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Repairing the truck

I had a text message from the GP surgery in Hastings asking for me to come in for some tests. I contacted the local GP surgery, Phoenix Medical Practice. I asked for an appointment to see their nurse in order to get the tests done. I explained to the receptionist that the tests were to do with monitoring my heart and that I am a traveller, etc. Incredibly, I was point blank refused assistance! I was told that they were not taking on new patients. I explained that I was not asking to register as a patient, I just wanted a five-minute appointment with the nurse. The receptionist kept repeating that they weren’t taking on new patients, not even temporary. I gave up. I then telephoned the surgery that sent the message to explain the situation. I said that I would get the tests done as soon as I could. They were fine with that.

As I had no joy with Phoenix Medical Practice, I decided to go to the supermarket to stock up, ready for the off. Incredibly, I lost the other door mirror on the truck! Also, it became obvious that I had a problem with the propshaft. The prop bearing was rattling. As Johnson Vehicle Maintenance is nearby, I popped in, asked one of the lads to slip under the truck to check the bearings for me. Quick as a flash, my thoughts had been confirmed. I then said that I would get the parts, then pop back down to get them to do the job. The job involves using a press to locate the bearings on the propshaft. Not equipment I have.

Whilst awaiting the parts, the weather improved, so I decided to get on with some springtime maintenance. I also had the shelf to fix. I managed to do a reasonable job with the shelf. I actually need to make new brackets. I didn’t really have the time or the patience to do that. I then sanded the woodwork and restained and tidied up the paintwork.

I had an Easter egg gifted, then a roast dinner. One day, I met some volunteer litter pickers. Litter is a serious problem for the village. I was out most days picking litter. There is a lot and it is a full-time job keeping on top of it. The lady who had brought me the roast then brought me a food parcel. Her name is Sue. Sue then invited me for a shower. That was great. She washed and dried my laundry, too. She also added a couple of towels, some T-shirts and a jumper. When the parts arrived, I fitted the new mirrors.

Michael had completed his employment contract and made his way South to catch up with me. He was with me when the truck was booked in to have the prop bearings fitted, so came for the ride and a breakfast. At the hour we had estimated that the job would be completed, we headed back. Surprisingly, the truck wasn’t ready. We waited another 20 minutes or so before the truck rolled out of the garage. When it came to paying the bill, I was surprised to find that the bill came to more than the bill for the clutch to be fitted, a job that also took longer to do. I questioned the amount. The woman I was dealing with (I didn’t catch her name. Tanya was away.) said that I was mischarged previously. I said that I had written a blog post praising Johnson Vehicle Maintenance. I showed her the relevant post. She wasn’t interested. I explained that they could potentially get custom as a result of my blog post. She unbelievably said, “We don’t want the work.”!

“What sort of attitude is that!?” I said.

Michael paid the bill. We left.

The charity organisation that is dealing with my disability claim offered to put my name forward for a shopping voucher courtesy of something called Huggg. In no time, I was sent a £100 shopping voucher to use in a supermarket of my choice. On top of that, I also received a voucher for £40 that could be cashed in and used towards a gas bottle. We therefore headed for the nearby supermarket. However, before we got to the end of the road, it was obvious that I still had a propshaft problem. I turned around and went back to the garage. I found the mechanic, Andy. I quizzed him. He said that a universal joint was loose. Bemused as to why he hadn’t mentioned anything before, I just said, “OK.” and left.

Once back home, I slid under the truck to have a look. The joint in question was really bad, dangerously so. I ranted at Michael, “Why the hell did that mechanic not say anything! Have a look at that! The bloke’s an idiot. He’s had that prop off twice at least and said nothing! Just kept putting the thing back on!!” Michael was also also incredulous. On further inspection, I worked out how it came to be that I had so many issues with the propshaft. A dent in the crossmember from which the bracket that one of the bearings is mounted meant that the bracket was slightly out of alignment. That in turn meant that the propshaft was off-balance, causing both the bearing to disintegrate and the UJ to deteriorate. It may even have contributed to the failure of the clutch. I ordered the parts. I couldn’t find a crossmember anywhere. Apparently, now an obsolete part.

Michael headed off, promising to return as soon as the parts arrived. We decided to do the job ourselves. It’s an easy job.

For the next few days I kept busy readying my caravan. The bucket of my old wheelbarrow finally split from the frame. Steve, the man who had dropped off a pile of logs previously, took the old wheelbarrow for me. I put a shout out on the local Facebook page asking for another or similar. Ted lent me a foldaway sack truck. Then a man named John brought me an old sack truck that converts into a trolley. It was sitting unwanted in his garden. I made use of it straight away when I filled my water butt at the Butcher’s Block.

Eventually, the parts arrived, thanks again to the amazing Jay. I made sure of saying farewell when he delivered the package to me. He’s an absolute diamond of a bloke and Stacey’s food is awesome.

Izzy invited me to have a bath before leaving. Again, that was wonderful. What a brilliant friend and neighbour. We had a little soirée.

Michael reappeared with the added bonus of his brother, Daniel, in tow. He had borrowed a little car rather than drag his bus over from Hastings. It’s much quicker and cheaper.

After the usual tea and procrastinations, Michael and Daniel rolled under the truck. In no time, the propshaft was off. Michael ranted about the workmanship of the mechanic at Johnson Vehicle Maintenance. Apparently, the nuts and bolts that secure the propshaft to the differential were just finger-tight! He had evidently neglected to tighten them! Unbelievable!

I knocked out the old UJ, then replaced with the new. Once the propshaft was fitted back into position, Daniel adjusted the bearing hanger that was out of line. He used a simple solution. He just added a load of washers between the crossmember and the bracket, thereby bringing everything back into alignment. It’s a temporary fix, but one that would last years. It took nine washers, the exact number that Michael had in his hand, coincidentally.

I then went for a test run. Perfect.

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