We woke up Friday morning in Koblenz to find that the water heater was leaking. Every now and again the pump started to work on its own which alerted us to the fact that we had a problem. We found a couple of things stored under the bed were wet so decided to turn the water pump off and Ray checked all the push fit joints which all seemed to be in order.
We asked for advice on the Motorhome forums and then googled motorhome service centres in the area. The nearest was to go back on ourselves to a Truma Service Centre near Cologne to a place called Bad Breisig. (Truma is the make of the boiler). Once we eventually found the place and pulled up outside it was shut with a sign on the door to say that they were closed until the Monday as they were attending the Dusseldorf Motorhome Show (which is a massive show the biggest in Europe) We have made a note to try and get to it ourselves next year.
We then decided to head for the second place we had found on google which was Just over an hour further back down the road to Mainz. It was not a Truma service centre but they were a big motorhome repair workshop, who we felt, should be able to do a repair. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived at 4 pm some of the technicians had left for the weekend and the technical manager we spoke to just wanted to get off himself. He took a quick look under the bed at the boiler with a torch and said he could not help us. We gathered this was probably because he was not a Truma Service centre. He gave us the number of Truma head office to ring on Monday.
The manager very kindly said we could stay the night on their serviced bay outside the workshop/showroom but we declined as it was on an industrial Estate and didn’t feel particularly comfortable as the sun had come out and we were surrounded by concrete with no shade. It’s a shame though as it would have been free to stay the night and we could have got the bus into Mainz easily from just down the road the next morning. Instead, we headed for a Stellplatz in Obwessel which we had planned would be our next stop.
Unfortunately, the ACSI site we had earmarked was full. This is only the second time it’s happened to us since we have been touring the past 2 years. We were feeling tired by now mainly due to the stress of the day. We drove back up the road about 10 minutes to a Stellplatz we had spotted just off the road. A Stellplatz for any of our friends who are not familiar with the term is an area where you can park up which can be on grass or gravel it can be a lovely spot by a river or overlooking a lovely view or could be just a car park sectioned off for Motorhomes or area at the back of a restaurant. Officially you are not supposed to get any chairs or tables out, sit outside or open windows but no one takes any notice of this. Some stellplatz have looked and felt just like a campsite. You never know what you are going to get. Some have a water station where you pay 1 euro for a tank of water, a drain for grey waste, a chemical loo disposal and some have electric where you feed the meter. Some are free or 5-10 euros to stay the night. They can be cramped but are ideal if you just want a stopover to sleep.
After visiting a few more places in Germany
As we were coping quite well with the water situation we decided to leave it until we got into Spain thinking it would be easier. I mentioned what we were intending to do on The Facebook Autotrail owners page and someone suggested that as Truma were German and as German were big on Motorhoming that it would probably be better to get it done here and that parts would be more readily available and probably cheaper. – What good advice. Thank you, Steve Tonks, from the Autotrail Owners Group.
We phoned Truma the next morning (eventually after googling it I realised what I was doing wrong omitting the 00) Anyway we got hold of Truma and they gave us the numbers and addresses for a couple of service centres in Mannheim which was about an hour away. We decided not to ring them in case they tried to book us in for later in the week as we wanted to get further south to start the Romantic Road. It was the best thing to do as when we turned up they all looked quite busy and there were several motorhomes being worked on. We managed to find one technician who spoke a little English and he came into the motorhome to take a look. As the water heater in our van is under the bed we had to take the bedding, mattress and memory foam mattress off then dismantle part of the bed to be able to get to the boiler. Within 5 minutes we had 4 technicians in the van testing the boiler. Trying to make them understand that it was dry now because it had all been turned off for several days and that it was mainly when the power was on and the water was heating that it started to leak was difficult. They were saying they could not find the leak but in the end, they decided to take the water heater out to test it.
They asked how much time we had as they said it could take a couple of hours (this was at 11 am). We stayed in the van preparing lunch making cups of tea and reading while the techs were busy in and out. We eventually drove out of the garage at 4.55. 1,100 euros lighter but very relieved it was done. We would have preferred to pay by credit card but they wanted cash and offered to take us to a bank. Luckily as it is the start of our trip we did have that amount of cash in the safe.
We had read that Germany doesn’t like taking credit cards, which is probably why their economy is not doing as badly as the rest of Europe.
We now have a fight on our hands to try to get the money refunded from Cranham’s. We feel we have a case as we have had various problems with the motorhome since we purchased it at the end June 2013 and it has been back on 6 separate occasions during that time for a total of 5 months for engine trouble. In fact, it still has to go back when we return as the problem has still not been resolved and the engine is misfiring. Also when it was in the garage the last time they smashed in the near side bumper. As we only picked it up 2 days before coming away (they had it 2 months on that occasion) they said they would repair it on our return.
We drove an hour down the road back to the campsite at Heidelburg for the night stopping off first to fill up with petrol and to do a food shop so that we could get on the road bright and early the next day.