Well, as if anyone would suspect less of me, I had a really weird Christmas.
I was invited to spend it with my brother and his kids/grandkids which was the first time in years I've had any sort of special event at this time of year. To catch the tide I left the yacht on the 23rd at around 5:30pm and got a shower at the swimming pool, then drove 5km to fill the van with LPG for the trip to Ipswich, about another 45km.
This is where it got strange. I filled the tank and added about 1L of water to the radiator bottle, then jumped back in and it refused to start. Tried for about an hour off and on, no go. It occasionally fired but the engine would immediately stop with a clank as if the ignition was opposing the starter motor. In short, I suspected a broken or stripped timing belt.
Rang my brother's house but he was out playing cards for the night so I slept in the van. He arrived about 11:30am on the 24th and we left it parked at the petrol station. Before leaving I gave it one more shot but it did the same thing as the previous day.
Over the next few days I ruminated over what I knew about cars and the symptoms and could see no other cause except timing being the reason for the behaviour I'd experienced. I was worried, most cars these days have interference engines and if the timing belt is damaged they bend valves and cause untold damage.
I really expected this to be the end of the van. At the very least I was expecting a repair bill in the region of thousands of dollars. Whatever happened I figured I'd need to get it towed, so I joined the motor club. This costs a premium of $98 over the normal membership fee if your vehicle is already broken down but at least I'd have a mechanic look it over and offer a diagnosis, then have it towed to a repair facility.
So, on Monday I joined the RACQ and we met the mechanic at the van. I described the symptoms to him without telling him anything else about my suspicions. He jumped in, inserted the key, and started it first try.
Talk about mixed emotions. I felt simultaneously like the luckiest guy in Brisbane and a complete idiot. My brother just shook the mechanics hand and said, "Love your work, mate."
Meanwhile, as a side-story to all this, I was supposed to be meeting a girl I knew over 30 years ago at some stage during the shore break. When I was ready to go back to the yacht I emailed her to organize a meeting for coffee, but she was suddenly busy until the New Year. Meh.
So I'm back aboard again. I ate well, watched lots of TV and had fun with the kids. I also worried a lot unnecessarily. I didn't meet Angela. The van is still working.
"The cure for anything is salt water... sweat, tears, or the sea" -- Isak Dinesen
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