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Car service

Well, gotta hand it to Cyril, he did a speedy job.

My "appointment" was for 9am. I was there for 8.40. He was already open.

I should add, when I set out, I turned my phone on (or, rather, out of airplane mode). Turns out that CNU (the place that sold the car) wanted to pick it up tomorrow to do the work. Uhh... advance notice, guys?

So, I left my car with a printed list of things I wanted checked. He seemed surprised by that, but I said that I was well aware that I speak French like a Spanish cow (it's an expression). Basically...

  • The usual stuff for the 10Kkm service (oil, gearbox oil, air filter, fuel filter...).
  • Check the ABS to see why it isn't working
  • Change the coolant (because of rust particles)
  • Check the valve clearances
  • Check the preheat thingies

The coolant was because it was murky orange after I have been driving, so it would be good to flush some of that out. And the valves/preheaters because it was getting hard to start. In the morning when it was 10°C.

He asked me to return in the evening. I said I was going for a walk around town because I have no other transport. So he said "be back before noon".

I wasn't expecting that. Only three hours?

I didn't feel like a walk, so I walked about ten minutes at my usual brisk pace to the railway station, then sat down there and read about two thirds of "Anna and the Apocalypse". I was on track to likely finish the book by half eleven. When the phone rang, just before eleven.
I knew it was mine, the ringtone is a bell phone that rings with a British cadence (rrrring-rrringgg ... rrrring-rrringgg). I can head back now, it's done.

A train passes by
A train passes by.

I was lucky enough to see a train pass by. Given the next one was in about four hours, I rather expected to see it being followed by tumbleweed.

I walked back and found the car running, raised up in the air. I looked at it and said "I don't have a pilot's licence". An ever so slight smile crossed the man's face. I do appreciate it when my humour translates, as so often it doesn't.

Okay then...

First up, he suspects the ABS unit is toast. But it might be a faulty sensor. I'm guessing from this that Cyril doesn't have one of those thingies (that's the technical term ☺) to plug into the ABS' diagnostic port to get a readout of what went wrong.
Sensors are in the ballpark of a hundred euros (already looked on a parts site) and Cyril estimates that the unit itself is about a grand. He did sort of imply, however, that it wasn't a big deal on a car as light as a sans permis so since the braking is perfectly fine, just no longer intelligent, I shouldn't worry too much about it. Just drive in a manner appropriate for the road conditions and don't brake harshly unless there's no choice.

He said that what I likely would have experienced when starting the car was a sort of chug-chug-chug-chug like it was trying to start but failing. Which was exactly correct. Turns out, one of the glow plugs (ah, I remembered the name!) had failed, so only one cylinder was actually being able to start properly. He changed both.

He said the rust in the coolant was fairly normal for these little cars, and mine is not the worst he's seen. But, yes, clearing out the sediment once in a while is good for the water pump.

He also checked the tyre pressure, topped up the wiper fluid, and judging by the fairly smooth ride home I think he also might have thrown a touch of grease on the squeaky suspension. Certainly, the car sounded quite different on the way home. It was just a noisy engine, and not a noisy engine that sounded like bits were going to fall off. I'm guessing the clattering was the tappits? I remember having to have them seen to on Felicity.

I read somewhere, perhaps the engine service manual, that the engine is supposed to be checked and trimmed every 100 hours of service. Giving the car a service every 5000km is, about 112 hours of use. So it's not far off, but enough that maybe things will need adjusting.

I left with him one of the wheels from my big mower. He sucked in his breath at the state of it. Well... yeah... I said "imagine trying to drive it with wheels like that".
He said he'll look around back to see if he has anything for me, and to come back one evening this week. I might pop around tomorrow or Thursday. I don't need new, I just need something that isn't like a cartoon car.


All in, it came to €175, and €44 of that was for the glow plugs. Was... actually about a hundred less than I was expecting.


