The Jalopy Journal
Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 23tub, Apr 14, 2014.
New one on me too. I'd have gone through the same sequence, I think.
I was a parts guy 35 some years ago. I was a lot younger than all the rest of the crew. I got all the shit jobs and they were constantly playing jokes on me. Was a lot of fun.
When you first start though its a pretty intimidating job for a young guy. All those parts books lining the counter. Old dudes (probably younger than I am now lol) coming in and tossing a part on the counter not even saying what it is or what its off of and expecting you to go back to the shelf and just grab one. You learn quickly though and pretty soon you can just look at a lot of stuff and just know what it is.
Thanks for the memory lane trip!
E&M is *THE* place to go in El Cajon! Kenny, Tony, Mike and other good guys over the years -- THEY know their stuff!
When I was workin, THIS is where I went for parts -- STILL go there when I need a part for someone i'm helpin stranded out On the Road --
NICE to be known -- that I kin have the part thrown at me as I come in the door --
[ so I kin head out to the disabled, git it fixed, and come back later to pay ] been nearly 40 years
23tub, Thanks for starting a Good Thread and thanks to all of the Guys that have taken time to contribute Their Stories............... Jeff
I did have some good times at the Chain Store. Most of my Old Hot Rod Buddys would come in when they found out that I was again behind a Counter. My Mgr commented several times about my Customer Contacts (new and old).
Had a Latino Mechanic call one afternoon looking for rubber bushings to fit a Honda "Dog Bone Style" upper motor mount. We did not stock that item and the mechanic's customer was to pick up her car later that night.
I told my Customer to bring the "Dog Bone" to me A.S.A.P. and I would see if I could HELP him out of a Bind. When he got there I looked the piece over and went to our suspension part shelves and spent a little time opening boxes.
When I went back to the Counter I sold him a pair of links and bushings for a Chevelle Sway Bar. The bushings and washers fit the "Dog Bone" to a "T"
Sorry but most Computer Jockeys would not have done this or gone this far to solve a problem.
A Real Honest to Goodness Counter Man can solve the problem and fix the car without getting Dirty (well, not very dirty)........................... Jeff
I have one but I was the dumbass on the other side of the counter. 16yrs old I got my 68 Camaro and it started to make a clunk when I would turn. I was at a friends house and told him about the problem and luckily he just fixed the exact same thing on his 4cly eclipse. So here I go to the parts store asking for the price on a new passenger side cv shaft for a 1968 Camaro! Man did I feel dumb. It ended up being the wheel bearings but ohh well, that's how you learn
I'm old enough to remember parts stores with belts hanging around and rows of parts catalogs... and customer service!
Thanks for the stories fellas.
You should work in the class 8 truck industry. I don't know how many times an owner has come wanting parts and has no VIV. When you ask them for the VIN they say they are all the same. I still want to go to the back and bring out any part and tell them that it will work, they are all the same. They don't understand that two trucks could come down the line right after each other but be speced out different. Thwy just don't get it. The engines are the same, an engine serial number is so important when finding the correct parts for them
I have been into the parts business for the last 19 years. I always said someone should write a book about part store experiences. This thread was very enjoyable to read. Many stories made me laugh, I could relate to quite a few. Especially when the man makes the wife do the talking on the phone. "Mam, please put that a$$hole who know's nothing on the phone".
Great stories, all! I, too, started out in a mom and pop store about 35 years ago. The huge row of catalogs WAS intimidating at first, but I soon got the hang of it. One day an older black gentleman came in and asked for a "spark sprinkler" for his '61 Impala. I did not have a clue, so I asked him where it went and what it did. He held up his hand with his fingers pointed down, began to wiggle his fingers and said that it went on top of the engine and all the cables went to it and it sprinkled the sparks all around the engine. So...from that day on, I knew that a distributor cap was in reality a spark sprinkler!
The difference between a real parts guy and a clerk who only knows the computer.
