Pop Top Thermal Wrap
Spending all year round using Pod we have noticed that a pop up roof does have its draw backs being material.
We had toyed with a number of design ideas over the past 18 months but took the lead from existing motorhome designs.
After searching on numerous camper van Facebook groups and forums we found the solution was there already, the issue being turning the design in to reality.
Several failed attempts to convince a number of manufacturers to take up this challenge were made but determination paid off.
In collaboration with Van Comfort and POLAR we have designed and had made this made to measure easy fit thermal wrap.
Designed to insulate the Pop-Up roof during the colder season whilst also being affective in keeping you cooler during the hotter months. Due to its quilted design it will also help with sound proofing.
As the wrap encases the roof mechanism it provides an air gap so the vents can still be used and due to the weatherproof material it will stop rain seeping through the roof material and vent zips.
Packed away in its own bag it measures 35cmx28cm and weighs only 650 grams.
Ours being the original prototype cost £185, which we believe is money well spent for the reasons above, but more orders may attract a price reduction.
For more information and to order yours contact Van Comfort Steve Beevers 01777 701804 firstname.lastname@example.org quoting 2B’s in a Pod, Go-Pod Pop Top Thermal Wrap.
Take a look at the pictures, if they don’t convince you, nothing will :).
Also the YouTube vlog https://youtu.be/_ReVxeiJB84
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Studs, Poppers and an Epiphany
We’ve had Pod now for a year and a half and boy we’ve had some fun in her and enjoyed coming up with ideas to improve our experiences, from designing our bed slats, our chopping board and modified the 12V system to meet our needs to name a few, but no matter where the location the weather has always been the testing and changeable factor, certainly made some trips very interesting.
The rain and the temperature have always been manageable but the one that always tested our set-up was the wind. Without a doubt Pod can withstand anything, the awning however because it’s a generic fit in our eyes has always needed a bit of tweaking.
This we’ve already done by sewing in beading so it gave the required fit with the awning rail and this was soon followed by moving the guy line triangles to a lower position to give a tight, snug fit down the sides. This worked well but in high winds, dependant on its direction it would still cause the sides edges of the awning to flap away from the sides of Pod, no major issue really but we still wanted to improve on it, so thinking caps were always on and when we’ve been away we’ve couldn’t resist a nosey at other set ups for any possible ideas.
The Camping and Caravan show at the NEC provided us with plenty of ideas but the one that caught our attention was the Protec covers display, as part of their range of towing cover attachments were YKK plastic press studs with 3M adhesive backings, as these were plastic and not metal there wouldn’t be any corrosion and a further search revealed they were available in black or white.
Lots of ideas were floating around in MrB’s head but nothing firm had been set so the decision was to put it to one side and hope for an epiphany.
Pod Powwow in Oban came around and during a walk round the site this ‘light bulb’ moment occurred and this is all thanks to Powwow pals Julie and Robert. They had attached heavy duty suckers to the sides of their pod and the guy lines running from the awning were fastened to the suckers, good use of suckers we thought and we do use them on the back of Pod for coats and the toilet roll holder but we wanted something smaller.
Now with the press studs and this combined we came up with a permanent fixture that due to their size blended in with the sides of Pod, it would just require more sewing.
Once home from the Powwow lots of research took place to locate the press studs and YKK Snad fastener self adhesive 40mm stud and poppers were decided on from Ebay, four black and four white were bought at £3.94 ea., white for Pod and the black for the awing.
They arrived promptly and 4 x 1.5mm holes were drilled into the black studs, in effect turning them into buttons, next came the ‘fun’ bit, sewing them onto the four guy line triangles.
Once a decision was made as to where on the triangle to sew them LB used the rot proof thread from the beading blog and set about sewing the buttons on, only went through 3 needles on this occasion and thanks to a thimble no blood was shed 😉
The next job to be done was the securing of the white poppers and this had to wait for our next trip out, which was Cirencester in a few weeks.
Once at Cirencester the awning was set up and LB’s hairdryer came out, it was November and temperatures weren’t brilliant, we needed the glue side of the popper to warm slightly to ensure a permanent and secure fit to Pod, once these were on, they wouldn’t be coming of easily.
After making sure the guy lines were equally positioned on both sides and the area to be used cleaned, we set about warming the sticky pad of the popper and the chosen spot on Pod. Once adequately done, the sticker back came off and the popper went on, no going back now we though.
Tape measure was used through out and eventually all four poppers were secured to the side of Pod, the temptation to try them was there but we needed to let it set and with a great deal of patience we waited for our next trip out to Delamere Forest in December.
