Canterbury Pitt table renovation progress updates…

Just in case you were wondering what had happened to my Canterbury Pitt table renovation, ongoing progress has been made, all be it a bit slowly! Having removed the original chipboard and formica top from the mahogany under frame, it was time to make a decision on what to use for the new work surface. I had looked into a variety of options including post consumer waste recycled plastic boards, Tectan® Board (made from recycled Tetrapak® drink cartons) and even recycled circuit board, but in the end, I opted to go with a more conservative option of some nicely grained timber. Sometimes it is good to explore all options, even if you do come back to your original thought or idea!

some nice oak faced 18mm WBP ply

some nice oak faced 18mm WBP ply

So I opted to hunt down some nicely grained 18mm WBP plywood to use for the table surface. Having rejected most of the boards in store, I eventually came across a really beautifully grained 600mm x 1200mm sheet that would be perfect for my requirements. In fact, it would even allow me to make a matching bed support piece to infill between the rear seats and the rear facing buddy seat! Although fairly light in colour in its unfinished state, I knew that what looked to be an Oak grain finish, would darken up sufficiently once treated with several coats of some Danish Wood Oil before getting finished with some clear Black Bison wax as a final protective coating. With the mahogany under frame separated from the work surface, I will also take the opportunity to sand the frame down and refinish it with some Danish wood oil as well.

an existing Canterbury Pitt door catch that can be re-used for the table fixing bolt

an existing Canterbury Pitt door catch that can be re-used for the table fixing bolt

Next up was to sort out the locating/locking mechanisms that were used to fix the table to the side support on the campers wall when the table is up and in use. Luckily I had a couple of extra pieces of incomplete Canterbury Pitt furniture panels which had various fixtures and fittings on that I could potentially refurbish and use for the table locking mechanism.

an existing Canterbury Pitt door catch that can be re-used for the table fixings

an existing Canterbury Pitt door catch that can be re-used for the table fixings

So it was a case of carefully unscrewing the items and giving them a good soaking in a penetrating oil bath. These should clean and loosen up nicely and allow me to use a nice mixture of original and new elements in the table refurbishment.

Next up, cutting the new 18mm WBP plywood top to shape and size!

a great little car show on the seafront at Hastings…

As part of Hastings week in October, there is an annual 2 day vintage car show held on the seafront at the Stade for Classic Cars and Motorcycles up to 1988 (+ later exceptional vehicles). It is open to all different makes and types of cars and bikes from different periods of automotive history, which in part makes it an interesting show to go along and see, after all, variety is the spice of life!

Dodge Charger

Dodge Charger

This year we had booked in advance to go along and be part of the show on the Saturday, and although the weather was a bit on and off with sunshine and showers, it was a great day out, meeting and chatting to lots of different people, along with seeing a variety of interesting vintage vehicles.

Here’s a little slide show selection of some of the vehicles from Saturdays display…

Triumph TR3 Ford Thames Glas Goggomobil T sedan Dodge Charger Riley One Point Five Morris Minor Hudson Six Forty VW ‘Samba’ 23 Window deluxe Ford Consul Morris Minor Quarter Ton Van Rover P100 Mini pick-up Ami Super Vauxhall Wyvern Vintage Fiat 500 Standard Vanguard Cadillac 2 door hardtop Lotus race car Renault Floride S

I think my favourite car of the day was this funky little lime green Glas Goggomobil T Sedan – a small car that seemed big on character… I wonder what it would be like to drive with its massive rear-mounted 245cc air-cooled two-stroke straight twin-engine (or depending on its age, possibly a later model 300cc and 400cc engine!)

Glas Goggomobil T sedan

Glas Goggomobil T sedan

We were not the only Vintage VW represented on the day. There was a 1303 Beetle plus this rather nice 1961 RHD 23 window ‘Samba’ deluxe with an original Devon interior! Very nice indeed, as was the owner!

VW ‘Samba’ 23 Window deluxe

VW ‘Samba’ 23 Window deluxe

All in all we had a fun day out, and the cargo door awning and Canterbury Pitt cooker in our camper kept us topped up with tea and provided sufficient shelter from the rain showers – roll on the next one in 2015!

just when you think you’ve seen everything there is to see at Brighton Breeze…

After a good look around at all the different busses and bugs on display at the Brighton Mariana as part of the SSVC (Split Screen Van Club) Brighton Breeze show, we thought we had managed to catch pretty much most of what was on display on they day, so we decided it was time to head back to our camper and get the kettle on. However, there was one more thing that caught our eye on the way back…

Just when you think you’ve seen everything there is to see at Brighton Breeze, this early ragtop semaphore Beetle on Fuchs rolls on by with an interesting front seat passenger…

are you sure this is the way to the races?

are you sure this is the way to the races?

