Sunday, December 23, 2018

Wall Job

Greybeard has a post up about shade-tree mechanics that brings to mind several stories. This is one.

In the dark ages car repair emporiums would perform “wall jobs”. You left your car. The ‘mechanic’ would add some high octane gasoline, take the vehicle for a hard, high revving drive, blow the carbon out of the engine, and park it next to a wall. Two days later the customer could pick the vehicle up (after paying an inflated bill).

The wife and I traded in her Volvo P1800 she had before we married for a Renault 16. Car seats and new babies don’t work with a sports coupe. The R 16 worked well for us until we moved to Ogden, UT. The dealer there was a thief. 

After the 2nd large bill, before the car went in again, I spent thirty minutes or so making small marks on bolt heads and block. Sure enough when I picked up the car, all the marks were in place indicating they hadn’t moved anything. A classic “wall job”.  Then my wife informed me she had received two calls from the owner that she felt were unrelated to the work on the car. She found the calls to be “flirtatious”. 

Caution: Don’t fuck with a Norwegian woman’s money. We had a conversation with the owner ending with him bouncing off the wall of his showroom. Someone called  the police.

Being a prominent member of the LDS Church, the owner decided he wanted the whole episode to just go away. All moneys spent at his business were refunded then and there.
Our son by that time was walking and the Renault was traded in on a Dodge Charger (at a different dealer). I thought a 2 door wasn’t the best choice but the ‘yes dear’ factor was a large influence on that decision. 

She didn’t like our International Travelall 4x4 with a 4 speed. I didn’t understand that. I mean, she was 5’4” and the seat went far enough forward for her to reach the pedals. Plus, it had power steering. What’s not to like?

Thinking back, that Renault was a bitch to work on. The metal was soft and you needed to careful not to over torque bolts. The ride was wonderful, great fuel economy, and it went well in snow. We purchased it at a huge discount given the trade allowance they gave us on the Volvo. The Volvo was a huge money pit – I was glad to see it go away. I worked on the Renault two times a year. The Volvo, once a month.
If you appreciate reliable vehicles avoid European cars. Leading the list are Italian, British, French, Swede, and German. YMMV. I believe I have some creditability because at some point I’ve owned all.

Getting back to the shade-tree part, maybe it was the mechanic and not the car.


Greybeard said...

Advertising campaigns WORK.
You're not the first to comment on Volvos and reliability. Are they safe? Yes. But at what price and irritation?
Dishanesty? It happens in many ways...
I needed a new starter for my '70 Vette. I called to inquire about the price- $70.
A friend overheard the call and said "Give me the phone". He called and asked the price of a starter for a Chevy Suburban... (same starter).
I've heard the same thing happens with Porsches and Volkswagons.

Coffeypot said...

Worked many times in my parent's back yard. They had an oak tree with one huge live about 10' off the ground, which was perfect for pulling engines and trans. Even guys in the hood would come over and work there, while passing around a fifth of what ever. Good times well remembered.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Knowing your way around vehicles can save big bucks. As an example, some early Kia models used Mazda engines. Kia price for parts were far less than Mazda.

Poor people have poor ways but some of those ways are a hell of a lot of fun.

Old NFO said...

Yep, learned from my grandfather, who was a mechanic for Studebaker at the factory before they went under. He was old school, and could tune by ear better than the kids with the machines...

Well Seasoned Fool said...

I had a 51' Ford tuned up by a 'mechanic' in Steamboat Springs. Left for Denver. Halfway up Rabbit Ears Pass opened the hood and readjusted the timing. Lesson learned.

Old NFO said...

WSF- Yep, they WERE altitude sensitive... sigh...