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Tales of a breakdown driver (modern content)


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#61 OFFLINE   mph1977

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 03:30 PM

Great, I'll keep updating anything that I think may be interesting or useful. :)

This is my office.

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2006 and 145000 miles.


yet another recovery / road side services vehicle with totally uncalled for grille lights !

grille lights are to clear traffic when responding on blues / greens not to bling up recovery vehicles ...

far more useful to put a single beacon or 2 source mini light bar on the front of the roof ... ( with the full bar at the rear)

There are 4 lights along the to of the windscreen too with alternating flashing patterns. along with the grille lights and the full width light bar on the rear, and the whole van is reflective..and I've still had to shut my eyes and hope for the best at times when I hear a screech from behind me.I'll use as many lights as I possibly can to alert traffic, sometimes on pitch dark country roads on a blind bend, or the side of the motorway at 3am with dozing truckers piloting 44 tonners a foot away from me lying on the ground. What gets my goat is everything has orange lights now, council vans, street sweepers, everything...so no one really takes notice. There is a petition going around the recovery industry just now to try and get breakdown vehicles to be able to use red or purple flashing beacons to differentiate from the sea of amber, so people are aware that there may actually be someone working at the roadside. Recovery beacons should only actually be used when at the roadside, and shouldn't be used when in transit. We aren't even allowed to put cones out on the road FFS.

I hope you are speaking from experience about having less lights. Maybe the families of the many roadside workers who lose their lives every year doing their job would have been a bit more forceful in their argument against being LESS visible.

My point being that grille lights are pointless on a vehicle of that size, recovery vehicles do not need to 'clear traffic' in the way that an emergency vehicle does . and if you are not careful they can add to confusion and dazzle

Glad to hear that you have high level warning at the front, Is it seperately switched to the full bar to prevent the distraction that 360 lighting causes on dual carriageways.

On a modern emergency vehicle when you go to 'on scene' mode flashing lights below the waistline on the front and sides of the vehicle are killed leaving only the roof lights on ( and on some vehicles all the rear warning lights including seperate reds on EVs and anything in light clusters on other vehicles ) - even on 1980s type systems the blues were on a two level switch to give roof only and roof and grilles / corners

who says you are not allowed to put cones out ? and have they actually read chapter 8 ?

Another piss boiler is the number of spec lift / RDT/ dolly / flat bed recovery vehicles who leave their lights on when they have a casualty vehicle on board - you can understand wanting to leave them on on a bar / rope tow but not on the others wheter the casaulty vehicle is well attached or even on board ...


rear reds and/or arrow sticks when static would be a positive step as long as they were restricted to legitimate users not every tom dick or harriet banger racer / scrap dealer/ bodger ..

#62 OFFLINE   mph1977

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 03:37 PM

I have a similar feeling too about the lights. bin lorries, tractors, rubbish sweepers, large lawn mowers...the list goes on. I think orange should be reserved for people working about the roadway - the others should get a new flashing colour.


bin wagons and street sweepers should switch off their beacons when doing more than 15 -20 mph i.e. at any time they aren't actually collecting / sweeping .

Tractors and other agri / horticultural machinery you have the problem of them either being very slow vehicles ( some ofthe mowers and stuff) or restricted by law to 25 mph or like combines and pea viners the fact that even without thecutter bar on they are still 10 +wide and 70 foot long if towing their own cutter bar

#63 OFFLINE   CreepingJesus

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 04:23 PM

One from the other end of the scale...
Posted Image
Posted Image

Blown tyre took out suspension airbag, so it needed picked up. This tilt'n'slide trailer was the answer; American made, and according to the driver, as much use as a chocolate teapot. Looked impressive tho', and did the job.

Done a few recoveries in the past, myself, if its of any interest.

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Some short stories of mine...


#64 OFFLINE   Barry Cade.

