Gearbox update

I went back to Keldine and asked for the owner so I could complain about what has happened with my gearbox. I find out that the owner of Keldine autos is Trevor, who also owns Ford parts and supervised the refurbishment of my gearbox. 

After explaining that I was very unhappy that my claims weren’t being taken seriously and it was obvious to anyone that gear changes weren’t smooth he agreed finally to give it another test drive and we drove around the estate for 2 minutes, and it was very evident that gear changes were not smooth, I could feel them through my feet as we drove. I looked at him when he put it into 3rd gear and it almost crunched and he looked back and simply said “It is perfect. You can’t get any better.” When we both felt the crunch and we both knew that it was far from perfect, I realised he is not ever going to admit that it isn’t right.

I think the fact that he isn’t even taking a look at it either, or offering to for more money speaks volumes. 
I’ve driven this van for 13 years almost and I know for a fact there is still a fault with the gearbox so I asked him to write me a letter stating that in his opinion the gearbox was perfect and the job was done properly. He stated that he would not do that as it was a waste of his time. 

Clearly there is no value at all going back there ever, they are flatly refusing to admit anything is wrong, so now I must find someone independent who can look at the gearbox, and give me their opinion.

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Gearbox checkup

After several phone calls where I was promised a call back and none of them materialized, I decided to call down to Ford Parts anyway. I met Trevor who apparently supervised the refurbishment of my gearbox.

I explained that I wasn’t happy and that it felt very much like the synchromesh was failing. I was experiencing the same problems I had in Southampton. He said he’d have a little drive so we both went out. As soon as he came to a junction and geared down I said “You must have felt that grate into gear slightly?”

He looked at me as if he had no idea what I was talking about, but then said “That noise is from the gearstick block, not the box.” He believes the gearbox is perfectly fine even though we both heard it ‘clunk’ into gear. It’s clear they are not going to admit anything is wrong so my next task is to get a second opinion and maybe even a third.

By the way here are some photos that show the disgusting oily state my van was left in when I picked it up. The mat had to be thrown away because it was so oily.

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Chris Ritchie and Premier Engines and the tale of a paranoid Scotsman

So I got my engine back, and Chris Ritchie said over the next few days they’d put it back in the van and make sure it was all working. They did that and I finally got an almost £800 bill and my van. Never been so relieved in my life. That’s the happy news. Now for reality…

The instant I heard the engine I thought to myself this does not sound like a completely refurbished engine at all. Chris was stood beside me and said “That sounds sweet as a nut. The best sounding diesel I’ve heard.” That statement was so incorrect that I think he said it because he knew it sounded rough, but either he didn’t know what to do about that, or he knew it was his fault, or he simply had had enough of my van and wanted rid of me. Now I’m not a mechanic so I did suffer from a lack of confidence about my thoughts on the van, but deep down I knew it sounded rough. I decided to take it for a drive and see how it was.

I drove for about a half hour and honestly, apart from the engine block being gleaming clean, it felt no different than before. Indeed in subsequent days I found that it also did the same crap mileage of 22 mpg. And yet another day it got 29 mpg. So although the engine had seized and was now repaired, the original problem before seizure was clearly still there. 

It was also saddening to see missing and damaged and even broken parts in the engine. I know everything has to be stripped off the engine including injectors and alternator and everything before it’s sent for refurb and I wondered if it was possible to get an engine out, store all the parts and then put it all back together again and put it back in without breaking something. I decided that Chris Ritchie although he was a decent enough man and a canny mechanic, simply wasn’t setup for a job this big, so I let it slide.
I ordered the new plates from a Peugeot dealer in Barrow and a handful of bits and pieces.

After a few days of driving I felt strongly that the noise from the engine when driving sounded the same as a 90’s Ford when the tappets had gone. A very fast and loud ticking that had not been there before. I wondered if the head had actually been refurbished as well as the block. I checked the paperwork and that said the entire engine gets done. Looking at the bolts that hold the rocker cover on you could see that at least 2 of them were full of grit and dirt so clearly they had not been off, which they would need to have been if the head was refurbished.
So I emailed Premier engines but the next day decided to ring them. 

I spoke to a guy called Paul Eades and firstly asked to confirm they do do the head when they refurbish an engine and he said yes, so I said well I think mine got missed off. He immediately said “I know what you’re doing and I don’t like how sly you are.”
It took a moment for his words to sink in but once they had I was bemused. “I’m sorry.” I said, “I actually don’t understand at all what you mean.”
Straight away he comes back with “You’re trying to catch me out.”
I said “Catch you out with what? I’m bemused.”
” No you’re not.” He replied “I hate people like you who are sly and try to catch people out. I know who you are.”
I was actually stunned. “I said yes I said I was Gary Finnigan, and I’m ringing about my engine. You confirmed that you refurbish the head too, but I’m ringing to say that I don’t think it has been done, I think it’s been missed off.”
“Yes I know, I got your email, and now you’re ringing to try and catch me out and show em in a bad light.”
I said “No I am not! I am ringing because email takes too long back and forth and I just want to get this sorted as soon as I can. What on earth am I trying to catch you out with!”
“Your head was done.” He replied, “That’s all there is to it, don’t ring here again or email.”

