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Folks Of Interest The Vanishing Few

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by hepme, Mar 11, 2023.

  1. hepme
    Joined: Feb 1, 2021
    Posts: 444


    Have just returned from picking up my elco at a real, genuine, old school front end shop and chassis repair. How old? They don’t even have a computer for receipts,credit cards, etc. No computers anywhere in the shop (felt guilty with my iphone). They do everything by hand, measure/adjust, set, etc. Agree on the fix-its done first with a handshake. After the fix, they drive the thing about 5-10 miles to be sure its right. I had upper control arm bushings replaced and an alignment-it was perfect. I’ve used this place for multiple hot rods/cars etc. and never had to take one back. One was for a frame fix. One the way home, i passed a place that advertised “laser front end alignments” and front end repairs. I could see a monster computer, printer, etc. and the joint was spotless, even the guy in there looked great. My place doesn’t even have a sign and you need dirty clothes if you go there. I guess the point of all this is that the real true mechanics, ones that get down in a pit, know every detail before they start, use muscles and hand tools, and simply do a wonderful, if not spotless clean, job are all about gone. I saw them align a Jag rear end in a coupe, no small feat. These types have disappeared and i sure miss ‘em. (got home and there were greasy fingerprints on the bumpers, fenders, etc.--damm, i loved it!!)
  2. The guy that bent my I beams uses bubble gauges in a pit.

    Truck drove incredible

    I still use the magnetic type and strings.
  3. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 2,604

    from kansas

    Yep we still use the original tooling for bending model A style front axles.

    The only computer in our shop is the desktop so we can search online to find hard to find parts.

    We have alot of people come to us because we still use the mechanical plumb bob gauges. With those gauges you have to know what your doing or they are useless.

  4. trey32
    Joined: Jul 27, 2014
    Posts: 321


    Real craftsman
    I try to learn all I can...
    tractorguy, cfmvw, Driver50x and 3 others like this.

  5. Hutkikz
    Joined: Oct 15, 2011
    Posts: 126


    Yeah, we have one here also. Shhh Don't tell anyone but they still only charge me $30:cool:
  6. Hot Rods Ta Hell
    Joined: Apr 20, 2008
    Posts: 4,623

    Hot Rods Ta Hell

    That's great to hear experiences such as these. Whenever you have a true craftsman execute spot on work for you at a fair price, reward them with referrals.
    Tell everyone you know, work with, etc. that they're the best in the business. Folks like these truly found their place in the world and deserve as much clientele as they can handle!
  7. catdad49
    Joined: Sep 25, 2005
    Posts: 6,251


    Hands On work is Best done the Hands On way. My youngest Grand Son has just been accepted in his high school Tech program, there is Hope yet!!
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2023
  8. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 9,122

    from Michigan

    Good people.
    Good work.
    Good post.
    Thank you.
    You hit the feel-good nostalgia nerve on this Sunday morning, and I don't want to read any more posts after yours that might ruin it. Out to the garage.

    Great day, everybody!
  9. goldmountain
    Joined: Jun 12, 2016
    Posts: 4,250


    Check out Strong's Garage. These guys manage to come up with all the old time tools and techniques and try to pass them onto the rest of us.
  10. When I worked in automotive all the dealerships had the laser alignment machines .

    get it green and out the door . No one really understood what they were actually doing on an alignment anymore but getting the dials from green to red so you could make your 1.5 billed hours .

    first shop I worked at we did a lot of restorations on euro crap so camber gauges , toe plates , strings and tape measures straight lines on the floor etc where used to line up frames , cross member and front and rear suspensions .

    once we where done doing what we needed to we drive the car to the alignment shop down the road for the final finish and fine tuning . But just about everything we did with “ primitive “ methods drive straight and drive well .

    These new techs understand codes , switches , sensor , communication lines and system etc .

    but the hands on rebuilding of stuff is gone, not so much no one cares , but why am I going to build a starter or carb or wheel cylinder in a shop that’s billing big bucks by the hour , when I can get a starter for 65 bucks ? Or a wheel cylinder for 12 ? You get the idea?

