I hate queues! And German highways are known for them, and it’s not just 5 minutes, it can be many km and hour delay. Worst case you’re led of the highway, then you lose an hour. I hate them, I will rather irrationally rather make a 1 hour detour than wait in queue for 30 minutes. And if I was in a 1 hour queue and someone offered me to get through for $1000, I would pay. And just so you know, when I go to work, I don’t make $1000/hour unfortunately.
My German language is not that good, adequate. I listen to German traffic radio. When I was between Hamburg and Hannover I heard “stau” on “7” between Hamburg and Hannover. What I didn’t understand was exactly where. But it was 3 km “stau”, not for me! I was 45 km from Hannover, so when to exit the Autobahn? I played with the TomTom (didn’t have the OEM GPS option in my Longchamp), while driving 150 km/h, and it didn’t really do what I wanted. I missed two exits doing this, but on the third, I thought, I have to leave now, I’m only 20 km from Hannover. So I did, and coded the GPS to go to Kassel but not on Autobahn. As soon as I left the Autobahn I crossed it on a bridge, and guess what, I could see the queue and signs, if I had not left at that exit, I would have been sitting in that queue for an hour cursing myself.
As soon as I crossed the bridge I was on a country road in a forest. Immediately I saw a lot of RVs, strange I thought, why would all those (similar) RVs park here? As I got closer, I saw two women talking outside an RV. German camping wives? Well, they didn’t look like typical campers, they were very shapely, had very long hair and very short skirts. Hhmm, camping in Germany looks like fun. They actually looked quite attractive, at a distance, at speed. The way they looked at me as I drove by, it dawned on me, they were hookers looking for customers. These were the first hookers I’ve ever seen live, at least where I knew they were hookers. Yeah yeah, I know, I’ve led a protected life. There were many RV/hookers on that road. I didn’t stop, besides not wanting to lose my pay-for-it virginity, I’m sure you could lose a lot more stopping in such a place, money, car, life. As I said, the two looked quite attractive in a cheapo kind of way, and I think they were put out on display for that purpose, because some of the women I saw in other RVs later, I mean, I wouldn’t stop there if they were the last women on earth. Kidding aside, I felt sad for them, sitting in a RV all day, boring, only “excitement” having to have sex with any jerk that comes by with a few €. What a way to make a living. And they probably give half to some super jerk. Sad.
Not being in a hurry, at about 4pm I decided to start looking for hotel, maybe a beer in the sun, a read in Motor Trend, so keyed in Hotel along Route, and 30 km up ahead was a hotel. I drove there, it looked good, it had a Biergarten next to it, I could be happy here. But…they were full. On a f…… Wednesday!
So out in the car, finding the next hotel on the GPS, idling, and as soon as I put it in gear it died. WTF? How can it die just from being put in gear? I mean I tuned that idle, and I quite literally wrote the book on tuning your engine! So how could that happen? Tried to start, nothing. No fan=no ignition, and no starter. Just like in Apollo 13 when they get a wake up call about the (lack of) stability of engineering, when the Corvette totally dies at a red light. But the GPS being fed from the lighter, that showed current. How can that be? Normal power ok but no ignition and no start current. Major ignition switch failure? Not good, sitting in a car park in front of a hotel that has no room for me. After the initial 0.1 second panic, and remembering Tom Hanks in Apollo 13, I started to analyze. So, normal current available, so no battery failure. About the starter current, I remembered this had happened when I put it in gear, and of course in gear it can’t start. So put it in Park, and it started. All was fine. So drove towards the next hotel. Then it died again. And then I could start it again. This was on and off. But starting always worked when in Park. So the “only” problem was ignition current. OK, so one step wiser. Had it overheated? I turned off A/C and fan and opened the window, that seemed to help when not in a city, but in the cities looking for a hotel it died 6 times. No fun driving a car that can instantly lose all power without any warning.
Finally found a hotel, and while I had a craving for sitting down and have a beer, I’d better try to find the fault. Luckily (very lucky) the hotel was opposite a garage. I went over there, bought a few electrical parts and asked if they were avail in the morning if I could not fix it. “Vielleicht”. Then I started analyzing with all my tools, had to empty the trunk since tools were at the bottom. I always pack the tools at the bottom, but I always seem to need them first, maybe I should pack them at the top. The theory I have right now is that with the powerful ICE ignition, fan at full speed, A/C on, radio on, the current draw through the ignition switch is too much. The multi connector just above the steering column seems a bit burnt. So I’ll do one of two things. If the local garage has the parts, I’ll build a make shift relay so most of the ignition current comes directly from the battery, not via the ignition switch. If they don’t I’ll use a cheater wire. Can’t switch off the engine without opening the hood then, but that’s livable. And better than not having any A/C!