I truly was stunned. I asked to speak to a manager and he said “I am the manager.”
I said “OK I would like to speak to the owner.”
“The owners have no contact details that you can use, I am the person with greatest authority in this company and I have nothing else to say to you.”
I simply hung up at this point. I’ve never in my life come across anything like this before, so I rang back and asked the switchboard to put me through to the manager. The took my name and put me through to…Paul Eades. 
So I rang back again and asked if they had a complaints department. It was a different person so they asked what it was about and I simply said it was a complaint about some work I’d had done. He took my name and put me through to…Paul Eades. 
After googling them I rang their sister company who does the actual milling work on components and asked to speak to whoever was in charge. I was put through to Paul Eades. 

At this point he says to me “I have instructed every one of the departments here that if you call you are to be put through to me instantly. You will not be able to speak to anyone else in the company, and I have nothing more to say to you.”

Absolutely gobsmacked. I even googled the company and sure enough the owner was listed but nowhere was there any contact info at all for him. I tried ringing Premier Engines several times over the next week or so but every time I was put through to Paul Eades. 
They’re now called Engine Engineering  and as I don’t have any money to sue them , I’m basically buggered.


Sadly it was only much later that I found out the police conducted a massive investigation of this company after someone reported them for stealing an engine! Read that news report here.

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Engine rebuild

I found a company in Paisley called Premier Engines. They pick the block up, rebuild it and send it back for £1284. That finally happened last week and on Friday I received an email to say they had tested the block and there were no further problems so it will take between 5 and 10 working days to rebuild.
When it gets back it needs new timing belt and a few other bits and pieces and the MOT will be due, so the spending isn’t finished yet. The final bill is probably going to be about £2500 however I ought to have at the end of that a van with a totally refurbished engine and gearbox so, fingers crossed nothing else goes wrong.

Whatever anyone else says, I will never own another Peugeot in my life, I’m put off them forever and not just the lack of reliability, but the sheer extortionate cost of parts.

An interesting side story comes from when I tried to pay Premier engines so they start the repair.
I logged into internet banking and filled in the online forms to pay them using bank to bank transfer. However Nationwide stopped me saying as it was a new payee that hadn’t been paid before I had to have my electronic card reader to get the code from. The reader is in the van so I rang them to explain and they said telephone banking was automated so it too would need the card reader. I said well no problem, can you please do it. They said no they don’t have the ability.
After a short and frustrated discussion I asked for a supervisor who confirmed, without the card reader I could not make any payment. premier engines does not take card payments over the phone due to high levels of fraud, so as this occurred Friday morning I would have to wait another 3 days before I could pay them by going into a branch and get the job started.
The principle that I cannot spend my money how and when I wish to because the bank controls when and how I have access is to me a huge problem and not fair or right. I understand their need to be secure but they have a responsibility to establish security that does not result in people not being able to spend their money.

So I’ve raised a formal complaint with Nationwide because this is the 3rd time I have been stopped from spending my money by their practices and it simply isn’t acceptable.

I logged onto Santander as I had enough in that backup account to pay the garage so I did that. Their security sent me a one time code to my phone, I typed that into the online payment form and hey presto, the bill was paid! Thank God for Santander! Oddly when I went back to Nationwide to transfer funds to the Santander account to replace what I’d just spent, that transaction was also blocked despite Santander being a named payee! In frustration again I used the app on my phone and that allowed me to pay Santander immediately! No consistency or sense in how this all works so I am going to continue to make a formal complaint about the bank to the ombudsman in the hope that if enough other people also complain, the bank may eventually change it’s practices.

In the meanwhile I am staying with my friend in the lakes while all this is going on. By the time I get my van back I’ll have been staying with her for 3 weeks, so massive thanks to her and I shall have to find a way of making it up to her for being such a fabulous friend.

