Friday, 29 July 2016

The ongoing saga of the Jeep - Caveat Emptor

It is with just a touch of anger and disapointment that I continue from my last entry on the restoration of my Jeep

I wrote about the 12 years the Jeep sat locked up in storage until such time as I  could justify the expense of having it refurbished and of the "restorer / mechanic" who had come highly recommended to me...... 

Well this was to turn into the biggest and most costliest nightmare I have ever been through, but let me go back to the very beginning.....

The Jeep was carried away on a trailer as it was basically immobile, said restorer had informed me it would take about 2 - 3 months to complete, which was not an issue for me as I had already waited 12 years for this day. 

2 - 3 months very quickly became 6 months and 6 months became one year and 2 months, in this time I had taken delivery of the vehicle 3 times, each time with dismal results - all you petrol heads out there will understand this - the rockers were constantly jumping off the push-rods which were jamming and then getting bent, valves were also getting damaged.

At no time during the initial refurb was the engine opened up, a fact that friends and colleagues who are into bikes and cars and there engines were always quite surprised about, but rather a bit of lubricant was put into the engine and it was fired up.

Only after the first major failure of the rockers/push-rods etc. did the tappet cover get opened, after which it failed again, and the head gasket also blew out on one of these occasions, but still the mechanic continued merrily along taking no responsibility for it, only informing me that "I had not specified to have the engine opened and he was keeping costs down as I had requested, Yes I did request to keep costs in line but surely not at the detriment of the vehicle" - now I'm sorry... actually I'm not..... I am not a mechanic, I don't even pretend to be, I pay people to know these things and do it for me - he should have known that as the vehicle had stood for 12 YEARS maybe, just maybe the engine should have been popped open and looked at, but that's just me.

This didn't only happen once or twice but three times and each time it died on me I was made to feel like an idiot, that he had tested it extensively and could not understand why I was having such issues.
It even go worse in that one of the HT leads from the distributor got broken in the shop and the person doing the work just balanced the broken spark plug cap on the spark plug for me to discover when I hit my first bump in the road and it jumped off.
That was when I discovered that all the terminal caps of the spark plugs were removed causing issues of their own due to the HT leads not connecting properly

Spark plugs missing terminal caps

Structure of a sparkplug showing terminal cap on the top

And so the saga was to continue......

1 year 2 months after the initial start I took what I expected to be final delivery, although with  now significant extra costs including some items that he had now chosen to somehow have been outside of the initial job - I now had to pay for the engine to be opened up and repaired, the alternator fixed and the windscreen motor fixed, petrol tank and petrol gauge fixed.

Oh guess what the "fixed" petrol tank failed and dumped 50 Litres of petrol onto the floor of my office building basement causing a significant environmental health and safety issue.

Petrol Leak in my company basement

But I get ahead of myself.... I took delivery of the Jeep and drove 7 kilometers to my office, enroute the Jeep was stalling continuously and I have was having a harder and harder time to get it going again, the noise from the engine by the time I got to my office was appalling, I got it parked and it died.

It was now to stand in the garage much to my chagrine from mid April 2016  until June 2016, mainly as I was NOT going to take it back to the "mechanic" under any circumstances and I didn't know where else to go.

I had by this time received my bill for an extra sum of over and above the initial costs for the so called "extra work" done.

I finally found a Jeep specialist to which I had the Jeep taken by flatbed truck (did I mention it was immobile again)

The report was not good..... damages is as follows:
Head not torqued down properly - Head was loose
Water leaked into the head - Head was loose(possible other damage)
Bent push rods
Damaged valves
Blown head gasket

The final report at time of writing is still not out - there could be further damage.

Oil pooled on top of next to manifold

Oil pouring out of engine

Petrol leaking out of carburetor

Damaged Head due to water leaking into head

Cylinders showing water damage

Cylinders showing water damage

Manifold showing water damage

Manifold & cylinder showing water damage
A secondary albeit cosmetic issue but I feel by no means insignificant issue is that the doors that were installed have started coming apart (I had new doors and roof made for the Jeep).

