Friday 17 November 2023

Long Service Award

 For at least 30 years, there was an undisputed genius in engine tuning in Plymouth. His name was Alan Jeffery and you would hear stories, told in reverent tones about the godlike works that he had done. An ex-girlfriend's dad told me about the time that Alan Jeffery took a screwdriver, pressed it to the cylinder head and inlet manifold in many different places while listening to the handle and then told him (correctly) exactly why his car was running badly. When we were young, everybody with a good souped up Escort had had it tuned by Alan Jeffery. The man from the Vehicles Inspectorate who looked at my Caterham talked about him (and his skill with Webber carburettors) in nothing but glowing terms.

In early 2016 Alan Jeffery worked his magic for me, over the phone! My Caterham wouldn't pass the emissions tests. When I rang up he asked me to read the numbers off the failure certificate, and then told me exactly what was wrong (a clean air leak into the exhaust system). He never saw the car and he tried not to charge me.

His workshop was at the end of Valley Road but more recently it changed its name to Enginetuner Ltd and started concentrating on Subarus and Mitsubishis. I went there a couple of weeks ago to ask for advice on working out how worn my Caterham engine is (it has something like 200 hours on track). The receptionist said "Oh for a Caterham you'd be better off talking to Alan, he'll be there on Thursday". Alan Jeffery, semi-retired, well into his 70's with at least a 30 year glowing reputation showed me around the workshop, looked over my car, and essentially said "if it aint broke don't fix it", but "aint broke" involves oil consumption, temperature management, and emissions tests.

I'm delighted that he's still going, but rather sad that all the youngsters who work there are concentrating on modern cars. When Alan's gone, who's going to help me with my Caterham engine? Who's going to tune cars with carburettors?

Richard "Two first names" B

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