Wow - here I am, I've just created this blog, my first, ready to tell the story of Chantelle, our beautiful 1963 Bedford Marshall bus that is going to take us on some wonderful adventures. I'm going to write this for fun, for all those people whose eyes lit up when we told them about her, and for anyone else wanting to do the same thing, so we can share what we find out. And maybe because just because I'm so excited about the whole thing !

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Buying the bits for the weekend

We're down again on Bank Holiday Monday, I'm really keen to get the electrics working, as I can't wait to see the pretty roof lights working. I've sourced the 12v 12w bulbs we need, from a marine website, so we're going to put them in, and keep our fingers crossed.

The next job is to build the back to the fridge, so we can fit the vents.

We're going to take the bedding down this weekend, so we can be properly set up for sleeping in her each time we go.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Happy St Georges Day !

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Tackling the gas

Decided we need to work on the bits of the project with lead times, as we have about 10 weeks before she needs to be up and running. The gas is to be housed under the bus, and we need to make a cradle to put it in, and a door to access it from outside. Mrs Chantelle had to go under the bus to measure up, and after a few re-measures we worked the max space available. We'd printed out the sizes of the gas canisters available, and came up with a size that would fit nicely, and accomodate two canisters.

Put the first coat of varnish on the bathroom, one of many.

Sorry, no photos - the camera battery was flat. This has prompted an eBay purchase of a 12v charger, now we just need to get the Sterling charger installed, so we can start to use the battery of batteries.

Had a moving moment meeting Laurie McMenemy, the manager who took the Saints to their 1976 FA cup victory, which was very special and a real link with the past.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Finishing off

Our last days work till next Saturday, so we took a good hard look at what needed doing. We lined the inside of the bathroom with more ply, which was a real pain of a job, as there was so much already there to work around, but we now have a firm smooth base to stick the vinyl to. We going to get some one in to apply the sealant, as this will make all the difference to the water resistance. I fancy decorating the door with newspaper and magazine cuttings from the festivals we go to, we did this in our last house, and it looked great, and was pretty tough after several layers of varnish.

Did a final clear-up, and another few hours of washing down the inside paintwork, and then set off on the train journey home - still no car thanks to the bank holidays. I was really sad to say goodbye to her, even though it will only be a few days till we're back.

This has been a great start to the project, despite the setbacks.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to you all. Went to a beautiful service this morning, came home and raised our glasses to many special family anniversaries, then back to work !

We hummed and ha-haed about putting arms on the sofa - it has walls at either end already, but padded arms would make it much more comfy, so we redesigned the hinged lid, to give some clearance either end for the arms and padding. We used piano hinges again, along the length of the sofa about 40cm from the edge, which will give us good access, and hopefully we'll still be able to lift it with the cushions in place. I cleaned the floor before we screwed it down, after several buckets of water, it now has a lovely smell. We designed the sofa largely on the fly, as it grew, we saw better ways of doing it. We going to keep it low, and make sure the back is level with the window, to minimise the disruption to the external look of the bus.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The sofa

Next step is to build the sofa, which was also be the bottom bunk on the kids beds. Its going to be big and comfy, around 210cmx70cm, which should be fine for adults or kids to sleep on. I'm going to have big feather cushions secured to it eventually, but probably reuse an old foam mattress for now. It will also be one of the main storage units, and will house the batteries and charger, so the first job was to secure the 4 leisure batteries. Fortunately, there was space on the cradle under the bus which houses the starter battery for one of them, and the other 3 fitted in nicely. I secured two metal rods, and some L shaped brackets to hold them in place.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The first real fit out

Ready to start to build the bathroom today - we've showered in various places over the last few months, and have worked out the mininum size that we could cope with. We want to keep the external view of the bus as clean as possible, so the bathroom has to be contained within one window width. We marked it all out on the floor well and good but what we'd forgotten was how low the bus is, especially under the curves by the window, but it still should be OK, as long as we have any tall visitors. We put up 2 supporting strutts, then cut a front wall to fit. We cut out a door, fixed it back in with piano hinges.

