Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The way a day should end!

Its 1am, my wrists ache with turning screws (my faithful drill has died) but I have 2 curved sofa arms, a working compressor, a van that starts first time and a new brake pipe almost fitted....


Im pleased with my sofa, the second arm was a bit tricky (hesitant mindset, you have to be masterful with bits of wood or they do as they please!) so I decided to use 2 pieces on the bend (and a whole box of panel pins!) but its there and once the glue is set is it will stay there! It is being upholstered (when i figure out how :-/....) so it doesn't need to look pretty yet. I even put the hinges on the seat bases, hinges and I don't generally see eye to eye, but its done and I reackon I won!



Brake pipe dilema is also solved, remarkably easily.  I've had some valuable assistance from a very nice gentleman Jim, from the SBMCC who was passing this way on a trip and offered to help out. He suggested that Dan remove the old breakpipe and take it to a garage for them to make a new one. At 4:30pm the old pipe is removed and off they go, returning at 5pm with a new shiny breakpipe complete with connecting ends and it only cost a fiver! Its not fitted yet as I was too engrossed with bending bits of wood to stop and let them jack up the van. They decided to replace Jims oil filter instead, which all went well until they discovered a washer that Dan should have put back on, luckily they only lost a litre or so of the gallons of new oil trying to fit it retrospectively.... Jim restrained (restrained? did I mention it was 1 am when I wrote that?...I mean refrained, obviously...I disagree with restraints!) from slapping him :)....But I doubt Dan will ever make that mistake again....the timeless irony of youth verses experience.

I SWORNED the van today, I don't see the point in spending £112 when the van isn't going to leave Adrians driveway for a few weeks yet. Most of my remaining 'van money' went to Unite as a deposit for my daughters room for college, hence the lack of 'costs' at the end of each blog :) ...I'm having to use what I can find/beg and borrow, strangely I find it much more entertaining than just buying the stuff I need. I have most of the necessary items, but will have to smile sweetly at work to get extra tips to buy the inevitable odds and ends.

The van started first time this morning and the compressor behaved too, my faith in it is being restored rapidly and Im again thinking about its debut trip.  All is well again in van world, and thanks Jim...

Monday, 30 May 2011

What a difference a day makes

Today, is officially a good van day! It didn't particulary start that way.... but I best begin with Saturday for anything to make sense....

Saturday - I nailed (literally) one curved arm for the sofa....am I pleased with myself :) I do find, an forgive me  my ramblings but I've spent many hours of my life, alone with a bit of wood that doesn't want to do what I think it should do....but I have found that my ability to actually complete a task I've never done before, has more to do with my mindset than anything else.  I didn't find bendy MDF, nor did I look very hard... but Saturday, I decided to try again... same tools, same knowledge, same bit of wood but this time I end up with a curved arm rest rather than a bit of wood messed up with glue and panel pins.

Meanwhile, the boys were tinkering under the bonnet... van doesn't start, nothing but a soft click in reward for turning the very expensive key/fob thingy... but by the end of the day we turn the key again and hey presto we have a running engine.... would love to say gently purring engine but that would be an utter lie! But it goes, so we all smile and go away happy....

This morning however, we happily get to the van to tackle the compressor and arm rest No 2, turn the key and are rewarded once again with a soft click. A day of taking off/cleaning/securing/remaking connections and cables and we once again have a running engine.... whats more, with a little bit of tinkering and a huge dollop of luck from the compressor elf, we also have a functioning compressor.... Im a happy girl, and would like to say thanks to the boys for their help.

So,  next problem on the list, finding the brake fluid leak and replacing necessary brake pipes.... which apparently requires a brake pipe flaring tool (I hope thats right), which are not easy to get hold of and may be quite expensive to buy.... Im away to hunt ebay for a few hours.

Update - ebay brake flaring tools range from £8.99 to £219.... how the heck does one know what to do....looks like I'll have to ask a bloke, again....pffft :)

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Slip Sliding Away...

Things are not going great at the moment and may be heading for square 1 again, or even square -20..... The compressor that runs the suspension appears to be knackered, well it ain't working and we (Dan) hasn't figured out why yet... To replace it is approx £300 and therefore definately kills my van.  So until we find a solution for that, nothing else is going to happen (can still sell the brake parts, as new if required).

The road tax is up at the end of the month, 6 months tax will take us up to November (when the MOT runs out) but Im not buying it if the van doesn't get to go anywhere...it can happily be SORNed (thanks again Adrian) but that gives me nothing but a workshop to build the units in....and a smoking room at Adrians house.... 

I really want to keep going with this, even if other commitments are taking priority right now and time is tight but at this point, I really don't know whats going to happen.  My confidence is taking a battering and my stress levels are increasing rapidly (not just with the van) so some time out is required...pity the van isn't mobile I could really do with a jaunt away. 

I did discover an old timber gypsy wagon for sale a few miles away, I know as much about horses as I do about mechanics... but right now that seems so much simpler! not sure how to get a horse on a ferry though...ha ha

Posts will be sporadic over the next wee while, but hopefully they will become more possitive... I strongly believe that, as they say in these parts, 'fit's fae ye, will'nae gan by ye'  or for the rest of you... 'whats for you you will not go by you'.... but at the moment, its not looking like the 'van plan', is for me, but who know whats around the corner.

