :thumb:

    Having read your post about the work done on your RMB I do feel more confident and encouraged and may not dismiss some vehicles after all. Might have to find somewhere local I can hire some workshop space short term. I can do most things having been a lorry mechanic when I maintained a fleet of tippers and diggers etc, mechanical and bodywork. Not as fit as I used to be but as long as I take my time.............!

    I can also get the van in my back garden so if it is internal work I could do that at home in my own time (slowly :Smile:) Stripped and fixed a wet caravan here so inside work okay.
    anyway, thanks again for the info and encouragement.

    Bill
     
  16. Snowbird

    Snowbird Funster Life Member

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  17. enery8

    enery8 Funster

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  18. Snowbird

    Snowbird Funster Life Member

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    Hi Bill, The Arnolds were very good and were the forerunner of the RMBs. They are well thought of in Germany, and are now fetching premium money. Because of there age and longevity they are now allowed into the German equivalent of our LEZ as a historic vehicle free of charge. So an older Arnold will make more money than a newer RMB, but only for a few years, as the RMBs are now getting close to the historic tax age over there. You are in no hurry, so take your time and wait until the right one comes along. Keep a close eye on Mobile DE and ebay DE. Slowly slowly catchy monkey :thumb:
     
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  19. nucs200

    nucs200 Read Only Funster

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    hi bill
    like others have said its pretty easy to import from germany i bought mine privately in germany off "mobile de "and had no problems i drove across to view it made a deal, no deposit then flew back and they picked me up from the airport drove me to the dvla etc sorted everything even made me breakfast and lunch, put all sorts of cheeses, sausage etc and a crate of beer in the van they looked after me that well that we visit every year now( going on 27th to hook of holland) :Cool: looked at the rmb,s you and snowbird said both look good cheap projects good luck
     
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  20. enery8

    enery8 Funster

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    You are absolutely right of course Dave, got plenty of time. Trouble is, I am a bit impatient and want to get out there with you guys. Anyhow, we will not just buy anything, it has to be right. So yes, slowly slowly catchy monkey. Reckon if I keep looking something will turn up.
     

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