Saturday, 29 August 2009

The Van Saga Continues

There's a large Turquoise Elephant parked outside my house, next to Gloria Mundi, the rusty old Transit van. After parting with close to £300 I am the proud owner of 4 bits of metal courtesy of a specialist vehicle converting company, which my mechanic has to weld to the underside of the brute in order to prevent my being able to load more weight on it than would make the vehicle weigh more than three and a half tonnes overall.

Then I have to take it to a HGV testing station to be examined, and they will issue me with a new plating certificate showing it to be a van suitable to carry loads such as would not exceed said tonnage. Then I can get it a PLG van MOT, get it insured, and then go through the nonsense of re-licensing it as a PLG van.

In the meantime, having racked out the inside of the Turquoise Elephant and loaded everything I need onto it, I am now forced to transfer everything back onto the Transit in anticipation of said welding and examination and MOT. Then of course, post approval, I have to move it all back onto the Mercedes. (Around 500 fence pins, 6 kilometres of rope, a 10m by 4m plastic marquee, a large red burgundian-style medieval-looking tent, a modern family-sized tent, enough surface plumbing kit to run half a mile of pipe with 8 taps, more than enough cabling, several tripod lighting rigs, various metal signage and fixings, camping essentials, two rolls of nasty plastic fencing, sundry tools for every eventuality).

My mechanic is unimpressed. He thinks that the adjustment to the suspension on the rear axle will make absolutely no difference whatsoever given the size of the springs and the scale of the van. Still, it all makes work for the minions and is a nice little earner for the specialist vehicle converters.

And eventually I'll have the big fast safe van that I need.

The Penguin


Anonymous said...

I bet that list of bits 'n bobs will put it over 3.5 tons GVW regardless of any modifications.....

Even the basic single rear tyred Sprinter weighs a few pounds short of 2 tons empty! I discovered this after successfully pulling one up a snow covered hill with a Fiat Panda 4x4....

The Penguin said...

Possibly. But unless some imbecile puts it on a weighbridge no-one will ever think it is over-weight.

When I had it "fully laden" there was ludicrous amounts of room between rear axle and leaf springs, and the wheel arches so far off the tyres you'd swear the van was empty.

Captain Swing said...

Change your name to tyrone or noah(or some other pikey name)then you wont have to tax,insure or faf around replating it.
Stick a caravan on the back and you will be all but invisible to the Police or VOSA.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, twas my fault. I suggested a Sprinter, and in my defence, I bet less than 2% of sprinters are the twin wheel version. I did not think to warn you of the tedious,idiotic EU rules that relate to goods vehicles, I am sorry to say I doubt it will be plain sailing from now on. VOSA are notorious idiots, and getting it taxed will be fun. Did you sort the gear linkage?
You may be able to sell the Tachograph head for a few quid though!

Anonymous said...

Erm, anybody spikka da English here?

Anonymous said...

Bring it to France - I promise you the weighbridge attendant will merely ask you what weight you want it to much simpler!!!!

The Penguin said...

My mechanic, who has kept us on the road for more years than I like to recall, sorted the gear shift out with WD40 and 15 minutes prodding and poking. God alone knows what the Main Dealer Monkeys would have charged me!

I'm more than happy with the van, just getting a tad fed up I can't yet use it. Driving it back here was quite an experience, especially compared to the poor old Transit.

It is also a luxury to have a "walkway" through the van, so I can get to things rather than having to unload to reach buried stuff.

Blessed thing even has aircon, although I suspect it needs regassing. Surprisingly only a basic radio cassette, but even that's a step up from Gloria Mundi, and shoving in a cheap CD player at some point shouldn't be mission impossible - it can replace the tacho.

microdave said...

"I did not think to warn you of the tedious,idiotic EU rules that relate to goods vehicles."


"Bring it to France - I promise you the weighbridge attendant will merely ask you what weight you want it to much simpler!!!!"

I must be missing something here - I thought we were all "partners" operating under the same rules?

Anonymous said...


Many years ago, I bought 2 secondhand 38 Tonne tractor units. At the time the annual road tax was £5000 each PA. To save a bucket load of tax , I decided to get them downplated to 31 tonne.
In order to do this, I had to replace 10xM12 bolts with 8xM10, and weld two plates over the unused holes. At the testing station I asked why replace strong bolts with less and weaker bolts?
The answer was if we catch you over-weight we can charge you for an unsafe vehicle as well as being overweight.
The EU is a hateful concept, but never forget it is the scum who interpret the rules in this country who cause many of the excesses.
Most of the rest of the EU rightly treat the rules with Nelsonian contempt.

microdave said...

Anon 13:18 I was being slightly cynical, but your story is pretty bizarre! I often wonder if the (not very) civil servants actually do more harm than our corrupt MP's.

There was a story on the telly last week about the high percentage of dangerous, foreign registered, HGV's on our roads. In this case I'm actually in agreement with pretty strict rules. But why aren't the same standards being applied uniformly across the EU? It is no wonder so many UK hauliers are going out of business - and our excessive fuel tax just makes things even worse.