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Helga's Bad Day

Yesterday as I was coming home from the morning dog walk, Helga Saab started to make an alarming wheezing groaning noise, and then she went PING, and I realised that her engine temperature gauge was right up in the red.   I pulled her out of the road, and peered into her engine, which did indeed feel very warm.  In fact she seemed to have no coolant left in her tank at all, which was odd because I check that regularly as the sensor that should report upon it is knackered.

So we sat there for a bit cooling off, and then I restarted the engine, which made a very unhappy noise, but did kick into action.  We travelled perhaps 200 yards before the temperature gauge got near the red, and we had to stop and have another nice rest for a while.

We travelled onward for some way in this manner.  Fortunately most of it was downhill, so Helga could just roll.    I got as far as a local garage, where the guy had a quick look, and thought probably the water pump had gone - but there was a side bet on it being the head gasket as well.  And he was about to go off on holiday, and could not fix it.

I parked Helga around the corner, removed the dogs, and walked home.  A non-functioning car is a nuisance, but a non-functioning car full of large impatient dogs is a real problem, because car retrieval services won't take dogs except by towing them inside the car.  Then once you have got to somewhere that can fix the car, if they can't fix it there and then, you and your dogs are stuck, because even if they have a courtesy car or you try to rent a vehicle, it will certainly have a 'no dogs' clause**.    I suppose I could have got a taxi* eventually but taxis in rural areas even nowadays are rather slow to arrive.  Walking home seemed easiest.   So I did that.

Then I phoned around to try to find a garage that was downhill of where I had parked that was prepared to try to squeeze poor Helga in for an urgent appointment.  RESULT !  I found one.  So then I had to walk back to Helga, and roll her down the hill to Garage The Second.   And then walk home again. Cornwall really does have more than enough steep hills.   By the time I got home I had done more than enough walking for the day.

But!  The head gasket had not gone, and my careful stopping and rolling and watching the temperature gauge had worked: the overheating problem had not cooked anything important, and the garage were able to fit a new water pump.  Helga, with 154,127 miles on her clock,  lives to roll another day.

* There is at least one local taxi that takes dogs, because the other day Brythen, alarmed by an explosion,  got out of the garden and went gallumphing off before I could stop him (he had made a hole in the hedge, which I have since fixed).  When I went charging off through the village after him, I found him being chauffered back in style by Kit Hill Cars, looking very pleased with himself.

** although, of course, if you hoover the courtesy car really, really well afterwards, they probably can't tell.  Or at least, nobody ever got back to me to complain.  But I hate hoovering.



( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
3rd Nov, 2016 16:11 (UTC)
What a day! Could have been worse! I had one like that yesterday.
3rd Nov, 2016 22:51 (UTC)
At least it didn't rain on either of us! But I think you came off worse with the gastro thing. Ouch. Hope you are now feeling better.
3rd Nov, 2016 23:03 (UTC)
Thank you. I am feeling much better and eating sensibly today.
3rd Nov, 2016 18:57 (UTC)
I do like the idea of Brythen being chauffeured home!
3rd Nov, 2016 22:51 (UTC)
So did he! Bugger that he is...
3rd Nov, 2016 19:34 (UTC)
I wonder if any garage has ever thought to put, "At the bottom of a steep hill!" as a chief advertising point. "Our mechanics are mediocre, our prices aren't great, but you can roll your broken car down to us from 493 locations in a ten square mile radius, so what are you waiting for? Come on down!"
3rd Nov, 2016 22:48 (UTC)
It should be a major selling point!
4th Nov, 2016 01:46 (UTC)
I'm glad all ended well for you and Helga Saab.

The only thing at all similar that's happened to me recently is dropping my phone and shattering a corner of the glass. I found a repair shop with surprising ease. As it turns out, they're everywhere -- I'd just never needed one before. I got to spend my Halloween evening in a mildly wacky neighborhod with a decent used book store, plenty of cafes, and a (different) phone shop where I asked lots of questions about a prospective new phone of a helpful assistant with the delightful name Chanel Pillow.
5th Nov, 2016 09:23 (UTC)
That sounds like quite a serendipitous breakage. Chanel Pillow!
4th Nov, 2016 05:36 (UTC)
I'm glad it wasn't your head gasket! Mine in my first car (a teeny ancient sportscar) blew when I was 17, going up a fairly steep, long grade on an interstate highway. Thankfully, I was caravaning with someone who drove a much bigger vehicle and was willing to drive behind me to prevent someone else from riding on my bumper. It was scary and stressful and we didn't even reach the top of the pass before we came to the conclusion that the car was not gonna make it. Going 20mph on a highway where the average speed is over 70 is scary as hell. Especially for a somewhat insecure young driver who'd been in a bad accident on a different highway about 7 months prior (I was lucky to walk away from the accident, or so they tell me; if I'd had a front passenger, they would probably have died, and if the car behind me had been anyone but a highly experienced courier, I probably would have had a secondary impact on my door that likely would have done me a lot of damage). Having a big SUV behind me meant that nobody got aggressive with me as my speedometer slipped from the same speed as everyone else to 45, which is when I pulled off the highway the first time, and then I couldn't get it up over 20 when I restarted the car. It had had overheating problems since years before it was my car, so I had hoped that was all it was...but the head gasket was gone, and the car ended up being donated because the cost to replace the head gasket would've been more than the total value of the car.
5th Nov, 2016 05:49 (UTC)
...it occurs to me that caravaning means something rather different in the US than in the UK, doesn't it? And I'd forgotten about that. Multiple cars making the same journey together, not sure what you guys would call that. Most of my things were in his SUV, because I was coming up for a Renaissance Faire, a music festival, and then finally moving into my uni dorm for my sophomore year.
5th Nov, 2016 09:21 (UTC)
That sounds like a much older sense of caravanning than we use here! I think here the word is used only in the sense of 'towing a caravan'.

I was worried about the head gasket being beyond economic repair on Helga, but fortunately it was OK.
6th Nov, 2016 08:41 (UTC)
It is an older sense, yes. The British meaning of towing a caravan (which we would call a camper, most likely; possibly a trailer, but if you were being specific it'd be a camper unless you were getting even more specific and even then it'd typically be a "X camper" rather than just a "X") comes via the sense of a horse-drawn wagon, which is a few centuries newer than the sense of 'group of travelers.'

As the version involving a wagon only traces back to the 19th century, this is pretty definitely one of those ones where the words differ because of us splitting off from the Brits. Now I find myself wondering what Aussies would understand the word caravaning to mean, since they were still a colony when you guys started using the word in vaguely the same way you do now!

(Sorry, I geek out a lot. Etymology is fascinating. Not to be confused with entomology, which gives me the heebie-jeebies. Making a giant knit millipede for my younger nephew's birthday this month has had me twitching ever since I put the legs on the darn thing!)
4th Nov, 2016 14:23 (UTC)
When I had the Big Red Truck (whom I still miss terribly in certain specific circumstances usually having to do with figuring out how to get large items like full sheets of plywood from the store to the house), I opened the garage one morning to find that the water pump had gone--all over the garage floor. *sigh* That was probably the least annoying thing that truck did, the most annoying being her tendency towards overheating when the temperature was above 80F.
4th Nov, 2016 22:03 (UTC)
Poor Helga! Glad she got better.

And of course Brythen would have his own chauffeur.
6th Nov, 2016 22:51 (UTC)
I'm glad Helga survived to live another day, she's a very good car :-)
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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