Category Archives: General Posts

DC / AC Inverter

Since upgrading my solar installation in the summer of 2017 the inverter had been omitted due to time constraints \ other priorities. It was always going to go back in as this is the missing component to a fully off grid solution, providing a means of converting the leisure battery’s DC power to AC via a three pin (UK) socket. Obvious uses are for laptop charging or Mandy’s hair drier, so brownie points are gained for making the effort to fit.

Neatly tucked away behind the small cupboard door.

After deciding on a position for my batteries during the solar install, it pretty much meant that the inverter had to go in the same location. Its all very snug, and will be even more so when I get the second leisure battery in place. I’m pretty pleased that I have managed to get so much equipment in such a confined space. We have lost a cupboard, but it’s much neater in this configuration.

View from above with the upper cupboard base removed
Upper cupboard with base back in place.

Twizy f1 Rear spoiler

Anybody that really knows me will know that I don’t do standard! If you look back at my past vehicles they have all had modifications. In fact it’s pretty easy to modify a car, motorbike, scooter or campervan with off the shelf items, and this had been the case for most of my previous vehicles purely because it was so easy if you could afford the parts. Owning my campervan has lead me to be a little more creative with items like the bespoke slide out drawer, chopping board and installation of the campervans off grid solar supply. So I guess my creativity and willingness to learn new practical skills has put me in a situation where I feel i have the confidence to tackle things where some may not!?

If your reading this you either have a campervan, or a Twizy. If neither I would wonder how you found this page, but Twizy owners are most likely to have an interest in this for obvious reasons.

I will just add that this is an entirely bespoke modification. I have not kept any of the templates, measurements or little to help anybody build this with any degree of accuracy from this guide. It’s not that i deliberately want to be obstructive or unhelpful, It’s just that it’s all been put together on the fly, hoping and praying things fall into place without having to start again from scratch. So I apologise in advance for not being able to send out CAD files, or a detailed DIY guide for what you are about to see. (Also, at time of publish this is not a finished modification and very much work in progress!)

You can see from my initial Twizy post my reason for wanting such a vehicle. So hopefully that will give you some background. That said, I love the look of the F1 Twizy, and although it is a little extreme with the front spoiler, I felt that a rear Wing and side Foils would give my take a more balanced look once I have completed some of the other Modifications.

After consulting numerous images of different angles of the F1 Twizy I started to softly commit to the prospect of a rear wing by masking out an area that could offer a mounting point for the main fixing bracket. This was always going to be convoluted slightly by the curve of the bodywork. So I added a flat in the form of a piece of corrugated cardboard.

Matching up a location for the main bracket

It was from this that I created a side on template to get the profile i needed to elevate the wing slightly. I don’t have the cardboard template unfortunately , but the following two images show the aluminum profile created, and the highlighted profile used for the production

Aluminum cut from cardboard template

Profile for wing

With the aluminum cut, this was folded in the marked lines to form the basic shape of the main bracket. To further increase the structure I used 3mm hardwood ply. The template was used to cut four corresponding elements that would sit either side of the two main supports.

Matching some of the early elements against the car
Folded aluminum structure and plywood components

All of these components were carefully profiled, mated up and drilled to provide fixings using a pot rivet gun. The laminated ply was further countersunk to ensure the rivets didn’t protrude above the facings. This clip shows everything mated up prior to the rivets being fixed.

The initial location mock up used a corrugated cardboard flat to emulate the bracket surface. With the profile of the rear being curved I would need to create a leveling base plate so the new bracket would mate correctly. To do this i masked off the rear of the car with tape. After this I sprayed adhesive and applied baking foil so the resin couldn’t adhere once complete. From here i cut fiberglass strips in varying thicknesses to create a flat pad.

Creation of the leveling pad in fiberglass

The plywood components were gel coated on the inside with fiberglass resin, and rivet gunned together. Once dry they were gel coated in fiberglass epoxy, then covered in fiberglass. The main bracket can be seen being mathed up to the leveling pad.

Bracket gel coated / fiberglass covered & matched to leveling pad

The finish on the bracket would never be production quality without any intervention, so it would need to be filled and prepared if it was to look anything like acceptable. Here you can see it with the newly created leveling pad after some body filler.