I called the car salesman from CNU and apologised, said that since I hadn't heard anything from them by the end of the week, I made an appointment with a local company. "Yes, Cyril", he man replied. Obviously they had been in touch.
He also seemed aware of the ABS problem, so he will speak with the mechanic and look to setting up a rendez-vous. I asked if it could be in maybe three or four weeks. I don't want to keep taking days off work. Firstly, I happen to actually like my job (and I really like that I'm left alone to do it), and also remember that I didn't go in yesterday with no notice. Today, at least, was planned. So, you know, don't want to annoy them.


Just had a quick look online. It's about €50 for an ABS sensor (looks like it might be the same thing used for all wheels, just mounted differently). About €28 for the rear toothed disc, which honestly looked like it barely had any teeth)... and, yeah, the controller units are pricey. It looks like it is an ATE MK70 unit. But with an Aixam branding, so it may need programming for the sort of car that it is in? Prices seem to go from about €350 (and it's not entirely clear if that's reconditioned or not) to four digits. So... fingers crossed that it's just a faulty sensor!


Just noticed that there's a grease smear on the seat cover. Not cool, Cyril. Not cool. It's also on the back of my top. Thankfully my top is black, so a quick cold handwash should hopefully sort that until it can be dealt with by the washing machine on Friday.
As for the seat cover, shampoo and a toothbrush has removed the worst of it. Still visible, but it'll do for now. Both are hanging up to dry.
This must be the one mechano in the area that hasn't heard of disposable seat covers, which are designed for this exact reason.

Grease belongs on moving bits, not on seats
Grease belongs on moving bits, not on seats.


Pooping blood

I feel quite a bit better, but from time to time there's still a pain in my gut, and still red coming out. Less than before, but still.
I had what I think was diverticulitis about this time back in 2017 (ironically mentioned in the Eurovision write-up, what are the chances?) so I'm wondering if I have "bust a gut" in the literal sense, or if it's just a side effect of that.

I phoned the surgery who did not have any appointments. After explaining what had happened, she took a note and left it for my doctor.

And rang back ten minutes later to tell me that I was going to be fit in at the end, please come by for 6.45pm this evening.
That's really nice of them to fit me in. But for some piece of mind I'd like to talk to my doctor about this.

Hehe... if she remembers me, that is. I last went to see her at the end of 2019 when I had that horrible flu. I'm very much of the opinion that if one can stay conscious, all of the extremities are still attaches, and blood isn't coming out, then there's no need to go see a doctor.
Well... blood. Dammit!


So now what?

Well, I can't mow. The wheel is twenty kilometres away and it would be mind-numbingly stupid to do something like that when I'm in this state.

I also have the day off work, this time scheduled.

I know, why don't I go get myself a burger? <erp, erp, hic> Pass me the bucket RIGHT NOW!

Actually, the nice sunny sky has started to cloud over. It's a bit "will it won't it" for whether or not this will break with a thunderstorm. AccuWeather reckons one will pass through at around 5pm, but with only 1.3mm of rain it won't be a big one.

My tummy is gurgling, I've only been giving it yogurt. And the first thing I had today is a cup of tea just now. Didn't want to risk needing the toilet at the train station...especially since it turns out there isn't one.
Well, I'm home now. Time, I think, to try something a little more substantial than cherry pieces. Time for some rice pudding, and to just chill out.


[UPDATE 9.40pm] What the doctor said

I finally saw her at about ten past seven, but I expected her to be running a little late, it happens. And very nice that she saw me at all, as I said several times.

I explained what had happened. She took my blood pressure (110/60) and poked around my gut. Which, actually, didn't hurt at the time but was a little sore when I got up.

She wrote me a prescription for paracetamol, Spasfon (in case of pain/cramping), and something called "Recécadotril" in case of continued explosive venting. But, there's pretty much nothing coming out, yet.

Because of the physicality of my work, she has signed me off for four days, backdated as of Monday to cover the day I was absent, and to apparently allow me to recuperate the holiday day that today was supposed to be. It's a little depressing, as the person who normally covers for me is also off work (I think she had some sort of operation, so it's a bigger deal that my manky burger) so god knows who or what is going on. I know I should think "it's not my problem", but I can't help but feel... I don't know... loyalty?

