My Start In Auto Mechanics

by Matthew on June 8, 2011

I thought I’d sprinkle in a few posts here and there about my various experiences over the years in business and education, though not necessarily chronologically. One of my big challenges in life is juggling my interests in efficient ways. I have a lot of interests and a reasonable amount of skill/knowledge so I could spend the rest of my life just tinkering around in a place like MITERS making things.

Machines and systems of all kinds fascinate me. From tractors, to automobiles, to software systems, to civic organizations, to corporations and governments, I’m really intrigued by the idea that a whole bunch of moving parts can play a part in something larger. I take things apart and always have. Not only that, but most things work after I put them back together.

When I was about 12 years old, I rebuilt a blown engine in an old Nissan (Datsun?) I asked my dad to buy for me as a project. I figured I knew how engines generally worked, figured I could buy a manual to tell me the specifics of this particular engine, and wanted to prove that I really understood all the parts. After taking everything apart, persuading my parents to buy a bunch of tools in the process, I convinced my mom to drive me down to the local machine shop where I plopped the crankshaft on the counter and asked if they could help me measure crank journals to tell me if the thing was still usable. I’ll never forget the look on the guy’s face when he asked me “where did you get this?” I told him about my project and got ushered into gear-head heaven when he took me back to introduce me to the machinists.

The mom taxi service somewhat dried up that summer and I spent a few weeks carting parts back and forth to that machine shop in my backpack riding my bike. I had a credit account at the machine shop to buy parts (I’m not even sure if that was legit, come to think about it) and the machinists loaned me close to a thousand dollars of tools at a time to take home to take measurements and test things. I was on cloud nine. These guys were cool. They had precision test equipment, parts cleaning machines, metal lathes for engine work…everything I could possibly need!

By the end of the summer, I had finished my project and the engine ran really well, so I had my parents take the car over to our mechanic to get a state inspection. The shop owner said: “You did this work? If you’re looking for a job when you graduate high school, come see me first.”

I sold that car through the newspaper classifieds, and with one victory under my belt I promptly bought another car out of the same classified section…

I drove a pretty hard bargain on this next deal…the guy selling the car (that didn’t run) told his wife “this kid is learning auto mechanics” and gave me a good deal on his broken car. That car was fixed in no time at all…

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jason Wakefield June 9, 2011 at 8:49 pm

I want to hear more! Interesting read. Thanks for sharing.

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Matthew June 9, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Thanks Jason! There’s definitely more to come. :)

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