Monday, 21 January 2013

Travel Plans

For most travellers (in the literal rather than ethnic sense), their vehicle is just a tool to let them go travelling in whatever style and comfort they wish. It nearly always gains a degree of sentimental attachment, but for most the key pleasure is in the travelling itself. For me, part of the enjoyment has been in working on Jim. This is not to say I wouldn't buy something off the shelf  if I had the resources and they made shelves big enough, but if I didn't enjoy the work on converting Jim from a cash-in-transit truck to a mobile home, I would undoubtedly have simplified the conversion, finished the work more quickly, and been on the road a long time ago.

Convoy waiting to get on site at Czechtek 2005 after the Hekate truck got stuck

It didn't start this way though; when I bought Jim I expected to be travelling within a year or two. Things clearly changed and I began to enjoy the work I was doing. For a long time, I didn't have enough money to go travelling even if the conversion had been finished, and so I didn't worry about rushing the job and doing it to a lower standard, as it would sit there unused until I had saved more money anyway. For this reason I began to make Jim a labour of love, doing everything the difficult way to make sure then end product was as good as I could make it, never rushing anything for the sake of finishing sooner. A few months ago this changed, I realised that the money I had saved would be enough to travel for a decent length of time, perhaps 9 - 18 month, and at this point it became the conversion on the truck which was holding my plans up. I knew that I could never bring myself to rush the next part of the conversion out and bodge it to let me get on the road, but on the other hand I didn't want to spend the rest of my life converting Jim.

I've recently had to admit to myself, that with the time I am willing to spend working on the conversion each week,  Jim will have rusted to dust and I will be too broken to go travelling, before the work is finished. And so I made the decision to hand in my resignation from the job I have been at for 5 years, and work full time on Jim until the conversion is complete. Whilst this is hugely exciting for me for many reasons, it does put the pressure on, because every month I spend working on Jim, is a month where the money I have saved for travelling goes towards paying my mortgage and bills, and living an expensive life in London when I should be living frugally on the road. I am leaving my job on May 17th, and expect to spend about 4 months finishing the conversion before I am ready to condense my possessions from a 3 bed house to a 12.5sqm truck, and leave London behind.

Jim the mercedes 1823 overland motorhome in the London snow

Not to make life too easy for myself, I got engaged yesterday, and so in additional to finishing Jim, I now have a wedding to plan.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Finishing off the Generator Install

It was hovering around 0°C in London over the last few weeks, and when it hasn't been cold, it's been raining, neither of which are conducive to enthusiastic working. How I long for a heated workshop with a 4m roller shutter. Nevertheless I managed to don three jumpers and do some small jobs on the Jim, the first of which was to change the latch holding the generator locker shut.

In itself the job only took about 45 minutes, but the series of jobs leading up to it have taken considerably longer and were spread out over a couple of years! As you can see in the photo below, when Jim was passed into my care there was a sizable space on the nearside of the chassis that was not used for anything. The front section is used for the exhaust silencer, starter batteries, air dryer, and primary air tanks, but behind it was about 700mm of unused space.

Jim - An armoured Brinks Mercedes Atego 1823

On the offside, the space was smaller, and in it I fitted an auxiliary fuel tank, but on the nearside I decided to fit a generator; not in anticipation of regular usage, but more for use in emergencies to charge batteries, or run power tools. There are numerous things I would have liked to have fitted in the space including leisure batteries, a water tank or a storage locker; it is always best to keep the weight as low as possible on a vehicle to improve stability and handling, and so storing the 400kg  leisure batteries would have made sense. However, having a noisy, smelly combustion engine inside the living compartment made the least sense to me, and so the decision was made to fit a generator to the chassis.