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Folks Of Interest Professional Mechanics

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Truckdoctor Andy, Oct 10, 2019.

  1. Some teachers have been surprised when we show them the math we do for things like brakes (pascals law) and electrical ( ohms law).


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  2. Brand Apart
    Joined: Jan 22, 2011
    Posts: 556

    Brand Apart
    Member
    from Roswell GA

    Started at Olds & SAAB in 95. Went to Saturn in 98 then Honda from 2000- 2006. When I left to become a Snap-on man. So I've had the pleasure of working for 3 defunct GM Brands. Thanks Obama.

    I loved working on the cars but started looking to leave when I realized # 1 it became more about paperwork and covering your ass than actually fixing the cars. #2 got tired of seeing the kids who used to be parking the cars when I was already a master tech doing all the gravy while the dealership owners and Manufactures kept finding more ways to pay techs less.

    For the last 13 years I've worked on my own stuff, wife & kids cars plus my Snap-on trucks. So I still feel like a part-time mechanic. 9 years from now I'll retire and looking forward to spending my time playing with my project cars more frequently. Got a Desoto hemi I gotta find a place for.
     
  3. Ziggster
    Joined: Aug 27, 2018
    Posts: 350

    Ziggster
    Member

    One of my wife's long time friends husband started out as a welder. He came from a small town in Northen Ontario where there were not many opportunities. Got into selling promotional items to businesses over the phone, but the business was a scam. Made 6 figures plus for years back in the 90's, but had to quit due to arrests of co-workers. Started out again working in construction as a labourer, and now owns his own renovation company. Makes more money than he knows what to do with, but works 7 days a week. To find decent help he now pays CAN$80/hr. Around these parts no one will work for less than CAN$40/hr as a labourer. My two daughters (16-17) work at the local Timmy's (think Dunkin Donuts) and make CAN$12 plus an hr. Problem here is a single family house in Ottawa is starting at CAN$600,000 plus, and combined provincial and federal incomes taxes are over 50% for most making a good wage.
    My sisters husband two sons can't find jobs as skilled tradesman. One is a certified welder out in Saskatchewan, and can't find any work, and the other in Newfoundland as a certified pipe fitter. Back when oil was selling for over CAN$100/barrel they said we didn't have enough skilled trades people (60,000 plus short), and started brining in foreigners from Europe etc. Times were good out west in the oil patch and in Newfoundland, but prices for homes out west were out of reach for most. A 20' trailer back then was selling for over CAN$200K. Now things are very different, and this is what I remember growing up. My father was a tool and die maker, and worked for large companies, but every couple years he would get laid off. Finally, he got tired of the issues with being a tool and die maker and made the move to a being a general labourer at the local GM plant. Made good money with overtime, and the pension and benefits were amongst the best.
    Choose wisely when you are young. Best is to pursue what you love doing, then it is not work, but one needs also to think about the future. Right now 60% of Canadisns have no pension, so you see many working part-time after their "retirement" at coffee shops, Home Depot, Costco, etc.
     
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  4. CaptainComet
    Joined: Oct 1, 2017
    Posts: 20

    CaptainComet
    Member

    A good friend had been an auto mechanic until he got to about 40 years old. He is 6'7" tall and got so tired of bending over fenders. He decided to start a mobile boat repair business. If anything, he needs a stepladder now.
     
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  5. S10_Man
    Joined: Oct 29, 2018
    Posts: 8

    S10_Man

    The pendulum tends to swing both ways. I retired after 45 years of automotive related electronics, in the private sector first then government. The last job was the best paying, but like all jobs the old saying about the 5th biggest lie is really true- I like working with people. Just some people. Someone gave advice about a one man show here, and it's really true. You can't run your business, do the book work, answer the phone and get any work done. At the end of my career I was the only tech for 3 districts, ran myself ragged trying, ended with a quad bypass. Getting in and out of cars really got old, so as others have said, better think about that down the road. Just do the best work you can and treat everyone fairly, and you'll do well.
     
  6. Starting up your own business is a great idea, but you have to have some capital behind you for those first two lean years.
    You also have to work at a client list, so you know whether or not you have enough customers to sustain the business, and you have to get out into the market and drum up business. If you can talk to some people that you know have started successful businesses, it will be helpful to get ideas from them.
    I have a customer, a journeyman mechanic, that is starting up a mobile maintenance truck. He is happier, but he is not getting much sleep right now.
    I hope it works for you.
    Bob
     
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  7. Pete1
    Joined: Aug 23, 2004
    Posts: 1,658

    Pete1
    Member
    from Wa.

