Sunday, 25 March 2018

Back to square one.

About ten days ago we returned from our six week trip through Southeast Asia and New Zealand. We loved our time as greyhaired, over aged backpackers, so much so, that if anyone asks us how it went we will have no option but to adopt a suitably millennial patois and inform them 'it was awesome'.

Flying back from summer in the Southern Alps to being snowed-in at home is a recipe for a slump. No! we assured ourselves, as soon as there is a glimmer of spring we will be off in our new motorhome - we have so much to learn, a dual fuel Truma boiler, automatic fridge, on-board satnav - we we need is a couple of days on a local campsite to familiarise ourselves with our big new toy.

In fact, the first trip turned out to be a return to the dealers where we bought it after we noted minor damage to the panel near the Thetford flush panel. Oak Tree motorhomes were happy to repair it and we took the opportunity to have a 12 volt TV/DVD fitted too. 

Ready to go, we booked ourselves onto the Caravan and Motorhome Club site at Carsington - about 20 miles from home, which is where we should be waking up today on a bright sunny Sunday morning. We were late setting off yesterday, packing a new van proved more challenging than we expected, especially as we have lost the cavernous overcab bed which we used as a junk room. It required a modicum of de-cluttering before we could fit all the essentials of life into the new van.

Finally, all packed up and ready to go...
It was late morning before we set off. We'll park somewhere on the Tissington Trail to have lunch,  we decided. A dozen or so miles into our short trip the big dashboard display which doubles as sat-nav, reversing camera, and CD/radio console blacked-out. We had already discovered that somewhat unusually, in modern Fiat cabs, this console is powered by the 12 volt feed to the domestic appliances not the engine battery. What the black screen told us was that for some reason the domestic 12 volt system had inexplicably shut down. We pulled into Alsop Station car park to investigate. As suspected none of the domestic 12 volt system was working - water pump, interior lights, fridge, toilet flush - all dead as a dodo. Even the display panel had failed, apart from the meter showing the engine battery health. 

Out came the manual. The troubleshooter guide instructed hapless owners that in the event of a total failure of the 12 volt system to check the leisure battery 50w fuse and make sure the leisure battery isolator switch on the main electrical distribution box was switched on. Both looked fine. Our conclusion, the fault may be the result of a leisure battery failure, some kind of disruption in the charge from the alternator, a fuse somewhere else or a major problem with the electrical distribution box.

We contacted the dealers. The technical department was closed until Monday. We had no option but to phone the site to cancel and return home. It is frustrating enough for this to happen to a low mileage van less than five years old which was recently supplied fully serviced by a dealer. The real irony lies in the fact that we traded-in our previous van precisely because the repairer seemed unable to trace a fault in the 12 volt supply. This led us to the conclusion that at 12 years of age, with almost 700 days of use in the past three years, the amazing Maisy was beginning to become too unreliable for long term touring.

Having packed the van by noon, we were unpacking it mid  afternoon!
So, having spent an eye watering sum to upgrade to a newer vehicle we are in exactly the same situation as we were before - owners of a lovely moho rendered useless by a failure in the domestic electrics. Let's hope the solution is straightforward and not the beginning of some long running saga.


  1. Hi, just found your blog on motorhomeadventures and plan to go off reading. We too retired early 5 1/2 years ago but have done our traveling the other way round, three big backpacking trips, three ski seasons, five summers housesitting in the UK and will be buying the mobile home for Europe this summer.
    So how big is the new Moho and how big was the old one? Do you have any advice as our only experience was 9 months in NZ and then Oz in a Toyota Hiace, which we loved, but wasn't a 'proper' Moho. Did you love NZ, how did you get about? So many questions, sorry. We too have a blog on here,

  2. Lovely to hear from you. So, lots of questions! Yes, we loved New Zealand. We flew into Auckland and travelled south. We used a hire car and inexpensive motels following the classic route - Auckland, Coromandel, Rotorua, Lake Taupo, Wellington, Abel Tasman, Greymouth via the Buller Gorge, Fox Glacier, Wanaka, Queenstown, Milford Sound cruise, Te Anau, Mount Cook Village, Akaroa - then flew out from Christchurch. Loved every moment, despite some challenging weather. We did not include the trip on our blog as it records our motorhoming life. There is a Facegroup site about our New Zealand adventure called 'Traveling Turpies' but it is not a public group so you would have to request membership - which of course you are very welcome to do.

    Our first and our latest motorhomes are basically the same size and layout - both 7m vans with a fixed double rear bed over a large rear garage. The reasons why we like this layout has to do with how we travel. If you are living in the moho for months on end you don’t want to be making a bed up night after night, nor is clambering down steps from an ove cab bed an attractive long term proposition. The big garage allows us plenty of room for storage but also enables us to lock away the two ebikes we normally carry on the rear bike rack. We sometimes store the van in secure parking for a month or two and fly home for Christmas - being able to lock the bikes away is essential then. A 7m van is big enough for two people to live in during colder spells in the winter in Spain or Greece without cabin fever setting in, but still compact enough to fit on most pitches.
    There are drawbacks to this design too. Sometimes we are very jealous of the camper vans we have seen – if we were to content to travel April – October or for shorter periods then a smaller vehicle would do – it’s all about finding something that suits your particular travel plans and budget.
    Bon voyage and keep in touch – I’ll have a look at your blog.