Laid-up

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A few weeks ago I was planning a trip in my newly converted  1989 VW T3 to the Pyrenees for a few days. Whilst the owners of Rey were staying for a week, there really was no need for me to be here. I was quite excited as ‘Frankie’ my van was going to have  a replacement gearbox fitted which was thoughtlessly omitted when a previous owner changed the engine from the original 1.7D to a 1.9D from a VW Golf. this has meant my poor van with gear ratios all out of sync and me have sat on the road with good intent to be going somewhere but managing a mere snails pace of 42mph max. I could have pushed the throttle harder but I really wanted my engine to stay in one piece and not explode in a high pitch rage all over the carriageway.
Needless to say there have been many a high pitch rage happening in the tail back of vehicles behind me. There were times when I looked into my rear view mirror to see a massive angry lorry front attempting to eat my rear bumper. Hastily I would pull in to the nearest lay-by and let these monster creatures pass on their way.

So, yes where was I? Oh the mini trip. Well the Gearbox was delayed by a week and meanwhile my Dad was taken seriously ill in Cornwall which for me meant a last minute flight to the UK and spending 10 days there in all.  Dad is well again thank goodness but I managed to catch a cold from Paul which is never a cold with me about, it always manages to worm its way in deep and cause me a few days of poorly-ness, chesty cough and fluey clamminess, a washed out, fit for nothing feeling. It’s time to start smoking, drinking copiously and eating doughnuts for dinner, rather than my healthy life-style of running, cycling, vegetarian healthy fresh food and such restraint upon my love of sweet things.

So that’s why I’m here today writing when I should have been adventuring among the majestic Pyrenean mountains.

‘But I can tell you a little of my van, though I wish I had documented in photos a little more of the stages but it was a bit hap-hazard a conversion which I would not suggest or advise anyone to embark upon. It was done the ‘Sally’ way….made up as I went along.

Frankie was a bare skeleton of a thing when I bought her in the winter. An empty shell but with windows all around and a roof vent so at least that was a start. she wore a white exterior coat, plain and simple but her body was almost completely rust free. Although I knew she wasn’t the fastest on four wheels, at the time of purchase, I just couldn’t resist her – Yet only a few years ago I had said to myself ‘never again’ after my last corrosive experience of a T3.[T25]

I spent weeks doodling on scraps of paper[ and then ignoring them] –  ideas of how to convert her simply and very cheaply as my budget was very low. So low in fact that I doubt anyone would even begin with so few pennies. Me, well I’m always up for the challenge and it was to do it myself or have no camper to venture out in.

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As you can see from the above phtos, Frankie is ‘unique’ a polite way of saying that she is a little basic. But she is mine and I made her with only a few hand tools. Everything works and she even has LED lights all around the ceiling for the occasional ad hock party/disco on the road. She has a 2 ring hob, a sink and ‘Whale’ hand  water pump Tap which is brilliant,no nonsense and non reliant on a leisure battery to operate. ! have 2 20 litre fresh water containers that can be taken out easily to fill under a tap, also a 5 litre portable waste container to empty when convenient.
The bed folds down to make a very comfy double. Im 5ft 8in and Paul is 6ft 3in, we have plenty of room.

I insulated all side panels and door panels, roof and floor with a mixture of foil back  household wall insulation  [odd bits I found in a skip, plus  foil backed camping roll mats from Decathlon. Carpeting the roof and walls was the hardest or should I say fiddliest bit and because I did not use the proper stretchy carpet made for vehicle lining [above my budget]I have to suffer the annoyance of little gaps around the curved windows where the carpet just refused to stretch into. I tried cutting and gluing little bits in place but it looked even worse so I have to live with it and the Curtains do hide these cosmetics defects.

I borrowed a sewing machine and made the curtains and seat covers. I do wish now I spent more time on sewing practice as its been years since I used a machine – just don’t look too close – and I wish I had chosen a  nicer design in seat material. It is practical and durable and the most expensive part of the conversion at 75 euros to cover all seating and backs. At the time I just couldn’t find anything that was better for the price. All the foam came from throw-aways and I purchased some bits for 3 euros in a Brocante. Shelves and sink/hob unit are hand-made by me too and I am hoping to find some cupboard doors to fit or cut down to size. Meanwhile I have just made a curtained front which slides on curtain wire to open and shut.

There is some fine tuning to be done  in the storage department but for now with my bike on the back, she is all a girl needs. Oh and another opportunity to escape to the hills. I will tell you all about that when it happens.

 

 

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