Tofo Mechanics

20170902_140903During our short-cut stint driving into Tofo Matt heard a funny noise when he switch Woody over to 4×4. The sound came from somewhere below the car as he pulls away and only happens when it is in 4×4. For Marcia and myself this did not sound like a problem, for Matt and Clayton this signaled a potential disaster in the near future and better to be investigated and fixed now rather than later.

The owner of the backpackers recommended a very reliable mechanic that they all use on their cars. The chap and his appy arrived a couple of hours after being called and the backpacker’s owner was kind enough to also act as our translator. Unfortunately we could not keep him from his duties the whole day and the guys were stuck with the mechanic and the appy who hardly spoke a word of English.

So began the most peculiar, primitive yet very entertaining conversation I have ever witnessed. The only way to communicate was by either making sounds, acting out what the problem was or drawing in the sand and as such the conversation was turned into a game of pictionary and charades. Marcia knows a bit of Spanish which helped a bit but mechanical lingo was understandably not part of her vocabulary.

After listening to our translator and then the noise, the mechanics would explain what they thought the problem was with the appy making grrr grrr grrr noises and the mechanic adding the click clack click clack sounds at the right intervals while making the most bizarre hand gestures and pointing to certain sections of the car. Matt and Clayton would then respond with their own version of the click, clack, grrr and gestures and soon they figured out that the mechanic thought the problem was with the prop-shaft. The guys weren’t convinced but decided to go with it. All Matt had to pay at this stage was just the price of the replacement part once they figure out exactly which section of the prop-shaft needs replacing. Before they could change their minds the mechanic dived under the car to take the prop-shaft out. Curiously enough he pitched up without any tools but luckily Clayton had a mobile workshop of tools at the ready. The only way to convey what they needed was for the mechanic to draw the tool in the sand and then Clayton and Matt would guess what it was.

Prop-shaft out

A little while later the mechanic and his appy had the prop-shaft out and left to go work on it at their workshop, promising to have it back the next day.

The next morning the mechanic sent someone to collect cash from Matt for the part which they have identified as the problem. Matt reluctantly handed over the Mt800 and the random guy disappeared. Later that afternoon the mechanic arrived, prop-shaft in hand ready to put it back in and confident that they solved the problem. Under the car they went and the pictionary game started again.

With the prop-shaft back in its place, Matt got in the car, started Woody, put it in gear and pulled away. The disappointment was clearly visible on the mechanic’s face when the grrr, click and clack sound was still there. Devastated by this turn of events, the mechanic said they will be back early tomorrow morning to see what went wrong but we all suspected that they changed the wrong side of the prop-shaft, if that was even the problem. At this stage the guys began to reluctantly toy with the idea that maybe, just maybe the noise was not as bad and can go without fixing.

The next morning all that arrived was the sun and the mechanics only made their appearance that evening when night began to fall upon our little paradise. They however came with a plan and wanted to know from Matt if he had a fucked up tyre (their words, not mine). Confused as to why they would need a fucked up tyre they tried to explain (with noises and gestures) that the sound will go away if they put a piece of rubber between the plates at the shaft. The way they explained this was by putting their one hand (the rubber) on their other hand (the shaft) and making the grrr, click and clack noise very softly and then removing their hand from the other hand and make the same sounds but this time louder.

The guys were not convinced but Clayton had some rubber to spare and handed it over to the mechanic who quickly went to work. It was already quite dark at this stage but with the help of torch they managed to to stick the rubber where it needed to be. With the all clear from the mechanic, Matt got into the car, put it in gear and pulled away. At first we all thought the problem was gone but after a couple of minutes of playing with the clutch control the sound was again there, but at least a bit softer. The mechanic looked utterly despondent.

We finally reached the point where the guys were ready to admit that maybe not all noises meant that there is a problem and need fixing. This was explained to the mechanic who seemed to reluctantly agree with them and asked if there was anything else he could fix. Not wanting to make them feel bad, Matt said yes, there was. His light switch in the car does not work can the fix it? This was again explained by clack clack noises. He handed over the light switch and the mechanics started to fiddle with it in the dark. About an hour later they walked over to where we were sitting and handed over the now presumably fixed switch. Matt put it back in and… it still did not work. Having nothing else that was broken for them to not fix they were sent on their way with a couple of Meticais for their fruitless labour.


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