Wednesday, May 30, 2012

At least it's not just me

Today has been quite a day for vehicles, old and new. And not just mine.

The Quad Bike Saga

My parents' village has quite a nifty scheme. Each year, they divide up an area of a forest on their nearby mountain, and each villager is allocated a plot that they can cut down for firewood. In order to collect his allocation, my Dad uses an old quad bike to tow a trailer up and down the slope.

An old second-hand jobby, but it served the purpose
A couple of months ago it was stolen from his driveway in the night. Since it wasn't registered for road use, neither was it insured and my Dad was gutted. Gut-ted. So it was straight onto some dealers to find a replacement.

To cut a very, very long story short, he eventually found one in Wales at the right price and with the right spec and ordered it for delivery to the house in France. It had been so difficult to source that we had all hopes pinned on it arriving on time and in one piece - and this morning it would be coming, between 11am and midday.

At 9am the phone rang. My Mother answered the phone to a french warehouse worker who started talking about 'problem' and 'broken' and she panicked, calling my french friend out of bed to translate. He told us that when the quad bike had been delivered to the nearby warehouse it had been missing most of its packaging and that they'd therefore struggled to take it off the lorry. The warehouse worker described a box smashing and the tyres being flat and said that:
a) he was unable to load it onto his lorry for delivery and
b) if it was him, he'd refuse to accept the item and have it sent back to its sender.

This was not the news we wanted. My father, generally a solid and reasonable man, was close to tears. We asked to visit the warehouse (only 25 miles away) to see the damage for ourselves, fearing the worst. We imagined the bike having been dropped or having had something dropped on it... we assumed that the tyres would be the least of the problems, that the vehicle could be a complete write-off.

A burst tyre... not the end of the world
Such a relief when we were introduced to the beast! It was all a misunderstanding. The bike had been dispatched on a metal palette which had collapsed, but that was all. One tyre was flat - just one - and there was no other damage. The warehouse worker had misunderstood because he usually only saw brand new bikes shipped in fibre glass boxes, so he was surprised to see this one without. We rolled it off of the broken palette and arranged for a next-day delivery.

The Citroen Graveyard

This is a field that we passed on the way back. It's not quite as sad as it looks - there's a mechanic who owns the field and, although he's probably collected too many, he does work on them and may well refurbish them one-at-a-time to order. But there must have been 80 of them parked up here, in various states of repair.

They're just so ugly, aren't they? And wouldn't they make fantastic campervans?
Back to Cecil

My final visit was to the usual mechanic to check on Cecil, expecting to take him home today. You see, after our disaster en route to Spain, the mechanic diagnosed the following:
- The gasket rocker cover that he'd replaced before I left no longer matched perfectly with the one next to it, which was very slightly distorted. He said that he'd be gluing the two together to straighten them out and that this would finally fix the oil leak.
- The voltage regulator - an easy part to source and fit - was broken by the old alternator, so he would order this for the next day.

If that 5-day-old Bosch alternator is broken, I may hurt someone.
Unfortunately, nothing's ever that simple. The boss was there when I arrived and he started by telling me something I didn't want to hear: "the new alternator is broken". Nooooooooo! After more discussion, he explained that they had fitted the new voltage regulator but that the problem was still present. He promised that tomorrow he would carry out more tests to establish for certain which part was at fault and to form a plan of action. Please, please pray to whatever Gods or spirits you have belief in that my alternator will be OK!

Sod it, whatever the news is tomorrow, I AM going to Barcelona. By plane, by train, hell by walking - I'm going to see Spain. Uuuugh.

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