Rebuilding our 1960s Viking Fibreline. The journey before the journey.
In the beginning… 1/10/2021
Making good… 10/2/2022
Happy Valentine’s Day! 16/2/2022
Windows Update 24/3/2022
Final Push! 02/5/2022
The First Pull! 15/5/2022
East Anglia Air Ambulance 19/5/2022
Triumph Picnic Weekend 22/5/2022
Platinum Jubilee Weekend 19/5/2022
In the beginning…
A trip that has been longer in the making than originally anticipated, thanks to Covid raising its ugly head, the 4C’s Challenge has evolved over the past two or three years. Talk of the ‘Big Trip’ began long before anyone had heard of lockdown or self-isolation, and in the days when the idea of the whole world grinding to a halt was limited to science fiction. Paul has long had a dream of driving his Herald around the coast of the UK: more recently this has included towing the Viking with it. Over the 2020 New Year celebrations it was decided that April 2021 would be a good time to finally start the trip, to coincide with Paul’s ‘special birthday’ that month. As we celebrated Paul’s birthday (special minus one) in 2020 isolation, with family members joining us over zoom, we were still hopeful that everything would get back to normal, and the trip could go ahead as planned. However, Christmas 2020 arrived along with another lockdown, and as Big Ben sounded out the start of 2021 it became clear that we were going to have to postpone. After some discussion, consulting of diaries, and pessimism over the Covid restrictions, we decided that rather than make it later in the year, we would aim for the same month a year later. Given that we now had an extra year to prepare, we decided to take the time to refurbish the 1960’s Viking that we had managed to collect from Northumberland during the window of freedom the previous summer. This was to prove a challenge in itself!
Although our 1970’s Viking will always be special to us as our first joint venture, the purist in Paul has always longed for a caravan which is a contemporary of the Herald. At the time we acquired it, the 60’s van had very few interior fittings, which meant that we had a ‘blank canvas’ to refit the layout to suit our needs.
Whilst being mindful that the designers of the ‘van must have felt that their layout was as good as it could be, Paul was keen to ‘tweak’ things to put the fridge over the wheel to balance the weight, and Christina wanted the bed to be a standard double bed size. The original corner bathroom had been removed, and a bench put in where the kitchen should be. This had been relocated to the side. Although mostly dry, Paul wanted to pull out all the old boards and insulation to be sure that there were no leaks. So, the first job was to remove all the existing interior fittings, strip back to the frame and inspect what was left.
Experience from our other Viking made Paul want to be extra sure the front windows were completely sealed. The corner windows had gone cloudy, which is common for Vikings of this age, so they were removed to be dealt with later.
As winter was upon us, and it had no windows, Paul decided to put the ‘van into the tent and do the work on the windows in the dry. Over the next few weeks Paul would disappear into the tent and emerge later, either victorious or despondent, depending how things had gone. Meanwhile, various attempts were made at removing the cloudiness from the corner windows. When this proved impossible, we ordered some Perspex and tried to form some new ones, but this too failed. Eventually we followed up a suggestion of a company that could make new windows and found that at £30 each it was definitely worth getting them done professionally. By mid-January, Paul felt it was time to pull the caravan back out to let it meet the elements and check again for leaks. This would also make it easier for the next stage, which was to refit the interior. By the end of January, things were beginning to feel a bit more positive. Bits were being put back, rather than removed, and Paul was feeling more optimistic about completion time. We settled on a date for departure as 24th April, to coincide with Drive It Day. Paul was planning a scatter run for the TSSC so we couldn’t go any earlier than this, and Christina was keen to be back by the Platinum Jubilee weekend, so using Drive It Day as our launch day seemed appropriate. This would give us 6 weeks to complete the route and created a defined timescale. As the dates were decided, Christina felt a bit more confident about getting this ‘blog’ going. The intention is to keep a running diary of progress, obviously that hadn’t been happening, hence the back-dated summary of work to this point, but hopefully from now on it will! 10/2/2022
Happy Valentine’s Day!
February half term, with lots of plans to see people and go places, and of course, more work on the Viking. It was going to be a busy week! Then on Saturday morning after a sleepless night with a bad headache, Christina took a Lateral Flow Test only to discover that Covid had finally caught up with her. With the realisation that Paul was likely to get it too (and he did, a couple of days later), all plans had to be cancelled or rescheduled and a week of going nowhere loomed. Thankfully, we had bought wood just a few days earlier, and the curtain fabric had arrived. A quick visit to the Amazon website secured curtain tape and thread so the isolation period could be used productively! By Wednesday, the day we should have been going to Manchester, half the curtains were made, and most of the floor cupboards, including the kitchen, were temporarily in place.
