It’s been an odd couple of weeks. I couldn’t, without thinking long and hard remember what it is that we’ve been doing. And then it all came in a rush ... we fitted the new cab carpet in the motorhome, started tinkering with the motorhome door panels and door furniture and looked at the practicalities of fitting the felt in the engine bay and inside the doors ... had a day off and went to visit some friends over night.
The cab carpet was a big job requiring the removal of the entire seat pods from the cab floor, temporary removal of the hand brake mechanism and the removal of numerous bits of tread trim and under dash trim. It was a slog; I’d looked at it dozens of times in the last few months to get my head around the order of events, but it doesn’t matter how much mental breakdown you do; there will always be bugs on the day. Not too many bugs and nothing that deserves a special mention aside from the following line. Just the usuals’: nuts set solid by twenty years (not rusted just comfortably stuck fast), seized screws that required constant and gentle force until they were overcome by leverage (some minor rust but nothing WD40 won’t keep at bay for another twenty years), awkward wrist twists in tiny places, not having enough arms or hands between us ... daylight running out.
The results are acceptable, but I’m no car trimmer and the overall footprint of the cab is what’s made the carpet look good not my ministrations. What we have gotten out of the job is cab noise being deadened, and I imagine a certain amount of thermal insulation, though it must be said I preferred the easy clean surface left by removing the previous carpet. A carpet I now know was not designed or intended for vehicular use ... learnt a bit about carpets and their applications I have. I’ve also learnt that broken Scaphoid bones like reminding you of your previous carelessness every time you use a socket wrench in perpetuity. I think the job is finished, but there’s a little niggle in the back of my mind saying “now it’s all fitted take it out and have it whipped”, but we’ll see.
The door panels are different set of problems, for a start I can’t work out how to get them off. I know it has something to do with the pull handle that opens the door from the inside, and I will phone the Talbot expert Mike Chubb from No1 Gear and ask for some tips next week. What I have discovered is that it’s easy to get the panels off up to the point that I need to turn them around the centre and pull them off completely. If I get this bit wrong, the door opening levers will be “fucked” (that’s a technical term widely used in many industries). I think on balance the panels will be a doddle to remake as complete units using new, hardboard and basic upholstery techniques, however there is an argument for thin ply which is easier to cut, round off the edges, and re-mount speakers to (the current hardboard requires additional plastic widgets for the speakers to screw into because hardboard isn’t very good with being screwed to ... hardboard also warps and shrinks ... which it has). The trick is to use the originals as templates and to buy new panel clips from here http://www.bresco.com/index.html ... you can I swear, find anything on t’tinternet if you look hard enough. I then have to create new covers using the material we had our new cushions covered in, and re-use the vinyl sections from the existing covers and some nice new foam backing. As mentioned above I’m not a vehicle trimmer, but I reckon this job should go fairly well, because I’m actually not to bad with a needle and thread and the pattern is ready made, all tha’ts required is patience and a steady hand and few Youtube videos. I may have mentioned this elsewhere, but if you need to see a job being done, regardless of obscurity you will find some American person from some obscure backwater of the states that has felt compelled to share their knowledge with you. I shouldn’t mock, but some of the attempts at instruction are hilarious, but persevere and you will find knowledge, and you will be able to compare techniques which is also very useful. I have put my toe in this particular water already and discovered that my right angle outside corner technique would have buggered me up from the “get go” according to some fella from the American deep south who fixes classic fords.
Aside from door panels and carpets, there are a few more jobs to get underway, and in no particular order are:
· New Brake disks and pads (front), they were nearly due at the last service, and we’ll get them done at the garage, I have noticed a tiny amount of judder on recent drives, indicating wear or warp (which by the way I diagnosed after watching a Youtube video).
· New brake shoes (rear), same as the fronts.
· Over cab storage solution (this is still in its infancy and cargo net may not be the logical choice having looked at what were are proposing to store up there)
· Replace the stereo and the speakers (one of which is dead anyway)
· Replace the scroll fan under the dash
· Titivate the electrics under the bonnet (that’s clean and protect in laymen using contact cleaner, and in extremes re-making the contacts with new)
· Re-seal the headlamps and clean them inside, the offside lens can with moderate force be removed by hand. I discovered this by accident when dealing with the front grill. I have a superb industrial sealant to remake the seals on both sides, and I get to brush out the 20 years worth of algefied crud that’s collected inside due to normal condensation penetration over the lifetime of the units.
· Rub down an repaint the towbar, this is purely cosmetic
· Finish the shower hose boxing in and wardrobe shelves
· Miscellaneous other bits and pieces I find along the way
The problem I have now is time; suddenly I find myself working almost every weekend through November. I’m also working every morning from 6am (4am out of bed ... finish time is the usual) for at least the next six weeks. And evenings are dark now, I did wash the motorhome in the dark this week, but that’s about the limit for working in the dark. There’s forty four hours minimum overtime in those next four weeks, then add in the weekends and my arse isn’t going to touch the floor. It’s not like we don’t need the extra cash right now, I haven’t been this skint since 1999 (I know it’s this year exactly, because it’s the year I got divorced). I do have four days leave to take before the end of January that will scrape me back some time to do some jobs, however one has to bear in mind, inclement weather that can affect things like adhesives, ability to actually hold tools etc.
One has to ask: Where did the time go? Where did the year go?
We are allegedly off in March of next year, but there’s only two and a bit months of this year left, the house still isn’t sold, and I have the list above to complete. I’m trying to identify where we’ve wasted time, but just thinking about things now as I scribble I’m finding it hard to think of a time since April where we haven’t been killing ourselves doing something to progress the adventure or progress the saleability of the house either internally or externally.
The question then is: Have we been too ambitious with our targets? And I guess the answer to that is no ... At no point when the plan was first proposed did we anticipate spending the best part of six months and several thousand pounds re-vamping the dinning room extension to the extent that we had to. That’s where six months went, that’s where the budget went. We are on the back foot and four months looks like no time at all ... all of a sudden. It’s wobble time, we’ve wobbled a few times since we started, to not concede wobbles would be arrogant and rose tinted. At times like this you need wise words from someone long dead ... on a whim I’m going with:
“only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go” T. S. Elliot.
Fatigue, worry, doubt and not having a pot to piss in for at least four weeks, this is the low, I hope there is no lower. It ain’t that we can’t get back up, fuck it, I’ve been lower than this, as has Amanda, it’s just that you get to a certain age and climbing back up just feels like life is being vindictive.
Onwards and upwards.