December update

Yet more dodgy garages…

I decided to get the coolant changed as I’d used K seal thinking it might help if there were minor head gasket problems. As it happened the K seal did absolutely nothing but at least I tried. When I was getting the coolant changed at Molyneuxs in Barrow the mechanic there spotted a gouge in one of the hoses. He said it looked at though it had touched something hot and melted a furrow into the rubber. I also noticed as he worked, smearing grease all over the front of my van from his overalls, that the radiator was loose. The brand new one I just got fitted in Germany! There’s 2 mounts to hold it to the top crossbar and one was completely missing while the rubber bush on the other was destroyed. So much for German efficiency eh?
Anyway we could not fathom how the gouge got there and I could not fathom how he’d spotted it, but I got a new one from Guy Perry in Barrow along with 2 new radiator mounts. I could not get the bolts for the mounts as they were only sold in packs of 5 and 10 apparently so 4 bolts would cost me over £50 lol.
The mechanic also spotted that the accessory belt was ‘shiny and should not be’. So I also got a new belt from EK in Barrow and guess what? It’s shiny in the exact same way the existing one is. Hmmm.

The main thing was the coolant was drained (right onto the tarmac of the car park) although they didn’t flush it and that was what I’d gone for. I’d not go back to that garage again, they’re unprofessional and their charge for dumping the coolant and putting new stuff in was over £70.  Also I don’t think I needed a new accessory belt at all. I think they’re simply touting for work.

Next stop the Midlands at Best Turbos. The point here was to get the turbo assessed by specialists to eliminate it as a problem. They did their diagnostic and after a few hours determined that the turbo was absolutely fine but the EGR needed blanking as they felt that was causing a problem. He’d used a 2p piece to blank it off and so the clip could not fit properly around the pipes. *Sigh* Are there ANY professional garages at all!?

Some jobs to do
Some jobs to do

Wales and putty

Anyway from Ulverston to Walsall the van got 28 miles per gallon. First time in ages it’s done that. I had disabled the battery to battery charger til I got new fuses for it so I wondered if that had a bearing. From Walsall to Cardiff I got the same mileage again so I was ecstatic. Sadly the next day I drove an hour to get to Ridds Ramps in Aberdare and I was right back to 21 mpg. Grr. I bought some Steel Seal as it is supposed to be the very best product for minor head gasket problems which I was beginning to think I might have. 
So the underseal went OK. Cheap at £95 but I only got what I paid for, it’s not the most professional job ever. No worries, for that price I got what I expected and at least it helps. The last MOT mentioned corrosion as an advisory so it was worth doing. The lads at Ridds Ramps couldn’t have been nicer but they need to sort out their customer area. Currently it’s an old greasy leather sofa which is right at the entrance to the unit. When a car drove in I instinctively put my foot out to ward it off as it was so close. Still the job was done and that’s the main thing.

I found a motor factor place in Aberdare too and he had the exact exhaust extension I needed and at a brilliant price of £8.25! The skirt on the offside is corroded partly due to the brand new exhaust not being long enough to clear the underside edge of the van. I’ll get this fitted later on.

While I was there I went to put the new radiator hose on but it had these odd clips that I could not get off. I found a random garage who said they’d take it off and put the new one on for a tenner. I put the Steel Seal in though and wonder of wonders, I found that it reduced the smoke from the exhaust considerable. I’ve no idea what that means except there must have been some slight leak and that has now been fixed. 1 small step closer to getting sorted? 
I popped to the garage to get the new hose on and he agreed the old one had not melted, partly because there simply is nothing whatsoever near it that could possibly have melted it.  Once it was off it was very clear it was not a melt mark but a cut. I found another hose with a similar mark on and after a comment from someone online, I agree it looks for all the world like chew marks of a rodent!

