Limping home

From Cyprus to Austria – a diary!

We left Cyprus on the ferry on the 21st, and it was as chaotic as when we arrived. This time we were loaded onto the middle deck, which meant hot, not enough ventilation and very, very noisy. It was a very pleasant night, and we arrived fresh and relaxed – hahaha!

Current location: Austria

We drove along the coast in the direction of Antalya and found a lovely spot at the coast to relax for the rest of the day and go for a swim. After a good night’s sleep, we planned to tackle a longer route. (Little pebble beach: 36.1145, 33.1127)

Mamure Castle

We came past the best preserved medieval castle on the coast of Turkey – Mamure Castle. We stopped to explore it, as the last time we drove past, we both had Covid 😉 The castle was designed to protect against pirates and was repaired during the Byzantine era and the Crusades and later extended and repaired again during the Ottoman Empire and also used as caravanserai.

Along the coast, where the mountains are high, and the roads are narrow and winding up and down, it happened. A struggle of some metal parts, a loud crack, and we were standing. Luckily, that happened at the only parking bay along this route. We were sure our gearing was done. Edi could switch-off the reduction, but not the 4×4. We tried some metres forward and backward, which worked without any noises. Finally, we gathered all our courage and hit the road again. At first very slowly, but it worked and we could drive on. The assumption was, that what ever had broken, was related to the reduction and not the normal gearing. But how long will we be able to drive? Will we make it home?

Gearbox broken?

We stopped at Alanya for a nice lunch at the beach and to give our engine a brake. From here on, we will take the shortest and easiest route home, stopping frequently to give our brave Mercedes a rest.

Alanya beach restaurant – time for an emergency meeting

That day, we reached a lovely beach 50km before Antalya (36.822686, 31.237182). There would be a good Mercedes garage in Antalya, as we know from a tour some years ago, but as long as we have no problems, we will continue, we decided.


The next day, we drove past Antalya and into the mountains up to 1,700 metres, which the engine managed very well. That day, we drove an hour and stopped again, drove an hour and stopped again. In the end, we managed 380km that day, until we stopped at a gas station (38.2752, 28.6192). We had a lovely dinner at the restaurant and not the best night, as it was very hot again, and the traffic and noise on the road didn’t stop.

Crossing a huge region of table grapes production

The next day, we continued our stop and go trip home, trying to stress our car as less as possible. We had one moment of panic, when the automatic gears didn’t work, but after a reset we could continue again. We reached the coast at Akcay, but didn’t find a spot at the sea, because it was very busy there. Instead, we finally ended that day on the way through the mountains, under pine trees with a nice breeze and good shade.

Stop for the night

Tomorrow we hopefully will reach Edirne, near the border to Bulgaria.

On June 26th we started early and drove about 60 km to Canakkale, where we wanted to cross the Dardanelles over the new bridge. About 4 km before the bridge we had to stop because of a new cracking noise from the gearbox. It sounded like a problem of the front axle differential.

Edi tried to disconnect the front axle from the driveshaft, but with no positive result. We tried a lot of other things to switch in 4×2 mode but without any result. Thanks again to Uli, Mathias and Oberaigner who supported us online.

Checking again the gearbox
Trying to unconnect the front diff from the gearbox
Front driveshaft removed
Trying again to switch in 4×2 mode

We had finally called the ÖAMTC, which organised the transport to the nearest garage.

It was an exciting ride because the tow truck was far too small

26th evening, we were towed to the Mercedes garage in Canakkale with a much too small truck. During the 15km drive, he had severe traction problems in the front, especially going up-hill. During off-loading, the front of his truck was lifted half a metre into the air. We were very grateful we made it to the garage without any incident.

We made it!!!

27th @ the Mercedes garage: they don’t let Edi go into the workshop to support the team with his knowledge of the problem, we are waiting for them to look at the car. Will they dismantle the gearbox to see the damage and find a way to fix it? No! No chance to fix the problem at the Mercedes garage! They even could not organise the necessary spare part in Turkey.
We are now looking for a solution to transport the camper back home.

28th @ Canakkale: many friends are supporting us to find a solution to get the right spare parts or to arrange the transport of the camper back to Austria. Both attempts are difficult with no result till now.

Finally, we arranged a tow service for Monday to get us to the Bulgarian border near Edirne. Funny enough, it is with the same company which picked us up from the highway, but this time they promised to come with a different truck.

