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Whole lot of Rosie

You join after all the excitement, and just before the bit where I was almost sick. Read on.

The following morning, I called the auction company which was Brightwells (MOD auction contract is currently with this company see www.brightwellslive.com). I told them my lot number and said it hadn’t met the reserve. They had already emailed the Ministry of Defence to ask if they would accept my bid, as mine was the highest bid on that Lot at the hammer. So, I had to wait. I couldn’t decide if winning was going to be amazing, or a sickener because I had just committed over ten thousand pounds into a vehicle I couldn’t use. 

Understandably I had given it a lot of thought overnight. This was a dream of mine, something intangible for a while yet now it was beginning to be real. It was coalescing in front of me. I gave myself a talking too. “Now is not the time to wimp out”.

A few hours later and I received confirmation, and an invoice. I had indeed won. I let out a big sigh of relief and my colleagues around me thought I was having a bad morning. I stood up and announced “I won. I did it!”. 

Rosie MAN truck - had I really won her?

Cue rounds of questions of what? What have you done? So, I told them. Only one knew all about the plan, so he smiled and nodded in agreement. The rest stared at me and the mixtures of what’s and why’s? was beaten in to submission by one of my very gentle and charismatic female colleagues who exclaimed ‘What the Truck?’. 

I had just become the owner of a proper, well-built, off road capable, large truck, built for tough use. It was thirteen years old, but had barely been run in with only 45000km. And it was a quarter of the cost for a base truck that I had previously estimated. Could I achieve my dream on a much lower estimate?

In addition, since just before Christmas, I had been following a fellow truck builder www.offgridnomad.co.uk who was upgrading from living full time in a long wheel base 2wd Ford Transit to a 4wd DAF t244 but registered at 7.5t. Paul had been successful in finding a quality small commercial body builder who was beginning to do expedition trucks. Not only had he found a nice company, it was in East Manchester – an area I knew well (albeit a bloody long way from where I am now living in the South West of England). The main interest in the OffgridNomad build was his budget. It was exceptionally keen. The box was being built with the right materials, but a pretty low cost when compared to the usual expected price points. Suddenly the prospect of building my dream truck was less daunting, and less financially crippling as I had previously thought.

Then, in a moment of aligning stars, some serendipity. Good friends of mine from up North were retiring and expressed an interest in VW vans. They wanted to view my VW T4 Multivan to get an idea. Whilst viewing it and discussing the various points of different models, they decided mine was perfect. If only they could find another! A deal was struck and my VW found a new home, and I had a bit more money to invest in the MAN. 

Things were rapidly gaining pace and I wanted to keep the momentum up. I needed to find a storage site because there was no way it would fit on my drive. Also needed a place to work on it, because at some point I was going to need to do some jobs on it myself. Finally, the ability to drive it! Once delivered the first thing that would need to happen would be get it MOT’d and registered (The MOD don’t register vehicles) and in order to get that done, I would need a licence to drive it to the Ministry location. 

I found a site to store it on, at a reasonable rate of £1.50 a day. Bargain. Downside, it was only until the season began before Easter, but at least it bought me a few months. Insurance took a bit more work however. Trying to get a broker to understand you want to insure a truck that you don’t have a licence for, doesn’t have a registration, nor a Ministry Test, was pushing many of them. However, I managed to find a good one and insured it for a mere £500 for the year. 

That’s about a thousand pounds a year taxed, insured and stored. Not bad for a seven metre, fifteen-ton truck! 

Last but not least; Licence. 

Unsurprisingly, it’s not straightforward. But nor is it too daunting. You will need a medical (If you are over 45 you will need one every five years thereafter). That’s form D4 from DVLA and about £60-70 plus an hour of your time down your GP. After that, send the D4 and the application for your C class provisional off to DVLA. 

TOP TIP

Both applications can be found online, although I ended up getting mine posted to my home. https://forms.dft.gov.uk/order-dvla-forms/

Once you have your C Class provisional licence back, you can apply for lessons. There are two parts to the test;

  • Theory - I tried a theory test online and did pretty well with zero lessons. Clearly some things about big trucks I knew zero about, but in general I think I did okay. 
  • Practical - no idea how many lessons that will take, or at this stage, how much. That’s for Blog 4 I feel. 

Once passed, that gives me C class licence which is rigid trucks up to… well. I don’t think there is a limit. But certainly, four axle tippers are included (thus an 8x8 MAN is in the list mwhaha). 

MOD Man truck © MOD 1
Copyright MOD 1

Now the challenge was to get Rosie (for that is what I had named her) from the auction site which was over in the middle west of the Country. I say west of England, it was pretty much in Wales! How the heck does one move a nine-ton truck that isn’t registered for the road, taxed or insured, when one doesn’t have a licence? 

Project Overland Rosie the Man Truck

Answer; www.rwoodcraft.co.uk. One call to Darren (Darren@rwoodcraft.co.uk) and it was organised and it happened quickly. That’s because luckily Darren had just dropped two 5t ambulances at the auction site where my truck was sat, and the following day was going to Southampton empty. A quick hit on the credit card and Rosie was loaded. The following day she was dropped off in Devon. Thanks Darren, I had no idea it would be that easy. 

TOP TIP

Give yourself a wide window. This ensures you get the best opportunities for a truck running empty in your direction. I just struck lucky.

It would have been harder, but pre-warned about the condition of the batteries, I nipped out earlier that morning down to my local battery specialists and bought a Durite Li-Ion Jump pack. It was small enough and sensibly priced at £159 (in answer to your unasked question dear reader, that is sensible! The big mother of a thing that was an alternative was the size of your grannies wheeled shopping trolley and over five hundred of your English pounds!) 

It would have been harder, but pre-warned about the condition of the batteries, I nipped out earlier that morning down to my local battery specialists and bought a Durite Li-Ion Jump pack. It was small enough and sensibly priced at £159 (in answer to your unasked question dear reader, that is sensible! The big mother of a thing that was an alternative was the size of your grannies wheeled shopping trolley and over five hundred of your English pounds!) 

This is the product I purchased: https://www.durite.co.uk/itm/68356/Booster-Packs/12-24V-Li-Polymer-Booster-Pack/064940  

Hunt around though as the price varies. 

TOP TIP

Tip: This really only applies to the MAN HX army trucks which are notorious for killing their batteries. They also have a jump port on UK Military spec for inter-vehicle jump charging. It’s to the right of the battery box. The centre core is positive and the outer ring negative.

After a few attempts she started up (our fault, not Rosie) and the delivery driver reversed her off the trailer. She has an awful rattle at tick over, but that’s some body work or trim loose and vibrating at the frequency of the revs. 

I had only enough time for a quick walk around and inspect for transit damage (there wasn’t any). She ran smoothly and …… wait. What’s ‘EDC Diagnosis’ and why is it flashing on the instrument panel?

The notorious ECU fault fairy had visited my Rosie!

That wasn’t showing in the condition report for Lot 880 when I bid.

Bollocks. That’s not good, not good at all. 

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Tel : 079 4959 4266
Email : david@projectoverland.info

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