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 05:59 PM

All the lights on the van are seperately switched, and I do not use any beacons at all when in transit, unless I feel there is a real need to make others aware that there is a hazard, and I try not to use the 360 lights in built up areas as I know they can be annoying to folk in their houses- in fact late at night I try to load/unload the car away from houses if at all possible to save noise and attracting attention. You obviously know what you're talking about and I do know the regs etc, but at the end of the day its my arse I'm watching out for and each call is different, so I will do whatever I think I need to do to be as safe as possible and get the job done. Always been informed though, that only Police and utilities are allowed to close off a lane with cones etc. The Police are usually pretty good at providing cover if the casualty vehicle is in a dangerous location, as are the BEAR guys.

Chaper 8.
"O7.2.7 Contractors do not have any general authorisation or powers to stop or direct traffic. However, under section 65 of the Road Traffi c Regulation Act 1984 (as amended by the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991) a Highway Authority can permit contractors employed by them to place ETM on any part of their network without a specific instruction. Contractors should confi rm with the Highway Authority employing them, whether or not they are permitted to deploy ETM complying with this section"

I hope this thread doesn't end up as a slanging match as to whats right and wrong, I posted up some experiences I've had doing my job and no one can tell me what my next one will be so I will continue to have to think on my feet, and sometimes that does mean bending the rules slightly or bodging stuff a little to cause as little problems as possible for the members and members of the public. It's easy to think of a better/faster/easier/quicker way to do things sitting in front of the computer with a cup of coffee, but at 3am in a foot of snow in a howling gale, you just get on with it.
l
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#65 OFFLINE   Cavcraft

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 06:31 PM

I fully agree on the 'as many lights as possible' argument. Having spent five years as a commercial tyre fitter and a lot of that time on motorways and dual carriageways, you would always have idiotic/lazy/dangerous drivers getting perilously close when working on the hard shoulder.
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#66 OFFLINE   FredTransit

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 10:58 AM

I dont think you can have too many lights either. Too many regs wipe out common sense. Top thread BTW.....
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#67 OFFLINE   Barry Cade.

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:17 PM

Sadly we had a fatal crash not far from me this morning, 18 year old killed in a 206. I was 10 minutes behind it, and the road was shut all day for investigation. From what I saw and the pics in the paper it looks like a head on. :(

Day started with a 325i non start.. easy job and a 20 quid tip! :D Then off to a Micra with a pothole damaged alloy, and a U/S locking key-tow to the tyre place. Couple of flat batteries then out to another Polo with the mad non start issue, which started fine after a bit of churning, fiver tip as well :). A 56 Disco which just decided to give up- I don't spend much time on these as they are far too complex to even be worth messing around. If you do, you just waste an hour then call in the truck anyway... Then on to a near new Astra which tried to kill its owner. Electric handbrake didn't engage and he got out to find the car rolling backwards with the door open, which then caught on the wall and bent it right back. Had to strap the door shut to get it back to base. Snowing heavily and icy, so may be a busy night..

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#68 OFFLINE   Mr Lobster

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:23 PM

Enjoying this thread and your work very much, interesting reading, carry on!

#69 ONLINE   Richard

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:31 PM

Sadly we had a fatal crash not far from me this morning, 18 year old killed in a 206. I was 10 minutes behind it, and the road was shut all day for investigation. From what I saw and the pics in the paper it looks like a head on. :(


I was just minutes behind it too, though probably on the opposite side from you. The lad who died was in my son's year at school.

#70 OFFLINE   Barry Cade.

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:46 PM

Sadly we had a fatal crash not far from me this morning, 18 year old killed in a 206. I was 10 minutes behind it, and the road was shut all day for investigation. From what I saw and the pics in the paper it looks like a head on. :(


I was just minutes behind it too, though probably on the opposite side from you. The lad who died was in my son's year at school.


He was in my daughters year at Bell Baxter too.

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#71 ONLINE   Joey spud

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 10:03 PM

Posted Image

This is my work ride,160k and not yet 5 years old,oh and my beloved my old Brats)... :wink:

#72 OFFLINE   Barry Cade.

