Vehicle parts, components needed to be arrived at our place in a certain order so that the workflow wasn’t held up. We were practically swimming in truck parts. Sometimes it looked like this at home.
…and the kitchen
We were on the tightest schedule. Anyone who’s done something like this before and had an idea what we’re doing, said it can’t be done in 5-6 months. Even if we are working on it full time, have some professional help and if we are lucky we’ll be able to finish it in 12-18 months. Now, there was that word “can’t” so John just wasn’t having it. He had his unshakeable belief that we can.
I mentioned earlier the good fortune that we found an engineering workshop who was willing to do the truck exterior work for us. Well, sadly it didn’t work out as well as we hoped for and unfortunately it was too late when both sides (us and mr. engineer) realised the quality differences between what we wanted and what they could actually provide. Our intention has been to build a first class overland vehicle keeping: travel, self-sustainability, safety and living space in the main focus. His profile was more “UK off road-ing” where using high quality, light materials, top security, efficient sustainability weren’t priority. So there had to be a lot of re-do’s and it didn’t go down easily. Besides the fact that we were the paying customers and regardless of all our efforts of being very reasonable and polite we were still continuously facing – let’s put it this way, his lack of skills of customer service.
Even that this was an unfortunate match we didn’t intend giving up the efforts for making the best we wanted.
We did have an epic few months. Plenty of challenges and difficulties, in which we had really big technical learning curves and some heavy personality clashes, meanwhile we were constantly trying to elevate our moods that the misfortunate summer-weather, with its top 12C, left oh so low.
At this point there are a couple of things I would like mention:
Number 1. Johnny is not the man who shies away from any challenges. Oh no. His brain is sharp as razor, and is fierce as a honey badger on its bad day, so words like “no” , “can’t” or “impossible” are unknown to him. He also is a splendid forward thinker (I.e. by the time you realise the importance of temperature differences in various places, John would’ve already built the thermo glass and the cooling-heating system in the truck)
Number 2. It really started dawning on us; converting a truck to a reliable, liveable motorhome is turning out to be something of an unspeakable challenge. Everything but really, EVERY SINGLE PART needs to be a special make or custom-made which doubled our estimated (or hoped) budget. Have you ever watched “Grand Design”?…
John spent the first 2 months from 8AM sometimes until 10PM researching all the knowledge about building a vehicle like ours. He educated himself in just a few months on special truck wheels and tyres, diesel tanks and fuel system, on the complete internal electronic, plumbing, gas, heating and safety system and so on. He knew nothing about any of these before but somehow, just at the right time, we always found the right knowledge and help, and he took all on board and “translate” them in to our “wants” and “needs”.
At the same time we were on the internet or on the phone trying to find the right company or person who would custom make the relevant part for us.
In the UK the “overland vehicle building” business isn’t as sophisticated and advanced as you may think; most of the companies only sell domestic DIY stuff that is not just big, clunky and heavy but it’s rigid therefore no use for a moving, shaking object. Other companies or factories simply don’t talk to individuals -they have no interest in selling one piece of custom made (or not) part, they usually deal with commercial orders of hundreds.
So we had to search and search for every single parts until we were fortunate enough to bump into someone at the right manufacturer who was amused enough by our project and was very kind to help us. (we have a long thank you list!)
Meanwhile we were constantly pressured by the time…