While riding in Norway I had a really interesting encounter. I was riding on a great small asphalt road when my rusty-car-sense went off from an (obviously) old rusty truck by the road. I stopped and snapped a picture of it.
Then I noticed the two men that were working on a Mercedes G-Class a little bit further. They’d noticed me as well and started looking at me. Now in Sweden, this kind of thing often gets awkward fast; you’ll get stared at and I just prefer to leave quickly, if only to avoid the awkward social situations. People just don’t tend to like others looking at their property I guess.
“Why are you taking a picture of that thing?” the older one of the two asked (in Norwegian).
“Oh I just like rusty cars, I know it’s a bit strange, maybe.” I replied (in Swedish).
I was putting my camera away and getting ready to go, when they walked up beside me.
“You know, I’ve got some more rusty cars, if you want to take a look?” he said to me.
That was unexpected, so of course I obliged!
The guy started walking me around his property, and I told him how I’ve went on trips specifically to go see old scrap cars in the forest, he replied he’d heard of Båstnäs. He started talking about how the local county had been giving him a hard time, and how he’d had many more before but was forced to take them away to avoid fines.
All of this conversation was happening in a mix of Norwegian and Swedish. My Swedish is not so great, my Norwegian even less so, so while I could pick up the gist of what he said, I had trouble understanding the big lines of the story. Or perhaps he wasn’t a very coherent speaker, it was hard to tell for me. The more questions I asked the more things became clear.
First I thought he was just smalltime scrap dealer, much like what the place in Vaddo I visited must have been. He didn’t seem to be too interested in fixing the trucks and machines, but he liked having them around and told me some stories about them. He seemed a fan of Unimogs, he had about 5 or so of them, even a petrol version and what sounded like 2-wheel drive ones from his description.
What fascinates me about these places is the stories behind these vehicles, and the contrast of how these machines, pinnacles of human technology at their time, are just rotting away in a field or forest. It’s just much more fascinating than an abandoned building to me, I always hope to run into at least remnants of a vehicle when exploring something.
He had a pretty good background on this truck. It was a US Airforce truck used on a base in Greenland during the 60’s (must beSondrestrom Air Base, I think), that was then brought to Norway and put to civil use. It originaly had a petrol engine, but a Scania-Vabis diesel engine was put in later on. That’s why it has the strangely long snout, to acomodate the larger diesel engine. He said it was running when he drove it into it’s final spot a long time ago. The cab on the truckbed in the previous picture was an original spare for this one.
He then took me down to what looked like a crazy chaotic building site, something straight from a videogame or movie. As he explained it, it became more and more clear to me what he was doing and what was going on.
He’d been building this big workshop for almost 30 years, had started the first digging in 1984 (he thought it funny when I remarked I wasn’t even born then). He had dug away all the topsoil to put the foundations on the bedrock, and he was using these huge steel pillars and concrete blocks to put it together.
The workshop would be massive once finished, 30% wider than it is now, with a huge crane in the ceiling. He explained how he wants it to become a sort of Earthship-inspired, naturally insulated building. He also said he hadn’t paid for nearly anything, all of it was given to him; leftovers and castoffs.
The nice, functioning Unimog seen in the previous image, is used to lift and move the concrete blocks for cutting. He uses a concrete saw for it that he was particularly proud of, he showed me how it has diamond coated teeth and that the water tank on the Unimog is used to keep the blade constantly water-cooled.
At the back of the half-finished workshop he had a ton of stuff, including a powdercoating installation. His plan was to make a bit of a business out of that eventually I think.
It was really nice getting some stories and background behind all of it, even though I probably missed a lot of the details due to Norwegian being spoken. I had mentioned a bit what I used to do, and he said something about having given me an insight into a life outside a regular 9-to-5 job.
To some, Lars might seem like a crazy machine-hoarding guy with a dream that’s probably never going to happen, but I can say that after spending a month on the farm (with a project being called similarly crazy by some), I don’t doubt that slowly but surely, anything is possible.
It reminds me of a quote Zeyang had up in his house:
If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.