on the edge

computers & technology, books & writing, civilisation & society, cars & stuff

Greg Black

gjb at gbch dot net
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If you’re not living life on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.

FQE30 at speed


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Worthy organisations

Amnesty International Australia — global defenders of human rights

global defenders of human rights

Médecins Sans Frontières — help us save lives around the world

Médecins Sans Frontières - help us save lives around the world

Electronic Frontiers Australia — protecting and promoting on-line civil liberties in Australia

Electronic Frontiers Australia


(Coming soon…)


(Coming soon…)


(Coming soon…)

Software resources

GNU Emacs


The FreeBSD Project

Mon, 08 Nov 2004

Car repair surprises

Things don’t always work out at the car repairers. I heard both these stories, concerning people I know, this afternoon.

A customer takes his car in for diagnosis of an intermittent fault. Repairer rings customer to say, “Sorry, we dinged your door; but don’t worry—the insurance will fix it.” A few days later, the insurer rings to discuss the written-off car. “But I thought it had a ding in the door?” “Well, the left hand door is in the centre line of the car. It’s a write off.” Customer is not happy.

Another customer brings his car in because of an overheating problem. His usual repairer is too busy to deal with it in the immediate future, so customer finds somebody who works at a BMW dealer who agrees to fix the M5 at home. He removes the head and decides it needs to be heat treated. The idiots who do the heat treatment take the head as is, although they should have sent it back to have the valve guides removed first, as they are different material from the alloy of the head. Heat is applied and the head melts away around the 23 valve guides—for some reason, one guide was not in the head. The head is now completely fucked. The mechanic rings the local BMW dealer to price a new head. A bare head, without valve guides or cams or valves or any of the other stuff, will cost $16,000. Oops.

A head is located in Germany and shipped out. Mechanic fits it, but fails to do all the obvious things. He turns the motor over, valves hit the pistons and he gives up. Customer takes the mess back to the usual repairer and says, “please help me.” I saw the engine today and was amazed that the guy fitted a head to an engine that had pistons sticking up almost 2mm above the deck and that was missing a locating dowel. This was asking for disaster and it was duly provided. So his car will eventually be fixed, but the total time will be months and the cost huge.