Saturday, 27 March 2010

Drive Through Hardware

Yesterday we bought the wood for framing out the guest bedroom and bathroom. This was more exciting than it should have been, for a number of reasons.

Because we were buying so much materiaux, we took the trailer to BricoDepôt at Dissay. BricoDepôt is possibly the cheapest of the larger hardware shops, and is designed to be used by people who know what they are after - usually "spec-builders" (as we call them in Australia) - people who build homes speculatively to sell, i.e small scale professional builders.

BricoDepôt's shop at Dissay
One of the features of BricoDepôt (and one we haven't tried before) is the drive through section for buying what is called "bati" - proper building stuff like lumber, bags of cement, insulation, bricks, cement mixers, scaffolding, and 1001 other big butch things. The idea is that you drive through, loading your car/van/trailer, and then pay at the end once you are done.

The drive through section.
We needed 30 pieces of wood, 3 metres long, and 63mm x 75mm profile. This we found without problem (it would be embarrassing to have to "do a blockie") and started loading the trailer. All of a sudden it seemed like an awful lot more wood than I had bargained for.

Taken from this angle, it is obvious...
Once we had paid for the wood and a couple of bags of insulation at the drive through cashiers we left for home. Immediately a problem became obvious.

Because we had so much weight on the trailer, and because so much of that weight was behind the trailer's axle, at any speed greater than about 50kmh the trailer developed a "death wobble" which caused the car to fishtail. This is not a good thing at the best of times (am trying to figure out what those times could possibly be...) but on a rainy day on a road used by speeding semi-trailers it was positively scary.

I pulled off to the side of the road and moved the load forward slightly, which improved matters, but not enough for us to progress much further. We pulled over to the side of the road again and started ringing people for help. Jill walked down to Stéphane's house to see if he could come and collect us (he wasn't in) and Nicole and Alex were busy and not answering their phone. Added to this, Susan's phone ran out of credit half way through a call, and we were feeling pretty low. Then Nicole rang back and said she would bring their big trailer.

Just as Nicole said she would come and help, I noticed a tractor approaching at normal very slow agricultural machinery pace. I could tuck in behind him, then it wouldn't be me holding up the traffic - what a great wheeze! We rang Nicole and told her we were mobile at 45kmh.

He must have been wondering why we didn't
overtake when we had the opportunity.
We followed the tractor to the outskirts of Châtellerault, and of course, once in town we were almost capable of the speed limit. We kept on driving (at one stage tucking in behind a cyclist as another excuse for not driving fast) until our path crossed with Nicole's.

After trans-shipping a greater part of the load we proceeded home in convoy. Thanks to Nicole we had the wood undercover before a serious storm hit - if that had happened while we were sitting by the side of the road we would have been REALLY miserable.

So there you go - an exciting day, but not one I would care to repeat.

Simon

I have marked our epic drive here.

16 comments:

Jean said...

International rescue to the rescue again, eh ??!!

chm said...

Instead of exciting day I read exacting day. Was I right?

Word verification is ismeterm. Does that mean that exacting was right?

Bengt said...

Hmm.
Quite a ride. Glad that u survived. But isn´t Bricomarché closer? What are the 63 by 75 posts for? Bathroom roof or floor?

Simon said...

Nicole as Thunderbird 2. I will have to think about that...

chm. yup. your term works just as well. There are so many "ex" words that apply!

Bengt: Bricomarche is closer, but a lot more expensive. The Chevrons only cost €4.80 each. The wood is for the bedroom and bathroom walls - we're adding strength.

WOW said...

Why is it those projects always look so much easier on paper?

Sandy

Tim said...

You shoulda gotta 2CV Simon... I've had that much lumber in the red one... put in through the roof!
You should see it with 4.8 metre lengths [tied to the roof crobar and to the front bumper.

Thunerbirds 2.... I like the idea of getting Alex to repaint the B'lingo green with a yellow stripe round the middle and a big 2 on the front.... there are great similarities with the original! Just needs a bit of flattening out and the bonnet and windscreen aligning... [As if he hasn't got enough to do!!]

I love the idea of tucking in behind a slow moving object and pretending you are part of the convoy.... nice one. I must remember that one.

Also having seen the difference in the size of the trailers it has helped me decide on the size we need!

Tim said...

Sorry, lost me esses... that should have read "tied to the roof crossbar and to the front bumper.

Nicole said...

F A B Virgil!

Nicole said...

FAB Virgil!

Susan said...

Tim: we have French driving licences, so our trailer is the biggest we are allowed without having to do a towing qualification for the extra category on the licence. It's the one thing that doesn't get transferred when you exchange your British licence.

Carolyn said...

Didn't you think of getting Celestine a roof rack? I think she'd look lovely with a load of lumber on top.

Simon said...

Carolyn - all part of the plan, but I would be too jittery taking Célestine through the drive through - and with her turning circle it would be 9 point turns on every corner!

(You can see by my response that I have thought seriously about it - but next time I think we will hire a van from SuperU)

Tim said...

Thanks for that Susan... one MORE thing to think about as we put "stuff" into boxes. One more reason to re-register the 2CVs... mind you, my approach is only usable in fine, dry and sunny weather... looking at the clouds in the last picture I would have cried-off!! I don't have a dry-suit. Mind you... it probably means that the plants I left behind are getting well watered!?!?

Susan said...

Tim: It's been good plant watering rain for a few days.

Andres said...

Isn't that just the dinkiest little trailer? Be kind of embarrasing in Oz.

Susan said...

Andres: :-) It's by no means the smallest trailer you will see around here, and it's foreshortened by the angle of the photo. It's 1.5m long, and the wood is 3m.