Repairing the bumper

I’ve come out to a place called Jesolo that I found when I first came to Italy. It’s a large carpark which is almost derelict it’s so grown over. It’s almost hidden from the road too I only saw it as there were 3 vans in it when I drove past.
Therefore it’s perfect for repairing the bumper: you know, the one I damaged in Arne back in 2008  *blush*  To be fair it’s had many temporary repairs but it now needs fixing properly. It’s actually in 2 pieces and some of the retaining wood at the side skirts has torn off so I need to replace that too.

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These two photos show the bumper with large chunks out. It’s only fibreglass and easily damaged even if you reverse over shrubs and bushes. The red is the resin I use to repair it, and the two vertical lines show a large square section that was ripped out. On the rear I used almost an entire tin of resin and a large wad of matting to join cracks and splits. Underneath the number plate is a crack about 10 inches long that splits that section in two, and there are numerous cracks in the glaze and smaller tears. The main aim here is to get the bumper into one section and get it fitted properly to the van.

IMAG0360This is the rear of the side skirting. On the outside is a thin skin of aluminium, and on the inside a thin cover of plywood. What you can see in the centre of the ‘sandwich’ is in fact polystyrene! There’s a 1 inch square lath at top and bottom to keep the polystyrene in place, so I’m going to hopefully tap into that to attach the new piece of wood which has to go there. The wood is what the end of the bumper section screws into. The aluminium is starting to corrode too, I am seriously not looking forward to replacing that side skirt!

IMAG0367Where was Jack all this time? Well he’d gone and rolled in some unmentionable stuff which was so bad that for the first time in his life he needed a full and proper shampoo bath.

I attached him to a long tie out line afterwards and he went to sunbathe in the long grass and dry off. It was about 25 degrees today so here he is drying off and sleeping in the sunshine.
Just follow the red line, he’s in there somewhere haha

 

IMAG0371This is the most damaged side, it was all torn off one day when I got stuck down a narrow country lane in Dorset in 2008, and has been repaired and ripped off several times since then. The last time was at the Falkirk Wheel car park in Scotland. There were some small posts in the ground to mark the bays and I reversed too far and one of them went under the bumper. When I pulled away it dragged that whole half of the bumper off, tearing all of the electrics to the lights and tearing the aluminium and ripping the wood stay off.

That corner has taken a lot of work to get it fixed and although it looks ugly right now, that’s mostly resin and glue residue and dirt marks where it was held on by gaffer tape for some time! It will all be cleaned up eventually and I’m very pleased with the job done. 🙂

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IMAG0369And here it is in place. 2 days later after the major work is done and all the resin has dried off. It looks awful with the red and the darker grey scars are cracks that are surface cracks and I’ve not done them yet.

The main thing is that it’s all in one piece now and fitted to the van properly and securely.

The next thing is to use resin without matting on all the cracks, then sand it all down and get it smooth. Then I can use the white gelcoat to finish it off. It’s still quite a lot of work to do but they want £600 + VAT for a new bumper, and the cheapest quote I’ve had to repair it was £300, so I’ve saved myself a canny chunk of money there and also learned something: never mix more than 20 ml of resin and hardener at one time…it goes off before you can use it!

 

 

I think they came to rob me last night…

It was almost 2am CET, and I’d been working on some photos but had not long turned the computer off and was playing with the dog with his favourite toy when I noticed a flashing outside. It was almost like a police light. I leaned up to see through the windscreen as the curtain that separates the cab area was open and I realised quickly it was a torch. I laid still on the sofa watching as it came closer and shone right through the windscreen, shining on the dashboard, then the floor between the seats. It moved away then came back again this time shining through the passenger door window across the dashboard again, then moved round to the front again and shone up into the rear living area where I was. I still hadn’t moved and was watching and there were clearly 2 people out there and the one with the light had moved away for a second but was back again and this time the light held steady shining right into the van.
I’ve got a very powerful Lenser torch so I got it from the wall hook, switched it on and standing between the two front seats shone it directly into the face of the man with the torch. He immediately waved to me with one hand and started shining his torch around in circles on the floor at his feet, as if looking for something.
There were four of them: 1 other beside the man with the torch, one leaning on a tree a few feet away and another standing about 15 feet away, who walked quickly out of sight when I put the torch on.

I stood there watching them as they slowly moved away from my van still pretending they were looking on the floor for something, then the second man turned to me and waved as if to say ‘it’s okay’. I stayed where I was and the 3 that were left all turned and faced my van squarely. One of them gesticulated and it was obvious they wanted me to turn the torch off so I widened the beam to shine on all 3 of them and stayed there unmoving. I was starting to get a little nervous at that point however after we stood and looked at each other for about 20 seconds -which felt like sooooo much longer- the man with the torch began to move away between the trees followed by the others, turning his torch off as they went.

That was it. No more than 3 minutes in total, but I am sure of what I saw and I think had I been out somewhere, as the open curtains suggested to them I was, I’d have come back to an empty van.

What can you do to protect yourself against this? Not much I reckon. You can have all the locks in the world and I know one camper who uses a tie-down strap to tie his two front doors together when he leaves, going out the side door and locking the security bolt he has on that. However those tie down straps can be cut in seconds once the window’s broken so they’re useless. All the security bolts in the world on the camper door do nothing as it’s so easy to gain entry through the front van doors. An enthusiastic amateur thief could break into 99% of campers in about 30 seconds.
I suppose if I’d closed the curtains and left a light on they may have thought someone was in. But then would they simply knock to find out, with some already prepared story as to why they were knocking? You could fit a good alarm, but unless there are people nearby who hear it and are prepared to investigate there is little the alarm will do. I’m sure a competent thief can manage to get some of your stuff in the 15 minutes it may take police to arrive if someone called them.

I know the van is unlikely to get stolen as it’s got a key operated immobiliser and a tracker fitted so I think as campers if we’ve taken precautions then we need to maybe accept that at some point it is possible that we may be burgled and mitigate that event, possibly with a burn proof safe bolted to the chassis to hold money, documents, spare debit card and spare phone? However once we’ve done that I think the best thing is get into a mindset where we accept the possibility and therefore aren’t devastated if the worst should ever occur, and have planned at least to have something left from it to help ourselves recover. I wonder what others think?

Venice…again?

Oh yes. I was awake very early this morning so took Jack out for an hour and watched the sun come up which was beautiful. Then I got my gear and went across the road to see if the local boat was running to Venice. Not only was it open, but it was there at the jetty waiting to go! It’s gone up in price, it’s €10 to get to Venice but what the heck, given the state of my feet I’ll try and save them a little.
The trip across was about 10 minutes and where they stopped meant I got to see a new part of Venice.

I spent from about 8:30am until 4pm on the island and took tons of photos as you’d expect. Once I’ve got them off the camera and processed them I’ll post one or two.

As I was walking around it was blazing sunshine and I was just thinking that my feet were getting hot and wondering what they were like when I felt on of the blisters pop. The downside to that is often that it becomes even more painful and you can’t walk on it at all, and it can take a week to heal properly. I’d put thick socks on to cushion my feet so I carried on and actually it was only slightly sore, not the pain I’d expected.

I think tomorrow I’ll spend the morning in the park with Jack and go into Venice later in the afternoon, staying until evening time. I’ll get to see what it’s like at night then, should be fun 🙂