Getting rid of the foxing on Rosinante’s Airtex tent fabric and saving my solar controller

It was end of May 2022 and sometimes things just go wrong…

Back in Germany, Rosinante’s tent fabric got some foxing. Maybe the impregnation of the fabric had been worn out or it was just the humid and cold Autumn and Winter in Hamburg/ Germany and me working most of the day in the cabin that caused the foxing. I always had an airflow going through the cabin, but I think, if the tent fabric is humid, I pop down the roof and have no opportunity to pop it up or dry it, the foxing is nearly inevitable. At least if the impregnation doesn’t prevent the water from going into the fabric.

The Fernweh Mobil cabin has an Airtex tent fabric. This Airtex material is the same very often used for the tarpaulin of boats. I googled a lot about how to get rid of the foxing but nothing I’ve found was really convincing. I tried my luck and just asked one random Fernweh Mobil owner on Instagram if he had to get rid of foxing from his tent fabric. I was really lucky. The friendly guy from Germany had bought his cabin used and had foxing problems until he contacted a webshop specialized in cleaning, molt, and foxing, got the necessary stuff from them and got completely rid of it. He forwarded me an email with the instructions and a list of products I would need to clean the fabric.

Still back in Germany, I ordered the detergents and tried them on a very small area of the fabric. It’s been like magic! This stuff eliminates all the foxing. Easily. The foxing just disappears. I made the plan to clean the whole fabric once I would be in Greece at a nice beach with super nice weather and here I was at my dream cove and soon the dream will be over.

I took everything from the cabin on the beach and started the cleaning procedure:

  1. Put on fiber protection
  2. Put on Schimmalgin special until the foxing disappeared but hurry because the fiber protection doesn’t last very long
  3. Washing-up with water
  4. Put on new impregnation

As I was halfway through the second step, I suddenly realized, that all the electricity in the cabin went down. No cooling box, no input from the solar panel, nothing. Quickly I realized, that my solar charging controller didn’t show any status anymore. I got a little nervous because I didn’t want to organize and buy a new one and for a short while my mind started to come up with all sorts of shitty consequences that apply when there is no electricity: no charging of devices, no cooling box, no lights, spending money, less time of free nomad living.

I thought about all the nomads and campers that don’t have crazy electricity stuff with them. In a way, that made me calm down. And because the fiber protection lasts not very long, I focused on the cleaning job I had started. And while continuing the cleaning, my calming mind realized, that having no charge controller only means no solar energy. When I would bypass the controller, the batteries would deliver energy as usual. And what is more, I even would have several other options including the usage of my voltage transformer, etc. So this was no hopeless or stressful situation and even living without electricity may be a good chance for a forced digital detox.

The cleaning went super easy and the result is still pure magic! This Schimmalgin cleaner is awesome. You can get all the stuff at (no, it’s not an affiliate link). I guess every automatic oxidation cleaner with active chlorine would work but depending on the color of your fabric, it’s important to use the fiber protection in advance of the Schimmalgin. Otherwise, the color of the fabric is about to change irreversible.

After I finished the cleaning, I bypassed the solar charging controller and got back the precious electricity for the cooling box and all the digital devices. I started relaxing and thought about how the cleaning may have affected the controller. I realized, that the liquids I had used may have got into the controller. And so I put it in the sun to dry. I googled a lot about shops selling these controllers in Greece and how to get one without a big detour and having no residential address. My friend Tino (the master of camper electricity) helped me to identify and discuss which controller I should order. Thanks again, Tino.

The next day I tried the dried controller and it worked! It was awesome! But after two hours it stopped working again. Every few hours the electricity had been interrupted. I investigated the device and found that it always measured and displayed about one volt more than my heater and power outlet box. I had a closer look at the controller and found a mini area of what looked like salt on its circuits. After I removed this very carefully, I put the controller back in again. It worked! And months later, right now, it is still working perfectly!

