Exposing Wear - Don't Shoot the Messenger

Saturday, 21. January 2017 12:50 PM

In 1965 I bought my first car; a 1936 Ford Model C, 10 HP. Yes it was 30 years old and had done about 80,000 miles, which was a lot for those cars. One of the first things I did was take it to my father’s recommended serviceman, Russ Elia, in Barrys Point Road, Takapuna (Auckland, New Zealand), for a grease and oil change. In those days, car steering linkages and Kingpins were fitted with grease nipples which had to be greased every few thousand miles.

So I proudly drove my new to me baby over to the Garage and waited while Mr Elia did his stuff. He drained the old oil and refilled the engine, then he pumped grease into all the grease nipples until the clean new grease had displaced the old dirty stuff. He had a special spray for the leaves of the front and rear transverse springs, and he lubricated the mechanical brake linkages. Soon I was off on my way home.

Barrys Point Road is one of the entry roads to the highway which leads onto the Auckland Harbour Bridge. I was halfway over that bridge when I felt the front wheels start to shimmy, that is, shake from side to side violently!

What is wrong?

There was a lot of wear in the kingpins and steering linkages that had previously been filled by the old, hardened grease. Pushing this out with new, slippery grease enabled much freer movement. The lubricated loose joints were now free to wobble to their heart’s content..

Did Mr Elia ruin my car?


His work only exposed the problem.

As a repairer I see a similar situation very often on trumpets that have had a lot of use and minimal maintenance. The valve casings are wearing in their usual fashion, but mineral deposits are forming in the void created by the wear. When the deposits are cleaned out as part of a Deep Clean (normal maintenance to avoid the occurrence of red rot), there is a gap. The pre-existing wear is uncovered.

The valves leak.

The trumpet is “hard to play”, sounds dull.

And, if the valves are Monel, they might start to “chatter” on the upstroke.

So, please do not blame the repairer. Just like Mr Elia, they only exposed what was already there.