Light at The End of The Tunnel

It’s been over three years(!) since I wrote a post on my old blog called ‘Fixin’ a Van‘, all about initial working and tinkering on my (at that point) newly acquired 1989 Suzuki Super Carry called “Bamse”. Reading through that blog, the passing comment “I’m going on a two week course at Sabal Mor Ostaig this weekend,” always makes me chuckle, as it was on this course that I met Mary, whom I instantly fell for and have been living with now for over two years. I had been so close to not even bothering to go on that course, what a mistake that would have been!

After an amazing spring and summer in 2016 touring with Bamse (and Mary) over the Highlands and Orkney, I had a small (ahem) accident on a cliffside that ended me up in the hospital and relegated the van into the garage for the winter. Upon moving to Orkney in early 2017 I left the van behind, in which time we slowly tinkered away on it and eventually removed the whole engine to replace the clutch, timing belt and others bits and pieces. I’m now back home on Raasay and while we’ve treated her with underseal and done some odd jobs, but being so busy with other projects we’ve never really fully invested much time back into fixing her up. This year though the stars seem to be aligning and at the very least I think the end is in sight for getting her fixed up, with the engine in and (at the very least) getting out of the garage!

My new Jimny looking a bit worried there I think.

I have the Jimny to thank in many ways for hopefully getting Bamse back on the road, as buying a new ‘fixer-upper’ has gotten me back on the horse in regards to working on vehicles. I think seeing the van stuck in the garage collecting dust had disheartened me slightly, but it all seems a lot less daunting now that I’ve been working on the truck and getting back into the groove. The ‘big thing’ is really the engine, which of which the ‘three big things’ regarding it are:


Timing Belt – Not difficult, just fiddly and nerve wracking, as getting it wrong can risk ruining and engine. Currently studying the Haynes manual to make sure fitting & tensioning it all goes correctly!

Water Pump – always worth changing if you’re doing the timing belt, but located right behind the timing belt- meaning we have to remove all the timing cogs and gears.

Clutch – To be honest, the only real reason we dropped the engine was to replace this clutch. Not too difficult, but just hoping it all goes back together again.


So we have all the parts required, the van has been treated and worked on underneath meaning the engine can go back in when we’re ready, the big thing now is just taking the plunge and getting it all put together. We’re thinking we may do the work, then get in one of the friendly locals who know a bit more about timing belts to check the work is all correct, but for the moment I feel I can see the end in sight. Will 2019 be the year Bamse returns to a road near you? Well, keep an eye out here and at the side of the road in case I need to tow her home.

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