By Jon Wright
To promote 2009's Big Skill Awards, BBC Suffolk's Graeme Mac got his hands soiled while getting to grips with changing a tyre. Pass the Swarfega (other hand-cleansing products are available)...
"I can do the bit where you put windscreen washer in but other than that I know nothing".
That was the honest admission from Graeme 'Spanners' Mac when asked which Big Skill he'd like to try to promote.
So a quick phone call to Suffolk New College and a session with the students studying for a BTEC National Diploma in vehicle technology was arranged.
17 year old Dean was keen to take 'Wing-Nut' Mcloughlin through the basics of changing a wheel: "When we jack the car up we make sure the hand brake is on and we chock the rear wheel so it doesn't roll off the axle stand.
"We also have to break the nuts..."
Which means loosening the wheel nuts before the car is lifted up. If you try and do it when the wheel is off the ground, you'll find the wheel doesn't stay still and it's more or less impossible to unscrew the nuts.
Dean is in the first year of the course and also does work experience in a local garage: "All my life I've loved cars, especially old cars.
Dean at Suffolk New College
"Messing about, taking things apart and finding out how they work. It's a passion more than anything but a career obviously as well."
Before the tyre change gets underway, the details of where to use the jack on the particular model are looked up on the auto database. Dean explains how the use of computers is changing the cars themselves:
"They're getting less hands-on. A lot of things now you get to plug a computer system in to find out what's wrong, but there are still mechanic jobs to do. We're just replacing what's wrong rather than fixing it."
And after a quick demonstration, 'Grease Monkey' Macca manages to complete the wheel change himself.
"I feel quite good. The wheel is heavier than it looks. The guys seem to think I did an alright job, but it'll be a while before I'm working for the McLaren F1 team.
"But I am confident of changing a wheel now should there be a blow-out."
Big Skill details
The Big Skill Awards 2009 are open to anyone over the age of 14, who lives and learns in the East of England.
The seven award categories are:
14-16 Learner Award
You have until the end of April 2009 to nominate someone you think deserves recognition for changing their life through learning.
last updated: 27/04/2009 at 17:38