    I started getting interested in cars at 14. I did simple maintenance on my Dad’s car and fixed minor parking lot dents. When I got to high school, I was introduced to machine shop tools and knew I did not want to wrench on cars other than race cars which I was getting interested in more and more.

    Got drafted into the Air Force as an electronics technician/morse radio operator and ended up with a second MOS wrenching and reconditioning M2 and Thompson machine guns.

    Got out and got a job wrenching cars in a gas station. Went back to college part time on the GI bill.

    Got a side job driving a very fast B main sprint car for a friend. Between the GI bill and that I finished college eventually.

    Through racing I met many many people all over the country that became some of the best friends a guy could have.

    Eventually I went to work for an automotive machine shop that had the best reputation in the area and the fastest midget in the country. I was there 29 years. The first 20 were like a dream. All was good.

    Then the owner got on the booze. Eventually he had to sell out. I moved on and went into business for myself.

    The point of all this is, develop skills in another trade (or two) to go to for backup, even if you have to bus tables while you learn it. Do something you look forward to going to work for.

    Over the years, I have never recommended to anyone to wrench on cars for a living. The pay in associated industries is far better with less stress on the body also.



    One more item: when you get to the point that you can run every machine in the shop and teach it, DO NOT let management know that. They will want to either move you into management or out the door and hire 5 kids off of the street to replace you.
     
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  8. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 3,650

    jnaki

    Hello,

    My brother and I were teenage backyard mechanics, self taught, but always listened to our dad’s expert mechanic friend in Los Angeles. Ever since we were little and visited L.A. we always stopped off and had a conversation with him at his shop. Somehow, his expertise was something we wanted to emulate and learned as much as we could. But, as teenagers, we learned by experience.

    What did not work the first time, worked with a few different ways to approach the problems. As long as we did not do the “gorilla” tactics on any of the parts, everything seemed to fall right into place. With those early motors, from lawnmower 2 cycle to 4 cylinders to finally, Chevy V8 motors the breakdown and rebuild was similar in function.


    We learned from experience. Our friends thought of our experience as good enough to help work on their own cars for just about anything. Despite or sad ending to drag racing, we still kept up on mechanics for our daily drivers and the dual purpose 58 Impala. As long as we were able to get in and under the cars, we did our own work and repairs. But, what happened when we got older, with more responsibilities? Well, in Santa Barbara, my brother thought nothing of tearing down a motor and rebuilding it in his driveway. American cars were a snap for him. Foreign cars were the same, but slightly different. But they were similar in many ways and there was nothing he could not spend time doing.

    Me? Our family set up was a little differently, as my wife and I liked to be together in what valuable time we had at the moment. With with the whole world going a little nuts in the late 60s, time together was more valuable than spending countless hours in the garage. So, there were expert mechanics for just about anything on the daily drivers and hot rods. Those professional mechanics had their own thing going. If my brother and I continued on in drag racing and our fledgling engine building business, who knows what would have happened to our futures...


    Jnaki

    If we got stuck by the side of the road as teenagers, instantly the hood went up or a full on search all around the car was a happening thing. These days we see people standing around a car on the side of the road with the hood up, but having a puzzling look on their faces…who knows what has happened with these new computer driven cars? It is like the comedy of watching several men looking down a big hole in the ground… “Yup, that is a big hole…etc.” A lot of us have been left behind by new auto technology. But, the basics are still around, it is the time that is more valuable for us.


    Professional mechanics have been trained to do advanced troubleshooting with all of their new information from computer assistance and their own mechanical skills. So, it is their time to shine and ours to keep having fun driving our daily drivers. Also, it allows us to spend what valuable time we all have left enjoying life, without having to crawl under, over or get inside of a tight fitting coupe or station wagon to chase that mysterious sound or problem.
     
