that time we broke the bed

Motorhome Mishaps; That Time We Broke the Bed

Motorhome mistakes and mishaps happen to us all…it was late July and 43 degrees in western France;  I could hear Phil’s voice echoing in my memory as I stood in the motorhome wondering how I was going to explain our predicament; a predicament with the worst possible timing and consequences for the next couple of weeks.  

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“It’s just one more thing to go wrong, we don’t really need a drop down electric bed”, he said when we viewed our motorhome.  I agreed but the motorhome was perfect in every other way and so, thinking we would  use the bed rarely, we put it out of our minds and slapped our money on the table….ok, we made a bank transfer (but that sounds a lot less exciting) and drove away in our new home on wheels.

Three months later after spending the spring and early summer in France,  we were staying on an aire just outside Bordeaux. We were full of excitement about picking our daughter up at Bordeaux airport the next day for a two week stay; her summer holiday and our chance for a great catch up, and some company which was not each other!  Talk to me, no, talk to meeee…

We had planned to clean the van, do a big shop and some washing.  The aire was the perfect place; it would only take us 40 minutes to get to the airport the next morning and we were looking forward to a chilled evening with a bottle of wine.  Of course, it was also the perfect place for a motorhome mishap to occur…

I dropped the electric bed to put on the new sheets and quilt bought specially for our first visitor. Stepping down, I reached across to that whizzy electric button thingy and pressed…nothing.  I pressed again, still nothing.  No whirring of a motor, no electrical buzz, no nothing…..oh f**k, I thought as Phil’s prophetic words replayed in my very hot and very sweaty head.

Things rapidly disintegrated as we realised that nothing was stuck that could be un-stuck; no fuses were helpfully labelled in big writing as being for the electric bed  and we had no fucking idea of how to fix this.Then it got worse…we realised that we couldn’t drive the van either as both seats were dropped with a heavy bed on top of them and the steering wheel; this was a motorhome mishap of the highest order. 

For some reason, that fact that it was still 43° made everything exponentially worse, if it could get any worse.  We checked the fuses, rang the dealer and the manufacturer (who helpfully informed us that as the van was three months out of warranty, we should ring the dealer), swore a lot and pressed the button at regular intervals in the hope that it might suddenly work….yeah, as if!

Eventually, we got our act together and worked out that we could take apart the motor arms which dropped and lifted the bed, so that we could manually push the bed up to access the seats and steering wheel.  Then we went to the very bad Texas Ranch restaurant over the road and ate lots of fried brown food and drank lots of beer.  Funnily enough, that didn’t really help.

Thank the lord for Google, we identified a builders’ merchant close by and decided we could buy something to prop up the bed until we could get it repaired…I’m not quite sure what we were thinking here but we were desperate.  At the builders’ merchant, we identified a sort of mini acro-prop (if you don’t know what this is, builders use it to hold up houses, so perhaps slight overkill but hey?).  Anyway, they didn’t have any but their branch near Bordeaux airport did; they kindly called them and two were put aside.

There followed what can only be described as the drive from hell.  We sped off (ok, we rumbled off like a big sofa going down the road) to the Bordeaux branch, which of course closed at noon, just to be really helpful.  We took it in turns to hold up the bed from the front seats, five minutes each arm then swap over between arms and each other.  Sounds easy, but after ten minutes my arms were shaking like Beyonce’s backside and after 40 minutes they were like Beyonce’s backside in 20 years time.

Of course, we got there with 5 minutes to spare and then had to negotiate the road works to get into the car park; in the end we just drove up a one-way street with me yelling “that way, that way” like a mad harpy as the sat nav gave the opposite instructions.  Not stressful at all.

Two bright orange acro-props purchased and fitted, we drove off to the the local Carrefour to spend vast quantities of money on cheese and nectarines before heading serenely to the airport to collect the daughter.

I am glad to say that a year later, we are no longer driving around with acro-props but wait, there are more lessons to be learned here.  I’m not quite sure what lessons we have already learned but onwards….

After the holiday, we dropped our daughter off at Bordeaux airport and hot-footed it to the motorhome dealership there.   “Can you fix this?” we asked.  “Non” was the resounding reply; translate this into “no we can’t you stupid English idiots, don’t you know all good French people take August off?”.   This became a common refrain from Bordeaux,  to Toulouse until finally in Bezier, we got a “oui, bring it in”. Finally, the fuse was located in a top secret fuse compartment that no-one knows about, and replaced. The motors were re-assembled and the electric switch thingy did it’s business and lifted the bed back into it’s proper resting place.  It only cost €200, pretty reasonable for a motorhome mishap, no?

So, the real lesson here is don’t drop your electric bed until you are absolutely sure that you have sufficiently folded the front seats, so that when the bed is fully down it is not hindered in any way. Yep; it was entirely my fault and it has only take me a year to accept and confess to the error of my ways…I feel proud of my progress! 

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