The storm rumbled on through the night with huge rain drops constantly pelting Vin our motorhome. The dink of rain on the tin roof combined the low hum of delivery trucks was never ending. By 7pm, it was a relief to get up but at the same time, I was shattered. A quick wash before we commence our search for a garage.
We drove over to KPS autos, a camper repair centre. Within seconds we were back in Vin, KPS only do body work. We headed back to the Esso garage and went around the back. A small independent garage but nope, they were fully booked and not interested. We searched the internet and found a Mercedes dealer in Sortland. We phoned them and thankfully, they were supportive and understanding. They told us to head back to Kabelvag (the Viking place) and see the garage at the side of the church.
We carefully made our way to Kabelvag and found the garage. Extremely helpful but busy. They asked us to pull over and they will run a diagnostic as soon as they can. Half an our later and Vin was having a full ECG. The young lad spoke great English and his sleek monobrow only added to his constant perplexed look. He pushed all the buttons, checked all the codes but Vin was not playing ball. Vin refused to show his faults. The diagnostic tool was only for cars and not for commercial vehicles or motorhomes, so they suggested we head over to Sortland…the dealer we phoned earlier.
I went to settle the bill whilst Craig phoned Sortland. Kabelvag Autos were so nice and said no charge because they couldn’t help despite their efforts and time. How nice is that! Craig managed to speak to the same chap at Sortland and he said yes, drive over as soon as possible.
We headed out of Svolvaer, driving on to the wet, baron and windswept roads. Craig drove Vin slowly but steady and it seemed fine. When you have an unidentified fault you never know the best course of action and every mile you travel seems an epic journey. Our slow pace for several hundred kilometres had me nodding like a dog. You know the chin tupping chest and head jerk moments. Followed by the pathetic cheesy grins pretending I am fully alert and fully functional. Yeah right!
We have now left the Lofoten Islands and arrived on the Vesterålen Islands. Not far from us is the most northerly launch pad for rockets and balloons. Chances of seeing any in this weather is pretty remote. Instead we settled for beautiful unspoilt and rarely visited fjords. The mountain slopes varied from dense green forest to bare and wild rock. We weaved through the valleys passing the deep gullies and gushing waterfalls. The snow capped mountains are dwindling with the summer weather and sadly, the snow will soon be gone.
As we arrive in Sortland we spotted the Hurtigruten ship. Excited to finally see one of the infamous ships that cruise along what has been named the worlds most beautiful voyage. In 1893, the coastal maps of Norway were pretty poor but despite the odds they started the coastal express from Trondheim to Hammerfest and ever since the service has been a life line for hundreds of people along the route.
We arrived at the Mercedes Dealer and wait for the diagnostics team. The service manager Roar speaks great English and comes across very professional. Within a few minutes a young girl arrives and plugs Vin up. The machine beeps repeatedly and we have no idea if that is good or bad. We both gawk at the girl in eagerness for her diagnosis. Eventually, Craig cant wait no longer…any idea whats the matter? She engages in conversation and starts with “my English is not good” and 5 minutes later “its that bastard there”. We were helpless laughing.
Whilst we wait we check our mail and find an email from ACSI Camping Card asking us to complete a short survey. We oblige (and tell them their postal delivery times are terrible) and register for a chance to win a Campingaz Xcelerate 400sg BBQ with 2 grills! If you’ve purchased an ASCI card and fancy taking part in the survey then click here!
For the next hour or so there was a lot of action in the sense or talking and looking at the diagnostics. Eventually, it emerges that we have a temperature sensor upstream of the turbocharger failed and the diesel particulate filter, differential precision sensor. The pressure sensor is easy to fix but the temperature one is more difficult due to its location. Craig tootles off with Roar, the manager.
I start to research on the iPad and the next minute, the young girl is driving Vin up the ramp and hoisting him in the air with me inside. She smiles and gives me the thumbs up. I hold on tight with Mac n Tosh and sit still so as to not rock Vin. Sitting in a 5 ton motorhome 10ft in the air is rather a nerve racking experience! With limited view I take a turtle neck look around and see lots of tool and spanners and not many people. I hope they don’t leave me for long. Oh shit. All the shutter doors are closed and the only visible contact with the outside world is through a few tiny slithers of low ground windows on the shutter doors. It dawns on me, Craig does not know where I am. Oh heck, he is going to panic. Next minute I look down and through the small shutter window, I see two red Van shoes scurrying by. Oh Craig is searching for me? How can I tell him I am up here? Hardly shout “coooeeee” from up here? Oh no, this is so wrong, why me? Next minute the two red feet scurrying back the other way this time a little faster. Like something out of Benny Hill the red feet scurry passed the window several times in frantic search. Eventually, he spots Vin and comes in to the workshop. I stand up and wave “coooeeee”. Craig looks with a wtf smile followed by an instant ‘hey you are there’ face. Then he acts all calm and collected…little does he know I saw his little tootsies running around in panic missing his little baby…shush don’t tell him I told you.
Eventually, I am lowered to safety and Mac n Tosh uncross their legs. Now for the best bit…they cant repair it! After 2 hours of head scratching the garage need at least a full day to repair the two sensors. The temperature sensor is in the middle of the engine and so they have to disassemble half the engine and exhaust in order to fix. They have the one of the parts but not the time. This week they are full booked and next week is their main holiday. Roar does us proud though. He calls around several of his colleagues and dealers and gets us booked in at Harstad. The soonest they can do is Monday and they are a few hours drive away but it is better than waiting a couple of weeks. We thank Roar and his team and set off.
On the way Craig tells me that Roar said driving in this part of Norway is different. They only have small country lanes and no long, fast roads. This combined with the temperature means it causes unusual conditions for vehicles. As you only drive slower it means the engine never gets hot enough to be burn off the build up, so add this to the cold temperature means it can screw up your temperature sensor and build up diesel bits. Yesterday, when we went in to the long under the sea tunnel it was damn cold plus pollution, could this have been the trigger, who knows? The advice they give, is drive your vehicle hard and change down gears especially when climbing hills, so it gets warm and keeps warm. They also dont have the temperature sensor in Norway! A note to anyone thinking of coming to this neck of the woods…drive your vehicle hard.
We drive towards Harstad and pull over on a small piece on land over looking the fjord. It is very beautiful and peaceful. Its nearly 7pm and we’ve not eaten all day. We rustle up some food, fajitas are simple. Then it dawns on me…oh shit, how the heck do I get to the airport? Too tired to think, a problem to sort tomorrow!
Our wild camping spot tonight, no idea where but it is pretty with plenty trees and looks like a good home for bears, bugs and bogie men. Locked up and alarm on!
GPS position N068.651219 and E015.863841
Route: Svolvaer to somewhere on the way to Harsted
Weather: Low 13 and high 15, mainly wet and grey.