…well, almost! As we approached the weekend, the weather forecast was for some extreme storms and wind. Starting with Dudley on Thursday. Apart from a pane of glass in the greenhouse, we managed to get through that one, but then Eunice arrived on Friday, stronger and faster, and she managed to lift our big storage tent, flip it inside out, and land it on the roof of the cart lodge. Amazingly, the only damage was to the tent itself! But of course it does mean that we no longer have shelter for spraying, which could be a problem, depending on the weather in a few weeks time. It also meant that all work had to be put on hold as Dudley, Eunice and then Franklin meant that it wasn’t safe to be outside. 21/2/2022
The last week has seen some positive progress. We now have all the windows in, along with the flooring, the wall boards and some of the furniture (which had been removed for painting and to allow for the floor and walls to be fitted.) It’s beginning to look like a caravan again! Despite the progress we have decided to postpone our start date, as we felt there was too much pressure to be ready by the end of April. We are attending the Pageant of Motoring at Sandringham on the 5th June, as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Celebrations. This was to have come at the end of our trip, but will now mark the beginning. We’ve also had some serious discussions about whether now is a good time to go, given the uncertainty over fuel prices. After much soul searching, at the moment we do intend to go ahead as it is something we really want to do, and if we don’t go now we might never do it. We are just going to accept that it will cost more, but remember that this will be our holiday for this year and the previous two years. We have also been looking into how to counteract any cost to the environment from carbon emissions and have been calculating how many trees would be needed to make the trip carbon neutral, so that on our return we add some to the garden. It’s all beginning to come together and, despite some doubts and concerns, we are starting to feel some, all be it nervous, excitement! 24/3/2022
Since the last post, we have been spending more and more time working on the Viking. Internally, the fixtures and fittings were decorated, and the first splashes of the lime green appeared. We looked at the possibility of reusing seating from another disused ‘van but decided it would be worth investing in new foam, which we bought online. We found a fabric place locally that was closing down, and after searching through hundreds of rolls we managed to find a colour match to the orange in the curtains for a bargain price, so Christina got to work on this while Paul successfully installed the electrics, both mains and 12v, including sockets and lights. As the Easter break approached, and the weather forecast was looking good, we decided to focus our attention on the exterior. The first job was to remove all the rough paint from a previous attempt at restoration. This proved to be the worst job yet. The paint was thick, lumpy and peeling. With a combination of heat gun and scraping, and electric sander, it took both of us many hours over a week to get the surface ready for spraying. As the saying goes, the secret’s in the preparation, so we had to make sure it was done properly. Finally, yesterday, she was ‘naked’ and ready for her new coat. With no hitch, moving her to a space away from other cars wasn’t easy, but once in position, Paul was able to get to work, applying primer and undercoat. The top coat paint should hopefully be ready for collection later today, as they have had a door from the Herald since Tuesday, in order to make a good match, so fingers crossed they will have been successful.
Well, the paint was a good match and this week has seen Paul sand, fill, spray, sand and spray again. The windows are now cleaned, and replaced with new rubbers. New anti-rattle catches have been ordered and the side brackets cleaned up. The bathroom door frame is in and painted, the bathroom door is painted and ready to hang. The cooker and sink have been cleaned and polished and are ready to fit. Despite all this, there is still a long list of things that need to be done, although all the big jobs are completed. Of course, there is still the matter of making sure the Herald is ready and up to the job – at the moment she has a water leak so that is also on the to-do list!
The First Pull!
The day we sometimes thought would never happen, our ‘new’ but older Viking Fibreline has teamed up with the Herald for a test drive. We spent most of yesterday sorting out the last of the bigger jobs and were ready to roll by 5.30.
We only went a few miles but managed to take in some small country lanes, a busy town and a bit of dual carriageway. Paul seemed happy with the driving and Christina had to get used to seeing a ‘same-but-different’ view through the wing mirror.When we got back, a quick check revealed that one of the wheels was a bit hot, so that will have to be sorted asap. A couple of the internal doors had swung open, but that is easily fixed. On the whole we were happy with our first drive out.
On our return, we parked up in the garden and spent a lovely sunny evening sitting outside the van, before spending the night in her, in fact, this is our first blog post to be written in situ! There are a few ‘niggles’ to be sorted, but overall, it looks like we are almost ‘good to go’. Which is just as well really as the Sandringham Pageant of Motoring is just 3 weeks away, and the 4C’s Challenge is due to start the following day.
East Anglian Air Ambulance
It’s all getting a bit real now! We took the combo over to the EAAA HQ today to collect some fundraising resources and meet some of the crew who fly the helicopters. Of course, we had to have a photo too!
The Triumph and Viking handled really well, so we’re ready for our first proper trial at the weekend, when we go over the the Triumph Picnic.
Triumph Picnic Weekend
After our ‘trip around the block’ and sleepover in the garden last weekend, we were ready to venture further and really put the pair to the test. We had planned to attend the Triumph picnic at Walton Hall in Warwickshire, so booked into a small CS site about 20 miles from the picnic. All went well, it was nice to get away and start to get into the caravanning mindset again.
Platinum Jubilee Weekend
After a few busy days getting the house and garden tidy and ready for the team of friends who will be looking after it for us while we’re away, we stopped to take a breather and enjoy the Jubilee weekend. This ended with us taking part in the Sandringham Pageant of Motoring, with the TSSC Norfolk display. After a forecast of heavy rain and strong winds all day, we were worried that the day would quite literally be a wash-out, but in fact the heavy rain that we woke to eased off by the time we arrived at Swaffham to start the convoy. The rest of the day was overcast with some drizzle but nowhere near as bad as we had feared. We had lots of visitors to our stand, many of whom admired the car and caravan and wished us well with our challenge. And now, it’s time for our ‘last sleep’ before we set off tomorrow!