Once we were happy with the general basis of our design, it was time to start the conversion. We currently live in Portsmouth (the most densely populated town in England) on a one way street without a driveway. We realised very quickly it would be more sensible to leave Flora in the countryside on a big driveway at my mum's house, rather than navigate the hundreds of one way streets in Portsmouth.
When we bought Flora, she had 17 seats, plastic cladding and wooden flooring with lino on top. This all needed taking out and stripping back.
We were lucky enough to be able to draft in some unsuspecting friends (who we convinced that they wanted to come and help with the notion it would be a relaxing weekend away to the countryside - unsurprisingly, they haven't been back). We worked from the minute we arrived at 8pm Friday night, until we left at 11 on Sunday Morning. Our days started at 6am and finished at 11, and by the end of the weekend she was a bright yellow, empty shell.
The process of stripping her back started off relatively well. The seats were rusted in place with huge bolts that went straight through the floor of the van, but with a bit of brute force, out they came. Our biggest struggle came about when trying to remove the runs that were used to remove seats for wheelchair access. Impossible.
We all had a go, we tried countless different tools, even a genius suggestion from Rachel (vinegar on the bolts to try and dissolve some of the rust). We banged, scraped, pushed, pulled, twisted, threaded screws, still nothing.
Eventually, with a stroke of luck, during one of our tea breaks, we found out that our neighbour is a metal worker, and had a whole shed full of tools (including an angle grinder), which he offered to our cause. With angle grinder in hand, we pulled out the last bit of metal in the back.
In comparison, pulling out all the plastic cladding, wooden flooring, matting in the cab was a doddle. Through this exercise, we found the first of the leaks. The matting in the cab was drenched and the wooden flooring at the back of the van had turned to mulch. (A problem for future Emily & Lloyd.)