Mackie Automotive and Manual Transmissions
© John Fender, 2014
The Scottish Region were privileged to be able to visit to Mackie Automotive and Manual Transmissions hosted by John Mackie, the founder. The evening started with a buffet, generously provided by Mackie Automotive and Manual Transmissions during which time, members and guests were able to network.
Mr. John Mackie started the visit by welcoming everyone to Mackie Automotive and Manual Transmissions and gave a brief outline of the history of the company that he founded 37 years ago. The company, founded in 1977, is now the UK's leading re-manufacturer of automotive, industrial and marine transmissions, specialising in torque converters and automatic transmissions. The company has expanded and has recently taken over EcoDrive, another transmission re-manufacturer specialising in the bus and truck market.
John Mackie began his career working in a Rolls Royce - Bentley franchised garage and when there was a problem with the transmission on these cars, the solution was to replace the transmission. He thought that these transmissions could be repaired instead of replaced and studied how to rebuild and re-manufacture them. Going into business for himself, he undertook repair and re-manufacturing of automatic transmissions and today his company employs 32 staff. The company exports to countries such as Italy, Denmark, Holland, Spain, Germany and even to Trinidad.
Mr. Mackie has a passion for quality and this is reflected in the company's ISO 9000 certification as well as having contracts with Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Subaru, and ZF Great Britain amongst others. For Hyundai and Kia, if an automatic transmission fails whilst a vehicle is under warranty, the replacement will be provided by Mackie Automotive and the warranty will be carried by them for the remainder of the warranty period.
The party then divided into small groups and toured the various departments. When vehicles arrive they are taken into the vehicle workshop where the first step is diagnosis of the problem. Electronic diagnostic equipment is used and combined with the expertise of the technicians, this enables the problem to be found. The diagnostic equipment was demonstrated and the tablet sized touch screen diagnostic device was shown to be easy to use.
Although expensive, this equipment makes fault diagnosis much easier and quicker and the software is updated by the manufacturers on a daily basis. The equipment will test all of the control units in a vehicle and identifies the area where the problem is likely to be. The group was also shown the hot flushing machine which flushes hot oil through the system of a vehicle and can help clear blockages, for example in an oil cooler. This can be a lot cheaper than replacing the oil cooler.
It is important that when a vehicle is serviced, the transmission oil is changed and it is recommended that it is changed every 2 years or 40,000 miles as the oil deteriorates with time. Where the transmission is replaced the company offers a 3 year warranty if installed by the company or a one year warranty if the installation is undertaken elsewhere.
Moving to the engineering department, the group was shown the repair and re-manufacture of torque converters. Torque converters are key parts of an automatic transmission and although fairly simple in principle, they are precision engineered pieces of machinery and like all machinery, can break down and need repairing.
The group was given a detailed explanation of how torque converters work and the various faults that can be found and how these are repaired. Once the torque converter has been rebuilt it is balanced, cleaned and tested before being packaged for delivery to the customer. Some 70% of the re-manufactured torque converters are exported.
John Mackie (centre) having been presented with a Scottish Region engraved glass by Douglas Norris (right). John Connachan, the Service Manager is on the left.
© John Fender, 2014
Next the group was shown gearboxes being rebuilt. These are stripped down, the casings cleaned and all components inspected and replaced as necessary. The gearbox is then rebuilt. The group was also shown valve bodies being re-manufactured and tested. These components can be very expensive. They are then tested and the group watched as a valve unit was being tested.
Once tested, the valve body is attached to the transmission and when all of the components of a transmission have been re-assembled, the transmission is tested and the group was shown a unit being tested. The re-manufactured transmission has to meet the same performance criteria as the original units. Manual transmissions are also repaired and reconditioned and the group was shown some of these in various stages of reconditioning.
Finally the group was shown the re-manufacturing of truck and bus transmissions undertaken by the subsidiary, EcoDrive. It occupies space in the same building and essentially the work is the same, just on a much larger scale to that of cars. The group saw a 16 speed truck transmission being worked on, along with other transmissions at various stages in the re-manufacturing process.
The evening was rounded off by the National Officer, Douglas Norris thanking John Mackie for hosting the visit and presenting him with one of the Scottish Region's engraved glasses.
The Scottish region would like to thank John Mackie for hosting the visit and all of the staff who guided the party through the various stages of re-manufacturing transmissions, in particular John Connachan, the Service Manager, Crawford, Andrew and Alan as well as all of the other staff who answered the many questions put to them by the members.
For further information on Mackie Automotive and Manual Transmissions and the services they offer visit their website at www.mackie-transmission.com where you will find details of all of the services offered along with many photographs of transmissions being re-manufactured and tested, including some video of torque converters being re-manufactured.
Report and photograph by John Fender.
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