Caption time? Over to you for your suggestions…

plenty of Mods and Rockers at this years Brighton Breeze…

Living just down the road from Brighton, it’s a bit crazy that I’ve never actually managed to get along to the Split Screen Van Clubs (SSVC) annual Brighton Breeze event before, and this year it was nearly the same! Fortunately my wife, managed to drag me out of the house to take a trip over to the event this year as she wanted to see some vintage VW buses! Despite a mixture of sun and showers, there was plenty of variety to see…

If you liked mods, then plenty to keep you happy on the modified front, like this custom paint stunner glistening in the afternoon sun…

custom paint stunner

custom paint stunner

This beautiful blue Samba deluxe had more than just a passing family resemblance to the Porsche family from Stuttgart…

more than just a passing family resemblance…

more than just a passing family resemblance…

as apparently ‘a Porsche engine bolts straight in’ or so the proverbial ‘man down the pub’ is often quoted as saying! I think it takes a fair bit more clever engineering than just the standard four bolts Volkswagen used to fit their stock air-cooled engines to make this bad boy fit in the back!

apparently a Porsche engine bolts straight in…

apparently a Porsche engine bolts straight in…

The Porsche theme was carried through to the running rear, with red detailed Porsche calipers and disc brakes on all corners to ensure that with all the power from the rear, the bus could still be stopped safely!

However, if you were more a rocker, then again, lots of ‘stock rocks’ buses on display as well, like this fantastic Palm Green over Sand Green 11 window stunner with a curved Devon interior fitted…

classic paint combo Palm Green over Sand Green

classic paint combo Palm Green over Sand Green

Beautiful pin striping details on the bus helped give it a really subtle stand out quality…

really nice pin striping detail

really nice pin striping detail

Original paint, and mostly original metal (some of it actually on display!) with a selection of cool period accessories and details helped this bus really stand out.

plenty of patina buses on display with cool accessories

plenty of patina buses on display with cool accessories

This bus proudly rocked its weathered look…

this VW split screen was rocking the ‘weathered’ look

this VW split screen was rocking the ‘weathered’ look

Plus a whole bunch of vintage goodies added to the interest and intrigue of what was on display, with plenty of classic Choppers and 1970’s/1980’s bikes on display…

classic 1970’s bikes keeping the orange brown vibe alive

classic 1970’s bikes keeping the orange brown vibe alive

And on the custom paint tip, it was not all high finish spray both mirror finishes on display, there was evidence that the flower power era was still very much alive and kicking too!

flower power is alive and well

flower power is alive and well

So how about this for an awesome retro ghetto blaster sound system – maybe a bit too loud for the monkey on the opened safari window!

check out the retro sound system!

check out the retro sound system!

So who are you looking at!? Being so close to Europe, it was good to see a few European bugs and buses had made the effort to come over for the event as well.

who you looking at?

who you looking at?

My bargain of the day was getting The Bus movie from the guys at Cool Flo, I had been wanting to see this for a while…

‘The Bus’ is a fantastic film that documents the ‘remarkable story of a vehicle that became an icon’… it’s a must for anyone who drives, has driven or just loves Volkswagen buses!

Brighton Breeze bargain from Cool Flo – the bus movie DVD

Brighton Breeze bargain from Cool Flo – the bus movie DVD

All in all we had a great time at Brighton, meet some friends from my previous trip to Ninove, and got to see a great selection of buses and bugs – maybe next year we’ll book things a bit earlier to make the most of it!

thanks to my wives persistence, we finally made Brighton Breeze this year!

thanks to my wives persistence, we finally made Brighton Breeze this year!

 

that time of the year again… MOT time

Crazy, it must be soon coming up to a year since I bought my vintage VW split screen camper as it’s already time to get its annual MOT renewed – time must really fly when you’re having fun! Looking at the previous MOT’s it would appear I have done more miles in my first year of ownership than in total by its previous owner. This year I’ve done just over 5,140 miles and counting as opposed to the 1,669 done over the previous 5 years!

time for the splitty to get its annual MOT…

time for the splitty to get its annual MOT…

I normally take my vehicles to the Just MOT’s centre in Bexhill, as I have always found them to be both friendly and fair in their service. This year I was not expecting the camper to have any major issues with the test, and sure enough, there was only some front braking imbalance that needed sorting out to get past. Once this was done, back to have it rechecked before getting its new 12 month certificate, happy days!