    It’s a shame as no one uses a vacuum gauge anymore, when I pull mine out the young techs look at me funny but once I show them what a vacuum gauge can tell you they are surprised .

    mused my timing light in the shop last week for the first time in months . Had to show one guy how to use it correctly .

    even using feeler gauges to adjust things is confusing for some as something as simple as adjustments are now “ set for life / non adjustable “

    cool you found an old school shop that can do old school things . I’m trying to show the young guys we hire that there is a skill and an art to being a mechanic that is slowly getting lost to time and productivity .

    It’s fantastic to get your billable hours in and be profitable . Let’s face it that’s the name of the game when you own a business .

    but you get a sense of accomplishment when you can actually fix something and not just replace it .

  11. chrisp
    Joined: Jan 27, 2007
    Posts: 994


    Lasers sound futuristic and fancy for those who don't know any better they think it's impossible to make an error, the problem is if the operator doesn't know how to use it or if he wants to cheat, you're screwed.
    I have to explain from time to time to people how I can get a frame straight with a frame table and fixtures but without the laser thingy.
    I had to straighten a couple of frames with a bubble level and a plumb, one was for an insurance company for a 20's race car and supervised by the regional manager, lucky for me he was old school and was super happy to find someone who could fix that frame without any data nore a jig that doesn't exists anyway.
    More and more people think that you can't do anything without a computer.
  12. Technology……….
    Well. We’re using it now. So before we hate on it, let’s keep that in mind. Some old school respecting guy created a cool place using technology.
    I did frame work (still do occasionally) From pine trees and tape measures to the latest greatest computer aided equipment.
    It’s still length, width, height, stress relieve.
    Strings, tape measure, tram gauge, yard sticks, center line gauges, lasers, computer arms………all do the same thing.

    it’s not the equipment. It’s the user and environment.
    Does the technician care and/or does the shop care.
    I’ve been in plenty dark old school shops with hacks. Same as a super clean shop.
    We’ve got one shop left that bends beams. The guy is very good at what he does.
    Old equipment, with skill to use it.
    I do like the new alignment equipment. It’s quicker than strings and bubble gauges.
    I like the teach with old tech first. It really helps the new stuff makes sense. Plus you can still get things done if in a situation where you can’t use the new stuff.
    I sometimes fill in for techs at shops. Doesn’t matter if their equipment is antique or new. It does the same thing.
  13. Glenn Thoreson
    Joined: Aug 13, 2010
    Posts: 825

    Glenn Thoreson
    from SW Wyoming

    I am old and no formal education but I've learned a lot over the years. I firmly believe these ASA certified "mechanics" are a joke when it comes to old cars. I learned what I know by doing and paying attention to the folks who knew how to do it right. There wasn't any digital nonsense or computers 60 years ago. Never heard of such a thing. How did they survive???? Now, I don't claim to be the brightest bulb in the lamp but I have 60+ years of experience at numerous trades and an excellent reputation. All self taught and listening to the old guys. Before I leave this world I just want to share what I've learned. That's it in a nut shell. Sometimes I'm wrong but that's okay, too.
  14. I’m an ASE master certified hack :):):)

    how in the world do I keep my old cars on the road.
  15. When you go to take the ICAR, they teach you the test then feed you lunch then you take the test. Basically its to cover the Insurance Co. Ass. The ASE test is better you take the test cold and if you know it you don't pass.
    Algoma56 likes this.
  16. 2OLD2FAST
    Joined: Feb 3, 2010
    Posts: 4,739

    from illinois

    To many people. Fixing things , let alone learning how , is wasted time & effort . The satisfaction you get won't pay the bills . Unfortunately , many of the skills we learned aren't really useful in today's world .I have things around here that I fix just because I want to try , the time I spend on them is of no value to anyone except me . life goes on ! The OP's backwoods buddies must have another source of income or don't need to or want to make more / work less like most do now days
    williebill and Algoma56 like this.
  17. Crap. I’m an I-CAR certified hack as well.
    chrisp and VANDENPLAS like this.
  18. Anthony I found your Certified Patch. IMG_8323.jpeg
    clem, LOST ANGEL, 2OLD2FAST and 8 others like this.
  19. 6sally6
    Joined: Feb 16, 2014
    Posts: 2,304


