A life-changing gift (11 May, 2018)

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A life-changing gift (11 May, 2018)

Postby aardvark_admin » Fri May 11, 2018 9:02 am

This column is archived at: https://aardvark.co.nz/daily/2018/0511.shtml

My goodness, how "service stations" have changed over the years.

Gone are the little grease-pits that sold little more than petrol, oil and a small assortment of car-spares such as fan-belts, points,
sparkplugs and the like.

Today's service stations are more about servicing the driver than the vehicle and once you get past the petrol pumps on the forecourt, any connection with automotive technology disappears.

I wonder what I'd be doing today if those old fashioned garages with their bowsers out front and grease-monkies out back had never existed.

What was the watershed moment that launched you into your first career, hobby or passion -- if there was one?
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Re: A life-changing gift (11 May, 2018)

Postby latewings » Fri May 11, 2018 9:32 am

My Dad took me to Massey University's open day when I was around 8 or 9. We went to the computer department and saw a big machine with a cover taken off to reveal the internals. I was given a couple of old punch cards to take home. That's my golden moment where I knew what I wanted to learn about.

A garage sale I was dragged along to had a box of old daughter boards with various components soldered through the board. I didn't have a soldering iron so saved my paper run money and spent $25 on a David Reid iron I got at cost because my cousin worked there. I still have that iron and it's still working. I carefully extracted all the components I could from those boards and started working out how they could be put back together to make something else. I think the first thing I made was a flip-flop LED flasher using a couple of transistors, resistors and capacitors from those old boards. The smile on my face took days to wear off.

In my collection of fundamentally important magazines I poured over was Colin Mitchells "Electronics Stage 1, including an introduction to Digital Electronics". It was my foray into the CMOS 4000 series chips along with my first 555 timer project that put to rest using discrete transistors for timing things. I still have that magazine. It cost me $3.50 which was about half my weekly stipend from my delivery job at the local chemist.
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Re: A life-changing gift (11 May, 2018)

Postby phill » Fri May 11, 2018 9:39 am

fill er up with oil and check the petrol

my uncle owned a garage pretty much in the era you describe ( wonderland for a kid )

but i hold no nostalgia for those cars at all
pretty much some part had to be on the garage floor every month
tires lasted no time, oil leaked like a sieve, ..... driving along a dusty country road it seemed to make little difference if the windows were up or down

nowadays my early 90s car still goes from oil change to oil change with no additions, the clutch was done 8 years ago and the brake rotors replaced .. nothing since
small wonder they have changed to being convenience shops, most people dont do any mechanical repairs .. and they dont often need it anyway.. not to forget with the cost of replacement parts most that do deal with wreckers before retailers

perhaps also look at the new owners of most of those petrol stations and maybe a corner dairy / general store isnt such a surprise

as for interesting kids ... thats a hard one unless they have a youtube channel

ha and to wings .. i still have some of colin mitchells mags .. and he is still ( now ) on the net
Last edited by phill on Fri May 11, 2018 9:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A life-changing gift (11 May, 2018)

Postby hagfish » Fri May 11, 2018 9:41 am

Service stations started out keeping big, mechanical machines in running order. Then the machines started turning into sealed appliances, and the stations became 'dairies with fuel pumps'. Most service stations only make a handful of cents per litre and make their money on 'BMP' (break, milk, papers). Or - these days - frappaccinos and almond croissants. Soon even they will disappear, as autonomous electric taxis take over from private cars.

But fear not, the next generation is growing up aspiring to be... YouTubers. Not that there's anything wrong with that :D
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Re: A life-changing gift (11 May, 2018)

Postby Malcolm » Fri May 11, 2018 10:01 am

hagfish wrote:Service stations started out keeping big, mechanical machines in running order. Then the machines started turning into sealed appliances, and the stations became 'dairies with fuel pumps'. Most service stations only make a handful of cents per litre and make their money on 'BMP' (break, milk, papers).


Even worse than that is often the fees from credit cards wipe out any margin they make on the fuel. Especially for the independently owned ones.
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Re: A life-changing gift (11 May, 2018)

Postby aardvark_admin » Fri May 11, 2018 10:04 am

What I find annoying is that they (the service stations or the fuel companies) have obviously built in a margin of at least 6 cents per litre so as to provide loyalty-card and supermarket voucher discounts. That means they're *really* creaming it when someone turns up with neither and fills their tank.
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Re: A life-changing gift (11 May, 2018)

Postby Kiwiiano » Fri May 11, 2018 10:55 am

Our local Challenge Service Station changed hands recently and the new owner split the workshop & tyre bay away from the forecourt. A change that has ramped up the service, although to be fair it has been damned good for years, decades. The workshop service is definitely Class A and while they are always busy, nothing is ever a bother.

I noticed that when I called into the nearest BP station here in Takaka yesterday with a deflating tyre that their workshop appeared to be a separate entity. It may the current fashion.

I do wonder, however, how they will cope when EVs really start to bite. With 2000 v’s 20,000 ICE parts to wear out and the early models already pushing 500,000km (or that may be miles) the need for workshops is likely to dwindle. Especially as the number of petrol stations also dwindle and petrol-heads have to resort to carrying cans of petrol around with them as our great-grandparents used to.
~ Kiwiiano
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Re: A life-changing gift (11 May, 2018)

Postby joeseph » Fri May 11, 2018 9:26 pm

I wish people would stop calling them service stations, as they ceased to dispense service many years back.
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Re: A life-changing gift (11 May, 2018)

Postby paulw » Sun May 13, 2018 9:25 am

If you owned a British made car and got 60K miles out of it you were very lucky. Most of the ones I unfortunately owned never got anywhere near that without some major engine or transmission work needing to be done that is if the car still had a body that wan't full of holes. Glad to see the end of them.
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