Ok so its about time to change up a gear or two. We have recently made three VERY significant purchases so Service is getting ready to sprint. Here we go with a quick description of what we will very soon be offering:
Carbon engine clean device. From Epoch in South Korea. Arrived at last!!! The company in Seoul basically invented this very special device which cleans an engine from inside WITHOUT the need to dismantle anything! I contacted them many months ago and they sold me a device which is I think the FIRST and so far only one in Italy. See https://www.oxy-hydrogen.com/en for more info, plus the photo above. The first tests will be made on my two engines, diesel V6 TDI Mercedes and then the Audi V8 petrol.
2. Exhaust gas analyser. From Capelec France and this arrived within 30 minutes of the Carbon clean system, amazing, having ordered them about 6 weeks apart. The idea here is to measure and record the exhaust gases before and then after the cleaning process so I can clearly show the positive results and the difference.
3. Industrial steam cleaning machine. From Menikini in the north of Italy. JUST arrived. The manufacturer is one of the best in Europe and specialised in these devices and especially important in these COVID19 times.
We have been locked-down at home since early March and it is just now starting to be eased, 3 months later. So the old S4 has been locked in her garage gathering dust and looking rather sad and sorry for herself. Now finally I have been able to take her out for a drive and wow she goes really well for an old girl!
I guess that she no longer has all of the starting 350 ish horses now that she has more than 190k kms under her wheels, but she still goes very well indeed. (I have a plan for an engine carbon clean, more to follow). As I drove recently to buy some wine at our favourite winemaker (see https://www.facebook.com/cantineiovine/) I saw a car wash which was open and in operation, so I stopped for a chat with the owners.
Well the Audi was second in the wash queue and for 15 Euro they cleaned her very thoroughly both inside and out, happy days indeed. Here follow a few pics to show just how good she now looks: In the coming few days the wheel centres will be painted and refitted too.
I work part time for a lovely bloke Luigi Cioffi, at Auto Cioffi Ravello. He is a vehicle bodywork genius, he has been repairing cars and vans for the last 50 years and for the last 40 years in his amazing premises at Pontone, near Ravello, which was previously a paper manufacturing factory.
This man and his staff have been working in this premises for some 45 years and the workload has always been heavy, he had many employees in the past all working to repair and repaint cars, vans, motorbikes and almost everything else. Last week we saw a BMW motorbike plus 3 cars repainted and each job is unique, but in general involves changing several parts as well as then repaairing and repainting.
This means that we have a stock of used wheels, tyres, headlights, car panels, doors etc etc etc as you can imagine and we are now trying to put things into some kind of order and to sell some of these parts, to clear some space!! As you can imagine alot of the bits are Fiat, but we have a selection from almost all of the European car brands plus Japanese and almost everything.
If anyone is interested please contact me, we could surely fill a container and we are near to the port of Salerno so we could also export these parts very easily.
So during the dreaded lockdown I have been able to make very limited progress with the S4. Firstly I replaced the car battery as I noticed that the one on the car was too small (physically it did not fill the battery space, which is on the front bulkhead, as well as charge wise it was only 75Ah whereas the orignal is 95Ah) so I ordered a new Varta. Coincidentally I then discovered that the battery is identical to the one on my Vito van which I had replaced recently, so I managed to get one trade for “only” 130 Euro.
Next problem, the car started to leave the fans running when I switched off the engine, which flattened the battery overnight. Hmmmm. I then discovered, having tried to removed various fuses, that this car has side radiators as well as the usual front ones and no fuse would stop these fans, I had to disconnect the battery terminal every time I parked the car, hardly ideal.
So I got into contact with the nice guys at a8parts in the UK and they agreed that this was likely a failed ECU thingy which, being located under the car, will often fail on these cars ‘cos they are exposed to all the worst of the weather and road grit. So one of those arrived and I hope to get it fitted this week so news to follow, I sure hope that this will sort this problem!!
Next, the wheels. The lovely Audi 18″ alloys were looking a bit tired, not suprising with almost 200k kms under her belt. So I took the 4 wheels up to a local place, they removed the old tyres and rubbed down and painted the wheels in a lovely grey, which is called Gun Metal Grey from the Fiat paint range. In the meantime I ordered 4 new Conti tyres, and this week I had the new tyres fitted onto the new-looking wheels and then refitted them to the car. Wow, progress.
