Poio, Pontevedra and another good garage

Paulo had also told me about an aire in Poio which he said was very nice. I decided to give it a try and sure enough it’s by a park and right by the beach of a lovely bay. I noticed as I drove in that on the main road is a huge fruit and vegetable market and a garage so once I was settled I walked back up to speak to them. 

The Peugeot garage had said £1300 to repair! Apparently their recommended cat is £1000, although they also allow a warranty on another one which only costs £500 lol There is an aftermarket one that Euro carparts do for £180 but I can’t get one out here.

So, using Google translate on my phone and a lot of waving of hands etc I asked the bloke in the garage if he could weld the broken joint in the cat. He immediately said yes and we arranged for me to come in after work the next day. A lot of Spanish businesses have lunch between 1pm and 3pm but then work until as late as 8 and 9pm at night. I’ve ordered that stuff from Amazon but I would prefer a permanent weld of course. 

Jack, chasing squirrels...*sigh*...at least it was a grey one.
Jack, chasing squirrels…*sigh*…at least it was a grey one.

He also, without a word of English managed to make me understand that if I walked around the park and crossed to the far side of the bay, there was a beautiful walk along the bay culminating in a great wide open scene. I spotted the path he was talking about and decided if the weather stayed good I would indeed try that route.

So next day I went in and he didn’t book me in, didn’t take my keys and say we’ll ring you, just pointed at the other cars inside and indicated that I wait lol It was almost 45 minutes later that he had me drive it in and they began the weld. They did it quickly and it looked like a good job and he charged me €60 so I was content with that. 

Annoyingly my Monzo card would not work to pay him. I got out my Nationwide bank debit card but that didn’t work either. This happened at the toll booths when I first got to Spain and I remembered that my Tesco credit card was the only one that worked. So I gave him that and that didn’t work either. Grrr. In fact out of 7 debit and credit and Mastercard cards not one single one worked. I managed to find the €60 in cash but it meant paying him partly in change from my purse that I keep for launderettes and parking etc.

When I phoned the bank later they said the card was probably faulty but as 7 were declined I suspected it was more to do with the charging system. I suppose that’s a reminder to always have some real cash on you no matter what. 

The garage is labelled as Talleres Rosil and can be found at Casalvito, Poio, Pontevedra, Spain, 42.438129, -8.695677. 

Anyway the van seemed to be fine so I went back to the aire and then walked up to the fruit and veg shop and went mad in there lol Oddly, their reader took my Monzo card fine.

Where I stayed: Poio Area de Autocaravans, Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain, 36995, N42.438383, W-8.693519, free parking with fresh water and toilet dump.

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Every tunnel has light at the end

So Paulo who replied to a post on a Spanish motorhome forum turned out to be a great help. His mother is Irish so his English was very good. It also turns out that he is part of a management group for motorhome aires in Galicia. Not only that but his boyhood friend is Daniel, who happens to manage a Peugeot dealer in Pontevedra. 🙂

So off I went to visit Daniel who quickly established that the water pump had indeed gone but to replace it meant a whole new timing belt and kit. That’s actually fair enough, most non-dealer garages would recommend this too. Amazingly they booked it in for the next day and had the whole thing done in 3 hours flat. He showed me the damaged pump, it’s 14 years old and had simply worn out.
What I liked was that I already had an auxiliary belt that I was going to fit anyway and I also had a whole set of plates that protect the engine and timing gear, and they fitted those parts for me. I’d bought them after having the engine refurbished as at some stage of the engine coming out and going back in the top one had been cracked and broken. The timing belt was totally exposed to the open and in fact there were other problems with the engine going back in such as a damaged EGR cooler and downpipe, damaged fuel filter and a variety of other things. Chris Ritchie in Barrow is a decent mechanic but I think he simply took on a job that was too big for him.

Anyway, I’m very happy with the job the garage did and the overall price was a reasonable amount, less than I’d pay in the UK just for a timing belt. they’re at A Carballeira, 57, 36143 Salcedo, Pontevedra, Spain, and this is their website
I went back the next day to get a rocker cover gasket because I now think that’s the source of the oil leak. I also ordered 2 more FibreFix tapes. I was most impressed that I’d got this far thanks to the FibreFix bandage and the GunGum over the top. But FibreFix do a proper bandage designed for high heat applications so I ordered 2 of them from Amazon and some fire cement. I’ll pick them up at the weekend from the post office in Pontevedra. That should make a semi permanent repair to the split on the catalytic converter pipe.

 

Where I stayed: Pontevedra, Pontevedra, Spain. N42.43302, W-8.6356. Free toilet dump and fresh water, 72 hours max stay per month.

