The engine saga continues…

The main engine block is now with Lee at http://www.laperformance.co.uk/ and refurbishment is well under way. Lee’s been great to us and has also promised to take some pictures of the various stages as the engine gets rebuilt. I’ll post up a ‘parts list’ in the next few days and keep watching this space for pictures of engine-rebuilding in action!!

I’ll be popping over the laperformance workshop tomorrow to check out the latest progress. 🙂

Cancer Research

We are hoping that the London2Sydney expedition will provide the catalyst to help us raise as much money as possible for Cancer Research UK, to help them continue their valuable work. As all the expedition costs are being borne by our team, every penny raised from sponsorship will go to CRUK.

With CRUK being our charity of choice, we’re obviously very interested in increasing awareness of the disease in addition to our fund-raising. We feel that the following information confirms that research into cancer is pushing back the boundaries of care and cure. For us that makes our fund-raising expedition to Sydney all the more worthwhile and we are all the more determined to make this expedition a success.

According to a report published today, one in two of all British cancer sufferers can now expect to survive the disease. Advances in treatment, screening and scientific knowledge have seen overall cancer death rates fall by 12 per cent. More than half of all patients should now survive their cancer for at least five years.

Figures released by Cancer Research UK show a greatly improved chance of survival for both men and women compared with 30 years ago. In the last generation, women’s deaths from breast cancer have fallen by 20 per cent and men’s deaths from testicular cancer by 37 per cent. Deaths from bowel cancer fell by a third, while those from Hodgkin’s disease fell by almost three-quarters.

The latest survival statistics – for patients diagnosed with cancer in the 1990s – show 37 per cent of males and half of females surviving cancer for five years.

Announcing a fund raising campaign, All Clear, highlighting the improved chance of surviving cancer, Robert Souhami, the clinical director of CRUK, said: “The number of cancer survivors has greatly increased in the last generation. “Most people rightly no longer view it as a death sentence.”

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Should you wish to make a donation to CRUK through L2S, no matter how small, please sponsor us!

Diary online

The London2Sydney diary is now online! We’re keeping a record of everything we’ve been doing as we prepare for our journey, and we’ve already made lots of entries. Squiffy’s been getting plenty of attention and you can see photos of all the work that we’ve been doing on her there too. Once we’re on our way, we’ll still be keeping it up-to-date with regular postings from the road and plenty of photographs! Do have a read, and remember you can post comments on the diary too!

Roof Clamps

The roof looks much better since we attached the new seals and gas struts. Currently though, we only have one clamp (technical term: – an over-centre) holding the roof down.

Two clamps arrived from Protex today and I’ll hopefully be fitting these at the weekend. They’re much smaller than the one we already have (see comparison to CD case – my favourite CD currently – Dave Matthews solo album), but there isn’t a lot of tension for them to take. They’re exactly the same size as the over-centres on later VW Camper conversions such as the Devon Moonraker (c.1979). They are also padlockable, just in case a casual passer-by is feeling malicious enough to open up the roof, slit the canvas and climb in that way. There’s paranoia for you!

Happy Birthday london2sydney.org

London2Sydney.org is one year old today! So to celebrate we’ve given the London2Sydney expedition website a fresh new look, as we’ve got a lot more content we want to share with you! To start with, Andy’s posted an article explaining why a VW camper van was our vehicle of choice to take us all the way to Sydney. We hope you find the new site easy to navigate and that you enjoy the new articles, information and photos we’re going to be putting up over the coming weeks.

Strutting about…

While attempting to get a good night’s sleep in one of Squiffy’s upstairs bunks, the last thing we’d want is for her pop-up roof to come crashing down on us. Unfortunately, Squiffy’s pop-up roof had managed to convince us of its potential as a death-trap, and so demanded our attention.

Once elevated, Squiffy’s roof was supposed to be held up by a pair of pneumatic struts, one at each end. The years had taken their toll, however, and the struts were, frankly, putting in a very poor effort. Even more worrying was the small wooden stake which had been installed to take over their role, and was not inspiring confidence.

So we installed two brand new struts in the hope that we could dispense with the wooden stake and enjoy stress-free kip throughout our journey.

It turned out that the new struts were so good and so hard to compress that they needed a good deal of coercion to get them to squeeze in under the roof. A stout piece of broom handle made a convenient prop while the back strut was forced in.

But the front strut proved to be a little more stubborn, calling for an ingenious application of man power…

The engine saga begins…

With all the efforts going into Squiffy’s interior, we didn’t want to neglect the most important part of our van: the engine. We were going to be asking a lot of it come July, so we wanted to make sure that Squiffy was being propelled by an engine that was up to the challenge.

Despite being massively keen to take on the job of preparing Squiffy’s engine for the expedition myself, my work schedule would be pulling me away from sunny Bedford for quite a bit of the Spring, so we felt that this was a job for the professionals…

So a quick call to Milotane in Bedford to ask them to take the engine out and remove the cylinder heads so that we could get a better idea of the work that we hoped wouldn’t be needed.

Squiffy’s engine bay (Type 2s have their engines at the back, of course) certainly looked a bit naked without it’s usual occupant, but with the engine out, we could clearly see how the engine had coped with over 20 years of use.

Unfortunately, what we saw was not pretty. Both cylinder heads had been blowing (exhaust had been escaping where it shouldn’t have been) and one of the pistons was suffering from the effects of something (probably a bolt) having fallen into one of the cylinders at some point in its history!

After consoling each other over a cup of tea, we decided that we needed to put some careful thought into our next move. So, trying hard to maintain her dignity, Squiffy meekly submitted to being towed back home, her engine resting in several oily pieces on her newly lino’d floor.

Hopefully, this is a scene that won’t be repeated once we’ve set off for Sydney!