We put a lot of work into being professional, giving our clients an excellent service and hopefully securing regular repeat business. Sometimes though I think we are a bit like ducks, all calm and serene looking on the surface, whilst paddling furiously underneath to keep things going.
We seem to go for extended periods of time, without any major problems or issues. Then all of a sudden the gods of spite rear their ugly heads to slap us about a bit.
A few years ago we were contracted to provide a small family funfair for the opening of NUS Mutuals new headquarters. I wrote about our run in with Princess Anne’s bodyguards at the same event.
In the event, we got set up in the nick of time, operated to the clients satisfaction and was all derigged ready for the road by about 11pm. That should have put us on getting back home for around 2am.
We sent the girls on ahead in the car, I was in a lorry towing a children’s ride, and Arthur was in another lorry towing a trailer loaded with equipment.
I’ll introduce Arthur, he could loosely be described as a business partner. There was nothing official, but we tended to do some of the larger jobs together. Physically he looked a bit like Austin Powers, only much much shorter. Think of a 4ft 10 version of Austin Powers, glasses and all and you would be on the right track.
Anyway, I was just approaching Tamworth services when I gets a phone call from Arthur.
“One of the wheels on my trailer is hot”
“How Hot” I enquired.
“Too FU*&^NG hot to touch”, was his expert opinion. That sounded like a wheel bearing was on its way out. I told him I would wait for him in the services.
When he arrived I found he was pretty accurate in his diagnoses, It was too hot to touch. I told him to jack the wheel off the floor so we could see how bad it was. When he did the wheel promptly fell off. The bearing wasn’t on its way out, it had left the building, deceased, kaput, as dead as a very dead thing.
When Spares Are A Good Idea
Luckily, the bearing was the same type as used on the wheels of the children’s ride I was towing. I always keep a couple of spares in stock, as they have failed on me in the past. No probs, half an hour and we would be back on the road. We cleaned the stub axle up, changed the bearing, put the wheel back on, and I told Arthur to tighten the locking nut to hold everything in place.
Slight problem he told me, the threads had been damaged and the nut wouldn’t go back on. Crap, we will have to weld it on. “Got a welder” he asked, I did in fact have one, 100 miles away back at base. Why havent you got one was my retort, “Because I didn’t know my FU*&^NG wheel bearing was FU*&^NG going to FU*&^NG fail” was his eloquent reply.
My Kingdom For A Welder
So there we were half past midnight stuck in services on a Sunday morning with no welder. Luckily I thought of my Uncle Michael. About 60 miles away in Nottinghamshire, at that time he would have just been coming in from the pub. A quick call and he agreed to leave a welder at the gate of his property for us to pick up.
Cue a 2 hour round trip for the welder. We got back set the welder up, ran a cable to the power generator, started it up, and welded the nut on. Only we didn’t, as Arthur touched the welding rod to the nut, the generator stopped.
Having just installed it the day before, it didn’t have a fuel tank fitted, instead the fuel was in a five gallon plastic drum. This had moved en route and pulled the fuel pipe out so the engine was starved of diesel. Not an issue, we have purged the fuel system of air plenty often in the past.
My Kingdom For A Battery
We did that, turned the key, and nothing happened, the sodding battery was flat. Now we needed jumper cables, which were also back home. No problem, we were in a services, you could go and buy a set from the garage. You know the type, they are £3.99 a set, only in the services they add a 0 on the end.
No matter the cost we needed the bloody things. We connected them up and yay, the damn thing started. Only the rattling and crunching indicated that the starter motor hadn’t disengaged. It was now being torn apart by the engine running.
Arthur looked at me, “Just weld the FU&*^NG thing on and we’ll repair the starter tomorrow.”
We limped home just as it was becoming daylight, a three hour trip turning into around 8 hours.