Tuesday, 31 March 2009

The home straight

So they did the windows the other day and there's still work to do. But there's no doubt we're on the home straight. There may be plenty to do but compared to what it has taken to get here it's just details. Tonight I took out the tools and materials that are no longer required and put in the camping and fishing kit. The fur lining in the back is just about done. I am listening to Ladysmith Black Mambazo while writing this....(pause for a minute to listen).....

Now that the mechanical stuff is nearly done this blog will gently shift gear and become all about the times we have together. The people and the places will take over from the bits of wood and the welding jobs.

In a couple of weeks we are going to see Donna and weigh up what she needs to get her roadworthy.

Ok that's all for now ..I'm going to publish a couple of pics and then drift off to sleep to the lovely harmonies of Ladysmith Black Mabazo....homeless, homeless...........mmmmmmm

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Windows and walls

It seems that the jobs that don't just fall magically into place with Althea will achieve universal balance by taking ten times as long and costing many times more than estimated.

Today they came to replace the rubber seals around her windows. Two vans containing three men wasted no time chopping out the old perished rubber on the left hand side window and in no time at all had the new rubber in and set about the back window. This one was easy enough to remove but there were problems getting it back in and it cracked.

I had to chisel the rotten screws out of the aluminum bar down the middle of the windscreen which we decided not to attempt this time anyway. I took the cover off the wiper motor housing to get to the top of said bar and found a mess inside which means another job to to.

The new seals on the side windows does mean I can start sticking the fur on the walls which I have and which looks great. I have now got a lot of carpet spray glue and green fur in my hair.

See photos

Monday, 23 March 2009

Screws, spirals and projectiles

Sitting down to start writing this I realize that this weekend was all about spirals.

First I discovered that my first edition 7" vinyl copy of The Buzzcocks Spiral Scratch EP is missing. It was one of the first records I ever owned and is rare and valuable now. I can't remember lending it to anyone but I also don't think it has been stolen. I even checked inside all my albums in case it was there.

Sunday I decided to change the oil in Althea to one more suitable to see if that made any difference to her performance. The nut which releases the old oil seems to be made from putty and it took no effort at all to round it off with a correct sized socket. I tried with mole grips but they just chewed a bit more off it and gave me a strained shoulder which I only now enjoying the full benefits off. I can hardly move my right arm or neck now and am using the swivel in my chair to its fullest.

I gave up on the oil change for the day and turned my attentions from oil to water. Having been to the post office on Saturday to collect my package which they wouldn't deliver due to its being 6 pence underpaid, and charging me an extra £1 for the pleasure of it...I screwed the new hose connectors in position, attached the hose and turned on the tap. Very slowly the tank began to fill. Shortly afterwards the tank began to empty again via the leaking connector at the bottom and the leaking bung on the other side.

I emptied the tank, wrapped thread tape around the screw threads and started again. You'd think I would have known better but the fact is I did but had forgotten which is why what happened next, happened next. The water tank on the roof of our building is approximately 3000 gallons and is about 150 feet higher up than the tap. This is great for pressure as you can imagine and we in our building enjoy showers with more oomph than a power shower, simply from the tap. It also means that when you connect a plastic tank via a hose to the end of it a certain amount of pressure builds up if there's nowhere for it to go.

I realized the water flow had slowed and saw that the tank was bulging a little so immediately unscrewed one of the top bungs to equalize the pressure. On the last turn it fired out like a bullet and ricocheted around the van.

Not very cleverly I did a similar thing in reverse when pumping water out. I need to fit a valve.

The window seals are being done on Wednesday. I have the fur for the lining now. I fitted some underlay to the floor of the cab and the inside of the engine housing which I will cover in foil. This has seriously lowered the noise level in the cab. She's shaping up nicely now but still lots to do.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Island life

I have been asked to supply and run the PA system for a food and drink festival a friend is organizing on Mersea Island in Essex. It looks like the band I play in will play there too so it'll be Altheas first real test of two of the main reasons I have her. I took Althea for a drive down there last weekend to survey the site and to give her a run. She performed remarkably well and we made it in pretty good time despite the heavy traffic. Once there the locals in the tiny ancient village where Bev lives were charmed by Althea. In the morning she attracted a small crowd of admirers. One chap told of his 50 years in the motor trade and how he used to sell Morris LD vans. Another old man with a few boats was delighted by her klaxon and said he'd like to see how she "rolls along".

She sustained a small scrape as I inched her through a 6 foot gap between cottages but otherwise she was fine. The plan was that I would sleep in her that night but I found myself folded up on a tiny sofa with a hangover in the morning instead. The house is 360 years old and so tiny you can knock on the upstairs window by just reaching up (see photo). I'll be trying out the Bass fishing near there soon too.

I've done a few more bits of work on her. The overhead storage has hinges and handle now. The table is made but I'm starting to gather materials for a table top made from resin with all kinds of things embedded in it. Above are some piccys of the work done and the visit to Mersea Island.

I also changed the oil in the generator today which seems to have cured the problem of it cutting out every few minutes.

The weather is warming up and I'm itching to take her camping and fishing.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Pump it up 2

Today I connected up the pump to the power and tested it with some water from a bottle. It's great and a lot quieter than I thought it would be. I also devised a way of switching the indicators on all together which means Althea now has hazard lights for the first time ever. I'm sure they'll get used.