Camping Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico

Camping Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico

So back tracking quite a lot to a seemingly different universe and time. In reality it was only 4 months ago that we left Baja California to hack across the 2500kms of Mexico to meet up with Sas’s brother and sister in Tulum.

The journey from La Paz to Mazatlan by ferry was fun, tinged with a little sadness at leaving the Baja peninsula, and landed us in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. We were, back then, very nervous of the warnings that various international, national and local agencies and people had given us regarding travelling safely across Mexico; and Sinaloa was one of the states that had/has warnings of blatant roadside robbery. So we determined to get out of dodge as soon as possible to a state with no warnings of criminal roadside behaviour.

Having 2500kms to travel in as little time as possible it seemed logical (oh how we now know that logic and travelling in Mexico are so unrelated) to try for 500kms per day except on the first day what with getting off the ferry in a new town etc. So the nearest RV park we found was in Tepic – Los Pinos RV Park – a 280km drive on toll roads. Having the very recent experience of travelling up to  600kms per day in Canada and the USA it seemed logical that we would be able to drive 280km on paid roads (because they will be good quality won’t they?) in about 3 hours no? No! Firstly, the toll road system in Mexico is not a system of good roads – they have topes (sleeping policemen) and potholes and dips and bumps that driving at 40kph would be handleable; but at 80kph they just come at you very fast and require an incredible amount of concentration to catch them in time and react accordingly. Then we forgot to plan for the altitude change – Hanna is an incredible machine – and we love her – but she has a climbing hill speed of around 17mph or 25mph depending on the gradient. Tepic is most definitely UP from the coast (duh! aren’t most places? Except in Norfolk). Add to that the sudden reappearance of our overheating problem and the drive became a slog taking nearly 6 hours and shredding nerves along the way.

Hanna under the trees Los Pinos RV Park, Tepic
Hanna under the trees Los Pinos RV Park, Tepic

 

Los Pinos RV Park, Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico
Los Pinos RV Park, Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico

 

So to the reason for this post – Tepic is a normal Mexican city. It isn’t pretty but then what work-a-day city is? people we have met have said there is no reason to go there … well it is a city in Mexico, so there is that, it has great motor parts shops – which we needed and it has the Los Pinos Rv Park which is hidden away behind a semi-circle of shops and restaurants there is a height limit of 13 feet – 3.8m – but once you have found it and have driven in you are confronted with this little peaceful oasis of a site with hot showers, decent sites with electric hook up and water. We didn’t need the water and the electric so we paid 150 peso per night. The manager was friendly and helpful and if you need a place to stop 4 or so hours from Mazatlan then this little gem is a good option.

For those that want to know about the mechanical issue of over heating – we bought an electric fan (the biggest we could buy) and some 2×1″ wood batten and I spent a day building a stud wall (yes I know but I can’t describe it any other way) across the front of the radiator to mount the fan in and hooking the fan up to the dash-board with a switch. Probably a great Mexican fix but for a european vehicle it amounted to a necessary bodge.

We stayed 2 days and can’t recommend the RV park enough.

5 Responses

  1. Ron
    | Reply

    daft question but i’m clutching at straws … is your air filter in good condition?

    I remember after slogging across N Africa with a very sick engine, thinking all sorts of dire things had gone wrong…..and then this Moroccan mechanic just nonchalantly took the air filter out and blew about a kilo of crud out of it, refitted it and I drove away like new!

    It’s one of the few things you may not have tried yet – maybe it’s not a cooling system thing, but an air intake thing. You can prove, or at least learn something, by finding a clean piece of road – ie not too dusty – and driving without the airfilter – it won’t do any harm for a few minutes – if you notice a difference then perhaps it’s worthy of further investigation. In my last van – the one I did all the expedition stuff in, I had K & N airfilters which allowed a lot more air in than the stock air filter. Check if your air box has the stock tapered plastic tube inlet – if it does, chop it in half so that the inlet aperture is bigger and allows more air in – I did that before I had the K & N filters installed and it also made a difference. If the engine isn’t getting enough air, then it’s going to run inefficient, and that means hot. Just a thought.

    • Mark
      | Reply

      HI Ron – Thanks for stopping by. I did blow out the air filter about 1000kms further on than Tepic at a gas station but the hose was pretty hard to direct into the filter. I will drop by the mechanics here in San Cristobal before we leave on Monday and blow it out with the airline. When you say chop off the inlet – this would be to present more air to the filter? We will find that clean piece of road and try without the air filter first and if it does make a difference then will definitely do that.
      FYI this post is from a time before we had the epiphany moment with the earth ground strap which happened about 2 days after Tepic – its just been difficult to keep writing in order of events, so I am now back tracking a bit to fill in the gaps.
      We still have a higher reading on the temp guage than I would like but at least it does not now climb above the 10:30 position – but good point about the air intake and I will test that out next.
      We have been here in San Cristobal for nearly 6 weeks now sussing out the autobox, waiting for parts and access to the very nice German mechanic here. The autobox has had new filter, pan seal, 2 teflon rings, 4 o-rings, 2 new flexi ATF pipes to the cooler and some correct dexlll ATF by Castrol – and I am pleased to say that I did all the work on the autobox myself under the guidance of said mechanic and using his tools. So we SHOULD have a non-overheating, non-ATF-expelling, smooth shifting, non-leaking and reliable autobox again (after 25,000kms).
      Thanks for the helpful guidance and support through the last 9 months Ron – it has been solid – thank you.
      Mark and Saskia x

  2. Ron
    | Reply

    I am not sure what air box and filter you have, but on my old van the air inlet was a short, but tapered, tube pointing out towards the side of the van. So shortening it increased the size of the inlet aperture.

    I would be replacing the air filter regularly if I were you, at least every 3 months.

    I just had a new turbo fitted, and was surprised to see that as well as fixing the obvious – having a working turbo – my temp now now longer creeps up on a long hill. My mechanic said that was because I was now getting more cool air forced into the engine, which indicates that even on a non turbo engine, you need as much air into the engine as possible. If you do run a few miles with no filter and you notice a difference (it will be noisy!) then consider having a K & N filter fitted. It’s an easy job, and I can advise.

    • Mark
      | Reply

      HI Ron, So I ha d a good look at the airbox intake/filter arrangement and can see that it funnels down to a 35mm diameter hole at the intake – so immediately I can see that with cutting it back at the box and aquiring a 75mm dia pipe and siliconing it on I can increase the in-flow. As for the K-N filter unfortunately its hard enough to get anything for our Mercs so for now I will blow out the air filter regularly and open the in-flow pipe diameter. There are many more Mercs in South America – so maybe look at that then. Thanks for all the thought and info. Regards
      Mark and Sas x

  3. Ron
    | Reply

    I am not sure what air box and filter you have, but on my old van the air inlet was a short, but tapered, tube pointing out towards the side of the van. So shortening it increased the size of the inlet aperture.

    I would be replacing the air filter regularly if I were you, at least every 3 months.

    I just had a new turbo fitted, and was surprised to see that as well as fixing the obvious – having a working turbo – my temp now no longer creeps up on a long hill. My mechanic said that was because I was now getting more cool air forced into the engine, which indicates that even on a non turbo engine, you need as much air into the engine as possible. If you do run a few miles with no filter and you notice a difference (it will be noisy!) then consider having a K & N filter fitted. It’s an easy job, and I can advise.

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