Between mid November and December Pod was checked occasionally and this was done with a little trepidation as we thought they would either fall off due to cold temperatures or slide off from the torrential rain, but no, they were still firmly in place and we arrived at Delamere Forest with them intact.
Pod was set up along with the awning and the stud/poppers, it gave a lovely streamline look to the sides and stopped the sides from bellowing in the wind, a much snugger fit. If guaranteed good weather (we can dream) we even gave consideration to not using the guy lines on the sides the press studs were doing an excellent job.
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Slats and Holes
Another modification.. here we go again we hear you say but this one hasn’t only come from us, a few of our followers have inboxed us with the same problem …. damp cushions and seating storage.
We became aware of it on our last two trips away, when packing up the bed we’d noticed the underside of the cushions were damp, along with the boarding on the base.
We’ve had Pod nearly a year now, this was a new experience for us and then we were contacted by a few followers with the same problem. It didn’t seem to matter which end you slept at, it still happened and it appeared to be wherever the upper body was.
We sleep head under window and feet towards the door.
This niggle wasn’t unexpected really, confined space with two people in it, it was expected and then we just wanted to try and think of a way of dealing with it so thinking caps went on and we came up with this. Slats and holes.. read on.
First off we considered improving the ventilation in the base so the only way to do this was to make holes by drilling them. Our main problem area was under the window and on the small plywood section which fits immediately next to it on the small recesses.
Our thoughts then moved onto the lower section which was fitted with the table. Now many of you know we don’t use the table as we keep Pod made up as a bed and live in the awning. So this kind of makes the table redundant and our thoughts moved to slats.
Slats are used in many caravans as bed bases so we began looking at the space left by the table and saw it lent itself to slats being a possibility.
After a trip to B&Q we returned with wood and webbing and dug out a few staple nails we had in the shed. After measuring and tweaking we found what we believe to be the right proportions and cut the wood to fit the lip the table sat on, it was looking really good.
Next came the holes in the small plywood section, nervous is an understatement but we were confident it would be okay and after 10 holes had been drilled we gave a sigh of relief and big grins appeared too. All looking good so far.
Once we put the two together in Pod we had a rethink.. what about getting rid of the small plywood section and making it all slats. In for a penny in for a pound.
Now, the only problem with this is the plywood section is thinner than the table section so it is a further drop of the lip for the lower slats than the the ones that would replace the plywood.
Fortunate for us we’d saved wood from a project that didn’t happen and it was all of the same width but half the depth of our new slats, perfect. These were cut to size and all were then nailed with the webbing to provide a perfect slatted bed base.
This is for if you are replacing the plywood along with the table
The wood is of different thicknesses due to the plywood and table sitting at different depths.You need 4 of these cut to 620mm. These replace the space left by the table. We got the measurement from the table. Not the gap because the gap for piece 1 to 4 is different by few mills. Doing it this way the wood nearer the foot of the bed/door fit slightly tighter than those at the top. They all sit nicely on the lip and didn’t move at all.
You could if you wanted a snug fit in all areas mark and measure where each piece would sit and cut to size.
The top two pieces of wood which replace the plywood are of the same dimensions as in theothers but 10mm X 94mm and they were also cut to 620mm.We then measured the length of the space that needed filling and lay the wood on the floor evenly spacing them, leaving a gap at the top but not at the bottom.
The webbing we nailed/stapled it into space, leaving a little slack between each piece because the wood expands/contracts.
Small note.. The two that replace the plywood insert are flush with the cabinets, the other four are a couple of mills lower/not flush.
You could buy wood a few mills thicker but we haven’t noticed a dip on what we created. Just comfy, stable, solid sleeping
All that was left to do was to solve the damp problem on the base section under the window. You’ve guessed it, more holes. With a little more confidence than before a few more holes were made.
Now it was time to give it a test run. This was done using various ‘testing’ methods and it appeared to hold up well. Also the wood we used was at least three times the width of the standard slats provided with modern day caravans so we didn’t really envisage any problems, we had in fact slightly over engineered the idea. The real test would come on our next trip away.
Hawes in Yorkshire.
Hawes went well, slats worked ! They didn’t move, nice solid base. No bruised bottoms or broken slats, so for now they are a goer. They’ve made life a lot easier and Pod now carrys even less weight. The damp bed panels and cushions seem to no longer be an issue, (check out our video on YouTube) when it came to dismantling the bed and checking the afore mentioned items they were bone dry. The front window still had condensation on it but that’s expected to a certain extent and is easily rectified by giving it a quick wipe first thing in the morning.
