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This story hasn't gone out yet... You're the first to see it... let me know what ya think of it.


It will probably be edited for length, and may get cut down ... but I kinda like this version. Gonzo



High in the sky Jeep, the stooge trio

This trio of comic geniuses showed up at the shop one afternoon, the “Talker”, the “Looker”, and the “Nodder”. These three buddies have been working on a CJ for many, many years. Not one of them have any background in mechanics or electrical. But, as usual the “Talker” knew everything. The “Looker” never looked at a thing but performed his task with the greatest level of expertise. He had that 40 foot stare in a 20 foot room, always glancing at something that was not part of the conversation. The ceiling was a common theme, then there is the book rack, the disclaimers on the wall, the usual advertisements on the counter, pretty much anything but not a thing important. I think you could have asked this guy any question about the room, the people in the room, or for that matter probably his own name… I doubt if he could have answered a single question without saying “Huh” before coming up with some sort of ridiculous half wit response. Now the “Nodder”, he was in rare form. There was the quick nod, the slow responsive nod, and ever so popular nod your head so hard that your hair flips up and down, while at the same time maintaining his proper distance from the service counter. His only other function is to observe the “Looker” and “Talker” and confirm that they are doing their part in this trio of humorous delinquents. That only leaves the “Talker”; it’s the classic confrontation at the counter.

“Yes, I’m interesting in finding out if you or anyone here knows how to wire up a CJ from scratch?” he asked.

“Sure, I’ve done lots of them over the years,” I said, quite confidently.

“Well, it only needs a few things done, I just don’t have the time to finish it,” the “Talker” said with his nodding buddy in the back doing his best to stay up with the conversation. The “Looker” on the other hand was busy… you know… “Looking”… at what, I haven’t a clue. At this point I’m starting to wonder about the three of them. Two classic mistakes have already been made.

Number one, “I don’t have time to finish it”, Let me translate that for you… it really means; “I couldn’t figure it out even if the directions were tattooed to the inside of my eyelids”.

Number two, “It only needs a few things” … what that really means is… “You ain’t going to believe how screwed we got this”.

Thus, the quandary of problems that are about to unfold in front of me. The conversation went on with its usual head nods from the “Nodder” and stares into space by the “Looker”. With the never ending … Deeping… hole of unpronounceable automotive terms that the “Talker” was sinking into.

Trying to put an end to all this confusion, without falling into the hole myself, “Where’s the Jeep at?” I asked.

“Oh it’s at our garage,” the “Talker” added, “We’ll have to get it over to you. It doesn’t run right now.”

“Don’t you think you should get it running first,” I asked.

“It’s got a brand new crate motor in it,” the “Looker” jumped into the conversation with his two cents worth of information.

Confused now, I said, “A crate engine, you haven’t hooked up the wires to the engine yet? I guess that’s what you want me to do.”

“No, that’s done,” said the “Talker”, “We finished that up about a year ago. It just needs cleaned up a bit.” The “Nodder” did a hair flip about then… good job, that confirmed it… they’re all nuts.

The “Talker”, the “Nodder”, and the “Looker” all took their turns at the front counter. I use to think I’ve heard it all, and then these three stooges showed up and proved me wrong. Oh yes, this was a several year project, all of which was…. completely done backwards. From what I could piece together, the paint was finished first to a show room luster, while the body was being painted the frame was completely stripped down and powder coated. It took them over a year just to decide on which type of wheels and rims to put on it. Wiring seemed to have come in dead last … or that’s what I thought.

The next day the Jeep showed up on a trailer. Wow, what a superior paint job, all shiny and new. It was a mile high in the air with this huge lift kit installed. There were beautifully chromed engine parts everywhere, all gleaming in the sun. That was about it though. No exhaust system, no coolant, gobs and gobs of wiring strewn all through the engine compartment and undercarriage. Wires were run right through the headers and into the inside of the Jeep. There were no seats, doors, or even a windshield. All the extra wire was wrapped around the steering column or dangled into different cavities. There was no hole for the floor shifter and there was no place to mount the four wheel drive controls. Oh they had everything… in boxes, with assorted nuts and bolts, cables, and wiring. Even the headers will need reworked. The passenger side header was up against that beautifully powder coated frame and, you know, it was more than likely going to burn that pretty paint off. There were no spark plugs, no plug wires, and no throttle cable. It was without a doubt the largest expenditure into a total disaster I have ever seen in my years of business.

