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40 goes mad in Spain 2

Rodger

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The unabridged version….
1250 miles is not a great distance, particularly to many of you guys, but when you consider that the longest trip we’d previously undertaken in our 34 year old 40 was Staffordshire to Bedford and back, suddenly it seemed, potentially, quite a journey.
As some of you will already know our 40, affectionately known by us as Elsie, was an ex winch-competition truck and over the years since we bought her in ’02, we’ve tried to bring her back to her former glory. However aside from regular trips to Lincomb, occasional trips to Hull for some green-laning in the Lincolnshire Wolds and said trip to Bedford all the running had been local and not all without problems but each one had been addressed and solved.
Our 40 has an HJ60 engine, 4 litre diesel, plus 60 series transmission and axles with coil springs on the front and power steering, again curtsey of an early 60 series. The interior is cramped as the front seats are from an HGV, the spare is carried inside and there is a full competition roll-cage in there as well. Ah, I hear you ask why not mount the spare on the outside? Well, Corinne doesn’t like the offset look and as I need her help in the garage and the truck is our baby/hobby/obsession and, also, where we live in Spain the streets are very narrow and the spare could make the difference between getting somewhere or not. We do have a third seat but that had been taken out and shipped down with our furniture sometime earlier.
Enough of that drivel… I worked my last shift on the Wednesday and on Friday we vacated the house, or to put it another way, we found the way of cramming far too much stuff into a very small space. This meant that Corinne had the jack and various assorted bits in her footwell and her most favoured plants in a box that rested on the arm rests, with maps, pro-things-to-eat and the camera surrounding the handbrake – crowded would be an understatement. The majority of my tools were already in Spain but I’d kept back sufficient to cope with all eventualities, or so I hoped. They fitted neatly into an old ammunition box that fitted snuggly into the space where a winch would go except the only words that remained visible, once it was strapped in, were “10 grenades - hand”!
That night we stayed with friends and although only 20 miles away – the trip had started! Next day we headed for Burnham-on-Sea via a friend’s to photograph an FJ45 that’s been in a barn for 20 years (and `no’ before you ask). We were leaving some stuff with the friend in Burnham so it meant that we could hide the plants behind the passenger seat and give Corinne just a little more room. Sunday dawned wet and windy and it just got worse from then on. We decided that we’d head for Plymouth on the motorway – we only cruise at the speed of the trucks, not the Irish or Scottish ones obviously – and the cross winds were… well by keeping the nearside wheels in the ruts at least we stayed in one lane most of the time! Plymouth – where the sky, sea and puddles were all the same colour – dark grey. 260 miles trouble free – and that was about the longest trouble free run we’d ever done.
It sounds like the truck is unreliable… she’s not really it just we seemed over the years to get little problems – flexible fuel line that expanded internally, a clutch slave cylinder breaking, brakes pulling unevenly – you know the sort of things, little but time consuming to identify and sort.
Straight through customs, they didn’t even check to see if the grenades had pins in – and onto the ship. I told the loading master that our truck could be quite smoky when started up – he thought that the surrounding vehicles should shut their windows! As we followed a Ferrari on they parked the two most iconic vehicles together but kept us slightly back to give the photo opportunity – nothing to do with the Ferrari occupants being unable to get in or out.

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Being near the bow we were off very quickly and through customs - wonder what the Spanish is for `hand grenade’ - and out of Santander, using the motorway but looking to pick up the old road that would take us through the gorge and some beautiful scenery. Very soon we realised that the new motorways are built for the trucks, being much more gradual in climb but longer. Elsie didn’t like it and started to get hot – not boiling but right on the `H’. About 15kms north of Reinosa, we took an off-ramp and parked to let her cool down.