I finally managed to start the car up today and take her out of her 10 week garage/prison (covered in dust of course), up to my local car expert. Tomorrow he should fit the ECU to sort out the fans that won’t stop, and then I also gave him a full set of new Brembo discs and pads so I truly hope that I will soon have a great car!!
UPDATE today we managed to fit the ECU and YESSSSSSS the problem seems to be resolved and the fans no longer run all the time, at last!!
As previously reported I recently took delivery of a 2005 B6 Audi S4 with the wonderful V8 engine and the Audi Quattro 4WD system. She has been very well looked after for a 15 year old car and has loads of service stamps and receipts so I could not ask for more, and I think that the dreaded timing chain problem has also been sorted, that is a killer cos to change the chain requires the engine to come out of the car!!
The car arrived just before the dreaded virus lockdown so I have not yet been able to drive the car almost at all, just one very quick motorway trip up to Roma and back to flex her muscles a little. Since then she has been shut in a garage and even walking or cycling the 400m between house and garage has been difficult recently as the Police patrolled the town centre. So I have been visiting the car as and when I can, and I have also taken a few photos just to show what I have been up to.
The car is 15 years old, she looks really good and everything seems to work from the lovely electric sunroof to the satnav to the memory seats (Audi in this case showing very good quality) BUT as she has spent most of her life between Switzerland and the UK then I assumed that the underside of the car would show some signs of the dreaded rust, which cars here in sunny Italy tend not to have until they are much older. Plus I noted that the car battery was not the correct one (much smaller) so that needed changing, and I also saw that the alloy wheels had some road and pavement scars so I planned to have them refurbished and I found a local place that would do that.
When I removed the wheels my theory was proved half right and the wheel arches, suspension, brakes and all did have some signs of corrosion but not as much as I had feared, so far so good. I don’t have a ramp available so I removed the wheels one at a time and put axle stands under the car, while I took the wheels away to be reworked. Some pics follow to show you the work in progress, loads more work to do but this lockdown slows deliveries down to a crawl…….UPDATE pics of my wheels being repainted just added…and a new set of Continental Sport tyres just arrived too!!
I visited the lovely Porsche dealership in Padova in Febuary, have a look at this place /https://dealers.porscheitalia.com/padova/ita/ I was there with a mate who was looking to purchase a Macan S, either a new or almost new ex demo car, and looking to buy on leasing. Well he is a financial guy and so covers the leasing side but he is not really a car man having been given a free company car for almost all of his working life, he asked me to come along to offer some car and moral support.
The premises and this company are owned by the Porsche company, as are the 2 largest ones in the country so that they can handle their cars and customers as they wish without relying on the goodwill of an Italian Arfur Daley, so to speak. We were greeted as we entered the lovely premises and asked to sit down in reception with a lovely coffee while they called the sales guy who was going to look after us.
In short we were treated with a great deal of kindness and respect, and taken out in the demo car by a young guy who chatted to us in excellent English and turned out to be a semi pro racing driver so he really showed us how the car went and stopped! AMAZING experience. I of course spent most of the visit drooling over the stunning 911s and telling John that these were real cars, not the bloody van he was looking at, but hey each to his own and he purchased the lovely demo Macan S which made him a very happy bunny.
Beautiful place, folks, cars and experience, thank guys!
You may love or even hate the original Fiat 500, but you cannot deny that they form a part of the European motoring heritage. When Italy came out of the Second World War, the first cheap and mass-produced contribution to getting the Italians mobile again was possibly Piaggio with their little mopeds, and then Fiat with their small cars.
The original 500 was introduced in 1957, see this excellent Wikipedia article for the full story https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_500 and was a truly amazing achievement. Today in 2020 you can still find these cars but accidents, rust and just age have of course taken their toll.
Recently a mate of mine asked me to advertise his 500 for sale, so I put it on Ebay UK as although it is of course left hand drive, there are some UK collectors looking for these fairly rare cars and as few were made in rhd they are prepared to purchase the lhd cars as well.