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  9. Even the new cars have to have spark, fuel under compression all at the correct timing to run. everything else is not needed baggage. My father in law ran gas stations. hired a pleasant guy to pump gas. picked a location in a well populated town on a major interstate (Conway Ar). His making money was the service bay and his two wreckers. I drove a wrecker for him. He told me never give a exact price. Always say Probably About Xx dollars Someplace in that price range. And we fixed the break downs. always worked weekends and holidays. Had a parts store guy that would open for us 24 x 7. and we could charge enough to make really good money. Always something different. never boring. And the wrecks he towed in. He parked them at his house. and when the Texaco Co shut him down and made the station into a convienence store. That collection of wrecks became his living he sold parts for a decade.
     
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  10. 2OLD2FAST
    Joined: Feb 3, 2010
    Posts: 1,739

    2OLD2FAST
    Member
    from illinois

    ∆∆∆∆∆∆ them days are gone forever !!
     
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  11. I was always mechanically inclined. I had read a Wright Brother's book in grade school, they had stressed drawing a design first. If it was right on paper, it would be right when you built it. So I would pick up big 11" x 17" graph paper and design things on that. I understood how to scale things to fit. Countless drafting classes later I could crank out professional drawings. Onto the world of CAD.. even better.

    I was always a good student despite dyslexia. I had to teach myself basic math, multiplication tables, etc. I was in the top 10% of my HS graduating class.

    I have a younger brother who hated school, except for shop classes. Maybe he was dyslexic too? They just pushed him through school and he was and is the best auto mechanic I have ever run across. Also right up there with engineering skills and no formal college to back it up. Even with those limits he has done fairly well with jobs. He would be a king anywhere with a 4-year degree. Kids who did poorly in HS weren't herded into advanced classes like I was.
     
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  12. Hemiman 426
    Joined: Apr 7, 2011
    Posts: 480

    Hemiman 426
    Member
    from Tulsa, Ok.

  13. Sometimes, an inability to perform well in one area is more than compensated by a natural talent in another. The trick is, to find the sweet spot. I was in the academic program in school and eventually became a chemical engineer, but in high school, that didn't stop me from taking several auto mechanics courses, and even a course in welding and forging. All the lessons learned, have served me well all through my life.
    A boyhood friend of mine, had serious academic problems in school, but went on to become a commercial artist, business owner, and multi millionaire.
    We need to always keep looking for the opportunity that suits our personality and our ability.
    I never worked a day professionally as an engineer, but when I found that my education would entitle me to pilot training in the air force, I jumped at the opportunity. I couldn't imagine that I would have the opportunity to do the thing I loved most in life.
    Bob
     
  14. It’s interesting because the top academic students in our classes aren’t always who I would say is the best mechanic, and the other way around.


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  15. X-cpe
    Joined: Mar 9, 2018
    Posts: 693

    X-cpe

    My Dean doesn't like it when I say "Just because they are not academic doesn't mean they are stupid." It's unfortunate we live in an "everyone needs to go to college world". I live and work in a county where a lot of parents would rather have their kid sitting at a desk with a diploma on the wall making 50K a year than making double that without one. At the high school level I would have the parents of special ed kids ask me if I thought their kid could do automotives. My answer was that the industry needs everyone from lot boys to company presidents and if the kid loved cars he would find his niche. We are presented with varying opportunities in life. The outcomes are based on ability and effort, which in turn can lead to better opportunities.

    As for the knotheads I taught, being a knothead is a teenagers job. It is when they are supposed to sort out life while they have support around them. Who wants to see 25 year olds pulling 16 year old stunts. By the time they reach their mid 20's the support is gone and the results go on their real "permanent record".

    For all its problems, one of the great strengths of the American education system is its opportunities for do overs. Along with their academic classes and cheap tuition, community colleges offer many vocational programs and a huge number of remedial classes. And you can do them part time.
     
  16. We have trades and academic programs at our college and I always say the only difference is what we are trained in, most degrees are four years, our apprenticeship is four years. One isn’t superior to the other, just different training.


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  17. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 2,748

    Boneyard51
    Member

    J-jock you hit the nail on the head! If you can find something you like and are good at it and make a living doing it...... you will have a good life!
    My Dad was a automotive/ diesel/ aviation mechanic all his life. He had a sixth grade education! He insisted on us three kids getting a four year degree! We did what out Dad said! He also said if I ever though about doing mechanic work for a living .... he’d just knock me in the head now!
    Well..... I worked with my degree a few years....wasn’t for me.
    Found my nich in the world as Master Mechanic for our cities Fire Department. Best move I ever made. I found my place in the world! That’s the secret to success! Now retired after 33 years. Enjoying life.






