Home Forums Modifications & Enhancements Modifying the Exsis for our Big Year Out – security


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    • #985
      Chris and Susan

        I have to confess that this is the modification that should have been prioritised before all others before we left home – but it wasn’t – so the following all happened ‘on the road’…

        On a campsite in Gothenburg (of all places – Sweden otherwise felt wonderfully safe and secure) we had an unwelcome middle-of-the-night visitor breaking into the van. He managed to pop the cab door lock (apparently this is very easy to do with our era of Ducatos) but woke us up in the process. Hearing us moving about up in the bed, he did a runner without taking anything – incredibly lucky really – if he had taken his time and helped himself to anything valuable lying around in the van, I’m not sure what we could have done to stop him!

        The door lock still works OK when locked with the button from inside – the key won’t go into the lock on the outside any more – but we can live with that till we get home and have time to shop around for a new lock.

        As a quick-and-easy security upgrade we bought, at great expense (£3!), a ratchet strap to connect the front doors together and a bike lock to secure the back door – perfectly effective, but a bit of a faff to set it up every night. It helped us to sleep soundly in the aftermath of the break-in though!

        Looking online for a more permanent solution led me to ‘sash blockers’ – these are little hinged locking bars which are designed to secure domestic pvc windows. By the time we found some in a DIY store we were in Germany – so our particular sash blockers are typically Germanic, incredibly solid well-engineered metal examples which lock with a lovely unbreakable clunk.

        Fitting them without access to my full tool kit cost me two big blisters on the palms of my hands – the mounting screws go through the vinyl door trim and then into metal (thankfully – as this makes them much stronger) so tapping the screw holes had to be done by effort and persistence! It would be an easy job if you had a drill to make pilot holes.

        To lock, the sash blocker bar just swivels down and locks at 90 degrees, and catches on the black rubber trim which surrounds the door opening – again it feels as if there is solid metal under this rubber trim so it makes a good strong brace against any movement in the door.

        The sash blockers came to a grand total cost of £17 – not bad for a sound night’s sleep!

        For the rear door we went for something a bit fancier – we looked for something that could be locked from inside and outside, and eventually went for a Thule lock costing £80 from an accessory store somewhere in Italy.  The rather unfriendly shop where we bought it couldn’t fit us in to their “busy schedule” for installation (in fairness they had a lot of cigarettes to smoke and standing around to do) and while it would have been an easy DIY job if I had my toolshed with me (now there’s an idea), we needed someone with a drill, a hole-saw and nerves of steel.

        Thankfully, a few days later we visited the lovely medieval walled town of Lucca, where the camperstop turned out to be the parking lot of a little back-street greasy-spanner garage.  With the aid of no shared language whatsoever, we tried asking Guido, the guy in charge, if he could take a look at our van.  “Andrea! Andrea!”, he kept saying, and after much confusion it emerged that Andrea was a bloke – the mechanical side of the operation.  As well as fitting the Thule lock, he gave the van a half-way-through-the-trip service – perfect!

        The Thule lock fits neatly low down on the rear door – the slight angle on the lower half of the door means there’s enough free space on the inside for the interior fittings – almost as if Hymer intended something like this to be added aftermarket.

        So that’s our little mobile fortress!

      • #986
        Barry & Maggie

          Great stuff, Chris & Susan!

          There’s always a solution…

          Your habitation door lock has the advantage that it is VERY visible to a would-be thief from outside, in itself probably deterring any attempt at breaking in, so a good move there.

          Thanks for your great, well-written updates.  And glad the trip is going so well.


        • #1020

            Well done Chris and Susan!

            Since we are ready to become full timers too (starting from June 1st) I read with interest your experience and I just ordered the Thule Inside-Out Lock G2. From Italy seems less easy to find the sash blockers you adopted. Fiamma and Thule seem to have something for the new Ducato, but not for our x244. Do you think is possible to find online sash blockers like yours? Can you share brand and model?

            Thanks and have a good, pleasant and safe trip!


          • #1024
            Barry & Maggie

              Good luck with preparations for your trip, Paolo, and for the trip itself.

              Here’s a UK lock that might interest you, made by Milenco…   https://tinyurl.com/y3tz8ayc

              I think the lock specially made for ‘our’ Fiat front doors by HEOsafe is no longer commonly available, but try these people…  https://tinyurl.com/y369b2xz

              Keep in touch and let us know how your modifications are going, with details of how you carried them out?

              Good luck.



            • #1025
              Chris and Susan

                I’m afraid I didn’t keep any of the packaging so I don’t have a model number for our sash blockers – can’t even remember what the DIY store where we found them was called!

                Looks like there are plenty of options on Amazon – just search ‘sash blockers’ or ‘sash jammers’- eg

                2 x Key Locking Sash Blocker / Window Jammer – Restrictor Lock https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B076HQG1MG/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_QHkSCbK9WFX0T

                Some are push-button-released but for extra security you can get key-operated ones (so they can’t be opened by someone breaking the window and reaching inside)

                Good luck and look forward to hearing about your travels!

              • #1221

                  Hi Chris & Susan
                  <p style=”text-align: left;”>How’s your year going? Hope you don’t mind me asking but we’re at the stage of needing some rust busting and I wondered how yours was, if you’d recommend Rustbusters in Spaulding and roughly how much should we be saving up to get it done?</p>
                  If you’d prefer to email answer, let me know.

                  Hope you’re somewhere nice!


                • #1236
                  Chris and Susan

                    Hi Katy

                    We’ve just arrived home – so the Big Year Out is now starting to feel like a dream that happened to someone else!  Once we get our photos sorted we’ll post a few links here if any of you on the forum would like to check out our story

                    As to the rustproofing – I was impressed with Rustbusters but they definitely weren’t cheap.  I think if it had been a straightforward job, the quote was somewhere in the region of £550 – but once they had steam-cleaned underneath our van, they found some areas that needed welding (mainly around the drivers side wheel arch) and that pushed the price just above £1000.

                    I’m sure I could have got the welding done more cheaply somewhere else – but having made the journey over from Belfast primarily to get the rustproofing done, I was happy to leave the van in Spalding for an extra day and let them do the job properly.  I figured it would be a false economy to do a piecemeal job on the repairs before covering them over with the rustproofing gunk.

                    I’m fully intending to return to Spalding at some stage every year to keep the rustproofing ‘topped-up’ – once you’ve paid the big initial bill, they do a good deal on the price of an annual inspection and touch-up.  They recommend doing the whole job again after 5 years and again they give a good discount if you’ve been regular with the inspections.

                    Hope that helps!


                  • #1256

                      Hi Katy

                      We had Helga treated by Rustbusters a couple of weeks ago, cost us £760 +VAT.

                      Very professional and easy to deal with. We live in Ipswich, so I drove up early one morning, left Helga and took advantage of the hire car deal they have (cost me less than £40 for 2 days + petrol) Picked her up the next day late afternoon.

                      I knew the lower front cross member was rusty from the last MOT, so replaced that before we went (just over £50 on eBay, and about an hours fitting with a friend) Was very pleased not to get a call saying she needed any extra work.

                      Underneath, wheel arches etc are now very black and shiny, very happy, and hopefully well protected.

                      As Chris & Susan say, you need to go back once a year for a check up, but they also give you a kit to top up yourself if you add/take something on/off.

                      All the best

                      Chris & Amanda



                      • This reply was modified 5 years ago by cvclaydon.
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