Well. This thread has turned out much better than I expected! I learned a lot:
1. There are a bunch of ex parts countermen around.
2. All have good stories and are nice enough to share them.
3. A bunch of us are old enough to remember mom & pop stores.
4. There are many "Alternative" ?? names for parts.
5. There are still some real countermen and a few real parts stores out there.
Many thanks to all who have taken time to respond and contribute. I'm sure that there are more stories out there. Keep them coming!
I speak Spanish but it did not prepare me for the Spanish parts slang. I had zero parts knowledge when I started working there as a teenager so that didn't help.
gallinitas (small chickens)= rocker arms
sinfin (without end)= steering box
oh and I learned what a deuce and a quarter was
So I was a parts driver for AAJ on Long Island. Later bought by parts authority. They had a machine shop in the back and that where I built my first motor. My Buick 455. Some of the parts guys still there. The shops I went to. The owner George had something spider he was building. Parts all over the place for it.
Years later I worked a famous B&R performance in Mineola ny. Going to shops all over. The warehouses and the people. All has changed in the parts world on this island. B&R closed this year. Been around since I think the 60s?
Posted using the Full Custom H.A.M.B. App!
Sounds like he was maybe working on a "porch" (from an earlier post).
Thanks. Now maybe I can understand some of the Spanish-speaking members in my car club. Had to check up on the "deuce and a quarter". Thought it was an Army truck, but that's a "deuce and a half". Now I know that it's a Buick. Electra 225.
Had to look this up myself. Didn't know that Glas made the GOGOMOBILE or that the company was later sold to BMW. Very cool.
Still love the roll bar padding story.
Not sure what it was. Long time ago.
They just don't make things like they used to.
Thanks for one from "The other side of the counter". When I was 16, I would have loved to have had a Camaro (but they were not built yet). Had to be content with driving my dad's 52 Chevy.
Not really the parts counter...but -
A friend worked at a respected shop in town with his dad (the owner) on weekends and after school.
One night after school (high school), we went to his familly's shop, he wanted to ask me some questions about the Ford 390 he was building. I guess he was too embarrased to ask his dad..!
The short block had been assembled, but the crank wouldn't rotate. Locked solid, would NOT turn.
So we started looking at things. Removed the cam gear, the cam rotated fine. I started look for a dropped bolt, socket...something inside the block that was stopping the rotation...nuthin.
THEN...I notice...one rod cap is on "backward". That's what it was, a misplaced rod cap.
I never let him forget that..!
One of the delivery drivers told me one of his headlights was out on his corolla. I looked at it and it was the type with the small replacement bulb.
I told him it would be easy to replace, the other side would require a little more work since he would have to pull the battery. Luckily (for him) it was not that side.
So I tell him what to do and he gets to work. I come out a few minutes later and he tells me he is done and about to "test" it out.
He turns the lights on and everything works, huge smile on his face. His first "repair". No more than 30 seconds later the other side goes out right before our eyes, haha.
Have never seen that before.
Dealership parts departments have the additional curse of "I lost my keys" from customers. And the subsequent stories on why they do not have legal proof of ownership required to make sure they own the car. I've lost track on how many times I have been "assured" that it's all legit and I should trust them.
Or one case that still stands out in my mind. 1971, guy comes into the Pontiac dealership I worked at. He had been to another dealership and had already made a couple of keys for his trunk and they didn't work. So Pontiac customer service called us then referred him to us as we had the newest and greatest Curtis Industries keycutter.
He had proof of ownership and a temporary title as it was registered two days before as he had just bought the car used, a 66 convertible.
So after making a couple of keys and calling to verify the code that the customer was given by Pontiac (that they don't do anymore over the phone) I find they don't work.
I tell him after looking at the VIN "Someone must have changed the lock in your Catalina". His reply was "My car's a Bonneville". My reply was "Registration shows a Catalina by the VIN". His reply was "Look for yourself".
Went out there with customer, forgot to state that I was not short or lighweight at 5'10" and 170# but this guy made me look like a child in comparison. Sure as s***, his car was a Bonneville! Asked him if he minded if I opened the door to look at the VIN tag. He agreed, opened the door, Catalina VIP plate, evidenced that it had been bent in half and straightened, Aluminum pop rivited in place. Told him this, was he pissed! And off he went in search of the seller so he said.
