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Monthly Archives: August 2013

New Silver Dies Again…

I was on my way to work this morning, taking a shortcut to avoid the traffic, when my brakes suddenly stopped working…

Oh…dear…

Warning lights came on, strange noises issued from the dash (while loud swear words issues from my lips) and I rolled, kind of uncontrollably, towards the back end of another car.

Luckily, my clutch is brand spanking new (that’s a woeful story for another time) so I could use my gears and handbrake to slow down. In fact, the only good part of this whole entry is that I can say I don’t have to pay for the repairs to anyone else’s vehicle…I was also lucky enough to be a two-minute crawl from Kwik-Fit (who have been my saviours in the past) so I limped the poor (bloody stupid) car there and begged for their help.

I have been neglectful of my brakes and have failed to have them checked during the 18 months that I’ve owned New Silver but, in my defence, I thought that was the kind of thing that was checked on the MOT. I was wrong! The guys at KW told me that both the front and back disks AND pads were worn and corroded beyond belief.

I get a little bit of discount at Stratford-upon-Avon Kwik Fit because I work in the town, and that has brought my bill of £461.35 down to £415.81. I plan to spend the money I’ve saved on tissues so I can cry myself stupid.

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2013 in Car, Random

 

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Dog (Birth)Days…

Sunday 4th August was Fletch Pig’s birthday!

I'm 8!

I’m 8!

I know it’s very silly and he has no idea what’s going on, but I still like to buy him presents and indulge him with treats. This year I baked him a birthday cake. A dog-friendly birthday cake. Fletch has really sensitive skin so I have to be careful about what he eats, but I doubt the ingredients in human cakes are much good for any dog really.

A quick Google search later and I’d found this recipe from allrecipies.com…

I think I used too much shredded carrot (I packed the cup too tightly) so I ended up having to add a little more oil and honey to loosen the mixture before I could spoon/spread it into the pan.

Stage one of mixing complete...just before I added too much carrot...

Stage one of mixing complete…just before I added too much carrot…

I also used plain/all purpose flour and not self-raising. Despite the baking soda, the cake didn’t rise, so I’ll try self-raising next time and hopefully it’ll come out lighter and less bready. My resulting ring cake was quite thin looking, a bit dense, and a little blackened (Cajun cake?), and I may have accidentally broken it a little bit as I turned it out, but I can’t say that Fletch seemed to mind the texture or the breaks…he snaffled it at every opportunity!

As a pre-birthday treat he got to lick the batter from the bowl and spoon, which he LOVED…

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…and as an extra treat, I got him a (made for pets) ham bone, which he totalled in about half an hour!

Eating is very serious business for dogs!

Eating is very serious business for dogs!

…I think he had a good day 🙂

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2013 in Animals, Random

 

MOTs and Oil Issues and Warning Lights, Oh My!…

In late June, around ten months after Old Red’s last proper journey, I finally managed to get him into a garage to diagnose his oil problems (amongst other things). I really wanted to take him to a camper specialist, but I was worried that most would be full of vans waiting for work, and we had a trip planned for the end of July. Instead, I decided to use a local garage who always do an excellent job on my cars, and who are always happy to move appointments around to get the urgent stuff done in time.

Red was still SORN, but the garage said it’d be okay to drive him without tax, as long as I was bringing him for MOT testing…which was the first time I even thought about the MOT. Whoops. I bought the Old Boy back in June 2012, so, a year on, I had to consider that besides the lack of tax he probably didn’t have a valid MOT either. And so he was delivered to the yard one Wednesday morning, and there he stayed for quite a few days while they investigated his oil problems, ran the MOT and then set about fixing the

The Oil…

Old Red has had disappearing oil syndrome ever since I’ve known him. The rental garage that I bought him from didn’t notice a “problem” but did tell me that he needs regular topping up. As it went, he seemed to need about a litre of 10w 40 every 300 miles or so, and when I asked on my T25 forum everyone agreed that was a little excessive for an engine that didn’t seem to burn oil or drip it. There were a few spots on the inlet tubes and filter where oil might have been forcing its way out, but other than that it was a complete mystery.

