I have a large heavy drive-away awning that works very well and I use that when we travel with the boys and they sleep in that. But, when there are just the two of us … well, it’s a bit of a palaver. So I looked for something that I could use with our roll-out canopy and without it if I want to leave a standalone awning or if it is just too windy to risk £500 worth of aluminium and pvc canvas!
I looked at the quecha base seconds – but just couldn’t get my head around using it with my existing kit.
This arrangement gives me three configurations (numbers match picture numbers below):
Sun canopy attached to side channel (on rollout awning)
Sun room using sun canopy and attached as above (#1)
Drive away awning using #2 above plus an attached tarp and a candor strip to de-couple the awning from the bus (the attachment clips are clip on grommets).
Attach the sides and front of the sun-room to the roll-out awning using velcro tapes
I think I now have all the canopy combinations and permutations I need for travelling light – and at a price that is half the price of the specific, add-on sides and front for the roll-out awning. I’ll report back after our next trip!
There’s a lot of debate on thermal screens, toppers etc. for your Cali. I chose this one because of price, convenience of fitting and simple logic; I wanted better thermal insulation up top. Works well, simple for me to fit even on my own and rolls up into a neat bag that can be easily stowed. Another big advantage that I have found is that you can put it up when you need it. i.e. if you are getting too cold and decide you want to add the screen in the middle of the night. I have even done so in a storm!
And how it is attached at the back. It’s put on starting at the back and working around the sides and front using a long handled broom to push into place. Bungie cord secures the two ends at the back. Green mini tarp is only if it’s very wet – otherwise there is a useful breather space at the back.
We had to pop down to the area around Swansea for a quick visit. The place was carpeted with wild garlic. Walking though the woods it even smelt like you were immersed in a garlic scent bath. The ramson buds were particularly tasty. Here I fried them with our breakfast of ham and eggs – absolutely delicious!
This summer, one of the extras that I noted would make camping life for short stays a lot easier, is a tarp for the roll-out awning. It would provide an additional degree of privacy, as well as wind and rain protection.
The cost of a 3rd party tarp (e.g. Brandrup) to fit a VW Cali canopy is around £160. The cost of a Quechua tarp around £20. The cost of a Kandor strip to fit canopy (6mm) channel around £15. As we have a good sewing machine already, the cost of sewing was around 30 minutes on the machine.
The result – a great, large, multipurpose canopy/ awning tarp. I’m extremely pleased with the result. And my wife is very impressed with my sewing skills!
This summer, we parked the Cali for quite a few days in one spot. As is customary, I like to tinker. My brainwave, for next year, was to set up an organised area in the awning. I have an old camping cupboard that would be ideal. But the joints have snapped which made it more like a jelly than a cupboard.
This is a quick, relatively inexpensive solution that is not going to break anytime soon.
I needed to pack out of couple of the holes for the thinner poles to fit well, so I cut down some old gazebo tubing together with some insulating tape to do the job.
Having researched this subject for quite a while now, I was debating whether it would be worth putting solar panels on the roof of my Vdub, buying a portable array or just using hook-ups whenever I needed to re-charge the leisure battery. In the end, I decided I wanted the ability to spend several days at a time at campsites that would not necessarily have hook-up facilities. So I opted for these panels from Baird:
They are not too heavy and I can store them easily in the bus when travelling. A couple of minor issues with the cables that were supplied, but otherwise seem to be very good.
I opted for 120W panels as these should easily cover our daily electricity use. Details on how to calculate this here. Fixing then up to the bus was not difficult, but entails getting some solar cable and connectors as well as some battery connectors. Details in pictures below. My California is a 2015 Beach – the wiring layout picture might be a useful reference for other Beach owners.
For security, I will padlock the panels to the bus with some cable, and to prevent any wind damage I’ll peg the units to the ground with some large tent pegs.
Our California Beach is configured with a 3 bench seat and we also have 2 additional back passenger seats. Most of the time we only use the bench seat or the bench plus one of the passenger seats. My wife had a brain-wave – why not remove the bench seat and just have the two cabin seats in the back. I was a little reluctant: the single cabin seats aren’t light and the bench seat is hard enough to just slide around on the runners. Anyway, I thought, why not give it a try – the result is fantastic. Much more room and a lot less weight in the back. We used an engine hoist to shift the bench seat – and it worked seamlessly. Our ‘kitchen’ units fitted in front of the multi-flex board, giving loads of space for luggage and passengers.
I went on a fabulous foraging course in Exeter (link here). On the way down, I decided to stop off overnight somewhere convenient in ‘Cali’ – my Vdub bus. I found a lovely little campsite about five miles from the coast and got my pitch sorted before driving on down to Beer to have a look around.
I arrived in the middle of a torrential downpour- fortunately I was well equipped with wet gear and a massive brolly – so I was able to stay dry-ish and take some photos.
The setting was marvellous despite the rain.
And a walk over to Beer head uncovered lot of beer sites! TBC