Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Road Trip 4 ( KL - Raban Lake, Lenggong )

Time for another road trip! My destination is Raban Lake near Lenggong in Perak. There was a little drama during the drive to Lenggong. The old alternator of my campervan was dying so it was replaced with a new unit with higher amp output to cope with charging 2 batteries. However, after 1 hour into our journey from KL, the charged light lit up! To make matter worse, the low oil warning light lit as well! My heart almost sank when it happened, did I have a cracked oil pan? Or the did engine block's gasket blew? Clearly the low oil light is a major concern so I stopped immediately to check the oil. The dip stick indicated that oil level is full, but why the warning light? The oil sensor wire and the alternator cable belongs to the same wiring harness, could it be a case of bad connection? I decided to take a gamble and continued with my journey, I have been looking forward to this road trip for the last few months and I am not going to let lousy warning lights stopping me! For the next 2 hours the charge light and the low oil light flickered intermittently and I braced myself for the inevitable spluttering stop, or worse a sized engine. Mercifully, the lights stayed off for most of the journey until we reached Raban Lake.

Raban lake is actually a series of interconnected lakes surrounded by green hills. The water here is unpolluted and has a healthy inflow and outflow, making it ideal for fresh water fish farming. However, my mind was more concerned with health of the camper. A quick check with the dip stick check showed no loss of oil, I wriggled the connections to the alternator and oil sensor and started the engine, no lights, so far so good.

View from the jetty at Raban lake resort. My photography skill does not do justice to the actual beauty of the lake.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Dreaming about overlander camper!

A secondhand car yard in Kerling, Serendah is full of ex-army vehicles such as this.

Hardcore offroad enthusiasts will recognise the awesome capability of the portal axles
I found this Pinzgauer on Mudah.my a few months back. From the photo it looks to be in excellent condition, It is a right hand drive unit, so I guess it must be decommissioned from the Malaysian army. I starting dreaming again when I looked at the picture, an overlander camper perhaps? Hmm... once I convert the semi-open body into a 2- person cabin, I should be ready to roll........crossing the Tibetan highland, the Russian steppes, the African Serengeti...... Some day... I will do it.... .

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Exploring Melacca

This is not one of my campervan excursion, I was there for a family reunion retreat at Holiday Inn. I took the opportunity to check out the town as a potential campervan destination. Melacca is a place that really need to be explored on foot by taking your time to walk through the narrow streets and all the nooks and crannies. The town is roughly divided by the Melacca river into eastern and western parts, on the eastern side is where all the famous landmarks like Stadhuys, Dutch Square, ruins of St Paul and Porta De Santiago. Instead of going to the "touristy" locations, I decided to walk around at the western side of town.

One of the beautifully preserved house built in the style of the Straits Chinese at Jonker Street

This mosque is a unique blend of Chinese, Hindu and Arabic architecture elements which reflects the cosmopolitan nature of Malacca past. The mosque is fully functioning place of worship today.

A Chinese temple that incorporates certain Malay-Hindu architecture element. Although it is a Chinese temple, it is distinctly different from those in China itself.

One of the tall building with Dutch flavour.

A metal workshop where you can have all sorts of metal utensils made to order. This is not a demonstration shop for tourist, it is living business, the metal workers here are truly master of their trade. They can fabricate almost anything out of sheet metal.

Traditional Chinese sign makers. No Chinese lawyers office or doctor's clinic in Malaysia would be complete without them.
A narrow vista that lead to the river bank. This picture is taken in the middle of the passage, the entrance of the passage is much narrower than here, barely have enough room for one person to pass through.

The vista lead to here. The Malacca river used to be a dirty and stinking sewer. Today it is an attractive waterway.

The tomb of controversial Malaccan warrior Hang Jebat. The tomb is in between shop houses along a quiet narrow back street, among the dwelling of the ordinary people.

Friday, December 17, 2010

More VW Westfalia in Malaysia

VW Westfalia cempervan are rarely seen in Malaysia, but here's two units recently spotted at Bugfest 2010 at JB. You can see the rest of the VW bugs here . If you are the owners of the following campervans, please contact me, I would like to form an online community for campervaners.
Pop top bay window. Not sure if this is an original Westfalia, but it sure looks superbly maintained.

Rear view. From here it looks like it has the sink and cooktop cabinets.

