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.
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…
I bought my first bike, a Honda 50 4 stroke, at 14 and then broke my collarbone at 15 when I managed to lose the front end and fly over the handlebars in a local field. Since then I have had a range of motorbikes and experiences including track riding as well as racing and I just wanted to pass on some basic survival tips to you, dear reader. So here we go:
ALWAYS stay within your comfort zone. Work on expanding that zone by taking any and all training that you can afford.
ALWAYS dress ready for the worst, so good helmet, gloves, bike jacket and jeans are essential. ALWAYS.
Assume that the other road users will do what they should not, so ride defensively and give them all a very wide berth. And they often do the wrong thing.
Take rider training cos we are NOT all Valentino. Track riding is great for learning, so is off road riding.
Look after your bike (check tyre pressures, oil levels etc) and your bike will look after you. I check tyre pressures before evey trip and then daily during my trip.
Stay safe and have fun! My current lovely bikes are shown below
I have never seen such a wonderful museum, have a look here. They have more than 1000 bikes and at least 800 are on view at any time, the others are then maintained and every bike they have is a runner!
No other museum I have ever visited offers so much. The bikes range from the late 1800s to the present day and my goodness they are ALL worth seeing! Every bike they have is a runner so hence the drip trays, and they are really well described and grouped into military, race, RAC/AA, three wheelers etc and so make wonderful viewing.
DO visit and I promise it is well worth your time!! There is even a canteen upstairs offering excellent food at a great price.
Well I collected my beautiful new Yamaha MT10SP last week in the Midlands from Alf England and I then rode her home to Amalfi. You need a day to ride thro France and another to cover Italy, on a bike you MUST take yer time and allow for weather, tiredness, traffic and all of the other factors that can influence your ride.
I was very lucky with the weather, in the UK it was mainly warm and dry and I only hit a couple of wet patches going from the Midlands across to Cambridge. Then on the Friday I headed up to Nottingham to see family so I then set off from Nottingham at midday Saturday down to Dover and hopped onto the P and O ferry for Dover. I love the ferry as much as I don’t like the tunnel, I always buy an open ticket with P and O and I find their service excellent.
So in the afternoon I arrived in France and I headed into Calais to fill up the bike at the local Supermarket and I then headed south on the wonderful French motorway system. Luckily I have the new European Telepass so I do not even need to stop at the Pay Stations, great for the motorcyclist as it saves removing gloves and then searching for tickets and or cash or credit cards.
I stopped at Reims where I had booked a night at the excellent Ibis Budget at Thillois, I have stayed many times and the area has eveything you need for a good meal, beer and rest and the hotel car park is secure! I find that a gentle start to a long trip is always a good idea as you need to get to know the bike, so a long slog is never a good idea for the first day.
From Reims the next morning I rode south in increasingly warm weather and the French motorways are sooooo good you can generally cruise at whatever speed you choose. This bike has cruise control so I selected 140k/h to (hopefully) stay out of trouble and headed towards Chamonix. When I got nearer the information signs showed a waiting time of one hour for the Mont Blanc tunnel so I decided not to stop for lunch as I had planned, instead I overtook the hundreds of cars and got through the tunnel quickly, they charge an extortionate 32 Euro for the bike compared to about 45 for my van!!
So I was in Italy and so I could increase my cruising speed as the Italian police are more lenient and in general anything up to 160 seems to be ok, so I headed to a lovely hotel I know in Biella for the night as I was starting to feel quite tired. The Hotel Europa is in the city centre but very quiet and comfortable with an excellent eating house very near.
The next day was a gentle ride south down the motorway, I stopped for lunch in Orte with an old mate and then from Orte down to Amalfi where I arrived at about 4pm, tired but very very happy!! The bike returned an overall 16.5 km/litre (46mpg) which is great, the only problem is the range as she only has 16 litres of petrol so this means a stop every 180/200 kms when she runs onto reserve. WHAT an experience, total ride was about 2400km. A few pics follow: