Kiri and


I think we’re actually leaving!

October 24th, 2013 (by Steve)

After 711 miles in Bertha, we’ve finally completed our UK tour. It was great to see all of our families within a week, as well as road-test Bertha on a long journey and test our various ways of documenting the travels. By the very nature of saying we’ve completed the tour, you’ll have worked out that nothing went badly wrong, which is great news!

UK road trip

Bertha’s main test was water; we had several days of heavy rain and a lot of driving in spray. Leaks-wise, the condensation from the solar panel leak cleared up after a couple of days, however it wasn’t such good news for our coolant. Remember we mentioned previously about the coolant warning light coming on at Bristol? A couple of days later, as we were driving in motorway spray, the warning light came on again. This time the coolant level was fine, the temperature gauge was still below 90 and there were no visible signs of overheating (the fan wasn’t even on, and there was no steam). Rain and spray dried up, and the light went off. This happened again a couple of days later; again after driving in spray. Again, no visible signs of overheating. So we think we have a dodgy sensor, which we’re trying to troubleshoot with the help of the lovely people over at the Talbot Owner’s Club.

As you’ll note from the map above, our GPS tracker did its job well, allowing us to see exactly where we’ve been (in case we forget!). We also had a test run of keeping a daily log to fit in between blog posts; these can be found on our KIST 2EU timeline. We’ll be aggregating the data within each daily log onto a statistics page, which hasn’t had any styling applied to it yet, but here’s a sneak preview summarising our UK trip. Finally, the tea-fuelled nature of the travelling inspired us to start a gallery so we can remember the cups of tea that we’ve shared in Bertha, which we’ll add to as we venture further afield!

Other than the warning light and a couple of suspect smells, Bertha held up well, plus the Great British Bake Off has now finished, so we have no reason to procrastinate further; the ferry tickets to France are booked for next Tuesday! This announcement on Facebook (which happened to include the word “conquer”) has elicited such a positive response, that I think we may have enough support for a minor invasion! In the meantime though, work continues on “bitty” jobs, the main one of which was the re-shodding of Bertha, with winter tyres (5 new Continental VancoWinter 2 tyres delivered from Germany).


We’ve then spent today doing a bit of pro-active sealing with Sikaflex around some of Bertha’s joints that looked a bit dodgy, as well as testing our LPG alarm, sticking back a few things that had come unstuck and fixing the windscreen washer. We might get a bit of rest before we depart… but there are still plenty of things on the “to do” list

Posted in Bertha, KIST 2EU | 6 Comments »

The last leak

October 20th, 2013 (by Steve)

You know we said we wanted to test everything before we set off around mainland Europe? Well someone upstairs must have been listening, because we had absolutely torrential rain the night after our last blog post (last Friday). We were sleeping soundly in Bertha, when at 2:15am, we were woken by an ear-piercing siren. Blearily, we worked out it was our smoke detector; taking out the batteries to shut it up, before we turned on the lights and saw the damage. There was a heavy mist of water vapour clinging to the ceiling and water was pouring onto the floor through holes we’d drilled for the solar panel on the roof. Just what we needed 2 days before setting off on our UK tour.


The next 48 hours saw us re-sealing every screw hole on the roof and the seams (just to be on the safe side) and running a dehumidifier and heater inside at full blast to dry Bertha out. This was alongside trying to pack her with all our worldly belongings that are going with us, whilst trying to keep them dry. Quite a challenge, but we got there eventually and on Monday morning we set off on our UK tour to say goodbye to family. Bertha hit the road!

Now when your friendly mechanic tells you that you should check the water level every day, even if you check nothing else, you would probably not forget to do that. What did we not check before we set out? Yes, the water level in the radiator expansion tank. It was hardly surprising then that when we got to Bristol the warning light came on. A quick top up sorted us out and reminded us to listen to people who know what they’re talking about!

Over the last few days, we’ve spent some really good quality time with family; being fed incredibly well (we suspect our families may think we might not eat when we’re on the road). We had a lovely day out in glorious weather on Tuesday, visiting some old childhood haunts of Burrow Mump, Glastonbury Tor and Wells. Sadly, the rain came down once more that night; again leaving us with lots of water vapour, but this time no evidence of leaks. We hoped it was just residual water coming out from behind the ceiling… only more rain would confirm or refute expectations.


We then had a lovely visit to Cardiff to see Kiri’s Nan, checking the engine water level before we set off this time! Bertha behaved though and we were rather relieved to find out that the Severn Bridge toll for Bertha was the same as a normal car. We then stayed overnight at a very basic campsite with just fresh water and waste disposal, getting a flavour of what our life will be in the coming months, before we travelled on up to Stourport to visit Kiri’s other grandparents.

Even though we’ve had the fridge running on gas almost permanently since we filled up with LPG in Taunton, the gauge is showing almost full still, which is encouraging, as our gas should last longer than first though. If only the same would happen with our petrol… we’ve moved to 20mpg with the longer journeys – Bertha’s a thirsty beast!

And then on to Birmingham to visit my brother and sister-in-law. We were just giving them the tour of Bertha when the heavens opened. We’re talking monsoon here. And hail. The rear window of Bertha turned into a beautiful water feature (outside!) and my finger nails ended up being bitten almost down to the quick! Amazingly, she remained watertight and even after very heavy rain last night, there was no sign of a leak or water vapour.


We’ve got one more stop on our UK mini tour before we return to East Sussex to get our winter tyres fitted… then we’re off.

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We’re cooking on gas!

October 11th, 2013 (by Steve)

This week’s seen us clearing up a lot of loose odds and ends; inching ever closer to leaving. We sold our old water heater for parts (below left) and our new water heater arrived (below right), so we got to work installing that, adding in an extra flue (the old one didn’t have a flue!) and spending an hour or so in B+Q to try to get the right connectors. Once fitted, it seemed to hold its pressure well and it didn’t seem like there were any leaks (gas or water), but we had to wait until yesterday to know for sure.


I was going to wait until the end of the blog post to give the outcome of the gas safety check today, but the title kind of gives it away! After some pressure testing and fixing of a minor leak, there was the smoke test (literal smoke, not like software smoke tests!) and other tests (I think something to do with emissions) and Bertha passed! We’re self-sufficient now – just need to sterilise the water system today.

As for the other bits and pieces, we had a speaker floating around in the cab and a gear knob that was disintegrating, so we had to do something about that. A bit of bodging later, and the speaker now has a little carpeted surround… I didn’t have a plan with it… I just played around, adding bits to it until it looked vaguely complete (if a little odd). And then the gear knob. We didn’t really want to have to buy a new one, as that would mean creating a thread on the gear lever (the current knob is just pushed on and glued), but couldn’t let the current one keep disintegrating on us. The solution? Papier mâché! I’m sure no-one else in the world is odd enough to have a gear knob like this:


Aside from that, we had a further water leak – this time in the bathroom behind the basin. It turned out to be just another loose jubilee clip – I guess the 23 year old water system isn’t used to being used so much! However, in the course of fixing that, the plastic of the plug split (due to having perished with age), so we had to mend that too with glue, sealant and some plumber’s putty. I’m sure this won’t be the last leak, so we’ll take some tools with us!

So, it looks like we will be leaving… and within days, rather than weeks. It’s strange, as up until now the idea of leaving was just a concept – now it’s reality. Bit scary that! Better get packing!