I also have to poop in a little plastic tub and take it to the doctor's office tomorrow morning (pickup is at 11am). So I think I'd better make some bland pasta, maybe a real light sprinkling of cheese on top, so I may have something to actually put into the tub.
It will be... interesting. Because I've never had to aim from that orifice. And it's a small tub.
TMI, right? Okay, I'll shut up and leave you with a picture. Suffice to say, I think getting this into that is going to be like one of those weird Youtube challenges, only icky.

Never has such a big tub looked so small
Never has such a big tub looked so small.

When I was at the pharmacy, I had the woman swap out the paracetamol for one of my choosing. She said I'd have to pay for it in that case. No big.
My doctor had prescribed me 1g pills. Oh my god, I never take more than 500mg. If it's bad enough to justify a whole gram, I can take two 500s. But, 'tis few and far between that I feel the need.
I asked if they had the powder, as I really don't like the taste of water, but they were out of stock. So she offered me a sort of dissolving pastille.
She then pointed out that I'd need water for the other pills. I said I'd have to grin and bear it, it was only for a couple of days.

I think most people think I'm nuts when I say I don't like the taste of water. Mom used to tell me it didn't have a taste. I can just about tolerate Evian and Volvic in small doses, but there's a cheap bottled water around here called "Crystalline" or something that is bitter as hell. To the point where I use it for boiling water to sterilise my plates and cutlery. And for rinsing rice before cooking. Volvic is used for actually cooking stuff, and for regular tea. Evian is used for special tea. And yes, it does make a difference.
Tap water? Well, at home it's from a well (which is why I sterilise food implements with boiling bottled water before use), and it's otherwise used for bathing and washing clothes. Nil by mouth.
Tap water elsewhere? Is like I'd imagine drinking from a swimming pool would be.

I noticed, when in the pharmacy, that they had a display of protein drinks like the sort they used to give mom (not that it helped). I asked if it was possible to buy them without a prescription.
She said certainly. Which is more than the other place said when I was ill at the end of 2019!
She recommended a vanilla drink, because it could be resealed and taken in small amounts rather than eaten all at once (but note carefully, she said, it must be consumed within 12 hours, don't leave it in the fridge, say, overnight).
600 calories, 30g of protein. Ought to be a way to perk up my body as I would imagine it's currently relying on the plentiful supply of former-Mars-bars. Yup, that lump in the middle.
I figure this stuff is like Babivanille with go-faster stripes.

Better than Babivanille?
Better than Babivanille?

The pharmacienne recommended a lactose free (not actually true, it is reduced lactose as it contains milk proteins!) drink because it would be softer on my gut. I guess she completely missed the whole "I ate about ten yogurts yesterday and a rice pudding today" part of the discussion. ☺

I'm going to have pasta and Babivanille for dinner. Nothing too weird as I don't want oddities in my sample tomorrow morning.


Something a little depressing was that my doctor asked me to come see her as my medical notes were essentially blank. Didn't the retired doctor pass anything along? I asked.
So she has no idea about my history, nor medications, allergies, etc etc.

So I gave her a quick crash course. I take paracetamol if there's a need, I try to avoid seeing doctors unless something is actually wrong, I can't stand the smell of cigarette smoke, my drugs of choice are tea and chocolate (but mostly tea). I am allegic to alcohol so I don't drink. And I had my tonsils out when I was ten.
She asked about immunisation. I said I'm triple-dosed for the current plague and... wasn't it her husband that did the recent tetanus/etc shots? She looked on the screen and nodded, back in 2018.
That's pretty much the beginning, middle, and end of my medical history. "As little as possible". I'm never going to be one of these people that pays regular visits to the doctor for a jollop. Blood came out, so my rule about when to visit the doctor is intact. ☺


Finally, on the way home. Car issue.

