Auto Service World
Feature   June 1, 2001   by Rick Cogbill a.k.a. Slim Shambles

A shaky relationship

The delivery truck was just pulling out as the gang sauntered in from the coffee room. Beanie stared out the open door. "Hey, Boss, you never told me Sam was here!"I laughed. "No, I figured she could ...

The delivery truck was just pulling out as the gang sauntered in from the coffee room. Beanie stared out the open door. “Hey, Boss, you never told me Sam was here!”

I laughed. “No, I figured she could use some breathing room while we unloaded this new tire balancer I just bought.” The Bean had a crush on Samantha, the new delivery driver for Herkle’s Auto Parts, but so far the blue-eyed blonde hadn’t acknowledged his existence.

He looked so crestfallen that I weakened. “Don’t worry, she’ll be back. In fact, she’s going to bring up her dad’s Ford Explorer after she gets off work at 3 o’clock. Apparently it has a real vibration problem that no one’s been able to fix.”

“There you go, Beanie,” said Basil, with a glint in his eye. “Learn everything you can about this new balancer, and you can be her knight in shining armor!”

“Huh!” grunted Tooner, draining his coffee cup. “I’d say a lackey in dirty coveralls, if you ask me.”

But Beanie didn’t hear. He was already deeply engrossed in the owners’ manual.

The love-stricken lad was ready when Sam arrived later that day. He’d put on new coveralls for the occasion, and managed to remove most of the grease from his face. “H-hi, Sam!” he stuttered. “I’ll be looking after your vehicle today…” His voice trailed away as he gazed at her long blonde hair. I had to admit she looked pretty good in her black leather jacket, jeans and cowboy boots.

Tooner coughed. “Ah, Beanie, you’re drooling.”

Beanie turned beet-red, and grabbing the keys that Samantha was holding out, he took off on a test drive. Sam sat down in the waiting room with a magazine. “He’s cute,” she said with a smile.

Arriving back at the shop a few minutes later, Beanie threw himself into the project with fierce determination. But after an hour of balancing and test-drives, he shuffled in with his head down. Apparently, the dragon had got the better of the knight.

“That’s my problem,” said Sam, after Beanie admitted that the vibration was still there. “Three different shops have tried to fix this, but it still shakes between 80 and 105 kilometres. Sometimes, even at lower speeds, it’ll start vibrating if we hit a bump.”

“Beanie,” I interjected, “a vibration that starts after going over a bump sounds like more than a tire balance problem. Better start looking for some service bulletins on the computer.”

His eyes lit up, and he dashed into the parts room where we keep the electronic repair manuals. Grabbing his custom-made joystick, he began surfing through data like a fighter pod through a meteor field.

“Have another coffee,” I told Samantha. “This is The Bean’s home ground. If it’s on a disc, he’ll find it.”

It didn’t take long. Sam had just added the second sugar cube when the shop door burst open and Sir Surf-a-lot skidded to a stop in front of the counter. “I’ve found it!” he whooped, waving a printout in our faces. “It’s right here, service bulletin 02/12/96! 1993 to 1994 Explorers have a problem with engine vibration combining with wheel vibration. They call it ‘movement frequency of the engine aligning with the tire rotation frequency’.” He was so proud of himself, he almost bust a button on his coveralls.

“So what’s the answer?” I asked.

“Oh!” Beanie looked at his papers again and turned to Sam. “You need redesigned engine mounts and a new rear axle-to-frame lateral shock absorber kit.”

“I do?” asked Sam, raising an eyebrow.

“Er, no,” said Beanie blushing, “your Explorer does.”

There were a few other details that our hero didn’t mention, such as these repairs aren’t possible on a model with a block heater, as it interferes with the new engine mounts. And the two-door models need a new exhaust system as well. But in Samantha’s case, they didn’t apply anyway.

Besides, The Bean was in love, and we all know what that does to a man.

We booked the Explorer for Wednesday to do the repairs, and Beanie booked Friday for his first date with Sam.

We’ll let you know how it turns out. (The Explorer, that is.)

About The Writer

Rick Cogbill is a freelance writer living in the Okanagan valley of Southern British Columbia. A licensed technician with over 25 years in the automotive repair industry, including ten years as a shop owner, Cogbill creates his comic scenarios with Slim, Basil, Tooner, and The Bean out of actual case histories. “What you have just read is true,” drawls Slim Shambles. “Only the names have been changed to protect my hide!”

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