I guess this is one of the small downsides of having stock drum brakes as opposed to having a disc brake upgrade which self-adjusts. I must admit I am tempted to consider going for a wide 5 front disc upgrade at some point…

Canterbury Pitt table renovation – no turning back now…

OK, a little more progress has been made on my plans to renovate my rather shabby and tatty looking Canterbury Pitt table, as today was the day when I started to disassemble the different parts of the table, so now there is no turning back!

I get a slightly reverential feeling when working on old original items such as this. I’m aware of its age and its history of association with the van/interior, so tend to tread carefully before making any decisions or contemplating any changes, but in this case, the decisions were a bit easier.

The formica was scratched, chipped, split and had holes in it!

The formica was scratched, chipped, split and had holes in it!

This was no concourse example of a Canterbury Pitt interior, no museum piece. The Formica top had deep scratches in it, there were screw holes coming through the surface, the edges were chipped and there were several large cracks running through it. All of this made it way beyond my skill level to try to repair it, if repairs to the Formica were even possible? This combined with the fact that it sits on a sub-base of swollen, cracked and split chipboard means that this piece of the history has in reality run its course and will need replacing!

with the mahogany under frame carefully removed

with the mahogany under frame carefully removed

I then carefully unscrewed the mahogany under frame and the hinged leg support from the table top. These elements were in much better condition, and will be re-used in the ‘new’ table. The under frame will dictate the shape/form to new the table top, and I will try to use the original leg and support mechanism underneath with the new top material. This way it helps create some form of continuity and a link between old and new.

Canterbury Pitt table leg in good condition so should clean up nicely

Canterbury Pitt table leg in good condition so should clean up nicely

The leg and support mechanism are in good usable condition, so should clean up nicely and work well with the new top. Instead of trying to replicate the original Formica covered chipboard top, I want to look at using something a bit more durable with a self finish to it.

Canterbury Pitt table leg and hinge support mechanism

Canterbury Pitt table leg and hinge support mechanism

I also wanted to put my own slightly retro inspired twist on the table top, and have it colour wise, contrast the dark reddish mahogany colours used in the interiors rear seats woodwork. Instead, to be more in keeping with the lighter colours of the interior fabric and the original Canterbury Pitt cooker cupboard, which appears to be more of a more honey coloured oak?

The Canterbury Pitt door mounted cooker is a nice original feature of the camper

The Canterbury Pitt door mounted cooker is a nice original feature of the camper

So in the end, I have found some suitable 18mm Oak faced (?) WBP plywood with a really nice surface grain that should do the trick nicely, and to finish the edges off, some retro looking Aluminium Double Feather Edge strip.

So lets see how this plan comes together…

combining work, pleasure and camping in a field!

Some people say it’s not a great idea to try to combine business with pleasure, but there are times when there is a natural coexistence which provides an excellent win win opportunity. This summer we had one such event! My wife Lorna was taking place in a series of PechaKucha talks at Greenbelt ‘Arts, Faith and Justice’ festival at Boughton House, Kettering. The event is a 4 day festival with on-site camping and had the likes of Sinead O’Connor playing live, so what was not to like?! Lorna got complimentary tickets as a contributor, plus a camping pass for our camper, so it made a great chance to get away for a few days and go camping in a field for a few days!

So whilst Lorna prepared for her talk, I had some preparation of my own to do on the camper. As this was our first time away together in the camper, there were a few bits and pieces that I had previously done on a ‘temporary’ basis to just get by, which I now wanted to get more fully resolved! I might be able to live with some of the temporary things, but I knew that Lorna would see things differently, and a happy wife = happy camping!

Things like working out how to put up the awning that came with the van as part of the deal when I bought it, but had never got around to looking at. Then as we were going to be away for a few days, I wanted to sort out getting a decent fridge/freezer for storing fresh food/milk etc. I knew I wasn’t going to have enough time to refurbish and sort out the Canterbury Pitt table, but I did need to resolve some form of temporary bed supports for the double bed. So with a new focus, I managed to get a few outstanding jobs sorted (funny how deadlines help get jobs sorted!) before we bought some food and supplies for our mini adventure ‘up north’ at Greenbelt!

