Right.. where do I start..
Hmm.. the fact I’m drunk on high roofs.. well that’s not new to most people so it was only a matter of time until I would get another one..
As many of you do, I was surfing the net one evening and got a mssg on FB from my buddy Matt.. We started chatting about the birds and the bee’s and I told him I wanted another bus.. He knew a few for sale and lucky me they happened to be highroofs too 🙂 so he forwarded me some links.. I contacted the seller and a few days later I was on the phone closing a deal on my new family member.. a 90% restored ’63 highroof..
A few weeks before this happened I was at Bob’s in Belgium for the pre HO party when a lovely french guy, Arnaud, introduced himself with a head turning subject.. “Hi, I like your highroof, I’ve got one too.. It’s a project but it’s for sale.. are you interested” I nearly spilt my beer on my t-shirt as at that time I was looking to buy another highroof. We exchanged details and I sent him an email. Unfortunately Arnaud’s computer hasn’t been up to much this summer and let him down quite often which resulted in not getting a response for weeks.. In the meantime I’d bought the ’63 .
Highroofs have massively increased in popularity over the last 2 years, so much, I get emails every week from people whether I know a highroof for sale or if I want to sell mine. I could’ve easily sold the highroof from France and made profit but, I knew Chris had bought a RHD project that he’d underestimated and he so wanted to have a highroof on the road soon. I phoned him up and said I had found a decent project for him..
Fast forward several weeks – and we close the deal with the highroof in France thanks to the great help of Pascal “Windsplit” Amodru for translating and helping negotiating.. (highroof community as it should be!). 😀
In the meantime I had a message from Portugal that the rain season had started and that my bus was moved outside because the PO needed the garage for his own car. I realised I had to act fast because my bus wasn’t protected and parts were open and available to potential thief’s .. I started organising a trip to collect both highroofs from France. To get my highroof in France I had to find transport from Portugal .. ? After a proper search on the net I ran into an ad from a guy named Mat – Black bull transport. Because I had no clue who I was dealing with I was quite anxious to leave my new pride and joy in the hands of a “stranger”. Fortunately Mat seemed to be the right call!
We arranged to hire a recovery truck, borrowed a trailer, booked the train and planned a 2 day journey back and forth.
We left at 5.30am in the morning and after a bit of hassle at the Eurotunnel, due to not getting the trailer on the truck properly, we finally set off for the South of France..
After a whole day driving we arrived at Arnaud’s place who lived on a cool old farm. We received a warm welcome and got offered a few beers before we got to bed – tired from driving all day.
We’d loaded up the roof tent, which we tied up to the trailer, and slept in his garden. Although we thought it would be very cold it was actually quite warm in the night.
We got up in the morning at a decent time and of course well excited to see the new highroof. We soon found out that Arnaud had seriously caught the VW virus as everywhere you looked there was either a car or some parts.. A zwitter, oval windows, early beetles, bay windows, razor edge, buggy, 181.. he had it all and more.. Unfortunately we didn’t have too much time so we started loading up the highroof on the trailer. A bit later I received a phone call from Mat telling me he’d drove solid through the night to make sure he could deliver my bus in time and he was just a minute away. Mat is English and lives in Cadiz/Spain and is actually a really nice guy, he did the trip with his lovely wife Holly and delivered my bus for a great price, I can definitely recommend these people if you need a car transported from the south of Europe!
Mat told me that it wasn’t easy to get the bus on the truck as there was no steering box fitted and the steering pin was seized.. We decided to get both recovery trucks backwards to each other and loaded the bus from one to another. About 20 mins later we strapped everything tight and we were ready to go.
Before we left in the UK I sent Mike from Fabrik interiors a mssg if I could borrow 2 of his amazing windscreen covers so at least we could reduce the rain coming in if we had bad weather. We fitted these, said goodbye to Arnaud, Mat and Holly and set course to the UK.
Not long after we left we had to pull over as we noticed that the windscreen covers were coming loose due to both highroofs being loaded backwards for weight distribution. As we’d just pulled of the covers and were ready to leave, 2 border control cars “Douane” showed up.. Oh dear.. I had only copies of the original documents with me and I know Police can be funny about that. Also after the recent “love story” from Ned, Vic and Bobby with the police in Germany I thought sh!t this is going to be trouble.. Of course the first thing they asked was the papers for the buses. I handed all papers over and could see that they were looking funny at the copies. They asked if I had a bill of sale but I only had a paper where the PO stated he’d sold the bus to me without a price on it. Then they asked me if I paid cash, so I answered “no, I transferred the money online”. Do you have a bill?? “NO, I haven’t sir”.. hello.. online banking?! This is 2013 you know.. ?! Then they asked me how much the buses were so I gave them a ballpark figure and this is when the whole conversation changed.. I also told them how much they’re worth when restored. Now they got really interested 🙂 So they asked what year they were and where we find parts and how many there are about. After about 10 mins they handed me back the papers and we were free to go.. They even drove behind us with there flash lights on the make sure we got on the motorway ok. 😀
The rest of the journey went quite well and we even drove 70mph at some points with our highroof road train..
