Tuesday, 15 May 2007

9th May - Lucca

9th May
Parma to Lucca

Arrival in Lucca 48560km

Diesel 35e

We were a small bit late in leaving Parma, just due to the fact that we were both a bit wrecked. I think all the walking around in the sun yesterday had taken it's toll a bit. While Bruce was still sleeping, I pottered around and did a few jobs, like emptying the dreaded chemical toilet! The weather was already really starting to warm up by late morning and we got on our way around noon, stopping off to fill up with fuel.

I had planned the route the night previous, as there was a scenic route listed on the road atlas that looked to be more interesting, perhaps, than the main trunk road, so we only relied on Maisy to get us on to the first stretch of the main road and then I switched her navigational instructions off and just kept the map on, to keep track of the road numbers as they approached. We started off on the SS9 towards Modena and then turned south on the SS12 all the way towards the city of Lucca.

The first stretch was fairly uninteresting, but once on the SS12, the scenery started to unfold. Rich, lush pastures, then climbing into the hills where there were lots of forests. On the first of the long slow inclines, I had Hermione dropped down into 3rd to make the climb, and I always have a habit of keeping an eye on the temperature guage on those long climbs, especially on hot days, and today was scorching. Some of the roadside signs were showing 32 deg C, although I imagine that's not in the shade. Anyway, about half way up, the needle started to creep up and usually I can tell when the cooling fan should kick in, just above the 90 deg mark, but still the needle kept climbing and I started to get a small bit concerned. The temperature warning lamp came on and fotunately we were only a few hundred metres away from a lay by, so I pulled in and switched off the motor.

When I rurned the ignition switch back on, the cooling fan wouldn't run, so I knew we were in a spot of bother, as there was going to be no way to do all the hill climbing ahead with the engine overheating. I started to investigate the problem. Some previous owner or mechanic had rewired the electric fans and had completely bypassed the original circuit, ppresumably for a sound enough reason, maybe it was faulty, but the wiring job they'd replaced it with was a bit of a dog's breakfast, with cables taken directly from the battery, through a relay and the fan switch on the radiator. I mean, it all made sense the way it was wired, just more the routing of the cabling that was pretty poor and untidy. I discconnected all the cabling from the relay and started testing it all with the multimeter in my toolbox. I found all the wiring to be ok and ran the individual cables from the fans to the battery. One worked but the other fan didn't budge. It looks like the motor has siezed up. It may well have been like this for a while, running with just one fan. I found that the relay used to switch the circuit was faulty, but fortunately I had a spare relay in my bag of spare 'stuff' in the boot, so I was able to rewire it all with the new relay and just left the faulty fan disconnected. I'll need to try to pick up a fan assembly at a scrap yard, but until then, one fan will just need to do the job. The wiring will all need to be tidied up properly later on too..... Finally, I topped up the coolant that Hermione had spat out when she overheated and we carried on our way.

It was a very scenic, if a bit of slow journey, due to the hill climbing and very twisty mountain road, but still well worth it for the views. We arrived in Lucca about half four and tried to find somewhere to park up. I spotted signs for a camper rest area and we headed there. This one is a proper commercial camper stop that looks brand new, as there's nothing listed in the book I have. It's 15e for the night inc. electric hook up which is ok. It's nicely placed within walking distance of the city centre.

WE walked in and through on of the city's gates (it's still walled nearly all the way round) and found a very old, quaint city inside, with loads of churches and piazzas and narrow stone streets. It's a fascinating little city that I'd never have though of visiting if it hadn't been marked on the atlas as well worth a visit. We had dinner in a small restaurant. The food was ok. Actually, the pasta was very good, but not all that cheap. I'm missing Spain for the cheap food!

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