We Are Definately Not Playing Around !!

It was a good decision not to have contacted the RAC to tell them that we were ‘fixed’ and back ‘On The Road’, after thinking we were fixed in Morocco and then breaking down 68 miles up the road, I had decided to wait to make sure everything was as it should be, but it obviously wasn’t !! I had tried to ring the garage but they had already gone on ‘Siesta’ so that was that for two hours. I made the call to the RAC Breakdown once again and explained what had happened. I told them that the engine would still ‘tick over‘ so I could be towed rather than them getting out ‘Monster Truck‘ again, they said that they would pass that information on to their Spanish counterparts. Shortly afterwards I received a text message informing me that a recovery truck would be with me within an hour. I didn’t know how much more I was going to be able to take of this, I can ‘generally‘ just get on and deal with things but this had now been six days from when it had all started, having to  deal with it ourselves whilst in Morocco the best we could, then the stress and worry of whether we would get to the ferry port, and now this ! It just seemed to be one thing after another. The stress, worry, tiredness and frustration was now beginning to take its toll on the ‘both’ of us, but I could now begin to feel ‘anger‘ building inside of me as well, that was not a good thing because, whilst I have a great deal of patience once I reach my endurance limitation then I would just blow, but I knew that if I started to get annoyed and shout, it would do more harm than good in our current situation. Of course my other concern was that the cost of repairs was already running at £1,582 (Morocco & Spain) and, if the problem was faulty fuel Injectors, how much more was this going to cost and how much longer were we going to be stuck waiting for them to be ordered, received and installed ? The other bit of annoyance was with myself, if I hadn’t of rushed them to get it ready to go before their ‘Siesta‘ they would have probably ‘road tested‘ it themselves and then when it broke down they would have had to recover it themselves !! We tried to console ourselves by admiring our view whilst trying to ignore the buffeting from the slip streams of the passing traffic, hurtling past us at breakneck speeds.

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The allotted time for our ‘recovery’ came and went, we gave it another half an hour and then re-phoned the RAC again, they told us that they would again contact their Spanish colleagues to get an update. A number of ‘Assistancia‘ trucks passed us, obviously not looking for us though, and then suddenly, on the opposite carriageway we saw again our ‘Knight in Shining HGV‘, yes it was the same truck and he gave a throaty blast on his horn as he passed to let us know he was coming to our rescue. There were two of them in the truck, it was the same two who had come to our rescue the first time, they smiled sympathetically but then had us ‘loaded’ on the back of ‘Monster Truck’ in no time, Shazza and I were permitted to remain in ‘Big Momma’, high up on the trailer and what fantastic views we had.

Looking out of Big Mommas windshield on the back of Monster Truck !!

Looking out of Big Mommas windshield on the back of Monster Truck !!

Shazza trying to put on a brave face for the camera !!

Shazza trying to put on a brave face for the camera !!

Just sit back and let someone else take the strain !!

Just sit back and let someone else take the strain !!

They were waiting for us at the garage, the RAC had forewarned them of what had happened and ‘Pepe’, the ‘mechanic’ and the garage owner got ‘Big Momma’ straight back into the garage and on to the diagnostics machine. Now I know that I am not ‘Technically’ or ‘Mechanically’ astute but that doesn’t stop me from thinking about things, things like how an engine works and what it needs to work. Whilst I don’t want to ‘offend’ any mechanics who read my ramblings but it would seem that today’s breed rely on a piece of electronic wizardry to identify the problem, then they are trained to repair that problem. In the ‘Old Days’, you would take your vehicle to a garage, give them the information on what had happened and then they would conduct their own ‘manual diagnostics‘, tinkering with the electrics, or mechanics, until they diagnosed the cause of the problem, then they set about fixing it. On my first visit to this garage I had told them that the ‘Amber‘ engine symbol had lit up followed by the ‘Red‘ oil light with a message that said “Insufficient OIL pressure” but their diagnostics device had only mentioned ‘leaking pressure from one or more fuel injectors‘.

