November 10th, 2008 – by: Rubbertoe
Auckland recycling scheme, just dump in on the side of the road and the van will collect it, after I've finished shopping
I found her on te.co.nz. She has a small but tidy 1.8 litre petrol engine, green bodywork with silver bumpers and 4 brand new tyres. I saw the add early in the morning and was the first person to view the car, I didn’t realise though how far I had to travel to get there and ended up hiring a bicycle for the day. 12 km and an hour later I reached the house, sweating like a pig. The previous owner was a little Chinese lady, not a backpacker, and I could tell she had looked after Betsy very well. The interiors were clean and all electrics worked fine. I took her for a spin and it was love at first site, she sounded great, no coughs or hiccups. She also had a brand new W.O.F (warrant of fitness), which last 6 month and is the equivalent to a road safety certificate ��" it is illegal in NZ to drive without one.
We agreed a price, even less than what I had in mind, and drove to the post office where we completed the sale. That was it! I arrived in Auckland on Saturday and by Wednesday I had a new set of wheels, the only problem was her size, quite tiny. I knew I had to come up with something clever to make her more appealing to backpackers, if I wanted a quick sale in January.
The first choice was to take the back seat out, so I had room to sleep. The most obvious place to store the seat was the roof, or maybe a trailer… no, sod the trailer idea, I didn’t have a toe bar to start with.
I looked for a roof rack and found one on te.co.nz, but when I got there I discovered that the guy was selling a huge great safari type cage-rack, big enough to strap down a hippo or a baby elephant! That wasn’t what I had in mind but my trip wasn’t wasted, because I managed to borrow a socket set to take my seats apart. The day got even better, as I drove back to the city and noticed heaps of household rubbish dumped on the side of the road, ready to be collected. Apparently this happens once a year and it’s part of Auckland’s recycling scheme. For me it was Christmas come early! I love rubbish, it took me three hours to fill up the boot of Betsy with all sorts of crap: my shopping included a bike helmet; 2 warm blankets; some cutlery and kitchen utensils; a slim mattress and a clean canopy tent to cover it up; a camping chair; a trekking backpack; a large piece of clean carpet; a long steel braded cable; a large piece of blue tarp; and 4 tidy curtains… I couldn’t believe my luck, I didn’t have to buy anything else! Just a few hooks, a pair of scissors and some good old duck tape!
Mattress covered with canopy fabric and Good Old Duck Tape (GODT)
When I took the seats out, I noticed that the pitch of the rails they where mounted on matched the pitch of the roof rails, so I didn’t need roof bars after all.
I bought a strip of rubber and a roll of steel wire, and tied both rails together, which saved me another $150. I worked two days in the car park of a big DIY store, Bunnings: wrapped the seats in tarp; cut the carpet to measure; screwed the hooks to the ends of the steel cable, which passed through a narrow pocket in each curtain to hold them up; and covered the mattress. I had a great time! It was better than sight seeing :-) and Betsy was ready for the ride!
I made one final addition with the purchase of a foldable mountain bike.
Cost me $100 but it was well worth it. Again, I found it on the TE website. It’s as big as a proper bike but it hinges in the middle and becomes portable, so you can carry it on a ferry or train, and it fits nicely in the boot of my car. My previous bike was called Spike because it rhymes… so I stuck with my cheesy theme and called this one Mike.
lovely clean interiors