Wood you be­lieve it

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Mechanical Mishaps - Barry Cash

 My Fiat Panda had done 80,000 miles when I dis­cov­ered the tim­ing belt should be changed at 40,000 miles and if it snapped the con­se­quences would be very ex­pen­sive!

The man­ual sug­gested break­ing off the ce­ramic of an old spark plug and feed­ing a piece of dowel through it to check if no 1 pis­ton was at TDC. I had a piece of dowel just a bit smaller than the plug hole so cut off a length and in­serted it. To make sure it was TDC I turned the crank­shaft pul­ley a lit­tle each way.

It jammed. When I got the dowel out it was an inch shorter than when in­serted! Hor­ri­fied, I had vi­sions of tak­ing the head off. Peer­ing through the plug hole with a torch I was able to see the wood. Over the next three days, with tweez­ers, a quar­ter-inch wood chisel, a long, thin screw­driver with sticky tape on the end and a lot of pa­tience, I was able to break-up the wood and fish it out bit by bit.

The tim­ing belt? That’s an­other story, but the Panda is go­ing fine now. Best ad­vice is, don’t ask me to help if you need to change a tim­ing belt on your car.

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