17' Series 01/2014 Expanda 17.56.1 - New to Expanda Family & Advice wanted

MelSurf

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Nov 8, 2020
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Please forgive me if I'm making a rookie error - member of this forum for a while but not a consistent follower until now - as we have just FINALLY purchased a new to us 01/2014 17.56.1 pop-top expanda! I can't wait to get it away for a real trip...... we had a few 4 night stay down the south coast NSW for my sister's wedding two weeks ago and I didn't have much time to enjoy as I was busy finishing cutting the vinyl for her wedding signs.

Hi! We are new and going to love our new Expanda, so many things in this van are new to us!

We aren't new to camping - BC - we have had a tent, several of them, when our first son was born we bought a Cavalier Camper Trailer for our first camping weekend with him in 1999 for Easter (23 years ago) I wasn't tenting with a baby......

We had the trailer for a few good years, then upgrading again for Easter 2011 to a 2007 Swan 2007 which served us well until Dec 2020.

In Jan 2019 we bought a Coromal Pop-Top van as our cabin at my parents property (2hrs from Sydney) as it wasn't great having to leave the Swan set up if it rained for the overnight stay or long weekend as it couldn't be packed away wet and it too served us well as our cabin but just didn't cut it for travelling in, little to no cupboard space - great for families of little kids as up to 3 plus parents can sleep inside but our boys are grown and in swags and no longer sleep inside.

So we decided late 2020 to sell both and buy something a bit bigger, we sold the Swan and then tried with the Coromal in January 2021 (as soon as us from Sydney Northern Beaches) were allowed out of lockdown for a short not quite week at my brother & sister's property on the South Coast - it was better than a tent! and again at Easter 2021 it was OK, then covid reared it's ugly head again and we didn't get away at all in the 2nd half (after the June long weekend) until Christmas just gone, again not a long stay (we usually do 2 weeks in January) but a little over a week this time 11 nights and it just wasn't the right van for us.

So I started looking and felt an Expanda would be right for us, the fold out beds was one of the things I loved about the swan, a bathroom wasn't essential - at this stage considering the extra $$$ ones with bathrooms are selling for. I will admit that I bought this one on the colour of the lounge back rests! It is the only one I have ever seen with this colour...... I'd have bought one with my original swan colours as I love that too..... I will attach a picture so you can see - I'm a blue kind of girl so it screamed at me that it wanted to be my van! We feel we got a great van for the price we paid - regardless of the colour...... this just ticked a few invisible boxes for me.
1645938282337.png


Now I'd appreciate some help & advice, with what switches do and what the best modifications do ie shelves in the two big tall cupboards as they are just hanging and we don't take anything away that needs to be hung up.

Right now I'd like to know about installing Sirocco fans OR NCE Oscillating Fans - in particular in the expanda bed ends. Our van does have a roof mounted air conditioner but looking for when we are off grid at mum & dad's property and only have 12v and still want some night time comfort. Can any members please offer suggestions on where these fans can be permanently mounted (I'm thinking in the bed recess where the current bed lights are) - is that possible and have the bed mattress still fold up and the fan not be in the way? Is it possible to tap into the power supplying these bed lights? Lucky for us - our youngest son is an apprentice electrician so I can get him to do our installation (with his boss supervising). Please share your suggestions on where to position &/or if we get a 3rd one for the table/kitchen area where the best place to locate it would be.

Our layout is the last year the fridge was allowed to be on the awning side - if anyone has a 01/2014 floor plan saved in their paperwork - I'd be forever grateful if you would share this with my, my husband isn't a natural for remembering where things are or where they go back..... I figure if I can give him an instruction sheet he will learn quicker and or won't need to keep asking me where I have put things, I also won't be the only one who knows where things go then the only one who can put them away.

Sorry my first post (I think) was so long and can't wait to share in the awesome abilities of member and their amazing modifications for simpler camping set ups.

Cheers & Happy Camping - Melissa
 

Drover

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Welcome to the group Melissa, you sound like you have followed the path most of us have travelled, if you look all around the place on here you should find the answers to your mods questions..............


