Springwatch

Spring, a time of rebirth and renewal.

New life appears in nests, in burrows and barns and in farmers’ fields – tweeting, grunting and bleating and all of it wanting to be fed.

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Colour erupts around the countryside and the sun starts to warm our cold bones.  The sweet smell of pollen lingers in the air, the bees begin to buzz and butterflies flit amongst the flowers.

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Betty feels the change of season too. Regular readers might remember a breakdown a couple of years back, an inexpensive valve failing and destroying a very expensive cylinder head. There were ongoing issues leading to a subsequent complete rebuild of the engine that should really have solved every problem we had.

Instead, things were about to get a whole lot worse.

Crossing the Houtribdijk last year, the little red oil light of doom illuminated. We checked, we had oil. We didn’t have any strange noises…yet. The light went out.  Volkswagen, in its infinite wisdom, designed a very complex oil pressure monitoring system to monitor a very simple engine. A system which is prone to failure. A combination of two pressure sensors and input from the alternator. We knew we had some alternator issues so put two and two together and came up with three.  The van got us home and we replaced the alternator and the pressure sensors. It didn’t solve the problem. Connecting up a pressure gauge revealed the ugly truth.

So here we are, emerging from the depths of winter and Betty is reborn with a sparkly new engine. Our journeys now lacking the colour of a multitude of warning lights, the unpleasant bouquet of leaking diesel and the cheerless chirping of unlubricated metal on metal. Nothing screams to be fed oil or coolant.

Dull and dark winter journeys that bring exciting, bright and vibrant springtime joy.

Betty Bus reborn, back on the road and back in a field.

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Are We There Yet?

It’s been a long road. Very long. Quite bumpy, too.

It was over a year ago now that we had to be rescued from just down the road.

The embarrasment.  Rescued by two T5s!

The cause? A broken valve. Of course, things can never be that simple. The valve, a fairly cheap component, fell into the cylinder and was then hit by the piston, breaking all sorts of expensive components…

Piston broke

Headache

It looked a bit of a mess and a new cylinder head was fitted along with a new piston and conrod. We took the opportunity to do a few other jobs on the engine. And then we were back on the road. It was a glorious summer.

And yet, things were not quite right.

The engine ran just fine, it got us to foreign lands and across mountain passes. We cooked on campfires and watched Lancasters fly overhead. Which was all great, apart from one little detail, the gas that was getting into the van’s coolant system. We changed this and that. Found a few other problems and fixed those too. The head gasket was replaced, twice. The new head was checked. And still, gas continued to leak into the coolant system. Betty Bus was not in a happy place. She’d lost her cool.

Autumn arrived and the engine was removed, leaving a vast empty space under her stone chipped bonnet.

Flintstones, meet the Flintstones...

Time passed. Seasons passed. The leaves on the trees turned from vibrant green to deep reds and bright yellows before finally drying up and falling to the damp ground below, brown and crinkly. Autumn turned to winter and nothing could be found wrong with the engine.

A new year began and as winter released it’s icy grip the engine was stripped and the empty crank case sent to a specialist for testing.

New shoots started appearing and in the woodland the snow drops gave way to bluebells and wild garlic. The engine shop finally reported they’d found the slightest of depressions on the face of crank case. The tiniest of skims later the case was returned and now as the weather warms and spring slowly moves towards summer the engine is being reassembled, ready to go back in the van, ready for another glorious summer of adventures.

On the case.

Are we there yet dad?
Nearly son. It’s just around the corner.