This all happened at about the time that this terrible virus closed down Italy and of course Europe so John was unable to fly over to see the car and instead asked me for many many photographs, which I supplied. Transport was of course the next problem and I found to my suprise that a freight ship sails from Salerno to the UK every week, and it takes about a week to arrive. We asked for a quote and the price is fairly reasonable, so if our UK mate John decides to go ahead then I will take some pics when we take the little car to meet the rather large ship!!! Watch this space.
I recently started a part time job at a local bodyshop. My mates are convinced that my lady pays him to pay me just to get me out of the house, which of course could be true but I don’t really care cos the experience is amazing.
Mr Cioffi has been plying his trade in the Ravello area for about 45 years and he is still going strong at almost 70. He is one of the few remaining craftsmen true to that name and he has repaired more cars than I have had hot dinners for sure. Now I am starting to understand something of what he does and I help out in the office, collecting and delivering cars and customers as well as visiting scrap yards to collect spares.
His work has changed dramatically over the years, he tells me. In the old days his customers used to keep their cars for many many years and so would come to him every few years for some repairs and even to have a new colour! These days instead most of us keep our cars for a much shorter time so the work is now only repairs. Also, airbags greatly complicate the job these days as a car can be written off if too many air bags have exploded, as the cost of replacement air bags is prohibitive.
I am also now his paint mixer, another really interesting job. But first lets see some photos I have taken recently…
But the web site and the Facebook page really tell very little about the company and their activity. These guys are amazing. The boss Luigi has been working now for 45 years and he is still the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave, as well as the hardest worker, he almost never stops. What do they do?? Kind of everything.
The main activity is car sales and car repairs, so they have usually about 20 to 25 cars in stock to sell. In addition they have a paint shop with a massive computer controlled paint mixing system. Plus an oven for painting the cars which is big enough for the biggest SUVs and which gets up to about 80 degrees C. Plus they also have a Blackhawk Car Straightening System, an amazing machine which enables you to realign a car after a heavy smash and or just to check that a car is straight.
And I have now seen all of this in action!! The main man (Luigi) is truly amazing, his panel beating skills are worthy of a YouTube film, and he employs a guy (Paolo) a full time spray painter with talent. They are an amazing team and Manuela (Luigi’s daughter) is the office lady who coordinates their work and tries to keep them more or less under control.
The results?? Well, these guys offer more or less a complete “servicenolimits” service to car owners in Ravello and along the Amalfi Coast! Luigi’s son Leo has a tyre business next door, so they offer a total car service. They collect a car and fit new tyres, change the oil and filter, repair some body damage and return the car. Stunning. Some photos below.
Since I moved house from Roma to Tramonti I have had to restart with all of my contacts to look after my car, my van, and my small fleet of motorbikes. This was not easy as I had lived in Roma for more than 20 years and starting over is never simple, Roma is a huge city with loads of choice whereas Tramonti is a small town in the middle of nowhere. “Tramonti” means between the mountains, as it is perched on the top of a mountain between a town called Angri and the Amalfi Coast, near Salerno.
BUT. In a fairly short time I have managed to find some amazing guys and the most amazing so far is Leo Cioffi at Pontone, a tiny town near Ravello. See https://www.autocioffi.it/. Leo is officially a “mere” tyre fitter and he works on his own in a small and cluttered premises just off the main road up to Pontone. I first met him when I damaged a tyre on my old Audi A5 (I managed to hit a rock on the road and tear open the rear tyre, what an idiot). He had to order the replacement Pirelli P Zero 19″ (I bought 2 and changed both tyres, they were half worn) as he did not hold these in stock, 2 days later he called me and I returned to have them fitted.
Not only was he chatty and friendly (and a good Italian coffee is always available) he was also fast and efficient and did a very thorough job. I noted that he went the extra mile without extra charges which I liked immediately so I realised that he was a good contact. Indeed, since then we have become mates and he has done loads of work for me on my van, scooter and Quad and he is always fast and efficient and works REALLY well, the quality of his work is amazing. I have seen him turn his hand to almost everything from trucks to tractors to Vespa scooters to wheel barrows as he also works for the next door family car business and is called upon to fix everything.
What a great discovery!!! And his prices are much less than Rome prices and his knowledge and standards are amazing.