22 jul 1999
In small ways our new lifestyle is already
beginning. The other day I was browsing the 4x4 magazines in a
newsagent. There was a couple of articles that seemed interesting,
one in particular caught my eye, it was about off-road driver
training for trucks (actually for people who drive trucks). Not
long ago I would simply have forked out the $7 or so without a
thought just for that one story and the phone number included.
This time however I decided to memorise the number and save myself
On the home front there have been some small
changes as well. I'm a pretty big milk drinker and can be very
particular about the taste. However we will not be able to store
milk for the weeks we plan to be out of touch with civilisation,
so what to do?
Ultra High Temperature (UHT) milk has been around
for years. It's processed in such a way that it can be stored
for months, unrefrigerated, as long as you don't open the container.
It sounds like a good idea but you know what many of these things
Anyway I saw no viable alternative so we bought
a litre of the stuff. I tried some in coffee, not bad but most
things are when disguised in a cuppa. Then I tried it on cereal,
pretty good, a little different but still good.
We had been running real milk and UHT in parallel
just in case the UHT didn't work out and I when I wanted a plain
glass of milk I'd use the real stuff. Then came the acid test,
we ran out of real milk. Could I drink a straight glass of UHT?
I am happy to say that the answer is yes, in fact it's bloody
These are just two of the thousands of things
that we will have to change in the way we live as we pass from
being DINKs with plenty of money and no time, to semi-self-funded
retirees living in a motor home on a limited budget.
23 jul 1999
We've been scouring the kitchen magazines
(and buying them I'm sorry to say, not quite weaned off magazines
yet) looking for ideas for the interior of our creation. We plan
to do things a bit off-the-wall and haven't really found anything
stranger that what we already have in mind. Nevertheless part
of the process included doing the display home thing. A few years
ago I was right into real estate and loved spending time in these
immaculate show homes. But times change.
The main show home setup in Canberra at present
is called "Dream Street" and it's just chock-a-block
with beautiful houses. We spent a couple of hours inspecting them
looking for inspiration, without luck. Where once I would have
admired the spacious family room, I now saw only two hours cleaning
every week. The massive back yard simply looked like an afternoon's
torture behind a lawn mower; and in the impressive brick facade
I could see nothing but an even larger mortgage and years of toil
in a crappy job just so another bank can declare a 3 billion dollar
Dream Street eh? Well I guess we all go through
phases in our lives and in each of those phases the dreams change.
This was no dream street for me, more like Nightmare Alley.
I returned to the workshop and attacked the
welding of the motor home's frame with renewed vigour.
When I got home there was a message from Steve,
he's just been across to West Aussie via the Anne Beadel Highway.
24 jul 1999
I rang Steve, it seems he had an interesting
trip. The "Highway" is really about 1400k of bush track
of which about 1000k is very overgrown to the point where he was
forcing his truck through the foliage for most of the time. The
poor old Bedford 4x4 suffered many injuries including,
- all clearance light torn off,
- roof vent torn off,
- house access door buckled,
- mirrors bent,
- most windows broken,
- cladding severely scored,
- front left spring broken,
- solar panel removed before the trees did
And that's just what I can remember him telling
me about. Steve said he had heard that I intend to clad the truck
entirely in aluminium checker plate, "Bloody good idea"
Right from day one I designed the truck to have
NOTHING protruding from the body and to protect everything that
was breakable. This has made the design far more difficult. All
windows had to be shuttered and we must be able to cover the solar
panels when required. The aerials must fold down and, as far as
possible, all crannies and gaps between body parts have to be
filled somehow, because, sure as eggs, a tree branch will get
jammed in there and cause a problem (Adrian and Carrol's vehicle
has a gap between the solar panels and the roof, guess what caused
them to get hung up with a tree on Fraser Island).
I now feel justified in deciding to got this
way from the start.
31 jul 1999
Just steady work adding bracing to the
frame. It's quite amazing how much steel bends as a single beam
and how stiffer it gets when braced. This is very tedious work,
whereas erecting the main parts of the frame is satisfying because
you see a lot happening, this bracing is time consuming and you
don't see any great advances.
Here we see the bracing for the
and the lounge room.
The lounge room bracing is VERY
strong, maybe a bit over the top but this section of the body
cantilevers for more than three metres so it's under a lot
of stress. In the next photo we see part of the storage area
under the lounge room floor.
I know it's expensive renting a workshop
but I wouldn't build a project like this any other way. Firstly, when
I get tired I simply turn off the lights and go home. Secondly, on rainy
days like the one shown below, I can just keep working regardless.
It's not always raining though so sometimes
I work on the truck outside on the drive. In this shot I have
placed some ply to simulate the walls, just to see if the drawings
match reality and make sure the finished space won't be too claustrophobic.
Now that I have a floor (albeit temporary) in
the lounge room I decided to sit for a while and pretend I'm up
north somewhere warm.