The Redearth Toyota that wouldn’t dare complain again….

Its quiet for now in our house, each of us mostly impervious to any comment by the other as we frenetically tap away on our laptops. Constantly preparing, recording, reporting, amending, planning for something that has been or is soon to be.

I have solicitously enquired, mid tap, whether Lynne would like a cup of tea and a biscuit. After a while she said, ‘That would be nice’. I said, ‘What would be nice?’ ‘What you said’, she said. I said, ‘What did I say’. She said, ‘Can’t remember’. ‘Not sure myself’, I said, ‘but would you like a cup of tea?’

This clearly shows that scintillating conversation is exemplified in our house, and also completely lucid when compared with some of our encounters in the town and villages around.

The 1997 Toyota Super Custom van that we use to travel to rural schools within Masindi District and across the country is regularly serviced by Godwin, mechanic and general automotive improviser.

I arrived at the pit with reverberating shock absorbers, and crumbling rubber bushes on the brake callipers after repeated journeys on some 30 miles between Hoima and Masindi. The rattling steering rack captured his attention. Studious observation, tapping, pulling, straining and pushing down in the pit, while loudly conversing and raucously laughing with his friends squatting around the vehicle above ground, was followed by his considered diagnosis, as he emerged from the pit and wiped his brow with a tartan handkerchief. ‘We are going to heat it’.

Interesting, I thought; some kind of science-based technology. I looked around the yard for a furnace or blow-torch location where this would be done. ‘Where will you heat it, Godwin?’ I asked. ‘Deya’, he said, gesturing vaguely, as he rummaged in his toolbox, in the direction of a railway sleeper resting beside the puncture repair ‘department’, in the corner of the yard. (That’s another story).

‘How will you heat it?’ I inquired a bit uneasily, picturing in my mind big bellows, glowing coals, an anvil, showers of sparks and a great big hammer.

‘Wit dis hammah’ , he stated, matter of fact, as he walked with the dismantled piece of steering rack towards the railway sleeper, grasping a 10lb home-made hammer of welded steel pipe handle and solid iron business end. ‘I will heat the joint prrro-ppaa-lly wit dis hammah heeaah,’ he said, pointing out the offending bit of steering rack, ‘until it is tight again and will not rattle….maybe 6 maybe seven heats and it is done. OK?’ I must have appeared to agree as I grappled with my dawning awareness of what was about to take place.

He crouched down by the sleeper, arranged the steel joint upon it to his liking, asked one of his colleagues to hold it still, aimed, raised his hammer, and laid into it with some resounding whacks, or indeed, ‘heats’. He tested his handiwork, laid it on the sleeper for another 2 whacks, tested it again and pronounced it ‘done’.

‘It is now OK’, he beamed at me as he returned to the van to refit the part.

Since then the steering rack has not rattled or complained. I suspect it wouldn’t dare.

Written by Redearth co-founder Ronnie Katzler



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