Monday, 1 July 2013

Decision Made Odds and Sods

This will be a snippets post. First of all, as a follow up to the last post, we’ve decided that folding bikes are too expensive or too small and not robust enough for what we intend. So we won’t be wasting any more time on that matter. Instead I’ve booked my bike in for its long overdue strip down service. I need brake blocks, the back wheel is out of true and needs jigging to get it right (there may be a case for two new wheels, as the brake wear grooves round the rims feel almost smooth, it’s been doing it’s thing since 2004). The crank bearings are just at that point where there is a tiny amount of play forward or delay (it’s one f the two) before the pedals engage. Other that that I’m in Evans hands on the 8th of July. Between now and then I think some Muck Off and a redundant tooth brush is in order.
After mine has been sorted out, Amanda’s Rockhopper goes in. It needs a rear wheel true, a tweak to the hydraulics for the disk brakes and that’s about all (she’s only had it since 2009, so it’s practically new). There may be a case at some point for Semi slick tyres ... but to be fair there’s a stronger case for a quality high pressure stirrup pump, so increasing and decreasing tyre pressure is less of a chore (I may have mentioned this before but the side benefit of a high pressure stirrup pump is it can charge my air rifle).
As a consequence of the decision not to buy folding bikes, we’ve had a minor redesign of the motorhome. The garage has gone; without the bikes there is only the need for rear access either side of a central aisle. We claim back bed space, which was another part of the “folding bike compromise” that wasn’t ideal. And we still have some rear access lockers under the bed for “dirty or outdoor gear”. Paul also pointed out that with a bit of cushion removal and the strategic placement of an 8x4 of ply across the bed area, the back of the van stays large enough for small moves, and while we won’t move the lockup contents our selves when we get back from travelling (we’ve decided to use a removals company eventually), we could still conceivably move a sofa or bed with relative ease.
We’ve reigned back some of the works we were going to do at my brothers; he wants to sell, therefore the task is to make the place presentable, serviceable and practical in as short a time as possible and then sell it. It’s not the best decision ever, but it gets him out of a hole and on to the next chapter in his life. And who am I to stand in the way of that?
Amanda and I have to get my old Golf serviced ready for sale, because it will become an issue in fairly short order if it’s still hanging around at the end of September.
On matters of moving things on my cat of fourteen years is proving hard to re-home. The younger one is on her way to good friends of ours this weekend coming, but Pern ... well Pern is Pern and she needs the right fit, or some poor human somewhere will lose an arm below the elbow … I must say she’s fine with me … it’s everyone else she hates.
I’ve returned to researching this that and the other in my spare time. However as per previous post; forums really are a pain in the arse. Take A frames for towing a car. I decided to check out costs and perceived or real increases in fuel consumption and legislation. I Googled various questions to see what would turn up. Needless to say there were lots of answers and lots on forums ... of those lots two threads provided good information the rest were utter bollocks. One in particular that got my goat started with a really good set of information and stats, was then hijacked by some bellend who decided to play  “The previous answer is bollocks I know better”, and continued thus for 8 pages, even after being slapped down with AA figures immediately following his fatuous comments.
Fortunately once you have pin pointed what looks like good anecdotal evidence, you find that the actual phrasing of your question may be the issue in getting quality information. Subsequently in finding the right way to ask the questions using “technical terms”, you get exactly what you want in terms of statistical information. The mean average additional fuel consumption appears to be from 5% to 10% depending on the type of roads used. However there are plenty of anecdotal notes from the experienced who haven’t used the scientific method who quote figures around the 1mpg extra mark. The variables obviously include towed vehicle weight, road type ect ect ect, but the figures above roll in all the time across a variety of forums, including stock car racers, caravan haulers, not necessarily, the point you started looking, but once extrapolated out, you find you're comparing apples with apples.
I have discovered that the tow bar and vehicle mods are not horrifically expensive, and a used Smart (the original) can be bought for as little as £600 ... suddenly a run about doesn’t seem quite so far out of reach, but we’ll see if it’s something we could use in our second year, if of course we make it to a second year.
Other items being looked at daily for pricing include:
Small camping stoves for day hikes and bike rides
Portable BBQ’s though again, it's one of those "takes up space, weighs something, not going to be used all the time" things, that you could probably do without.
And all sorts of other odds and sods … the trick is of course, not to go mad, or there may not be room for us with all the gear packed in the van. And as an opposite of things you can do without. There is ever the argument for making things as luxurious as you can, because it's an extended road trip, not a test of your survival skills.

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