This campervan must be a genuine Westfalia conversion, from the location of the sliding door, it looks like a left hand drive version. The flip top can accommodates a single bunk.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

VW Classic Microbus Conversion

Mr Khoo Teng Tsen is a serious VW Microbus collector. His collection can be viewed at vintagebus.com, but what really interest me is his conversion of one of his Microbus into a campervan, while it not a fully fledged conversion like Westfalia, it is still an impressive piece of work.

The bus has been updated with ceiling aircon vents to cope with the local climate.
The interior configured as table and benches
In sleeping berth configuration.

All bench seats configuration

Khoo(in batik) posing with his pride and joy

Great looking "hippie van"!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Interior of my camper

It remarkable that I have not given a proper description to my camper after so many posting. I guess I was more focused on the journey than the carriage, especially the technical detail and the interior. So here it is.

The dining table can be folded down to convert into a double bed, the blower above is a standard car aircon blower. The children are sitting on the benches which also form part of the converted bed.

The ceiling aircon can only be used when on site, either by external AC electric power supply or by generator, which the camper carries. In my opinion, this aircon made the camper truly usable in a tropical country like Malaysia. Interestingly, it can also run in reverse mode to function as a heater (blowing cold outside and hot air inside). I recently added a fan for alternative cooling when the weather is not too hot, as you can see I have yet to tuck away the wire neatly.

The washing basin. The water tank is located at the bottom of the camper, an on-demand water pump provide water pressure to the faucet. The pump is self priming type will activate periodically to maintain the water pressure, however if it is left power-on unattended, the auxiliary battery will drained quickly. I learnt this through hard lesson! On the left of the basin is the compartment for stove, the original stove was missing when I bought the camper, so I just use a portable butane stove in its place which I seldom use anyway. Below the stove compartment is a gas powered refrigerator. The cooling element of the fridge no longer works, so it is used  as a storage compartment. I am planning to replace it with a standard mini fridge. The AC power outlets are active only when on site. I am planning to add an inverter to provide AC power from the auxiliary battery.

The driver's cab. It is a standard Toyota Dyna lorry, the body of the camper is custom built and it is wider than the standard cab. The bench seat can accommodates an adult for sleeping provided he/she does not exceeds the height of 5 feet 8 inches!

The bunk above the driver's cab. It can accommodates two persons. It also servers as storage for luggages and mattresses when the camper is on the move

Half of the bath room is taken up by the porta potty, which is a self contained unit with flush water tank and holding tank at the bottom. As you can see the space here is at a premium. Using the right chemical is crucial, otherwise the consequences can be "interesting".  By a happy coincidence, Ace Hardware has also started to sell the chemical required by such porta potty. I usually keep the petrol can here when on the move because the bath  room has an exhaust fan to remove any leakage of petrol fume.  So far the can's seal is good and I have not detected any leakage.

The bath room shower head, it is also powered by the on-demand water pump so the water pressure is very good, in fact if you are not judicious with water usage during shower time, the water supply can run out quickly. The box behind the shower head is the water heater, however the wattage of the heater is beyond what the generator can support. So it is only for on site use with external AC electric power only. The original exhaust fan was a solar powered unit. the solar cell and the motor has packed up long ago, I used a 12v PC fan as a substitute, it is powered by the auxiliary battery.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Local "campervan" builder?

A local company PerezDesign recently launched a new concept in mobile stalls. Basically, the company builds self contained mobile stalls for pasar malam type of hawkers. So far they only focus on mobiles stalls, with their expertise and support from JPJ, they could easily build campervans too. So far this company only targets the hawkers. Perhaps the directors at PerezDesign may want to diversify their market? How about a locally designed and built campervan.

A mobile food stall concept, with some changes in the design, this would be a nice campervan!

Another example from PerezDesign

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Malaysian conversion

There has been a lot a query on how one can convert a van or bus into a functioning campervan. If you have the skill and the time, you may take inspiration from Timothy Wooi of Kedah, who converted an Inokom Permas van into a fully functioning campervan. His resourcefulness and workmanship is truly impressive. and the best part is that he used mostly recycled materials and parts.

The Inokom Permas van is a highroof version with sufficient headroom for average adults to stand up straight.

A flushing toilet at the back and working kitchen sink. Don't ask me where toilet flush goes to.....

View from the driver seat looking back. All the interior fittings and furnitures were handmade by Tomothy.

The fridge is a standard household type, so it will only work with onsite power. The camper has auxiliary battery to power the rest of the appliances, even a mini hotplate for cooking!
The man himself.

Timothy Wooi is a member of  Facebook community and he can be reached there if you are interested to know more.