Re: Back in the day...
When I worked as a development engineer for a large electrical manufacturing company in the UK, we were developing a line of electrical switchgear for use in chemical works. One such was in Runcorn, and I was sent to oversee the installation, no problems except the switches had been stored overnight outside in the snow, so we had to thaw the liquid metal out before we could operate them.
The other installation was in Dormagen, a few kilometers north of Koln, Germany. The twelve switches were too large/heavy/fragile to entrust to a shipping company, so a special body was built by Dispatch and Transport to fit on my trailer chassis, and the switches loaded into it and hitched to my Mk3 Cortina.
Drove down from Rugby to Dover on the Sunday, and boarded the Hovercraft, lovely sunny day for a trip across the channel to Calais. Disembarked and set off up the coast towards Belgium, but stopped at the customs post by officials, who demanded to know what was in the trailer. Try explaining (in a foreign language) that there are NO electronics in the switchgear! Eventually allowed on my way, only to have the same problem at the Belgian/German border. By now running several hours behind schedule, so arrive at hotel too late for evening meal, but kindly chef fixes a nice steak for me.
Monday morning, present myself and cargo at chemical factory's security, no-one aware that I am arriving that day, they were expecting a lorry or similar, not a car and trailer. Eventually (about lunchtime) find someone with the authority to let me drive onto the site, and back the trailer into the basement of the chemical plant. Taken to company canteen and force-fed Sauerkraut. Spend pleasant afternoon making short tour of historic local village (Feste Zons), and drive back to hotel for another steak.
Tuesday morning, introduced to a Foreman and two Fitters. None of them spoke a word of English, two of them were called Uve, and one spoke with a lisp. Schoolboy German to the rescue, and we managed to communicate sufficiently to get four of the switches installed that day. Incidentally, the busbars were fifteen feet above the concrete floor, running at 400V DC, and about 80°C, so standing on a wobbly wooden ladder to work (had to be non-conductive), and if you put a spanner down on the concrete supports, the huge magnetic field would swing it round and either poke you in the ribs or it would leap up and stick to the busbars. Back to the hotel for another steak.
Next day, same performance, but as we now knew what we were doing, managed to install the remaining eight switches. Thursday was spent commissioning and recording the voltage drops and currents, and Friday morning was spent doing the necessary paperwork.
Saturday morning, hitched up empty trailer and set off back to Calais, hovercraft to Dover, and drive back to Rugby, arriving at my home address late afternoon, early evening. Sunday, drive back to our factory to unload test equipment, tools, and trailer body.
All in all a good week, steak for dinner every day, nice drive across northern Europe, and all my expenses covered by the customer, although I probably made a bit of a loss on the petrol costs.