So it’s the end of week two! Or the beginning of week three… I can’t really tell. The days are merging into each other and it’s all becoming a blur! We have been building this campervan for two solid weeks now with only one day off! It’s really taking shape and although there’s still so much to do, the end is almost in sight! At least I hope it is because come Friday I shall be heading back to Blighty whether we’re finished or not!
After the euphoria of getting started last week I confess, this week has been a mixed bag. We’ve had some highs and we’ve had some really low lows. Dad and I have been working flat out, starting early and working till quite late each day. It’s been um, testing.
On Monday, after a trip to the builders merchant for piping and the like, we started the week with plumbing! First we brought in the 105 litre water tank that I got from Tanks Direct in the UK and stabilised with a frame work built off the bed frame above. Then we used some neoprene reinforced plastic piping to connect it to the pump that I also brought with me. We ran pipe work down the side of the van to supply water to the water heater, shower and sink. Doing all that took Dad virtually a whole day!! When I have a mo I shall dedicate a whole post to the plumbing circuit. In the weeks running up to the build I spent ages figuring out how it should all work but it was frustrating and pieced together from various other folks sites. I wanna tell you exactly what I did where cos I know that’ll be helpful to a whole bunch of you.
During the moments Pa was engaged with plumping and I hadn’t much to do I had a look at my dead locks. Being a girl alone in a van I decided I needed some extra security and so I bought Heosafe internal/external deadlocks for all the doors. I worked out how they work and fit together, and then I fitted three of them. It turned out to be pretty easy. There’s still one left to fit. It needs modifying because it won’t fit round the new windows. We have all we need to do that.. we just need to find the right moment. Anyway. I feel a hell of a lot better for having all those extra security measures in place.
On Tuesday (after another trip to a different merchant) we decided to test the water system. We hooked up the pump to the van’s cigarette lighter socket and filled the tank up with water. And hey presto! A pressurised water system! That means when you turn on the taps water comes out! That was a serious high point! Running water! Unfortunately first time round a couple of joints leaked but it didn’t take long to fix that.
So Tuesdays task for me while dad was working on water was to wire the lights. I wired all my LEDs and tested them, again with the cigarette lighter plug… My electrics are being done by a professional when I get back to the UK but the cigarette lighter plug gives me enough power to know if I have at least wired them correctly.. Which it seemed I had, till I came to wire in the light switch and then what had worked before suddenly didn’t work anymore. I then spent ages rewiring and double checking everything ’til I eventually realised I had blown the fuse in the plug! Doh. Not because I had done anything wrong but just because the cigarette plug wasn’t built to run a whole lighting circuit. Such a rookie error that I didn’t figure this out until I had re-wired it in every possible combination!
By Wednesday Dad had had his head in the shower cubicle for days. With all the plumbing it requires.. not to mention fitting the fiddly ridiculously shaped walls it was taking a while to take shape and it was draining his energy. But he managed to get most of the basic stud work up and to line it with white plastic sheeting that I’d also sourced back home. As way to make it feel like progress was really occurring I started carpeting the walls wherever I felt it necessary. I really went for it and managed to do the whole bedroom. With the shower cubicle in as well the van felt immediately different. I’m very blessed that not only do I have my father’s workshop to use I also have access to my mother’s sewing room which has an 8ft x 4ft pattern cutting table on which I cut my carpets. I also pilfered some of Mum’s pattern paper to use to help with making insulations mat’s out of the space blanket off cuts, for all the windows.
Mum and Dad’s adolescent black cat Lutine, who hangs out with us in the van or the workshop most of the time and who really deserves a blog post all to herself, has provided much comic relief this week. She absolutely loves the carpet and crawls into the roll at any and every opportunity, or supervises the cutting process (see video clip) or she just finds a piece to sit on… Or scratches the recently applied carpet back off the wall – That wasn’t so funny! At one point she even used it to claw her way up onto the roof of the van where, after she’d enjoyed being queen of the castle for a while, she realised she was stuck (for the second time this week) and needed help, in the form of a large timber bridge, back to the ground.
Thursday.. I can’t remember exactly what happened.. I was knackered. Oh yes, I think we went shopping again. This time doing a MAJOR shop! We bought the kitchen!! And pretty much everything else we needed. The pound collapsed after Brexit and the whole shop cost me 20% more than it would have the week before. That was super annoying to know. As soon as we got back to the van we got on to fitting it. We started to make speedier progress because.. well off the shelf kitchen’s are meant to be built pretty fast. While Dad focussed on the kitchen I insulated and built the floor under the bed in the space that will be the boot. Major encouragement factor hit with the installation late Thursday evening of the sink and the hose head tap set into what used to be Chris’s desk!!!
BUT… Friday.. Um, well I’m not too proud to admit I had a really, really bad day. So much so that Dad banned me from the work shop for a while for my own safety. He told me of a time when he’d held a man’s hand when the guy had severed his fingers using a band saw and he wouldn’t let me endanger myself that way on that day… So that really slowed us down and we both felt the strain of the tasks still ahead of us. It felt like far too much in far to short a period of time. I spent a lot of time out the back of the workshop staring at the view.
After lunch I accepted that maybe carpeting, holding stuff and handing over tools was all I was good for that afternoon and progress sped up again.
Today and yesterday were much, much better days. We had some massive encouragement factors from having almost entirely fitted the kitchen and the units/cupboards that are to make up the wardrobe. It’s looking like a real camper van now!!
So here we are, the end of week two.. About to launch into the final straight of the French part of the build. This is what the kitchen looks like so far, along with a little section of the shower. It’s not actually blue. that’s just the protective film on the plastic!
Dad has done a truly amazing job this week! And so has Mum, not only in looking after us workers but also making me curtains for the store at the back. I’ll feature them next time when there are hung.
Now it’s gone midnight and I’ll off to get stain for the floor in the morning so I can spend the day prepping the floorboards so I really better get to sleep.
See you next time!