Facebook is a great place for organising events, and hooking up with like minded people. We first met the organiser of the Chill Out Campsite facebook group (Debs) at Shardlow Marina only a couple of miles away from where we live back in November (2017). That meeting (and the group) was brought to our attention by a couple of friends who told us they were going to be ‘our neck of the woods’ for the meeting. Long story short, we camped at the Marina, and after discussion with Debs we realised that our paths in the future were highly likely to cross during our future summer holiday in May. We were both traveling to France and italy the same week, and due to the fact we got on well as couples, it would not take much to tweak our arrangements to be able to meet for a few days during the trip.
So when we saw this meeting planned on a weekend that fit our agenda, it really was a no brainer. The Location was the Kings Arms, Wing, Rutland. Approximately one hours drive from home.
Suffice to say the day / evening was great, and new friends were made. 🙂
With the hustle and bustle of Christmas and the New Year behind us, both myself and Mandy have been trying to find little glimmers of light to keep us enthused in the form of the odd night away in the van here and there. This time of year is probably the hardest to endure due to the short days and dark cold nights. However, the decision to get the gearbox fitted and have a minor service in a couple of weeks in anticipation of our month long summer Euro Trip in May / June has got us both thinking there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel.
Knowing Mandy loves camping in the campervan almost as much as I do, I thought she would see some element of fun in having a bespoke birthday cake to remind us of those cool times we have spent at the coast in the van. I had seen a friend of mine post pictures of facebook of some amazing cakes she had made, so Mandy’s 50th seemed like just the excuse I needed for commissioning the cake. I sent some photos, and a scribbled sketch containing a few ideas I had. I was very specific about the details needed to make people believe it was my van (colour, name, registration number, solar panels etc, etc). I was a little concerned that I may have been expecting too much of her when she said to me “this is actually a cake you are asking me to make, and not a model”. I told her I had every confidence she would come through with the goods. So all that was left to do is await the phone call to say it was ready to collect.
Suffice to say both Mandy and I were suitably impressed with the end result.
A little progress on the gearbox…Due to issues with a batch of faulty parts, the gearbox wasn’t ready for my September holiday. As has been covered in a previous post we managed to get away thanks to a friend lending me a box. Ironically, I received an email stating my gearbox was ready the first day of our three week break. Suffice to say I was not really in any positing to collect until the end of September where it sat in my garage until a couple of days ago.
The box build spec changed from standard to include a 4.14 final drive, stronger 4 pinion differential and new differential bearings. This should compliment my new, more powerful AAZ engine with longer gears throughout and a higher cruising top speed.
Knowing that the gear boxes are prone to corrosion due to its position underneath the camper in front of the engine, my intention was to paint the casings before fitting the box. I thought about etch primer (the yellow stuff that comes out of an aerosol can), but decided to try Hammerite primer on a small section of the alloy to see how well it adhered. After a couple of days I checked and it seemed to have keyed on really well, so the rest of the box was painted.
I am in no great rush to have the box fitted, and the reality is it’s probably going to sit in my garage for the next 6 month until my van is booked in for a service at Brickwerks. I’ll get them to fit it then 🙂 . Hammerite takes a good few weeks to cure, after which I will paint again with a mid grey engine enamel.
I have had a couple of people ask me about the thermal screens I use on my van (seen above on both the window and pop top). Both of these get used on almost every camp over oblivious to the time of year or temperature for reasons explained below.
The pop top roof canvas was purchased directly from Paucer
The obvious reason for buying the screen initially was to try and retain the heat from inside of the van during cold weather. However, we do find that it reduces the noise slightly if camped in busy locations, along with reducing buffeting sounds when windy, and the sound of rain on the canvas. During summer it reduces the amount of light in the van which can be helpful when the sun starts to rise at 5am. After all, who wants to be woken up at the crack of dawn when your on your hols? 🙂
All T3 / T25s have glass window screens and door glass so a thermal wrap is a must if you want to stand any chance of eliminating condensation from the cab area of your van. The Silver Screen was an expensive purchase in comparison to the alternatives that are on offer from the likes of Just Campers etc. At over £100 it was twice as much, but my purchase is still as good today, as the day I brought it. You can definitely see the difference in the thickness of the quilting and the old saying ‘you get what you pay for’ certainly rings true here. The screen cover was brought directly from Silver Screens ( www.silverscreens.co.uk ).