VW T25 1981 Campervan rollercoaster back into Germany

Finally our journey begins, not that it really ever stopped just more hurdles than smooth sailing. But that in essence is what life chucks at you, out of your control and just go with the punches. Lifes lesson’s learnt, come out the wiser but also build that resistance that you will never give up.

The Green Machine has been under emergency surgery, replace the heart of the stirling Joker this was supposed to be a clean slate for the girl. Maybe just a test but one thing for sure she’s coming out the other side.

Phone call from the mechanic saying a couple more checks and your good to go to pick her up, on our way down the M25 we head to Woodford to pick the old girl up. All is well and pay another bill, things on the up and we should be back on our way to Europe. Booked a 3 day half board trip in Tirol Austria for some snow boarding & skiing all going well we can cover some ground and make it in time for Wednesday pending our LPG check.

The drive back was one that was tainted with what happened in the Czech Republic being careful with the old girl it was advised part of the warranty was the first 500 miles to not exceed 50mph. Nearly at home few more bends and we are there, never in my lifetime have I been so nervous to drive home so carefully as if she was still so fragile. Well it was a tiny bit smokey and my heart sank a little. Some oil checks and assurances from the mechanic that new engine was getting a coating of oil and it was her first real steps after surgery. Makes sense lets see how it will go heading north in the morning. Rise and shine bright and early its time to hit the highway, check the oil and make our way. Along the M25 then up the M11 we must of been driving for 45 minutes and there’s a smell of smoke similar to what we smelt in Czech Republic, both me and Karen look to each other in what must be horror on our faces. “wind the window down, sure its not pollution, dirty truck driving past? ” I’m pulling over at the services. This is Stanstead area, pulled up in a truck depot and hopped out, smoke out the vents ever so slightly smouldering. If moments in your life where you just run speechless and just can’t comprehend whats happening, this is it! . Pull the number plate flap down and the crank shaft bolt had gone again…..

Telling Karen exactly knowing how she would react, tears of shock would rain down, we are back to square one. What could possibly have caused this? Well long story cut short I will get to that in a minute. Back on the tow truck back to Woodford mechanics and the shock on the mechanics voice when I told him what had happen, amoungst the bewildered looks from the boys at the shop. No one has a clue why.

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So cutting through the bullshit and fast forward abit, the problem was the fan and the housing unit, which were both replaced promptly, it had happened because it was unbalanced. Luckily to us being conscientious and diligent we had pulled over early enough without any severe damage being done. £2000 plus labour to insert engine and there was a few days not knowing how badly effected the engine was. Thorough checks and constant running of the engine and time was required to get this right. Whether this was something that should of been picked up before or simply unlucky, the mechanic even stunned to never come across this issue himself would ensure that we would be back on our way to Europe. And being fair to him with all the work he had done he was not charging us an arm and a leg.

So whilst this carry on being sorted out we are in Austria for some RnR and hit some slopes and drink and just generally forget all the crap that had just happened in the last month. Stunning picturesque mountains old timber traditional housing it all looked like a fairy tale, perhaps Christmas never left tonnes of apres ski bars good times would be had! First meal went down a treat and we all set to start the next day with a bang. On the slopes and getting our grooves back something just wasn’t right with my stomach. So you know your morning hangover shits, your spicy curry follow through the next day or simply the shits. Yip I had the run’s which meant I couldn’t eat didly squat and neither had the energy levels to last full days on the snow. What timing! on the bright side of life at least I got a little time on the slopes each day, but even better as alot of you wouldn’t know that we have a porta potti in the camper. And I can honestly say we have not used it or trying hard not to use it. I’m just glad I didn’t have it whilst in the camper. Its never a quiet business nor is it a pleasant blossom smell. One could only imagine how Karen would of felt had this happen in the camper. So always look on the bright side of life.

