NEWSFLASH !! 26 September, 2011.
Our worst nightmare – the Bus was on Fire !!
I kid you not. One minute we’re driving along, merrily, around a roundabout, the next minute smoke is rising up from the dashboard and filling the windcreen. It was at this point we began to brick our pants.
Panic stations. Where was this smoke coming from? And there was a lot of it. We pulled into a layby, stuck the hazards on, turned the engine off. What next? Best get the dogs out the back. Sarah jumped out, slid the side door open, jumped back in (well maybe not jumped), unharnessed both dogs, grabbed their leads and ran to safety. I jumped out, grabbed the fire extinguisher, read the instructions on how to use it. Couldn’t understand them in my the adrenalin fuelled panic. They looked like they were written in Welsh or Czech or something. I can’t read the bloody instructions !! Don’t panic, don’t panic…. running out of options I turned the fire extinguisher upside down and lo and behold, I could read it. Who’d have throught that Welsh upside down is English.
Back to the fire – where was it? I checked under the dashboard – nothing doing there. Everything looked fine. I ran round the back (well jogged probably) and opened the engine lid. Careful now – you don’t want backdraft! I’ve seen the film (no I haven’t). Carefully….. carefully… nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Check underneath – it must be underneath. Nothing.
I dashed back to the dashboard.
The smoke had gone. Like it had just vansihed into thin air. Where’s the smoke gone? Where there’s smoke there’s fire they say. I can’t remember, but I may even have scratched my head at this point. Stan Laurel style. If you’re going to scratch your head then do it the Stan Laurel way.
Je ne comprends pas? I said as I shrugged my shoulders all gallic like.
I legged it back to the engine. It was still there – like it always has been.
Time to experiment. What happens if I turn the engine on again? It’s like Russian Roulette, this game. Will it begin to smoke again? ‘Cos that’s what happened the last time the engine was running. I turned the engine on. It started. No smoke. Well only that that normally chugs out the exhaust. So quite a bit then. But at least it was where you’d expect it to be.
Then I got thinking. We had the heater switched on and the smoke had risen out of the dashboard. It must have come from the heating ducts – which come from the engine. Checking the heating controls were in the ‘on’ position I strolled back to the engine again. The heater fan wasn’t spinning. The little motor that spins the heater fan must have burnt out. And that must have smoked a bit as it burnt out. The heater fan’s last act was to pump it’s own smoke down the duct and into the cab up front. And that little act made us brick our pants. ‘Well done Columbo’ I said to myself. Problemo solved.
TomTom helped me fix the heating controls – we re-wired it up ourselves. I remember thinking we were quite pleased about that too. Quite pleased to get the little heater motor spinning.
With the mystery solved we had another round of Russian Roulette and decided to drive the bus home. I mean, what’s the worst that could have happened eh?