On the road all day, cabs need weekly maintenance | TahoeDailyTribune.com

On the road all day, cabs need weekly maintenance

Gregory Crofton

Sixty-two-year-old Jack Evans has worked on cars since he was 15. His knuckles are swollen and the top of his hands are marked with small scabs.

He smokes, drinks coffee, has a thick-gray mustache with touches of red, and wears a blue skull cap when he works as a taxi cab mechanic.

Evans, who commutes 40 miles to work from Dayton, Nev., is one of three mechanics who maintain 30 cars owned by Yellow Cab, a company that dominates the private transportation market at South Shore.

The company’s cabs are old Ford police cruisers bought at auction with about 100,000 miles on them. They get sprayed canary yellow at a Sacramento auto paint shop before they hit the road. If things go really well, the cars can run another 200,000 miles with help from Evans.

“There is a little more to this business than picking people up,” Evans said. “You got to keep them maintained and check ’em.”

The cars get a once-over from a mechanic every week. Tires and brakes come first, then a suspension check followed by an oil change. If there’s a real problem with the car, cabbies will leave the mechanics a note, Evans said.

A cab requires up to five sets of tires to make it through the year. Tires are studded in the winter. Cabs also shred a fair share of brake pads. If something else goes, it’s usually the suspension or the radiator.

The work gets done in the depot’s three-car garage on Eloise Avenue. The garage has a chill to it, just like Tahoe does most of the time. David Cordes, 47, who works alongside Evans, keeps warm with a skull cap, a torn leather fly jacket and a down vest underneath.

“There’s more than one act to a circus,” Cordes said. “And this one runs 24-7. It’s a juggling act. It’s like the plate-spinning trick.”

– Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at gcrofton@tahoedailytribune.com

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