Hi all, thanks for adding me to the forum!
Here's my story. A bus driver for 17 years, back in September last year I left for new horizons, ended up working as a taxi driver for a local firm, and quickly got fed up of their pay policy of 50/50 on whatever fares I took. It was a bit of a farce but most taxi companies in the region work that way, and I learned fairly quickly that the only way to earn decent money was to 'go it alone'.
Well, this area, as with most others, is dominated by the big boys. I knew that to make any sort of impact we'd have to be different, and I also knew that as I have itchy feet we wouldn't end up with just the one car as most other independents around here do... so Castle Cabs was born.
We... (the wife and I)... have had a long vested interest in environmentally friendly vehicles, owning until recently a pair of restored Sinclair C5s that we cherished. We actually sold them to partially fund the first taxi, but I'll replace them at some point. Anyway... on with the cars!
In Dorset, vitually every taxi is a diesel, and also almost every taxi is a Skoda(!). I knew from the outset I wanted a Vauxhall Vectra, their huge interior space and relatively low maintenance costs were the driving factors (excuse the pun!), but we also thought up the idea of 'going green'. Thanks to local authority regulations, the car had to be black, so our search was narrowed down to a black LPG Vauxhall Vectra. Not the easiest of challenges, but out of complete fluke, one was for sale on Ebay that we snapped up for a bargain price! This is it after being taxi'd up...
Well, work came in fairly quickly, we started taking on WAY too many airport transfers which meant that we were never in town to cover our few local bookings that were trickling in, so last month we had to get a second... it's about to go on the road... we found an Astra Dual Fuel in black, but I'll come onto the story behind it in a minute...
So! As it stands, we're just starting to get known in the local area, and we can say that we're Dorset's only environmentally friendly cab company! But, back to the cars...
The Vectra has been fantastic. Although 10 years old, it had a full lpg system replacement (pipes down to tank!) 2 years ago so it really does run as new. It had to have a new water pump and timing belt a couple of weeks ago, but other than that is running beautifully... not bad for a car with (now) 202,000 on the clock and still not missing a beat!
The Astra has been one of those cars that gets you tempted to buy a litre of petrol and find a nice quiet field... it's tried my patience, it's cost a fortune, but FINALLY there's light at the end of the tunnel. It was a classic Auto Trader "Bargin", helpfully sold by a foreign man that had bought the car from an auction and didn't actually know anything about it. As it was 250 miles away, we had no choice but to buy it blind, and have regretted it every mile since.
It started on the journey back when the front n/s caliper seized on, resulting in 200 miles of driving with a sticking n/s brake. Not fun. New discs, pads, calipers, it was drivable at least. It had a misfire on cylider 4, and would only occasionally switch to lpg. The misfire... oh what fun that's been. Our mechanic tested the plugs, gave it a new coil pack, did a compression test, nothing worked. This morning he came back, took the plugs out again and found that one plug was actually a different type than the others, wasn't providing a strong enough spark, replaced it and cured the misfire! I took it out tonight, it went onto lpg! It then misfired on lpg and wouldn't switch back to petrol! Sticky solenoid maybe? I've given up and it's going to a local lpg installer on saturday for a diagnosis... the problem being that there's already so much money tied up in the thing that we NEED to get it fixed now. But, it'll get there. Once the lpg issue's solved it'll be on the road!
Anyway, so the policy is going to be that we'll only be buying lpg vehicles for the foreseeable future, and probably factory fitted Vauxhalls to match these two! It's a great talking point for passengers, cuts the fuel bill, and helps the environment too so everyone's a winner http://www.castle-cabs.co.uk