Church Farm Ardeley

For the Easter weekend we headed to Church Farm which is about 90mins drive from Croydon assuming you leave at 06.30 in the morning which we did. If you don’t then the M25 will ruin your day, especially on a bank holiday Friday.

We met up with our friends Jo and Henry who have just bought themselves a camper van and this was their first trip in it and it all went very well.

The farm is a working farm and not for profit which makes me feel better about the price of everything, it’s all a bit steep.

The camping side is great, it’s as close to wild camping as you get and it wasn’t that busy. You can have a fire although you have to pay for permission to have the fire, you get a red bucket and you can buy some massively over priced logs and kindling, bring your own if you can, you don’t need a fire pit.

We booked a load of activities for the kids, goat walking, Easter egg hunt, lamb feeding, meeting the Easter bunny and walking the fairy trail and they were all excellent activities, the kids really enjoyed them, especially Stella

As I mentioned earlier the camping is fairly wild. There are compost toilets which were clean and well maintained. There were two showers near us neither of which worked as they should so we ventured up to the showers near the farm shop, they didn’t work very well either and looked like they hadn’t been cleaned in months, we needed a shower however and the kids needed a good scrub so we cracked on anyway.

All in all we had a good time, to summarise the farm, camping, staff and activities were excellent, the showers were rubbish and the shop over priced, £9.50 for 4 cans of Red Stripe, makes London prices seem cheap!

Replacing the stock stereo

For a long time it’s been on my mind to replace the stereo in the van. One of the first jobs I had as a kid was working on the weekend in a car stereo store and ever since I’ve never had a standard sound system in any of my vehicles. Pair that with my DJ antics it’s fair to say I know and appreciate a good sound system, the one that came with this van is not a good system, so much so that I rarely have it on.

There are lots of blog posts that tell you how to take out the stereo and reinstall it, I’m not going to go into that, look it up if you need to, what I’m going to share is what I took out, what I put in and how it sounds.

This is the stock system, it took about an hour to get it all out.

The stock Sprinter stereo, speakers and tweeter

Believe it or not that head unit is made by Alpine!

Below is what I bought

Xtrons PSP90M245
Hertz DSK 165.3
Kenwood KSC-Sw11 powered under seat sub

The head unit supports Apple Car play and the android equivalent, car play was the main feature i wanted, it also has a built in 4 channel 50watt amp, you can connect a DAB aerial to it which I will do at some point and you can also add an ODBII dongle and get fault codes and live engine data. It fits straight in to the void left by the stock unit with no need for an spacers or surrounds, the site says the unit is suitable for 906 sprinters from 2006 – 2012, mine is a 2013 and it fits fine with no issues or fettling requirements.

After researching underseat subs and not understanding how anything in such a shallow enclosure could provide any sub base I settled on the Kenwood sub as it seems to be the most popular and wasn’t very expensive.

The decision on the door speakers and dash tweeters was made after looking at other audio system update blogs, the Hertz speakers seem pretty popular and give pleasing results.

Installing the head unit was pretty straight forward, you just take out the old one and plug in the new one, I did have to strip back the aerial connection from the van so it fitted the stereo’s connection. If you want to take advantage of Car Play or have easy access to load your own music / movies on to the head unit then you need to put the USB cables somewhere accessible. I pulled out the USB and audio port in the dash near the steering and routed the cables through there, it’s not the prettiest solution but it works for me.

The sub I installed under the drivers seat as I have a diesel heater in the passenger seat, I Isolated the speaker from the chassis using a bit of left over trim from the cab shelf, the door speakers require a spacer, I bought a pair that are supposed to be for a Vauxhall from Halfords, so long as it fits a 6.5” speaker and it’s the same depth as the original speakers you can use any. There was no need to trim or cut the door cards. I also stuffed some left over insulation around them to try and damp any vibrations in the door.

So how does it sound?

It sounds better but is by no means amazing. The top and mids are definitely crisper but the sub just sounds like a 6 x 9 speaker in small cabinet playing the best sub signal it can muster, this is still better than what was there before and it has it’s own remote control so you can easily adjust it dependant on what music is playing.

I am sure that when I am driving the sound will be far more acceptable than the stock system and having the option to now stream Spotify, Mixcloud or my own personal library from my phone and having navigation on a considerably bigger screen is a major benefit.

I ordered some sound deadening panels and added them to the the passenger door as it was vibrating a lot, if I’m absolutely honest once I installed them and compared it to the door without the panels in it there wasn’t much difference in sound, at some point I’ll put the remaining panels on the other door just because I have nothing else to do with them but to my ears they’ve not made any significant improvement, ultimately I just need to get used to the sound as it which is a definite improvement over the previous sound.