Does it look like this ??? about the only one I could find with fridge there, that does mean you should NOT enclose your awning or you will gas yourselves...

EDIT: The typo mentioned in later post's has been corrected. Was due to 3 days of Telstra outage and unable to correct.
1646008695474.png


With your bed ends closed up have a look to see how much room you have for a fan, a look inside cupboards you can come across the 12v supply for light which you could use, just depends which side of the light switch it is, I have picked power from the light switch itself and run wiring through cupboards to a fan switch..... advisable to mount the fan off a cupboard as the actually walls are not all that sturdy for something that may get a bit of bounce to it, plus you can keep the wiring hidden... with the Sirocco best to try for a position where you can benefit from it at night as well as during the day, they are far too expensive not to get the most from them but shop around as the price can vary more than $50...........
Clean the canvas and give it a good waterproofing as well and never fold it up damp.

Those seat covers look really good, I think Big Mal might need some.

Here's my old 14.44 thread it may have some ideas for you, quite a few other threads folks have done which have some really great mods done.

 
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Boots in Action

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Can you please confirm that this is exactly what you meant to write!
@MelSurf , @mikerezny , I think @Drover forgot to include the very important word "NOT" because of the possibility of a buildup of carbon monoxide fumes from the fridge burner (when on gas- off grid) in an enclosed awning/annex. That dangerous possibility was the reason gas fridges are now all on the off side and vented away from the area where CO could build up and become lethal. Amazing the industry got away with it for so long before doing something about it!!
 
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mikerezny

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@MelSurf , @mikerezny , I think @Drover forgot to include the very important word "NOT" because of the possibility of a buildup of carbon monoxide fumes from the fridge burner (when on gas- off grid) in an enclosed awning/annex. That dangerous possibility was the reason gas fridges are now all on the off side and vented away from the area where CO could build up and become lethal. Amazing the industry got away with it for so long before doing something about it!!
This is also the reason that the vent at the back of the bench above the fridge inside a van is also now illegal.

One must be extremely careful when posting about issues that affect people's safety to ensure the guidance given is indeed accurate.
In this case, the advice given, if taken, could result in containing dangerous fumes inside an annex.
 

Hylux

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Sep 1, 2017
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Re the fans if yours is like my 14.44.4 have a look at the light near the bed for a socket in the side, jayco made a light/fan that plugs in and clips onto the bar
 

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MelSurf

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Nov 8, 2020
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Welcome to the group Melissa, you sound like you have followed the path most of us have travelled, if you look all around the place on here you should find the answers to your mods questions..............


Does it look like this ??? about the only one I could find with fridge there, that does mean you should NOT enclose your awning or you will gas yourselves...

View attachment 68111

With your bed ends closed up have a look to see how much room you have for a fan, a look inside cupboards you can come across the 12v supply for light which you could use, just depends which side of the light switch it is, I have picked power from the light switch itself and run wiring through cupboards to a fan switch..... advisable to mount the fan off a cupboard as the actually walls are not all that sturdy for something that may get a bit of bounce to it, plus you can keep the wiring hidden... with the Sirocco best to try for a position where you can benefit from it at night as well as during the day, they are far too expensive not to get the most from them but shop around as the price can vary more than $50...........
Clean the canvas and give it a good waterproofing as well and never fold it up damp.

Those seat covers look really good, I think Big Mal might need some.

Here's my old 14.44 thread it may have some ideas for you, quite a few other threads folks have done which have some really great mods done.

thank you! Yes it does look exactly like that although there is only one cupboard beside the fridge ie robe (no pantry) and ours is the .1 ie no bathroom but has the extra low cupboard and bench and extra pantry where the ensuite is in this diagram. I'll have a look in the cupboards for the wiring as there is the bed lights that we can tap into. do you have an opinion on the sirocco v's nce?

We are finding small imperfections (cosmetic) but a major one that wasn't there and we can only put it down to someone kicking it - maybe they don't like we have a new van parked infront of our house - we can't currently get it into mum & dad's property as it is so wet and we are expecting more rain.

