THE VAN is a McLouis Tandy 366g, bought new in June 2007 from Don Amott in Hilton, Derbyshire. It has a fixed double bed over a garage and an occasional double on the table/bench seat.

The base vehicle is a Renault Master 3ltr. diesel.

McLouis was a brand imported into the UK, primarily, but not exclusively by Don Amott. It was made in Italy near Florence using a right hand drive Renault base vehicle, but the McLouis brand is no longer imported into the UK, although it is still a big seller on the continent.

From January 2015 onwards a great deal of effort was expended to prepare the van for a 9 week, 9 country, 3,500 mile trip around Europe in June and July. To make this length of trip possible a few upgrades were necessary.

The main changes made were a new custom made Duvalay mattress and an upgrade to the gas system. The 13kg and 6kg Calor gas bottles would never have lasted 9 weeks so a Gaslow LPG refillable system was fitted by Knowepark Caravans in Livingston.

The only problem we have ever had with the van occurred three weeks into the trip as we arrived at Canet de Mar, on the coast north of Barcelona. The heat was intense (for a Scotsman) and was reaching 35 degrees when the fridge packed in. Luckily the site we were on knew of a local electrician who might be able to help fix the problem.

He tested the system and eventually found the problem. There appeared to be a few loose connections and so he proceeded to take every wiring connection apart and solder them back together.

A fantastic result and well worth the 100 Euros it cost as it kept the food and drink cool in what would be 35 degree heat for the next month in Spain, the south of France, Italy and even into Switzerland. 

Since then other upgrades have been fitted including a 120w solar panel to top up the new twin leisure batteries and the van battery. This has been a great success and phones, tablets etc can be topped up at anytime where previously charging was only possible when driving or hooked up on a site, which is a rarity nowadays as wildcamping is the order of the day.

Halfway through our 6 month European Tour, and after a few weeks on a campsite at El Campello near Alicante, Spain a fault has developed again with the fridge. Fumes are seeping into the van, not gas fumes but exhaust fumes which is just as dangerous. The site we are on called out the local motorhome/caravan repair guy and he checked it out but said he could nor repair it as he was not qualified to service a Dometic fridge.

The site then called the local Dometic repair depot but being the middle of a Spanish afternoon it was closed! I e mailed them in the evening with a Google translation and they replied the next morning. The upshot is a service engineer came out and and found “muchos muchos problemas”.

Work begins to fix the fridge...
Work begins to fix the fridge…

It seemed that over the years soot had accumulated in the exhaust pipes and this now meant the pilot light was not burning properly thus creating the noxious smell in the van. Two hours later he had it fixed after spilling a bit of blood in the process!

Louis draws blood from the repair man...
Louis draws blood from the repair man…

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