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Customer Service Part 4: Is “No Problem” A Real Problem? - by Bob Thomas
About six months ago, a rebuilder friend sent me a clipping of an editorial from his local newspaper about a series of impolite customer service encounters (call them bad business experiences if you like) from the customer’s point of view. While I agreed with nearly all that was written in the article, I thought that the last example was a bit of an over-reaction. Specifically, it concerned the use of the phrase “no problem” in response to a “thank you” from the author.
Upon reading it, I immediately realized that I often use that phrase and could not really see anything wrong with it, at least at that time. The rebuilder who sent me the clipping, somewhat agreed with me and admitted to using it, too. The author’s complaint centered on the idea that saying “no problem” implied that there could be a problem. That seemed like a weak argument to me. How does that suggest that there “could be” a problem? But for some reason I just could not get it out of my mind, even after a few weeks. At that point, I was actually trying not to use it myself. The author obviously believed that it was negative enough to write about, and that bothered me. I could not help but think that she might be right.
Since then, I’ve made it a point to listen to what others say in response to “thank you” whenever I am the customer. Once I began to pay attention, it became clear to me that the phrase “no problem” is being used much more than I’d ever realized. At first it seemed to be mostly younger people using it, but eventually I heard the response from just about every age group. Obviously, “no problem” is catching on, and I noticed something else about it.
If you really listen carefully, the words sound flippant when they are used in this way. It is a quick and casual response that sounds, for lack of a better word, insincere. I do not believe that it is intended, at least in most cases, but it sounds like the person responding to the “thank you” is totally unappreciative of being thanked. That feeling of ingratitude is then carried over to the whole transaction. Giving off those kind of “vibes” when a customer makes a purchase cannot be good for any business. The writer of that editorial was correct. Using the phrase “no problem” is a problem.
If you happen to have this habit of saying “no problem” when someone thanks you, it is not an easy one to break. I am speaking from experience, because I’m still trying to quit using it myself. The insinuation is that whatever you did to deserve a “thank you” was not a problem for you to do. Some people may understand it just that way. Most of your regular customers probably know you well enough not to pay it any mind either way. ...
Dream Tractor Bedeviled By Aftermarket Solenoid - by Wes Grueninger Sr.
I have lived in Wisconsin most all of my life, and while I am used to the cold and the snow, that doesn’t mean that I like it. For me, the worst part is clearing the driveway after a big storm. We have a very long driveway. When I was younger, I shoveled. Then as I got older, I progressed to a walk-behind snow thrower, and from that to a garden tractor with a front-attached snow thrower. While the power equipment worked great, it still meant that I had to “suit up” and be out in the cold.
Every Autumn would find me paging through the Simplicity catalog and lusting after the big Legacy XL tractor with the optional enclosed cab. But by the time you added on the accessories, the price was north of 15 grand, and I never could justify spending that much. So, I was happily surprised to spot a used Troy-Bilt GTX-20 tractor for sale on the side of the road. It came with a 20hp Kohler engine, full-hydraulics, power steering, a frontmounted snow thrower, a 60” lawn deck, a rear-mounted roto-tiller and, most important of all, an enclosed metal cab! It had 500 hours on it, and everything looked to be in great shape. The best part was the price—$2400. I took it home.
I decided to give it a thorough going over before the snow fell. In addition to the usual maintenance items, I gave the entire electrical system a once over and checked all of the starting circuits for voltage drops. There were no appreciable voltage drops on any of the battery cables, but the drop on the “S” terminal was too high, so I ordered a new ignition switch from EMS and installed it. The starter is a Denso 128000-7480 (Lester 17628) (see Figure 2). I remembered from my rebuilding days that the front bushing was a weak spot in these starters, so, even though it was working perfectly, I pulled the starter to have a look inside and “freshen” it up. It was still all OE and in great shape. I cleaned it, put in new bushings and checked the brushes. I also pushed the solenoid plunger in to see where the moveable contact hit the studs, in order to determine if there was any wear left. I could feel the contact hit the studs about 1/8” before the plunger bottomed out, so it seemed that the solenoid had a lot of life left.
It worked flawlessly all winter (see Figure 1). I was as happy as it is possible for me to be during a Wisconsin winter. The enclosed cab kept me dry and comfy. After the snow season, I removed the snow accessories and installed the lawn mower deck. It worked great for all of the warm mowing season, but when the weather cooled, it started to “click”, not crank when the engine was first started. It was a good strong sounding click, and when it did crank, it cranked at full speed. In my mind I eliminated the battery as a problem, and since I had checked for voltage drops only a few months before, I crossed off bad connections as well. The suspect seemed to be the solenoid. Maybe there wasn’t as much reserve material on the contacts as I had assumed. That was my mistake. The problem was indeed a bad ground connection, but this is where the story gets interesting.
