Sunday, 14 September 2014

To get back to business

'lo peeps!

Honestly, where does the time go? It seems all I've done recently is use the Blog for hosting pictures for the Forum's "Where in the World?" section,

Anyone would think all I do is sit at the 'pooter all day and faff about. Mostly true.

So what's been happening on the project? Well, we have been making progress of sorts up at The Manor. Slower than hoped possibly, due to my work commitments and having moved away from The Servants Quarters and into my own accommodations now, but there has been movement and much of that has involved earth.

A couple of major projects on the go right the usual maintenance, headscratching and machinery repairs.

One of the problems we have is storage. As Eco is fond of saying "all this space but nowhere to put anything". Well, we have addressed that particular issue and the last few months has been spent putting a new plan into action.

We were looking at storage space. We needed more undercover storage for machinery and tools, the Chicken Shed needed fettling badly as the winter storms battered it somewhat, and we also need more 'workspace' for things like metal fabrication, woodwork and my electronics projects. Several thoughts crossed our mind. Small wooden sheds, containers, build the shower block as a 'shell' to create a temporary store, perhaps even a tent just to get some stuff under cover. We'd done a little research and asked a few questions, but it was a chance conversation with Ifan up at Jones The Feed that set us of in a completely unexplored direction and gave us a heads up on the perfect solution.

Van bodies.

You've seen them. 7.5 tonne rigid bodied delivery lorries...usually with a roller shutter door on the back and a tail-lift. The ones that clag up the small streets in town in the morning delivering to shops and businesses. The parcel lorries....not the small DPD or Citilink Transit-sized courier vans, but something bigger than a Transit but smaller than an artic.

You may have also seen those fancy horseboxes? Not the little Nissen hut on a small trailer jobs, but the six-figure sum fancy ones that combine a horsebox for a small trotting team with a Winnibago.

This fine example is produced by a company near us in Lampeter - Tristar Horseboxes. A lovely conversion based on a 7.5 tonne van. They take the 7.5 tonne base vehicle, often a second-hand freight van, remove the rigid body and then do a custom coachwork job on the chassis to build these wonderful custom equestrian 'homes from home'.

The 'byproduct' of these conversions? Van bodies. 20ft long, 8ft wide and 8ft high. Solid floors, steel bearers, laminated wooden walls and a lightweight fibreglass roof.

That's 160 square feet of floor space....1280 cubic feet of dry storage. 

Cost? Well, a half-decent 6x4 garden shed will set you back £200. A wooden shed made to measure with the same dimensions as a van body? Not much change out of £1500 or more.

Four van bodies, delivered to site courtesy of Tristar...around £1700, or £425 per 'shed'.

They all need a little work. Some more than others. But have tools, willpower and determination...can fettle!

Two blue Nightfreight units. A little attention to the upper corners where they have been bashed on low bridges or overhanging rooves, minor repairs to the roller-shutter door on one and a complete strip out of the roller-shutter door on the other one. One storage unit for random gubbins and equipment and one potential site office, electronics workshop and accommodation for yours truly.

Two white bodies, one signwritten with a haulage company and one plain. The metalwork shop and the woodwork shop.

We had some fun and games with one of them, removing the remains of the hydraulic tail lift assembly. Much sweating and struggling with angle grinders, drills and hammers. We had some fun and games with all four of them, trying to balance them on extension forks on the tractor and juggle them around the goat-field! Not easy and some moments of serious ring-twitching for both of us, but they are now ready to locate in their permanent position in the lower end of the goat field. Once installed, we can fit them out, hook up power and lighting, run phone lines and internet down to the office and begin to get our construction and infrastructure projects on the go. Once they are finished and in situ, the rest of the goat field can be mown and levelled ready for erection of the wood-drying and humanure fermenting polytunnel.

Photos to follow in due course, but we've scraped the foundations, laid out the site and begun concreting the bearer blocks into place. Within a month we hope to have the bodies all set up and ready for fit-out. I just have the small matter of Portishead Mk2 getting in the way between now and Christmas.