Google
 

Aardvark Daily

New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 24th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

Content copyright © 1995 - 2018 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at aardvark.co.uk



Please visit the sponsor!
Please visit the sponsor!

A life-changing gift

11 May 2018

I read a story in today's Stuff about service stations, and how they rob you blind each time you fill up your car, by selling you confectionery, pies,coffee and other impulse-purchase products at highly inflated prices... while you're queuing to pay at the counter.

One of the comments on that story lamented the way that service stations have changed over the years. It remarked that they had stopped at one of those fancy new petrol stations near the Bombay hills on the Auckland motorway and found that they needed a new light-bulb for their trailer lights. Sadly, although the service station stocked a vast array of food items, it had virtually nothing, other than petrol, to offer the car-owner.

Oh my goodness, how times have changed.

I recall with great fondness, every visit that my father would take to the local petrol station so as to fill up the family car.

While the hands on the bowser were spinning around and around like a demented clock, and while the little bell was going "ding ding" at every 9/10ths of a gallon, I'd rush around the side to the "garage". Here, a young lad with an interest in all things mechanical, could watch the one or two mechanics, always dressed in very oily overalls, deep in the bowels of an engine or with only feet poking out from underneath the bodywork.

All around would be engines in various states of disassembly -- because these were the days when your average car engine needed to have its valves ground every 30,000 miles and its rings & bearings done every 60K-70K miles.

Cars were a very expensive purchase back in the 1960s so people tended to hang on to them for much longer and, in doing so, often paid for a full engine "recondition", or perhaps two, before the vehicle was flicked off or relegated to "the wreckers".

There were no fancy diagnostic computers, no operating-theatre-like sterility, bugger all plastic and every car had a good old-fashioned carburetor, none of this fancy fuel injection stuff.

Out the front, by the bowsers, there was an oil dispenser. You put the supplied pouring-tin under the tap for the correct oil rating, pulled a lever and the required amount was dispensed. You could then pour the half-pint, pint or quart of oil into the engine of your car. I notice a total lack of this once-essential dispenser on modern forecourts.

Interestingly enough, it was perhaps an experience at the local garage which kick-started my interest in electronics.

It was a late afternoon and, as usual, I was busy annoying the mechanics out the back while dad filled the car (and old Ford V8) with petrol. One of the mechanics came over to me and thrust a box into my hand.

"Here, you might find this interesting, I think it's broken but you can take it apart if you like" he told me.

Almost before I could thank him, I heard the old flat-head V8 engine burst into life and realised that if I didn't run, I'd be left to walk home -- so I shouted my appreciation of the gift as I sprinted away.

What was in the box?

It was an old and very oily multimeter.

Before we'd even driven half-way home, I'd figured out that by switching to the Ohms range, I could make the needle move by touching the probes together. Twiddling the "ohms adjust" knob would vary the position of the needle.

I was hooked!

I remember that it was only the "amps" range that didn't work on that meter and that this was simply a blown fuse inside.

A small length of fuse-wire was wound around the fuse-holder terminals and she was "all good!".

It's quite amazing how an event like this kickstarted a long and largely productive career and effectively changed one small boy's life.

How sad it is that our modern supermarket-like gas stations are most unlikely to have the same effect on kids of today.

Please visit the sponsor!
Please visit the sponsor!

Have your say in the Aardvark Forums.

PERMALINK to this column


Rank This Aardvark Page

 

Change Font

Sci-Tech headlines

 


Features:

Beware The Alternative Energy Scammers

The Great "Run Your Car On Water" Scam

 

Recent Columns

What is wrong with Elon Musk?
Everyone knows of Elon Musk...

Are we being LED astray?
LED lights are the future... right?...

Court: Kodi streams OK, caching not
Some time ago, SkyTV took a case to court claiming that preloaded Kodi boxes were illegal and breached copyright...

Proof that politicians are idiots
I've written several columns on this whole issue of the "Amazon Tax" and in each one I have suggested that the government is dreaming if it thinks overseas companies will play ball...

DIY tech projects... still a thing?
At present I'm scoping several tech projects for featuring in my YouTube channels and I'm hoping that the spirit of tech-DIY is still alive and well...

Blurring the line
One advantage of being a bit under the weather is that it has given me time to get more familiar with the new editing and compositing software I'm recently purchased...

A matter of taste
One of the least-mentioned but most annoying aspects of having Parkinson's is that you lose your sense of smell...

Dotcom, a victim of our justice system?
The Court of Appeals has thrown out an attempt by Kim Dotcom to overturn a lower-court decision that he be available for extradition to the USA on charges of copyright infringement, fraud and such...

What did I miss?
Woohoo... I finally got a proper night's sleep! ...

First! (again)
I had to laugh this week when I read a news story claiming that the first ever trans-Atlantic drone flight was about to take place...

Has Google just bricked its devices worldwide?
Do you have one of those new-fangled "Google Home" speaker things (like Alexa) or a Google Chromecast?...