One thing lead to another and we ended up setting off a bit later than planned, so when we finally rocked up at the site, it was getting dark. Glad we had previously done a test run at pitching the awning! After getting the awning set up, we decided to have a wander around the site and check out some of the late night music tents, food stalls and get a general sense of the vibe of the festival before calling it a day and heading off to bed…

great opportunity to test out our awning

great opportunity to test out our awning

The next morning when we woke up, it was good to see that we had done a half decent job at pitching the awning. Having the extra space that the awning provided makes a huge difference if you are going to be at a place for more than a couple of days.

In the daylight wandering around the fields, scattered around the designated camper van and caravan field of the Greenbelt site, amongst the sea of white motor homes, there were a few classic campers tucked away that caught my eye, such as this great example of French style, the Citroën H van

super cool Citroën H van camper

super cool Citroën H van camper

I didn’t see any other Volkswagen split screen campers, but were a few VW Early Bay Westfalia campers dotted around the field, but I really loved this savannah beige Early Bay Dormobile pop top…

beautiful Early Bay Dormobile camper

beautiful Early Bay Dormobile camper

There were a fair few classic Eriba caravans around the site, but my favourite caravan of the weekend was this superb vintage Westfalia caravan with its extended red and white striped awning, how cool is this!

fantastic vintage Westfalia caravan and awning

fantastic vintage Westfalia caravan and awning

As for the festival, we had a great time. Lornas PechaKucha talk went down really well, there was some great live music (Sinead O’Connor was a particular standout), there were some very funny standup comedians, some thought-provoking talks and Lorna even got to see Monty Pythons ‘Life of Brian’ for the very first time!

breathing new life into old technology

OK, pre warning, as some might have guessed by now, I may have a few geek like tendencies, so if this disturbs you, you may not want to continue reading this post as my inner geek gets to play with some retro technology…

A few years ago, as a special treat for my 40th birthday, my wife bought me a new (at the time) 40GB (see what she did there!) Apple iPod, as she knew how much I loved listening to music on my then long, arduous commute from Leicester to London. It was brilliant, and over the next few years it got a serious amount of use, and never let me down, not even once!

my 4th generation Apple iPod; hiding away, loved but unused

my 4th generation Apple iPod; hiding away, loved but unused

However, a few years ago, the hard drive started playing up, and as by then I had also got an iPhone, my much-loved iPod languished sadly unused on my desk. As I hate throwing things away, I had planned to possible replace or upgrade the hard drive as a way of trying to fix it, but the urgency and good intentions to do this, sadly faded to the back of my mind.

The hard drive and iPod may have gone from the forefront of my mind, but they were not forgotten! I also wanted to upgrade my head unit in the camper van so that I could also incorporate the iPod (or iPhone/iPad) into the system and take more music on the go with me on my travels. It was great being able to record a few mp3 mix CD’s for the camper, but as I now had all my CD collection available in mp3 format, it would be great if I could have all my music available! So now was the moment to breathe some new life into my forlorn and neglected iPod!

I had done further research and had seen that you could now also get extended capacity lithium-ion batteries for my old 4th generation iPod, and there were conversion options to do away with the old ‘mechanical’ hard disk drive and convert it to using a much more resilient compact flash card. This would be smaller, lighter, require less power and having virally no moving parts, be much more robust!

iPod compact flash to 1.8" IDE converter

iPod compact flash to 1.8″ IDE converter

So time for project iPod v2 to begin! First up I ordered a new extended capacity, 1200 mAh, Li-ion 3.7V battery to replace the old original battery plus a new 128GB compact flash card to supersede the original (now outgrown) 40GB hard drive! To hook up the new compact flash card to the original HDD connector in the iPod, I also needed to order a compact flash to 1.8″ IDE converter.

Then with the simplest of tools (plastic iPod splitter tool plus a T6 Torx screwdriver) and some online step by step instructions, it was time to open up the iPod and upgrade some of its primary internal components.

plastic iPod splitter tool and a T6 Torx screwdriver

plastic iPod splitter tool and a T6 Torx screwdriver

Withe iPod opened up, it was a simple job to replace the battery with the new higher capacity extended life replacement. Then it was a case of removing the existing hard drive, fitting the new compact flash to 1.8″ IDE converter and then fitting the new 128GB flash card that would now be the iPods new hard drive.

3.7v 1200 mAh extended capacity Lithium-ion battery

3.7v 1200 mAh extended capacity Lithium-ion battery

With the new upgrades fitted, it was time to update the system software on the iPod via iTunes and then sync my music collection to it. It was here that I first noticed the differences the new upgrades had made performance wise. The new compact flash card/drive was just so much faster than the old drive, and the 70GB of music transferred over really quickly! It also made the iPod considerably lighter than before!