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We’d only been there about 5 minutes when a couple of English Morgans joined us because they were lost (already?) Finding the old road out of Santander is difficult. If the Spanish don’t want a road used, they take the signs down! The Morgans seemed to be using the pocket version of European condensed maps which gets the whole of Spain onto one page! Anyway the Morgans happily on their way, we set off using an old road (N-611). Soon we were in Reinosa where we found a place that makes crankshafts (see pic) before we were travelling along empty roads by the lakes (CA-320). `CA’ roads are deemed to be regional roads of the third order – some are rough but others – well just look at the picture. Perhaps I should explain the road coding in Spain… first you have 3 lane motorways – just like ours but without the cameras on every bridge and you can see the tarmac between the cars! Then 2 lane motorways, followed by National Roads prefixed `N’. `Regional Roads of the First Order’ come next and they’re designated with a red `M’ on good maps and `Regional Roads of the Second Order’ are shown with a green `M’ and then come the third order marked as `CA’. `CA’ roads can also be designated as `BU’ or `CL’. Luckily most major junctions have roundabouts so you can at least keep moving while you figure out which road is the one you want. Sizeable towns are a different matter – there are plenty of signs to get you in but usually only one to get you out – your task is always to find that sign. So unless you need to go into a particular town they are best avoided using the `todos direcciones’.

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The CA- 320 becomes the BU- 642 (don’t ask me I just drove it!) and then we joined the N-623, the road the Morgans were after, which takes you through an amazing gorge.

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Skirting Burgos on the motorway we then picked up the N- 234 for Soria where we intended our first night’s stop. However it was not to be. Even on this first day we started to lose count of the number of 1,000+ metre climbs that we made but every time the 40 got hot we stopped to let her cool or let the significant downhills do the cooling. Near the bottom on one of these downhill runs, the steering started to pull and, as I was trying to assess what the problem was, the front left went `bang’ just before a bridge on a blind bend. Slowly we went over the bridge and turned into the entrance of a cement works.
Extracting the spare was no mean feat and even though it was late in the afternoon is was mighty hot, but we got it done. We don’t like to run without a spare so decided to stop at the next town – Salas de los Infantes – where, at the petrol station, Corinne’s Spanish (which is far better than my pathetic efforts) found us a tyre shop. When we bought these new tyres around 2004, we were advised if we were going off-roading that tubes should be fitted as the rims were old and probably porous and that had caused the problem; the inner tube friction against the tyre casing created excessive heat and the tube exploded. We decided to have the other front tyre done as well but it would be the morning as the shop was about to shut. After trying unsuccessfully to find a room in the town we backtracked 5 kilometres to a roadside hotel.

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The tyre man told us they’d all be done by 11.45 (they don’t open till 10am) and right on time, they were, all balanced and ready to roll.
At Soria we picked up the N-111 and by the time we reached Medinaceli at the foot of a very long downhill, it was time for some lunch. As we got out I noticed that a drawbar truck had followed us in but stopped short of the fuel station and truck park and that the driver had run back to the rear axles and was throwing water on them. Then it all got out of hand….

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The brake fire took hold; the petrol attendant ran with fire extinguishers and then ran a hose in an effort to stop the vegetation from catching; the Guardia trafico arrived & the local `bombero’ (fire crew) were called….

I should point out that this truck was carrying three Scania units when it arrived and that the flames underneath are actually the road on fire…

But no fear the local crew are here…

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You see how the road is all wet, well I missed the shot because everyone was laughing so much… they connected the hose to the water supply and turned it on before attaching it to the `fire engine’s’ tank and our two heroes then proceeded to fall in the flower bed. Believe me, WC Fields is alive and well and living in Spain.
Eventually the real boys arrived and got things under control, including getting the front of the trailer cool enough for the driver to get in there and disconnect the unit that was carrying one Scania. The road was shut for over two hours.

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After this prolonged break we had to use the A-2 motorway for around 44 kilometres to access the road (N-204) to Sacedon and the massive lakes east of Madrid. These lakes are part of the water resource for Madrid and are also a playground for its inhabitants with a number of exclusive urbanisations.
We found a hotel in Sacedon where the owners were clearing a small area behind some gates to build an extension – an ideal place to park Elsie overnight – completely out of sight.
We took a run round the town and down to the beach

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Next morning we headed for Cuenca on the N-320 past yet more lakes. We both wanted to visit Cuenca, old town, after having read a book about the Spanish Civil War – when we mentioned this in the tourist office of the old town, it fell on stony ground as neither the civil war or Franco are mentioned these enlightened times. Before visiting the old town we had lunch at the side of Cuenca’s artificial beach. The town is miles from the sea but the town has a beach, if you can call it that!

