Unpredictability - Good for your health

Our modern life is based on organising an environment free from the unexpected. The house needs to be as stable and reliable as possible. The job as safe as possible. Nothing should break down. Nothing but what we predict, should occur.
This is the life of the zoo animal. Let's explore the life of the Nomad. Let's live the life of the Nomad.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Extreme Weather

March was the second coldest March since records were taken 100 years ago and I spent it in an old and rusty Ford Transit van.  I was working for a big security firm in Hertfordshire and my park up was on a site that, if it was warmer, would have been very busy.  In this site you could go fishing, play with radio controlled cars, risk your life on an elevated assault course or buy some soil and flowers from a garden centre.  It was completely deserted and mine was the only camper van on the camping site.

This was probably the most spectacular site I had camped on and if I had any critique to offer it would have to be the distance between the camping pitch and the shower block.  The shower block itself was superb but it was quite a trek on a freezing cold and frosty morning.  The shower block was so far away the camp site owner had placed lighting beacons to guide a groggy camper up the hill.

Just follow those lights.

And here is the view from the shower block looking back down to the camp site.

And for the big kids who whose fantasy is the Formula 1 racing circuit.

Thankfully there was a toilet block a lot closer on the camping site itself.

The Ford Transit van is a fine vehicle but it is not at its best when the temperature is hovering below freezing point.  The mean temperature for this month was a mere 2.2 degrees centigrade so it was well below zero at the start of the day and at the end of the day - and these were the two times of the day I would insert the key and hope the van's engine would spark into life.  It always did.  Confusingly I would experience a starting problem when the engine was still warm.  One morning I stopped to fill the tank with petrol at a busy filling station.  After paying the clerk I returned to the van and switched the ignition but it wouldn't start.  This was a predicament and there was a queue of impatient cars lined up behind me waiting for their fill.  Every time I tried to kick the engine into life I could hear the battery lowering on power.  As I sat there in a van that wouldn't start on a cold and grey morning I could feel my enthusiasm for this project ebbing away.  There was not much I could do.  I had a battery starter pack I could use once the battery was completely dead.  I could ask the clerk to help me push the van out of the way.  I could call the break down service.  I could make one last attempt at starting the engine.  And yes on this last attempt when the battery was close to dead - the engine did spin over and it combusted into life.  And I drove it to the office.

The van tested my nomadic patience on one particular week.  Some folks say there is a series of three and I certainly had three mechanical issues to deal with in that one week in March.  The first issue was an ear-piercing screeching howl that would come from the engine bay at times of acceleration.  It seemed to be worse in the rain and a bit of research on the internet suggested this was most likely a fan belt issue.  I purchased a new one from a motor factors and removed the old one for examination.  As can be seen it was a damaged belt with several teeth missing.  I was lucky this hadn't snapped while I was on the motorway.

I was able to attach the new belt onto the pulley system and this resolved the howling problem.  The next problem was a crunching sound whenever I applied the brake.  So the brake pads had worn down, and a warning light should have warned me about this before it became metal against metal.  Thankfully there was a an ATS Euromaster midway between the camp site and the office.  They had to order some parts for the back braking system so the work was carried out over two days.  I would drive the van to the workshop then order a cab to the office.  Then a cab to the workshop and the van to the camp site.  Immediately after the braking system was fixed the end section of the exhaust pipe broke.  So for a third time in the week it was back to the workshop.

Thankfully now the van is in good order and once again I am able to keep it rolling on the road with some confidence.  I do think a replacement will not be too far away - sorry about that old van.

Peace to All


  1. Great to read another post or two from you - it's been a while. Congratulations on your new van, it looks very nice indeed!

    1. Thank you for your nice comment. March was quite a hurdle to get through and I really was not in much of a mood to write. Hopefully some warm weather is not too far away.