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 11:22 PM

Brillant, can you give us some tales from the Orange side ? :D

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#73 OFFLINE   Barry Cade.

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 04:49 AM

Just in from being woken out my nice warm bed at 3am, in which I was dreaming about Facel Vega's for some reason, to go and scape up another Teutonic people's Wagen which had decided it's oil pump wasn't a pump anymore. A 20v Turbo Golf, far from the first time I've seen this on this engine- strangely seems to more common on the Audi BauhausRedBraces.Jeez, and to think at one time I was a die hard Watercooled Dubber fan- Had the full range, Santana GX5's (my fave) Sciroccos' Jetta's,GL5 Passats,then moved to Audis and never had an issue with any of them. I've even been to Autostadt to visit their birthplace.... A real shame they make shit cars now. At least I could reminisce in the museum and shout loudly in a Scots accent about how they don't build them like they used to, and of course, mentioning the war, much to the amusement of Zee Germans.

In other news, a load of flat batteries yesterday, then late evening a 61 plate Corsa Diesel which decided to throw all its toys oot the pram and go into Gimp mode- had a look under the bonnet for some reason, and found nothing amiss, read the codes which all seemed to be random...EGR, Air mass, the whole shebang. Cleared the codes and followed the horrible little shoebox for a few miles. All was well so I peeled off home.

All modern cars are shite etc etc..
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#74 ONLINE   Joey spud

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 11:52 AM

Brillant, can you give us some tales from the Orange side ? :D


OK then, 13.00 to 23.00 normal kinda shift and did 120 miles running job to job.

Started with a Megane no go at home addy,(that was due to a big volt drop on the battery to inner wing earth,just a quick clean and tighten req).

Next up was a new Kia with a puncture/no locking key on the motorway.(sorted that with a nifty little kit we carry).

Then off to a 206 loss of power/complaining of ''eggy smell'' ?? . (that was the ignition coil pack that had gone down,i keep one of them on the van so got that moving again).

This was a weird one 51 plated 525 with loss of power and mil lamp on.(when i code read it it gave me codes for missfire cylinders 1,4 and 5 and matching injectors shut down,i cleared the codes while it was running so switching the injectors back on and it ran fine.It turned out the BM had a thirst for oil and the mem had added a good litre a few days back and not used it since,the oil must have got into cylinders 1,4,5 via the valve guides and when he started it again that oil fouled the plugs and the car shut down 1,4 and 5 injectors to save dumping unburnt fuel into the cat).

Loverly '95 Micra with seized bonnet catch/bonnet wont close.(just needed a bit of 'jizz' splashing around).

Then onto a 12 plate Ka that had sat since xmas (just an easy jump start and a courtesy check of levels and tyres etc while it recovered some charge,oh and drink tea/eat hob nobs).

40 min meal break. :D

Yaris no/go (that was pilot error the mat was rucked up under the pedals so the driver wasn't fully depressing the clutch to allow the starter to spin).

Now off to a Saxo with no brakes in a bus stop layby (blown out wheel cylinder a deffinate non fix job,so drop the trailer out the van and recover it and the young driver 32 miles home).

Sat clear for half an hour then got sent way out of my usual patch to a '99 Corsa battery/non start job.(Halfords had fitted a battery the day before but the alternator light was still on and suprise,suprise no charge output/goosed alternator.the elderly mem was 30 mins from home,cold and fed up so i banged a new batty under the bonnet,put her battery on charge in the back of my van and followed her home before refitting her now charged battery to allow her to drive to her garage the next day).

Cleared the Corsa job at 22.40 and made a run for home only getting back 25mins late.

Thats a sort of normal day for me nothing old/interesting.. :cry:

Tiff we have to have a min of 11 hours off between shifts to comply with the good 'ole' h+s regs,reading your posts you don't ??

#75 OFFLINE   Barry Cade.

