Most influence on your spannering? - Clanger
My dad owned the village garage once upon a time so I guess I got off to a flying start with servicing and bodgeing. I have an early memory of him fitting a gas-flowed head and stiffer valve springs to his Mk2 Ford Zephyr drophead. Popular Mechanics and Practical Motorist helped me and when I finally lost it completely and bought my first hydraulic Citroen, the Citroen Car Club mag was invaluable next to the Haynes manual. Citroen Car Club meetings would have a resident expert who would dispense wise words if you could get near him.

For those of you that like or liked getting your hands dirty, which book(s) or magazine(s) have helped you most in your lifetime of oily skinned knuckles, crucial lost widgets and foul language? Or did parents, uncles or friends help you on your way?

I ask because one of my son's mates has had an old Mini bought for him and he wants to wire in an array of spotlights. Without too much bother, I have rootled out a paperback copy of an undated Mini manual 1959 on by J H Haynes with foreword by the legendary Paddy Hopkirk, and a copy of AA Car Care from 1992 with some splendidly simple diagrams in it. The modern spannerman doesn't like to read much however, and said mate went white when I showed him my recommendations for reading. He said, "You'll help me out if I get stuck, won't you?" Remembering my 30-year-old vow never to touch a Mini with any sort of tool again, I kept quiet.

Your turn ...
Most influence on your spannering? - Vansboy
Ditto Haynes manuals. Must confess that despite them being produced from ACTUAL strip downs & rebuilds of vehicles, complete with photos & line drawings, it didn't stop me getting some of the tasks wrong!!

& actually still had copies for Cortinas, Escorts, Maxis & my VX2300, up till we had a clear out, when we sold the yard.

Memmories, memories...of grazed knuckles & cold weekends working in the street, before we had a garage to play in!!!

Most influence on your spannering? - henry k
>>Haynes manuals.
Must confess that despite them being produced from ACTUAL strip downs & rebuilds of vehicles, complete with photos & line drawings.

Well the Haynes manual for my MkII Cortina had identical photos to those in the big fat proper Ford manual I bought. ( and still have and yet to sell )
A poor description in the Ford manual did not stop me blowing up the 9V coil ( it did not like a continuous 12V). All part of the learning curve.

I have also noted revisions in the Haynes for Cortina/Sierra.
e.g. I found a work around re the water pump removal that did not require a thin walled cranked spanner. Haynes also found it and inserted it in later editions.

The Focus Mk 1 manual has some errors and omissions which I informed them of.

The influence on me came about in keeping a !600E on the road. It suffered a whole range of unusual failures. A new clutch at 15K to start with.
Having to fit a whole new Ford engine at 25K, the cost and a mechanic for a brother were the main drivers.
Certainly since then I have always had cars that were high volume so I always got the Haynes manual as it still is invaluable to my antics.

Now the most influence is the huge complications in a modern vehicle and the approach of " lets substitute this expensive item and see if that fixes it!".
Plus of course I now have a few more funds and a lot more distractions.
I hate to think how old my pot of Swarfega is :-)
Most influence on your spannering? - FotheringtonThomas
For those of you that like or liked getting your hands dirty which book(s) or
magazine(s) have helped you most in your lifetime of oily skinned knuckles crucial lost widgets
and foul language?

A little something by David Vizard. I can't remember the title, offhand, but the book was blue, or blue in parts. "Tuning for Performance", or something.
Most influence on your spannering? - Robin Reliant
Haynes for me as well.

I don't think the manuals are as good as they used to be. Some of the tasks being described in my Mondeo manual as being done with the engine in situ have obviously never been attempted that way by the writer.
Most influence on your spannering? - PhilW
Originally think it was "helping" my uncle (OK, passing him the spanners!) as he maintained tractors, spud pickers, combine etc on his farm. Then taking the head off a mate's Morris minor to decoke it and "polish the ports" to make it go faster! It was a side valve I think, so taking the head off was easy. But it didn't go faster!
Books? The Peter Russek Pocket Mechanic I bought when I got my first BX about 20 years ago - still got it - covered in oily fingerprints and it smells of LHM!
Most influence on your spannering? - concrete
I remember changing a head gasket on my first Triumph Spitfire. With a manual and some advice from friends I did the job in 6 hours. Mind the access was brilliant with the lift and tilt front bonnet section and you could sit on the wheel. I also was able to repair a head tank leak quite easily. The tank was brass and being a plumber I was easily able to solder the leaking seam with lead. I now look at my new car and apart from oil, water and brake fluid top up points I would not know where to start. Pity, but that's progress. Concrete.
Most influence on your spannering? - oilrag
It was those model aircraft engines that started me off, aged about 11 years.

But the knowledge came from all the mechanics magazines (including bike) + haynes manual and library engineering texts. Aged 14, I was servicing our family and extended family cars and at 17, taking engines apart.

Of course, you were considered a `Man` in those days at 15, so I felt more than old enough to be the rescue vehicle at 17 in my first car.
The boot was full of tools and spares and I rescued them on several occasions.

I was never actually taught or watched anyone do mech work, but worked it out myself books and magazines and in visiting scrapyards stripping cars for parts.
It stood you in good stead for later and many years later taught myself to sail by reading books and without lessons.

What surprises my is how helpless and dependent some of my friends kids are and unable to work things out for themselves. It seems they don`t have a problem solving way of thinking and still ring Dad from University because their car won`t start. They can`t help themselves, let alone their family.

I`m not being judgemental about that, but just commenting on how society has changed until I don`t recognise it.


Edited by oilrag on 21/02/2008 at 07:01

Most influence on your spannering? - Rover25
Haynes Manuals and Car Mechanics Magazine, and Practical Classics got me interested in mechanical tinkering's. A large bill from a Vauxhall main dealer and a mechanic friend telling me that ' you could have done that service for £x' got me started on the spanners.
Do all my own servicing and most repairs now, saves me enough cash to go to a garage when I know its beyond my capability or tool kit.
Most influence on your spannering? - Harleyman
Garage does my car servicing, I don't have the time and also like to keep the book stamped and up to date; for the 1963 GMC pick-up I have (at great expense but worth it) manufacturer's workshop manuals, but the beast is so easy to work on it's unreal.

This is a common question asked on my Harley club forum; Haynes don't get such a good press there as the manufacturers' manuals which are first-rate though expensive, followed by the US Clymer ones.

I agree with a PP that Haynes don't seem to be so good now; is it perhaps because they struggle to keep up with constant changes and modifications made by today's manufacturers? Furthermore, so many items are not economically repairable these days that anything beyond basic servicing is too much hassle for me. I did a full apprenticeship as a mechanic in REME but working on modern cars simply doesn't give me any satisfaction at all.

Edited by Harleyman on 21/02/2008 at 20:23

Most influence on your spannering? - Alby Back
Always been one for tinkering in an amatuerish sort of way with stuff. As a kid I would dismantle, clean, oil, and reassemble my bike right down to removing the axles and ball bearings etc. just out of curiosity. My early cars like a Mk 1 Escort, a Spitfire and a Midget got subjected to similar treatment. Most of the time I would just pick on a particular component and take it apart to find out how it was assembled and put it back together. Fortunately, I have a reasonably good memory! The car that got the most interference though, was my dearly departed Westfield ( Sob! ). It was not built by me but I pretty much took it apart and put it back together again one winter for no real reason other than to see if I could. It had been fitted with a Ford X-Flow 1600 which was fairly vandal proof and despite my fiddling it continued to run fine. I even managed to convince myself that I might have done it some good but in hindsight I can't see how! The only Haynes manual I had was from a completely unrelated car ( Mk1 Fiat Panda...don't ask! ) but it sort of helped when it came to grasping the more technical bits as the basic principles were the same. Sort of miss doing things like that but wouldn't dare attempt anything other than very basic stuff on a modern engine.
Most influence on your spannering? - Lud
My father without a doubt. He was a civil servant who worked in the Admiralty, in a department with lots of technology and mechanical stuff, which he enjoyed and was good at. He tinkered for a hobby and, civil service salaries being what they were in those days, grappled in gung-ho fashion with cars when he had to pay for his own, and kindly allowed me to help and didn't give me too hard a time over my idiocies. When I was eight or ten my parents bought me Meccano sets at Christmas and birthdays so I ended up with quite a lot of Meccano which I liked a lot (sold it for a song to some hustler when I was 15 along with beautiful and probably even then valuable 0-gauge train stuff including three magnificent pullman carriages and a Bassett-Lowke clockwork Edwardian scale 4-4-0 engine and tender, given me when I was far too young by a friend of my parents...)

Adolescents are so half-witted. But I was very lucky in my childhood in many ways, and one couldn't be a technophobe or mechanical idiot after all that, however idle and artistic.

Edited by Lud on 21/02/2008 at 23:19

Most influence on your spannering? - Alby Back
Come to think of it, I blame Meccano for my obsession with fiddling too Lud! My eight year old's modern plastic version is a totally inferior shadow of the stuff we had. It doesn't even cause bleeding when you abuse it. How can this possibly prepare the budding tinkerer for the real world?
Most influence on your spannering? - Lud
The disappearance of proper Meccano, following actually its dumbing-down into themed outfits which any idiot could see were carp, seems to me to be one of the greatest tragedies to hit the rational nipper in recent years. I find it hard to believe that it would now be too expensive. I quite agree about this five-year-old's big fat plastic rubbish. No one would want that. Perhaps this is all a conspiracy to make Britain fall behind India and China in tinkering.

No doubt you had the tail end of the green strips, red plates Meccano they had in the forties and fifties when I was small? In the thirties it was even more luxurious looking, the plates being blue with a gold diamond pattern on them and the strips I think being painted silver...

My uncle who died the other week had some of that, but I never got hold of it except when visiting my grandparents about 1946.
Most influence on your spannering? - RichieW
The biggest influence on my spannering took place when I took my first car for a new exhaust to a fast fit type of establishment and endured a seventeen year old telling me what was wrong with my car when I didn't really have a clue myself. He proceeded to tell me all sort of parts needed replacing and I wasn't really sure whether I was being had.

From that day I vowed I'd learn to fix the car myself as if the kid in the shop could do it then so could I. I'd also know if I was being lied to in future. The prices charged had a large influence too.

I find the internet is a huge boon for home repair. Every problem has been documented by someone somewhere. I think its a shame as I'm about the only person I know in my age group (Early thirties) who will have a go at fixing their cars. Everone else my age that I know treats them like fridges and televisions. "No user servicable parts inside". I feel/know that I'm acting like my dad's generation in relation to cars.

Most influence on your spannering? - peanut
This is a bit of a tangent, but I was told of a type of spanner this week whereby the spanner grabs the faces rather than the 'ends' for grip, hence never flattens the ends of a nut/bolt. I think it was called a Mac-something 4wd, Looked brilliant, and apparently unobtainable....

Most influence on your spannering? - drivewell
Hi Peanut.

What you are referring to is known as 'surface drive'. They are produced by a number of companies, both as sockets and spanners. I have some by Sykes-Pickavant, and they do what it says on the box, namely, put the pressure on the flats, rather than the angles.
Most influence on your spannering? - drivewell
'Spannering' Influences?

Neccessity is not only the mother of invention, but often the father of education.

I was still only 17, had just passed my test, and bought a seven year old Sunbeam Rapier Mk V (final fastback shape). It cost me £200, had no MoT and the big-end bearings were knocking.

One of my mates was an apprentice mechanic. I bought a simple socket set and a jack, and a hammer, and with his help took the engine out, rebuilt it, did everything else that car needed for it's MoT, and put it back on the road. What I learned from him (- his name was Brian Bell - if you ever read this -"Thanks Brian") was the basis of my car DIY skills.

Yes, workshop manuals played their part, but to be shown how to do something, then do it for yourself, is still one of the finest educational methods.

And the Rapier? Sold it a year later for £600!
Most influence on your spannering? - Chris S
I do most of my own servicing and repairs because of the lousy service I've had from garages in the past (eg: charging for new rear brakes and the car then failing the MOT on them because the work hadn't been done!)
Most influence on your spannering? - Glaikit Wee Scunner {P}
My father, who was an apprenticed marine engineer. He turned his hand to repair/make anything. With his encouragement I spannered on a series of maintenance intensive BMC cars (and a Renault 18) at the kerbside in all weathers. After he died , I started buying Vw's and paying someone else to service them.Turned to motorcycle maintenance where I had a chance of keeping warm in my shed.
Most of my tools are rusting away now I regret.
Most influence on your spannering? - zookeeper
i was first interested in motive power ever since my first Mamod steam engine , i know its not an internal combustion engine but the idea is similar , then i went on to single cylinder motobikes and i was really chuffed when after a lot of swearing , blood letting and knuckle skinning i managed to replace a bent valve and timing chain on a honda 125s and it went like a rocket, ive always had a haynes manual for every thing ive ever owned that had an engine bolted to it, i can read a haynes manual like other people read a best selling novel
Most influence on your spannering? - peanut

I think I'll track down a set: seems such an obvious idea.


Most influence on your spannering? - CheapNcheerfull
A slight twist here but what is the daftest thing you have ever done, and are willing to own up to whilst carrying out work on your car ? Come on we are all guilty !!!!!!
Most influence on your spannering? - zookeeper
i left a ring spanner on the crankshaft pulley , i soon realised when i started damage done luckily
Most influence on your spannering? - Alby Back
An awful lot of years ago I jacked up both sides of the front of my Midget on normal jacks to create enough space to crawl under to remove the starter motor. Of course it slid off the jacks and the sump landed on my chest pinning me to the ground. Fortunately my head was in the space created by the curve of the bell housing otherwise it would have been crushed. After the initial shock and pain I realised that I could not breath due to the weight of the car on my chest. Unable to shout for help, and I still do not know where I got the strength from, but I somehow managed to sort of bench press the car away from me for long enough to get out. Major "daft laddie award" to self that night ! Ribs reminded me of this stupidity for some weeks to follow.
Most influence on your spannering? - Lud
i left a ring spanner on the crankshaft pulley

I left a big socket with ratchet still attached zookeeper, and it came off with a hell of a bang, also fortunately with no bad damage although the ratchet was never the same again...

Of course everyone will have poured half a gallon of new oil through their engine onto the ground having forgotten to replace the sump plug?
Most influence on your spannering? - CheapNcheerfull
Hmmmm really I thought that was only me !!!!!!!

Most influence on your spannering? - Clanger
Fiat 128 Rallye. c. 1976. Mum was away and I was dog-sitting. I availed myself of the novelty of a garage to give the car a service. Dribbled Redex through the carbs then decided to clear the cylinders with the starter with the plugs out. I'd previously removed the HT set and distributor cap for cleaning and churning the engine made the dizzy swallow my cleaning rag whole. It's amazing how much terry towel you can cram into a distributor body if you throw enough horsepower at the problem. Took me hours to sort out. Never did find the other advance/retard spring. Ran like a dog afterwards until I'd replaced the dizzy innards. When I finally got inside the house for a cuppa, the neglected dog had relieved herself in the kitchen.

Most influence on your spannering? - zookeeper
ive just remembered from my biking days , i didnt snap the snap link back properly when replacing my motorcycle chain after i had replaced the back wheel , i didnt get far before it had jetisoned itself behind me , again no damage done ... but ive heard of similar stories where the chain locks the back wheel up or mangles the drive sprocket
Most influence on your spannering? - Canuck
Vancouver Island 1972
We were 3 engineering students working as summer labourers at the local pulp mill and renting a place together on Vancouver Island. One of the guys had recently bought an Austin Healy 3000 with a crunching gearbox. The 3 of us had started to take it out one week (it could be removed from inside the car) when the weekend arrived and the owner popped off back to the mainland for the weekend. He optimistically said that that we could use it if we got it back together with the new syncho rings. Needless to say, the two of us worked very very hard getting the tranny out, fixed and back in by late Saturday afternoon leaving us Saturday night and all day Sunday to enjoy some spirited motoring in one of the coolest cars around.
We had to be careful on the speed bumps down at the lake as I recall.

Ask Honest John

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