Billy the Bus's Blog

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Starter motor buggered

Billy wouldn't start this morning. The battery's fully charged (measures 12.5V) and it's not even trying to turn over, just a 'chck' noise when you try to turn the engine over. A bump start got him going though. Sounds like the starter motor's not doing its thing, so I'm going to read about that mechanism and see if there's anything I can do myself without taking him to a garage. Hopefully it's just the solenoid, that's only about £16 and according to my book its quite easy to fit. The starter motor itself is nearer £60, and a bit trickier to fit.

Three weeks later ... after a pair of Saturdays lying under the van trying various tricks (ranging from 'clean the contacts' to 'whack it with a hammer') I concluded a) it was properly broken and b) I wasn't going to replace it myself. There's a ruddy big bolt that is hidden behind the fan housing at the back of the engine which I couldn't really imagine myself finding, and there was also about 3 inches of clearance between my nose and the van when trying to work underneath it. So I took it back to Jack's, and for £110 (bosch part plus an hour or so's labour) they did it for me. They gave me the old one as well, so I can take it apart and learn about its gubbins :)

(Also learnt that it's a LOT quicker to drive to Jack's in the evening than in the morning - 25 minutes instead of about an hour. Plus, you avoid the newly extended congestion charge if you drive after 6pm).

Thursday, February 01, 2007

MOT not so good this year

I've been pretty lucky with MOTs so far since I've owned Billy, but this year... booooo. I had to fork out £480, which smarts a little after the engine expenditure last year. The main issue was brakes, which is more than ok considering they are pretty important - both rear brake cylinders were leaking badly, and one of the rear drums was paper-thin. The handbrake cables were all stretched and two rubber gromits were perished as well. On top of that, it seems my two front shock absorbers have been pretty much hanging off, so they had to be replaced - I thought that creaking over speed ramps was a bit suspect. Together with one new tyre and a couple of halogen bulbs, and a little bit of fibreglass and underseal on the rear inner sills, it was a bit of an expensive year.

This gives me an opportunity to write about my garage, Jack's Garage in Ladbroke Grove. I really like these guys - a bunch of Kiwis, led by a guy called Grant, who have the cleanest most hygienic garage I think I've ever seen. One of the things I love is that they keep all the old parts they've removed and lay them out on the table to show you afterwards. On the left you can see my handbrake cables, shox, cylinders and bulbs. It's just great to have guys that explain exactly what's going on, without being patronising. And they're not too pricey either.