Hope you're all having better luck with your plans.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

My Silence is noted :)

I've developed a major attack of the 'can't be arsed'... Probably due to the lovely weather we have been having, or the distinct lack of 'bendy mdf' suppliers in the Highlands, or that the wheel nuts refuse to budge, or....maybe Im just lazy :)

Had full intentions of working on the van yesterday, but woke up feeling really grumpy... decided it wasn't wise to work in that frame of mind, I did try to remove the lockers... took out every screw possible but they are still firmly attached to the van! Been advised to keep them which is good advise, but Im not going to follow it... I dont want them there, and now that they seem to want to stay, Im more determined than ever that they are not!  Last resort - grinder! I hate grinders, I'm not keen on power tools of any sort (although I wouldn't be able to do half the things I do without them) but I especially hate power tools that cause sparks.  What can I say, Im a girl!

Bendy MDF exists! I know it does, the internet knows it does, B&Q (Wickes/homebase/etc) knows it does....but the 12 year old, spotty guy that works in Inverness's B&Q claims different, Inverness Homebase guy - never heard of it, Inverness Wickes guy - we dont stock that, try Aberdeen! (Aberdeen is 100 miles away)  Wickes online can send me a sheet.... £12 for the sheet, £35 delivery! I dont think so.  My mission tomorrow is to locate and purchase 1 piddly little sheet of bendy MDF in Inverness, failing that I could always learn how to use my router....or smile sweetly at someone else to use my router...

Wheel nuts.... I have brake discs (disks?) and pads x 4, in a box in the van... ordering and delivery was no problem... getting Dan up on Tuesday to fit them - no problem.... 2 broken socket sets later, they are all still sitting in a  box in the van! Im going to have to drive the van to a garage, smile sweetly (or pathetically depending on how old the mechanic is) and get them to loosen them all, tighten by hand and drive home again... unless anyone out there has any bright ideas? We have tried clarting them in wd40 over night, using a scaffolding pole to extend the leverage, hitting them with a big hammer, swearing a lot and kicking the wheels...

Up side is, I again have power steering! Pulley collected and fitted...Thanks Dan

I probably won't get to the van until Friday, but if I can complete my mission tomorrow, I will have a finished sofa by Friday night....if not the lockers are getting it!

Fed up doing costs, proper....

Pulley cost £30 :)

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

4 days, doing what?

Were did all that time go? I took the weekend off (to go camping, didnt camp) but seem to have spent all that time building, just one arm of a sofa!....did I mention that Im big on comfort?...  Sofa's are vital for a contented life, in my humble opinion, comfy bed and comfy sofa makes Annie a happy girl, Archie approves too! I hate how normally caravans etc have square backed narrow sofa cushions, they may be easy to fit and take up less space, but you then have a lifetime of squirming about tryng to get comfy when you should be relaxing happily on holiday.... not for me, I own one very comfy sofa and I plan on taking it with me!  Im even planning cutting a big section of fabric out of the back to cover the arms with, but I've never tried upholstery proper, and haven't the foggiest how to make a bendy bit wood, cover in fabric then fit to van securely....could just paint the arms, they will generally have cushions on them anyway....we shall see how maliable the mdf is when it gets here...


I tried using 3mm ply on the curvy bits, which took most of a day, faffing about, then gave up.... bendy mdf is required!  (used cardboard to show how it should look)....But now I'd really like to have wee cubby holes in the arms (for art stuff, paint brushes/pencils etc)... I kinda know how I could achieve this but suspect it will take another 4 days of trial and error! Luckily I aquired a dozen sheets of ply (freebie) a few months ago, so trial and error is allowed!...  The sofa base is easily transferable to another (probably narrower) van, the arms are seperate units, these will need adjusted if refitted in another van, I may leave the cubby holes until then. 

Patience is a virtue apparently but the human mind just wants things finished!

The Ice machine is now sitting pointlessly in Adrians garage, ready to be stripped down to compoents... Im not sure what I'll get from it, but hopefully a gas locker, at least....

Solar water heater - I mentioned this previously, still trying to work out how and if it will work.... I calculated (roughly) that 25m of 40mm diameter pipework will hold 11 litres of water (enough for my purposes) now I just need to find a formula to establish how much area (on roof) 25m of curled up pipework will take up, preferably without actually buying the pipe (£50)...



This shows what I have in mind, except without the fancy plastic fittings, Im planning a sheet of wire mesh and fit the pipework to this with cable ties... Im begining to think its not worth the effort, but getting something for nothing really appeals to me.... even if the sun raises the water temperature a few degrees, it could still then be put through a gas powered water heater but cost me less gas than without it...lord alone knows how long it would take to pay for itself (Im not working that out!) But I reackon, in summer (especially in Europe) I could get a free hot-ish shower every day?

Enough rambling... I have stuff to do.... promised Archie a decent walk today...he's been this bored all weekend....



Costs - I really can't be bothered thinking about it...its my birthday today, so I don't have to do boring stuff!... bought brake discs/pads etc for around £180...couple of sheets of 3mm ply..... and not much else...

Away for a sunny walk by the river... :)