On that note - we are in for some torrential rain and we had the roof up as I've been meant to be putting out things away but can't until I get shelves in the two robes - can't decide if I want fixed or adjustable shelving and what thickness to have the shelves made, we have a friend who is a cabinet maker and we are going to get him to do it for us, but I'm also going to get him to extend the 1/2 length drawers under the two lounge areas.

When we were in there this afternoon bringing down the roof I noticed the boxes we had on the kitchen bench were wet - water had come in the vent above the stove - is this normal?? How do we stop water coming in when it is driving rain? We have gaffa taped it up for now as we are expecting an east coast low - think what has just been in Brisbane and Lismore - is heading our way. We have also taped up the vents to the fridge and will cut some corflute that we can tape up when we leave the van at my parents property so it won't get water in while it is in 'storage' - maybe we should be putting a cover on it - thoughts/opinions on cover or not to cover?

Thank you for taking the time to reply, we ALWAYS used our annexe with our swan, haven't ever set it up with the coromal but have only just done short trips due to covid - we haven't done our usual 2 weeks like we always did with the swan. The swan only had the bag awning and not privacy walls. I imagine we will only use the awning with the shadecloth privacy walls.

I'll take a look at your post. Can't wait get the last few modifications done to make the van complete!
 
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MelSurf

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Re the fans if yours is like my 14.44.4 have a look at the light near the bed for a socket in the side, jayco made a light/fan that plugs in and clips onto the bar
Hey Hylux, the van came with two of these and we have one left from our swan so we actually have 3 I didn't much like them in the swan as they didn't push much air around and hanging from the roof bar, there is less roof clearance in the expanda beds than their was in the swan so going to / have sold but not yet finalised the sales of these. I really want to get the sirocco or nce as they will be permanently fixed and move greater volumes of air.
 

MelSurf

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Nov 8, 2020
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I hope it settles soon. Stay safe.
thanks all for the corrections - I'm sure I'd have worked that out but I have also decided I like the 'no annexe' and privacy walls only set up! Might even actually sell the annexe this van came with if we think we won't ever use it. My husband said it looks brand new!

It came with Kakadu vinyl bed storm covers, not sure about them if they'll make the beds too hot & steamy or if we 'just use them' We always used the bedflys on the swan no matter what even if we were only overnight!

We did experience some pooling on the inside roof of the front bed while away for my sister's wedding - the back bed didn't get any water here. I can't work out if it is coming through the hinge or if it is tracking down the ends and under the hinge from the sides rather than the hinge itself (does that make sense?) How can I work out where it is coming from?

Learning how to find things in the forum is a bit tricky - I apologise now if I get it wrong and or bring up old threads! Don't feel bad telling me I have done the wrong thing - but just let me know how I should/could have done it better!
 
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Drover

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Your doing really well I reckon, my internet is back up and running now ............ anyway the semntence didn't sound right anyway..

Your cupboards, someone on here did a great report on adding shelves to theirs............

I have a Sirrocco and it is brilliant, quiet, doesn't use a lot of power and the gymble set up allows us to point in where we want, just expensive bit of kit, if your lights have a socket like @Hylux your laughing the connection for a fan is ready made................. I find the screens do a great job off the awning, my annex has been in its bag sitting in the shed and never used by us, too heavy .

Your water from vent could have been just forced but have a look around the edge the seal may have let go, if you have the fridge vents that a narrow slotted you should be good for keeping rain out but the large slot jobs did have problems with water getting in........ I have fitted fly screen on the inside of my fridge vents, just stuck on with silastic as when we lived in the bush mud wasps were a big problem and I didn't want them building huge homes amongst my fridge plumbing, never had any water ingress dramas thankfully.


If you type shelves into the search box on the main page, tick the box titles only you will find heaps of threads on the subject, hours of browsing I reckon.
 
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Boots in Action

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thanks all for the corrections - I'm sure I'd have worked that out but I have also decided I like the 'no annexe' and privacy walls only set up! Might even actually sell the annexe this van came with if we think we won't ever use it. My husband said it looks brand new!

