Mervyn Paterson



The story of the piston of Mervyn’s first Japanese car, a Honda



Yes, I remember the story well.

Mervyn bought a rather sporty car – a white Honda Prelude from a local Canberra dealership. He was happy with his new car except that he became convinced over a short time with it that there was an unusual sound coming from the engine. From whatever technical information he was able to locate, he became convinced that it was possible for a piston to be assembled on to its piston rod “back the front” in these Honda cars. In his case he became convinced that one of the pistons in his new car’s 4 cyclinder engine must have been attached “back the front”. And because he was sure that he could here the unusual noise from the motor, he was also sure that this error in manufacture was causing abnormal wear in the engine which would damage it prematurely.

Mervyn went to see the Honda dealer in Canberra where he had bought the car and he eventually ended up talking to the chief mechanic in the workshop. The mechanic tried to dismiss Mervyn’s concerns and to assure him that there was nothing wrong with the motor. But the mechanic didn’t know Mervyn like we did! Mervyn just kept insisting that a piston had been incorrectly assembled and nothing that the mechanic said would convince him otherwise.

Eventually the mechanic and the company agreed to take the head off the car’s cylinder block to show Mervyn that he was wrong and that there was nothing wrong with the motor because they decided that this was the only way to get Mervyn “off their backs”. And of course, it was they who were wrong! One of the pistons was indeed attached facing backwards. They had to rebuild the car’s engine and replace the piston. Afterwards they gave the anomalously worn piston to Mervyn who had great delight in bringing it into the lab to examine it under the microscope and to then further regale us with the story!

What a guy!

From Prame Chopra

Prame Chopra

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