Smash repairers and auto mechanics can get a little edgy around school holiday time, even those without kids. While students are enjoying a break from their studies and extra-curricular commitments, schools are busy handling the repair and service of their fleets of buses and commercial vehicles, ready for next term’s carnage. For our technicians, this means a lot of work in a very short period, and it can get hectic!
This period requires extensive planning by both schools and repairers. The Como Panel & Paint workshop currently resembles a bus interchange. We have Toyota Hiace Commuters, Mitsubishi Rosa buses and multi-passenger transport vehicles of every make, model, size and colour, booked months in advance and waiting for the attention of our technicians. Each has its own dents, scratches, paintwork, signage and maintenance issues. For every one we’ll need to conduct assessments and estimates, contact insurance brokers, source parts, book deliveries and handle the repairs – and they all have to be finished before school term starts again.
Even without the mad rush and tight turnaround, commercial vehicles and buses are a tricky proposition, and many other repairers refuse to work on them. For a start, these vehicles see a lot of wear and damage. They’re tricky to drive; we get asked to install a lot of cameras and reversing sensors for this reason. But even with technological help, negotiating corners, reversing and parking are not easy in a bus. Add to the situation dozens of loud, excited schoolkids and it’s easy to see why these vehicles take a beating on the road.
Bus repairs, even for minor damage, can be very labour intensive. Their welded panels are larger and tend to stretch more, and their size also means they’re physically exhausting to work with and can cause bottlenecks in already-crowded workshops. The same panels often get damaged time and time again, which means even more work as the old repairs are ground out, the panel is re-shrunk, shaped and skimmed all over again. Bus replacement parts are expensive and often need to be ordered from Japan, which can turn a tight deadline into a nailbiter when repairs and refinishing are factored in.
This is why school holidays are the time of year we appreciate our repair team the most. Working painstakingly on the same square metre of bus panel for two days and turning out perfect repairs every time without complaint takes a certain sort of repairer. We are exceptionally fortunate to have Gary, Alvin, Greg and Adam on our team, who handle the holiday madness and all its tricky jobs without a murmur. Thank you and well done boys!