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So back in London Sunday and Joker was ready to pick up on the Monday, get the crew ready this time it has to be it, no more set backs and even if there was bring it on cause we are not giving up on the old girl. Too much emotions and sweat gone into her. Run her, drive back and all is well we need to clock miles up so lets drive a little around UK and cover some ground. First point of call was Brighton a day of wandering checking out the Pier arcade, to which 2 penny machines were played and I was hooked, so much fun! Look around the lanes winding around, narrow bending and twisting its way to another secret location it was time for ice cream. To the Kiwi’s it was like a Mr Whippy but way better!, a little walk as the sun set over the ocean back to the camper and we enjoy our ice creams….. So did the seagull!

What an audacious attempt from these massive seagulls swooped in on Karen’s ice cream, yes even of all things the flake wasn’t spared! it was a sad day for Karen. For me however I couldn’t stop laughing and also in shock, this bird took the whole thing and swallowed it whole! I never seen such a greedy little bastard do that, hovering over my ice cream I promptly eat my flake and hoe into my ice cream like there’s no tomorrow. What a day and it was time to head back home and let Joker recoup a little.

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Next stop Lavenham near Ipswich there are the oldest remaining buildings still standing in England, and boy they looked like they were going to fall over, people live in these and fetch top dollar, good ol heritage estates.

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Lunch for the first time back in the camper with the heater on, getting back to the way it should of been. Took a look at the old church and wandered some more it was time to head back, and so Joker starts jerking…. What the hell this time. Turns out the engine was flooded and that we just needed to put the foot down on the pedal and flush fuel through the carboratter to get rid of some fine particles in the filter, this was in turn affecting the idle speed. All sorted and on our way down. I’m no mechanic but you sure pick up alot of information when this sort of stuff happens and learn the inside and outs.

Friday was a day of packing and preparation for departure on Saturday from Dover. We got a final check from the mechanic and done the oil change and replaced the filter just before the 500 miles. Next stop LPG man to check hosing and all connections for gas are leak proof and good to go, a little adjusting of the idle speed for the gas and he set us on our way with out charge. What a good bugger. I had also done some work myself on the exterior of the hard top canopy back corner where it looks to be attempted repaired a while ago. A bit of water proofing and colour match spray paint and it will do the trick ’till we get this fixed properly and resprayed when we comeback.

Day of departure said our goodbyes and it was time, second time to head to Dover and make our way to Brussels and stay the night. Prik and Tik saw us once again and stoked up on Belgian beer and liquor would be rude not too! €71.95 for the photo below, “say whaat! ” yip better bargain than the Warehouse NZ version of TK Maxx.

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Onward towards Frankfurt we had our routine check and checked oil and just keeping an eye out, never be too cautious. Theres abit of a leak, not major just a few drops of oil this running on petrol but as we noticed a little later a little more prominent with LPG. Lets take it into a VW specialist in Germany the home of Joker lets be a little vigilant and make sure everything is ok. I know as well as anyone who owns an old classic vehicle, that oil leaks are just the girl marking her territory. Well the mechanic says it’s not a big deal but is leaking more than it should, we had to make a call and get him to look into it further by getting in there or we move onto Nuremberg where there is a VW specialist who deals with classics who we had been in contact during the debacle in Czech Republic. Rang him up and told him my name ” Ah the Kiwi! Yaah bring it down we will look at it! “

So decision made and we on our way through Wurzburg. Pastries had and these by far topped the pastry list sort of like danish pastry/croissant one filled with cherry coulis and custard oh boy I’m salivating writing this, the other chocolate and custard. This is wine country and some of it is not exported due to its high demand in city and Germany. Onward and we stayed the night at a farm campsite, bliss. Middle of nowhere and the smell of sweet cow shit. Home! It was quiet, beer was had and relaxation after some solid driving was much needed. A chance ensued for some more German beer with a group of another variety I have not yet tasted. I still can’t get over how many different beers are over here, and yes I know Germany as a country is massive but if you ever get the chance to walk into these beer markets you will understand.

