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Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Submitted by Marcel Stieber
Some things tire us, and some things are just exhausting. Broken exhaust pipes on the car do both! On a recent drive into Accra, we discovered an unpleasant putting of the engine that sounded like exhaust emitting from the engine compartment. A quick inspection on the side of the road had us knowing that a pipe joint just after the exhaust manifold had separated. This resulted in hot exhaust gases spewing through the engine compartment...not the ideal situation for our usual day or errands.
Fortunately, we were close to one of the local towns that has a mechanic we had used before. He was not in, but one of his employees instructed us to go down the street to the "Otoo Exhaust Doctor". On the side of the road stood a small green shack with a precariously balanced acetylene tank out front and oxygen bottle leaned up inside. A few men were to the side busily fixing a radiator with a propane torch and some epoxy next to a rickety car ramp. We were met with a friendly smile by the owner who quickly encouraged us to drive the car up the ramp. A frightening idea given the skewed arrangement of metal parts that held the contraption together. After a short inspection and some careful personnel management, we succeeded in driving the car precariously onto the ramp.
Mr Otoo confirmed our suspicions with the broken exhaust pipe in the engine bay and to our amazement, jumped right under the ramp with his acetylene torch and proceeded to mend the pipe... in place! We were amazed. With a skillful touch of the acetylene torch, very aware of the heat shield around the part he was working on, "Doctor Otoo" managed to make a very nice and quick repair to the pipe in just 20 minutes! Service while you wait and at an excellent price!
It's really amazing to see the skill that finds its way onto the streets. Sadly, the safety training and realization of risk is not always present on the roadside. The "Doctor" welded with no eye protection or gloves. The ramp on which the car was perched could collapse at a moment's notice. And the call to his assistant for more gas, was met with a hearty shaking of the acetylene tank to get the carbine wet again, all while resting on the knob to open the pressure cap... With just a little bit of safety knowledge and understanding of the dangers of the equipment in use, skilled workers that are living on the edge could help move towards accident prevention. We're definitely glad the Doctor was in that day, his team made our day a success right from the start. Maybe if we leave an apple in the car every day, then we can keep the Doctor away!
She'll survive to drive another day thanks to to the good Dr