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So off I go, only 3,000 miles before I get home! Every thirty seconds or so I would look down at the oil pressure gauge, the rev counter and the temperature gauge, and every thirty seconds or so the temperature gauge would be that little bit higher. After ten minutes it settled down around ‘bloody hot’, just below the ‘engine explodes’ level, and I persevered at a steady speed, being regularly passed by grannies on pushbikes. The further I went though, the worse the engine started to sound and the less power I had underneath my right foot. Groaning, squeaking and scratching sounds were added to the regular whining, chugging and scraping, and by the time I got to Chicago the stupid thing was barely making it up even the gentlest slope. Plan B had lasted almost a thousand miles, and although that might sound like a lot, it’s not even a third of the way across the country and there was no way that the Drea…errr..Bastardmobile was going to make it all the way back home.

Plan C, hitting it with a small branch a la Basil Fawlty, did make me feel much better, but didn’t make the BM run any better.

Plan D, violently kicking the BM and swearing at it, just got me a bruised toe and some funny looks from passers-by.

Feeling much happier with life in general, and for the first time actually believing that I might make it all the way across the country in this contraption, I’m in the middle of Illinois on the freeway when a police car coming in the opposite direction does a u-turn about half a mile in front of me. He then keeps switching lanes, speeding up, slowing down, and generally driving badly. There wasn’t much traffic on the roads and I’m not sure what he was doing so I carried on happily at a decent speed. Then he slows down to about 40mph, and the few vehicles on the road just go past him. I’m behind a huge articulated lorry who must be taking a break from murdering hitchhikers to actually drive somewhere, when all of a sudden I see the flashing lights in my rear view mirror. I expect him to pass me and zoom off after some criminal somewhere, but it turns out that he wants me to stop. Excellent – caught by the fuzz! It was about time something interesting happened to break up the monotony. He gets out and strolls up to the BM, asks for licence and registration, and all that other stuff you see on TV. He then tells me that I “need to spread it out a little between those semis”. Whatever that means! It’s a good job he didn’t ask me why I had been pulled over, because ‘spreading it out a little more between those semis’ wouldn’t have been top of my list of replies. I just nodded and smiled and thanked him politely, not thinking it prudent to mention the fact that there was only one ‘semi’ on the road, and also keeping my opinions on his questionable driving ability to myself. He wrote out a warning and told me that it wouldn’t cost me anything, and then started asking me which part of ‘down under’ I came from. Git! Eventually he left me in peace and I set out again, still completely oblivious to what I had done wrong and just hoping that I didn’t do it again while he could still see me!

The good behaviour on the part of the BM was short-lived. About 500 miles from the safe haven of Chicago, it started playing up again, with the whirring, clicking, grinding and lack of power returning. Surrounded by millions of acres of cornfields in the middle of Nebraska isn’t the ideal place to try to get an RV fixed, so all I could do was carry on driving and hope for the best. The temperature would rise to the maximum then drop a little bit, going up hills was a nightmare, and on one occasion it stopped completely halfway up a hill in Utah but fortunately started again, otherwise I would really have been buggered. Two days of solid driving later, I finally arrived back in San Francisco, completely knackered and very smelly!

To be continued…...

Nothing else for it, but to move onto Plan E: calling friends in the Chicago area first thing on a Sunday morning and hope that they’re around/awake. This time my luck was in, and I managed to limp to a safe haven. A couple of phone calls later and a quick trip down the road, and the BM was safely in a garage under the watchful gaze of a reliable mechanic. After a day or so hanging around and taking it easy (for a change), I get the dreaded call from the mechanic. I was expecting to hear that it would take weeks and thousands of dollars to fix, the engine was ruined, the suspension was trashed, and I had a major problem with my Big End! But after spending a few hours on the BM, they had fixed the wobbling problem (diagnosed by the Muppet Mechanics as a problem with the drive shaft that needed sending away to get it fixed), tuned the engine (the Muppets hadn’t realised that engines need tuning), and it sounded and drove better than when I first bought it. It wasn’t overheating any more, and made it up hills without choking and spluttering. And my Big End is fine! I don’t know what they did to change the BM back into the DM; maybe they stuffed a stick of Kryptonite up its tail (pipe)?
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