For now the table and plywood section are stored in the spare bedroom, they may make a reappearance time will tell, but we had to give it a go, didn’t we.
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Snug Awning and Cosy Canopy
Our two week holiday in Devon was a real tester for us and for Pod. Over a period of a few days and nights we were treated to high winds and gusts in excess of 35mph. Not a lot you may think but when you only have a light nylon awning to protect your worldly goods, its a lot.
During the day we watched as the awning billowed and flapped against Pods sides but she always remained steadfast in her footings and her guide lines never gave way under pressure. So at night, when we crawled into bed and closed Pods door we may have heard the wind howling through the awning but we knew it would still be stood when we woke (although a little prayer before nodding off didn’t go amiss).
Having said all that we saw this as a minor flaw in the compatibility of the awning and Pod and as we are both kind of perfectionists we wanted to attempt to rectify this little problem, that being the gap between the awning and Pods sides. So our minds went a whirling around the idea of obtaining a snug fit.
On each side of the awning bead are two triangular loops for holding guide lines. When the awning is attached to Pod via the beading each side was pulled tight with the elasticated clasp which caused one of these triangular loops to be redundant. This then left a space between the top guide line and the one at the base, this was the offending gap.
During those windy sessions various parts of the awning were held, pulled and positioned at different angles and we came to the conclusion maybe additional guide lines would pull the awning into a closer tighter fit of Pod.
Once we returned home, car, boot and bags were unpacked and the washing machine put into action. After a huge cup of tea we headed to the nearest haberdashery shop and that took some finding. L.B was not going to be attempting any sewing without the necessary thimble.
Thimble was obtained along with a fresh batch of needles and once back home the indestructible thread was located. The awning was taken out of the bag and the centre of the offending gap was locate. The two spare guide line triangles were gingerly severed from the awning and hemmed to hopefully give a stronger attachment to their new position on the awning.
Measurements were taken and the centre of the gap marked, now the real sewing was to begin. As the triangle was to be sewn through two layers of awning material and a thick elastic band this was going to take some time.
Each triangle took approximately an hour to sew. We say approximately because during the process, breaks were needed, needles broken and replaced and fingers needed massaging. Due to the previous experience of sewing the beading onto the awning this was by our account a doddle. After two rows each of over sewing these new guide lines would not be going anywhere.
So next we moved onto how to improve the units footprint.
We set about the thought process and bounced a few ideas around, with an awning canopy coming in as the top option.
Without delay and in true MrB fashion he was quickly on the job searching the Internet and researching his findings.
The canopy had to complement the awning but be lightweight, easy in use and be functional, a supplier was found on Ebay (Military 1st) who offered a 2.6 x 1.7 m black 100% nylon tarp. It already had various fasteners, loops and eyelets which helped in the design phase of our latest project.
Wanting it to blend in with the awning we found matching luminous guide ropes and using the existing king poles provided with the awning we set about the finer detail of fitment and assembly.
After a little trial and error we came up with using the eyelets on the shorter edge corners by tying guide ropes to them which would then be used to fasten the canopy to the awning poles at the joints above the doorway, this gave a quick and efficient joining of the canopy to the awning. We also tied a guide rope to the loop at the centre of the opposite edge which would assist in stability.
Using the loops on the long sides we threaded the poles through them which gives us the option of three different lengths of canopy, either full 2.6m or as we chose a middle version with a vertical privacy curtain.
After first giving this a trial run tied to the stair banister and then further trials outside tied to the conservatory (just to make sure) our challenge was completed and we now have a versatile canopy that provides shade in the sun and protection from the rain even when the awning door is open.
And the cost for this multi function canopy less than £40, a bargain !
……. but wait, always one step ahead and left floating as a future task (ahem ! only in one persons mind) if an awning bead was sewn to the shorter edge it could also be used as an emergency tarp to fit to POD !
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Khyam XL Awning
There is no getting away from Pod’s modern exterior, looks and clever interior design, but there is no hiding away from the fact that she is also a “micro tourer” and therefore for any stay more than a single night we wanted extra space.
As much of our time away would consist of short breaks we wanted a quick to erect awning that could also be put up in the back garden to dry. With Pod’s door at the rear the search was narrowed somewhat to those awnings specially designed for motor homes.
There were a few that met most of the criteria, Outdoor Revolution as an example but with poles that needed threading it just didn’t hit the mark particularly with the want for a true freestanding design that would be put up in no time at all.