I yanked the starter and opened it up to recheck the brushes, armature and fields. Everything looked and tested like new. Then I replaced the solenoid with an aftermarket replacement solenoid. Yes, it was from China. I put it back on the engine, and to my surprise, the problem was much worse. ...
I’m Back! - by Rob Buksar
I’m back, and I’m blessed and lucky to be so! I’m running on 4 out of 8 cylinders, but I am getting a little stronger every day. I’vereturned to the shop,but on a limited basis, and only as my endurance allows. Further, I’m stumbling around with a walker, because my legs and knees are not back up to snuff.
When this all began, I was seeing a doctor for an infection in my leg that was causing fluid retention and swelling. He prescribed some minor medication and leg elevation at night and told me not to be overly concerned. A couple of days after his prescription and advice, I found myself in the back of an ambulance, knocking on death’s door! The infection I was told “not to worry about” was already in my blood stream and killing me. My internal organs were shutting down, and I was told that I was a day, at best, from being really dead!
Nevertheless, I spent the next 31 days on my back with an IV in both arms and a constant regimen of tests four times a day. Another two weeks were spent in rehab, just to help me get my arms and legs working again. All in all, I spent 6 weeks in the hospital. I think I experienced almost every test they had to offer, plus becoming familiar with all the specialists and the entire nursing staff ... all nice folks, but I would have preferred having met them at a social event rather than under the circumstances that I found myself.
Bottom line of all of the above is—I’m still here and darn glad of it! Thanks to the grace of God, great medical care and dumb luck, I’m back!
Anybody (especially self-employed folks) who has ever been through a catastrophic illness or accident, knows how shattering, destructive and lifealtering a situation like this can be and usually is. Mine was no different I have no problem telling you.
I’ve learned a great deal, and I’m excited about sharing it with you in future articles. I’m a little tired, so I’ll cut this short for now. Although, it would be remiss on my part if I didn’t close on this note. ...
From The President’s Desk “Find WOW at Expo 2014!” - column by Hank Henke
I hope you have March 21–23 marked on your 2014 calendar. “Why?” you ask. Well, only because that is the date of the 26th annual ERA trade show, Expo 2014, in Atlanta. The wheels have been in motion for some time to give you a show that is second to none and better than all previous shows! Some very big things have been planned. For one, the exposition, seminars and sleep rooms are all under one roof at the recently renovated Sheraton Gateway hotel, adjacent to the airport. And the Sheraton will provide free transportation to and from the airport if you fly in.
On Friday morning, you will be treated to an excellent plant tour at Boles Parts Supply, a short 10-minute bus ride away. There will be a small charge to cover the cost of the buses, but the folks at BPS would like to treat you to a Southern BBQ lunch just for touring their facilities. Did you ever see stators or rotors being wound? WOW! This is your chance!
Break-out seminars are planned throughout the weekend. Some of the presenters are familiar names, but others are new—not to the industry, but to our show. For example, John Kaiser, from the Ryder Rebuilding Center in Atlanta, will present a seminar on 39MT starters. I’ve been told that they rebuild 250 to 300 of these starters a month at that rebuilding center. WOW!
We will have a reception on Friday afternoon, right before the show floor opens for three hours on Friday evening. You’ll have plenty of time to visit with old friends or make new ones. Have you never been to an ERA trade show before? Making friends at our show is not only easy, it is almost impossible not to make friends!
We have planned a big day for Saturday, with more training opportunities in the morning and five more hours of exhibition time in the afternoon. We have space in the exhibition hall for 40 vendor booths, and I expect them all to be full. You’ll be able see new parts, new tools and some new vendors, too. Saturday evening, we’ll have our Roundtable Discussion. Bring your questions or your problems. There will be a room full of rebuilders and suppliers present, all eager to share their knowledge. If you have never been to one of these discussions, you are really missing out. On Sunday morning, we will have even more seminars, covering topics about what to charge for your products and services, advertising and customer relations. One price covers the cost of admittance to all of the seminars. That’s over 14 hours of presentations in three days—for only $99 for non-members and $49 for ERA members. Are you interested only in the exposition? Nonmember rebuilders pay only $10 if you pre-register. ERA members attend for free! If you join the ERA while you are at the show, we will deduct the cost of admittance from your dues. ...
Pressure Test Your Oil Seals - by Nathan Unger
Sometimes a customer will bring in a “wet-clutch” starter that is completely soaked with oil throughout, including the solenoid. What caused that? Did the seals fail? Were the seals defective to begin with? Apparently they are not designed for more than about 7.5 psi. It occasionally happens that the vent on the machine’s oil reservoir is plugged, and thus the internal pressure can exceed what the starter seals are designed for. Sometimes the mechanic has overfilled the reservoir. I always make a point of advising the customer if I suspect this.