It came with Kakadu vinyl bed storm covers, not sure about them if they'll make the beds too hot & steamy or if we 'just use them' We always used the bedflys on the swan no matter what even if we were only overnight!

We did experience some pooling on the inside roof of the front bed while away for my sister's wedding - the back bed didn't get any water here. I can't work out if it is coming through the hinge or if it is tracking down the ends and under the hinge from the sides rather than the hinge itself (does that make sense?) How can I work out where it is coming from?

Learning how to find things in the forum is a bit tricky - I apologise now if I get it wrong and or bring up old threads! Don't feel bad telling me I have done the wrong thing - but just let me know how I should/could have done it better!
Hi @MelSurf , I can vouch for the comments made by @Drover regarding the Sirrocco 12 volt fan. Fitted one in a friend's van just recently. The low noise, the amount of air moved and the gymbal fitting allows the fan to be positioned in any plane, vertical or horizontal and anywhere in between. Here is a link for the unit on Ebay at a reasonable price for the job it does.

Just another tip for you if you have not already considered it. When you are able to get your van into your parents' property, you will need to have access to 240 volt power to maintain the van battery in good shape and always charged. Long periods without float charging will result in a flat and ruined battery that cannot be recharged. and will need replacing.
 

MelSurf

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Nov 8, 2020
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Hi @MelSurf , I can vouch for the comments made by @Drover regarding the Sirrocco 12 volt fan. Fitted one in a friend's van just recently. The low noise, the amount of air moved and the gymbal fitting allows the fan to be positioned in any plane, vertical or horizontal and anywhere in between. Here is a link for the unit on Ebay at a reasonable price for the job it does.

Just another tip for you if you have not already considered it. When you are able to get your van into your parents' property, you will need to have access to 240 volt power to maintain the van battery in good shape and always charged. Long periods without float charging will result in a flat and ruined battery that cannot be recharged. and will need replacing.
Thanks Boots - what do you consider 'long periods'? We will visit there 2-3 times per year - June Long Weekend & October Long Weekend, Fathers Day etc & then we go away in it at Easter and Christmas time. Would it need to be more often than that? First time having solar panels fixed to the roof! Our Coromal we just used to put our portable panel out via anderson plug (when we visited the property), the expanda doesn't have this option. So many switches inside the van - not 100% sure (yet) what they are all for and which ones should be on and which ones should be switched off - so much to learn!
 

MelSurf

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Nov 8, 2020
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Your doing really well I reckon, my internet is back up and running now ............ anyway the semntence didn't sound right anyway..

Your cupboards, someone on here did a great report on adding shelves to theirs............

I have a Sirrocco and it is brilliant, quiet, doesn't use a lot of power and the gymble set up allows us to point in where we want, just expensive bit of kit, if your lights have a socket like @Hylux your laughing the connection for a fan is ready made................. I find the screens do a great job off the awning, my annex has been in its bag sitting in the shed and never used by us, too heavy .

Your water from vent could have been just forced but have a look around the edge the seal may have let go, if you have the fridge vents that a narrow slotted you should be good for keeping rain out but the large slot jobs did have problems with water getting in........ I have fitted fly screen on the inside of my fridge vents, just stuck on with silastic as when we lived in the bush mud wasps were a big problem and I didn't want them building huge homes amongst my fridge plumbing, never had any water ingress dramas thankfully.


If you type shelves into the search box on the main page, tick the box titles only you will find heaps of threads on the subject, hours of browsing I reckon.
thanks Drover, yes we do have the connection @Hylux mentioned on the bed lights - I will start looking for some sirrocco's to have permanently fixed to the bed ends and they can be spun to point at the cafe dining & kitchen areas.

I have just gone into the van and water is still coming in but can't pin point were, possibly around the vent ie my husband taped up the vent but not the actual vent where it slots into the van. It is loose ie not fixed to the body of the van - maybe this is where it is coming in - totally guessing but enough that the sponge I left where it was dripping in had enough water to wring out..... so need to get it sealed up. Could the vent itself be broken? The inside plate doesn't want to click into place. Should it be removable? or just cut the sikaflex (is this what everyone uses or silicone)? to remove. If broken, I'll get a new one to put in - best place to buy such spare part?