Spare gear box – the element which needs to be swapped

29th @ Canakkale: We finally figured out, that we can use a spare gear box with different gear ratio which is immediate available in Austria (many thanks to Mathias). Cordy will fly back to Vienna on Sunday to pick up the spare and will drive down (1400 km) to the Bulgarian / Turkish border. Meanwhile, Edi will get the camper transported to the border with Bulgaria. After being dumped there, he will limp the Sprinter over the borderline to Bulgaria. This way we can avoid import issues of the spare part to Turkey.

Once having the spare gear box in hand, Edi will swap the part at the roadside and off we go (This is the current plan). Could something go wrong? You bet! But we hope not!!

1st of July: Cordy is on her way with the gear box, driving in direction of Bulgaria, Edi is on the way (piggyback) to the border of Bulgaria.
But the tow truck is facing a (guess what …) gear box problem!!!

The gear box problem of the tow truck was luckily fixed immediately

At about 5 pm, Edi reached the Turkish / Bulgarian border near Edirne, all went smooth. He will try to cross the border on the 2nd of July.
Cordy is on the way and will reach the border of Romania / Bulgaria late in the evening.

2nd of July: in the morning, Edi successfully crossed the border to Bulgaria in limp mode.

Cordy arrived in the evening with the spare part from Vienna after 2 days of driving.

3rd of July: rain and thunderstorm makes the swap of the gearbox unpleasant in the morning. We were brewing coffee and decided to wait for better conditions.
At about 1 pm, Edi started to dismantle the front and rear driveshaft to get the gearbox removed. But the reduction gearbox did not disconnect from the 5 speed automatic adapter. Edi stopped his activity at about 7pm, he will try to construct a special tool tomorrow to get the gear box removed.

4th of July: sunshine already at 7 am, means the weather is good today. Edi will start further dismantling the gearbox after a huge cup of coffee.

Reduction gearbox finally removed

The gearbox is out after about one hour, but to place the new gearbox at the right position is more than challenging because of its weight. Let’s see how long this action will take.

Swapping gearbox at the truck stop

At about 3pm, the new gearbox was finally in place again. After a short test-drive around the parking, the “mission was accomplished”.

Finally new gearbox in place

We were driving 40 km north, before we found a lovely spot at a river, where we spent the night.

5th of July: we continued north and had a stop at a lovely waterfall along the route. In the early afternoon, we crossed the border to Romania. The gearbox is working perfect, of course only in 4×2 mode as planned. In the evening, we ended at a camp spot at the edge of a reservoir near Pitesti.

short relaxing stop along the route

6th of July: our route continues in direction of Szeged. We celebrated our 6th year on the road at a nice camp-spot and restaurant near Timişoara in Romania.
Just click the video!!!!

6 years on the road!!!!

8th of July: we reached Austria and our home base today. We are happy, being back home again after travelling 30 months through Africa and the Middle East.

Home again

What will happen now? There are many repairs and a lot of service, our good Mercedes will receive in the next weeks. There are no concrete plans yet, what we are going to explore next. Long-term, we plan to ship the camper to South America, but not before next year.

14 thoughts on “Limping home”

  1. Torsten, DG7RO

    Schade, dass knapp vor dem Ziel nach zig-tausend-Kilometer die Maschine/Unterbau aufgibt. Hoffe ihr schafft aus eigener Kraft nach Hause zukommen. Wird dann wohl leider nichts mit FHN. – FingersX

  2. Ohhjjeee, wenn ich das richtig abgespeichert habe, dann sind die Probleme Getriebe ja nix Neues. Im südlichen Afrika hattet ihr ja auch ne ganze Menge davon. Ist das ein neue Fehlerquelle, oder die bereits bekannte ?

    Da hoffe ich mal das Oberaigner Teile schicken kann, und ihr nen willigen Mechaniker findet, der sich dem Un bekannten nähern mölöchte.
    Good Luck !!!
    Gruss Guenni

    1. Hallo Guenni,

      ja, wir hatten bereits in Afrika “Bauchweh” mit dem Antrieb, damals war aber unsere Sorge der Wandler, das Getriebe selbst war damals noch stabil.

      Wenn wir Ersatz bekommen, bau ich das mit dem Leatherman am Strassenrand selbst ein! 🔧🥵

      Wir sind glücklich in der Türkei zu stehen, nicht im afrikanischen Busch …..


  3. die gute Laune und der Optimismus scheint euch ja nicht abhanden zu kommen. Sehr Gut !!!
    Weiter so.

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