The side wall was a bit more tricky - we had to cut to fit the curve, and other bulges along the side of the bus. We tried the extended pencil method, to trace the shape, and made a reasonable, but not brilliant job of it. Next time we'll spend longer making the marking tool, so the line is a bit better. We'll be lining the inside with vinyl, and the outside with tongue and groove, so its not critical to have the ply perfect.

We love Norm on the "New Yankee Workshop" show, and thought he'd be proud of our skateboard feeder for 8x4 sheets through the circular saw.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

2 steps forward, 3 steps back

Disaster struck last night - we were heading out for dinner in the evening, pleased with ourselves after a great days work, and clunk - the car broke down. The recovery man tutted and took it away to the garage, and I've woken up this morning, with no car, and no materials. No probs, I think - I'll use the bus and head off to B&Q for wood etc. But carefully backing out of the drive, I managed to smash the rear light cover. Just how many vehicles can you lose in 24 hours ? I was now getting seriously frustrated as this is my precious few days off work, and I'm sitting here spending it watching a Harry Potter video. I rang round, hired a transit for 2 days, and went off to pick up the ply to start on the bathroom. This is going to be very slow progress.

The OH turned up tonight, went to fetch her from the station in the transit, and had a good evening planning the next few days work. Enjoyed a very good bottle of wine from Galilee in honour of Maundy Thursday. Got a sudden urge to sleep in the bus for the first time, so the four of us piled in on a random arrangements of mattresses, and had a really good night, the first of many. Woke up quite warm, so think the insulation wont be too much of an issue.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The seats

We discussed at great length the priority order of the jobs. We know we cant get it all done in time for the summer getaway, so we've divided it into

. Must have now
. Must have next year
. Would be great to have some day

And top of the list was front seats with belts, so the kids can travel up front. We toyed with putting a L shape seat configuration in the front so the three of us could sit together, but were advised against it, so we bought a double seat from eBay, with belts. One of us will have to sit in the back - we'll see how that works out.

When I tried the new seat in situ, the wheel arch came in just the wrong place, so I chopped some of the leg off, took it round to a friendly welder who welded a plate to join the legs and provide a mounting point. Tried to get under the bus to bolt the seat in place, but I'm - um - too "generous around the chest" to squeeze under. Tried various wedging techniques, but nothing worked, so I called on the services on a grease monkey, who slid under and did the biz.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The clear out

Had a really good day clearing out the inside - began to get a feel of how big she is, and gained some confidence that our much discussed paper plans will work.

We salvaged as much of the wood as possible, to use for our fit out, and had a nice fire in the evening with the scraps. We're going to use ply for the construction work - which I'm not happy about from an environmental point of view, but it is so much easier to work with. We will be using reclaimed wood for the kitchen, and the table top, and at least the ply is a one-off, and hopefully will last for years.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The trip to Monmouth

Got up early, and Dad I headed off across the seven bridge to Monmouth to meet Mark, and collect Chantelle. Mark had done a great job of fixing her up, and getting her through the MOT.
She was easy to find, "across the mini roundabout, look right, think bus !" I had a quick driving lesson - big, old, noisy and great fun - I'm going to enjoy this ! It took 3 hours to get home, and had taken 2 hours to get there, so we've got a benchmark for future journeys. It was very indulgent of Dad to pretend his new car would only do 35 mph as we drove in convoy up the hills on the motorway !

Friday, April 07, 2006

She passed !

Oh Joy Oh Rapture ! Chantelle passed her MOT and we can go and collect her on Monday.

We're taking her to Mums, where she can live in the drive, and we can put in a good weeks work, and get started. Not sure how many weekends work will be needed after that, but once phase one is done, and shes ready for this summers hols, we can move her to more permanent storage.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Fingers crossed

Well - she goes in for her MOT test on Friday morning, so fingers, toes and everything else crossed. If she makes it, we'll be collecting her on Monday, then its all systems go for the start of the fit out.

Bit shocked to see the camper van tickets for Guilfest are £70 on top of the weekend ticket/camping price ! Maybe sleeping under canvas for that one after all.

We've done some more work looking for the right campsites for the mid-week fill ins between festies - some nice ones out there, even some that allow campfires, which would be great fun. As soon as we can get some good pics of Chantelle, I'll start emailing round, and get an itenery sorted.