A couple of weeks ago, I accidentally did something stupid, that would turn out to cost me dearly.
I made the mistake of putting petrol in the cab instead of diesel. Not the first time I might add, but in the past I've always spotted the mistake and manage to stop before too much petrol was delivered.
Having filled the tank from almost empty, it was a disaster waiting to happen.
The cab performed ok fir th first few hours of the night shift, but I did notice something was not quite right, when stopped on Sketch rank in Conduit Street and turned off the engine. I was only there a short time, but when I tried to start, the engine, it didn't seem to want to catch and the starter churned over and over.
I was about to give up and ask the passenger to get the cab behind (wondering where my AA card was) when it fired up and to be honest, seemed to perform quite well for the rest of the shift.
I realised I had big trouble after stopping at Camley Street for tea break. After a short tea break, the cab wouldn't start. I thought the battery was about to give up the ghost, but just as it was about to die on me, it fired up. But this time all was not OK.
Driving away from the Cross the cab was sluggish and I had almost no acceleration. So I drove very slowly to the Hyde near Edgware, to my Garrage North West Taxis.
On rout, I managed to flag down a passing Cab who agreed to follow me to the garage and then take me home.
It was around 4 am and I didn't fancy spending the night in the cab waiting till the garage opened.
At this point I had no idea what I'd done, just thought there was a problem with the engine management system.
To my surprise the driver, who I'd never met before, recognised me from Twitter and Facebook. Arriving home in Harrow, he flatly refused to take any money for the fare.
Peter you really are a gentleman, you are a true Knight of the road and I'm proud to be a colleague.
Next day, I phoned Paula at NorthWest Taxis, who said the battery was completely knackered and after putting it on test, recommended a new one. So I agreed.
But as I was getting ready to leave for the trip back to the garrage, the phone rang again with the news "Jim, you've filled up with petrol".
I got to the garage expecting to hear the worst, or at least a new fuel pump.
Paula asked me to leave the cab over night and said she would get her top engineer to sort it out for me the next day.
Paula agreed to loan me a brand spanking new euro 6 TX4 -Well I have been a good customer for many years- completely unexpected but very welcome.
The new TX4s are not the straight forward put the key in and drive off type vehicle they always were.
There is a process you have to go through, or the cab just won't start.
I'm told the cab now has a new immobilisation system which makes this very expensive vehicle, extreme hard to take and drive away, even if you've got the key.
The cab allegedly has a bigger better engine and now has two power mode settings, high end and eco.
In eco setting, the acceleration is slightly slower than normal but fuel savings are noticeable compared with the high end setting which delivers a performance akin to a formula one car.
Inside th driver compartment, he only difference I could find from my TX4 euro 4 was the extra button for the power mode on the dash, and in the rear, little stickers on the seat to show stupid people where to stick the end of the seat belt.
After the mistake I'd made, I probably fit into this category.
Renting out Taxis is a new venture for NorthWest who have just taken delivery of 12 new Tx4 Euro 6. Paula said that they will guarantee the first 12 drivers a new Taxi after 12 months of hire.
They offer competitive rates to other garages renting out brand new TX4s.
Happy ending for me though, my only outlay, was a new battery and another tank of fuel....diesel this time of course.
A big thank you to Paula and Lee who have always been there for me.
But also a big thank you to Peter, my knight of the road.