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Cuenca is both beautiful and chaotic. From Cuenca we went south picking up the CM-2100 (Did mention CMs or CUVs as road prefixes? Well they’re just like CAs, or BUs….) through more mountains passes but the 40 was running fine although I think Corinne was getting anxious about the temperature on the big climbs but she never missed a beat (Elsie that is!). On via Motilla del Palancar to get onto the CM-3114 and La Mancha (Don Quixote country) and we didn’t find a single windmill! By the time we reached La Roda it was time to find somewhere to stay. We found one in the centre of town with parking next to the re-cycling bins so we moved on to what turned out to be one of the most OTT hotels ever – decent parking though although the rest took some believing with signed photographs of bull fighters everywhere and three stuffed bull’s heads looking down on you as you ate in the restaurant complete, or rather not complete, with one ear missing. Remember how they don’t want people having knives in the UK – not the same in Spain:

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Next day - out of La Roda on the CM-3135, joining the A-1 for a short time (`A’ & `C’ roads prefixes are just cheap versions of third order roads – CMs - that usually have a bigger and better selection of pot holes) and then onto the CM-313 for Hellin. We passed through one town, where every factory made wood doors and another that just grew mushrooms and that’s before we came to the rice capital of Spain. From Hellin we travelled down the N-301 turning off onto the C – 3314 and the rice capital and then Lorca where we had to run for a short time on the motorway before picking up the MU – 620 (just another version) to Pulpi, Vera and stooped at a road house on the edge of the desert just outside Los Gallardos.

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The following day we just had about a hundred or so miles across the desert – you know the one they used in the spaghetti westerns - and run into Ugijar where we now live.
1250 miles and, aside from the puncture, no mechanical problems. We just trundle along rarely exceeding 2000rpm except for the climbs and the truck gave us 31 mpg which I think is amazing from a 4 litre diesel. She used no oil and since we got here I’ve flushed and cleaned the radiator, so now we’ll see how she copes with the temperature.
And yes, the plants made it okay and are flourishing.

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Rodger, Corinne and Elsie
 

Chas

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Thanks for sharing that Rodger, great tale and pics, BTW, there are windmills in La Mancha;

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taken on my way back from Morocco.
 

Chris

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Rodger, 31mpg is outstanding. But tell me, you never had all that in the back of Elsie did you? Otherwise Corinne would have had to sit on the roof!

All the very best for you new life down in the sunny country.

Chris
 

TonyP

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Bice report Roger, go on admit you threw a match at that lorry :shifty:
 
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Ben

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great report and pics. :clap:
 

Rodger

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Yes, all the stuff in the pic and more, there was still more to be unloaded went in the back of the 40.
We´ve sorted our overheating problem - detailed clean of rad and a new viscous fan and now she´s fine on the big climbs. We picked a friend up at Almeria airport this week (sea level) and came back up into the mountains without any problems.
Thanks for the comments and well wishes.
Take care and if you are ever down this way....
Regards,
 

Gav Peter

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Great to hear from you again Roger & Corinne - I really enjoyed your writeup & pictures; vay jealous :mrgreen:

Don't show that knife shop pic to JW, he couldn't find anything on our recent tour of the Pyrenees to his disappointment ;)

Cheers
 

Crushers

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that was a wicked thread, the Rover pump truck is just too cool.

(isn't it amazing what you can stick in the back of a 40? :shock: )
 

Scott

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Hi Rodger and Corinne, thanks for taking the time to write the journey report, it was great to hear of all your adventures along the way.

Elsie did a great job by the looks of it, especially loaded to the gunnels!

That truck fire was a bit nasty! Glad you guys got there safely. Be sure to look you up next time we're passing through.

All the best.
 
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