 

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Arcade, Spain and aires

I’d never heard of Arcade in Spain and only came here as I found a parking place for motorhomes in an app I use called Search For Sites. SFS as most of us call it is a website and app put together by the motorhome community. One man runs the site and has commissioned the app, but what it does it allow everyone to contribute to it by adding sites both paid and free where motorhomes can park, reviewing them and uploading photos of the ‘aires’ as they’re commonly known and maybe things of interest around it. 

Aire is simply French for area and in France there are very many areas especially in small communities set up for motorhomes to visit. Most have fresh water, some allow disposal of toilet waste and some also have electricity available. Aires can be aires de repos which might simply be a parking place on a motorway for a rest, or an aire de service which has any of the range of services mentioned.

They’re numerous in France but also in Germany where they’re called Stelplatz, Italy where they’re called Sostas and most other European countries. In Spain they’re also known as aires and they’re often managed by the local mayor, or a community organisation, or the city or even by a group of motorhome enthusiasts. Most communities recognise that if you offer a place to park with sometimes basic services you will get a steady stream of people visiting even out of season, and those people will spend money of course. Unlike the UK where local councils wish to monetise everything with unrealistically high prices much of the rest of Europe see free or very low cost aires as an excellent way to bring people into towns and cities for very little cost.

looking back to town from the prom
looking back to town from the prom

Anyway, I found the aire which is like many, one end of a public car park and is right on the promenade of an estuary. There’s a pitch where locals play a game very similar to petanque, a kids play park, a skateboard area and a harbour wall where the fishermen keep their boats. There’s an oyster festival annually in Spring and Arcade is famed for it’s oysters. Many of the cafes and restaurants sell shellfish and other sea foods although shellfish leave me cold and my love of seafood is limited to fresh crab and some fish. 

Arcade itself is quite a run down town. Everywhere you look there is waste land, empty and derelict buildings, places for rent and for sale and businesses that have closed down. Clearly it’s suffering economically although there is always plenty of people about and the shops that are open seem to do well. 

However, like most places, if you wander around enough you can find nice things. The beach is tiny, but nice enough and me and Jack loved playing on it many a time. There was only one day when it did not rain in Arcade, but we always managed a half hour at least on the beach. There’s also a lovely walk along the estuary which was very popular with locals too, so we enjoyed that many times. There’s a brand new launderette and a couple of garages but although one of them could easily have taken the camper, when I asked them to do the exhaust they said no. Oh well. 

Where I stayed: Arcade Aire de Autocaravanas, Pontevedra, Spain, 36690. N42.33944, W-8.61333. Toilet dump and fresh water.

Here’s a few shots I took while in Arcade. 

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Radiator brackets fitted

One of the new radiator brackets
One of the new radiator brackets

When I was at Molyneuxs I noticed the lad was leaning against the front of the van and the radiator was moving quite a lot. When I had a closer look there was a metal bracket with a rubber bush inside holding it to the upper cross member. The rubber as barely staying inside the bracket, it was clearly old and worn out. 
I found a please on the other side where a second bracket should have been, but there was nothing there.

That surprised me as the radiator was replaced brand new at Brotzner Automobile after it sprung a leak in Austria. So given that they charged me a whopping €427 for a new radiator you’d think they would have put a couple of new brackets on eh? Especially as they were only I think £4 each from Guy Perry Peugeot dealer in Barrow. 
Interestingly the brackets were a few £’s but the 2 bolts each bracket needed only came in packs of 5 and 10, so would have cost me nearly £60 or so. Even more oddly a random Peugeot dealer in Canterbury sold me the 4 bolts separate for about 60p each the week after. Hmmm. 

Anyway, they’re on now so that’s one more job done.

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Arcade, Pontevedra

Well I left Santiago for 2 main reasons. Firstly I could not find a garage that could do my van, and secondly because I am heartily sick of the non stop rain!

So I got to a little place called Arcade near Pontevedra. It’s a nice enough little town although quite run down with empty and derelict shops and houses. It’s got everything I need, but the main street is a little depressing.

Gungum
Gungum

At least the exhaust bandage held til I got here that FibreFix is a lifesaver. However on the first fine day we had without rain -which was a full week after I got here- I jacked the van up to find that the bandage was drying out and starting to crumble. I’ve got some gun gum so I used that to smear all over the exposed parts of the bandage. Gun Gum is pretty good gear so I am hoping it’s enough to seal the bandage properly until I get the cat replaced. 

