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The Delivery

June 12, 2011

It feels like we are finally on the way. The Beast has been delivered to Southampton for loading on the ship bound for the Americas.

The delivery process was not without its a touch of drama though. We set out from London on a train from Liverpool Street and reached Braintree around an hour later to be picked up by Ed from Overland Vehicles.

The plan was to pick up the truck and get going around 6.30pm to make sure that we made our staging post before dark. We discussed some of the completed snagging work with Ed and then got in the truck ready to go, turned the key and then nothing. The Beast just wouldn’t start.

After a bit of diagnostic work we worked out that there was either a leakage problem somewhere in the camper electrical system or that the batteries were just dead. We replaced the batteries and then she started no problems. We ran the batteries down and checked the battery monitor – they seemed to be charging correctly. So then we had to make a decision – delay shipping and get a specialist to look at the systems with no guarantee of success or assume it was old batteries and just push on. The batteries were not new going in and I am hoping that they were just knackered after a few years on an ex-army truck of not being used.

Well I think to complete this trip we are going to have to get used to crossing our fingers and going for it – so we decided to push on. We didn’t leave Belchamp Walter in Suffolk until almost 8pm so were already well behind.

Compared to our first outing in the Beast driving felt a lot easier and I really felt as though I was getting used to driving it.

Our first stop was at a local petrol station where we pulled in and had our first taste of how thirsty the Beast can be. We put in 55 litres of diesel at a cost of over £75. This got the fuel gauge just over the red ! I reckon a full tank in the UK would cost us around £460. That should put filling up your car in perspective !

£1.40 a litre that's USD 8.48 per Gallon

At the petrol station we got our first real taste of the impact that the Beast has on people. A heavily tattooed boy racer came up to me and asked what we were driving. I told him and a quick conversation ensued which ended up with him shaking my hand and wishing us luck. I hope everyone we meet is so positive.

The driving got much easier when we hit the motorway and we discovered the Beast’s top speed – 54 miles an hour. Although this does take a bit of a run up. Down hill we can get a little bit faster. This speed isn’t especially popular with the big lorries on the motorway who are limited to 56. They take their time to overtake and if we hit an uphill they generally have to pull back.

We reached our staging point of Cobham in Surrey – that’ a drive of 115 miles – at around 11.30. Sounds like a long journey but we did stop off for half an hour at a services to meet up with my Dad as he wanted to see the truck before we left.

Anyway we get a night’s sleep at my Mum’s house in surrey before setting off first thing in the morning to head down to the docks in Southampton.

The trip down to the docks goes really smoothly. Its only another 70 miles and we are soon driving into the docks looking for berth No.38. We see the ship – can’t miss it really as its bigger than a skyscraper on its side. But can we find Berth 38 – there’ s 36, 37 and now 39. Spin around and then we see it a portakabin with an A4 sheet in the window with Berth 38 printed on it. Its always the way – the one that you are looking for is the one not properly signposted.

The logging process is fine and the good news is that the docker we deal with is ex-army and used to drive a DAF in the army so he loves us. We do some paperwork and then park the Beast in a massive car park at dockside filled with Tractors. Its good to see that Britain can export something.

We walk the 40 minutes to the train station and then we’re back up to London and I make it to work just before 12. Just in time to go out for a business lunch !

No all we need to do is cross our fingers and hope that we are reunited with the beast in Halifax on the 20th June.

Falstaff with its cargo of tractors in the foreground

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