Posted by Mark on Wednesday, 21 September 2016
Well it seemed such an obvious and simple idea when I first thought of it. Anna would be flying back from Poland where she was going to be working at the World Bridge Championships this year and she would be landing at Stanstead airport the day after the last performance of a musical written by my youngest son, Oliver. So in the words of Baldrick from Black Adder, I had a ‘cunning plan’. Without letting Oliver know, I would drive our motorhome, Badger, down the week before and appear at the show to surprise Oliver, and then the day after I would pick Anna up from the airport and we would have some time visiting friends and family before heading back slowly whilst having a little holiday in the motorhome, something we haven’t done for some time.
So come the time, Anna flew out to Poland, all went smoothly. The week later the plan was that at some time I would start the journey ‘dahn sarf’. However the first of what was to be several hitches came when I was preparing the Motorhome. Now as I said before we hadn’t used Badger for some time. So when I tried to open the outside doors, two of these were quite stiff, so I applied various combinations of WD40 ( Did you know that ‘WD’ stands for ‘Water Dispersant’ ) and grease and one door freed up. The other was not as obliging, I did the usual of gently moving the door back and forth on its hinges to free it up until the door eventually did lift all the way up, unfortunately it only did this because the rivets holding the hinges to the body had snapped! I was left holding the outside door to the cupboard that holds the gas bottles, in this state Badger was not going anywhere!
I could now remove the hinges from the door and took the assembly into the garage and started trying to free things up using more WD40, pipe wrenches and gentle application of a hammer. No luck. I soaked the hinges in paraffin ( a very light oil ) over night and resolved to try again the next day. Come the next day the things still would not budge so I drove around the likely places on the island, not that there are many, to see if I could buy a new set of hinges, this being the easiest option. No luck at all. Next I rang the dealer in Banbury if they had any replacement hinges, they said no, and they thought that a complete door might have to be ordered! But they would get back to me. A day passed and no answer so I rang the manufacturer of the motorhome in Grimsby, after a series of calls they sent me an email showing the parts that they thought I would need. This was interesting as the complete assemble was not available but only the two hinges that slid into the central hinge, yes those bits that were not moving and were seized solid! With a degree of resignation and a certain amount of ‘What the F***” I ordered two of these hinges and resolved to extract the existing ones using heat or if the worst came to it then by drilling them out!
After an afternoon of applying gentle amounts of heat and a considerable amount of brute force, I had managed to extract one hinge, the other was stuck firmly. I then decided to apply a lot of heat to the main body of the hinge trying not to melt it as it was made from aluminium, I had discovered. This was the reason for the seizure of the hinges, the body was made of aluminium and the pivoting shafts were made from steel, what happens when steel and aluminium are in contact, particularly with a little moisture is there is a reaction between the two metals and a corrosion takes place, in this case jamming the hinges. Back to me with the blow torch, by now I had managed to burn the paint off the assembly, never mind I can always repaint, if there is anything left that is! The final hinge started to move, this movement was as a result of me gripping it very tightly with a large pair of stilsons which belonged to my father in the 40s, I finally got the hinge rotating but still it wouldn’t move, the whole assembly was glowing red by now, and so was my face with exertion, the air was a contrasting blue! As there was some movement I then took to hitting the stilson with the hammer and finally the hinge came free of the shaft! Success and apart from the blackened paint work the shaft looked reusable. The next day when everything had cooled down, I started painting the shaft as the hinges still had not arrived yet, finally the next day they turned up and a trial fit showed that they would do the job! The reassembly was an easy task, this time with a fair bit of grease, and fitting the assemble back on to badger was accomplished with several self tapping screws bought for the purpose. The door worked perfectly! Now I could think about leaving.