Sadly that’s been difficult so far. I checked for garages around this area and could find none that would take a 3.5 ton van. I even visited 2 but they said no. (Thanks Google translate!) I also joined an ex pats forum online and put a shout out in there to ask for help. I was very surprised and quite disappointed when the only replies I got were “learn the language”, “find a translator and pay them to help you” and “Do a google search for mecanicos”. I was so disheartened by this and I spoke to the group owner and expressed my sadness that there was virtually no interest in helping me out. I left the group, so much for friendly, helpful Brits eh?

More bad news. 
After slathering the bandage with Gun gum I started the engine to heat it up and noticed quite a lot of dripping from the front. It turns out the water pump is leaking! *sigh* I would definitely say this van has been a pig on a poke for me, it’s cost me an awful lot of money from day one and being ripped off by garages, even the dealer I always used in the early days means I’ve probably spent more fixing it than I did buying it in the first place. I doubt I’ll ever own another Peugeot again, or indeed an Elddis as the van has had a massive amount of problems as well as the engine. 

I have found one truck garage and emailed them so hopefully even if they can’t speak English they can read the email (Google translated into Spanish) and reply. Most garages don’t reply to emails though but it’s not far so I can pop over there with stuff written down in advance.
However this evening I got a PM from a friend who is near Malaga right now. She is a member of a Spanish motorhome forum and had asked for help in there for me. A guy called Paulo who speaks good English and lives about 5 miles from where I am agreed to help so we spoke on the phone and he is going to check garages out for me. So at least there’s 2 potential solutions. A very positive result given the negativity so far.

 

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Update from Santiago

The weather hasn’t been very good since I got here, so apart from walking the dog and getting my bearings I’ve not really walked anywhere. It’s about 40 minutes into the old town from here and because the rain is on and off I decided to leave it for now. I’ve got tons of photography work to be going on with especially due to managing the change of not using Lightroom and moving over to other software. *groan* 

Broken exhaust
Broken exhaust

Anyway, I looked under the van to find out what’s going on with the exhaust and spotted that there was a clean break in the front part of it. It’s where the front pipe connects to the catalytic converter and the weld has just completely sheared, almost as if it’s been cut.

I wondered if it had as years ago I heard of people cutting cats off cars because they were worth so much money, but it feels as though the break is quite rough and although I can see clean metal most of it is dirty so nothing suggests that it has been cut with anything and thinking back it’s been a while since the van was last left long enough for anyone to do it. Also by the look of it there’s not tons of gas marks, so I suspect it hasn’t been broken long. One thought was I wondered if this could be the culprit for my excessive fuel consumption but again due to lack of gas marks which suggest a long term leak I doubt this has been a real problem. I suppose it’s worth finding out though if a faulty cat can cause other problems?

Anyway I was thinking of what I might be able to repair it with. The break is clean so I can’t use gungum, which may be too flimsy anyway as it’s more of a sealant than an adhesive. Exhaust bandages aren’t much good in my experience and I don’t have one anyway, but I found something I’d bought ages ago to try out called Fiberfix. It’s some kind of tape that you activate in water and then wrap around whatever and it apparently seals hard enough to be able to be used to fix garden fork handles! It actually states it can also be used for exhausts so I tried it out. 

Bandaged exhaust
Bandaged exhaust

They were right too, after 5 seconds in water I started wrapping it around the joint and I could feel it curing n my hand. I was forced to use pliers to get the plastic core loose as when I got to the end it was sticking so strongly that I could not tear it free with my fingers. Bloody amazing stuff. 

I checked it next morning and it appears to be as hard as steel. Whether it’ll be enough to seal the gases in and hold the two parts together when driving is another question. As you can see it’s not the neatest job in the world, the very end is curled over somewhat and that’s where it was curing as I worked so I could not flatten down the last half inch. As I said it was curing in my hand as I worked so from opening the packet to it curing in my hand I’d say it cured in about 3-4 minutes. To the touch it is very hard and at least it looks as though I’ve managed to get enough overlap of each segment of pipe. 

I ran the engine for well over an hour and for the first time in ages my exhaust smelled *bleachy*. That’s a dead giveaway that the cat is working now, so I know it hasn’t been for some time as the exhaust has smelled awful for weeks. It’s still running and although there was quite a bit of smoke in the first 20 minutes, that seems to have disappeared now, so I;m hoping that was burn-off from the cat. This Fiberfix is a minor miracle! Although I still need a garage to sort it out properly.
Cat’s aren’t stupid money anymore now though, I’ve seen them anywhere from £60 to £160 and this one is the original from 2004 when I bought the van so if that’s what’s needed then so be it. Now it just remains to find an English speaking garage near Santiago…

 

Where I stayed: Sports complex car park aire, Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Galicia, Spain, 15707. N42.87627, W-8.53082 No services. 

 

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