Where's Frankie?

Ice Road Truckers

Monday 21st November

After a night of continuous rain masking the sound of church bells things got off to a bad start wen the coffee grinder gave up the ghost. Luckily we still had the old hand grinder so I could get my daily caffeine fix.

We are 20 miles from France, over the pass and the signs are all saying the pass is open so off we go. There are large lorries coming towards us which is a good sign that the road is OK and we keep heading onwards and upwards, noting occasional lumps of snow and slush on the road.

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Gradually the snow turned to sleet but the roads are looking good, more big lorries have passed us in the other direction.

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And then it started getting whiter. At this point I decided to put the snow chains on, I’ve practised (once, two years ago when it was sunny and warm), it can’t be that hard, the man in the video can do it in less than two minutes. After 10 minutes my fingers were numb and I’d nearly got one side finished! 

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They did both go on but I had to keep stopping to make sure everything was OK, the noise was horrendous and we couldn’t do more than 20mph.

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Nice little series of hairpins going up and I’m starting to feel confident that we can get through this which is when disaster struck. Frankie’s fat rear end swung away from me and we clipped the stone wall to the side. I eventually found somewhere to stop (if you pull off the road you risk falling into a deep rut) and had a look. Big bits were missing and had fallen off half a mile back. I had to cable tie one of the light clusters to the bike rack as well.

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We had to turn around (again not easy without falling off the side of a mountain) and found what we were looking for in the middle of the road, picked it up and put it inside just as the snow plough came along. Do we turn around and continue the journey, we are half a mile from France by now, or give up and follow the snow plough.

Easy choice really but the noise from snow chains on tarmac is even worse, we crawled downhill until the roads had cleared and there was a lay-by to pull into.

Taking snow chains off is even harder than putting them on, the bit you need to unhook is at the back and you can’t reach it, or see it. I ended up laying in 2” of very wet slush trying to get underneath to unhook the coupling and then disentangle the chain where it had got tangled around the brake callipers.

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We’re now in Borgo San Dalmazzo, a large town 30 miles back from where we turned around. We’ve found the camper area eventually and had lunch while we looked at our options. Maps.me came up trumps and found us a car repair garage half a mile away so I walked down there and tried to communicate. They spoke no English, I speak no Italian but I had Google Translate and a couple of photos of the damage. No problemo they said, gave me a lift back to Frankie and I pulled into their large workshop and let them get on with it.

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As good as new, except for the reversing light which is AWOL and the scuffing to the right side of the fairing. It’s a bit more than a T-cut scuff unfortunately. Two blokes, over an hour during their siesta – how much?

hey wanted €40, I gave them €70 which caused a lot of fuss until I did lots of drinking actions (I’ve practised those) and they finally understood that I was very happy. We’re in the sosta in Borgo, might have a look around but it is cold and raining and Frankie is very comfortable except for the large wet patch on the floor where I’ve been dripping on the carpet. Maybe we’ll get to France tomorrow but we will be going a different way for sure.

9 thoughts on “Ice Road Truckers

  1. Elaine Moody

    Well done for retrieving the bumper, we had to have ours replaced soon after buying the van and the part alone then (5 years ago) was £1000 and a 6 week manufacturing wait. Still enjoying reading your adventures although I’m sure the last one you would rather not have had. Looking forward to catching up with you both on your return. x

      1. Elaine Moody

        Solar Panels are GREAT don’t even plug in at home. Most importantly I have a hair dryer and hair straighteners I can use in the van for the first time ever not to mention the toaster. What reprograming of charging?

        1. Mark Post author

          You have to tell the Schaudt controller how much battery capacity you have. Ours was set to 85Ah and after a day or two the meter was showing empty. There is a little booklet for the control panel and you can program it up to 220Ah. Now the batteries are lasting forever.

  2. Pam

    Oh no, you have our sympathy, we’ve had a day like that today. Managed to catch our side skirting on a bollard today and damage a tyre.
    I swear there are more repairs on our van than original bits! Hope you’re having a drink or two tonight to cheer you up. Nice repair job though, I’m impressed.
    We made it into France despite that start to the day but it’s very wet and windy and not pleasant at 880m altitude, couldn’t see much because there were black clouds in the way.
    Hope you get to France (in the nicest way!) OK tomorrow.

    1. Mark Post author

      There seem to be obstacles everywhere, really don’t want to think about changing a tyre.
      We seem to be stuck in a dead end valley if you discount the roads that go over mountains. Might be stuck here for ages. Our heating is going full blast.
      It will stop raining one day!

  3. val and andrew

    Glad your both ok that was a bit of a shocker but it looks brand new and clean ,I hope you poured yourself a stiff drink or four ,tell me your not down to the holy water already,if you are I am seeing santa at the weekend ( the one from weatherspoons who laughs a lot ) and I know you have been very good I can get him to do a special run sprits and brollies ….On the pants scale are talking 1 light oak or 10 mahogany . SAFER TRAVELS

    1. Mark Post author

      I’ve run out of pants and holy water, it was scary and upsetting but things are on the up, it’s just stopped raining! Don’t forget to ask everyone to send me photos of you all in wetherspoons, you know how much it upsets me

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