As already mentioned elsewhere( Bolinder ) we were offered an old Bolinder Hot-Bulb Oil Engine from a family in Southern Spain, so as we had already booked the ferry before the offer was made, we decided to change the route and go to collect that first. As we had no weight information on the engine, which also had a large marine gearbox fitted, we put into place some reinforcing measures on the trailer chassis to prevent chassis flexing ( Trailer Mods )
As is the way with these things, we had problems with a job at work, so the original sailing date had to be put back by three weeks. In its own way this was useful, as we were running out of time to finish the trailer mods, plus we had to service the trailer brakes etc. The big day came on the 24th September when we left the factory after a half-day and drove down to Dartmouth, Devon, to stay with our niece overnight, before the last part of the journey to Plymouth on the Wednesday morning. The trailer was finished on the Monday night, and we were loaded by 10am on Tuesday. The trip down to Dartmouth was good, taking about 4 hours or so for 300 miles. The trailer rode much better with the stiffer chassis, and we had no problems with the towball rattling over bumps as we had noticed before, caused by the chassis whipping and rebounding over bumps when empty. Distance to Plymouth from home was 498km or 309miles.
The last bit down to Plymouth was quickly over, and we arrived at 10.30am at the Britanny Ferries terminal at Tor Point. The weather was cool and very clear, wind speed 3-4 mph and little swell on the sea, which promised a quiet crossing. Loading was a bit protracted, but we pushed off at just past 12.20 and were on the high seas very quickly, the ferry doing a 3-point turn to back out of the terminal and go out to sea on the eastern side of the harbour breakwater. The sea was unbelievably calm, something for which we were both grateful, having had rough crossings before, to Spain, Sweden and Norway. The trip was thankfully totally uneventful and we docked at Santander at 11.20 UK time, 12.20 Spanish time.
Thursday 26th - Santander.
Once released into the local traffic race-track we shot off onto the Burgos road ahead of almost everything else, although we were later overtaken by a few faster vehicles from the ferry. The road was excellent and we made very good speed, so good in fact that we reached Burgos and then Madrid by 14.30pm, a bit ahead of our scheduled times. The road from Burgos to Madrid was even better, being dual-carriageway (freeway) with 100 and 120kph speed limits. We passed round Madrid in the afternoon rush-hour and headed on towards Albercete and then Alicante. The last bit of the trip was done in darkness, but we arrived at 09.30pm UK time or 10.30pm local time. We found the camp site at El Campello after a bit of confusion, and elected to sleep in the van for the night as it was a bit late to start putting up tents.
We had managed to keep up an average of about 100kph or about 60mph. The total distance covered from Santander to El Campello was 818km or 509miles. We had seen one pair of Police motorcyclists coming out of Madrid, but they passed us later having hung behind for a while, looking over the van and trailer. Otherwise, passing slow vehicles was OK with Rita looking out her side of the van to see when the road was clear on single-carriageway roads, while dual-carriageway and motorways were fairly similar to the UK, though outside of the major towns the traffic was far better behaved. We did see what looked like a portable steam engine and a steam loco on an outcropping as we passed by south of Madrid, but otherwise the countryside was pretty featureless. Hazards on the minor roads included donkeys loaded with freshly cut hay, plodding along, and the fields still had men with scythes cutting hay, something we both thought had passed on these days.