THE RAIN IS LASHING against the window here at Aftermarket, I guess it must be summer already. Atrocious weather aside, it has been a good month for us all. First of all, we hosted the Top Tech Live event, which I’ve written about in detail on page 22. It was good to see a bunch of industry types talking to garage owners and working technicians. All too often I feel that these two groups are mutually exclusive, so I thought the event did well to bring the two groups together. Big slaps on the back all around!
Another thing that happened on the same day, of course, was Gareth Edwards scooping the title of Top Technician 2012. You can read about his win and more in the Top Technician feature which begins on page 22, but I will say that not only did he thoroughly deserve the title but, as he pointed out to me, he is our youngest winner to date. If you think you can beat him then it’s not too early to register for our online test – the questions themselves will be online late September.
Straight after Top Tech Live, I was fortunate enough to go to a leg of the World Touring Car Championship in Austria with lubricant firm Liqui Moly. It had been freezing cold and raining in Britain so I was pleasantly surprised to find the sun’s rays burning me to a crisp in Austria. The race itself was very good – the all-dominant Chevrolets either crashed out or crashed into each other, making the outcome far from certain.
All this travelling means that I have put plenty more miles on my workday hack, which is an old Renault Laguna. It was due a service, so I duly scuttled down to my local branch of ECP and bought plugs, oil, leads (it was on the original set), filters and so on. The car ran as well as you could expect, so I was surprised when, just a couple of days later, I felt a lot of noise and vibration inside the car. This was strange as I hadn’t felt any particular harshness when I’d rotated the wheels while servicing it. Needless to say, I pulled over as soon as possible and was surprised to find that one of the radial belts in the rear nearside tyre must have let go, as the tyre had pulled into a bizzare shape and lethal looking wires were poking through the tread. This was a problem a can of tyre foam would never cure so I was glad that I made the decision to always carry a full size spare.
Elsewhere this month, I’ve been pleased to visit half a dozen or so garages, mostly in preparation for the forthcoming issue of Top Technician magazine. One of the technicians that I dropped in on was Matthew Pestridge at D&D Autos, who was busy removing both turbochargers from a mighty V10 VW Touareg. This involved dropping the engine and box – which is a very big job in these machines. We’ll let you know how he got on.
After this I dropped in on Skidz – a charity of which rally driving legend Paddy Hopkirk is patron. Paddy was keen to introduce me to the charity and its work, which is to take disadvantaged youngsters and teach them the basic skills and disciplines needed to become technicians. Thanks to a lot of hard work from a dedicated and professional team it was pleasing to see how well most of the young people had taken to garage life, regardless of whatever background they were from. As a note, the charity is always looking for MOT failures to work on so if you’d like to donate one to the Buckinghamshire-based charity, let me know and I’ll pass the details on.
My final trip this month was over to Nuremburg to see Federal Mogul’s Goetze brand piston factory. The technology involved in making a piston ring that will last countless millions of revolutions is as fascinating as it is baffling. The way forward is a new material called ‘Diamond like Carbon’, which is so solid and slippery, the makers say it will go twice around the clock, even in the new generation of downsized engines that run at very high temperature. You heard it here first.