Friday, May 25, 2012

A post with a happy ending

I think we're all bored with "my campervan's broken" by now... well it's not any more!

Waiting for attention
What happened this time?

You'll remember that before I went to Belgium I discovered a nasty oil leak at the back of the bus, which prompted me to take it into a local garage in France rather than drive any further. Well, after a couple of days, the mechanic came back with news:

Good - the oil leak was not a serious problem and he could fix it manually.
Bad - the oil had leaked all over the alternator and broken it, so it needed replacing (groan).

I stopped in the garage for a chat and he said he may be able to source a reconditioned alternator for around 300 Euros. Woah there! VW Heritage in the UK have a brand new unit in stock for £119. So he agreed to let me buy it.

The WiFi wasn't working that afternoon, so I did the old-fashioned thing and telephoned the supplier. We had a quick conversation in which I described my bus and the operator assured me that he had the exact part there for only £104. Bonus! I paid over the phone. The next question was regarding postage - their standard service to the South of France was £48. I declined this and instead asked them to print out a label for Parcels Please, who would collect it from their warehouse and deliver it to me for only £17.50. I'm afraid this did confuse them a bit, but they got to grips with it in the end.

Unfortunately this meant another week's wait, so I relaxed again and painted some more yoghurt pots.

My Mum can sell them at the Poppy Fayre
Did it go smoothly for once?

The next week, my parcel was delivered and I tore it open, delighted to see a real life alternator inside. My Dad got his car out and we buzzed down to the garage to present our wares. "Non", said the mechanic. My bus was already in the air with its alternator removed and it was clearly different. We were baffled... if this was the correct alternator, then was my bus in fact fitted with some bizarre non-standard engine?

The bit that was causing all the trouble
I sloped home and got online to check it out. It didn't take long to work out that the problem was simple: VW Heritage had sent me the wrong part. Again. Although I really have to give them their dues - the next day they admitted their mistake and agreed to rush a replacement alternator out by Express service within 24 hours. And so I repackaged the incorrect part, waited at home and did the swap when the courier arrived (apparently following a long lunch).

That was on Wednesday. And today, I'm delighted to share that everything is done. The bus is back with me, shiny and healthy and raring to go.

What next?

Here I come, Barcelona! Monday is a bank holiday in France (yes, again) so I'll make my escape on Sunday when they're all busy drinking wine. Barcelona should be reachable in about 6 hours and it's one of the European cities I'm most excited to visit. Vroooommmm...

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