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Engine woes

When you live in your van full time what’s the worst that can happen? Gearbox fails? Engine fails? You break a leg? Well of the top ones I just had the second…the engine seized.
I’d just finished work at midnight and went to drive to a new place for the morning. I felt the engine struggle and I assumed it was in limp mode. However I only just made it into a layby and it cut out and was clearly seized.
I had been noticing lately that the meter on the binnacle reported only 2 bars of six for the oil, but when I’d tried the dipstick it was full, so assuming an oil pump fault I checked the dipstick again to find…completely empty! A quick look revealed a loose oil filter Grr! Luckily I had oil so I topped it to full again and went to bed intending to try the engine in the morning after it had had plenty of time to cool down and the new oil to get in. As I was very anxious I got no sleep that night contemplating what it could be, what it could cost me and what this might mean to my lifestyle. I didn’t even have internet or phone connection in the layby so I lay in bed worrying all night.

Come the morning I tried the engine and it started fine, so I was HUGELY relieved as you can imagine. I set off to another layby which I knew was close by and where I knew I could get a signal, just in case the engine wasn’t quite right. Very lucky that I made that decision because about halfway to the layby, some 500 yards I could feel the engine struggling. I managed to reach the layby and coasted in with the engine off. The oil was definitely full although the meter on the binnacle said empty, but no oil light was on, so I assumed now there was a fault such as a broken oil pump.

The recovery guy came and they took me to Chris Ritchies in Barrow who the next day confirmed the engine was damaged and needed to be replaced.


Now, anyone who reads my blog regularly will probably wonder how it is that one person can have so much bad luck over a long period of time. Well, so do I! I do try to think positively and say some people contract a disease and lose limbs, some people get cancer and are given a few months to live, some suffer appalling injuries in attacks and…well you get the picture. It doesn’t fix my engine, and it doesn’t make me happy, but it does make a difference to the stress to think that there must be thousands of people just in the UK alone who would love to swap their serious problems for mine.
After a scour of the internet I finally found a company called Premier Engines in Paisley, Scotland. They’re going to arrange to get the engine from Chris Ritchies and rebuild it and it will cost around £1140. To strip the engine and put it back when it’s refurbished Chris will charge me about £750, and it needs new oil and timing belt before it’s replaced so there’s another couple of hundred quid. So it’s going to be £2000 or more all told to get it back to working condition.

Fucking bummer eh? But like I said, someone just lost a leg in a motorcycle accident so putting things into perspective it’s not that bad.

As a sort of add on story, I found an organisation called the Federation of Engine Manufacturers. It’s obviously a trade organisation so I checked the site out and tried many of the garages that were listed there. There was one that did marine engines, one that was VW/Audi specific, one for Caterpillar equipment etc etc. The only garage I found that did engines of the sort I’d need I contacted and when he rang me I was chattering on and mentioned refurbished engine. He immediately said don’t touch one with a bargepole and was quite insistent about that. I asked why and how a refurbished engine was different to a manufactured one and he flustered a bit and asked me to check on his website where it was all explained. He continued to ask if I wanted him to quote me for an engine and I said yes but I wanted to know what I was being quoted for, ie: what is remanufactured compared to refurbished. He was still unable to tell me so I left it and checked out his site, which had absolutely nothing at all about refurbished on it!

Meanwhile he sent me an email saying he could not find me a remanufactured engine, here’s a snip from the email:

“The reason you cannot compare reman to refurb/recon is because there is no definition of reman/refurb which is why we do not sell them.”

Of course I emailed back saying if there is no definition, how do you know you don’t sell them! Anyway I went back to the FER site to use their forum and found that of all the questions that had been asked over the years, I could not find a single one that had been answered! Also the site looked like something from the 90’s. So the Federation of Engine Remanufacturers is in my opinion a faded organisation that does not appear to have any clout or standards at all, hardly any members and no participation in their forum so I am left to find my own garage.


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I met up with an old friend this evening at a Toby carvery. It was lovely connecting with her and we had a right giggle over old times. Just prior to her arriving there was a couple in  the car park who had a dog that came up to sniff my dog. They had coffee mugs in their hands and had obviously come out of a blue van nearby. When we came out later on in the evening they were still there, having a cuppa sitting in the grass. It looked like they were staying the night so being a local and knowing some much better places to park, when my friend left I went over to them to let them know.

We got chatting and as it happens they were actually booked into the adjoining hotel so they had no need of safe parking places. But as we chatted it turns out that he was Martin Furey! Now any fan of the Fureys, The Chieftains or the High Kings -all Irish folk bands- will know that he is the son of Finbar Furey, himself one of the 4 Furey brothers in the eponymous group The Fureys, and Martin being of the 4 members of the High Kings. We were chatting and chilling and it was all relaxed so I didn’t bother asking for his autograph, although I did ask to take his photo for this blog which he declined, and I respected his decision to do that. Still, it was a pleasure connecting with such a talented musician and a nice man. If you’ve no knowledge of these musicians or this music check out his website here.

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