Packing up in the middle of nowhere, a few touch ups of spray paint on the hard top and she’s looking primo.

We set off for south of Nuremberg where Boxer Shop VW specialist await us, we arrive to a car yard of classics, an enthusiasts playground. Old school beetles and VW campervans stripped and complete it was quite a sight.

Anyway I will cut to the chase here, the leak I spoke of earlier was basically down to the engine builder not tightening one of the bolts that connect the oil coolant to the motor. Now he says basically the only way is to take the engine out, open her up again… And tighten with enough torque to rectify this. Back together she goes and into the camper. For crying out loud you serious? Oh also these guys are booked out till 1st of May the Air cooled date! Oh super we have a warranty on this engine either a year or 12,000 miles and guess what doesn’t cover Europe only UK… There are things we had to tick off the list, is it the oil filter alone… Nope, is it the oil pressure switch… Nope. Generally the boss man came out and said its not a major issue you just leak a little oil so you have to check it regularly and get it sorted eventually.

Excellent so basically as I call him “Jimbo” from The Engine Shop, he’s adamant it’s not what the mechanics say and all we need to do is put a spanner on the bolt and tighten it, except the Germans are saying you have to get inside to tighten. Conflicting each other we decide to move on to Rothenberg de Tauber to get our travel freak on and forget about this mess for a day.

Rothenberg ob de Tauber what can I say, surrounded by 14th century gothic walls completely encased with such old style German buildings not a single commercialized shop ie Starbucks or Macca’s. This is on the much talked about Romantic road which runs all the way to the south of Germany called Fussen. Full of bakeries and butchers with proper sausages, the weather couldn’t have pulled off a more stunner of a day, this has topped Brugge in my opinion, its really a must see. We tried these balls that apparently are authentic until I asked our German mate Flo and he never heard of them! Ah fooled by the old tourism gimmick. Anyway what are they basically is a big ball of pastry rolled up, flour butter milk and sugar is probably all it is, and its filling. The walls surrounding this town are imposing with towers dotted around that individually served for different purposes. The church called St. Jakobs centered in the middle with a square not far away, being a popular attraction. A small apple juice cart camped in the middle it was a busy spot. There is one tower where hardened criminals were lowered down, given a jug of water and some bread and left to starve and rot there, to this day the bones are still there at the bottom of the pit. One of many shops that’s in abundance are the Christmas market type shops, hand crafted cuckoo clocks with such intricate details. Very cool and always being watched over so no one takes a photo as they worried someone will try to replicate them. Our day is coming to an end here walking back eating our Chilistangen Sausages we jump back into the camper and make our way to Stuttgart where Flo and Josephine await us and also one last mechanic to get an opinion who is known through contacts with our mechanic back in London. We arrive at another VW specialist and you must be thinking crikey all these visits at these mechanics must be costing a bomb, well actually we not been charged yet, whether its pity or they’re just to dam kind. As Boxer boss said its Air cooled service!

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So these guys say exactly the same thing as Boxer boss and they even spoke to him, they basically say Jimbo is an idiot how is it even possible to tighten on the outside…… Wow could we be anymore in the middle, ring Jimbo up and he’s still not agreeing so the mechanics decide it’s best they don’t touch it. Same story, your ok driving around just keep a check on oil. This mechanic was extremely helpful and was good to have a chat to him as he been living in Australia for abit. As for Jimbo we need to settle matters with him, options are we drive back he fixes it as required with our warranty, or we wait later before our 12,000 miles or we agree after our trip is done which will exceed 12,000 miles that he fixes it without charged. As soon as I know I will fill you guys in on this engine fiasco. So on our way to Flo’s apartment outside Stuttgart, it’s time to finish another segment of this blog, I hope you enjoyed the read and feel the journey we ride, its certainly testing but at the same time we are incredibly lucky for the opportunity we have in travelling Europe because not alot of people would commit to doing such a thing. Till next time. Tschüss!

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