Building Bertie (the Imaginarium)
For those who choose to pursue a creative career from the ground up, they may experience difficulty finding time to self educate through study and experience.. To pursue a life of creativity and ongoing self education, for me, an adjustment came in the form of downsizing. What better way to reduce outgoings than to build an Imaginarium?
The beauty of ‘The Imaginarium’ is that it is an affordable place to study, a place to live, a place to rehearse, compose and create.
Here is my (condensed) story of how I turned Bertie the 1982 Bedford Horse Truck into an Imaginarium to take wherever I go:
“an affordable place to study, a place to live, a place to rehearse, compose and create”
Bertie started life as a 1982 Bedford CF horse truck. Shortly after I picked him up in Snowdonia, we drove back to a workshop in the Midlands which is where the process of Bertie’s creation began.
Before any design or carpentry could commence, I serviced the truck fully, and after many hours on the road back from Snowdonia, all I could think about was installing sound deadening material to the cab floor and engine case.
Explore the gallery below to see the first steps of building Bertie.
Once the truck was mechanically sound, I started dismantling the interior in order to prepare it for the construction of new floors and walls to be built. Reclaimed hard and softwood pallets are a great free resource for this type of project and were used for all of my woodwork within the truck. Below you can see how the floors and walls were created and then lined with insulation for cozy winters as well as cooler summers.
The doorframe hole was cut out of the aluminium truck body in preparation for the door to be fitted to the frame. As with the rest of the wooden construction within the truck, I made the door from reclaimed pallet wood before sawing it in half to create my stable entrance door.
Solar, paint and Welding
At the time of installation, I had two Bosch 100w solar panels on the roof which ran through a small 20 amp regulator and then into a single 120a/h leisure battery. I am sure that by the time you read this I will have expanded this system to accommodate recording equipment within Bertie. I have also installed a 140amp Voltage Sensitive Relay (VSR) in the system to split the charge of the starter battery and the leisure battery whenever one is operational. So, if Bertie is sat in the sun, the solar system charges the batteries with the leisure battery being prioritised. If it is being driven, the alternator on the engine charges the batteries with the starter battery being prioritised.
The regulator limits any voltage overload and prohibits the battery from completely depleting as this would damage it. From the regulator, the chain goes to the outlet on the wall as well as the switch panel for the lights in and the sine wave power invertor (12v > 240v) that supplies the 240v mains power to the truck.
*It is important to mention to anyone who wants to use their 12v system for audio recording that a pure sine wave invertor was used in this system. If you use a modulated signal invertor, you will create a large amount of unwanted noise in the signal. This will be picked up by guitar amps and microphones and is no good for any recording system.*
At this point, there had been a few days of fine weather in England so I decided to paint Bertie, a smart racing green 🙂
The MOT was due so I finished the preparation for this by replacing the rusted floor panels and seat belt mount, which had been the only reason for the test failure.
I found some beautiful old stained glass and leaded windows on eBay for about the same price as the woodstain 🙂 They needed some restoration but I was happy to practice some new skills in planing and chiseling. Here you can see the process, all the way from stripping the old white paint off to fitting the walnut stained frames in the truck side. Whichever way the truck is facing, the windows are positioned in a way that will always create a draught if needed. This helps ventilate the room, which I feel is very important both on warm summer days and when the stove is lit.
The stove can be fired with coal or wood, I chose reclaimed wood off cuts and scavenged hardwood. Under the seats in the cab I can dry and store any wood that I scavenge while on the road – for example: from businesses that don’t need their off cuts.
.Bertie is complete (sort of) SUMMER 2017
Berite’s maiden voyage and first road trip was down to Cornwall and back for some shows while he was nearly complete. After this trip, I had ironed out a few mechanical things and adjusted the solar system to supply 240v efficiently, among some other small things. The real test, I thought, would be to drive him over 2000 miles to his new base in Austria. Please enjoy this gallery of images that were taken in the sunny alpine foothills of rural Austria after an almost perfect drive (the old battery died on the ferry) through Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Austria. There are many more ideas and plans for Bertie in the future. For example, I plan to install a sink and water tank/plumbing system and a thermo syphoning heat exchange from the stove chimney.
I hope you found this page useful if you are embarking on a similar project or interesting to see how one can make a home on the road. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments – send me an email.
Catch you later on down the trail 😉