Monday, April 23, 2007

High Tech RV Service

Truma is the Atwood of Europe. Atwood is the manufacturer of the most widely used RV water heater in the US. Heidi, in common with most European RVs, is fitted with a Truma unit that provides both water heating and space heating when required. About three days into the trip the water heater malfunctioned and temporarily, we were left with no water at all. A little poking around got the cold water running again, but left the challenge of getting the water heater back in service. Phrases like “the over-pressure temperature relief valve has malfunctioned” turned out not to be in our little English French dictionary and no one that could possibly have helped had any English. Eventually, enough of a story was finally pieced together word by word and, after much cajoling, we were granted an appointment at the Southern France Truma Agency near Lyon, in the Rhone-Alps region.

What a hole in the wall operation this turned out to be. We drove past the place a couple of times without even noticing it and, when we were finally directed to the correct alleyway, we ended up in a farm yard filled with a dozen or so RVs in various states of distress. Extension cords were laying all over the place and Jean Devaneau, the proprietor of Socarel, was roaming from vehicle to vehicle in a trancelike state in his luminous socks. He excitedly looked into Heidi’s Truma compartment and began preparing for some serious surgery when, in a panic, the temporary fix was pointed out to him. He hit himself in the forehead with the heel of his hand a couple of times, gave forth with a torrent of French and rushed away into the barn. Returning a few minutes later with a little bag of pieces and a wrench or two, he quickly replaced the failed part. With a big beam on his face, he happily vacuumed our billfold and we were on our way again with hot water. Later the same day, the water system failed again but a return match with Jean was too much to contemplate. In deference to Jean, however, it was later determined that this was a separate problem which yielded to a little DIY and, in any case, someone who can grow such beautiful roses, cannot be all bad.

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