Roof box

We have a choice of three cars for the journey to Scotland. My preferred choice was to use my company car: the most comfortable for me, the most fuel efficient, and the one I would prefer to put mileage on.

However, even though my company car is a modern Ford Mondeo estate, it is smaller than the main alternative: a Volvo XC90 (a 4×4 soft-roader) – potentially the ideal car for some parts of the Highlands.

All cars have tow-bars and we have two trailers: a small one and, well, a large one.

Space was at a premium because we have two largeish dogs who need plenty of space in the boot to cope with a 8+ hour ride to Scotland.

All the cars have roof bars but only the Volvo has the lateral bars and a roof box (both supplied and fitted by Volvo).

We decided to head for Halfords to get roof-bars for the Ford that could take the Volvo roof box. Normally, we check prices and models online very carefully before buying anything and most often end up buying online. On this occasion, we decided getting something and fitting it quickly was more important than anything else.

30 minutes later, was had a Halfords own-brand roof-bar kit in our hands and were heading back home.

A strange thing happens to me whenever confronted by assembly instructions for kits like this (similarly for furniture). I take one look at the [usually very poor] instructions and the stack of components and lose the will to live. This is weird because clearly I am a very intelligent and capable chap. I spent years in the engineering world solving complex software problems. I put PCs together, do upgrades, and hack a wide-range of systems. So why can I not deal with kit instructions? Maybe it is the RTFM culture I have grown-up in or rather the last-resort: RTFM culture.

Generally with any kind of kit, my wife takes over, works out what has to be done and gives me very simple and clear instructions. I then spot any obvious errors in either her interpretation of the instructions or in the instructions themselves (surprisingly common).

It did not take long to put the kit together. Not as neat as the model-specific bars fitted to the Volvo but something we would be able to use on just about any car in the future.

We knew that the Volvo roof box would fit fine. We had done some careful measuring before buying the roof bars. Getting it there was more problematic.

Even empty, the roof box is pretty heavy and it also also one of the largest models available. However, even with a bad back in the past, I have been able to transfer this from a reasonably high position in the garage to the roof of the Volvo without too much trouble. The top of the Volvo is roughly head height for me which makes a transfer from the box balanced on top of my head relatively easy. The Ford is a lot lower so a trickier manoeuvre back-wise. At the moment though, I have a knee problem rather than a back problem. My wife and children are all vertically challenged. Thus, getting the roof box from garage to car took a lot longer than it should have done given all the logistical challenges. A home movie of this would bring back memories of The Plank.

The box did fit well. It has highly flexible clamps inside that lock onto wide u-bolts that go around the roof bars. Not a perfect fit, but more than good enough. Problem over and the lower height of the Ford meant that my daughters (taller than my wife) found it relatively easy to load it up.

I just wonder if anyone notices the large Volvo badge on the side of the roof-box on top of a Ford Mondeo.

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