#VanLife: Blog #004 The Mechanics

July 14, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Okay, so where do I begin in this latest #VanLife update?

Well, the truck mechanic has been all over the breaking system. Swapping out drums, discs, shoes, pads and the handbrake. He even managed to get the horn working longer than I did, as my repair only seemed temporary, like, to the bottom of the road temporary. The side effect to the horn working is - when you open the doors the indicators flash five times, like the alarm system has been triggered or something. Not a major thing, but just something else for me to think about when I'm trying to get to sleep at night. He couldn't get the nearside front marker light to work, the one on the side door itself as it needs a part that connects the door electrics to the van electrics through a contact plate. Which means the door has to come off it's runners to fit it. I could do that, just need a second pair of hands to handle that big bugger, cause I can see me getting crushed once it's released, I'm no Hordor.

Iveco VanShe's not yellow, and as yet, she's not named.My big red bus, but what should I call it?

I did manage to forget one fault when I dropped it off, as is typical with my approach to all things faulty (out of sight, out of mind), that being the fuel gauge sensor. I think it's only reading as a half tank. I was warned about it, but complete forgot, and it only ever comes into my head when when I'm starting to run low on fuel, cause the dial starts dropping from 'full' to 'near empty' in no time. Again, something for another day.

Now that I've gotten all that sorted and paid for (£380), it was time to seek out that elusive welder.

Plenty of people have referred to "Yer man from Ballykelly", they all know his name, but not one of them knew his number. Really frustrating I can tell you! I have trawled the interwebs for him. On social media I found one or two blokes with his name, but it turned out they weren't him. In desperation I started reaching out to local engineering firms to see if they would take it on as the clock is ticking with the insurance company to get this sorted for MOT. Even they pointed me back to "yer man". Thankfully, one of the firms I did contact was one that "yer man" bought metal sheeting from, they asked him if it was okay to send out his details to me, which he obliged, and a call was made straightaway.

We spoke on the phone briefly and I did my best to describe my woes and he gave me a very rough estimate of £200 over a weeks worth of labour. I thought this was a bargain, having no clue as to the dark art of vehicle welding and repair I was expecting a lot worse. I picked up the van on the Friday from the mechanic, and had it on the door step of the welder on Sunday evening.

"Yer man" is actually called Mick, and a lovely fella he is! He's not into all that "internet stuff", being in his 50's/60's he's no interest in it, which is why I couldn't bloody find him. He's taking life at his own pace, and fair fecks to him for it!

He works from a yard not far from his home and it didn't take him long to get on his back to take a peek under the van, and start poking holes in the rust. The job was getting bigger and bigger as more and more prodding was taking place. I was starting to get that feeling of dread that the £200 quote was slipping away from me.

Now Mick isn't a fan of the Ford Transit. If I'd had tipped up with a White Tranny he would have sent me home with my tail between my legs. He thinks tin foil is thicker than what those wagons have to offer, and he'd told me on the phone he refused to work on them. My Iveco met with his critical approval, and the quote still didn't change once he got back to his feet, still £200. This gave me a sense of relief, this guy knows his trade! My only stipulation was that it needed to be ready by the following Friday, as the wife and I were for Dublin that weekend for a Coldplay concert, and the wife wanted to be within walking distance on the Saturday, the actual night of the concert. Mick was confident it would be ready before then, he just had to get some metal ordered and he'd be good to go.

Iveco - The Task at Hand.Quick Snippet of a much longer video to come. Whilst Mick was plying his trade, I got back on to the insurance company and told them the craic. It's still not technically on the road, and I'll need an extension on their stupid 14 day deadline, cause stuff on this scale takes time. They were happy enough with that, I've now got till the 17th of July to get it sorted.

Mick, true to his word, managed to get the welding done and finished by Thursday. The supports for the axle were rotten, and around the side door step needed completely replaced, as well as the some of the panel joint structures too, which were really noticeable even to my untrained eye ! A few flicks of red oxide paint were applied and he even found a rubber gasket for the gaping circular hole that was in the front cab area. I decided not to have it welded over, as I think I'll use it a handy channel for some electrical cabling I've got planned.

The best part was, it only cost £160 to do! I love this man, I don't care how hard he is to find, he was well worth the effort. I've got him saved in my phone for future use if anyone round these parts needs him. I've a bit of fabrication I think he can help me with over that hole in the cab area up ahead once we're moving further forward. Honest and hard-working tradesmen are hard to find, so I make a point of keeping them close.

The van now back on the drive with great breaks and a few less cancer spots, all we had to do now was; prepare for our two night stay in Dublin, and I'll tell you more about that, next time.


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