Sunday, 26 April 2015

Well thats different.

Still waiting for word on work but in the meantime got an interesting call Wednesday from a fellow wood butcher and good mate Lakey as to how busy i was. Having told him i was mid conversion on the van, he asked do i fancy working on a classic yacht?

Fuck yeah! And it turns out its 20 minutes down the road, turned up Thursday to a barn in the forest to be greeted by a 50 year old Robert Clark sloop, very imposing it is too. Overall shes in pretty good shape, just the external condition of the hull needs seeing to. 

So tools out and straight to work, the first day was spent drilling vertically through the newly fitted toe-rail and fitting a series of bolts via galleries cut into the hull, i understand its to provide a bit more strength locally in that part of the boats structure where the genoa cars attach.

Without sounding too cheesy its nice working with hand tools too, shaping and profiling various bits and pieces to attach to the boat, yeasterday i got to cut and shape some timber to plug a couple of old skin fitting holes and then spent the rest of the day re-instating the cove line around the top of the gunwale where the new toerails been scarfed in. 

Theres something rather satisfyiing about finely sanding a cove (half round) into solid teak and more importantly being left alone to get on with it, much prefer to do this sort of work then site carpentry if i'm honest, i'm there next week and then see where we're at but for the time being i'm loving the change in disiplines.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Lets go camping!

Operation 'Stealth Camper' is taking longer than planned as work closer to home keeps popping up - no bad thing as i wait to hear on a couple of large-ish contracts but with the van still in bits on the drive i have to use my trusty Renault Clio which isn't designed for hauling tools and machines about.

I now have everything insulated and panelled except the roof as i spent the last couple of days cutting holes in it to fit air vents and three aluminium extruded brackets to bolt an awning to. There's also another reason for this project and thats to try out a few ideas to see if
they might work on the boat.

I wont be using wool for insulation on the boat rather something like Armaflex, but the execution will be much the same, also have some led lights to fit in the back to give a bit of extra light on the subject, all i have left after the roof is fitted is to make a couple of cabinets, mdf naturally (cheap, dimensionally stable etc then bolt the tool vault back in and off to work.

Whats amazed me doing this is how poor the quality of materials seem to be nowadays. The ply that i removed from the walls and floors is way better quality than what i've replaced it with, if it wasn't for the fact the van sweated so badly these last few years and turned the bottom foot of the walls to mush i'd of simply removed said panels, insulated and put back instead of replacing,..... heyho.

The highlight so far's been getting the awning up and on, its a Fiamma F65, bought secondhand, only had to buy the brackets until i realised they dont make them for my Sprinter, so again being the 'innovator' i am i set about modding a set of brackets i bought. This i should point out after phoning many dealers who stock these awnings to be told we've emailed Fiamma in Italy so thats as good as filed under 'B' for bin.

No matter, i wasn't gonna be stopped by such trivialities and after running some well-seasoned teak down to the appropiate dimensions and drilling a couple of extra holes i had what appeared to be a working bracket, plus a further dig around the various fixings boxes in the shop turned up enough stainless nuts, bolts and washers to bolt the lot through the roof courtesy of a tube of PU.

With all this work done the van should be good for another 10 years and seeing as its mechanically sound i have more than a passing interest in converting it fully at some point to a proper campervan but first i should probably concentrate on getting the money to finish the boat........................

Friday, 10 April 2015

Thought i could smell burning?

Was thinking about the various work opportunities that are making themselves available and yet seemingly not so as some are far from where i live.

It was after nearly overdosing on easter eggs late Sunday evening i had an idea, why not make the van suitible to sleep in, i'm not talking campervan quality but maybe insulated and some power in the back to charge a phone and make a cuppa.

Spent Easter Monday watching youtube vids of people converting vans into mobile homes, some good some, well not so, but got a good idea of what was required so set about making a specification be it a minimal one to enable a frost-free sleep in the back.

Then it was to the van to remove everything in the cargo area, a full strip back to a tin shell, surpisingly this only took a few hours, however in true Rog style i didn't think to price up what would be required before stripping the cargo area of the van back to a shell, the shock came as i started pricing things, mainly plywood, flooring and loads of insulation.

Still, the thought of paying travelodge or premier inn in the region of £3-400 a week shook me out of my reluctance to execute the work plus seeing as theres a total dearth of work where i live its almost a practical decison if not a particularly cheap one.

One thing i noticed early on is how quick the van goes with nothing in it, jesus, i've got throttle response and oddles of power under my right foot, normally fully loaded you put your foot down and it just gets louder.

 Still having returned from a number of suppliers i began making a new bulkhead, this started okay with the first piece going in then the second piece needed to close off the cab soon revealed the downside of global manufacturing, as the sheet of 12mm marine ply almost split in two after cutting out the piece i required.

Still after much cursing i though i'd get the new floor down which proved just as frustraing as none of the sheets were square and the finish is pretty crap.

Today i got the first hit of insulation on the inside from top to bottom, did the same to the floor before fitting the ply over the top, tomorrow i'll finish insualting and applying the vapour barrier before fitting the furring pieces and then the ply panels.

All this links be it indirectly to the boat as i've conservatively estimated i need another £15k to finish so as much as i hate doing something i dont want to, the ends justify the means so the life of a traveller beckons all be it temporarily.........................