By the summer of 2019 we were getting impatient with the slow progress of our truck conversion. We had resisted putting too much pressure on the builders but we felt it was time to be given a firm Handover Date. Finally in July we we able to book our flights to Poznań and by mid afternoon we arrived at the living box builders, Camperspol.
We slept in the truck at Camperspol and the next day we were busy shopping for essentials and sorting out the inside whilst Camperspol finished various jobs on the truck, including fitting an intruder alarm. The following day the truck was booked into the Mercedes dealer to investigate a suspected fuel line leak caused when the fuel tanks were resited. The job took longer than envisaged and we ended up spending five nights in a hotel whilst the problem was sorted. This meant the Camperspol completion work was delayed and we felt we were wasting precious time when we should have been out and about, getting to know the truck and its systems.
We suspected we could have been at Camperspol for many more days whilst they finished off various jobs so we took the decision to leave for home at the end of that day and sort any outstanding problems when we got back to the UK.
There were several issues we discovered whilst on the journey home: the electrical circuit breakers kept tripping (needed a software update), the generator was cutting out showing an overload warning, this turned out to be an inappropriate fuse fitted in the line from the battery to the generator starter motor. The hydraulic tail lift, installed by a specialist company, Plandex, did not work and we later discovered that the hydraulic pump was too small. This was replaced in the UK with a larger pump and now worked perfectly.
On our return journey the weather was hot with temperatures up to 40° and, despite having air conditioning in the cab, it was uncomfortably hot. Upon our return we discovered that the cab had not had the specified engine insulation fitted.
We reached the UK without incident and, despite these setbacks, we were delighted with the truck. One of our first jobs was to get the vehicle MOTd and taxed. The tester commented that the vehicle was in remarkable condition for its year (2003) and he hadn’t seen a truck of that age with such a low mileage and so well maintained – thanks to the Dorset Fire Brigade.
Once we had the MOT we were able to apply for road tax and we supplied the DVLA with photographic evidence to prove a change of use from Fire Tender to Motor Caravan. The DVLA replied saying that information held on a vehicle record must describe what a vehicle actually looked like to enable law enforcement agencies to identify a particular vehicle. Therefore, they said, as the vehicle body could not be identified externally as a Motor Caravan, they could not change the body type description. The end result was that the vehicle remained, according to the DVLA, a fire tender and was therefore zero rated for Road Tax. We wondered whether we would be caught up in fire fighting duties on our travels!