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 03:27 PM

Similar sort of day to a busy day for me then! Great to compare notes and share info :)

Today has been fairly quiet again but just after saying what I said about Panda's, just picked one up (a Diesel) where the thrust bearing had punched through the pressure plate fingers, same as my Alfa GTV did. Had done 90k though, so not too unexpected.

I'm on call 24 hours a day normally, off Monday and Tuesday. This is my last week of a 3 week stint covering for holidays, so have been 24/7 all through this time. I normally do between 140 and 250 miles a day, 99.9% in Fife. We don't carry spares either, but usually not too far from a factors if need be, and saves taking cash/cards reciepts etc.

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#76 OFFLINE   warren t claim

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 03:44 PM

Here's a pic of the RDT in the Vito.


up again at 9 this morning to a 2001 Golf with clutch problems. Once I got to the car I saw a problem that I'd forgotten about, but seen quite a few times before on VAG stuff. Whoever thought this would be a good idea, and signed it off for production should be sent to Stalag 17. A flimsy, brittle peice of Airfix plastic on the top of the clutch pedal to operate the pushrod for the master cylinder. When the car gets old, or the clutch wears and gets heavy in typical VW fashion, the pushrod punches its way through the stupid bit of plastic and you lose the clutch. Thought they might have learned from the Mk1 golf where the bulkhead used to rip when the clutch wore :roll:

This is what you find lying in the footwell if it happens to you. Fit a new bit of Airfix and it may last a day or a year, but it's a warning in my experience that you'll need a clutch soon.
http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y73/tif...


Yep, happened to mine.

Thread of the year so far BTW!
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#77 OFFLINE   Barry Cade.

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 11:14 PM

Not much of interest of late, mostly dodgy batteries and cars with goo instead of real wheels in the boot. Did get a semi the other day as a call came through to attend a Vauxhall Viva. Once I'd gone through all the Viva crap in my head, Brabham,HB,HC, 1159,1256 Bill Blydenstein..Had to pour some cold water over myself before I even got a mental image of Bertha, the rest of the message came through...Power steering fault. EH? After a drive down the coast to the stranded owner I pulled into the car park to be confronted by a Vauxhall VivaRO. Bugger.

Funny of the week was a 2011 Scenic with a flat, which actually had a spare, albeit an anorexic one.They were on holiday in a caravan, After searching the entire car for all the bits and bobs which were hidden in various cubbies ( these would be THE cars for smuggling in immigrants of the dwarf variety) I started to lower the spare, which came down about 2 inches then jammed up solid.After half an hour of messing around I managed to unbolt the entire mechanism and get the spare out. The 2 women, along with loads of kids were sitting enjoying the sun, One of them said "Yep, the French seem to make everything a real problem" to which one of the kids said " But you're French??" and the reply was " That's why I live in Scotland and drive a Skoda"
Made my day that did :)

Out to a Nissan Tino at the dockyard, the owner had some spare time as the big boat they are building caught fire again and work was stopped whilst it was investigated.. He'd had the car at 3 different garages as it was missing and lacking power. One changed the plugs, another the coils but it was getting worse he said.None had made it any better. I started it and it wouldn't rev above 2000. I explained to him the cat had melted or the silencer had collapsed, and reading the codes confirmed the rear Lambda was all over the place. He seemed happy that someone had taken the time to actually explain how and why, and was going to try a used Cat from Upullit.

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#78 ONLINE   Joey spud

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 05:26 PM

This Corolla popped up on my screen the other day as ''Body other'' and in the notes it said 'bumper loose'...