The RAC rang to confirm that we had been ‘recovered‘ and were at the garage. Whilst we had been waiting for the recovery truck we whiled away some of the time reading our ‘Breakdown Cover Policy Booklet‘, we discovered that the RAC would cover the cost of Hotel Accommodation, as well as the cost of a taxi from the garage to the Hotel and back again when the vehicle was repaired. We told them that we could no longer stay in the Motorhome in the workshop due to the practicalities (Toilet & Grey Waste) and they said that they would arrange Hotel Accommodation for us (Which they paid for) and arrange a taxi to collect us (Which they again paid for). I told ‘Pepe’ that the RAC would stay in contact with him but confirmed that he still had my mobile number in case he needed to speak directly with me.

The taxi arrived and whisked us away, if their was one disappointment it was that the Hotel was a taxi ride distance from the town, it wasn’t on a bus route and was too far to walk. However, we arrived at the rather ‘plush‘ looking exclusive Golf Resort of ‘Valle Romano‘. The staff on reception confirmed our booking, Room, Bed & Breakfast and although they didn’t have a Restaurant, hotel guests used the facilities at the ‘Club House’. We had in reality been expecting a very cheap hotel with basic facilities, we wouldn’t have minded as long as it was comfortable and had hot running water. What we didn’t expect was a ‘Studio Apartment’ with a very large balcony with fantastic views.

Our Apartment !

Our Apartment !

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Kitchen with Cooker, Microwave, Fridge/Freezer, Dishwasher, Washing Machine and Coffee Machine !!

Kitchen with Cooker, Microwave, Fridge/Freezer, Dishwasher, Washing Machine and Coffee Machine !!

Shower Room

Shower Room

Main Bathroom

Main Bathroom

Bedroom 2

Bedroom 2

Bedroom 1

Bedroom 1

View of Balcony

View of Balcony

Balcony View 2

Balcony View 2

Now I guess that any sympathy that you may have been feeling for us and our predicament has just rapidly disappeared, but remember that we had not come prepared to live in this kind of luxury, we had just literally thrown a few clothes into an overnight bag, no sunbathing gear to make the most of it, neither did we know just how long we would be here for, perhaps only the one night !!

as I have a few ‘Golfing’ friends, here are some photo’s, taken from the balcony just to whet your Apetite for your ‘Summer Break’ later this year !!

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Now of course, had we have known that we were coming here we would have packed our ‘Rupert Bear‘ chequered pantaloons, our ‘Cashmere‘ sweaters, Flat Caps and our ‘Bag of Sticks‘ but as we hadn’t then “We definitely were not playing around !!” But we did make use of the ‘19th Hole‘ !!

We spent a second day and night in the Apartment, however, at just after 7pm, I received a telephone call from ‘Pepe’ telling me that ‘Big Momma’ was fixed, had been ‘road tested’ and would be ready to go at 9:00am in the morning. Although ‘Pepe’ spoke reasonable English he couldn’t explain what the problem had been, I would have to wait until I got to the garage to find this out. I informed the RAC of the phone call and requested them to arrange for a taxi to collect us at 08:30am.

When we arrived at the garage ‘Big Momma’ was still in the workshop and thoughtfully, because I had forgotten to mention it when we left to go to the Hotel, they had plugged in the Electrics so that the food in the Fridge/Freezer would not spoil and have to be disposed of. ‘Pepe’ told me that the problem was that water had also got into the ‘Oil’, they had changed the Oil and Filter and road tested the van for 15km and then ran diagnostics again, he assured me that everything was now okay but ‘his‘ boss had insisted that before taking the vehicle away he wanted me to ‘road test‘ it with him sitting alongside. Presumably so that if it did go ‘Pete Tong‘ he could phone his own people to recover us, I guess his garage reputation was also at stake here or perhaps he was worried that he would lose the highly valuable ‘FIAT’ approval for his garage if I complained directly to FIAT !! We drove for a good half an hour, uphill, downhill, on dual carriageway, where I could get up speed and overtake, and ‘Big Momma’ responded appropriately, she was back to ‘full health’ !! I was obviously very pleased but there was a nagging frustration that said, ‘if only they had listened to me and checked the Oil the first time around‘. Back at the garage I was relieved of a further €350 which brought the total cost of the repairs, including those undertaken in Morocco, to a whopping £1,582.13 !!

