As any expeditioner will tell you using your phone for navigation when you have anything up to 23 tonnes is sometimes not the best. We found that out to our cost when trying to navigate to the campsite in Calais and used the phone. We did get to see some very nice French villages but there was a lot of reversing and vehicle queues when we were trying to get around corners and through main streets!!!!.
A chance meeting with Andi Hayman from Garmin at the Stratford show in April led us to the new Overlander and In Reach Explorer plus. A quick review of the website and these will do us perfectly. The In reach will allow us to communicate should James fall ill reducing the need to purchase a Sat Phone and the Garmin Overlander has maps specifically to cater for our vehicle and the life that it will lead.
A massive big thank you to Andi and Garmin UK for their advice and assistance with this very important part of the project. This is one part that you really need to get right.
Many a night was spent searching the internet for a company that would be able to give us the blinds that we wanted. We had decided that we wanted an option of a black out blind and the mosquito net. We previouly had this on our American Motorhome but didn’t have the option to either have one of the other or half and half. The mosquito net was fixed so a cassette blind was the obvious choice.
A number of companies fitted the bill but when we looked at them, they just seemed too bulky till we discovered Oceanair. Perfect until when we came to order them it was boat season. Oceanair make blinds for the high end yacht market and we had to pick the busiest time of the year to order our blinds.
To our rescue comes Christian Parr and Andy Smith at Oceanair. Frantic phone calls for measurements, a quick visit to their offices in Royston and the job was done. Order placed and 3 weeks later the blinds arrive for fitting.
In this world that we live in, we have a tendancy to become cynical. These boys have again shown that the goodness of man kind hasn’t gone far and is definately in abundance at Oceanair.
Very early in our planning we decided that we wanted the seating area to look more like your lounge sofa than that of a motorhome and leather would be the better option. There was not going to be a regular need to have the seating area convert to a bed so the same restrictions were not there. The problem was who would be able to construct our seating area the way we wanted it.
We visited a number of companies then Ian put us in touch with Nick at Autobahn Customs. Again he patiently listened to what we wanted, telling us what would and wouldn’t work. There were complications as well with the crawl thru and James’s seat.
Despite all these challenges Nick went away and designed and constructed what we can only describe as stunning. He got patterned material that matched the leather and made a board that we can put into the crawl thru when we are not moving. The finishing touches of the cushions and the leather band above the crawl thru were inspirational. Imagine then our surprise when going into the bedroom, he had made a headboard and covered the escape hatch in the same leather material. These finer details bring the whole truck together.
For anyone who wants seating constructed for their motorhome/ expedition truck we highly recommend Nick. The man is a genius. He has given us an area where we can properly chill out.
A phone call from Ian . We have a problem – the original step cab wings on the truck were damaged beyond repair and the replacements we had got were too short for the truck. No problem return them however the company we had purchased them from had gone out of business.
Couple of hours later surfing the web led me to Chris Winters at Bison Parts in Sheffield and again my belief in the goodness of man was reinforced. After explaining what I was looking for, a call back came where Chris patiently took me thru the ins and outs of step cab wing . He explained that MAN only produced a one step wing and we would need the bottom step. You learn something every day. Bottom steps on order and the one step wing being delivered tomorrow with the other following next week.
The quick and excellent service from Chris Winters and Bison Parts means that the build won’t be delayed further.
Massive massive thanks to Chris and Bison Parts and we cannot recommend them highly enough for anyone needing parts for their trucks at extremely competitive prices.
When deciding to document our travels with a blog, we thought that we needed a logo that symbolised what our journey was all about. I was never any good at art so the thought of publishing one of my drawings was terrifying. Sitting with paper and pen I had a light bulb moment – Mary.
I used to sit and watch Mary Masterson during her lunch hour at work with artist pad, pencils and chalk sketching. Brilliant and she provided many a career history depicted in art for those that we worked beside who were moving onto pastures new.
Quick phone call, lunches and many emails have produced our logo for both the blog and art work for the truck. We cannot thank Mary enough for her patience in understanding our trip. The moving wheelchair with the initial J entwined reaching for the world totally encapsulates what this journey is all about. She really is a star.
If anyone is looking for unique original portraits or artwork I cannot recommend her enough. Drop an email and we can give you contact details.
Thank you Mary
Disaster, just before christmas, as the truck gets ready to hit the road for the first time. An oversight occurs, when the truck came to the UK the dutch dealer stated that the Exhaust Valve Brake was seized and he had kindly circumvented the system as try as he may he couldnt free up the system. He was supposed to have put the parts in the truck for us to attempt to free in the UK, that was nearly two years ago, I cant remember what I had for breakfast these days!!
I want to add a special vote of thanks to Matt Squires at MAN UK for being so helpful with sourcing a local supplier to me and Paul Palmer from PCL a MAN dealer for sourcing and supplying so quickly the Exhaust Valve Brake. Thanks to both of you.
It is supposed to be easy to buy the locks and handles to kit out your home isnt it? Wrong, the quality and price of many locks is either extortionate or definitely not designed for an expedition truck, the marine industry has dramatically helped us here.
Sea-Screw have constantly provided us with competitively priced and on face value hard wearing products.
Thank You Sea-Screw for all you assistance to date.
Evans Waterless Coolants
Anybody in the UK watch Wheeler Dealers? Its a progamme that buys an old unloved car and they do it up and sell it on. I was watching them rebuilding a Triumph Stag, those of you that are of a certain age will remember the terrible overheating problems they had.
Evans coolant has a much higher boiling point 180 deg C than water at 100 deg C. Water that is supposed to cool the engine at anything over 100 deg C is very inefficient as it turns to steam. Put an engine under stress and the waterless coolant outperforms water. The other bonus of the higher boiling point is that the pressure throughout the cooling system is reported to put 75% less pressure on the engine than water cooling, that should reduce those incidents of burst pipes. Another bonus is that as water contains Oxygen, the cooling tubes are very susceptible to rust, waterless coolant has known of those worries.
Anyway thats the sale pitch (nearly) cant wait to try this out in the truck looks fantastic , World Motocross teams, British Suoerbike riders, Dakar Race trucks to name but few cant be wrong.
Nathan Hillier at Evans Coolant couldnt have been anymore informative and helpful, Thanks Nathan.
Diesel Decontaminator/Water Filter Seperator – Separ
If you are not mechanically minded you may be asking what on earth this is. I certainly did until I had a conversation with MAN UK and I discovered that it was not something that you added to the diesel but in fact a system whereby the water that could accumulate within the diesel was seperated and able to be drained.
Looking to understand this more, a search on the internet lead me to Separ in Hertfordshire. A quick phone call and email to the sales department led me to speaking with an extremely helpful and knowledgeable Jayne Whiting. Special thanks has to go to Jayne for patiently taking me through the various systems that her company has and what options would be more suitable for our needs.
Decision made and we will now be able to expel any water that gathers within the diesel.
Thank you Jayne and Separ.
Creative Car Sounds
Sometimes in life something or somebody passes through that instantly restores your faith in the kindness of the human race. Along with Ian and the team at Motorcraft conversions, Neil and Penny at Creative Car Sounds, www.creativecarsounds.co.uk have certainly reinforced that. We have decided that whilst we didn’t want a sound system in the cab that was auditorium quality we wanted a system that would allow us a handsfree telephone system and an ability to play digital music. A chance visit to Neil at his shop in London gave us an absolute wealth of knowledge on a subject neither of us knew anything about. Neil forfeited his hot lunch to spend time going through the different options available to us. I cannot recommend them enough to anyone who is looking to update their vehicle sound system. After much discussion, Apple CarPlay will be the way forward.