Posted in Bertha, KIST 2EU | 9 Comments »

Tyring to get a grip

October 10th, 2013 (by Steve)

We’re currently waiting to have our new boiler tested by the lovely gas safety man, which should be the final modification to Bertha before we set off. In fact, we intend to start packing the van tomorrow! In the meantime, Kiri’s been editing chapter 1 of our KIST 2EU video and I’ve been frantically researching road rules, foreign phrases and the like for our country profiles as well as sorting out travel insurance. We were pleased to find out that we’ve got kidnap and hijack cover. Less pleased to find out that it only pays out £25 per day. If any would-be kidnappers or hijackers are reading this, it’s not worth bothering – monetarily we’re worth very little, although we’ve been told that we hold a lot of sentimental value…

Anyway, back to the country guides. It’s been worth us doing all of this research, I mean who would have guessed that:

Flag of Austria

You’re not allowed to use your horn near a hospital in Austria

Flag of Lithuania

Speed limits depend on the time of year in Lithuania

Flag of Macedonia

It’s illegal for a drunk person to sit in the front of a moving vehicle in Macedonia

Flag of Romania

It’s against the law to have a dirty car in Romania

Flag of Slovakia

Your GPS device must not be attached to the middle of the windscreen in Slovakia

Flag of Slovenia

You must not indicate when entering a roundabout in Slovenia… only when exiting

Flag of Sweden

If you hit a moose and it runs back into the woods, you must mark the position it went back into the woods with a plastic bag in Sweden

Now some of those would make great questions in a pub quiz round! We got rather scared when researching driving in Albania, and have concluded that Bertha would probably struggle on the roads there, so we’ll give it a wide… ummm… berth.

It wasn’t all fun and games though – as part of researching, we realised that we would probably need an International Driving Permit for some countries, so we’ve ordered those. We also possibly need an “Umwelt-Plakette” for Germany – basically a sticker to say what your emissions are (by this we mean Bertha’s emissions), which will then dictate where you can and can’t drive… a bit like the low emissions zone in London. That’s been ordered too… they might turn around and say that our emissions are too high for a sticker… we’ll see!

The main impact that the research had though, has turned out to be another big hit on the wallet, but hopefully not too much more of a delay. Due to all of the setbacks we’ve faced, our departure date has been slipping further and further towards winter. Now we’ve got snow chains – they’re all good – but it turns out that winter tyres are mandatory in a lot of places between November and March. I don’t want to scare anyone, but November is only just over 3 weeks away. Without winter tyres, we’d basically be restricting ourselves to France and Spain in our first loop of the trip, which isn’t ideal. We’ve therefore decided to order a full set of winter tyres (including spare wheel), get them fitted before we go, then change them back to our current tyres when we come back to the country in March. To be honest, we’d probably have to change a few tyres on the trip anyway so it will be a worthwhile expenditure that will give us a bit more flexibility, even if we’re still planning to avoid driving in snow (where possible).

Hopefully tomorrow we’ll report back that we have a gas safety certificate… at which point we should be in full control of our timescales again and we’ll be able to buy ferry tickets! Hmmm, we’ll see!

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It’s the vinyl countdown

October 4th, 2013 (by Steve)

I wonder how many of you read that and immediately sung “dahdah dah daaah, dahdah dah dah daaah“? You’ve got to love the 80s… kind of appropriate that the song is by “Europe”! Anyway, back to the trip – the end of preparations are in sight, and we’ve got the vinyl floor laid!

The rest of the van is looking pretty shipshape as well to be honest. We got a new replacement flue for the gas heater (after the old one was too small)… and this one was too big. After some communication with a very lovely and honest eBay seller, we’ve now got a flue that is the right size and once that was fitted, we could move on to a couple of other jobs; putting full-width shelves across the wardrobe that the flue goes through (we’d prefer shelves to hanging space) and building an extra wall to separate the back of the gas heater from the gas locker. I’m not sure that this is going to do much in the event of something going badly wrong with the heater, but it should isolate some of the heat from the gas locker.


We’d been putting off laying a new floor until we’d done most of the work inside Bertha, as we didn’t want to ruin it with tools and this week we decided to bite the bullet. We’d kept the old carpet that we pulled up and used that as a template to cut the vinyl, but there were still a few edges where we were glad we’d allowed for a bit of excess. Once cut to shape it was pretty easy to stick down – just the equivalent of double sided tape around the edges and spray adhesive for the rest of the floor. It didn’t seem to want to create bubbles either, which was very helpful for us! Once laid, a bead of brown sealant around the outside finished it off and we added a rag rug to soften the floor a bit.