One garage trip later, and my mystery was solved…

Unfortunately, my original “he’s definitely NOT burning oil” diagnosis was utter bull poop, and it turns out that Red has an oil-thirsty engine. It’s not a problem (other than having to pay for oil all the time) and it’s nothing that they can really “fix” (although I’m sure it could be improved with the changing of some seals, the filter, etc.), it’s just that some engines are known to use up a lot of oil, and Red happens to have one of those engines. They didn’t even advise that I think about a new one, although I think this might become an issue if the emissions become uncontrollably high…

The oil light still comes on when the oil is warm and the engine isn’t powering along. The garage didn’t have much of an explanation for this other than the oil pressure drops when the revs are low and so this, along with the relative thinness of warm oil, will make the sensor panic for a second. Most of the time, the light simply flashes as I change down gears and idle in traffic, but when it starts to become steady I know it’s time to pull over, cool down and top up. Again.

MOT…

As you may have guessed, Old Red did not pass his MOT with flying colours, but luckily it wasn’t too expensive to put the problems right.

In the end he only failed on one spot of corrosion (admittedly, it was quite a bad spot) and uneven/inefficient pull on the handbrake. The brake was an easy clean-up job that only cost an hour or so labour, but the welding was more tricky as the butane bottle needed to come out along with some of the sound deadening material so, as well as the welding work, the labour was more intensive (and expensive). I could have saved myself about £10-£20 by going to the garage and removing the butane myself, but in the end I didn’t have the time unless I wanted to wait a few more days to get it done. I would have liked to have saved the money but I just couldn’t afford the time.

He also came away with a couple of advisories in the shape of front shocks and rear bearings. These aren’t urgent, and I’m hoping that they might be something I can attempt with the help of some knowledgeable friends, but that is definitely a story (or two) for another day!

Finally, with the price of the MOT (£45), welding to the outer sill (£120) and VAT etc, this (week long) visit to the doctor cost us a grand total of £255.

And Warning Lights…

After what seemed like months, Old Red came home and we went joyfully out to buy a tax disk so we could take him out for his first proper drive in almost a year…and his first bath in over a year (of which there would be photos, but technology sucks).

As we were on our way to the jet wash, I noticed the coolant warning light switch on. I’d checked the water before we’d left and we would be pulling over in a couple of miles, so I kept an eye on the temperature and carried on going. After fifteen minutes of soaping and scrubbing and blasting all the mud and greenery off the van I checked the fluid levels again and found the water level bobbing happily just below maximum. Weird. We set off again with the coolant warning light on and did a few miles around the local roads, never straying far from home. The light stayed on but the temperature never rose above normal, even when we were stuck in around 15 minutes of very slow moving traffic…on the incline of a hill…

And so back to the garage Red went!

There are two water reservoirs in the T25 and a fault in one of the caps can cause the one at the rear (that you read the level from) to be full, while the other, more interior (more important) bottle, is empty. In my case, both were full and everything seemed to be working fine. The garage diagnosed it as a faulty sensor and ordered said part to be fitted in a few days. By this point we’d lost all hope of booking anything for France and had planned to use my weekend off to visit a local festival instead, but I was so looking forward to going away in Red that I didn’t want to risk even a mini-adventure. Seeing as I didn’t need the warning light (as long as the temperature gauge carried on working, at least) I told them that if they couldn’t fit me in first thing at the start of the week I would take my chances and make the short drive to Loughborough with a faulty warning light.

Monday morning rolled around and the garage called me with good news. It turns out that I didn’t have a faulty sensor at all, I had an air lock, something that commonly occurs in T25s that have been standing for a long time. It was something that a campervan specialist would have known to look for straight away, but at least it was discovered before a part was needlessly replaced. It’s a good job I didn’t just take the van away without letting them open it all up again too, or we’d have spent the weekend camping in the hard shoulder of the M42 instead of a field in the Leicestershire countryside!

Labour and oil (because I hadn’t topped up and they knew we were going away for the weekend) cost us £48…

And we were ready to roll!

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2013 in Van Maintenance

 

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Serves Me Right…

When I eventually got round to tackling the mould I was rewarded with a surprise cache of alcohol that I’d left in Red’s fridge. This trove amounted to four cans of rum, lime and ginger (a Morrisons own cocktail) and a pint bottle of Crabbies, all of which had survived from my very first trip out in Red at the start of June 2012, one year earlier.