I'll do a search for shelves.... hours of browsing - a bit like going down a rabbit hole - I'm sure I'll have some spare time this weekend as I'm sure all sport will be off - I can't see the rain stopping and the grounds drying out before then.

I appreciate the time everyone has taken to respond and offering their suggestions!
 

RickO

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Dec 25, 2018
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Australia
thanks all for the corrections - I'm sure I'd have worked that out but I have also decided I like the 'no annexe' and privacy walls only set up! Might even actually sell the annexe this van came with if we think we won't ever use it. My husband said it looks brand new!

It came with Kakadu vinyl bed storm covers, not sure about them if they'll make the beds too hot & steamy or if we 'just use them' We always used the bedflys on the swan no matter what even if we were only overnight!

We did experience some pooling on the inside roof of the front bed while away for my sister's wedding - the back bed didn't get any water here. I can't work out if it is coming through the hinge or if it is tracking down the ends and under the hinge from the sides rather than the hinge itself (does that make sense?) How can I work out where it is coming from?

Learning how to find things in the forum is a bit tricky - I apologise now if I get it wrong and or bring up old threads! Don't feel bad telling me I have done the wrong thing - but just let me know how I should/could have done it better!


Hi MelSurf,

We have exactly the same model and the water pooling on the bed end drove me mad. We took it back to Jyco within the warranty period and the resealed the hinge area of the bed ends twice but it hasn't fixed it. Nor has an attempt by an excellent local caravan repairer (Melbourne Caravan Repairs).

My solution was to get some 90mm drain pipe, cut it lengthwise to the width of the canvas (+ a little more) and sit this under the hinge to catch the drips and run it off to the side.

RickO
 

Boots in Action

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Mar 13, 2017
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thanks Drover, yes we do have the connection @Hylux mentioned on the bed lights - I will start looking for some sirrocco's to have permanently fixed to the bed ends and they can be spun to point at the cafe dining & kitchen areas.

I have just gone into the van and water is still coming in but can't pin point were, possibly around the vent ie my husband taped up the vent but not the actual vent where it slots into the van. It is loose ie not fixed to the body of the van - maybe this is where it is coming in - totally guessing but enough that the sponge I left where it was dripping in had enough water to wring out..... so need to get it sealed up. Could the vent itself be broken? The inside plate doesn't want to click into place. Should it be removable? or just cut the sikaflex (is this what everyone uses or silicone)? to remove. If broken, I'll get a new one to put in - best place to buy such spare part?

I'll do a search for shelves.... hours of browsing - a bit like going down a rabbit hole - I'm sure I'll have some spare time this weekend as I'm sure all sport will be off - I can't see the rain stopping and the grounds drying out before then.

I appreciate the time everyone has taken to respond and offering their suggestions!
@MelSurf , hang in there. There are lots of very experienced members here to help you. If the vent you are talking about is the normal plastic type for the fridge outlets or even the door vents, they are made to fit and lock into place. I don't recommend using a sealant (especially Sikaflex) as you need to be able to remove the vent/s at any time for a number of reasons. There are usually two small lugs at the bottom of the vent and two locking plastic screws/metal slides at the top or sides to secure vent in place. Are the vents the Dometic type or Thetford brand.?? Both types are available on Ebay - links later if need be and broken. I will leave it to either @mikerezny or @Drover to fill you in on some of the electrical switches in your 2014 Expanda and the battery management system probably a Setec ST20/35 Series III, a copy of manual can be downloaded if you don't have a copy. Good luck.
 

