Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Spare Tyre Carrier

Heavy commercial vehicles in the UK rarely carry spare tyres these days, and if they do, they rarely have the tools to change them if the get a puncture. A mounted tyre on a 22.5 inch rim is upwards of 100Kg and so it is more cost effective for haulage operators to use the weight capacity for paying cargo, and accept an infrequent cost for roadside assistance from a mobile tyre fitter. It's possible to have a new tyre on your truck in less than an hour almost anywhere on the UK mainland and so it's not worth the cost of carrying the tyre around, and the risk to employees of having to change it by the side of the road. Consequently when Jim was passed into my care, he had no spare tyre.

Even in the UK, I prefer the idea of being self sufficient, but with plans to drive far into Central America, I do not like the prospect of having to wait for days by the side of the road for a suitably equipped tyre fitter to come past. It wads therefore fairly important that I got a spare tyre, and found somewhere to put it, before the truck gets dropped at Southampton docks next week.

The most common place to fit a spare tyre on a heavy rigid, is either under the chassis just in front of the back wheels, or mounted centrally behind the back wheels. Jim's wheelbase is fairly short, and so once I had fitted the generator and auxiliary fuel tank there was no space on the chassis rails for a spare. In addition the overhang at the back is very short, sand so there is no space behind the back wheels either.

400 + 250 litre derv and red tanks on Jim the overland Mercedes motorhome truck

This left me with a few options, mostly ideas pilfered from large expedition vehicles. The simplest option seemed to be to mount the tyre on the roof of the cab. I would only have had to mount a platform on the roof of the cab using the threaded mounting points provided by Mercedes from the factory, and fitted a simple swinging arm and chain block to get the wheel up and down. I quickly decided against this option due to the additional weight on the cab mountings. The cab is already far heavier than intended due to the all the armour plating from it's life as a Brinks truck, and so I wanted to avoid putting more stress on the cab hinges and the hydraulic tilt system. In addition, the front axle is rated at 5 tonnes less than the rear, and so putting the weight so far forward isn't preferable. For the same reason I discounted the option of mounting the tyre on a bull bar type bumper.

The roof of the box body is almost completely covered by hatches and solar panels and so mounting the tyre on top of the living accommodation was impossible. In addition, at 2.5m wide, Jim is already a handful on narrow roads and so mounting the tyre on the side of the body would have been absurd. This left me with finding a way to mount the tyre at the rear of the truck.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Bloody Insurance

I hate the general bureaucracy that comes with owning possessions in the modern world, but the last few weeks have really got my goat. Amongst other things that we've had to cancel, change or create, have been: Bank accounts, credit cards, mortgages, human vaccinations, pet vaccinations, water accounts, gas accounts, electric accounts, landline accounts, broadband accounts, mobile phone accounts, house insurance, pet insurance, shipping insurance and truck insurance.

Most have been relatively straight forward, but I'm struggling with getting Jim insured for our travels in the US, Canada and Mexico. There are a number of bureaucratic issues with getting insurance for Jim in the US, the primary ones being:

1. Jim is not registered in a US state
2. Mercedes Atego 1823s do not come up on insurers lists of American RVs and when they do a web search they find lots of pictures of flatbeds, beavertails, box trucks and tippers.
3. I do not have an American address to register the policy at.

A few companies seem to be able to insure a foreign registered vehicle, including Thum, Poli Seek and Progressive, but it seems that only Thum are able to do it without a US mailing address. Too bad because their quote was over $6,000 for a year.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

My Apologies

I apologise for the extremely scant blogging recently. Here's a short video as compensation, the first time I've used my new GoPro camera: thanks Leigh!