Steve was born in Cheadle, Cheshire, fairly close to Manchester airport. He grew up and was educated in the area. Upon leaving school in 1973 Steve completed what would now be called an ‘Old fashioned’ apprenticeship with Mirrlees Blackstone, Britain’s longest established Diesel Engine manufacturer. The company built engines weighing up to 150 tons mainly for use in power generation, marine and rail applications and although no longer made, these engines have a well earned reputation for reliability and longevity. Here’s a clip of a pretty ancient Mirrlees engine starting up.
Steve moved to Wales in 1983 and a year later was lucky enough to be in a position to buy a run down garage premises in Dinas Cross. ‘Rose Cottage Garage’ had been lying largely unused since the death of the owner Joe Stevens in 1968. On the eaves of the building is the inscription R.O. Thomas 1927, so the structure is 90 years old this year. By 1984, after lying unused for fifteen years the property was showing it’s age and despite much of the cladding being original a lot of work was required to bring the garage back into a usable state.
Steve renamed the garage ‘Mercury Garage’ and has been trading continuously since 1984 from the premises.
Over the years things have changed considerably, gone are the days of many hours of work welding to get a vehicle through it’s MOT test. The biggest changes have seen electrronics taking over many of the tasks that separate components once did, now there is an ‘engine management’ system instead of a distributor, carburettor and so on. Several other electronic control units will manage the ‘body systems’, antilock brakes, airbags and sometimes the gearbox. All this complication has meant the advent of electronic diagnostics is a necessity on modern cars, but solutions are usually not a simple as obtaining a few fault codes and replacing a part. As components become ever more expensive it’s important to investigate all possibilities and also to check that the problem is not caused by some straight forward fault like wires chafing together or a split rubber pipe A patient, logical and systematic approach to fault finding is even more vital than ever before if a effective repair is to be achieved at a reasonable price.
Times may have changed, but skills learned in the past still have some relevance. Mercury garage has a reputation for working on French cars, particularly Citroens, with their complicated hydraulic suspension that lifts up and down , or just the overall quirkyness of the 2CV. These models have all but gone now as designs have converged on a more conventional layout. So whilst we are happy to work on all makes nowadays, if you do have a 2CV or a Citroen with hydraulics, give us a call.