Bertha's completed insides (facing forwards)
View from the rear seat

Bertha's completed insides (facing backwards)
View from the driver’s seat

Once the vinyl was laid, we could then think about straightening the rear table. When we replaced the floor in the back corner, we had to work out the placement of the fixed table base, allowing enough space from the wall so that it wouldn’t tilt. We left a bit too much though, meaning a gap between the table and the wall, which the table chose to tilt into. With the vinyl down, we had a final resting place for the table, so could build a little desk tidy between the wall and the table to fill the gap.

So to all intents and purposes, we’re done with the modifications to Bertha. We’re waiting for a new water heater to arrive (should turn up today) which we’ll fit as soon as possible. Once that’s done we can organise a final gas safety check and sterilise the fresh water system. We’ve come a long way – this is what Bertha looked like when we bought her:



Once the water heater’s in, it’s onto the packing, buying ferry tickets and travel insurance, then setting off on our mini UK tour. Hopefully by this time next week we’ll be on the road!

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So near, yet so far

September 26th, 2013 (by Steve)

We’re so nearly there… yet sometimes it seems like we’re so far away from leaving. It seems to be that we take one step backwards for every forward step that we take. Our wins in the last week have been:

  • We’ve got the cab curtain made, lined with thermal stuff, with velcro around the edges to keep the cold cab air out of the living area when we’re parked up
  • The solar panel on the roof has now had all of its screws sealed with sikaflex and a bead of sealant around the front edges
  • The bathroom has been given a deep clean, been resealed (silicon is so much nicer to work with than sikaflex!!!) and has a new removable floor over the shower tray
  • New 12V charging points have been fitted in the habitation area and also in the dashboard (the previous charger in the dashboard was conveniently hit every time you changed into 3rd gear!)
  • We’ve had a gas safety check and Bertha has been given a clean bill of health… we just need a quick re-test once we’ve got the water heater back in and the gas heater flue on
  • The carpet in the living area has been ripped off to allow for vinyl to be laid in the next week

On top of these wins, we’ve had a couple of transformations. Firstly, we’ve finally got around to getting out the soldering iron and replacing all of the fluorescent tube lighting with LEDs, which will use much less battery juice. We’d already put a couple of strips of LED lights on the underside of the cupboards for “mood” lighting, but for the main lights, LEDs give a much warmer glow and look prettier behind the diffusers.


Our second transformation was of the oven space. We don’t really use an oven much in life and it was a bit weighty, so we decided we could better use that space for storage. After removing the oven, we built a little shelf in the middle of the void, then “up-cycled” an old blackboard to form the new door. Now we just have to decide what we can use as a handle…


So everything’s hunky dory then? Well… not quite. The things that have gone wrong this week have been:

  • When we went to test the laptop charger in the newly-wired 12V socket, all of the lights went out. Turned out we’d got a 5amp fuse on that circuit and the laptop charger was trying to draw 5.7amps. The fuse box is a little inaccessible, but after a bit of work we’ve now replaced the fuse with a 10amp. At least we know the fuse box is working…!
  • We ordered a 55mm flue for the gas heater, as that’s what the diameter of the old exhaust flue was. Turns out that when you’ve got a stainless steel flue rather than an aluminium flue, it’s not quite so flexible at stretching over the flanges, so that’s now gone on eBay… also marketed as a musical instrument and we’ve ordered a 60mm flue. Further delays!
  • Despite being soldered by 3 different people and having a lot of attention in the last few months, it looks like we will have to say farewell to our Paloma water heater… we had such faith in it too. The gas engineer has diagnosed a faulty diaphragm and has suggested it would be cheaper to buy a new/reconditioned heater than have him fix the old one.
  • As we pulled up the carpet, we discovered to our horror that the floor underneath it was wet. It wasn’t coming from outside, so we started investigating the water pipes. We thought it might be the sink waste pipe to start with, as that was quite brittle… we ended up having to reseal that when it cracked a bit more. However, we finally diagnosed a loose jubilee clip on the bottom of the hot tap. Squeezing in behind a fridge and working in a confined space is my idea of fun luckily and soon there was water no more (see views from outside and inside below!).