Without a thought towards the age of the bottles, nor the fact that the drinks had been heated and cooled each day, I revelled in my find…

…until I opened a can of rum, lime and ginger and guzzled half of it in one go.

It did NOT taste good. Far from it in fact. Those cans expired in December 2012…

The Crabbies bottle told me it was good for another month, but my (now churning) stomach told me to empty it down the sink and place the bottle into the recycling bin where its lies would be muffled by cardboard sleeves.

Serves me right I guess…I got exactly what I deserved for my latent neglect…

 
 

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Breaking the Mould…

***Note: this post is lacking in pictures because technology sucks***

So, after knowing that I wasn’t airing Old Red as much as I should, and after realising that these actions had resulted in mould growing on some of his textiles, I continued to leave him to fester for a few more months.

With a festival looming ahead of us, and a pretty urgent visit to the mechanics on the cards, I needed to get off my bottom and make sure that I wasn’t going to give/get any breathing complications! And so into the van I went…

Since my last investigation I imagined that the mould would have gotten a million times worse, and that it might even have crept into the wardrobe to eat the summer dresses that I’d left hanging in there. To be honest, I deserved for the entire van to be swathed in mould, but the reality was that it had gotten no worse than it was before…and in fact, it wasn’t anywhere as bad as I remembered it! Bonus!

Okay, so the “upstairs” mattress was pretty well speckled with white mould, and the seat cushion of the sofa/downstairs bed had gotten a bit mouldy where the sun wasn’t hitting it, but the clothes in the wardrobe were all perfectly fine, and only the Ikea cushions had given way to the white pufty spores. The Primark cushions were clean and still smelt fresh (well, as fresh as they ever had), and the stuffed toys were also unblemished. I can only assume that Ikea don’t mould-treat their fabrics, but that’s probably due to the fact that they don’t store fabrics in damp conditions (unlike Primark…).

Luckily, I didn’t have to deal with any mildew (which stains), so I asked my good friend, Google, for advice on removing white mould from fabrics. I found lots of different methods for killing spores – like sunshine and bleach – so it was hard to decide which to choose. In the end I went for the method that required the least amount of shopping and held the least amount of peril (bleach? On fabrics? With my track record of ruining things?!)…

To Clean Mould from Fabrics…

You will need: vinegar, water, a spray bottle, a stiff scrubbing brush, a face mask, and sunshine

First, decide what you need to clean, and what you can bear to throw away. I didn’t have the time or resources to buy and cover new mattresses, but I could afford to throw away the two Ikea cushions (that cost just £1.50 each…they weren’t that comfy anyway!).

I carried my mattresses through to the back garden where I laid them out on the patio (in direct sunlight). I used a stiff-bristled scrubbing brush to get the visible mould off, but failed to wear a face mask. Note…WEAR A FACE MASK! I had a tight chest for days and days and days afterwards…

Once they looked clean, I gave them a good spraying with my anti-mould solution of white vinegar (I used distilled, which smelled vinegary, but if you prefer a nice cidery/winey smell then you could just as easily use cider or white wine vinegar) mixed in a clean spray bottle with some water. I sprayed and I sprayed and I sprayed until the fabric was soaked and my palm was a little blistery…and then I sprayed some more. When they were as wet as I could get them I left them in the sunshine to dry. Once they were dry I soaked them again.

Spray, dry, repeat.

Et voilà!…Mould-free mattresses with only the faintest smell of vinegar (which faded after a day or two).

 

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The Death of an SD Card…

I was being a good girlfriend/roadie recently and taking about a zillion pictures of Luke and his (as yet, unnamed) band as they practiced a few weeks ago, when a funny little icon appeared on my phone screen. It looked like a lightning bolt, and it sat where thumbnails of my images should be sitting.

“Hmmmm…” I thought, as I turned off my phone and unmounted my SD card…

“Hmmm indeed…” I thought again, as I opened my phone’s gallery to see if the pictures had reappeared…

“EXPLETIVE…” I said out loud as I realised that my SD card may as well have been on the moon for all my phone knew about where it was…all my photos from the past few months have vanished without any hope of getting them back…

And so, that is the reason why most of the following blog posts will mostly be boring and devoid of the (amazingly fascinating) pictures that I had planned to pepper them with. I am very sad 😦

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2013 in Random

 

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