I put my foot down to the place where I'd usually get a speed of around 47ish on the flat. But, it didn't sound quite right. The gearbox was noisier than normal. I look down at the speedo and I'm doing 54 with still some way to push the pedal. Good grief, whatever Cyril did made the engine happier. I eased up back to 47-48ish, thinking that I'm not sure the engine has ever felt quite that nippy. Do glow plugs serve a purpose in combustion when the engine is running normally? I thought latent heat in the cylinder did that, once the engine had warmed up.



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Mick , 17th May 2022, 15:22
Pleased you are seeing a doctor. It's unlikely anything sinister but doesn't hurt to check.  
Oh are they are running real trains beyond Rettiers again? Just passed 5 Southern class 455s they can have as they will be off to Newport SIMS and scrapped shortly.
Rick, 17th May 2022, 15:40
Just had a big ass military propeller jobbie fly over. 
FlightRader24 says it's the Belgian military, and it took off from Base Aérea 5 - Monte Real in Portugal. Hmm. 🤔
Rick, 17th May 2022, 15:45
Yes, they are doing the route down to Châteaubriant now. 
Honestly, I don't see why they don't just fudge the lines and run the tram-train directly between Nantes and Rennes. 
You know it's been nearly seven years already? 2015/09/08. 
I went to Nantes last summer. The video is 
I dedicated it to you in memory of when you took us there the first time. 
John, 17th May 2022, 16:26
Not sure about rice pudding, plain "boiled" rice (or whatever the rice cooker does) sounds a better option - dairy seems not a good idea, even when processed!
Mick , 17th May 2022, 16:32
Ah! I saw that the mayor re-opened Rennes to Rettiers but there was no mention of the last 2 stops ever coming back. It would have made sence to run the tram train to Rennes though. Well as much sense as opening the defunct Châteaunriant to Nantes. They didn't spare any expence there for what? 6 trams a day.  
Was it 2015?! Wow. I think it was more your Mom took us both there.  
Rick, 17th May 2022, 18:52
I drink a *lot* of milk, so lactose isn't an issue. 
My entire diet yesterday was about ten yogurts, so it's good to have a little something I can sort of chew on. 
In the doctor's waiting room right now.
Rick, 17th May 2022, 18:56
I think the passenger numbers from Châteaubriant sont justify more runs. From one of the Erdre towns (Nort?), they are a lot more frequent, but then it's pretty much a dormitory town for Nantes. 
Yup, 2015. Those Halcyon pre-Brexit days. 
I'm looking at a sign on the wall. It's about colorectal sample testing, from the age of 50 and then every two years. Normally I'd not pay much attention, but... that's now just a year and a half away. F..... 
Rick, 17th May 2022, 18:57
"sont" = "don't" 
As if swipetype doesn't have enough problems, switching languages in a sentence really does it's tiny little mind in. 😂
Mick , 17th May 2022, 20:40
What I was questioning is why or whether it was worth opening the tram-train line in the first place. I'm glad they did open it though. I also wondered if it was politically motivated because Châteabriant is in Pays de la Loire and you could only get to it by train from Rennes in Brittany? 
The Rennes to Châteabriant line was (the last time I visited) completely manual. I found it fascinating. There is a passing loop at Janzé ?? where the signaller walks up to the points and manually sets them on the rare occasions trains pass each other. The stop signals there and at Rettiers were portable. Signaller just plonked it down on the platform on a fixed painted white line. I wonder if they've upgraded it now?  
Sample testing is better than anal probing! Eek. Hopefully it won't come to that ;)
Rick, 17th May 2022, 21:52
I think the tram-train serves a commuter purpose as of Nort-sur-Erdre, but beyond that, maybe not so much. 
I'm not entirely sure if they took it up to Châteaubriant to make a point to Ille-et-Vilaine or if it was supposed to go to Rennes but Ille-et-Vilaine wimped out. Either way, it'll be a load of political crap and old fat guys trying to one up each other. 
I think, if I remember correctly, that the line is fairly heavily subsidised by Loire-Atlantique. This would tie in with the cost being, what was it, €23 to Nantes? That's about how much it cost me to get to Rennes from Vitré, which is surely a shorter route...
Rick, 17th May 2022, 21:53