The list of things to do is getting ever shorter and the end is very much in sight. The remaining big jobs are getting the vinyl down and a new water heater fixed in, but I’m sure there will be a few more setbacks before we depart!

Posted in Bertha, KIST 2EU | 1 Comment »

While the van’s away, KIST will play…?

September 20th, 2013 (by Steve)

We fear that we may have given the wrong impression on this blog about our trip; it’s not all about Bertha. Yes, our world has been quite van-centric as we’re depending on her to carry us several tens of thousands of miles (that sounds scary to put it like that!), but there’s been plenty of other stuff going on behind the scenes that we’ve had to think about and work on before we leave. It’s almost quite good that she’s been with the mechanics for over 3 weeks in total in the last month and a half, as it’s given us time to focus on this stuff.


  • Insurance – as we’re travelling for a year, we’ve got to think about not only vehicle insurance for the motorhome, but travel insurance and cover for any other equipment that we’re taking that’s not covered by travel insurance. All of them have to cover us for long periods at a time and in Europe, so we’ve gone for Safeguard for the vehicle insurance, have yet to decide on travel insurance provider and are using Photoguard for our camera.
  • Breakdown cover – with a 23 year old motorhome, it’s inevitable that something mechanical is going to fail at some point, so this is essential. ADAC is recommended highly by a lot of European motorhomers, but we were nervous about the language barrier (they’re a German company), so instead went with Britannia Rescue who cover 180 days at a time in Europe.
  • Campsite discounts – although we intend to “wild camp” a lot of the time by the side of the road and in car parks, we will need to use campsites for their utilities, but also in countries which don’t allow wild camping. Most campsites require identification to be kept at reception and in order to avoid having to let our passports out of our control, we’ve bought a Camping Card International, which not only can be used as ID, but also to give discounts and third party liability insurance. With the addition of an ACSI card for discounts at other campsites, hopefully we won’t have to fork out too much when we’re not wild camping
  • Vehicle tax – this expires whilst we’re away. We really should have bought just 6 months, then bought another 12 when we return to the UK in March, but I goofed. Instead, we’re going to have to buy a further 12 months when we return in March, then fill in a V14 form and get a refund on the remaining months we have left on our current tax disc. We’ve also discovered that the 25 year old vehicle tax exemption doesn’t apply any more, so when Bertha hits 25 in February 2015, we (or the next owners) will still have to pay tax.
  • MOT – this also expires whilst we’re away, but we tried to have the MOT as late as possible before we left. We’ve checked, and as long as we have one booked for as soon as we get back to UK and we drive straight there from the ferry, we’re covered.
  • Navigation – as we travel round, we don’t want to rely on just a sat nav, so we’ve purchased a Philip’s Multiscale Europe 2013 road atlas which should help too. We have loaded lots of POIs (points of interest) onto the sat nav though to help us find Lidl (they are friendly towards motorhomes), McDonalds (they have free wifi!) and camping spots
  • Health – after accompanying my brother to hospital when we were in Belgium, we both know the importance of having an EHIC each – it’s also been recommended by the local doctor’s surgery that we have the tick-borne encephalitis innoculation. It costs quite a bit, but you can’t really put a price on health
  • Money abroad – we don’t want to be stung by high card charges when travelling and we don’t really want to open a bank account in every country. After quite a bit of research, we decided upon the Halifax clarity card which has no fees for use abroad, including withdrawing cash. The only fee you pay is interest on cash withdrawals, but we intend to transfer money across to pay it off within a day or two of withdrawing money from a machine, thereby minimising the interest.
  • Communications – this has already been covered in a blog post about connectivity – the only thing to add is that we’re backing up all of our important documents on “the cloud”, within encrypted volumes to keep them nice and safe. Oh, and we’ve installed Prey on our laptop so that if it does get stolen, we can track it!

