Monday, October 16, 2006

Mechanics in Africa

Throughout my journey across Africa in a Beach Buggy, and during my last two years here in Morocco, I've had several visits to the mechanics. When you know a good one, they can be impressive. A job it would take me more than a day to muddle through, these guys finish in an hour.
Back in Canada, I had to change the bearings on my Ford Contour - a nightmare of a job because the placement of the wheel bearings was probably designed by either a drunken monkey, or because Ford intentionally wanted to make the job nearly impossible so people would be forced to bring their cars to a Ford mechanic.
For the job, I needed a strut condenser, but not just any strut condenser, one that would fit into the tricky tight space the contour designed.
The job took me three days. Granted, I'm no mechanic, and the first bearing, just to figure out how to bypass the strut condensing problem, took me almost two days. Once I got a system in place, the second bearing took a couple hours.
On the Honda Civic, here in Morocco, the guys took about an hour to change both bearings, and most of that time was waiting for someone else at a nearby garage to press the old bearings out and the new ones in.
And then there's the price. The bearings themselves were about US$80. The labour, for say two guys at an hour each, cost just over US$20.
A hundred bucks to do a bearing change job they probably would have charged triple or quadruple for in Canada or the States!

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