Glad I wasn't the guy that sold him that car......
23 tub, I know where you are coming form. How about "zaugas" = shock absorbers, "squibity cap"= distributor cap. Guy comes in looking for brake shoes for a "Mali". "You mean Malibu, "no Mali". "Is the car in the lot", "Yes" "lets go look". Turns out it was a Malibu that the "bu' broke off the emblem he was looking at.
I can DEFINITELY relate to that.Before the advent of Mercedes computer cut keys I was one of the very few dealers that could cut Mercedes-Benz(and other)keys to code.I also did a little lock coding on the side which saved a customer the aggravation of having to order a lock from Germany(about 6 weeks at the time).
Anyway I get a call one day from this guy who has just purchased an older model Mercedes(the kind that had 3 different keys)and it has no keys or codes and he asks if I can help him out.I tell him that as long as he supplies the VIN and assuming the locks haven't been changed I can call the parts depot in New Jersey and get the codes and cut the keys. I only require that he provide proof of ownership.
He becomes all irate and says that he is a big shot in the Registry of Motor Vehicles in Massachusetts and he doesn't need to prove anything. I politely tell him that without documentation I can't help him and hang up the phone.
He calls back a few minutes later and says he is sending down one of HIS officers with the paperwork.I tell him I will be glad to help him.
About 2 hours later a Registry of Motor Vehicles officer in uniform comes walking in and asks for me.If any of you have ever dealt with these people(and I use that term very loosely)you know they can be real assholes.
He drops the paperwork on the counter and says sneeringly" I suppose you want to see my driver's license too?" I replied, "As a matter of fact I do! You of all people should understand why I'm doing this". He scowled but didn't say anything;I figured he was going to REALLY be an asshole then but maybe I had shamed him because he knew I was right.
I called and got the key codes and cut the keys for him and he paid and went on his way.I figured that was the last I had heard of him OR his boss;unless the keys didn't work.
About a week later I get a call from the owner of the Mercedes and he actually apologized for how he had acted on the phone! He told me the keys worked fine and he understood I was just following protocol. That was a surprise!
It looks like this has pretty much run its course.
Thanks to all for sharing your stories.
mu local guy still has his last set of books on the shelf behind the counter , has been asked many times by his distributors sales people why he has them , he will not get rid of them and they have saved his butt many times . as they have pictures of the parts in question in the back .
as for being lost without the books no ... after a while you memorize whats what , what were common parts ( chevys used 4 types of starters, you could swap a 4 post ford solinoid for a 3 in a fix and it will work ) , and the systems on the older cars basically used all the same stuff, not this emissions specific stuff they have now where you cannot interchange parts , only odd ball stuff we would have to look up . and also most of the countermen had a clue as how a engine system worked . most of the counter guys now days are graduates of "do you want fries with that" training ....
Bing I owned them I know what your saying , all my trucks had notebooks for them to save time for the mechanics , had the build sheet printed so they could just open the book and see what was what as even 6 of them were spec'd the same and in sequence of build the motors and transes had a revision in mid series . and also we added Pto's to the transmissions , saved lots of time and headaches ordering parts . and as modifications were done it was notated , doing the same for my Pontiac so if I sell it , it won't be a crapshoot for the next owner if he needs to work on it . or even me .
I would take home any old books when we were sent replacements. Yes the illustration and buyers guides are great reference with the pictures and specs. Still have a many boxes of catalogs at home.
A question for the old timers...
When i started the books were in a weird order on the rack. I was told they were arranged by xxxx index number on the spine. Later when i had my own racki arranged the catalogs by my preferance, but what was that index all about?
IIRc the books were set up by sales , in otherwords parts/brands that sold more were located more towards the middle to Make it easier to keep the book open . I remember all the odd stuff or slow sellers being in the back and front of the rack .
I guess that's better then being a country in Africa.....
Separate names with a comma.