most difficult tow truck troubleshooting challenge is dealing with
equipment that's been tampered with. When someone has made improper
modifications and the equipment fails to work properly, the troubleshooter
needs to not only figure out what's been modified, but how the equipment
was supposed to look and how it was supposed to work before the
Whenever someone asks me to
"just run a wire" to bypass a more-expensive repair or do some
equally improper modification, I always think of one of my favorite web
pages -- a page on automatic transmission diagnosis by a transmission
rebuilder named Ken Bachellerie. His web page is called "The
Drive Train Page" and is located at www.technicalevolution.com.
Although the page pertains to car transmissions and has nothing to do with
towing equipment, Bachellerie's repair credo can be applied to any
"My philosophy is
simple; fix it right, fix it completely, and don't take any short
cuts. My employer thinks I am a fanatic and tells me that I spend
far too much time and effort making each repair I perform into a 'work of
art.' I can live with this criticism. So, if I seem a little
bit 'short' on a reply when you simply want to find a 'cheap' way to get
out of spending what is required to get your vehicle repaired properly,
you will now know why. If there is a less expensive way to do it
right, fix it completely and not take any shortcuts, then this less
expensive way would be the right way to fix it, and there would not be the
more expensive way of doing it. Period!"
I love this credo because the
writer was not afraid to say in stark language that improper modifications
and shortcuts should not be attempted in repairs.
On a flatbed tow truck, for
example, the deck harness and hose track assembly, which travels under the
deck when you move the deck back and forth, must be assembled in the
original factory configuration with no detail left out -- if you want it
to last. The hose must be the right size. The clamps must be
the correct ones. The steel pans, if they're supposed to be there,
must be whole, straight, and well fastened. There must not be any
extraneous hardware where the hose and harness assembly travels back and
forth in its track.
When doing troubleshooting, look
for parts that are not supposed to be there. You can usually tell
the unauthorized additions by their sloppy, "higgledy-piggledy"
appearance. The improvised toolbox mount in the photo above, for
example, created more problems than it solved. Are there rivets
where the factory originally used screws? Are there tomato stakes
from the garden holding up a part? Is duct tape holding wires
together? I'm pretty sure the original equipment manufacturer didn't
specify duct tape.
Before trying to repair a failed
assembly, first remove all the offending improper hardware and
modifications. Start with a blank slate. Then install the
proper parts, without any shortcuts, according to the factory design.