Saturday, 8 February 2014

Boring Stuff That No One Gives A Stuff About, Except Me

7th February 2014 22:57 (Foreign time ... about five centuries ago ... it feels like). This is the blog of the Mohomoho. This is a bitsa blog, bits of this bits of that. I’ll try and keep it light but sometimes, you just have to vent.

A few weeks back, the water pump went pear shaped, we had to source a new one from a marine supplier (after I’d fannied around dismantling it to see if I could see anything obviously wrong with it). It took two days to find the guy that ran the shop where I eventually sourced the replacement, and to find the shop open.
To be fair to him he was a marine engineer so he probably had other things to do. It was an aggravation, walking two and bit miles into town, and two and a bit miles back, to find his shop closed (well not closed, just minus any occupants with whom one could communicate).

This is the funny bit (though it’s funny flabbergasted not funny ha ha); up from Ramones, the Chandlers and Marine supplies shop in Alcossebres marina is a flashier newer marine engineering shop, that also does Seadoo hire, fishing trips etc ... at best they may take some of Ramones consumable business because their premises are tidy, but Ramones Steptoe’s yard of a shop is where the power is. The new shop was open but didn’t have what we wanted, and he lady manager said we would only find it in Barcelona (at that point a minimum of 300miles north), leaving me potentially with more pluming of the internet. It would actually be easier to order it from the UK and wait for delivery. It was at the moment when my cogs started working, because we were already waiting for our new bed toppers, and I’d done my research online, that the lady in the new marine shop said `oh you may find one in Ramones’. I wondered where Ramones was (thinking how many miles away is that?) ... she pointed to a cafe bar down the street and said past ‘Cheers’ a bar fifty metres from where I was standing.

So I discovered that if our water pump failed the only places I could get one were: Barcelona 300 miles away, or another marine engineering shop 50metres away. I also discovered that I could buy one next day delivery from the UK (as long as I was willing to pay the carriage) but the marine supplier I was talking to couldn’t order one, or if she did it would take a week to arrive. My gast was flabbered.

Ramone had a pump under a pile of crap and waste cardboard from a previous delivery. The pump was a max 3.5 bar unit, and our water heater was a max 3.5 bar unit. This presented a problem, because the max on the heater is the upper test limit for failure and cut out, which meant that the pump was potentially capable of popping the seals on the water heater in normal use. Two quick phone calls later, one to Propex the water heater manufacturer and one to Flojet the pump manufacturer (both in the UK), and we discovered that the pumps working pressure is 2.5 Bar and the heater (as above max 3.5 bar). So as long as we had a good run of pipe between the water tank, pump and water heater (a pull then push system of water delivery), and that there were some curves in the pipe to create friction within the pipe then we wouldn’t have any issues. Water has flowed well ever since.

We had an issue with the seal around the top of the water tanks inspection and cleaning point. I rectified it with the judicious use of a glue I bought to stick up the mohos bathroom mirror. It’s a form of super glue, that sets hard or soft depending on how thick you lay it. I needed a flexible seal, so laid it on thick. I left the original seal in place and just created a secondary seal. I also made sure that all the screws that fix the inspection cover were well gummed up. It worked a treat, and now we are water tight again.

I’ve worried about gas and running out if since we arrived. Our 7kg Calorgas bottle is about halfway through its supply, and will run out before we get back to the UK. In and of itself it’s not a big issue, because Spain runs on bottled gas. The problem is the way they connect their bottles and regulators. We have a Gaslow system, this uses a single regulator with multiple interchangeable heads and adaptors for both types of British cylinder and the ubiquitous Camping Gaz (technically a third type, but not quite). Meaning we have three ways to connect to gas ... however there are upwards of fifteen different types of gas connector across Europe. Only Camping Gaz connects universally, but Camping Gaz only comes in 3kg bottles.

Further to the adaptor issue, comes the physical size of the Spanish bottles (both Repsol and Cepsa) they are very tall and won’t fit in our gas locker. This means that every time we wanted to cook we’d have to open the back doors and connect via a long rubberised hose as we see many of the caravaners doing (though most of them are entirely static so can do as they please), or buy a smaller pear shaped bottle that (apparently) isn’t exchangeable. Frankly it’s a pain in the arse and getting any sense out of the system is nigh on impossible. I did meet an ex agricultural engineer who showed me his solution to the Gaslow regulator problem, but does still require an adaptor that I would have to make myself using parts available from any Ferrateria (that’s an Ironmonger and some of them are huge).

