Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tenterfield - Gold Coast

Sat out the Xmass and New Years period in a bush camp up near Tenterfield. Was a quiet time for me. The first week was mostly showers, which meant it was cool. It fined up and heated up in the second week, but still night time temps were under 20C. Something nice about snuggling into the sleeping bag in cold weather.

The fine weather gave me time to wire up a second battery in the van and try it out. The technical stuff: I've a Ctek 250s Dual charger, an Exide 105 ah AGM battery, and a Sharp 130W folding solar panel. Still new, but it certainly keeps my phone charged.

Found this bug wandering about the grass up near Tenterfield.   Wasn't hard to miss with its bright colors.

I think its the Red Jewel Bug.

I'm down on the Gold Coast now, visiting friends. Not really enjoying the record heat wave temps though.  Looking forward to when it cools down.

Mullumbimby - Go Vegan

Still hanging out in Byron area, I was in Mullumbimby - known as Mullum to the locals.

The local public toilet sets a standard in graffiti.  Good quality stuff here:

A real shoddy job by Bears Auto Clinic, Woolongong

I wrote this post over Xmass, but have held off posting it because I don't like saying how bad people are. I much prefer to say how great that are and give compliments. But thinking of the "work" that Bears, I find myself getting angry.

I had Bears Auto Hospital do some work on my van. I cringe to use "work" here as I was ripped off; Really I paid for them for a shoddy job.

Here is the quote from Bears.

Initially when I picked up the van, it was filthy - dust and grit throughout, over the dash, seats and in the rear. They said they run out of time to do any cleaning. On complaining about this, they did offer a free detailing if I'd bring it back to them another day. I was leaving the area, and by this time had seen the windscreen work so, I decided that I wouldn't take them up on that offer.

At the same time I went back to complain about the dust and grit, I also asked about a small spot of rust in the cargo bay that they said they would fix at the same time as the windscreen. They offered to do it straight away. Arrrrgghhh - their fix was paint over the top of it, without removing the rust that was there!!! This should have clued me up that their other work might not have been the best, but, I left looking at the repairs until now (mid December), and 1000km away.

I started cleaning it up now. First up was the outside wash; But, I found water dripping in the drivers side under the dash.. oh o... Pulled all the vinyl matting out - it was all damp -  and put the hose on to run water down the windscreen. Yep, water is leaking in on both the drivers and the passenger side.

On top of feeling angry and frustrated, that Bears Auto Hospital removed the windscreen to fix the rust around it and only fixed one corner of the rust, I now have a leaking windscreen!

Went to windscreen repair place in Byron, and they said that there wasn't much sealer around the windscreen.. They tried to patch it up, but said that it probably wouldn't work and that the windscreen would have to be removed and refitted. Didn't charge me for trying though.  They were right, the patch didn't work, it still leaks.

The Bears Auto Hospital quote does say "Rust around front screen".  Here is around the windscreen. This is the stuff I was paying to get fixed:

While the van was in getting the windscreen done, I asked for and got a quote to paint the van floor. Seemed a good idea at the time. 

Bears didn't remove the rubber grommets before painting, just painted over the top of them. I think they pulled some grommets out, or more likely they were sand blasted away, as this one shows, the ones remaining were painted over. I had pulled some out myself, I'm not 100% sure if the missing grommets are a result of Bears or not.

But this was nothing compared to what I found when I went to change the back door seal. Under the weather strip and rubber seal, where you can't see it:

Less than two months and its rusting. Bears removed the strip and seal, painted, and put it all back.

Not one item of the job I had done by Bears Auto Hospital, Woolongong, was done well. The easy to see parts of the job looked okay, until they were more closely examined.

Okay, Bears has many workers - maybe I was just unlucky to get one that wasn't so switched on that week. However, when I confronted the manager, I could have had a better response than I did. My experience with the work, and dealings with Bears Auto Hospital just leaves me really angry.

I do not recommend Bears Auto Hospital to anyone.

The happy ending to this sad tail was that I went to Warren Simmons Panel Beating in Byon Bay and he fixed the windscreen and the paint issues. Warren did a excellent job - all the rust sanded away and painted. The windscreen does not leak.  The job was booked in, and the work completed in three days. After the my negative experience with Bears Auto Hospital, dealing with Warren Simmons Panel Beating was wonderful.

Poor Value - NRMA Vehicle Inspections

NRMA has vehicle inspections.  "For peace of mind when buying a used car .."

Sounds like a good idea?


Its not worth the paper its printed on in my opinion.

Why? You'd imagine that the qualified mechanics would be checking for some exotic engine or body damage that us untrained plebs wouldn't know about.

Nope. They only do a visual inspection. So, if you can see it, so can they. And to top that all off, they don't even do a good job at that.

I had thought that the "putting the vehicle on the hoist and looking underneath" might show up stuff I couldn't see. In hindsight, I could have just driven spent a bit more time on the ground with a torch and mirror.

Looking over my van while washing it, I found:

This was on the roof

At the top of the back door.

Top of back door again - not much paint from the factory.

No mention of this in their visual inspection.

Okay, I missed it also in my looking over, but I'm not a paid professional at this.

Hindsight for this was that I should have done more research about what the NRMA inspection is about and what it does and does not do. Maybe if I had of done this I would have saved my money, and just gone on my own visual inspection since the result is that its my problem in the end.

Slack effort - car alarm

Time to catch up on blog posts. Have had three on the burner and, well, it was Xmass and New Year, so didn't get them posted.

Was up in Byron Bay.  It was hot and humid, but I got even more hot under the collar after I set about washing and cleaning the van.

This and the next two posts, will be with rants about quality workmanship I've found so far with my van. I'l go from annoying upwards to expansive..

You may want to skip them.

Exhibit one:

My van didn't have an factory immobilizer and I wanted one. An alarm wasn't much more so I thought: why not? The installer had to cut the wire to measure. Could he spare a few more centimeters of wire?  So rather than having the wiring hidden, I have this to look at on the ceiling.

I'll fix this myself at some point. In hindsight, the alarm gives me a warm feeling, but I don't think its that useful overall.

Think about how many times a car alarm has sounded and everyone ignores it..