The weekend saw us heading up the M5 on our way to Thetford in Norfolk for the Thetford Bash Rally. When less than an hour in to our 4 hour journey there is a very loud BANG which sounded very much like something compressed had exploded.
I immediately pulled into the hard shoulder and realised I was rapidly running out of hard shoulder as we were approaching an exit as well. This left me with little choice but to break harder than I was happy about but did manage to stop still in the hard shoulder.
A look round the van and I could see nothing wrong at all so guessed it was not us but maybe the lorry that was passing us at the time. Being so close to the junction meant getting straight back onto the M5 was not really a sensible option so I pulled out onto the exit ramp and rejoined it on the other side.
All was well until we were about 30 minutes from our destination and BANG again. This time there was no hard shoulder to abort onto as we were on a dual carriageway. This time I realised that I felt nothing of this in the steering or the vehicle at all. Very strange indeed and totally baffling. If it was a tyre, which is what it sounded like, what are the odds of 2 going in one trip and anyway when I looked last time I couldn’t see anything wrong.
We reached the rally and got parked up and put the levelling jacks down. Ann then says that the rear wheel doesn’t look right, it looks like it’s on a lean. I had a look and it appears the outer back tyre was blown and not sitting straight in the rim. Ah so it was a tyre blow out we had. Round the other side the outer wheel was fine but reaching to the inner one that was in an even worse state than the other side.
So with a dodgy phone signal I call the breakdown service and explain the situation and I am in no hurry to get this sorted, I repeated this a few times in our conversation but seems they are unable to comprehend such a phrase so just ignored it. I was told that someone will be with me in the next 90 minutes.
About an hour later someone from their commercial department called me to say that because it was two tyres they would have to tow me, where do I want to go? Ah this could be an issue as I need to find someone who has these in stock. I told them this and said I will call them back.
I rang Motorhome Medics in Cheltenham and speak to them who tell me they have 4 in stock but can’t fit them but can ship them out to me. I explain this is not a great deal of help and after some further discussion they say I can have it towed to them and they will get a tyre company out to fit them for me tomorrow.
I ring back the breakdown company and they take the details of where I want to go and tell me someone will be with me within 90 minutes. About an hour later, yes you guessed it, they rang me back to say they were having trouble finding a low loader that is available and will keep me updated.
While we are waiting our friend Martin turns up and says he is happy to take Ann and the 2 dogs in his car there leaving me to go with the RV.
An hour or so later I have still heard nothing and I am getting very fed up not knowing whats happening and today is also my 3rd day of giving up smoking and I am so very close to cracking. I call them again and whilst waiting to be put through to the commercial department they ring me. They still are unable to get the low loader and apologies for not calling me back sooner. The chap on the phone, a different one to who I was speaking to before, then wants to confirm with me it is two tyres and would it be all right, if they have them, to replace them here? Yes please thats what I wanted in the first place rather than have to end our weekend just as it started. The only trouble is they may not have them because of the odd size. He takes the details and says he will call back.
Ten minutes later he is back on the phone to say yes they are pretty sure they have them and will call back in 10 minutes if not but otherwise will be with me with 90. It must have only been 15 minutes later when a tyre centre pickup truck turns up.
Having been shown which tyres need doing he then starts to try and work out how to get the shiny wheel trims off. Turns out that out of all the nuts on it only 2 are real and thats what holds the trim on.
When he comes to do the second tyre its now dark and I decide to get my hands dirty and help by holding a torch for him. He took the time to show me a couple of useful points that I can impart on any future tyre fitter that will help them.
By the time its all done and paperwork signed its gone 10:30pm and we both said we wished these call centres would pass on important information like the customer is in no rush and can be done anytime over the weekend. At least then he could have done it in the daylight which would have been much easier.
The rest of the weekend went quite well. Tim and Pippa, good friends we met in Cabopino, lived close by and so came over for a visit on Saturday and we had a most enjoyable time updating each other with stuff in our lives and remembering the good times we had in Spain last year.
The organisers of the rally put on a few events over the weekend of which I think the best was a very competitive moped racing event with apparently very few if any rules. Whilst I didn’t take part myself it was great fun watching.
Well I say the rest of the weekend went well, that was until we travelled back to Briarfields in Cheltenham. I was very concerned that the other 4 tyres were old and tired (pun intended) and so was on tenterhooks just waiting for a front wheel blow out. When we pulled in to Hopwood services on the M42 with most of our journey completed to fill up with fuel Ann said she could hear a flap flap sound.
Stopping by the pump I got out to find that one of the new tires was completely flat. So I filled up and drove it over to the HGV parking area to ring the breakdown service again. Having explained the story and said I was happy for a tire company to sort it here they organised just that and a chap arrived about an hour later. On close inspection of the ailing tyre it appears that it may have been that the valve extender was not tightened by the other fitter but he changed that valve anyway just in case and left the extender off as I were to replace them in the next couple of days and we continued without further incident to our destination.
The following day I called Motorhome Medics and arranged to purchase the 4 tires he had in stock along with a valve extension kit and tire covers the whole lot costing just a little under £1,500 OUCH!
I organised ATS to come out and fit them the following day and they arrived nice and early in the morning. Having tried to jack the RV up to find the jack was sinking so had to move off the pitch onto the roadway. As I started to pull out I heard a STOP being shouted by Ann I think. Before I could see her in the mirrors it dawned on me we were still connected to the electric, whoops, disaster averted.
It took them ages and £215 to do the four tires and take the old ones away. During which time we were all stuck outside being very bored indeed. Thank heavens it was dry and sunny otherwise it would have been quite unpleasant.
With the tyre covers fitted were now looking quite good I think.