A Prestonian Odyssey
Everything is fine 😅
On the 12th January, all was well. I was due to fly up to Edinburgh, collect the van with its shiny new gearbox, drive halfway back to Preston, stay 1 night, and drive home on the Sunday afternoon. Simple! Alas, it was not to be. 🏴
Collecting the van was fine. Got used to the new gearbox (ish), got back to the motorway, headed south. Van was running a little hot, but hey, I'm sure it's fine.
I stopped at some services about 2/3 of the way there for a break, and thought the van was making a bit of a weird noise at idle. Nothing major, sure it is fine, thought nothing of it.
So, I did some service station things, got back in the van, and set off for the final 1.5 hours or so to Preston. Everything was okay, still a little hot (but fine), until it wasn't.
Everything isn't fine 😱
All of a sudden, the van started stuttering as I was driving, if I put my foot down it would REV, then stop, then REV, then stop (you get the idea) but if I just gave it a teeny weeny bit of power I could continue. Right. So. Into the inside lane, teeny weeny bit of power, get to the next exit. I got to the next exit, got off, first exit on the motorway, figured it was quite quiet and I would pull over. I did so, and thought I would just turn the engine off and on again to solve the problem. Shocking face: it did not in actual fact solve the problem.
I phoned Russel and sent him some beautiful photos of my engine, as above. Unfortunately they did not really help, so I called the AA.
Before I continue, I should say that previously I have had very positive experiences of the AA, they have solved the problems quickly and efficiently with no issues. 👍
I am here to... wiggle your engine?
In this case that was definitely not the case. As I was near the motorway, they sent "priority service" which was one of their approved partners rather than one of their own patrol vans. When the guy eventually turned up, he was on a big old recovery truck but I figured he would still have a look. He got out of his big old recovery truck and stared at the engine. He even wiggled some pipes while I started it up a few times. Then he told me he was not sure what the issue was, I would have to be recovered, and he had no tools so he could not investigate further. By this point the van would not even start.
Yes, you read that right, the AA sent a man with no tools to a breakdown. I have lodged a complaint 😎
After all this drama, I am finally recovered to Preston, getting to my friends house at about 11PM and then rolling the van around the corner with the help of a neighbour so it was out of the way.
Mechanics on-call 📞
The next morning rolled around and we had a fun mission. Find an on-call mechanic who will come out on a Sunday afternoon to look at the van. We found one, they came and had a look, said it must be the plugs and coil packs, which is expensive but easy, and that they could have the parts first thing tomorrow (Monday). Easy peasy problem solved.
Cue Monday morning - the mechanics could not get the parts until Tuesday morning 😥 so I am stuck in Preston for another whole day! So on this day I got the train down to London for work and back again 🚆 which was not the most fun but still got some work done!
Cue Tuesday morning - the mechanics could get the parts 🎉 and they turned up, fitted them, and got the van running again. Hooray! As they were leaving they told me I should probably change my fuel filter as the pump was quite noisy. This was the same noise that I had noticed on that service station on the way down, but the van was running well now so it was probably nothing.
I did have a fuel filter, but I had no tools, so I went to the excellent Carford Garage in Preston who changed over the fuel filter for me before I headed off back down south.
The long journey home
Having had the on-call mechanics get the van running and the garage change my fuel filter, I finally headed back south. Got about 3 hours out of 3 and a half and all of a sudden the van is stuttering again, running really hot again, and does not seem well at all. I get it home, but the next morning I posted this:
Luckily, some people talked some sense into me, I spoke to my good friends at CampervanCulture.com and got a new fuel pump on the way. Since the fuel pump was still really noisy it was a fairly cheap and easy shout, so I ordered one before I lost all hope.
I changed it over, but the pump was still really noisy. Which means the issue must have been the tank or the fuel itself. When I took the pipe off from the tank to the pump, a mere dribble came out. Barely anything! And there were a good 5 litres in the tank!
At last, some good news!
Having discovered this, I was actually happy as a lack of fuel to the engine would account for both the stuttering when driving and the extra heat from the engine for running too lean. This was a few days ago, with only just over a week til I leave the country, so I needed professional help (some would say in more ways than one...)
I took it to the LEGENDS at Robertson Resto's over near Leighton Buzzard. Phoned them Monday night, dropped the van off Tuesday morning. By Tuesday lunchtime they had confirmed the fuel tank was absolutely full of sand and dirt and really really blocked. By the end of Tuesday they had a new tank on order and by the end of Wednesday it was all fitted and sorted out. By the end of Thursday (also today, as I am writing this) they got an MOT done and have the van ready to collect.
Seriously, in 3 days they have solved every single issue that I was having with no fuss at all at really short notice. Cannot recommend enough!
And the rest as they say, didn't happen yet so I have no idea. But it will be history.
- I probably didn't even need plugs and coils, the fuel tank was probably just temporarily proper blocked.
- The AA are getting a complaint from me for sending a guy with no tools but a recovery truck to a breakdown when my policy had breakdown cover but not recovery 🤷♂️
- The van is FINALLY ready to go. Woo! 🎉