I was desperate to finish off any number of gearbox jobs but none more than the Jeep Cherokee, whose final drive had suffered a breakdown as the vehicle had arrived at the border post at Komatipoort, the gateway from South Africa into Mozambique! In a freak accident the throttle had jammed wide open on the early model Jeep Cherokee and to prevent the automatic driven car from smashing into the rear of the usual queue at the border post, the quick thinking driver had slipped the gearbox into Park! The resultant locking up of the vehicle caused the shaft that turns the final drive to be ripped out of its connection! The damage was immense and a day or two was spent effecting temporary repairs, enabling the driver and his entourage to continue to their holiday destination in Mozambique.
1 The Jeep Cherokee, solid but reliability in question! My superior half cornered me into buying one once, it was a traumatic experience!
Months later, and in the interim the owner of the Jeep had nearly lost his life after contracting a virulent strain of food poisoning from a bacteria ridden salad dish served to him in a classy Cape Town restaurant, the beautifully looked after vehicle rocked up at my doorstep with instructions: “Fix it!”
2 The Jeep’s owner had more than a broken car to upset his stomach!
Weeks passed before we could attack the Jeep, but when we did, it was with a vengeance! The connection piece that had been damaged in December had to be replaced and we were lucky to find one at American SUV, a Jeep specialist, in Centurion, Pretoria.
Arrive the modern version of the VW Kombi, with a quick fix wiring problem and the mention of an ongoing “The Kombi cuts out in the middle of the road, normally on a busy highway, and after a quick off and on of the ignition switch the problem disappears until it returns, goodness know where, goodness knows when!”
Testing the Kombi, collecting the part in Centurion, plus two other tasks in the mismanaged and blatantly Captured Nation’s capital, Pretoria became my mission that day and I calculated a two and half hour turn around, leaving at 11:30am back at 02:00pm. The Kombi obliged in a few kilometres, cutting out completely, one lane from the fast lane, but three lanes from the safety of the emergency lane on Johannesburg’s busy 90 odd kilometres ring road. After a getting my own back on a haphazardly driven taxi, cutting him off as the Kombi and I, hazards flashing, cut a diagonal pathway across the fast moving traffic to the emergency lane where the Kombi coasted almost to a stop. I switched off and restarted and off we went, non-stop to American SUV! The Kombi showed no warning lights! Getting to the bottom of this problem was going to prove difficult! If the computer hasn’t recognised an error, how then will this mere mortal find it!
3 VW Kombi a family dream vehicle!
American SUV were a little tardy in finding the connection piece, so I bade them farewell planning to do a task in Lynwood, followed by a task in Capital Park, (both suburbs of the Greater Pretoria metropolis). As I reversed out of the parking at my preferred Jeep specialist, the Kombi gave a jerk and lost all drive! No matter which gear I selected, I was going nowhere! A quick investigation turned up a freak failure, the RH driveshaft had sheared. A tow truck was the only option!I called my preferred towing specialist, Sebol Towing, and left the keys with Abigail of American SUV, who in the meantime had handed me my invoice and the Jeep’s connection piece. I paid and made survival plans.
4 The roll back tow truck, often a situation and life saver!
Arrive the modern day transport solution, Uber and Thabo, who took me the many kilometres to a successful mission at Lynwwod and a debacle at Capital Park, where my contact had locked up his premises, and my components, disappearing on his own mission, but knowing that I was on my way to fetch them! His suggestion that I, the Uber and Thabo wait for his return fell on deaf ears. Irritated if not devastated, I asked Thabo to drop me at Hatfield Station, where I could catch a Gautrain to Sandton, spitting distance from my Gold/Salt Mine in Randburg in Johannesburg’s Northern suburbs.
Arrive a human story! At my suggestion that Thabo drop me at Hatfield Station, he told me bluntly that “There are many tsotsis in that area sir, it’s not safe there! I will rather drop you at Centurion Station, which is much safer!” Needless to say I was impressed that this gentleman was concerned for his passenger’s safety, when he could be making money with his next contact!
5 Evangelia Tsotsis! Not the tsotsis Thabo had in mind when he made his warning. His tsotsis often wear hoodies and mug you!
The Gautrain sped me smoothly through Midrand to Marlboro and onto Sandton, where I, mimicking many around me, had my smart phone out as I took the escalator up from the depths of the underground platforms, booking the Uber to the workshop. The instructions came up: “Walk toward the Alexander Forbes building and meet Thekwani, in his Chevrolet Cruze registration no BR 81 ….!” Having no idea where the Alexander Forbes building was. but assuming that it should be toward Nelson Mandela square, a very busy pick up point, I started walking in that direction! I scanned the traffic looking for the Chev Cruze BR 81, but no luck, so I checked the Uber app which told me Thekwani was waiting for me, on the other side of Rivonia Rd! Realising that I had trusted my nose instead of reading Uber’s instructions completely, I raced back the 100 odd metres, past the Gautrain Station, over Rivonia Rd to, Lo and Behold, The Alexander Forbes building and Thekwani.
6 I should have read the instructions completely!
Once dropped at my idea of fun while you work, Gearbox King, the tow truck arrived and we set about stripping out the errant right hand driveshaft, which had sheared along a crack and had in fact been living on borrowed time. I had done my customer a favour, me breaking down instead of him and his family!
I then road tested the Ford Courier automatic transmission, which my staff had installed in my absence, which ran smoothly but had a mysterious flashing warning light……!
How was your day?
U2 and Beautiful Day:
St Vincent School For The Deaf helping the hard of hearing to listen:
Down Durban way The Fulton School for The Deaf:
Abraham Kriel Childcare group, caring while we work:
The Avril Elizabeth Home for the Mentally Handicapped was opened in 1970, and for the amazing work they do for the less fortunate they deserve great accolades: