Motor troubles

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Motor troubles by Andy Buhler, CUSO, 69-71

I’ve been constantly on the move for the last few weeks. I just returned from a second trip to Lagos last Friday. I drove there and back myself -- bit tough on my nerves and my nervous stomach. I had three problems with the car. I had just left Benin City with it when, on passing a lorry and tooting my horn, my horn refused to un-toot. The headlights had decided to stay on too, and I had to disconnect all sorts of wires. I got the lights fixed in Ijebu-Igbo but they couldn’t repair the horn so I went to Lagos hornless.

While I was driving along in Lagos traffic the transmission suddenly screamed in anguish and it wouldn’t quiet down. Out of transmission fluid!

I stopped at one service station and asked for transmission fluid -- the fellow looked questioningly at me then went to ask his boss. Boss arrived and suggested I go down the road to the Post Office. “The Post Office for transmission oil?” I said. “Yes. They will direct you.”

Now I stopped and regrouped my thoughts. “I cannot go to the Post Office. My gearbox is making very much noise. I think it needs oil.”

The penny dropped. “Ah, you need gearbox oil. Yes! Yes! We don’t have any.”

After trying about six service stations and being told no one had oil I ran with a noisy gearbox for the day.

The next day I found a mechanic to fix it.

“My gearbox needs oil and I don’t know how to fill it.” He opens the hood and fills up a little container on the firewall that was low on fluid. “Is OK.”

So I tried it and found that it screamed as loudly as ever. So he took it around the block. It made the same noises for him.

“Your transmission needs fluid,” he said.

“Yes, I agree. Can you fix it?” So he left and came back later with a silent transmission plus a bill for transmission oil.

I left a bit wiser. Incidentally, the firewall container was for clutch fluid.

At Owo the engine made terrible noises -- this was 10:00 p.m., so I pulled into a closed garage and looked for the source of the noise. A couple of fellows came to look in too. They monkeyed about but couldn’t stop the noise so they took it to their workshop. By midnight (with much trouble) they had replaced a sparkplug that had blown apart and had damaged the threads in the cylinder. I stayed in Owo that night. One mechanic charged me £N4/10/-, the other £N5. After haggling I paid just £N2/10/- which is still high but we all left happy. The car made the same sounds but more quietly from Owo to Benin City so I left it there for Sr. Mildred (who was in Benin City) to repair and I came back by Honda. The van and Sr. Mildred are still not back yet -- I wonder what’s wrong now.

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