My intention was to have the vardo finished by Christmas as I had planned a lengthy, scenic route for her maiden voyage this summer (I’m in Australia, remember?). Alas, though I am fairly well insulated against COVID-19, the same cannot be said for the many suppliers and supply chains I rely on for parts and materials.
Needless to say, progress has been glacial. I had to paint the undercarriage anyway, as some of it would have been inaccessible with a paintbrush once assembled (no spray guns here!). But after weeks and weeks of applying two coats of oil-based primer, three oil-based undercoats and three top coats of oil-based gloss, I was again unemployed.
Rather than sitting around, bemoaning my predicament, I broke my own, self-imposed rules and constructed the basic shafts. I didn’t want to make the shafts until I was ready for them as otherwise, there’s the possibility that they’ll suffer some knocks and damage. Then the shafts received their eight coats of paint (figure 1), before they were moved to another shed out of harm’s way.
Fig. 1. Shafts, base and undercarriage all painted.
After that, I was idle once again, so I built the cratch (the adjustable table/harness storage/luggage rack that attaches to the back of the vardo (figures 2 & 3).
Fig 2. Cratch capacity is adjustable with chains.
Fig. 3. Messmate cratch in-the-white.
The custom leaf springs I ordered in April 2020 were nowhere to be seen due to COVID-19 and a resultant shortage of raw materials. Believing the springs would indeed appear one day, I continued the hunt for a set of original ‘globe’ spring hangers (figure 4).
Fig. 4. Old, cast globe spring hanger.
None were available locally and several contacts in the U.K. also drew blanks. The only solution was fabricated spring hangers. The welds were carefully linished so the whole resembled original castings as closely as possible. The four hangers for the cradle were additionally bent to the same curvature of the spring beds (figure 5).
Fig. 5. Test fit of a rear spring hanger.
Once I was satisfied with the fit of the hangers, they were removed and underwent two coats of oil-based Irish racing red, three oil-based undercoats and three top coats of oil-based gloss.
HUZZAH! The leaf springs arrived! I dismantled the spring packs and cleaned each leaf to remove the oil from the tempering process. Before reassembling the leaves, I took a small artist’s paintbrush and applied a narrow stripe of high-pressure grease between each one. More primer, undercoat and gloss!
Fig. 6. Leaf springs resplendent in Irish racing red.
With everything painted, I enlisted the help of half a dozen able-bodied blokes and put the undercarriage – such as it is – together (figures 7,8 & 9).
Fig. 7. Front cradle spring hanger.
Fig. 8. Rear cradle spring hanger and shackles.
Fig. 9. The weight is mounting!
Not too much paint was chipped whilst installing the heavy springs, but all will be rectified in the final touch-up.
The hours involved in the work in this post come to 268.25.
The total hours involved to-date come to 537.5.