Now at the garage this guy Rob, he was draining the coolant out and used an old washing up bowl to collect it. I liked that for a start as the other garage had simply dumped it in the car park. He chatted to me as he worked and it turns out he knows these engines inside out! He showed me where the engine temp sensor fits and a couple of other things I didn’t know but he surprised me the most when he picked the bowl of coolant up and smelled it and said it had Kseal in. He could not possibly have known that, he said he could smell it as it smelled like putty. I liked this guy, for one here was a mechanic who was uninterested in diagnostic codes, but knew engines. He told me the EGR system was likely to be my main problem and these engines are renowned as reliable and efficient. Anyway, hose changed, tons of info given, and we agreed when I came back in spring I’d pay him to sort the engine out whatever was needed. 

Cantering to Canterbury

Damaged water hose
Damaged water hose

He’d lifted my spirits so much I decided to book a ferry! Last minute through the Caravan and Motorhome Club but despite being christmas eve-eve it was only £105 for me and Jack. I found

a garage in Canterbury near the ferry port who would sell me the bolts for the radiator mounts for only £4. Better than Guy Perry’s. I also got more coolant, some oil, and a few other things while there. I had noticed by now that for some reason I had 25 amp fuses in the battery to battery charger. It puts 50 amps out so no wonder the fuses were melting! Technically they should have just blown though, otherwise they could have started a fire. 

The oil filter is so tight it feels like it was put on by the Tory party, so I got a chain filter wrench in Halfords for a fiver, and got a few new fuses for the battery to battery charger. The biggest standard spade type fuses they had were 40 amps so that will have to do for now until I make some 50 amp ones.

While here I went to Asda and also managed to find some 00 grade flour for making pasta. Good find! Boxing day will be home made tagliatelli with creamy mushroom and bacon sauce, a delicious recipe courtesy of my Italian friend. 

Last stop Dover to get the van washed and wait for the ferry. I’m a little bit excited!



Talacre, North Wales

I’ve been knocking around North Wales for a little bit, and I knew from a post in a motorhome forum there was an abandoned lighthouse just sitting on a beach, starting to lean a little as it sinks into the sand. 

So I set off looking for it and managed to get some OK weather to take a few shots of it. 

The beach was amazing so I decided to wander around there for a while, jack was particularly loving the high dunes to explore in, and the flat expanse of beach to run around on.

I took a handful of pictures but felt like I’d want to come back another time with different weather and take some more. 

Here’s a few to give you a flavour. 


Picture 1 of 8

A woman braves high winds, rain squalls and low tempartures to walk her dogs on Talacre beach, North Wales.

Snowdon summit

A view of a steep cliff on Snowdon
View from Snowdon

I found this amazing view on the way up Snowdon today. I’ve long wanted to climb Snowdon but due to being  a life-long smoker and the way my legs are with sitting for a living, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever do it.

This view is of the Pyg and Miner’s tracks as they converge, looking east from the Llanberis path. This section is a sheer drop and probably one of the biggest I’ve ever seen.

Picture from summit of Snowdon
Snowdon summit

This is a view from the summit. I actually can’t believe I got here! You can see all the way south to Harlech, and north to Anglesey. This is a major achievement for me and I must do it again!

The only way I managed it was by walking as much as I could and stopping for a rest. But by the halfway point I was knackered. Sometimes I wasn’t going more than 50 yards before stopping again, then resting for 2-3 minutes before starting up. It took a long time to get there but I am so pleased I’ve done it. I climbed Ben Nevis way back in 1995 or something so this is the second highest peak in the UK conquered now.

Oh…and my legs are not aching at all!


Yawn … satellite not working

Picture of colourfully painted shops in Llanberis

Well I’m having a fantastic time here in Llanberis, it’s a shame that the rig isn’t. It failed to connect yet again and Nick is now not answering his phone most times I call. Barry Lieberman still calls, to ask for his £70 a month connectivity fee.

Thank God for the Vodafone USB modem! It was supposed to be a backup but it’s my main form of communication with the internet and work now!
So much for Ethnet ‘guaranteeing’ to make things work. The fact that they won’t answer the phone anymore kind of says they’ve given up on it.

Anyway, this is a view of Llanberis high street, including the fabulous Pete’s Eats. If you’re hungry this is the place to go: real tasty food at reasonable prices. It get’s crowded in the season but well worth the wait. I can also recommend the Chinese takeaway across the road 🙂