We drove away and I think we could both be forgiven for still being a little apprehensive, we had driven 68 miles in Morocco before it broke down again, so I wasn’t going to relax until we had driven much further !! You may recall than on our way down to Algeciras on our way to the ferry, we needed to top up with LPG but couldn’t find the service station on the co-ordinates that we had. Whilst over in Agadir we met another ‘British’ Motorhomer who confirmed that there was a ‘Repsol’ service station at ‘Los Barrios’ that did have ‘Auto Gas’ and he had given us the correct co-ordinates. So that was our first stop, it was only 38 miles from Estepona and we found the service station very easily, we were quite surprised to find that we still hadn’t used even one of our two bottles and only needed 16 Litres. fortunately the LPG pump was at the same place as the ‘Fuel’ pumps so we topped up with Diesel as well. For those that do the price comparison thing we paid €0.59 litre (£0.48p) for the LPG and €1.13 litre (£0.92p) for the Diesel.

‘Big Momma’ had performed superbly during this shortish journey but we were not allowing ourselves to relax just yet. Our next destination was a further 60 miles drive and this would test the van as their were plenty of nice long stretches on this lovely surfaced Dual-Carriageway, with lots of steep uphill ascents. We were headed for the Campsite at ‘Conil de la Frontera’, on the West Coast of Spain just South of Cadiz, this was the one we had originally planned to come to, so that we could clean out the ‘Fresh and Waste Water Tanks’, and the pipe work and taps, after the Moroccan trip.

This is where 'Big Momma' belongs, not stood in a garage workshop and now we are back to normality and can continue our 'Great Adventure'

This is where ‘Big Momma’ belongs, not stood in a garage workshop and now we are back to normality and can continue with our ‘Great Adventure’

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39 Responses to We Are Definately Not Playing Around !!

  1. Steve & Lys says:

    Phew !!!!
    Thank goodness that’s all over and fingers crossed ,done with !
    My heart goes out to you , what a nightmare , great to see th e sun shining for you , let’s hope it does that for the next few months .
    We get back to France for our first ( of three and a house sit job ) Workaway job on 9 the March two/ three weeks work , a couple of weeks bimbling about then another few weeks work then tryyy and sort out a meet up with N&C at their Summer job !!
    Enjoy your time over the next few months , are you long haul ferrying or driving North for a short ferry ??
    S&L xxxx ………so relieved its all sorted :0-

    • Hi Steve, yes glad that is all behind us but I guess these things are going to happen, contaminated fuel, breakdowns, gas burners, fridges, cookers, heaters etc. much like living in a house really, stuff needs maintaining, repairing or replacing from time to time 😉 What it has shown us is that it is ‘essential’ to have part of budget assigned to ‘Maintenance’ !! We are returning via Santander, allows us more time over here before going back to ‘work’ 😪😪

  2. Baxterbus says:

    I may never get to go to Morocco now!! think on you were my advert for the ease and safety :). Seriously though really happy its all sorted and hope you can look back and smile in the near future – it is one hell of a tale!!

    • What I can say is that the ‘Contaminated Fuel’ issue can happen anywhere. My daughter told me that there was a recent issue at ‘TESCO’, A Motorhomer from Italy told me they have same issues and recommends only using ‘Shell’ and ‘Pepe’ told me that it is not uncommon in Spain !! Soooooooo ! Take away the fuel issue, did the rest appeal ? We got back without being stoned as well !!!! At least I can now feast on all the ‘unused’ anti-stoning fodder we purchased 😄 We won’t go back, but their are people who have been going every year for the past 9-10 years !! Obviously with vehicles they have converted to run on water 😂😂😂😂

      • Baxterbus says:

        haha – yes it appeals. To be honest think it appeals for a few weeks just to experience it and not long enough to need fuel! Happy adventures now without dramas – most of your followers have nerves shot to shreds, we need some peaceful blog news 🙂

        • There are plenty of Shell and Total service stations, I used Afriquia several times without any problems. I think it is the holding tanks that leak water and their is no way of knowing until…………….?
          As for more peaceful blogs, I will do my best to oblige 😄

  3. anteater says:

    Now, why am I thinking that there is still more trouble to come??? If so, you will have had it and be out the other side, but we don’t know that at this point do we??? I am very pleased that at this point in the blog all is going well anyway! Enjoy!

    • What on earth have you got in store for me now 😬 Do you know something I don’t ? 😄 You just like my blog suspense better than those suspense novels you are reading…….ha ha 😂😂

  4. pjgwiltshire says:

    Fantastic, try and chill. Good job you did,t try ‘Dry January’ I doubt you would have mad it. Look forward to future postings. Only 10 weeks to go until we set off for our year break and after reading this saga best I put a fair bit away for such horrid luck.