Having come across Khyam during our previous camping and caravanning days we knew that this product may well be just what we were looking for and with Red Lions offering the XL at some £70 below RRP we bought it and collected it before even taking delivery of Pod.
The way that the awning would attach to Pod became an instant topic in itself amongst the podding community. It became apparent that the supplied awning rail fitted to the roof of Pod was somewhat redundant as the roof of the drive away section of the Khyam didn’t have a bead attached, more an elasticated gusset. From previous experience these tended not to be reliable in any stiff breeze and were prone to popping off. It then became limited knowledge that a modification was needed if a more fit for purpose fit was to be achieved.
A 2 metre length of 6mm awning bead was purchased from EBay along with suitable rot proof thread. Within hours, several thumb pricks and very sore fingers the bead was attached. The elastic was stretched out between the two top guy line points and the bead placed between them. A small gap, no more than a few millimetres was left so the beading would slide into the rail without catching.
We started at one end, one sewing and the other pulling it tought. We purposely didn’t cut it to size as we wanted a little extra at each end (approx 2inches) so it had a small overhang and the awning itself didn’t catch on the rail. It took some doing by hand as we sewed one way and back again. This rot proof thread was not budging ! We then cut off the excess at the end. Job done.
A word of note, if you are not a good seamstress, value your relationship or have better things to do with your time then this modification can be done at a number of awning repair centres.
Not wishing to be the laughing stock on site we opted to carry out a trial run of the awning and with great ease we put it up in the conservatory. The pre inserted poles are light weight fibreglass and aluminium but not the thin black fibreglass poles found in many awnings and tents nowadays. Each pole has a number of elbow joints that were easy to use and without any trouble the awning was up and freestanding. At 225 cm tall there was ample head room and with the main body area being 210cm square it was big enough without being overly so. The drive away section was a little more difficult to judge but at roughly the same height and 145cm long it looked like a useful extension. Weighing 13kg it is not too heavy and the bag is large enough to put the awning back in again with consummate ease, that said it is a strange long and thin shape which just fits in Pod between the door and the seating area.
Away for the first time in the Lake District the weather forecast was not looking good so getting the awning up as quickly as possible to increase our living area was very important. Luckily on both accounts the weather stayed dry and the putting up was a doddle especially with the modification. Pegging out was very easy with points where you would expect them and also at the base of the poles which we thought was a good design. The main area was just the correct size for us with room for a good sized table and chairs, clothes airier and the porta potti. The three main sides have large zipped openings which make it in to a gazebo with king poles supplied to make a sun canopy out of a door way. There is no groundsheet supplied and to eliminate draughts we would strongly recommend the awning skirt rail accessory. As an added bonus which we didn’t spot between the main area and the drive away section is another zipped door way which we opted to close at night, this gave an enclosed private area for those late night trips to the porta potti. We guess in warmer climates the door of Pod could be left open allowing air to circulate with the reduced risks of unwelcome flying bugs, talking of which the end main door does have a large mesh and the two sides within the drive away area have windows with privacy covers. If colour coordination is a must then the colours are black and grey.
Reliability and Durability
At this early stage it is hard to say if it is money well spent but for us it is practicable, easy to use and just the right size for our needs. Materials and finish appears to be good with strong zips and plenty of guy ropes which glow green in the dark. With Khyam being a somewhat specialist and long standing contributor for more than 20 years to the outside living way of life i can’t foresee any longevity issues.
Don’t forget that this awning was not designed for Pod but is a generic motor home drive away awning and as such it has to cater for a spectrum of vehicle sizes, and there lies the problem. The drive away section is adjustable and although the remaining elasticated gusset sides do provides an adequate fit to Pod, you are left with quite a bit of excess material when the slack is taken up to compensate for Pod not being at the taller end of the range of fitting. With the fact that there are no poles in the drive away section either it does flap a bit and i can see rain pooling on the roof, another modification may be forthcoming. The second is with the Pod’s door fully open it does push against the side of the drive away section but again a niggle not a fault of either Khyam or Go Pods.
In short a good addition to the unit, there are other styles and makes available but maybe none as easy to erect.
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Pods first upgrade
Pod is with us soon and even though we’ve named her and she’s quite an individual already we just want to tweak her a little more so here are a few modifications we have planned.
Pod is coming with a number of 12v power sockets that already have a use, the one on the wardrobe side will be dedicated to the TV and the other inside the wardrobe will be for the fridge which is on a totally separate circuit, powered only when connected to the towing vehicle. So for us there was a need to expand the 12v system to meet our personal requirements.
