#VanLife: Blog #008 Why Is It Never Easy?

August 08, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

The quest for additional safe seating (as in, seats that have integrated seat belts) started almost immediately after I purchased the van.  I wanted to be able to have passengers for the day to day runs, like trips to the shop or taking the kids with me when we walk the dogs by the beach. Or, god forbid, if we do ever decide to include additional sleeping quarters to the rear, bring the kids with us on short breaks.

Alerts have been set on Gumtree.com for anything Iveco related in terms of parts here in Northern Ireland. I could do with swapping out the driver's seat as its padding is a little worn, hard left turns are a little unnerving cause your arse muscles have nothing to push off against to counter the bends. You get a feeling like you're going to fall out the driver's door at any moment.

The priority, however, is getting some seats in the back for when I start moving forward with the rebuild, which as yet is still a non-starter due to funds being allocated elsewhere. Mainly on holidays to be honest. My wife has this tendency to buy cheap flights to far off places cause, well, they're cheap. The problem is though, the accommodation costs and spends don't seem to factor into her thought processes quite at the same moment. Two flights to Malaga last year cost £81, return. Bargain right? The total cost of the holiday? About £1,700. For a week! Don't get me wrong, it was a cracking week in the sun getting shit faced and mooching about the streets of Torremolinos, just not economically thought through enough.

Same with this year, bar the first holiday. I was sabotaged on that one by a bride. Good friends of ours decided that they would be getting married in Portugal, in the expensive part, the Algarve. Flights were booked (for me) last Christmas Eve. I was drunk and Sarah (the bride) took my phone and set about finding us a good deal on flights, which basically translated to the only flights that covered the days we'd need to be there. So I woke up on Christmas morning £480 lighter. I really do need to get a grip on this seasonal drinking lark!

We're not long back from it actually, it was a bloody good holiday/wedding, and I've an amazing tan and a bit of video from the day if you're interested below:

It was also roasting the whole time we were there. Nonetheless, we had a fantastic time. The knock-on effect has been that I still can't start the van conversion, cause, well, I'm skint. Not 'skint' skint, just nothing left to spare to buy anything other than food. I sort of knew that was gonna happen before we left, which is why when my Gumtree.com alert notified me that there were some suitable seats on the market, it was time to strike.

Now these aren't Iveco seats, which would have been awesome, and in all likelihood if they had been, they would have ended up in the front cab. No, these were from a Ford Transit, which was recently converted from a mini-bus into a plaster's work van, and the guy had them spare for selling.

Transit seatsTransit SeatsRear passenger seats with fitted integrated seat belts.

Granted, there's nothing flash about them, they're just seats. Looked okay on the picture (above) and he was only looking £120 for them. Not as cheap as I'd seen in adverts further afield, but at least they were in Northern Ireland. Every other set of seats I'd seen have all been in Scotland, mainly because Gumtree likes to spread its area of search a little further when it can't find what you're looking for locally. I wish I lived in Glasgow sometimes, cause everything for this van seems to be in that city, never in Northern Ireland!

As typical face-to-face buying methods go, we arranged to meet at a suitable place for both of us. I was actually heading to Newry for the weekend, so we agreed to meet at a Roundabout off a busy road like a couple of crooks. He wanted £120, but when I saw how tattered the backs of the seats were, I said I wanted a tenner knocked off. The seller agreed, but as he didn't have a ten pound note to swap for my £20's, I ended up giving him £100. I didn't tell him I had two tenners as well, where's the fun in that?

Thankfully they have the top mounting plates, though they will need two further underside plates made to secure them through the floor.

This is where it starts to get to be a bit of a pain in the arse.

I'm gonna have to take the fuel tank off so that I can get to the underside of the van I actually want them on, because that's where the tank sits. Also, I can't do that until I've obviously removed the cupboards inside, and once that happens, I have to start with redoing the floor. I sort of knew this going in, but again, the quick fix of having extra seats isn't a quick fix at all.

The enormity of this job isn't lost on me, it's just the amount of time and effort it's going to take, as well as the lack of funds, cause you guessed it, another holiday looms. We're away again in 8 weeks on another 'cheap' holiday, then two weeks after that, the big family holiday!

It looks like this project is going to have to be mothballed until next year, only this time, there will be no 'cheap' flights being booked anywhere.

In other news, the van likes to drain its batteries if left unattended longer than 3 days!

Also, it seems I'm not supposed to remove the tachograph (see previous blog) just in case I decide to use the tow bar to tow anything, cause then I have to have the tachograph going too!

Anyone wanna buy a van?


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