Boots in Action

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Thanks Boots - what do you consider 'long periods'? We will visit there 2-3 times per year - June Long Weekend & October Long Weekend, Fathers Day etc & then we go away in it at Easter and Christmas time. Would it need to be more often than that? First time having solar panels fixed to the roof! Our Coromal we just used to put our portable panel out via anderson plug (when we visited the property), the expanda doesn't have this option. So many switches inside the van - not 100% sure (yet) what they are all for and which ones should be on and which ones should be switched off - so much to learn!
@MelSurf , that sort of infrequent use will lead to battery failure eventually, especially if battery never reaches full charge/capacity. Although a solar panel may keep a battery charged if kept connected to battery, the battery needs to be FULLY charged initially as it is unlikely that a single solar panel will bring the battery up to full capacity if left remotely , as it will not always be in the optimum position for max charge. Might be better to remove battery and connect it to a good multi- stage charger which will be able to keep battery fully charged for when ever you need it. Nothing worse than having a flat van battery just when you want to go away off grid, and never leave a battery in a discharged condition for long periods. Plenty about this on the forum. Is it a AGM or Gel type, as the charging algorithm is different for each type. See attached for more info.
 

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Drover

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If you can't just leave it plugged in to 240v at the olds place then I would get one of those 2.5w - 5w portable solar battery chargers from supercheap and hook it direct to battery, throw panel on roof at a slight angle so crud washes off and you will find your battery will stay good for ages so long as it was fully charged in the beginning and disconnected from rest of van, these don't require a regulator just connect direct to battery........ mine have kept batteries charged that are higher A/H than detailed.....

Of course if your van has solar already then its not a drama .........

The other way is since your van battery is either GEL or AGM , when you drop your van off you just pull the battery out, take it home and throw it on a suitable multi stage charger to keep it sweet until next time, the charger just needs to be for your battery type and be about 5 stage so you can leave it to do its thing and forget about it, there quite a few out there that are not overly expensive things either........................... Being GEL or AGM it is quite safe to carry in your vehicle as they won't spill or vent nasty gas, just need to protect the terminals from stray contact with anything.......

If its not parked on concrete or hard gravel then I would sit the wheels on pads as well as have the draw bar on a stand also on a pad, put the jockey wheel under cover.......... a good spray underneath with surface spray can't hurt either, wheel covers are good or something that keeps the weather and sun off them... I would go a well tied down cover, may only last a year but if your not around then it will keep a lot of muck off it, they must be well secured with good straps or they do more damage than good...........

 
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Boots in Action

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If you can't just leave it plugged in to 240v at the olds place then I would get one of those 2.5w - 5w portable solar battery chargers from supercheap and hook it direct to battery, throw panel on roof at a slight angle so crud washes off and you will find your battery will stay good for ages so long as it was fully charged in the beginning and disconnected from rest of van, these don't require a regulator just connect direct to battery........ mine have kept batteries charged that are higher A/H than detailed.....

Of course if your van has solar already then its not a drama .........

The other way is since your van battery is either GEL or AGM , when you drop your van off you just pull the battery out, take it home and throw it on a suitable multi stage charger to keep it sweet until next time, the charger just needs to be for your battery type and be about 5 stage so you can leave it to do its thing and forget about it, there quite a few out there that are not overly expensive things either........................... Being GEL or AGM it is quite safe to carry in your vehicle as they won't spill or vent nasty gas, just need to protect the terminals from stray contact with anything.......

If its not parked on concrete or hard gravel then I would sit the wheels on pads as well as have the draw bar on a stand also on a pad, put the jockey wheel under cover.......... a good spray underneath with surface spray can't hurt either, wheel covers are good or something that keeps the weather and sun off them... I would go a well tied down cover, may only last a year but if your not around then it will keep a lot of muck off it, they must be well secured with good straps or they do more damage than good...........

Hey @Drover , I just had a read of the instruction booklet for the 2.5w - 5.0w solar charger you provided link for. It clearly states that solar panel/charger is NOT waterproof and should not be exposed to the elements. They do say fine to have unit attached to inside of car window or on dash board. I do not believe it would be suitable for @MelSurf to use for float charging van battery. Definitely better to remove battery from van and charge at home with a multi-stage charger as you said. Extracts from the link provided are set out below.
"This unit is not waterproof, and is most effective when placed next to a window with lots of natural light."
9. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS 10. WARRANTY Q. Is the battery charger waterproof or water resistant? A. No. Please ensure that the battery charger is kept out of extreme weather or wet conditions.