Thursday, 21 March 2013

March Marches Past ... again.

We are coming up to the target date for leaving on our grand tour; 21st March 2013 ... which by my calculations was supposed to be today. Best laid plans of mice and men and all that. It’s over a year since our first post and nearly a year we’ve had this date in mind. Who could have known what slog it would have been ... and some may say “all to nought”. My analogy is Snakes and Ladders, we got to No 98 and had to drop all the way back to the mid thirties. I say mid thirties, not zero or one, because you have to include all of the process that got you to the point where you were ready to “go a travelling”. If it was as simple as getting in your vehicle and driving off into the sunset, we would have been celebrating the anniversary of setting off, and our first year on the roads about now. There are two things barring our way forward at the moment ... albeit ... substantial hurdles on their own: The house hasn’t sold (but we got to enjoy all our labours all winter long), and the big one: we haven’t got a working motor home right now ... but we have that in hand.

Below are some more pictures of Mk2. I’ve already binned the seats from the rear. I was going to try them on Ebay, but then I decided to check Ebay to see how well they sold given their provenance ... it’s a spade is a spade moment ... to whit the seats are possibly piss smelling, bacteria ridden arse breakers that go on Ebay for .99p and then sit there without even a watch for the next ten days. I have no sense of smell so I couldn’t tell about the Pee smell, however I did do the release mechanisms to get the seats out, and after loosening the first one, I retreated to the bathroom for a hand wash and nitrile gloves. Cleary they’ve been cleaned as have the floors, after all it’s an ambulance, but once you’re in the grooves on the floor that the seats lock into, and scales that were small, become perceptively bigger, those clumps of hair and gritty crud in the dark crevices at the very bases of the seats become phage ridden bacteria swarms looking for a new kind of host to infect ... and that’s how Zombie apocalypses start. So the seats went to the dump where all the other phages live and die in a microscopic war of attrition that doesn’t usually result in Zombieapocalypsitis.
Having taken the old seats to the dump, I went in with the big gun ... that’s right total war scorched Earth Armageddon on dirt ... sounds exciting, in laymen’s terms ... hot Domestos on a traditional mop head. Never mind all that thixotropic sticks to the rim even after you’ve flushed shit shit ... what you need to weaponize bleach is hot water and a raggedy mop, followed by some deft footwork and plenty of foam. Needless to say, the water came out black, and my only regret was not wearing a facemask when I was down in the pube knotted micro world of sick or injured people’s faecal matter and bacteria ... possibly.
So today 21st of March 2013, instead of driving off into the sunset, I’m instead going to go back in, to remove: plastic plates that tell you how to release the seats, a laerdal suction unit mount, clips and tubes that used to pass oxygen from one end to the other, and hopefully the wheelchair access mount (I say hopefully because it’s a big lump of metal held on with many bolts that have been worn so that the bolts may be difficult to hold with a spanner). I’m also going to remove one main ply panel to see what state the insulation is in. Once the insulation is inspected I’ll make a decision about replacing it, augmenting it or just leaving it alone.
On Monday I’m driving it to our usual mechanics, Benchsound in Stanford Le Hope, Essex ( for a full service and a Cam Belt change (the first painful bill). I said in the last post that the unit had been well serviced and that it had a lot of service history which I read more thoroughly on Monday, Timing and Cam Belts have been changed previously as have brake pads, wiper blades, oils, coolant etc. However in amongst the lines of service history I did find one thing that concerned me a little, that I didn’t spot on the first run through; at around 200k miles it had a new cylinder head. There are two ways of looking at that; it’s had a new cylinder head that is 100k miles younger than the rest of the vehicle (this is a good thing), or it’s had a new cylinder head how are the pistons and rings? (That may not be such a good thing). However one has to look at the positives. Were the unit to require a full recon, the head should be pretty sound, with new belts and the frosty eye of the guys at Benchsound we should know by Monday Evening if we’ve “bought a pup” ( for those interested in the origins of that particular idiom ... clearly I was J ).
More later.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The deed is done.

On Friday 1st March after a haggle I managed to get the ambulance for £2500. Pictures below; they are rough as I had to use my phone because I’ve misplaced the charger for my snapping camera … (one suspects it has been boxed in error, and placed in the lockup). They will suffice for examples sake. I didn’t get a second test drive, as the dealer thought my absence since the first look more than a fortnight ago, meant I’d decided not to buy it, so he tucked it back into a corner.

I had hoped to get it for £2300, however he’s done his research as well as I have, so he had a fair idea of the value of the blown air heating system and panelling to someone like myself, and therefore wouldn’t budge. He even had the cheek to say he was going to advertise it as a conversion option on Gumtree … now we’d suggested it. It has sat in his yard for just over a year, and no one could find a use for it. It has too few seats to be a minibus, and too many to be a van, couple that with the panelling and the only person likely to show an interest is me … or a serial killer looking for some sound proofing … hmmmm.

Do I think I’ve got a good deal? The jury is out. We are taking a risk, quite a big one in fact. The equation breaks down like this.


Van already panelled with high quality materials (could do with a valet, but it’s by no means shabby).
No major rust, no rust inside doors seals
Easy access to the rears of the sound proofing/insulation panels, for augmenting the insulation.
Floor already floored.
High level cabinets (not wipe clean medical white … this is a good thing).
Diesel blown air central heating (needs to be shifted.
Four tinted sliding windows in the rear panels
Semi High top with full height rear opening doors
3.6 metres of internal length
Sliding side door (unglazed)
90% of the body is in very good nick (bubbly rust round one rear window, not a biggy)
Secondary 12v systems installed and adaptable
Five pages of service history
Years MOT
Roof light fitted already, direct replaced by the ones we bought for Moho Mk1 last year.
Clutch, Alternator, starter motor, Disks and pads, Cam belt kit all easily available, and relatively inexpensive (and looking at the layout all relatively easy to access).
Parts generally available widely, some Nissan, and Renault parts are 100% like for like (the Renault Master and Nissan Interstar are the same vehicle).
Our man Paul at Blackdown has converted at least four of these units and thinks they make a great base vehicle (as Renault, Nissan and Movano … The unit he’s just built is a 2012 Movano).


300.000 miles on the clock.
Bubbly rust round one rear window (badly patched up … see line above, to do it properly I need to take the window out).
Poorly removed blue light near and offside rear, and poor patch up of area (needs to be done properly and it’s very visible).
A ding that looks like it could be part of the sliding door run at the bottom of the sill (it would fool a stupid person … ahem).
Air suspension, compressor (this may have to be removed).

One could say that one has a bias towards the for’s (rose tinted glasses), however if one looks at the Against then purely in terms of cost they probably cancel each other out. However if the 300k miles bites us in the arse it could get quite expensive short term. If the worst came to the worst I will just have the engine reconditioned top to bottom no questions asked.

I hope to pick it up on Saturday 16th march, I’m off for a week after that and I shall root through it with a fine tooth comb, book it in for a service and cam belt change and give it a clean and wax.
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