That day I repaired my first electronic device and it felt great. It’s been a great experience and I often thought if I would have tried so hard to get it to work again if I could just have ordered a new one on Amazon and have it delivered the next day. I’m quite sure that back in Germany, I would just have ordered the new one. But having repaired the broken one feels so much better. And I learned the last bits about the electronics in my cabin that I didn’t have known before.

Crooked Rosinante needs her first car repairs

About mid of May 2022, it was finally time for one of the things, I had the most respect for: Rosinante needed some repairs.

Her steering had been crooked for some weeks, and I thought, that it was a good idea to look for a car repair in Athens and not in the small villages and towns of Greece. I’m still a lot German and that made me email a couple of car services in advance to make an appointment. Two out of ten answered. One gave me the contact to another guy who may be able to help. But the last one seemed to be competent and friendly. And what is more, he had some time to check Rosinante on the day that worked best for me. So up to that point, everything worked perfectly fine.

After having arrived at the car repair and the first diagnosis, I had built up some trust in Miltos and his two other mechanics (sorry, I forgot about your names, guys). They were very friendly and I had the feeling that they don’t want to charge me for unnecessary things or damage Rosinante. These have been my main concerns. Probably they are for most people traveling by car, I suppose.

To fix the crooked steering, an ordinary steering alignment had to be done. But in advance of that, the potentially worn-down silent blocks of the steering rack should have been exchanged. While we were talking about the necessary steps, I told Miltos about the pretty low level of the engine’s cooling liquid, that I’d recognized some weeks ago and was monitoring since then. After some checks, we found the pump of the cooling liquid to be leaking. And while we kept talking about this issue, we figured out, that the timing belt has to be swapped within the next half a year or about 15.000 km. I thought about it. In the end, I felt that the guys at Cannibals Garage are trustworthy and nice guys and because I didn’t know where I will be in the next 15.000 km or half a year, they ordered the required stuff as well.

I was very happy, that Miltos let me stay/ live in Rosinante at his garage when one spare part got delayed. I liked to watch the different customers come and go and being in the backyard of a not very big street, it was mostly quiet at night. All the time, I had not been very worried about anything regarding the repairs and I’m feeling very good about that.

Miltos has an offroad car as well and I noticed it as soon, as I entered their space. It’s my favorite small-sized offroad car: a Suzuki Jimny. I love this small, light, and very capable Jimnys. If I will one time have gotten rid of a lot of my stuff and comfort demands, a Jimny would be an option. But there is my dream about traveling with a mule as well. Let’s see…

This lightweight Jimny made me think about how heavy Rosinante is, again. She got a special rear suspension that lets her carry 3.5 tons and fully loaded she should be around 3.3 tons at the moment, but that’s still heavy. What is more, because Rosinante is a double cab pickup, the cabin on her back does hang over her truck bed. That means there is more force on her frame. It’s not as much as with the bigger and heavier cabins and the “Das Fernweh Mobil”-cabin is very well-designed and has most of its weight in the front, but it will always be not optimal. The opinions about how bad this is, are ranging from “very bad” to “not bad at all”. Thinking about this stuff, I still have the photos of bent, crooked, and snapped pickup frames in my mind. Seeing Rosinante snap into two is not a pleasant thought.

I thought about the options I had to improve the situation. At that time and even now I’m feeling not ready for the mule, so I put those thoughts aside. In the end, I managed to put the spare wheel (about 60 kg) from the cabin’s roof and the additional water canisters (about 40 kg) from the cabin’s back and side into the pickup cabin. To make it fit, I had to dismantle my enduro bicycle even more, but I’m still thinking that this won’t bother me much: I just don’t use it anymore. With these rearrangements, about 100 kg went off the cabin and found a place that greatly improved the weight distribution. That makes me feel much more confident.

I’m very thankful for Miltos and his friends for being so nice and competent. Of course, I had to pay a decent amount of money for the spare parts and their work, but to me, it felt alright and well earned by them. By the way: for the money I paid, I may have got the timing belt swapped in Germany, but not more.

If you are around Athens and need some car repairs, contact them.