    BEST alignment I EVER had (M-word uses shims for caster/camber)...EVER was in Pryor Okla. Drive it up on the 'rack' and the fella (after he ate lunch) went to work. Drove it around the block and sez ..."your-all-set". Drove it back to Chasn. SC and it was perfect !! Friendly folks and real reasonable.
    In Chan. there's an old fashion drive on "Bear Alignment" pit at a frame shop. ALL old fashion /non computer.
    Sooo they're around
    . (he does spin balancing too...he lost the 'ring' so he just eyeball's it with his finger sticking UP on the front fender.)
    tractorguy, williebill and alanp561 like this.
  20. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 2,604

    from kansas

    In the late 90's I was master ASE, GM, Chrysler certified in all body and frame, it didn't make me any smarter nor did it teach me anything.

    I'll take a guy with either experience or good work ethics over a patch on his shirt.

    Got nothing against certifications but it doesn't mean he is good at its area just that he could read a book and pass a test.

    The road of experience will teach and make a better technician than a book, and yes I believe that reading and learning is part of that process.

    I've been doing frame and suspension work for just over 41 yrs now and to this very day I still get frame jobs in from other shops because their frame guys either don't understand what they are seeing/doing or totally f'd up the job and can't get the the body panels to align. Diamond in a frame is the biggest culprit that they can't seem to either understand or see. Last one was just 2 months ago.

    tractorguy, deucemac and VANDENPLAS like this.
  21. I’ve got a few more certs.
    I guess that explains why I can never find where he spark plugs on a diesel go

    Oh, and I had to take a safety course to go into the mines for one visit. I’m a certified coal miner as well. That’s what the cert said anyway. :):):)
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2023
  22. gene-koning
    Joined: Oct 28, 2016
    Posts: 3,657


    I have all kinds of useful information and experience stored in the super computer between my ears, about as much as this guy could ever want or handle.

    The problem is retrieving it from the aging file system is beginning to become a problem on occasions.

    The next problem is when I expect this old abused body to perform the tasks the computer file system has been able to retrieve.

    This old system doesn't work as well as it used to, but there are times it still works great. I suppose the best I can do is to attempt to share that info and experience stored in my super computer with younger versions of myself, so maybe at least some of it might still be useful when my old file system fails.

    Like most things, the biggest challenge is being able to blend the old computer systems us old guys have with the new computer systems those young guys have. When we succeed with that blend of the old and the new, we create something that is better then either system was or is on its own.

    Are we really going to let a patch, a piece of paper, or modern tools stand between us and creating the great things that can be?

    The old saying: "You are either part of the problem, or you are part of the solution." still stands true, just like it did 50 years ago. Which "part" are you putting your efforts towards?
    MMM1693, X-cpe and alanp561 like this.
  23. GordonC
    Joined: Mar 6, 2006
    Posts: 2,967


    Great guy here in Wilmington NC as well. Robinsons Alignment. I had rough set the settings for my 31 A roadster and wanted someone to check everything out. I drove into Eddie's old shop in a run down section of town. He had me pull out onto a long set of ramps. Got it set into position and went down into the pit and went to work. Nice guy. A car guy through and through. He has a Model A as well as a Vette. Probably other cars too! He checked out the alignment as well as balanced 2 sets of front tires for me. Said the alignment was all in within spec. Told me to run the car for a bit to see if I still had any vibration or wobble. Sent me out the door without charging me a dime! Told me to call him if I had any vibration still and he would dig out his on the car balancer and take a shot with that! He has been there since the 70's I think.
  24. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 12,389