Doors falling apart

Jeep now relaxing at the new mechanics shop

Friday, 1 July 2016

Vancouver and back

One of the seriously great perks of my job in I.T. is that I get to travel, and by travel, I mean all over the world. And while traveling on business I never ever fail to build in a bit of free time on weekends to do some exploring, that is not to say that of an early morning before work or after work I don't head out onto the streets of what ever city I happen to be in and just stroll around taking in the sights.
Vancouver streets
Vancouver streets - Church having its roof replaced under cover
Start of Gas town
Steam Clock at Gas Town
Street scene
And now for something so alien to me I just have to make comment; how on earth does a city get it right to have an area designated as a community park where the residents can apply for and then grow there own plants in an open area and in the knowledge that it will be safe from vandalism, and any person (like I did) can stroll on in and walk around appreciating their labours?
Community garden in Vancouver
Canada Place - Cruise ship harbour
Robson street
I was living in a fantastic apartment in the Carmana Plaza on the 30th floor which afforded me some incredible views of the city, surrounding mountains and the coming and goings of cruise ships.
Carmana Plaza
Cruise ship leaving
Tower block opposite my apartment
View straight down from my apartment
My propensity for walking and seeing things was made rather evident to me on my recent trip to Vancouver for a business meeting of all the I.T. Managers from our offices around the world, when one of them inquired of our colleague from the Vancouver office 'where he could see or get xyz item' he was informed by our Vancouver colleague to rather ask me as I would not only know where to find it but also how to get there...... Vancouver is an incredibly clean, neat, ordered, organised city; a far far cry from the filthy, disordered, unsafe chaos of Johannesburg from where I come, so you can imagine (or you probably can't - having not experienced it) what an absolute pleasure it is for me to walk freely and safely around a city. So back to the business at hand; we worked, had our meetings blah blah blah and out I got on the road. Here I have attached a map of the city so you can get an idea of where everything is that I am talking about.
There were a number of walks through and around the city and along the harbour wall, walks out to Stanley park, walks down to Yaletown to catch the quaint little Aquabus's to get down to Granville island market - I could have caught the transit bus #50, but I only do that when I've overdone it a bit and my feet want to fall off. The following set of photos are of Granville Island and surrounds
On the weekend I went into Stanley park to the Vancouver Aquarium specifically to see the Beluga whales.  All the creatures in the aquarium are either from breeding in the facility or that have been rescued from the wild due to injury etc and cannot be re-introduced into the wild. The Beluga whales are amazing to watch, it is the only whale that can bend its neck to look around, then there was the "Discover Rays Touch Pool" experience; the aquarium has this enormous pool where you are allowed to hang your hand in the water and allow the ray's to move past against them on the hand, and the weird thing was one of the rays took a fancy to me and made repeat touches over and over again.
Walk through Stanley park to the Aquarium
Walk through Stanley park to the Aquarium
Squirrels on the walk through Stanley park to the Aquarium
Walk next to Stanley Park
View of the city from Stanley Park
Ray Pool
Ray Pool
Frog display
Beluga whale
Beluga whale
Really grumpy fish
Who says you cant swim in the sea in Canada..... I took my bathing apparel along on the trip with the main purpose of finding a gym with a pool either in my apartment block or at worst nearby. But when I was there and I was surprised at how warm the weather was, I decided on the weekend after a brunch with the team that I was going to brave the odds and go for a swim at English Bay. At English bay are the incredible A-maze-ing Laughter statues
A-maze -ing Laughter Statues
A-maze -ing Laughter Statues
A-maze -ing Laughter Statues
 There were a goodly number of people sunbathing on the beach, but only one or 2 folks actually in the water - hence it must be cold - now cold water was never something to scare me off having swum year after year on our annual holidays to the South African Cape at a town called Fish Hoek and also having swum albeit very briefly at Vina del Mar in Chile, South America - The water was incredible, not too cold but enough for me to have 3 good swims before heading back to the apartment in time for dinner.
English Bay 
Panorama view of English Bay
Park at English bay 
On the weekend I did a side trip out to Capilano suspension bridge, always fun and a rather nice outdoor diversion walking around on suspended walkways in the tree tops and on the forest floor.
Free Shuttle bus from Vancouver city (Canada Place) to Capilano
Capilano Suspension Bridge
Up in the trees there are platforms that the walkways join onto, standing on these platforms you will invariably find a Parks person to whom you can direct questions on the flora and fauna found there, I even got treated to a very illuminating explanation on how the platforms are attached to the trees and the importance of the health and safety of the trees 
Rather vertiginous metal grate platform with glass sides over looking the gorge
Below are a general selection of pictures in around Vancouver that I took while on my endless walks
Park next to Coal Harbour
Small boat harbour in Coal Harbour
Totems in Stanley Park
Totems in Stanley Park
Totems in Stanley Park
Totems in Stanley Park
Seaplane peddling across the harbour in take off
Seaplane harbour
Ferry coming across from Vanvouver to Lonsdale Quay
Lonsdale Quay
Huge cruise ship docked at Canada Place
And so it came to pass that all good things must come to an end, and I started the return trip to South Africa. The trip back proved to be a bit hellish, I had to make an 11 hour layover at the Charles de Gaulle airport, not something I would recommend.... ever.