As part of the initial conditioning process for the new battery, it’s important to fully charge/run down the battery a couple of times. The battery life was dramatically better than the original, to the point that I had to just leave the iPod playing over night to drain the battery down! The extended capacity life of the battery and the lower power demands of the new compact flash drive make a perfect combination for long-lasting music on the go!

my iconic 4th generation Apple iPod, fully upgraded and ready to go again!

my iconic 4th generation Apple iPod, fully upgraded and ready to go again!

It lives again! My updated and upgraded 4th generation Apple iPod maintains its iconic cool retro design looks, but delivers a way better performance in terms of battery life and storage capacity! I now have a months worth of continuous music to choose from, looks like I’ll need to be going for some long drives to test it out!

Original Canterbury Pitt table renovation plans…

When I bought my vintage VW camper, it came with various bits and pieces, one of them being a battered original Canterbury Pitt table. This not only provided the interior with a table, but it also doubled up to be the main support board for the double bed.

the original Canterbury Pitt table also provided the bridge/support for the various bed layouts

the original Canterbury Pitt table also provided the bridge/support for the various bed layouts

Unfortunately, the table was in really poor condition, especially the Formica covered chipboard top! The Formica top was very badly scratched, marked, chipped and cracked, and to be honest, was beyond saving. The chipboard base it was mounted on was in equally as bad a condition.

Original Canterbury Pitt table (top)

Original Canterbury Pitt table (top)

However, the mahogany under frame that the Formica/Chipboard top was fixed to, and the table leg were in a better, more salvageable condition.

Original Canterbury Pitt table (underside)

Original Canterbury Pitt table (underside)

The ironmongery items such as the original hinges and the table leg support mechanism, are the proverbial ‘hens teeth’ items to find if missing, so I was pleased that at least I had these items, even if the table at present was far from being usable!

Original Canterbury Pitt leg and hinge/support detail

Original Canterbury Pitt leg and hinge/support detail

The mahogany elements of the wooden table leg again were in fairly decent condition, just a bit grubby and scratched in places, but at least these are easy issues to remedy!

Original Canterbury Pitt leg and hinge/support detail

Original Canterbury Pitt leg and hinge/support detail

My plan is to try to retain as much of the original mahogany under frame, leg, hinges/leg support etc. and give the table a new top and slight contemporary retro updating, watch this space for progress updates…

a camper van is not just for shows

Although there are a myriad of Volkswagen shows dotted all over the place here in the UK and Europe, the humble VW camper vans life is not just one all about the glamour of show and shine! These classic campers are actually incredibly versatile and practical vehicles. They are no ‘one trick pony’ just for the more obvious camping holidays or trips to the coast, all part of the seductive ‘living the dream’ image that the iconic vintage VW camper encapsulates. Sometimes they need to just roll up their metaphorical sleeves and get stuck in with a bit of hard graft!

a mobile room with a view at Bexhill beach

a mobile room with a view at Bexhill beach

So after a happy honeymoon of road trips, car shows and days at the beach, my camper was forced to show a more rugged and practical side to its nature! Recently we had the dubious joys of moving house, and because we had a few days grace to when the actual move could take place, we decided we should move things over in stages over a few days. Enter my trusty camper van. It’s no ‘show queen’, it’s a much-loved, used and enjoyed camper, but now it was time to do some work.

Because of it’s somewhat unique shape and ingenious use of internal space (a big box on wheels!), it’s easy to forget just how big an internal volume it actually has! Slowly, but surely, load after load, we made a number of return trips dropping stuff off at the new place, charity shops and even the local dump. It was amazing what we could actually fit in.

a dishwasher might be a bit too much for a camping trip!?

a dishwasher might be a bit too much for a camping trip!?

Initially we thought that there were a couple of very tall, and fairly large Ikea bookshelves which we assumed were just not going to fit, but even with these, we were wrong! Open the rear hatch and you could simply slide them in over the rear seats, simple. In the end, nothing actually proved to be too big to fit inside and before you knew it, we had actually moved the entire contents of our old 5 bed house into the new place! To be honest, I was quite amazed at how well it had all worked out in the end. Retro removals anyone?

After all the hard work of moving, the ‘camper’ had certainly earned it’s keep! However, with all the stress and hassle of moving, it was really nice to get back to using the camper for more pleasurable pursuits, like going to the beach for a relaxing swim on a hot summers day – pure bliss!

a beautiful sunny day by the beach at St Leonards-on-Sea…

a beautiful sunny day by the beach at St Leonards-on-Sea…