But I want to be able to verify the seals before my rebuilt starter goes out of my shop. Also, this would make it easier to negotiate any warranty considerations. So I went down to the local Home Depot, picked up some plumbing supplies and made myself a pressure tester.
To Make It: First of all, I cut the flange off of a 42MT drive end housing. On the lathe, I bored it out so that it would fit over the top of the drive end housing of the customer’s wet-clutch starter, whether it is a 40MT, 42MT, 50MT, Japanese make, or other type. Many of them have a similar mounting style. For the 10MT size I made an adaptor flange.
I fitted and sealed the plumbing parts to the flange, making sure that it would clear the nose of the starter. Next, I mounted a pressure-release valve (PRV). I took the PRV apart and shortened the spring inside so that the valve would release at less than 10 psi. I also mounted a low-pressure gauge and a small ball valve with a t-handle. After that, I mounted the pressure regulator that I set to about 5 psi, and I finally added a male air hose coupler.
Now I needed a gasket to seal the flange to a starter. ...
Retaining Compounds: What They Are And What They Can Do - by Bob Thomas
Retaining compounds are acategory of products that can be used to secure a cylindrical assembly, such as a bearing or a bushing, to a housing—or to attach a pulley or inner bearing race to a shaft. Having these compounds around when you need them can be invaluable to any rebuilder. They may also be called cylindrical locking compounds or sleevelockers.
Loctite, 3M, Permatex and Dynatex all manufacture at least one product of this type. We will explain how you can use them to save yourself time and money. While these products are not cheap, one small bottle or tube will last through hundreds of applications, any one of which could easily pay for the whole container. While they are similar in consistency to the thread-locking compounds used to secure fasteners (and are manufactured by the same companies), retaining compounds are really quite different and should never be interchanged with those threadedlocking products.
Retaining compounds are chemically engineered to fill small gaps and prevent movement in fixed assemblies, such as those involving housings, bearings, bushings, pulleys, gears or shafts. Every alternator, starter, generator and DC motor contains some of these assemblies. No rebuilding shop should be without one or more of these retainingcompound products, because when you need one, you probably won’t have the luxury of looking for it or waiting for it to be delivered to you in a “brown truck.” A good hardware store may carry one retaining compound if you are lucky. But you are not likely to find a selection of choices—and what they do have locally may not work in your application.
Loctite makes seven different products in their retaining-compound line. All of them are specifically made to secure non-threaded cylindrical assemblies. They vary according to their strength, viscosity, degree of permanence, their ability to fill voids, to withstand high temperatures and to resist contamination from fluids.
One of them, Loctite 660 Quick Metal Retaining Compound (see Figure 1), is specifically made to repair worn parts. If you have loose-fitting parts because a housing or shaft is badly worn, this may solve the problem. It is high strength and capable of filling gaps up to .020”. Because of its high strength, dismantling later will require extra effort. Once it is fully cured, the compound is bonded to parts and becomes extremely hard. Shear strength is over 3,000 pounds per square inch (psi). Heating over 3000F will reduce this if dis-assembly is required later.
Permatex makes a similar product that has basically the same characteristics. ...
Homemade Test Lead Solves Charging Mystery - by Mohammad Samii
In this article I will combine a particular charging system’s characteristics, along with another homemade test lead of mine to show how it helped to facilitate the diagnostic work and helped in repairing a troubled car. So first things first:
The Chrysler’s computerized or computer-controlled charging system (CCCS) was introduced in 1985 and has since gone through many changes. One of the major changes was the introduction of Next Generation Controllers (NGC) in 2002 on the LH line of Chrysler-made cars. The NGCs gradually proliferated through Chrysler’s other car lines, to the point that now, almost all Chrysler products are using this system.
The NGC (see Figure 1) can be identified by its 4-connector configuration, in which each connector houses 38 pins. Remember that this is a Powertrain Control Module (PCM) which also contains the Transmission Control Module (TCM), thus NGCequipped vehicles do not have a separate TCM.
The NGC affects the charging system and the alternator in 2 distinct ways:
A Pinpoint Diagnosis! We had a troublesome 2005 PTCruiser lately with an intermittent charging problem. The alternator light (BAT light) would come on after a few minutes of driving. Headlights would dim, and the car would run rough. Then suddenly the BAT light would go off, and the vehicle would work normally. Several other shops had checked it and had decided to replace the alternator. ...
