Monday, October 28, 2013



Bruce was holding the fort on his own.  With his wife Kathy down south for a
few weeks, he decided to give her little VW Golf a bit of a leg-stretch by
driving the 20 kilometers into town to have lunch with the boys.

He wasn't very familiar with the car but was disappointed in its lack of
power, refusal to rev out, and general sluggishness on the road. It was
surprising that Kathy put up with such poor performance.  He should have
checked her vehicle more regularly but no doubt the boys would have a few
suggestions over lunch as to possible  causes of the poor performance.

They did. Paul thought any check should start with the simple replacement of
the spark-plugs as once these get tired, both performance and fuel-economy
drop right away.  Ian thought the high-tension leads to and from the
distributor should be checked as well because they break down over time,
resulting in the same symptoms.   In his experience the discharge capacitor
was often overlooked in problem-solving exercises of this nature.  He added
knowledgably that the contact-breaker points in the distributor were a
likely weakness but really Bruce should be looking at blocked jets in the
carburettor as the most probable culprit.

Bruce, not being much of a mechanic, was profoundly impressed with such
depth of knowledge.  Obviously this trouble-shooting task was way beyond his
limited capabilities so armed with a list of the boys' suggestions, he
dropped the car into the VW workshop.

On his return at 5 p.m. he found the car and the mechanic waiting for him.
The mechanic returned Bruce's list, thanked him for his helpful hints and
said the list had put them right onto the cause of the lack of performance,
saving valuable time and money.

Bruce hoped that of the five or six possibilities identified by the boys,
the specific culprit had also been the cheapest to fix.

The mechanic started at the bottom of the list.

"Well, for a start, these days very few cars have distributors as this is
old technology and has been replaced by electronic ignition systems, so we
didn't need to check that.  And as there is no distributor there are no
points to check.  This vehicle has no high-tension leads so we saved a whole
lot of time not checking those. Discharge capacitors are virtually history
now-days so we didn't have to go there either.  It's pretty much the same
thing for carburetors too.  I'm picking that your mates who helped you with
this list are all over retirement age and perhaps a bit out of touch with
modern vehicle engineering."

"Got it" said Bruce "So the problem obviously lay in the spark-plugs,

'Well," the mechanic began, "actually we couldn't find any spark-plugs."

"But it must have.  All cars have spark-plugs... don't they?"

"Marvelous motoring technology in this little German beauty" smiled the
mechanic.  "No spark-plugs and it goes like a charm - just as long as some
mechanically-challenged nitwit doesn't go putting petrol in its diesel tank.
It's a bit like a mathematical equation - Petrol into Diesel doesn't go".
Diesel kids, otherwise labelled as Dyslexic, head off to school with their 
perfectly intact pictorial thinking style, but find the school-based 
education system is like petrol in their tank.  Unfortunately, when it doesn't 
work for them, they get the blame, irrespective of whether or not they have
been identified as being dyslexic - or in my books as being Diesels.

Laughton King
October 2013

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