Arriving at the eurotunnel I was still worried about the border control for the same reasons. As luck would have it, they were checking a coach just as we went through. They did look a bit weird but as they were busy we just drove straight through..
We finally arrived back around midnight. Being warned about the upcoming storm we were lucky to only have had a bit of wind and rain. The first highroof went of the trailer really easy, but getting the other highroof of the truck was being a real pain as the steering was seized, no brakes and the winch didn’t wind out.. After about 1,5hr we finally managed to get the bus safely on the floor.. We then had to drive all the way back south to return the recovery truck and by about 5.30 am I was finally in bed.. Tired but well happy! Mission accomplished.. !
Everything prepared and ready to go.. Picked up the recovery truck, this was now a looooong vehicle..
A quick lunch stop.. hot dog time! And then back on the road eating more miles..
At last, after approx. 17hrs on the road we finally made it.. A few beers down the throat and ready for bed..
Although it was quite chilly during the last few nights in blighty, it was a very nice temperature here in France. We got woken up around 7am by the friendly neighbor farmer who thought it’d be a great idea to start plowing his field to which we were parked next to.. It was as if we were parked in the middle of the field..
Oh well, time to get up anyway and have coffee & breakfast!
Time to have a wander around the farm from Arnaud! There were cars everywhere.. VW’s mainly..
Even half cars were a common sight on the farm .. 😀
A beautiful zwitter, a late bay and a thing were part of his collection too
Another garage showed a stack of parts and in the back we noticed the rear end of a mint razor edge hiding.. wow!
We could tell that Arnaud was a huge VW fan.. not only by the amount of vehicles and parts everywhere but also by some small details we found.. 😉
Now what did we came for again.. 😉 … we were a bit carried away with all that precious VW stuff kicking about so we realised we had to get into action. As soon as the other highroof would be here we’d have to be leaving straight away to catch the train back to the UK..
Getting the highroof out was easy for Arnaud.. just take what ever car there is .. a rope .. and with hardly any warning Chris found himself driving the bus out of the shelter .. 😀
We put the trailer just before the little slope so it was easy to push the bus on.. We choose to load it backwards for weight distribution as the tow bar on the truck was rather a bit high and the backend of the trailer had been dragging on the speed bumps on the way up.. We fitted the beautiful windscreen cover from fabric interiors 🙂 and .. job sorted..
Just as we finished strapping down the blue highroof, I got a call from Mat @ Blackbull transport saying he was just a minute away.. Perfect timing!!
Mat mentioned getting the bus on the truck was not a straight forward job, because of the seized steering pin and the lack of a steering wheel/steering box and the front wheels pointing to the left..
I backed up our truck slightly sideways and with some sliding and pushing we managed to get bus on properly!
At last they were both strapped tight and ready for transport.. 😀
We packed up and said goodbye to Arnaud.. What a nice fella!!
Not long after we were on the road we had to pull over, because the buses were loaded backwards the windscreen covers didn’t like this and to reduce the risk of losing them we simply took ’em off.. Despite their high quality and perfect fit, they’re not made to be used when a bus is transported backwards.. 🙂
Just as we wanted to hit the road again we got a little visit from our french boarder control “friends”.. 😉
Oh well .. nothing a good chat couldn’t sort out and a bit later we were back on the road..
A highroof road train is quite a spectacular site on the road.. 😀
The trip back to the eurotunnel went really well and as luck would have it we didn’t have a check at all when driving through border control..
We got a text mssg just before we went on the tunnel that there was an upcoming storm in England so we checked all the straps and made sure everything was well secured..
Another 2,5hrs and we finally made it to the barn safe and sound..
The first highroof went off very quick without any problems.. the one on the truck became a bit of a nightmare and it took us nearly 2 hrs to get it off safely..
With the highroofs safe and sound in the barn the only thing left was to drive back south to drop off the recovery truck, take the car and come back (again).. By the time we arrived back, the birds were up and singing happy songs in the barn.. 🙂 I made my bed in Stella and snoozed in between all the highroofs..
Sweet dreams eh 😀
What a great mission.. and definitely a very satisfying feeling as all that was planned worked a treat..
It would not be successful if it wasn’t with the help of Chris hill, Mike from Fabric interiors, Mat and Holly from Black bull transport and Pascal “Windsplit” Amodru..
Thanks all !!!