Texas Rebuilder Profits Through Diversity - by The Exchange Staff
Jason Kiser, owner of JK’s Starter & Alternator Service in Palestine, TX, never planned to be rebuilding alternators and starters. He grew up on a family farm and found his first job at a super market, where he eventually worked his way up to co-manager of the store. From there, he accepted a district supervisor position for a specialty food company. It paid well but kept him on the road and away from his family. He really wanted to work closer to home. He was looking for something different.
When his great uncle decided to retire and sell his automotive repair and rebuilding business in 1996, Kiser saw it as the opportunity he had been looking for. “My uncle didn’t specialize in any one thing,” Kiser explained. “He worked on anything and everything that came in the door. The alternator and starter part of the business was back in one small corner of the shop. Because of that, along with a lack of equipment, I realized that there was not enough money to justify the long hours I was putting in.” He knew that something had to change but was not quite sure what.
“I thought that running a small business would be easy, after spending 15 years in the corporate world, but it turned out to be a whole lot harder than I ever imagined. In 2001, I began to concentrate more on the starter and alternator business, along with electrical troubleshooting.” He attended an Automotive Parts Remanufacturers Association (APRA) Electrical Clinic and a Joe Davis seminar put on by WAI. He learned a lot at both but was still starving for more information about the rebuilding business. That’s when he decided to attend an ERA Trade Show in Kansas City in the fall of 2002.
“There, I was able to talk with other rebuilders who were willing to share their experience with me,” Kiser said. “Meeting people and making friends in the same business really helped.” He also attended all of the seminars he could fit in. “I saw equipment I never knew existed. That trip to Kansas City put me on the right track and was instrumental in the success I’m having today.”
“I expanded the business from 2,400 square feet to 4,000 square feet in 2008—and added air starters, magneto repair, custom battery cables and battery sales. We began working on portable generators, welding machines and golf carts, too.” Most of the tools and equipment required for those additions were already there. ...
Atlanta, Georgia This Show Is For You! - by The Exchange Staff
The 26th ERA annual trade show, Expo 2014, scheduled for March 21-23 in Atlanta, promises to be one of the best shows ever! A plant tour of Boles Parts Supply Inc. will kick off the weekend on Friday morning. It will include walk through tours of their massive core-handling and storage facility, and their winding plant where armatures, stators and rotors are both rewound and manufactured new. BPS will also graciously provide a Southern BBQ lunch as part of the tour. Plan to be in Atlanta on Friday morning for this great opportunity!
JIMCO has announced that it will give away a new, top-of-the-line JIMCO test bench to one lucky show attendee. WAIglobal will give away a Transpo VRC2010 voltage regulator tester. Need a new state-of-the-art test bench or voltage regulator tester? All you have to do is attend the show for a chance to win one. Other product giveaways are expected to be announced in the coming months.
The schedule and format will be similar to previous shows, but this year, emphasis is being placed on providing seminars that have been specifically asked for by you—the rebuilder. Some of the topics that will be covered include: • Testing of COM-terminal alternators, both on and off the vehicle• Rebuilding quality 39MT starters efficiently • Solving rebuilding problems with late model alternators and starters • Troubleshooting and eliminating charging system problems on vehicles.
Many other seminars are still in the planning stages.
The exposition will be opened on Friday evening from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and again on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Seminars are scheduled for both days during the hours that do not conflict with the plant tour or the exposition. Rebuilders who can attend only on Saturday, can still benefit from some great seminars, be eligible for drawings and have time to visit with all of the vendors in the exhibition.
On Sunday morning, the ERA will hold its Annual Meeting and Breakfast. (Any ERA member may attend if they sign up using the advanced registration.) That will be followed by several more seminars related to operating a rebuilding business efficiently and profitably. ...
Tool Tip: Installing Delco Snap Rings - by Bob Thomas
Everyone has their own method for installing those pesky snap rings on armature shafts. I know that Delco snap rings are the least of our worries. Not only are they the easiest to install, but there have been many special tools sold specifically for dealing with them. But a retired line mechanic from a local Cadillac dealership showed me a trick that he used. (Yes, believe it or not, back in the 1960s and 1970s, GM operated training centers that taught, among other things, repairing starters and alternators that were used on their vehicles.) The only tool you need to install the Delco snap ring is the old starter drive and a small hammer.
As shown in the photos, place a second starter drive on the armature shaft upside down over the new drive, the snap ring collar and the snap ring. Hold the new drive with one hand. The weight of the armature will hold the snap-ring collar and the snap ring tightly against each other (see Figure 1). Then, with your free hand, use the hammer to lightly tap the base of the upside down drive. You do not have to hit it hard—just a quick light tap (see Figure 2).
Give it a try. It is a quick method that can work with some other loose-fitting snap rings, too. ...
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