The pedants will point out that there will be one more, but this was our last journey with Brian. We had planned to go into Glasgow on Wednesday, opting to drive to the station in Ayr and then catch a train. Brian started puffing smoke (he never smoked normally except on a cold start or if offered a fine cigar) at idle every time we stopped. At the station we popped the bonnet and heard coolant fizzing. A quick inspection after it had cooled a bit revealed rather brown coolant. We Googled local garages and found one nearby, suspecting head gasket failure. The very helpful Ian at Ian Lamberton Autocare advised our chances of a quick repair where limited as it was a local holiday on the coming Friday and Monday but that he had had a lot of success using K-Seal as a temporary repair (though it was by no means guaranteed and he certainly didn’t buy their claims it made a permanent repair).
Within 20 minutes he had got a bottle delivered and put in. Initial signs were good but only time would tell. He offered to check it over again the following day if we wanted before we headed off. We decided we would just take our chances, pack up and head south, initially to Darlington and then re-assess the situation, but if recovery became necessary we would go for my parents at Chichester as we would have to pay the ferry fare for recovery to the Island. We headed off, and things looked better, but then I caught sight of a little steam from the exhaust and the temperature gauge shot up, followed instantly be the temperature warning light. On the approach to a major roundabout. No choice but to drive on and find the nearest pull-in, a conveniently located Dobbies garden centre.
The coolant was boiling, the phone call to Gem Breakdown was made. Their initial response was that our vehicle was too big, but I had the terms and conditions of the policy which stated that we were covered, and after a few minutes the operator called back and apologised, assuring us we were covered. A nice chap from Kerr & Smith came and picked us up. After nearly falling over when we said where we were going “Chichester” “Where’s that?” “Erm…south coast of England…” “Ah….Can’t get there within my driver’s hours.” A phone call sorted a relay from Penrith and off we set with Brian on the back. Sniff. At Kendal we transferred to the most bizarre recovery vehicle I have ever seen (and we have been recovered a fair few times over the years!). We were put onto/into (Brian and us respectively) a Ford F350 truck – a kind of super-beefy American double cab pickup with a V10 engine powered from 2 giant LPG tanks on the back, with Brian on a Spec lift. This meant his prop shaft had to be removed first, relying on the receiving garage or owner re-attaching it at the other end! We were chauffeured down the M6 by the highly talkative (by his own admission) Roger. He had some interesting tales to tell, but did eventually stop long enough to allow some dozing. We dropped Brian off at a garage dad uses and we were offloaded at my parents house. At my age I don’t think I’m still supposed to roll in at 5am and wake them up but….. Sorry guys.
The next day, no the same day, I trundled round to the garage. “I have an LDV Convoy campervan with a suspect head gasket” “Scrap it”. Not a great start. I tried to illicit likely costs as the value of the van was greater than a normal van due to the camper fitments. Guarded responses suggested at least £300, but much more if the head was damaged and/or their was an underlying problem causing the failure. I know the head gasket has already been done in fairly recent history which doesn’t bode well for a cheap option at this point. Actual cost could only be found by dismantling. They also would have to get a recovery firm to get Brian in from the road outside, again at more cost. Added to this we had to consider the diesel leak we discovered in Forfar, the oil leak we already knew about onto the clutch (works ok just now but…) and the increasingly dire sounding noises from the back end AND the hole in the exhaust which has recently got serious. Taking into account all this, and the fact that Brian is rusty in, ahem, one or two places underneath we felt we had little option but to end the ride.
I’ve spent the last couple of days dismantling all the work I have done over the last 6 months. It has been a sad process. Ironically the saddest part was removing cup hooks. We have peppered the interior with white hooks, holding everything from knitting bags to oven gloves. Each was positioned to meet a specific need, exactly where WE wanted them. I could have left them and avoided the pain, but I am more tight than sentimental!
So, we now have a load of campervan equipment and no campervan. Watch this space? Not sure. We’d like to do it again (with a newer van), but need to go and shake the piggy bank.