So that’s been quite a lot to think about, as well as making sure we’ve got the correct lightweight cooking equipment, clothing and entertainment stuff (paints, games, radio etc – we’re not taking a TV).

Oh, and another thing that we’ve been able to get done in this time is our wedding video, including the time lapse that we shot at our own wedding:

Posted in Bertha, KIST 2EU | 3 Comments »

A short break and down time

September 13th, 2013 (by Steve)

Sadly, it’s probably more accurate to say “a short breakdown time”! After our trip to Portsmouth last week, Bertha was a little low on fuel, so we did what any reasonable people would do and took her to a petrol station. It became evident once she’d been filled up though that she wasn’t happy, as a trickle of petrol emerged from her underside. After a cautious drive to our friendly mechanic, it was confirmed that she needs a new fuel tank. Will we ever leave the country? As the mechanic put it, “I’m not a betting man, but…” before he trailed off into silence.

So whilst we wait for the new fuel tank to arrive at the garage, we’re unable to get on with the remaining carpentry work inside her; making a cupboard in place of the oven, adding shelves to the wardrobe etc. So it’s back to Julie Andrews’ recommendation of a needle pulling thread. Yes, that is an adjustable wrench; I find it to be a necessary accessory when sewing.


In the “down time” without Bertha we’ve now completed all of the re-upholstery of the cushions and have made all of the new curtains (re-using the lining, header tape and hooks from the old curtains). We only have the cab curtain left to do, which we can’t do much about until we get Bertha back.

Does that mean we’re just lazing about now? To a certain degree we’ve taken our foot off the accelerator pedal a little (but not enough to stall completely…our clutch control is hopefully good enough…although mine wasn’t great as I reversed up the hill out of the welder’s drive…there might have been a little smoke…) but there’s still plenty of other planning to do – getting this website ready to receive our daily logs, making sure all paperwork is in good order and bargain-hunting to make sure we’ve got all we need in the van to be legally compliant and comfortable in all countries.

We’re not quite sure when we’ll get Bertha back, but it will be all hands to the brand new pump as soon as we do!

Posted in Bertha, KIST 2EU | 3 Comments »

It pours

September 9th, 2013 (by Steve)

A week on from the last post, and what a week it’s been. We have come on in leaps and bounds (a bit like Tigger), then have become quite disheartened about things (a bit like Eeyore), but in general we think we’re just muddling through (a bit like Pooh).

This week we spent a few days down in Portsmouth where a friend with an enormous toolkit and knowhow to match helped us out, well, enormously. It’s probably easiest to break down the journey of the last week into categories:


The good news is that the rear of the motorhome is now completely watertight. The bad news is that the front wasn’t. On Thursday night I woke up to find my crotch was wet. For the first time in my life I hoped that I had wet myself, but no, the vent above our bed was leaking. Kiri nimbly jumped on the roof (in the morning) and sealed it though with Sikaflex, so we’re all good.

Our water pump turned out to be dead, but with a bit of online bargain hunting and a price-match guarantee we got a good deal on a new one (see below). It’s just a shame that the water heater had another leak that we hadn’t seen previously. To cut a very long story (involving 3 soldering devices and 3 people having a go at soldering) short, the leak is now fixed, but a control valve isn’t… something else for the todo list.



Remember the loose wire in the zig unit? Turns out I had connected it back in the right place – the black wire denoting vehicle earth (or negative if the circuit was elsewhere). It was re-assuring to have someone with an electrical qualification confirming this though. Once he’d shown me how to use my multimeter, he left me measuring voltages happily whilst he replaced the electrical connector boxes (the previous ones were crumbling… turns out they were the cause of the previous issues), wired in our second leisure battery and fitted our solar panel regulator.