Smoothing the bracket & matching against leveling pad

Here you can see some progress in terms of the sanding and flatting of the main bracket, along with some matching up of the leveling plate.

Bracket and leveling pad

Basic matching up after the bracket and leveling pad have been bonded together using epoxy

Matching up against the leveling pad

To create a broad area for the main aerofoil / wing, i felt it would be better to fix this to a plate rather than the actual bracket. I had decided that the main wing fixing plate would be riveted and bonded using metal epoxy as a belt and braces approach, so below you can see the wing fixing being matched and drilled.

Bracket matched up with fixing plate

Once I had the main bracket available I used a variety of different materials to establish the upper profile of the Twizy. From there i used a plywood template to gain the profile I needed to map onto the 3mm aluminum sheet i felt was appropriate for the wing.

template made out of plywood for main wing

Template used to cut the 3mm aluminum.

Testing alignment

This modification was always going to require drilling holes into the bodywork to mount the wing bracket and tower foil elements. I wasn’t 100% comfortable doing this to the existing bodywork so I sources a second hand set from Montenegro. Bit of a strange location to get the parts from I hear you say. I posted a wanted advert on the Renault Twizy Facebook group and the parts were offered up by a chap that was breaking one. Although I was a little apprehensive at first, the more I chatted to the person via messaging, the more convinced I was that the goods would come through. That said I wasn’t fully convinced that they would arrive in one piece, but they did so happy days. The bonus was they were already black.

These two pieces of bodywork are plastic and very flexible. I didn’t want to be working on the Twizy as it would mean I couldn’t use it diring the fabrication. So I decided to make a jig in the form of a wooden structure to mount the upper bodywork to. The added bonus was that I could position the part at a more comfortable level on my Black & Decker workmate whilst the work was carried out .

Parts attached to jig

The image below is jumping forward a little more than I would like for all the reasons I explained in the initial paragraphs. But here you see the main bracket (1), the wing (2) cut from ply template, the wing fixing plate (3), the bodywork leveling pad (4) and the side foil fixings (5)

As can be seen in the above image, reference 5 is for the fixings to the side elements / wings. These are basically 90 degree aluminum angle brackets, cut, drilled, epoxy glued and riveted to the main wing (seen below)

Side foil fixing bracket (glued and pop riveted in place)

Below shows progress with components aluminum elements etch primed, them primed before paint.

Etch Primer (yellow) so that the paint will key onto the bare metal
Primed and ready for satin black paint

Both main parts at this point have been painted satin black, and the main wing has had a carbon wrap.

Main fixing bracket & aerofoil complete

I had ordered some graphics for all of the parts I was working on, so the main wing was liveried up and mounted to the bodywork

I decided that the most cost effective way to make the side elements would be to use 3mm fibreglass sheet. Other options included carbon fibre, but this would have been ludicrously expensive, and I really couldn’t justify spending upwards of £200. The largest size of fibreglass i could source was A3 (329mm x 483mm). This would have been too small if I had wanted to try and closely replicate the F1 Twizy spoiler, but I had to be realistic regarding the material I was working with. Any larger and the strength, stiffness and weight of the fiberglass would start to become an issue. So it really was a compromise. Having said that, I feel the proportions I commited to will be more acceptable as a day to day vehicle.

The fiberglass sheets were ordered in November (2018) but because of an issue with my delivery address it didn’t actually arrive until mid December at which point I had a bad chest infection that put me out of action, so little progress happened. Once I started to feel batter i was back in the garage measuring up the glass sheets and deciding on a shape. Once I was happy the sheets were taped together and the profile was cut using a diamond cutting wheel on a dremel. From there the position of the 3 holes on both side elements were marked and drilled.

At this point i decided that it would be better to move the bodywork onto the car so I could check and refine anything that wasn’t quite sitting level or at right angles. The side foils were attached and at this point I had to start thinking about how I was going to tie it all in and secure it at the lower part of the bodywork.

Matching up and building bottom fixings

TO BE CONTINUED

Renault Twizy

Since owning my campervan most of my time and money had been spent renovating that. There were a few sacrifices made during that time in the form of the loss of my two scooters to provide extra funding for some of the more major work that needed doing like the engine and gearbox. Although the camper has provided an amazing distraction from these losses, it was only going to be a matter of time before I needed something to fill the impractical vehicle gap. You know, the type that puts a smile on your face.

