Auto Service World
Feature   September 1, 2000   by Rick Cogbill

When Cooler Heads Prevail…

We don't often see Basil flustered. He just quietly does his work, over in his little corner of the building that we jokingly refer to as "The Healing Room". On occasion he ventures out into the mayhe...

We don’t often see Basil flustered. He just quietly does his work, over in his little corner of the building that we jokingly refer to as “The Healing Room”. On occasion he ventures out into the mayhem of the main shop to help solve some niggling problem that has us all stumped, and which usually costs us a round of donuts, Basil’s favorite delicacy.

But today Basil’s cool demeanor was evaporating into a cloud of steam. Actually the cloud of steam belonged to the Chevy pickup he was working on; a nasty overheating problem made worse by the fact that it never overheated when Basil drove the truck.

“Are you sure this truck overheats?” he growled through clenched teeth to Rep Tyler, the hapless owner.

“Yep,” replied Rep. “Ever’ time I hit that long hill goin’ outta town, she pegs the needle right off the top end, and I gotta turn around and come home.” He reached down and scratched his old hound behind the ears. “Bailey and me ain’t had a decent day of fishin’ for over two weeks.”

“Fishing!” snorted Basil. “Well, I’ve just about reached my limit with your bush buggy.” He opened the hood and stared at the engine in resignation. I hate to see a grown man cry, so I thought I’d better speak up.

“Rep, we done a lot of things to try and correct this problem. We’ve flushed the radiator and checked the flow; replaced the thermostat three times; tried a new water pump and fan clutch. We’ve even double checked the timing and pressure-tested the exhaust for blockages.” I paused, running over the list of repairs we had done at Rep’s request. “But the fact is, this truck never overheats for us when we drive it, even with your camper on the back. And we only have your word to go on.”

Rep’s eyes narrowed. “Are you telling me I’m making this up?”

I raised my hands defensively. “No, no, I’m sure you’re not, but quite honestly…”

At that moment, Beanie, our apprentice called over from across the shop. “Hey, Baz! Have you seen the brake rotor micrometer?”

Basil shook himself out of his musings. “Yes, I put it back on the tool shelf.”

Beanie frowned. “I’ve been all over this shelf, and I can’t find it. Are you sure?”

Basil sighed. “Of course I’m sure. It’s right next to the compression tester.”

“No it ain’t,” replied the Bean. “I’ve triple-checked; it’s not here.”

Basil lost it and hollered, “Do I have to come over there and show you myself…!” His voice trailed off as he stared into space. Suddenly he snapped out of it and spun around.

“Rep, when are you going fishing again?”

“Uh, Saturday mornin’ I was going to give it a try…”

“Fine!” interrupted Basil. “Stop by my house and pick me up. I’m going with you!” With that he stomped off to the coffee room.

Rep scratched his head. “I didn’t know Basil liked fishin’.”

“He never used to,” I answered. “Maybe he wants to work off some stress.”

When Monday morning rolled around, Basil was whistling a different tune. And to top it all off, he had brought a round of jelly donuts for us all.

“Let me guess,” I said, “You solved Rep’s overheating problem.” He nodded. “What was it?”

He smiled. “Let’s just say that once Rep had everything ready for his fishing trip, the problem was right up front.”

Beanie looked puzzled. “Uh, right up front?”

“Definitely,” replied our Guru. “What Rep wasn’t telling us was that when he goes fishing, he mounts his spare tire in front of the grill.”

“Spare tire!” I exclaimed. “I don’t remember seeing a spare tire on the front of his truck.”

“Precisely,” said Basil. “He takes it off before coming in, so that we don’t have to crawl over it to work on his engine.” A collective groan filled the room.

“So did you charge him extra for putting you through that wild goose chase?” asked Beanie.

“Sort of,” replied Basil, smacking his lips. “Who do you think paid for these donuts?”

About The Writer

Rick Cogbill is a freelance writer living in the Okanagan valley of Southern British Columbia. A licensed technician with over 24 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 from his shop. “What you have just read is true,” drawls Slim Shambles. “Only the names have been changed to protect my hide!”

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