Posted Image

The driver clipped a wire mesh bin with the n/s corner as she was reversing and turning out of a parking bay and peeled the front off. :shock:

Cable ties,gaffa tape and a few self tapers and we were good to go... :wink:
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#79 OFFLINE   trigger

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 05:32 PM

I did that once on a pallet in a my works Mk6 Escort van, It just pinged the plastic part of the bumper away from the foam part that stayed attached to the bumper iron, I got a right bollocking for that. :roll:
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#80 OFFLINE   chaseracer

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 06:21 PM

Try not to do that with what you drive now, Trig... :mrgreen:
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#81 OFFLINE   PhilA

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 05:39 PM

Awesome thread :D

When I had my Victor, I was on the receiving end of some of you chaps' attention. Telling the dispatcher that you're in a bright orange 70's Vauxhall has a strange effect. Busted a lower balljoint on a quiet backstreet in Bristol. Got 3 RAC vans plus a recovery truck for that :D

Guess it brightened up a day for a few people then!

Please keep up the stories. It's made a horrible day at work much better.

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#82 ONLINE   Joey spud

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 08:56 PM

Not anything old/shite to report as its been crap weather down here and the roads are well pot holed and generally worse than normal so we are seeing lots of trye and rim damage lately.
And the crap idea nowdays to move away from spare wheels to 'emergency inflation kits' is causing no end of grief all round,obviously crap roads also brings with it broken road springs...

I had an old boy with a pug 1007 call us saying he couldn't get his car out the garage because the brakes were stuck on..,while it was parked up the front spring had broke at its base and being tappered had dropped down and wedged it self against the tyre.it weird springs never used to break over night.. :(

Also saw a lot of clogged diesel filters on modern jap/korean stuff when it was really cold,the fuel went all stringy and jelly like.
Put it down to cheap super market fuel with not enough anti waxing type additives for the weather and also some of the filter housing had ineffective heating methods (electric or engine coolant) resulting poor fuel flow,mil lamps on and slipping into limp home mode.

Had a Ducato motor home on route to southern France/Spain,the elderly couple and their scabby dog were totally fed up with the uk weather,and were parked in the M20 services with a failed speedo.
Long story short the cable was really tight to turn and its square ended profile looked like it was slipping at the gearbox end,it was late at night and the Eurostar was booked for 23.30 and they were both reluctant to drive without a speedo,but a solution was found when they dug out an ancient Tomtom which after 10 mins found some satelites so i set it so it just showed mph and no maps.. happy campers :wink:

Finally a Toyota Prius with a flat battery (hides in the boot).These things are weird,to get in to the boot you have to open the drivers door with a key blade thats hidden in the fob (the tailgate lock is electric only) then pull/open the bonnet,lift off the underbonnet fuse box cover where you locate a jump point to power up the car to allow you to use the fob to open the boot.
You then put the jump pack on the battery and start it up by putting the fob in the dash,pressing the start button and pressing down on the throttle to start the engine.

Normally i say to the mem that you need to run the engine for 30+mins to recover a fair charge into the battery but on these things after a couple of mins the engine will cut off and the car justs sits in silence with the 'ready' light on,so you think shit its not charging the battery but when you put meter on the battery although the engine off 14volt/18amps is going into the battery...
Thats when the penny drops theres a ruddy big bank of batteries under the car and these are charging the 12v battery...

I was given training on working on hybrid cars any cables that are high voltage are well insulated and bright orange in colour and you never touch any of it if the insulation is damaged by an accident or fire as its the last thing you will ever touch (something about the voltages involved causes your muscles to contract and the heat generated boils your fluids which is nice.. :(

Dont know how true it was but we were told a 'gun-ho' American fire fighter attended a hybrid rta and thought he was cutting through battery cables to make the vehicle safe when it was the ''instant death wire''...
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#83 OFFLINE   Pillock

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 09:34 PM

I'd imagine those batteries could give you a bit of a belt, yeah. There's a video on youtube of a guy that clips 200-odd 9V batteries together (because you can - the positive terminals clip straight into the negative of the next one) and there's something about the way a battery can discharge that means it can generate a massive flash without actually much in the way of stored power. It's neither the voltage or the current that kills you, it's the amount of energy stored and the speed it can transfer it.

