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PaddingtonBear

Engine repairs

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Why oh why is it so very hard to get any sense and more importantly any response from so called engineers. I have contacted one in particular being the nearest I know to the moorings and despite a minimal initial response nearly five months ago and several follow up attempted contacts via a variety of media I am deafened by his silence. Any advice /recommendations Coventry ish

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What's the engine? what's the problem? You could find a different engineer, find a plant engineer that knows your engine or if it is an engine problem then mytbe even a local garage.

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No really helpful advice, I'm afraid, PB, but I can sympathise considerably.

When we realised last year that it was  not sensible to continue without substantial work on one of our HAs, I had lots of conversations with people who undoubtedly knew their stuff, but amongst all those where this was their core business, no enthusiasm for rebuilding our engine in the foreseeable future.  Jonno at UCCCo was good on advice, and possible pitfalls to be aware of, but about August 2016 was already telling us he could very unlikely take it on at any point in 2017.

That's why in the end I was grateful of an offer to do it as a spare time exercise by someone who works mainly in building and repairing steelwork, not engines.  If we had waited for someone with the required facilities, I think we would still be waiting. (We knew we needed an engine lift, and a safe haven for the immobilised boat, as well as inevitable steelwork on the cabin and roof, once the roof came off, so to me that ruled out those with no canal-side presence.)

I presume you are talking about the PD2, which I imagine finding somewhere for is probably harder than the HAs.

Roughly speaking, what needs doing, and how big a job do you judge it to be?

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The media creates an unrealistic expectation in punters out there. Yes big companies will fight for your business but in the parochial world of boiler repairs, engine repairs and such personal 'hands-on' diagnostic work those who are good in their field have queues of people wanting their services. Consequently it turns into a 'beauty contest' competition where the customers don't realise but they are competing with each other for the top class technician's attention. He only has a limited number of hours in the day and communicating with potential new customers when he already has a full order book actually costs him money in lost working time. Potentail new customers can be surprisingly demanding in terms of time required discussing potential work and this eats into the existing customer workflow. 

In addition. the attractiveness of a project is heavily affected by what engine you have. It needs to be either intriguing and interesting, or one in which the busy bod specialises. I think you need to seek out someone who specialises in the PD2, get yerself in the queue and just wait, whilst keeping occasional contact to maintain yer place in the queue.

My advice is just buy yerself a different engine and get it fitted. Probably another PD2. Then get the busted one fixed with no time pressure.

 

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Nothing about unrealistic expectations Mike, all to do with poor communication and and not doing what was agreed. I realise all the pitfalls re. An old engine having previously spent the best part of £18000 on getting a 3 cyl Narional and Brunton box rebuilt. The situation is not yet critical by any means but won't get any better, all we really need in the short term (this year) is some idea of time scales so we can plan for next year.  This was all I asked of the previous contact. It is not only boat yards and engineers that have to plan, we all do to a greater or lesser extent. 

Unlike Mr Fincher of this parish the engine will not have to come out (unless we adopt option 2)as the problem is a broken oil scraper ring leading to serious loss of oil due to it burning. I have a spare complete engine which was original to the boat and one way of sorting this would be for this to be checked over and refitted but I can't even find anyone to discuss this with let alone find a queue to join. I am reasonably competent with a spanner so could do all the donkey work (which was an option I had discussed briefly)but like most people I have considerable time pressures esp. just now as my Great Leader has bought a house in Sheffield which will require my attentions for some months. I also understand the pressures of self employment having been a bit of a 'superstar' welder and steel erector for many years but one thing I did learn in this time was not to believe my own hype which unfortunately many boatyards and engineers on the system seem to do. And yes I am also quite an expert on boatyard time having moored for nearly ten years at a boat yard in the West Midlands and having the previously mentioned National rebuilt by RN at Daventry. 

Looks like a visit to Brinklow might be in the offing some time soon. At least you know it will be two or three years and it appears it will be done well. Strangely this is where the engine came from originally.

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7 hours ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

Yes big companies will fight for your business but in the parochial world of boiler repairs, engine repairs and such...

You've explained very well why small businesses might be hard to tap into Mike, particularly the good ones, but things may even be changing in big business too.  I have a pal who is a big cheese in a global mobile comms outfit who are beginning to realise that their focus on acquiring new customers rather than retaining existing ones costs them dearly.  For them, acquisition is expensive in terms of advertising, discounts and materiel set up costs, whilst prioritising the retention of existing good customers carries no such premium and less risk.  As you point out, that's not so very different for a "so called engineer" (to quote the OP)...  or a Boilerman!