I think the catalyst for my interest for renewable energy has come from the solar installation on my camper. Its proved amazingly effective at giving us free energy for the fridge, lighting, and all of our electronic devices as we live and travel. The only exception has been heating whilst static, which is taken care of by the diesel night heater. This, as you can imagine has allowed us to camp in remote locations without electric hook up, or choose a camping pitch that costs less money due to the fact we don’t need electricity.

I think the real buzz factor that goes with having energy for nothing can only really be associated with by like minded people. That said I know this post will not resonate with everybody, but the world of renewable energy will ultimately make everybody’s life a whole lot better once established on mass. If anybody is really interested the best place to delve in is the youtube ‘Fully Charged‘ channel offers a wealth of information about all things green. Highly recommended viewing.

All of that said, it will not be of any great surprise to hear that my most recent purchase scratches the “impractical smile on your face method of transport” along with the “green energy” check box. I first saw the car advertised online during my September campervan holiday. The price was good and I was convinced this Renault Twizy was the one for me! 

Basically this vehicle ticks all of the boxes and more. Its a blast to drive, gets the heads turning, and costs as little as 60 pence a charge to do 50 miles. It can also be tuned (watch this space) using a PowerBox, and the lack of modifications just make me want to find a way to make this already rare and unique vehicle a little more special. Again…. watch this space.

Bristol – Baltic Wharf

Why go to Bristol again I hear you say when we have been there four times already? Explanation is fairly simple. The first time we did a Park and Ride for a day, and it wasn’t until we realised on the way back to the van on the bus that we had missed the best parts of Bristol. No such excuses for the second, third or fourth time, but it’s just about as good as a winter vacation in a campervan gets location wise!

Seeing the New year in looking at Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Wharf.

The first week of 2018 we spent at York, Rowntree, Caravan Club site mainly because we had stayed at Baltic Wharf in 2017 and the year before in 2016  . However, after making an early booking at Edinburgh Caravan Club site, we decided that Bristol would be a much more local venue giving us the flexibility we needed if the weather took a turn for the worst.

Anyway, we were not disappointed. We chose to take in lots of free attractions right on our doorstep such as the M-Shed museum, and although the week long break started unseasonably mild (shorts and T-Shirt), the temperatures soon dropped to sub zero towards the end of our stay. That said, the Webasto night heater kept us warm so the stay was a great start to 2019!

Historic Dock right next to Baltic Wharf Campsite.
http://www.underfallyard.co.uk/
a modern reconstruction of the original Matthew that John Cabot sailed to Newfoundland in 1497.

Baltic Wharf Link is below for anybody that wants to stay at this location. You must me a member of the Caravan and Motorhome Club site.

https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/england/southern-england/bristol/baltic-wharf-caravan-club-site/

Sandringham – CCC Site

Camping and Caravan Club – Sandringham

Nothing on this holiday had been arranged other than the first stop at Deepdale, which incidentally was done the the morning we left home. The second stop of our September holiday, sy. Sandringham Camping and Caravan Club, was booked on the fly also. We were comfortable with this as it’s late in the season, and the sites are not likey to be busy.

We arrived late morning, but couldn’t check in until 1pm. So parked in the car park and had a few hours cycling around to get out bearings. We knew that the Saturday was going to be by far the best day of the weekend, so we saw no reason to sit idle until we could access the campsite, and thought we would appreciate our accommodation more after a little exercise.

After approximately 3 hours we collected the van and were and entered the camp site. The grounds were really picturesque and we had lots of flexibility regarding pitch location. We didn’t realise until waking the site later that afternoon just how big it was, but ironically we feel for a location within a stone’s throw from the entrance with close access to toilets and shower block.

We awoke on Sunday to the forecasted rain which left us both feeling lethargic. We climbed out of bed well after 9am, and struggled to do anything but drink tea & coffee with the heater on for much off the morning. Breakfast became brunch and as we approached midday the rain turned to drizzle, and finally stopped. At this point we both knew it would be in our interest to take this opportunity to stretch our legs and get some fresh air before cabin fever kicks in. Initially we circled the perimeter of the campsite having a nosey at the variety of caravans, motor homes and tents. Not long after the sun appeared, so our walk extended to the forest behind the entrance, so all in all the day was a nice combination of chill and exercise 😊