Warning: this post contains petrolhead content. If you’re offended by talk of non human-powered vehicles, may we suggest you look away now?
January 2017. Five months after the Crankedwagen first rolled into the workshop at MAD. With a show deadline fast approaching and more work with the welding torch to be done before it was ready for paint, I had other equally pressing matters to deal with: a new magazine to put together and send to print, and the practicalities of a deal with WHSmith Travel to sort out.
But not being ready for the show in mid February wasn’t an option. The Crankedwagen was our transport, our display, our stand. Without it, we had just a carpet, a back wall and some lights. It had to be finished. I posted a couple of pictures on social media. “You’ll never have that done in time”, commented one poster. Hah. I’ve been dealing with deadlines all. My. Professional. Life.
It would be done.
With a couple of weeks to spare, a bare-looking VW doka was driven the few miles across town to Mark at MJ Autobodies. I left it with him and crossed my fingers. “End of the week”, said Mark. The end of the week came and went. I phoned on Monday. “Wednesday”, said Mark. “The prep took a bit longer than we expected.”
Wednesday came and went too. I can’t remember, now, exactly how long it took. Longer than anyone expected. It did, however, look amazing when it was done. The bare van was driven back to MAD Workshop with just three days to rebuild, sign write and prep it for London. It sounded pretty good too. Bonus.
I dropped everything that weekend. So did Adam, Baz and Arthur at MAD. The four of us worked long days (well, I fiddled around mostly dropping things and cursing my limited mechanical knowledge; the other three actually got stuff done). Little jobs that should’ve been simple turned out to be a pain in the arse. New bits like seatbelts didn’t fit quite the way they were supposed to. Odd things were missing. There wasn’t a floor for the rear of the cab. Wiring was unfinished. We concentrated on making it a.) functional and b.) look good from the outside. The interior could wait.
The graphics people turned up and wove their magic with giant sheets of cut vinyl. It began to look like I’d always imagined it. The coup de grace – reworked drop side handles made out of basic square taper cranks – were fitted. 7pm Sunday. Lights were checked. The headlights were pointing way too high. The number plate lights didn’t work. Bugger. Ten minutes later and some work with a screwdriver and some Scotchbrite and I was on my way.
Second gear gradually got tougher to select on the way home; I’d spend an hour the next day under the van adjusting the linkage to resolve the issue. But it didn’t matter. Even ending up stranded at the petrol pump with a dead battery on the way to London didn’t matter (I had a spare battery and tools in the cab).
The Crankedwagen was finished.
To be continued…