The upgrade will mainly be for the charging of mobile phones and tablets and an external front plug and play socket for a solar panel, also an external socket to the rear. Future expansion of the upgrade will always be under consideration and Pod will evolve as we do.
Understanding what each power point was to be used for the search began for the suitable items and having successfully completing a similar upgrade on a previous caravan locating the exact items was easy enough through EBay.
With the power going directly to or from the on board battery (so as not to invalidate the warranty on the consumer unit) two fused spurs would be needed, one for solar provision the other for power sockets, both separately fused with 10 amp blade fuses, with 15 amp rated cable connected to the battery terminals by 15 amp crimped ring terminals. The spurs would then be routed out of the battery box and in to the bed box nearest the battery where they would be connected to the distribution block.
The distribution block would be made from a 6 way 15 amp terminal block. The end two terminals we plan to keep separate for the solar provision, but the remaining ones will be joined in parallel via the power socket spur, positive to positive, negative to negative using short loops of 15 amp cable thus enabling a power supply from the distribution block for up to five outlets and this would then be mounted inside the bed box.
Wanting the solar provision to be separate from the remaining supply the solar spur will be connected to the end of the distribution block, this will then allow for the solar connections to be disconnected and a separate solar charge controller added to the circuit if required in the future.
Lots of thought and research has gone in to the solar panel and a folding 100 watt option has been decided on, this gives us the most efficient use and flexibility. Wanting the solar to be a simple fool proof plug and play facility a 50 amp Anderson plug will be fixed to the external front of Pod. Routing 15 amp cable back to the distribution block where it will be connected via a 10 amp blade fuse to the solar terminals. This allows the panel to be connected via its own circuit to the battery by simply being plugged in but also with the capacity to accept up to a 120 watt panel.
The power socket and twin USB charging points are complete kits so already come with appropriately rated and fused cables. Locating these sockets will be very much cable length dependant and crucial as holes will have to be drilled. Using the supplied instructions a 30mm blade drill bit will be used to make two holes in the bed box in to which the sockets are going to be mounted. The supplied fused cables will then be routed back to the distribution block and connected to the two chosen terminals which will already be powered via the power socket spur. Using a plug in and read volt meter in the power socket will give a reasonably accurate indication of the battery voltage, crucial when we are on solar doing our bit of wild camping.
There may be occasions when we want to use the outside shower or our additional coolbox. Not wanting to invalidate the water ingress warranty by drilling a hole in the body another 50 amp Anderson plug is going to be fitted to the underside of Pod at the rear. Routing a 15 amp cable back to the distribution block where it will be connected via a 10 amp blade fuse to a spare terminal from the power socket spur. Attaching an Anderson plug to the end of an old waterproof 12v power socket the rear external plug can then be used, both for its intended use and as an emergency plug in for the solar panel. As with the case of the solar input the Anderson plug has a dust and weatherproof cap fitted, best to be prepared for any eventuality.
With scuba diving as a hobby, drying of LadyB’s hair post dive is of upmost importance, so therefore how to go about this whilst on solar requires some consideration. Thoughts then turn to inverters continuous and max power, modified or pure sine wave. This problem is yet to be addressed, possibly for the 2016 dive season and will be a topic on its own.
These modifications will meet our needs with loads of room for expansion, with all the components purchased and fitted for far less than the costing of a factory fitted power socket, USB upgrade and solar provision. For easy identification each cable run will have a waterproof label on too, nothing worse than not knowing what a cable goes/comes from.
Waste Water Outlet Modification
From our previous caravanning life we have kept a few things for which we are now very grateful, otherwise these changes may have proven expensive. Opting to use our existing Aquaroll and Wastemaster water containers we found accessing the waste outlet difficult, so to overcome this we have simply extended the waste outlet.
Using two 32mm push fit water pipe right angle joints and three pipe brackets from B&Q, a length of standard caravan waste convoluted pipe we set about the job.
This simple modification took 20 minutes cost £5 and now let’s the waste exit from a more accessible point for our needs.
We also noticed that there wasn’t a dust cap on the water pump hose to stop bugs getting into the water container, that was bought for £6 from eBay.
We think it looks good, hope you do to.
Solar ready !
Pod is now solar ready !
Had to change plans when I saw Pod as I couldn’t fit the Anderson plug where we wanted.
Nevertheless the plug is safe and out of the way under the front by the drawbar.
This is capable of taking up to a 120w free standing folding panel on a plug and play basis, so the search for that now begins
12v and USB Upgrade