Another day, another set of problems to overcome.
Yesterday, as we settled in for the evening, a red light blinked ominously from the control panel above the Hymer’s habitation door. It indicated that the motorhome’s 12V system was about to fail. No 12V system means no lights, no water pump, so no water, and no heating.
Fortunately, the night was mild, so we wrapped ourselves in blankets and settled down for a couple of hours watching a few episodes of one of the many sitcom box sets we keep on board. When we purchased the Hymer we decided not to install a television. Watching DVDs on a MacBook linked wirelessly to a Bose speaker is a much more pleasant alternative.
I climbed out of bed as usual at 6am and turned the gas boiler on to heat our chilled living space. I forgot that no electricity means no heating… or water… or electricity.
We have a Honda suitcase generator to run mains appliances and to charge our batteries. When we decided to stay an extra day on the shore at Leucate I knew we were low on fuel for the Honda. I didn’t realise quite how low.
At the crack of dawn today we needed to drive to the fuel station attached to theA Carrefour supermarket in Leucate to buy petrol.
That’s when we realised that our headlights had failed… again. Both headlights have gone, as has one of the high beam bulbs. We had to drive into town with our single high beam dazzling half a dozen very unhappy motorists.
We’ve now replaced headlights four times in the last eighteen months. We suspect the ongoing problem stems from a farcical episode at a garage in Samatan last year. A simple bulb change, carried out by five mechanics over two hours, resulted in the headlights blinking when the indicators were turned on, the failure of our fuel gauge, and an odometer which now adds one kilometre to our running total every two seconds whenever the engine is running, even if we’re stationary.
A 12V system failure should be easy to prevent in the future. Hindsight is a wonderful gift. Both 90Ah AGM batteries are new. The batteries themselves shouldn’t be a problem. The issue is our slightly different lifestyle this year compared to last winter.
We’re covering fewer miles than we did last year, so we’re running our engine less often. Solar panels aren’t very efficient at this time of the year, so we can’t rely on our single 100W panel. We need to either run our generator more often, which means staying away from other people, or pay to visit aires with mains electricity. As we don’t want to spend any more, we’ll wild camp and run the Honda more frequently.
That’s the power generation problem solved. All we need to do now is find a French garage we can trust to sort out our headlights. ‘Needle’ and ‘haystack’ are two words which immediately spring to mind.