    Well Glenn, let me give you an example here:). I’m helping out a young guy in S Cal, I’m in N Cal on a 218 Dodge. He was born in 99 and is 24 years old. Not a mechanic, but let me explain and let’s pretend he is an ASE Master Tech. When he would have gotten his DL I’d guess it would have been about 8 years ago. Say 6 years ago he started on his journey to be a mechanic, heck, even a lot of his instructors probably wouldn’t have ever dealt with points distributors or even carburetors.
    Realistically, why would that tech even be taught if never/seldom needed at any dealership, etc.
    I get what you’re saying, my oldest (28) daughter is into OT cars, has this little thing she plugs in and tunes it with. She was explaining it to me and what/why she was doing it. I kinda was lost tying to back date it and make correlations to what I know about -however little that is compared to others.
    Just trying to give a perspective
    Hutkikz likes this.
  25. Yea. Hell I know guys in their 40's that do not know spit about carbs or points. They call me!
    2OLD2FAST and Budget36 like this.
  26. hepme
    Joined: Feb 1, 2021
    Posts: 444


    Thanks guys for all the interesting reply's. I'm not knocking the computer based systems nor the operators that use them. One statement above said a lot about them though--they're able to "move" a car through the system fast resulting in more "billable" hours. In my day, reputation, a solid fix with no return, and a fair price was the formula. I guess that's why those garages lasted forever.
    I watched a special on the moon and Mars rovers a while back. It told who actually put together the vehicles, the last hands to touch them on earth. It wasn't PhD's, engineers, scientists, etc.--the folks who actually build them are mechanics with tons of experience. One was a former bicycle mech. These guys are similar to us, they take ideas and then make them work--one way or the other, not always to the design. I thought about that a lot. There's still room for the "common man" in this society.
  27. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 9,122

    from Michigan

    Allow us our nostalgia, Anthony. Just cuz we're using the internet doesn't mean we can't revel in the fact that some people are still doing things the old way. In some cases, it's the ONLY way to do it. And I'm always so grateful to know that somebody still can.
    My buddy, Rick Chapman, owns and runs a generator starter alternator shop. I've taken all my old cars to him. He was always able to make my 6 volt charging systems works so good that my headlights never dimmed even at a very low, straight-8 idle. Hardly anybody else can do that.

    Forgive my slanted perspective today. I watched part of "The Cars That Built the World".
    Oldsmobile, Daimler, Chrysler, Benz, Royce, Rolls, Maybach...
    Amazing old stuff.
    tractorguy and anthony myrick like this.
  28. Fogger
    Joined: Aug 18, 2007
    Posts: 1,777


    I have a friend that has an alignment/brake shop. I've known him for over 40 years. His shop is reasonably busy and all the local straight axle guys only go to him. He bent the heavy axle under my '32 Roadster to adjust the chamber and it was, for, him a very simple procedure. There aren't a lot of makes or models that he can't align including off-road, motorhomes and 10 ton trucks. Years past he invested in the laser system and is well versed in its usage. But he's so competent in the old gauges that the laser system is not his go to. If anyone in So Cal needs a recommendation for alignment call Jerry at Jabear Alignment in Simi Valley 805-578-3590
    VANDENPLAS likes this.
  29. Kind of answered your own question here, methinks . . . !

    CSPIDY and VANDENPLAS like this.
  30. No dig on that aspect.
    But I find it ironic when folks brag about not needing technology while using it to express that sentiment. :)
    Part of my twisted humor.
    As far as certifications, that’s paper work saying you meet certain standards. Or at least have been exposed to them. Doesn’t really mean you are any better than anyone else.
    My work requires them. Plus gives me opportunity to grab as many as I can. Some are required for pay upgrades and provided (funded) by my state.
    And I’ll never understand the negative attitudes towards self improvement or educating yourself.
    But those diversion topics derail the original sentiment of the OP.
    Technology lost sucks. I dont even think we have a rebuilder for starters, alts, water pumps ……..locally. Hard for a business to stay open just for a couple of us to bring a part once or twice a year.
    So I guess we either learn the skill ourselves or just buy new.
    Luckily we still have an old school axle bender. We he goes out of business I guess I’ll have to bend my own.
    I ain’t skeered
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2023

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