There's also a nice video of some experiements with supercapacitors which can discharge faster. 12 volts hooked over a coathanger melts it..... :shock:

#84 ONLINE   Richard

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 06:42 AM

I used to get a lot of electric shocks when I worked in electronics but the worst was 110V DC across the chest. It made my heart jump and I felt quite strange for a while.

#85 OFFLINE   Barry Cade.

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 11:14 PM

http://www.theaa.com...appyending.html

 

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2004 Fiat Panda Eleganza -Blue Cocktail
2001 MGF VVC- Head gasket Blew


#86 OFFLINE   Lukas

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 05:34 AM

I had a chat with the breakdown-driver when my S80 left me stranded at the side of the road. He said, if you want something that doesnt give you trouble, get a japanese car. But most of them rust like hell. The VAG-stuff will always have small or not so small faults to keep you busy, the new BMWs are common for electronic problems and asked about french and italian cars, he only shook his head.

 

L


  • Barry Cade. likes this

87 Mitsubishi Pajero 2,5 TD Wagon Std

89 Mitsubishi Pajero V6 3000 MT Deluxe

96 Daewoo Espero GLX

 

I´ve always been crazy but it´s kept me from going insane!


#87 ONLINE   Joey spud

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 10:41 AM

Orange Van update...

 

Astra van in the motorway services with a water leak following a RTA.

Driver was following a van that dropped its rear silencer in his path and it bounced/hit his Vauxhall low down and slightly to the left of centre.

I was expecting the worst but the water leak was from the split screen wash bottle but a few cable ties and serious gaffer tape session had the front bumper secure enough to kick it off down the road.

 

Punto diesel oil leak/loss of power.

Had this again on the motorway,the mem only had basic 10 mile only recovery limit cover.

It had been ''knocking for miles and then it went bang'' the driver said.

I restarted it easily enough and it wasn't knocking anymore but it was only on 3 cylinders and when i looked down the back of the engine there was a nice hole with a chewed con rod wedged in it..

This one was 70 miles from home and it had done 167k so wasn't worth fixing,the mem asked me if i knew of a local scappy who would take it in,so we dumped it at a scapyard and i then dropped the mem at a nearby train stn.

 

Corsa cut out.

An old 3 pot one which when cranked sounded like it had a lack of compression to match the lack of oil in its sump.

Its owner said it had been rattling for months and been told the timing chain was goosed.

I took the cam cover off and tried to line up the pistons and the cams to check it valve timing and noticed that where the chain was so loose the exhaust cam had jumped a few teeth...

A mate at Vauxhall says this is common and you can hold the slack chain away from the sprocket and realign everything and they normally restart.Not today though i dragged it home to let their mobile man have a look

 

Austin Healey 3000 cut out / fuel problem.

This was a beauty met blue and cream that had been hired by a mature couple.i rang them while enroute and the chap said i was going up a steep cobbled street and it stuttered and stopped and now there is a loud ticking noise coming from the rear (good old style fuel pump a right result).

Added 10 litres waited for the pump to prime the carbs and off she went.

It turns out the AH 3000 was the car of their dreams,but the gloss was wearing thin after just one day with complaints of optimistic fuel gauges,thinly padded seats and heavy steering.

 

Re lock outs with little ones inside we see a fair few where the infant is given the bunch of keys to play with while mum loads the buggy/shopping and the little darlings manage to press the lock button on the fob but ain't got a clue how to unlock it again...

.


  • Barry Cade. likes this

#88 ONLINE   Mr_Bo11ox

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 10:52 AM

That dude with the Punto sounds like a bit of a hero! I wish I was cool enough to decide on the spot to ask the AA man if he’ll just weigh it in and drop me off at the train station instead.


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#89 ONLINE   Joey spud

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 11:01 AM

Yep total hero, and it was his Mums car that she had owned from new...



#90 OFFLINE   Pillock

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 11:26 AM

I nearly did that to the AA guy who came out to my Leon when it bust a big end bearing. He crapped himself when the engine tried to leap off the mounts and attack him, the thing was shaking so much. Decided to have it dumped on the driveway instead.

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