Weeks 8 & 9. What a Disaster.

Week 8 did not start badly. We said goodbye to Paul and Carol and travelled southwards to keep an appointment with Warwickshire based caravan chassis manufacturers Al-Ko who were inspecting our caravan Peggy on behalf of Bailey Caravans regarding a guarantee claim. Cracks had appeared in the nearside caravan wall radiating out from the corners of the door opening.

Despite arriving very late Al-Ko were still able to carry out the inspection, they leveled Peggy on a special floor and took all the heights and angles of her chassis. After this careful measurement the chassis was declared free from defect. The sag on the shock absorbers was measured and declared “about right for her age”. We were surprised, but apparently not as surprised as Al-Ko, when they linked the ATC electronic anti-snaking device to their computer and found that we had towed it well over 700 hours, on a three year old van this was expected to be less than 100 hours. Next came weighing the van, here we felt a little smug as we had taken most of the heavy stuff out and put it in the car before setting off that morning, so we were staggered when told that it grossed 1636 kilo that was a massive 144 kilo over the 1492 MTPLM (maximum technical permissible laden mass) almost double the 160 kilo user payload - what would it have been it we had not emptied the heavy stuff out.

That overload spelt an instant end to our guarantee claim. We had abused and misused Peggy. We had disregarded the loading instructions. Worst of all WE HAD GOT CAUGHT!!

So what to do now? Unless repaired poor old Peggy was worth scrap value and a repair would take between six and nine months and cost an awful lot of dosh. Spending that dosh was one thing but what would we do for between six and nine months while the repairs were carried out.

While in the Midlands we had decided to have the satellite dish system serviced and during the three hours it took went to a large midland caravan dealer to have a nose around. The salesman offered us a deal on some of last years models he was wanting to clear but was reluctant to offer even £1000 for Peggy without inspection saying “. . .well if you bring it in for me to inspect I might be able to go to £1500, but all I can do with it is put it on Ebay . . .”

That was the last thing we wanted to hear. We had recently been offered £8000+ in part exchange for a van now worth around £1000.

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What to do? We phoned the Bardsea Leisure the dealer we had bought the van from and who had first spotted the cracks and asked - “if we ignored the cracks and went to Spain/Portugal for some winter sun and they reached the edge of the panel effectively creating two panels would the result be catastrophic?”

The question was relayed to the company engineers and mechanics who immediately spit into two camps. The “yes” camp and the “no” camp. However there was only one “that would be a stupid and possibly very risky thing to do” camp. They were all in it.

Bardsea Salesman Jason suggested we give him a list of our requirements then he have a look at his stock of new vans and see if he could tempt us with anything. Ringing us back he said he was prepared to give us the Glasses Guide value on our Peggy less the projected cost of the repairs which he would get Bailey to do, and, in the fullness of time, would be able to sell the van on.

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One of the vans he offered was a 2014 Bailey Unicorn S2 Cartagena. We had looked at one of these vans a few months ago and liked it. It had a very similar layout to Peggy but with twin axles boasted a bigger washroom, kitchen and lounge and, most important of all, the payload could be upgraded from the (industry) standard 160 kilos to 274 kilos.

After a few days deliberating we decided that was the one. It had only just arrived at the showroom but could be readied for collection within a few days. Metaphorically shaking hands by paying a deposit over the phone we finalised the deal and headed off to Old Leake, just outside Boston in Linconshire to spend the weekend with Sue’s nephew Gary and his family.

The following friday having enjoyed the morning visit to the dentist - not!!, fortunately we were both given the all clear, we headed north to Birmingham. The next morning the satellite dish will be taken off Peggy’s roof. This took just an hour or so then it was back on the M6 travelling north towards Ulverston and our new caravan.

Arriving at Bardsea Leisure we were quite nervous. We were about to meet an expensive lady who would be our constant companion for the foreseeable future. Would we like or hate her? Either way we were committed. We were stuck with her.

When we were transferring our belongings from Peggy to Fiona (named after Princess Fiona of Shrek fame, cos like the princess, when transformed to an ogre, she is “butt ugly” on the outside but beautiful inside) we were staggered at how many belongings there were.

We stayed at Bardsea Leisure for two nights to check out all the systems etc., etc., the only problem was that glue on a trim came away when we heated the van up and although the engineer tried to fix it in the time we allowed him, it will be the first service before it will be sorted.

Although we had been introduced to our expensive new companion and quite liked her we were still nervous when we hitched up ready to move back south. She was heavier than any caravan I had previously towed. She was longer than any caravan I had previously towed. Although I had towed twin axle vans before the last time was in 1989.

Fiona certainly seemed long when looking in the car mirrors. She seemed to stretch back forever but as we got underway she fell in obediently behind us and behaved impeccably during the 166 mile journey to Birmingham where Peggy’s Oyster85 Satellite system was installed on Fiona by Conrad-Anderson Ltd.

Back in Little Henham we have now weighed every item within Fiona’s extensive cupboards and storage areas, to ensure that we don’t make the same mistake again, and booked the ferry.

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Let the adventure recommence.

Last Updated - Sunday 27th April 2014.             © Seve  Ghost 2014