However while we were in El Portus near Cartagena I found a supply of Camping Gaz bottles 66 Euros, which is extortionate. But for peace of mind I bought an additional one. So we are carrying lots of gas and have two new bottles we can exchange ... all good. Given the universal availability of Camping Gaz, we have made the decision to shrink the Locker by about 6inches and drop the seating by the same to make things a little bit more comfortable for those over 5”5’ ... namely me.

On our travels we’ve run into a number of electrical problems, this has required the production of two adaptors to connect to our mains hook-up lead. One of the adaptors is designed to correct reverse polarity (which shouldn’t be a problem, but I’d rather not take the risk). The second adaptor connects our hook-up lead to a continental outlet. To achieve this I’ve had to cannibalise our original UK 13amp hook-up adaptor and faff around with two adaptors that I’ve bought here to produce the correct `any eventuality adaptors’ that eliminate the nasty surprises (including continental and reversed polarity for the day that eventuality manifests).

 In La Marina where we first encountered issues and I asked if they had knew about the problem on the power pillars? They said no. However when I bought one of their adaptors (a continental one because it’s ends were right for me to rewire to our purpose); I discovered that the adaptor was already wired for reverse polarity. When I looked at the packaging, I found that some bugger had been in it before me and re-jigged the Live and Neutral. This made me pretty cross, because I’d been lied to and the staff made us feel like we were doing something wrong, and when pressed, all of a sudden no one knew anything about electricity ... there is a word but I’m not allowed to use it on the blog.

We’ve had to re-arrange our over cab storage because the area become mouldy because it couldn’t breathe, this is a follows on from the previous issue with cab condensation. When we get back to the UK we are going to take a few days, maybe a fortnight out of our travels, and I’ll rectify the issue permanently by installing a couple of vents in the headlining. I don’t have a hole cutter here, and for a country that has a lot of caravans and motorhomes users of its own, I can’t find a camping and caravanning odds and sods shop for love nor money.

We’ve shrunk our needs, and as per previous post we could probably send a parcel of 20kilos back to the UK, this would include, excess clothes and bedding, some shoes and trainers that have never seen the light of day, and maybe a few of my more esoteric tools. The part of me that worries says: do nothing until we are back on our own turf and can ditch the stuff in our lockup. The bit of me that worries about the Mohos war with gravity on the steep hills says contact DHL and see what can be done.

We should have bought Kindles before we came. We have now and are awaiting delivery while we are stopped at Tarifa (the reasons for this will form a separate post).

I wish I hadn’t had the oven installed. It’s been used once, and the grill twice. A gas `Hob Oven’ would have been a better bet; this is a device like a BBQ that you place on the big hob ring and then  you lay in food in circles and they cook slowly and evenly, and you even get crispy chicken skin. It’s the ultimate one pot cooking machine. If anything a bigger George Forman Grill or a halogen hob top cooker would have been useful. After all you’re paying for 4kilowatts of electricity per day you may as well make the most of it.
Wifi is a pain in the arse and I will have to think long and hard about a MIFI if ever we do this again. And if there is one gadget I should have bought and installed before we came away it was a solar panel. Bugger the awning which has been out maybe twice and cost a packet. What I should have done was direct connected a 120wh solar panel to keep the fridge running without the need to drive. This I will sort out during our maintenance break in the UK in May or early June.

I’m replacing my electronic cigarette, because E-Fluids are widely available here, and because hanging around waiting for cartridges to turn up is a pain in the arse. And because a few times when I’ve been short I’ve reverted to normal cigarettes, and this is a big issue, because the effects on the ability to breathe are fairly immediate, and in a country with as many steps and hills as Spain, you’re on a hiding to nothing.

Other than these minor technical issues that keep the grey matter turning over, we’ve been relatively trouble free, albeit every problem has had an immediate cost implication, and in the case of the pump issue took four days to resolve. If anything actually gives me terrors, it’s the hill climbs and managing the heat. However as long as I stay alert and don’t abuse the Moho, we should be ok.

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