Recently I had occasion to be thankful to an honest workman when my Washer/Dryer broke down and the engineer, who stood to gain a couple of hundred pounds in repair bill, looked at it and gave me the opinion that if it was his he wouldn't bother repairing it but instead would just buy a new one as it was near the end of its (ludicrously short) working life. So he gained nothing from it, because I took his advice.
Today I met another honest man.
Stevie Brierton is a motorcycle mechanic who has a workshop in the east end of Glasgow, not too far from Celtic Park, where Glasgow Celtic play football (that's soccer to our far flung cousins!) and he was recommended to me by a work colleague as being a good mechanic, and a nice guy.
My bike, my lovely thirteen year old BMW R1100RT with almost 68,000 miles on the clock, is well overdue a service. In fact to my shame it's been about two years since it was serviced, which is a bad thing. Recently, after the spell of bad weather over Christmas and New Year when it sat on the roadside gathering dirt, dampness, and God alone knows what, the clutch started sluipping and the revs seemed to stay too high, failing to drop when I closed the throttle, so it was clearly time to get it looked at.
I rang the local BMW dealer for a quote. Certainly sir, they replied, and proceeded to quote me the thick end of £500 just for the service, before they even looked at the clutch or revs. Ouch.
So I contacted Stevie. Certainly sir, he said, for that service it'll be £200 +vat including parts (including vat that's about £235) but he recommended taking it in so he can assess what's wrong with the clutch and therefore how much it'd be likely to cost before he embarked on doing anything else to it.
So that's where I went this evening, feeling much better after having 48 hours of a stomach bug, the symptoms of which I won't horrify you with, and having been forced to leave work at lunchtime after managing to keep down my food for almost a full 15 minutes!
Stevie came outside to look at it, fiddled about underneath, checked the play on the clutch lever, and gave me the bad news.
Yes, that's right, about £1000 to get a replacement clutch, as he in fact had suspected when I described the symptoms to him on the phone. On top of this there would be the £235 for the service, and he noticed that both tyres will need replacing very soon, so that'd be the thick end of another £200.
Since I don't have £1000 to spare I now have a choice. Well, two choices. I can sell the bike, or I can put it away off the road somewhere until such times as I feel I can spare the repair money.
The bike cost me about £3500 three years ago, but that was a private sale from a work colleague and I'm not really sure how much it'd be worth now. Stevie thinks that since BMW is a popular type of bike I'd have a queue of enthusiasts wanting to buy it if I advertised it, so they could do the work themselves rather than take it to a garage. He thinks in fact I should get about £2000 for it.
Or I could keep it until I can afford to fix the clutch, and anything else that goes wrong with it while it lies in a garage.
Anyone reading this fancy a lovely 1997 BMW R1100RT, 68,000 miles, ABS, Radio Cassette, Electric Windscreen, Autocom, full BMW Luggage (panniers and topbox), two tyres on the borderline for needing replaced, needs a service, clutch slipping slightly?
What should I do?