Does everyone carry zip ties in their campervan? Certainly without these handy plastic ties in our campervan spares cupboard we would sometimes struggle to stay on the road. I am old enough to remember the days before zip ties but still find it hard to think how we managed without these small bits of nylon in the past. We have used zip ties to hold lights onto bikes when the mount has broken; they have replaced broken handles on bags, held together rolled up blankets and more recently were essential for a makeshift [but solid] repair on our Renault Master.
According to Wikipedia, Cable ties were the invention of Maurus C Logan of the electrical company Thomas & Betts. Appearing in 1958 under the brand name Ty-Rap they were initially designed to organise and keep tidy the multiple lengths of cabling in aeroplanes and Logan spent a few years working out the design. They are, of course, still really useful for that original purpose as we now have multiple lengths of cabling that needs organising in our home.
I like to get our van serviced and checked regularly, so before we set off on our trip to France we took our campervan into the local garage. We needed some new front brake pads and oil changes were due. It seemed worth getting these things sorted before travelling so that we could be sure the Blue Bus would have a trouble-free trip. Unfortunately, this forethought had the opposite result as the garage didn’t quite put our Renault back together in the way they had found it.
Driving down to Portsmouth for the St Malo ferry there was an alarming banging noise from the front wheel at between 65 and 70 mph. We slowed down and pottered into the next services to stop and take a look. It seemed the cover over one of the wheel arches was flapping as the bolts that hold it in place had come loose. In our campervan we have one cupboard devoted to things that are useful for repairs. Here we keep various kinds of tape, spare handles, superglue, waterproof clothing repair kits, needles and thread, tools and of course zip ties. In this instance the reel of strong tape held the flapping plastic still and the rest of our journey to Portsmouth was uneventful apart from the three hour traffic jam that almost made us miss the boat!
We thought that was the end of the matter but should have known better. A few days later I was doing some stretching exercises on the ground beside the ‘van, glancing underneath I noticed something hanging down that shouldn’t be. Further investigation revealed that when the garage had carried out the service they hadn’t fixed the plastic cowling under the engine [the under-engine undertray] back in properly and it was now hanging down low just waiting to be caught on an unsuspecting speed bump.
We do have breakdown cover but decided to have a go at fixing it ourselves and so lying on the outdoor mat I had been exercising on, Mr BOTRA lay under the confines of our campervan while I handed the appropriate sized zip tie to him. He fixed three of these in the holes where the missing bolts should be. We checked the repair regular but this temporary fix saw us around the rest of Brittany and back home from Portsmouth. They worked so well I wonder if Renault should consider using cheap zip ties instead of the bolts that the garage had failed to fix properly.
Our quarantine is almost over and after the excitement of the dentist trip on day one of freedom, day two will involve a trip to the garage to give them the chance to put right their mistake.