Frodo Throws a Tantrum

‘T was time to move on. We had originally intended to stay in Arçais for four days but, with our late lamented friend’s formalities over, we had stayed for eight, largely because the weather was favourable and we could now have time to ourselves.

Overnight we had had rain, occasionally quite heavy, but the ground looked OK this morning. We did our packing up duties, including filing Frodo with fresh water (our 100 ltr tank had lasted the whole eight days) and prepared to set sail for … we weren’t sure where but we’d work it out as we headed south. Or, rather, Francine would.

Finally I disconnected the electrics and climbed into the driving seat. I turned the key Frodo’s engine gave a reluctant half turn over then stopped. A couple of messages flashed up on the screen:

  1. Fuel tank low, 3kms to empty [OK];
  2. Hill start assist not available [OK], pre-collision warning not available [OK].

No, of course it’s not friggin’ OK.

Another oddity was that the fuel gauge slowly began climbing whereas usually it jumps up to the current level.

#1 was complete bollocks, I’d very deliberately topped up our tank at the supermarket as we arrived; it was full. Clearly I hadn’t leaked 60ltrs of diesel into the grass, I’d have noticed.

#2 was interesting ‘cos I didn’t even know I should have had hill start assist but that was all, I could care less. Pre-collision warning I did know about and it sometimes fails in some conditions (condensation over the sensor?) in an earlyish morning.

I did care about the engine not starting. I turned the key again with exactly the same result. A third turn of the key changed nothing, I was beginning to feel stuck and muttered, “I think we’re f****d”, to Francine, as I began to think of invoking Red Pennant assistance.

In a last desperate measure I turned everything off hoping to reboot the system and begin Frodo’s pre-flight procedures again. With much relief, after an initial sluggish turn over, the engine turned over a second time and burst into life. [SIGH]

PXL_20240611_063752675I think Frodo liked his pitch in Arçais so much that he didn’t want to leave.

I wasn’t about to turn the engine off. I had wondered about a flat battery but, like the non empty tank, why would that be? We’ve been stationary for eight days before with no hitch. With the crazy warning messages, I could only think of moisture from last night’s rain causing a glitch.

Engine still running in case it was a low battery, I retrieved our levelling blocks and headed for our first stop which was a motor vehicle servicing point on the other side of Arçais to empty our grey water. I left the engine running while I did this, too.

Our next stop was to be at the Super-U in Magné, the same supermarket where I had filled Frodo’s diesel tank, to fill our fridge. Here, I would have to turn off the engine but I’d travelled 15kms so, you never know.

We shopped and returned to Frodo. Francine loaded the fridge. I turned the ignition and all was well, the fuel gauge leapt up to full, no stupid messages appeared and the engine fired faultlessly.

We were on our way to somewhere.

Somewhere turned out to be an Aire de Camping Car in a tiny village called Donzac. Tis was one of the same chain we’d used at Troyes. Francine tapped a few things into the automated accueil machine, coughed up a princely €7 for the night including electricity and water. How cheap is that? Added to this the site was all gravelled so we’d have no issue getting stuck in mud.

20240615_093124The site partly surrounded the village fishing lake; it was a very pleasant environment. In our usual unsociable fashion we found ourselves the end pitch overlooking nothing but a patch of grass and a hedge with no need to stare at any neighbours.

We’ve made these vehicle systems too clever but not clever enough. If your AdBlue tank runs dry, your diesel vehicle just won’t start. I’m now wondering if this was a similar “refuse to start” situation because it thought I had no fuel. The trouble is, when the warning system itself fails you’re stuffed for no good reason. I’ve got a fuel tank full and the battery is fine, just go for pity’s sake.

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Posted in 2024 Summer