Collin the Mechanic

Collin the mechanic is a hook-nosed man with barely a scratch of white hair left on his freckled head and a small mouth with some gaps where teeth used to be. I ask if he’s a local and he berates me, seventh generation mate! He says the thing is leaking oil, by which he means transmission fluid, and tops it off. This is where Paul and I both learn that tranny fluid needs to be checked with the car hot. He wants to check the brakes out to see if it’s really the booster and I decide to see him the next day.

All the way back Paul keeps running over the line, well I learned something. The transmission fluid needs to be checked while it’s hot. I never knew. It’s good to know all that is wrong is that it just needs to have the fluids topped off every so often and she’ll be right.

I stay quiet, simmering at the thought that he won’t state the obvious that there is a larger problem. Why does it leak? Instead he tells me that it has occurs to him that we’ve driven more in the past two weeks than he’s driven in the past year and the old girl just doesn’t like to be stressed that bad.

He does redeem himself when we get back to the parking lot by paying for half of the break job done in Kerikeri and telling me that he’s directed Collin to bill him for any ensuing work he does on the van.

I go back in the bar and ask where a good place is to get dinner. The locals titter behind their hands and are in on something, I can tell. Chaz tells me that Marie is at home cooking up some steaks and we are to go by for dinner when we feel like heading out. We do and wind up spending the night, the Bedford leaking oil all over the front lawn where she’s asked me to park.

The next two days are spent with Collin. It turns out to be the booster and he gets one but it is for disc brakes and we have drums. He fits the thing in and it takes some pumping to build up enough pressure to have any brakes at all. The other is sent out for reconditioning. He offers to sell us a Toyota sitting in his yard, one of the few that seem to be running. We take it for a drive and escape his place for awhile.

Collin is a racist. At dinner he tells us that it is a sad fact our forefathers ran out of bullets before killing all the blacks. There would be far less problems. It comes up because we talk about the Dutch couple in Haruru Falls. They have caught the suspects and one of them is white trash like Collin but that doesn’t stop the rant. He looks stranger than the typical bush man because his house burned down, scorching over twenty percent of his body. He spent over a year in the hospital and had some major grafts attached to his face.

Collin’s sons are into racing and their dad supports them in this endeavor. The cars are little cages on a chassis and are flung around a dirt track. The idea is to bash in to the other drivers, blocking them from finishing while you try and get across the finish line before someone takes you out. At the event the last weekend they came in first. The prize for winning is a trophy. There is a little cash split among the teams which is usually spent when all the teams go out on the piss (drinking) together. A typical season costs tens of thousands of dollars to keep the thing running. There’s a sign on the front of the car which states, ‘I’m always in the shit only the depth varies’.

So we head out, pumping madly at the brakes any time stopping is needed and will let Collin know where to send the refurbished part. Our plan is to head around the East Cape area where ‘Whale Rider’ was filmed.

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