Once all of that was done, with a great team effort the solar panel was glued and screwed to the roof, with the wires passing through a marine gland to avoid water ingress. Since then I’ve added another couple of strips of LED lights, leaving just a few 12V cigarette lighter sockets for us to wire in as extra charging points.


We don’t want to be lugging gas canisters around the whole time as we travel, so we’ve gone for the Gaslow option; refillable gas canisters that can be refilled with LPG at petrol stations. It’s sold as a kit that you can install yourself, so, once again with a little lot of help from our friend, we got cracking; screwing together the connections and putting a filling point in the skirt of Bertha.


[Edit 14 February 2015: We’ve just found out that the installation of this Gaslow R67 kit does not meet regulations. Although we ordered a “normal” gas bottle to start with from Gaslow, for which a strap is an acceptable fitting, we were sent an R67 cylinder (because the normal bottle was out of stock), for which there are specific regulations. The new owners of Bertha have been informed. Thank you to the guys at for highlighting this issue.]

We’ve blanked off the oven as we’re removing it to give us more cupboard space, so the appliances we had to test were the heater, hob, grill, boiler and fridge. All of them lit straight away apart from the fridge, which we’ll have to read the instructions for. I mean, an appliance that cools things down with fire? Blows your mind! Talking of things blowing up, we’re getting a gas safe engineer to check the whole system, so that we can be safe… after all, gas safety week is next week!

Lessons learned

It’s impossible to do a review of a week without a standard consultancy “what went well” and “even better if” question. Well firstly, Kiri learned that bumpers aren’t to be stood on (at least we found out that the bumper connection was rusty at this stage). Secondly, we both learned of our fuel consumption… at 17 MPG it looks like we’ll be spending most of our money in this next year on petrol! And thirdly, snow chains can get in the way a little (don’t ask!).

Posted in Bertha, KIST 2EU | 3 Comments »

So, a needle pulling thread

September 3rd, 2013 (by Steve)

We’d never really planned to totally re-upholster Bertha… it, kind of, just happened! The long seat covers were a little worn at the seams, so we realised we’d have to do something about that, then we noticed the seat covers at the rear of the van weren’t quite the same material. Might as well do all of the seat covers then. And if we’re doing the seats, the curtains have to match (obviously!), so we might as well re-do those as well.

Now neither of us have done much upholstery work before, although with all of the bunting that we did for KISTfest (over 1000 flags in the end), we’re pretty handy with a sewing machine. Our first challenge was finding some strong, hard-wearing, cheap material. Bargain bins and charity shops had yielded a few offcuts here and there which will add some colour, but we struck gold with the idea of buying dust sheets – 24 feet by 9 feet for just over £20 – bargainous! These would form the bulk of the seat covers, then we could just sew patches of the other offcuts on top.


It turns out that dust sheets aren’t necessarily uniform in size. Or colour. Or type of fabric. And they may have stains on them. Or footprints. We like a challenge though, so set to work cutting coloured patches, ironing them flat and sewing them onto the dust sheets, before sewing the dust sheets up to create box covers for the foam seats. It’s amazing the difference that a few cheap patches can make to an even cheaper bit of cotton! It’s also amazing what lengths some people go to in order to try out a cushion cover for size…


As a result of the dust sheet revelations (can’t say we can think of anywhere in Revelation that it mentions dust sheets though… sounds more like something you’d find in Leviticus), we decided to spend a little more on the curtains. The plan is to re-use the linings of the existing curtains, then just add the new (red) fabric to it. We did splash out on an extra £8 for thermal lining for the cab though – we’ll trap the cold air in there in the winter!

As we stand today (because the seats aren’t all ready yet!), the main side seat has been re-covered in full and the base of the rear seat has been done. (Note the old curtains just in view on the left of this picture)


Only 6 more box cushions to do (of different shapes and sizes) and then it’s curtains for us.

Posted in Bertha, KIST 2EU | 3 Comments »