    Bones
     
  18. I found out early on, if you want to make yourself an asset wherever you work, find that ONE thing that everyone hates to do, master it and make it your bitch.

    In machining, we used to make this one small part, actually many iterations of it too, and everyone struggled with it. I took another approach and it became easy for me. My son works in a machine shop, I told him the same thing.. and everyone balked at gear cutting. Now he's the go-to guy for making gears.

    We broke into doing struts at one automotive shop I worked in. The guy who was sent out for training HATED doing them. I showed this younger kid how to do them, step by step. He ran rings around anyone else with struts. He became a valued employee in a short time.
     
  19. 2OLD2FAST
    Joined: Feb 3, 2010
    Posts: 1,739

    2OLD2FAST
    Member
    from illinois

    The difference is the bank will loan the degree recipient more money !
     
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  20. TCATTC
    Joined: Oct 12, 2019
    Posts: 7

    TCATTC
    Member

    I've been running my own shop for 40yrs. It's usually full of classics and hotrods. I never cared much for working on new stuff and that feeling is getting worse by the day...
     
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  21. badvolvo
    Joined: Jul 25, 2011
    Posts: 369

    badvolvo
    Member

    I started wrenching as a kid, turned into a mechanic in transport refrigeration. I only lasted a few years before they asked me to be shop foreman, then into sales, sold a large deal, made another business out of it. The little spin off became a pretty large tech company. Now I only manage a small division of the company. Around here, the best techs become management, leaving the lesser talent performing the work.
     
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  22. Not here, there’s a lot of people with degrees who are struggling and a demand for tradesmen who want to work


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  23. X-cpe
    Joined: Mar 9, 2018
    Posts: 693

    X-cpe

    And a lot of times management isn't anywhere near their best skill set.
     
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  24. Over the years Ive had about fifty employers. The one I liked the very best was from a Local guy that bought & sold used semi trucks. and he also had a big truck salvage yard. He bought large numbers of trucks. And too boot raced stock cars. No out side customer repairs. and if a used truck needed anything major it was junked. We attended auctions nation wide and used wreckers and lowboys to bring stuff in. Sometimes we pulled stacked trucks. The pulling parts from junk trucks was great. no need to worry about putting it back together. Just the owner and two employees. He paid double what anyone else paid. Sadly he got cancer and died when he was only 56 years old.
     
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  25. 2OLD2FAST
    Joined: Feb 3, 2010
    Posts: 1,739

    2OLD2FAST
    Member
    from illinois

    Let's try again , employed degreed persons are "normally" allowed a higher credit threshold because of Thier perceived and historically higher earning potential ......better ?
     
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  26. My Great Grandfather was fond of saying If borrowing money at interest is such a great deal? Why is that banker the richest man in town? He avoided debt like it was the Plague and so do I
     
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  27. TrailerTrashToo
    Joined: Jun 20, 2018
    Posts: 403

    TrailerTrashToo
    Member

    Unfortunately, that is true.
     
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  28. 2OLD2FAST
    Joined: Feb 3, 2010
    Posts: 1,739

    2OLD2FAST
    Member
    from illinois

    When you start most business ventures that are more than a " one man show" ( and even then sometimes) you need operating capital to have a building , buy equipment , pay employees , buy material , very few can finance a business startup " out of pocket"
     
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  29. Interesting, i've never been asked if I have a degree when borrowing money.
     
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  30. drtrcrV-8
    Joined: Jan 6, 2013
    Posts: 1,164

    drtrcrV-8
    Member

    My mom insisted that I get a degree. OK, I graduated, then the "fire went out", & I needed to feed my wife(at that time) & Son, so I went back to the shops where I'd worked to put myself through school. I LOVE fabrication, but after years of little respect & low pay finally got smart & became an outside UNION IRONWORKER. Finally had REAL Benefits : Retirement(beyond Social Security), Respect for my skills, Decent wages(Outside Ironworkers usually make between 1/3 to 1/2 more per hour than Shopworkers), & Good Medical. Could finally afford a house(& my cars!) on My wages alone. Don't knock trade unions : thanks to our apprenticeship programs we are usually the best trained workers on the job, & we take pride in our work!
     

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