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Garage Tales

More yarns from Tony Rodway at his small rural
garage in the heart of the Wessex countryside.

Way back in my Army days with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) we had a Quartermaster who reckoned that 'stores were for storing' and was very reluctant to issue anything whatsoever. We also had a Sergeant Major who was often heard to remark that there were two ways of doing things in the Army, the easy way and the hard way. He then went on to say that "the easy way wasn't easy and the hard way was 'flaming 'ard" - or words to that effect!

   I was reminded of both when one of the local youngsters called in with his very smart looking Mk 1V Ford Cortina 1.6, a car that he had been given by his father a few years ago. The lad, who wasn't very mechanically minded, complained about higher noise levels than normal and unpleasant oily fumes getting into the car.

   We checked the usual things like the door seals and heater arrangement but could find nothing wrong and it wasn't until we were scouting around in the engine compartment that we discovered a big round hole in the bulkhead at the back of the engine. After a little head scratching we realised that, at some time in the past, someone had carried out a camshaft swap (it was an OHC Pinto unit) and, instead of removing the cylinder head to do the job properly, they had cut a hole in the bulkhead and so withdrawn the camshaft that way
   On completion of the job they had probably covered the hole with something or other and this something had fallen off, resulting in the noise and smell/fumes problem.

   The lad knew nothing of any camshaft change he wasn't even sure what a camshaft was but he did say he would ask his dad. Anyway, he returned a few days later to say that the car had gone in to another local garage for a camshaft change a few years ago and, as far as his father could remember, the storeman couldn't find the special 12-point spanner needed for the cylinder head bolts which he had put somewhere safe a few months earlier.

   Apparently, the garage mechanic said at the time that this might mean taking out the engine completely, but that he knew an easier way which would be cheaper than even removing the head - this 'easy' way was obviously the hole in the bulkhead approach. Why they didn't try us for the tool I don't know, since we are only about 15 minutes away. But why make things easy when, with a little bit of effort, they can be made almost impossible!

   Oh, I almost forgot. We cut a piece of sheet metal to cover the hole, coated it with sealant and pop-riveted it in place, a job which took about half-an-hour at the most. We also told the Cortina lad to keep up with his engine oil changes or he could easily be into another camshaft change in the not too distant future.  


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