Always Spend More On Your Power Converters

‘When it rains it pours’ – that’s how the saying goes and it’s never been more prudent in the case of my humble garage.

I’ve been running my 3-man mechanics team out of a workshop in Essex for the past two decades.

We have a good laugh, us and the boys, but always strive to keep our work ticking along at a good rate. The common stereotype of the ‘lazy’ mechanic is one that I am constantly striving to challenge; hiring good people to work under you is always the first step in the process.


However, you can have the most motivated mechanics in your team, but if your equipment starts failing on you – the work rate is always going to suffer.

I’ve not been able to get any word done on any vehicles this week, thanks to a power surge that hit our local grid. At some point during last night, an extra few hundred thousand volts of energy slammed into our little workshop, causing all our gear to blow their fuses.

I know what you’re thinking: ‘Surely an experienced mechanic of twenty years would have come across this problem before and have back up fuses in storage?’

Well, to answer your question, no. No, this hasn’t happened before and no, I didn’t have any spare fuses in storage.

The fuses have been ordered on one-day delivery, so we should be up and running in the next couple of days. In the meantime, my boys have been set to cleaning duties and I’ve been researching fool-proof plans to stop this happening in the future.


Electrical surges, the internet tells me, can be caused by a number of things.

Lightning strikes are the chief culprits, however they can also be caused by power returning from a cut as well as pesky electrical contractors cutting lines. There’s no way of knowing when any of these things are going to happen, so the best step forward for us is to buy some serious protection.

Although I’m inclined to push the blame on local electricians, the best way forward, I think, is simply to buy some industrial grade surge protectors for the entirety of the workshop. With some extra time on my hands, I conducted a rigorous walk through of the entire workshop.

I’m a frugal sort of guy, that’s how I’ve managed to maximise my profits over the year, but it also shows in the support equipment that I’ve purchased over the years. To best protect my investments, I’ve decided that I need to ditch the scrimping attitude and invest in some high-end industrial goods.


There are a few options that I’m considering, however after so many years dealing with British solutions, I’m now moving away from UK consumer suppliers and investing in a US based company for my tech needs.

We use a variety of American made pieces of equipment in our shop, these require specific forms of power converters to run in the UK. After some research on the forums, I’ve settled on using Wall Industries as our main supplier of AC/DC and DC/DC power converters. They’ve got a significant reputation for providing good quality tech, so they’ll hopefully be able to give us everything need to protect our gear from any further issues.

A word of advice to anyone reading this – always invest in good technology – you’ll thank me later.



Mini Meet at the Legendary Ace Cafe

The Ace Cafe was first opened as a transport cafe in Stonebridge, London in 1938.

Providing refreshment for drivers on the, recently opened, Northern Circular road, the cafe was rebuilt in 1949 , after being destroyed in the midst of World War II.


Opening for 24 hours a day, the cafe was a staple for long distance drivers looking to feed up before a big drive. However, opening at all hours of the day tends to attract an alternative kind of clientele – one that you might not want in your establishment.

Word got around about a new place, open 24 hours, just outside of the city. Biker gangs, who were just starting to pick up popularity in the 50s, started frequenting the venue.

Although they were initially deemed as troublesome, the amount of custom that they provided more than made up for any hassle they caused.

Soon the ace cafe had become a hub for mod and rocker culture with hundreds of moped and bike riding men in their twenties showing up every night to knock back drinks and listen to rock and roll music. The place successfully fulfilled the roadside bar fantasy that had been perpetuated through American Cinema and young Brits were eager to get a slice of the action.

In 1969, the cafe was unceremoniously closed, making room for a new service station further down the M1, however; that wasn’t to be the end of the Ace Cafe.

ace-cafe-reunion25 years later, Mark Wilsmore, a loyal patron of the Cafe back in the 60s, organised a reunion. Bringing together past regulars, as well as scores of other individuals who had been influenced by the venue’s legendary status; 12,000 visitors attended the event. Life had been brought back to the venue and this led to the doors officially reopening in 1997.

Today, the Ace Cafe isn’t open 24 hours, but it does still pay homage to the impact that the place had on Motoring Culture; they hold regular meetings, car festivals and live music events.

I recently travelled out to the cafe to check out their monthly Mini Meet.

I’ve never quite understood the infatuation that people have with Minis. Putting aside their starring turns in the classic crime caper, The Italian Job, I’ve always felt that their stature in the Automotive world has been unnecessarily high. I’ve always preferred the slightly larger, but significantly beefier, Morris 1100 as a classic compact car.

There’s nothing like a car fair to change your mind though. By the time I left the Classic Mini Meet, which is held on the first Thursday of every month at the Ace Cafe, I was positively itching to buy one of my own – much to the chagrin of my husband!


As with all car meets, half the enjoyment you get out of the events is in the meeting of the people, rather than the cars themselves. Car enthusiasts have got a funny way of transferring their excitement and passion onto others.

I’d only planned on staying for a half hour or so, but pretty soon I was popping bonnets and asking about tuning and exhausts, thankfully the friendly owners were only too eager to answer.

The Ace Cafe runs several regular car meets, so if Minis aren’t your thing there should be another event that takes your fancy. As a slice of UK automotive history, it’s a place that every gearhead should visit at least once.

Christmas with CIM

The Christmas season is well and truly upon us…

This is a special time of year for all the writers at CIM. As practicing Christians, of differing denominations, we all have our own way of revelling in the festive season.


Our writers have taken some time to talk about their own habits over the Christmas period: how they’ll be celebrating, where there’ll be driving and who they’ll be with…


christmas-carols-37539_1280“Christmas is a very busy time of year for my husband and I. We’re not blessed with children, however our Church family is a truly extended one. Our congregation here in St. Ives is a big one and we have an active festive charity schedule – promoting the Christmas as a season of good will.

The day itself, will be a small affair. By the time we get round to Christmas itself, we’re usually content to sit back with a modest dinner and some soothing radio. The cars stay in the garage, getting some much deserved rest.”


“The Scout Movement, after long being involved with the Christian movement, has strong ties with the Christmas season. Although us Scouts have grown increasingly secular over the years, we still use the month of December to remind our boys of the importance of engaging in charitable activities.


As far as driving goes, there’s always time for go-karting! I tend to get more time to myself during December, thanks to the Christmas break, so that means more time on the circuits!”


porsche-driv“Jeff and I spend a lot of time working on the cars, during December. With the racing season looming in January, we always find ourselves with plenty of work to get done on the cars. Our local ministry holds some fantastic Christmas services, which we attend every year.

Every Christmas day, we take the Porsche out for a long drive round the countryside. It might seem like an old-fashioned tradition, but there’s nothing like tearing up the tarmac on the empty Christmas roads!”


“With the good Reverend Rob off in Spain this Christmas, my celebrations are going to be slightly different than usual. We’ve got a new holy man calling the orders of service, in our local church, so I’ll offer my help to him in any way I can.


Christmas is a family affair for me. I forget about racing cars for a few days and spend some good quality time with my family. On Boxing Day we have the entire clan round ours and I’m forced into the kitchen, whilst the wife entertains!”

How do you like to celebrate Christmas? Are you going to be hitting the road or are you going to be in the kitchen, like Colm?