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Wrench Heaven

Wrench Heaven is on the outskirts of Frankfurt/Main.  It doesn't
normally admit visitors, and it closes early on Fridays.

You find it by accident.  After bumming around the centre of Frankfurt
all day, you take a flyer and ask a question in a tool shop.

"You should trying looking down the Hanauer Landstrasse."

That's where _ALL_ the major car manufacturers have their major central
German outlets - there are _HUGE_ BMW and Mercedes dealerships there,
paint shops, body shops, the lot.  I rumbled down it in a rented Polo
looking for likely places and preparing to turn around and visit the
most promising.  I almost turned at the A661 junction, but the Audi
sign made me carry on.  I asked in sales, and in spares, and then I
asked the workshop "Meister".

"Carry on as you were, over the crossroads and past MacDonalds.  Next
right, right again, and it's on the left."

You never saw anything that looked less promising.  Just a normal
German medium engineering factory - and of course it's Friday, and such
places shut at lunchtime.  The porter is friendly, and asks what I
want.  "Yes, but do you deal with individuals?"

"Oh, yes, as long as you know what you want."

I told him.  Without a word, he reached for a phone, dialed a number,
and handed it to me.  I explained into the phone.  "One minute, I'll
come down and see you."

This is a big place, and it's deserted.  Obviously it's busy when it's
working - the fork lift truck lanes are like motorways and everything
is built pretty seriously.  We have a long debate about contracts,
sales rights, EU law, etc., right in the middle of this deserted factory.

Finally - "You'd better come in here."

This is a huge packaging and shipping hall.  Pallets and pallets of flat
cardboard boxes - serious stuff.  Fully automated strapping machines.
A smell of settling dust.  But the main door is locked - it's already
the weekend.  So a keyholder has to be found.  After ten minutes, the
door is opened and we step inside this huge space.  A German thumb
hits a button and the lights clatter into action.

Huge warehouse shelves stretch up and into the distance, groaning under
the weight of ...


Thousands upon thousands upon thousands.  The #2084 and #2079 bins
are big enough to walk around in.  Anything and everything you've only
ever seen in the manuals.  Jigs, mandrels, aligning tools, clamps, ...

VW/Audi's central global stock of service tools.

"If I could only reverse the boot of the car in here."

"Well, now that you're here - what's _this_ for?  We make this stuff,
 but we've no idea what it's used for."

"And what's _this_ for?"

So I get what I want, walk over to the administration block, and find
a bookkeeper has stayed behind with one terminal open so she can take
my DM137.50 - she can't issue a receipt because the printers have been
switched off, so she takes my address and offers to send it on.  I
leave a fax number and details so I can open an account.

 Phil Payne
 Phone: 0385 302803   Fax: 01536 723021
 (The contents of this post will _NOT_ appear in the UK Newsletter.)