Funny tale [well, I thought so anyway].
Years ago, I used to have a Merc van business [sales, service, repair, dismantling – the usual]. We closed it in 98 and moved on to other things. Since then we moved into Dyson vacuums. Identical business model in many respects [dismantling, parts, sales, service, repair], but smaller, lighter things one can work on indoors, by the fire, and use screwdrivers with instead of working outdoors using air tools in January [we are all in our 40’s now after all – all that spanner work at -5c should be long gone].
My top tech from the Merc job [who has been with me forever] came with me and years later he is now a Dyson guru. (He was a Mercedes guru before) All well and good up to now.
So recently we repaired a Dyson for a local van breakers. Our Merc Sprinter van needed an exhaust, so we fixed his Dyson and he gave us an “as new” exhaust for our van. Happy days.
The Sprinter exhaust isn’t held on by very much (after the downpipe – which doesn’t tend to rust), two bolts and some hanging rubbers. So rather than send it out to a garage, and as my top bloke once was that good he swapped a T1 Merc 308D engine in forty minutes (incentivised by a big bonus to get the van back on the road, and with air tools and a helper I might add), why should we send the van out to a garage and pay a bloke forty or fifty quid?
We had a slack afternoon yesterday, We had a socket set, so I suggested he might like to don the white gloves, and rekindle his Mercedes skills of olde and pop the new exhaust on. We parked the van on a nearby high kerb and off he went. I’d be surprised if it took more than 40 minutes.
He did mumble it had been ten years since he had laid a spanner on a Merc van, but it has been longer for me, but I still managed to do two running repairs in the last year on trips (out of necessity), one in the forests of south Estonia, and one recently in France (its never close to home). Both injector leak off pipes (always the back ones isn’t it?) – I since changed them all last weekend.
First he is complaining the sump cover wont come off to access the exhaust flange. Much chiselling and swearing ensued, and in the end a bolt sheared off. OK, it happens….
Next onto the exhaust bolts. The bottom one comes off with much creaking and much effort. The top one ended up sheared off, snapped bolt in a captive thread on the flange.
Knowing the bolt hadn’t been out for over a decade, a sensible person might have warmed it up, dowsed it in some WD40 or Plusgas, turned it a quarter turn tighter before carefully removing it. We used to dismantle very old vans. He knows this stuff.
My chap stuck a half inch socket drive on it, a foot long ratchet, and swung on it like his life depended on it. Then *snap*.
So we are left with me with a van with a sump guard hanging off, sheared off exhaust bolts and an exhaust that growls like a bear. All done by a guy who was once the toast of the MB Club forums as a mega tech guru.
I said, “You have lost your Merc mojo haven’t you?”
He said, “I think I have. Give me a Dyson DC41 and a voltmeter now – I can fix those with my eyes closed”
So I trundled off to a local garage that does all my MOT’s (and did when I was in the trade too), told him the problem, he said “take that ramp, the toolbox is there, help yourself” (it was in the 90’s I last did that there!).
Ten minutes later, I had it up on the ramp, the old exhaust off, but was struggling to get the seized in stud out. At that point, I realised that I had probably lost my mojo too, I asked for help, a guy came along with a new fangled stud extractor (of a type I had never seen or used), he had it out in moments, two new bolts arrived, new exhaust was offered up, rubbers on, bolted up, and the new exhaust was in situ moments later. A self tapping bolt into a drilled hole took the place of the sheared off one on the sump guard. Nice and easy.
I offered him money, he shrugged and said it didn’t matter as I am an old trade customer who sends him punters, and he does all our tests there, and this was my own van – so free. When pushed, he said a tenner. I gave him twenty to be polite. I’d like to give him a shout here in case anyone is local. TAW Garage in Gorton, Manchester. They are not kitted up to do involved stuff with RRS, but for general stuff and tests, they are capable, honest and fair priced.
So I decided I have probably lost my mojo too.
How is it possible that two guys who used to be Merc gurus in the 90’s cant even fit an exhaust on a Sprinter van today without help from adults?
Like riding a bike some say. I say not. We used to do petrol to diesel conversions on T1 vans and 123/4 Mercs. Some of that took some proper thinking about, much rewiring, and electrical vacuum valve conversions to make the ignition shut off work correctly. We used to do power steering conversions and overnight engine swaps on vans that had to be at market at 6am the next day. Front axle swap? With a fork lift truck and air tools it was 30 minutes – watch this space……..
Do we lose it if we don’t use it? I am still mid 40’s so not for the funny farm just yet. I can now write html in notepad now that I couldn’t do then. I have forgot more about Dysons than Mr Dyson probably ever knew. But I seem to have forgotten much of what I spent a decade learning about Mercedes. Is that normal?