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On 30/03/2017 at 08:03, Sea Dog said:

You've explained very well why small businesses might be hard to tap into Mike, particularly the good ones, but things may even be changing in big business too.  I have a pal who is a big cheese in a global mobile comms outfit who are beginning to realise that their focus on acquiring new customers rather than retaining existing ones costs them dearly.  For them, acquisition is expensive in terms of advertising, discounts and materiel set up costs, whilst prioritising the retention of existing good customers carries no such premium and less risk.  As you point out, that's not so very different for a "so called engineer" (to quote the OP)...  or a Boilerman!

 

This is a concept widely understood amongst older businessmen. I used to read chapter after chapter about it in the business management theory books I used to read back in the 70s and 80s. Youngsters however, love to throw away old fuddy-duddy concepts and do it the 'new' way, and usually end up re-inventing the wheel, I observe. 

A curious thing about the world of boiler repairs though, is the optimum customer is a 'once only' sale. If a customer needs to come back too many times, one's professional reputation understandably begins to suffer in the eyes of that particular punter!

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4 minutes ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

This is a concept widely understood amongst older businessmen. I used to read chapter after chapter about it in the business management theory books I used to read back in the 70s and 80s. Youngsters however, love to throw away old fuddy-duddy concepts and do it the 'new' way, and usually end up re-inventing the wheel, I observe. 

A curious thing about the world of boiler repairs though, is the optimum customer is a 'once only' sale. If a customer needs to come back too many times, one's professional reputation understandably begins to suffer in the eyes of that particular punter!

True dat.  Your 'curious thing' does shift the business model quite a bit, but doesn't take away your original point that courting potential customers isn't free which is something often overlooked by the disgruntled punter.

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30 minutes ago, Mike the Boilerman said:


the business management theory books I used to read back in the 70s and 80s.

Really? I shall never be able to look at you in quite the same way again :)

 

Cheers,

 

MP.

 

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41 minutes ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

A curious thing about the world of boiler repairs though, is the optimum customer is a 'once only' sale. If a customer needs to come back too many times, one's professional reputation understandably begins to suffer in the eyes of that particular punter!

One very much hopes it is the same in the world of historic boat engine repairs as well.

if I were a regular customer somewhere for the same engine, I might start to wonder if I was using the right business?

Incidentally, I can't imagine there are many Petter PD2 specialists on the canals.  I doubt if I could name 10 boats in total that still use them - a very different situation from Lister JPs, HAs, HRs, etc.  Although Chertsey may be quipped with a complete bought in running PD2, I don't think many will now turn up on e-Bay.

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1 hour ago, PaddingtonBear said:

Looks like a visit to Brinklow might be in the offing some time soon. At least you know it will be two or three years and it appears it will be done well. Strangely this is where the engine came from originally.

In fairness to the team at Brinklow, Flamingo was taken there just at the end of August, and fetched away again just before Christmas.

So it was actually there 4 months, and work was not just the engine rebuild, but blacking, propeller swap, extensive steelwork from taking off a roof off that had probably not been removed in nearly 50 years, and also new gear control mechanisms.

The engine rebuild itself was a private arrangement, taken on as an "out of hours" job, by one of their contractors, so very impressed to get it done so quickly.

I can't comment on whether my man would want to work on a PD2 though, but you can clearly ask.  Are the required parts likely to be a problem?

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On 30/03/2017 at 09:06, alan_fincher said:

I doubt if I could name 10 boats in total that still use them - a very different situation from Lister JPs, HAs, HRs, etc.  Although Chertsey may be quipped with a complete bought in running PD2, I don't think many will now turn up on e-Bay.

Now there's a challenge!

Alton, Darley,  Chertsey, Aldgate, Greenock....

 

Ermmm..Errrr.... 

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Greenock? I understood from Steve Priest that our current engine (the one with the broken ring) was taken out of Greenock and replaced with something more modern as it was going to be a live aboard.

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55 minutes ago, PaddingtonBear said:

Greenock? I understood from Steve Priest that our current engine (the one with the broken ring) was taken out of Greenock and replaced with something more modern as it was going to be a live aboard.

I thought your current engine was from Rufford?

16 hours ago, BEngo said:

Tycho?

N

It has a Petter, but it's a PD3

 

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On 3/29/2017 at 18:13, PaddingtonBear said:

Why oh why is it so very hard to get any sense and more importantly any response from so called engineers. I have contacted one in particular being the nearest I know to the moorings and despite a minimal initial response nearly five months ago and several follow up attempted contacts via a variety of media I am deafened by his silence. Any advice /recommendations Coventry ish

An odd question to have originated from someone lacking the courtesy to respond to the message sender, or the sense to contact the recommended engineer, after being messaged two days ago with contact details for a man who was repairing air-cooled Petters in commercial carrying boats nearly half a Century ago. With regard to time estimates for the repair you think you need, I have spoken with Tony D since sending you the PM, and although he cannot recall ever having to pull one of these engines down simply to change a suspected broken ring, he does recall an occasion when it took him the best part of 5 hours to change a piston and head on a PD2 that had 'dropped' a valve.  

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