    • I have always promoted the need to have some sort of ‘Maintenance Budget’. This incident was just sheer bad luck, another fuel stop and we possibly wouldn’t have had all this expense. However, read other blogs, burst tyres, new wiper blades, new Fridges, etc. etc. of course, minor expenditure could be compensated from within your ‘other’ budget pots but what if ……. ? However, the majority of the time you have no problems whatsoever, you just have to take these things in your stride, deal with them and move on 👍 Enjoy your travels 😄

  5. So pleased you’ve got it sorted. We were both keeping our fingers crossed for you and Shazza. Well done!

    • Thanks for that, have to confess that this ‘tested our metal’, not the initial issue but the ‘snowball’ effect but now it’s a good conversation piece 😄 Enjoy Greece, I see that you are moving to warmer climes, if it’s any consolation, it’s getting very cold at night over here in the coming week !! Good luck with the book, will try now to find time to catch up with all the blogs that have had to take a back seat 😉

  6. Sean says:

    Hi Eric
    Not sure you will remember me I did alarms for people you used to work for.
    We have planned to get our boat to Portugal next June.
    I had a similar problem on the boat . We filled up with dubious diesel / water in Amsterdam . It’s a long story which involved changing fuel filters at sea. I thought I had cured it however it came back!
    Ok ….. If I am not mistaken the fuel pick up does not go to the bottom if the fuel tank. Water being heavier than diesel will sit at the bottom of the tank, until you go over rough terrain or it gets sloshed around due to bendy roads etc .
    If I were you I would keep a close eye on your fuel filter as it also acts as a waster trap. If you know how try and remove it and inspect what you pour out of it. If you have a drain on the tank drain off some diesel and inspect it.
    I really hope you have sorted it now but if you can ask the garage if they have changed the filter again it might be worth it.
    Hope all goes ok for you. I can assure you the problem is worse when at sea and little wind blowing you onto shallow depths !!!
    Kind regards
    Sean

    • Hi Shaun, yes I do remember you, moreso the conversation we had about your boat 😄 Have left the garage now but yes they did change the fuel filter again, they showed me it !! Enjoy your boat trip to Portugal 👍

  7. Sean says:

    Hi Eric
    I forgot to say that I now sample any fuel that I put in my tank, I bought a Racor funnel this will filter down to 130 ish microns and will soon show any probs
    I usually filter the first 5 litres if ok then I just fill up as normal as it takes so long using the filter.
    I bought it from ASAP supplies (UK) about £25 but worth it for peace of mind. Not had a prob since but I change the filters twice a year just in case.
    Hope this help for future

    Kind regards

    Sean

  8. smurfinguk says:

    Glad you’re finally sorted. Though it all sounded horrendous, at least it’s done. It would probably have cost a lot more in Britain. Get Shazza smiling again. Stay safe and keep blogging😃

  9. Ste T says:

    Well done to both of you for keeping your tempers in check! A perfect example to any of us of where life throws a curve ball when we least expect it. Glad everything seems to be ship shape again. A few days R&R will get you both back in the groove. Bon route!

    • Thanks Steve 😄 Certainly a week from hell but in this lifestyle you have to try and deal with things. I have to praise the RAC European Breakdown people, they really were fantastic, we didn’t feel stranded once they were involved and they organised everything !! Could certainly do with some uneventful weeks now before we return to the mayhem.

      How is everything back at home with you and your folks ? I hope things are okay 👍

  10. PaulH says:

    So glad you seem to be sorted, as Sean said, keep an eye on your filter, you could still have a little water in the tank. Having spent my fair share of hours on the side of the road at various times, the worst was with a blown engine in France, I can sympathise with you, it’s really not pleasant. Just remember, it’s all character building and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger eh? !! Take care, and enjoy the sun : )

    • 😄 Thanks Paul. Although I wouldn’t want to go through this again, well not for a while at least, these things as you say are all experiences. I don’t think we will be 100% confident until we put a few more miles on the clock, we have put some more Diesel and Injector treatment into the fuel so we will just have to keep our fingers crossed that the garage, at the second attempt, did everything right !!

