Friday 6 January 2012

The Bodger's Guide

Of course, we'd all like to think that we work on our cars with clinical precision. An orderly, measured affair with the kind of attention to detail you'd expect from an aerospace engineer. I do it all the time.

Immaculately suited in monogrammed white overalls and gloves, I enter the garage to find the car parked on a 4-post hoist. It's clean, inside and out, the bonnet is up and the engine is gleaming. I lift the hoist, extend my right hand and pick up a Snap-On 7/8th spanner out of the second drawer of the tool chest.

Stepping under the car, I admire the paint on the sump for a moment before undoing the plug and letting the clean-but-4999-kilometre-old oil drain in to a funnel on a stand. I then spin off the oil filter, which comes away easily with but a few drops in to a second drain pan. Someone passes me a cup of tea and a saucer with a biscuit while I wait for the sump to drain.

Tea finished, I dispose of the oil in an enviromentally friendly fashion. I take a new copper washer from a drawer, a new sump plug from an adjacent drawer and wind them back in. The final tighten is then done with a torque wrench - 30ft/lb. With some thinners on a rag, I wipe the face of the oil filter pad. The seal on the fresh oil filter is lubricated with a few drops of fresh oil and spun on firmly.

I safely lower the car to the ground and select a bottle of 20W50 Penrite from the rack. A spotless, white funnel is used to empty 4.5 litres exactly in to the engine. I replace the filler cap and shut the bonnet. Another cup of tea appears. I fill out the logbook as the tea cools and admire my handywork.


In here, nothing ever happens like that. We adhere to strict standards - do your best, silicon the rest. It would be wonderful to have racks of shiny tools, but I'm yet to find a task worth doing that can't be completed with an angle grinder, a shifting spanner and a can of brake cleaner.

Anyone can write a Haynes manual dream sequence involving use of the Ford Special Tool #3490 (Puller). The rest of us just want to know how to get the job done.

For us, there will be The Bodger's Guide. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. Angle grinder - always on the required items list for any e-series head gasket replacement