That plane, by the way, landed in Brussels airport. 
I wonder who or what was on it? Some sort of diplomat? Supplies for Ukraine?
David Pilling, 18th May 2022, 13:45
In a UK context I would wonder if the car was legal with ABS not working. 
Sorry to hear about the poop. 
Water is funny stuff - not just squillions of perfectly identical H2O molecules. Does it have memory...
Rick, 18th May 2022, 14:16
If the ABS system fails, it is supposed to revert to being regular pneumatic brakes, so I don't see why it wouldn't be legal. It isn't as if the brakes have failed, just the intelligence. And better that to shut down if anything is off than try to balance a car when it has no idea what one of the wheels is doing. 
The problem with water is that I don't think anybody has ever tasted a billion dihydrogen monoxide molecules. The things that give water taste are all the impurities. Sometimes, in the case of mineral water, it's intentional. Otherwise, it just happens to be a factor of the environment of where the water is from. 
VinceH, 19th May 2022, 10:00
Entirely with you on water - horrible stuff. Especially from the tap. (Hereabouts, anyway - one notable exception was when I was in a small town in the Italian Alps for a holiday.) 
Worse than tap water is sparkling water, and even worse than that is flavoured water. 
However, the combination - flavoured (well, some flavours) + sparkling - seems to work for me. I found a brand donkey's years ago that I've bought ever since. It's what I use to take my tablets. 
Mine being for the BP. I've always taken a similar approach to going to the GP - it has to be really bad (or possibly important) otherwise 'meh'. Which is probably why the time I went and my ludicrously high BP was discovered (2013 IIRC), the records showed that it was perfectly normal the last time it was checked... in 1997. 
Now I have to at least have a blood test each year, sometimes with a follow-up appointment to have it confirmed that I've tested positive: it's still blood. 
Gavin Wraith, 19th May 2022, 10:24
As a child, in the Lake District, I used to bicycle around with a small tube in the saddlebag, so I could drink from streams. They were icy and delicious. Probably all the dead sheep further up the mountainside.
J.G.Harston, 19th May 2022, 19:41
I know what you mean about water. I was somewhat surpised when I was an university to find that the water tested different. "But it's just water, innit?" Since then I've noted I can notice the difference between Aberdeenshire, Stirling, Sheffield, Whitby, Hong Kong, Tokyo. From long-ago reading of geology texts I know it's down to the geology of the local area, and I've noticed bottled tastes differently as well, probably of the plastic. 
Almost all my fluid ingestion is tea, so as long as I have a supply of potable water, milk, and just a smidge of sugar*, and real proper tea, I can survive anywhere. 
*I've just opened a new 1kg pack of sugar, I noted on the previous pack that I bought it in May 2020.
J.G.Harston, 19th May 2022, 19:42
Yes, the temperature of water does seem to make a difference. Fresh ice-cold water is much more drinkable than warm water. Warm water just seems "stale" or something.
David Pilling, 20th May 2022, 03:05
According to Google (so it must be true), as I suspected (makes it even truer), if the car comes with ABS then it is an MOT fail if it is not working. Quite OK to have a 40 year old car with no ABS which does not require an MOT. 
As to water, a bit like does metal smell, think old money. Not the metal but the stuff that has contaminated it. 
Back then, pre-ABS, people would go for skid pan training. But now they give you a theoretical knowledge of what to do, pump the brake pedal and turn into the skid. What does turn into the skid mean exactly - as if one is going to do anything other than watch. 
Howard, 5th July 2022, 01:26
The way "old" car brakes were designing is that the master cylinder was matched to the wheel calipers/cylinder and they were matched to discs/drums to provide stable braking. 
With more "modern" cars that have ABS/traction control/stability control etc the tendency is to over brake the car i.e. discs too big, too big calipers, over assist the brake pedal etc so the entire brake system is far too good at stopping the car and to have the electronic gubbins sort it all out so the car stops nicely. 
Which is okay as long as the electronic bits work...

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