  11. Dave Cutting says:

    Hi Eric & Shazza. So glad that you have got this sorted out now. Safe travels for the rest of your trip.

    Take care,

    Janice & Dave.

  12. ian reeves says:

    A suggestion. When you full up use a 5 litre clear container with a Record funnel. This way you can see any diesel and water separate in the container. If the first 5 litres are okay fill up your tank as normal and pour the original 5 litres when you have time. Five extra minutes could maybe save this happening again.

  13. Debs says:

    I am glad that it is al sorted now and your both ok….. enjoy the sunshine and chill out 🙂

    • Hi Debs, yes a bit of a torrid time, however, it is a pleasant sunny afternoon here in Conil, just been for a 8km walk and now enjoying a spit of cheese and wine back at he van sat outside in sun chairs, life is now getting back to some kind of normality 😄

  14. Cathy Heaton says:

    Crikey, how stressful that was for you both! Glad it’s all sorted. Couldn’t help notice the bath in your apartment! That’s one thing I have actually missed whilst full timing (especially when laden with a cold) – trust you both enjoyed a much earned soak with loads of bubbles! ;o) xx ps we’re still several weeks behind with our blog (how do you manage to keep bang up to date?!) Skiing in the French Alps at the mo – so much snow! Just had a great week out here in Megeve with our friends from home. Switzerland beckons, then Germany for the Dethleffs factory tour (and for some jobs on Aurora), Belgium then back to the UK for a bit before returning to France for our Summer job (and so the cycle begins again – yay!) love to you both xx

    • Hi you two, really enjoyed reading your last blog, brought back nice memories of Puerta Gelves and Seville 😄 Really enjoyed the photos and account of Granada, got to do that at some point 👍 As for the blog, I don’t keep notes so everything is in my head, I tend to write things up at the end of each day, the numerous photo’s help to jog my memory as well. Then it’s a matter of deciding when to publish, depends on where we have been and what we have done, been lots happening just recently so lots to write about !!! As for the ‘Incident’, it was more the fact that it just went on and on that started to wear us down, however, a nice few days on a Campsite at Conil has brought us both back to a nice place in our state of minds 😄 You really seem to be enjoying yourselves, it’s a good life really isn’t it 😄 We are now in our last 30 days before returning to UK 😪 But, we like you we have something to look forward to, another Winter in the sun 😎 Take care, look forward to having another catch up !!

  15. Pete and Shirley says:

    Hi Eric and Shazza
    You may not remember us we had xmas lunch together last year (2013) at Albufeira. Been reading all your blogs since we met, we are also at conil de la fronterra saying at camping Roche before moving on to albufeira on 11th Feb. Hope all your troubles are now over, keep up the good work with your blogs. Even though we are caravanners we love to hear about the places you visit.
    Pete and Shirley (ex Swindonians)

    • Well hello, yes we certainly do remember you, well there were only the six of us sat at our table, wasn’t it you that had double helpings of Yorkshire Puds and Roast Spuds 😂😂 Only joking !! What a coincidence that you are just down the road !! We are leaving in the morning to go back to Estepona otherwise we could have arranged to meet up in Conil for a drink. Really good to hear from you, we have 30 days left before we get our ferry from Santander so staying at Estepona at an ASCI site we have found for a week, then heading for Seville before making our way steadily back North. Trust you are both keeping well 👍

  16. chris Jones says:

    Just read this .glad you have it fixed ( should have read it before the post on 365) I think you should get a in line ( glass) water filter trap fitted if you haven’t got one on the bottom of your fuel filter.
    was there a mention of any repair to a pt/injection pump .
    Nice your up and running again

    chris

  17. John Morgan says:

    Hi you two,
    Just caught up with your last few blogs… what a time you guys have had and I’m pleased that its now confined to history, good stuff for the blog though mate…. Nothing much happening at the office and I’m still not missing your jokes… Just looking forward to a week off skiing on 22nd February, we are off to Levi in Finland and are hoping that the Northern Lights will come out and play while we’re there. I’ll let you know how we get on.
    Take care
    John

  18. Alf says:

    Pleased to read that all is ok now,even better sleep night’s for the pair of you’s, enjoy the rest of your travels,Regards alfandm

  19. Thomas Hope says:

    Thank goodness for that, happy travels from now on 👍

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