The “Talker” was busy explaining his master piece to me while I was busy eyeballing this checkbook gone wild, wanna-be beast of the 4wd world. The more I looked the worst it kept getting. I finally had to put an end to the talkers’ non-stop trip to purgatory.

“Why don’t you take this over and have the exhaust taken care of,” I interrupted him with a sudden jolt back to the planet, “Once you have that done, you could fill up the coolant system, look for leaks and maybe even put some plugs in it and see if it starts.”

I was surprised at his response… he said, “That would be great, and then I’ll get it back to you to finish the wiring.” I was actually hoping he wouldn’t remember that part. But, I’ve done crazier rewires in the past… it’s just another day at the office for me.

Weeks later the Jeep showed up again. This time it had a complete exhaust system installed, however they never moved the header away from the frame. Not only was it poorly put in, but the mufflers were right on top of the fuel pump lines and the electric fuel pump. All of which now will need moved to a better location. I didn’t think this job was going to ever be finished.

My years of experience in this business made me think to keep asking questions to these guys and see how far their wallet was going to stretch. Something told me there was more to this story than… “I don’t have the time”, and “It only needs a few things done”.

I had the phone number to the “Nodder”, I’ll call him.

“How, far do you want me to go?” I asked.

“I think he just wants a rough idea as to how much it will cost, but I think they want you to get it started too.” The “Nodder” told me.

“Ok then, I’ll rough it in, get it started and then write up an estimate,” I said.

“Sounds, good to me,” our friend the “Nodder” answered. I’m sure he was up to his usual head bobbing by now and was working his way to a full hair flip.

As I rigged up some jumper wires to the fuel pump, temporally of course, it was just enough to get voltage to the right spots. Then hot wire the coil and starter. I guess, it’s time to turn it over and see if it will start. A couple of cranks on the starter and huge plumes of fire belched out of the glistening chrome carburetor. Would it start? Not a chance, they had the distributor in 180 degrees off. Pull it out, turn it around and start over again. Oops, just noticed… they forgot the coolant. I filled the chromed out radiator with coolant… it leaked all over the engine. There were gaskets that weren’t sealing and hose clamps that weren’t tight. Another delay, another mess and, more expense just to see if this thing would start. Finally, the leaks were holding… sort of, at least enough to proceed.

Back to trying to solve the actual problem for the day… will the engine run. After priming the carburetor and a couple of turns of the starter motor the gleaming 4wd beast sprang to life… spewing oil everywhere! ! What now?!?!? There was no oil pressure switch in the engine block. Holy engines of chrome! ! Shut it off and put something in the hole. One more try … vroom! It starts and it runs, hey, and it even sounds pretty good. But the water leaks started showing up again. Seems they didn’t use any sealant on any of the water gaskets. This job is never going to end. It’s starting to sound like that old saying; “Stop counting the alligators when all you’re supposed to do is drain the swamp.” Enough alligator counting, I’m stopping! Here and now, I’ll try to make some sense out of the rest of this wiring disaster.

Now this next part of this story shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Not one of the three stooges ever talked to the other one as to what I was supposed to do. The only thing they agreed on was that the “Nodder” would take the phone calls and relay the info. I think poor old “Nodder” just nodded his way into being the escape goat. He doesn’t have a clue, he never did. Well, for that matter, neither do the other two dim wits.

A week or so later with the car resting in the shop, the three dunder heads showed up with a trailer. Now it was my turn to be wrong.


Number one, It was mutually understood between the trio, that they knew it all, and I knew nothing.

Number two, I was too expensive and was going to take too long to finish the job. Geez, how much time did they think I needed? I’m sure I could have done the job within a couple of years… maybe sooner. I’m so confused.

The last word on this one was that they were going to finish it themselves. My question was… when? I’ll be old and gray before these knuckleheads ever figure it out. But I’m a sucker for an old three stooges classic; I’ll sit back and watch this episode unfold. It might be a pretty good story whenever this Jeep comes out of the upper atmosphere and back to planet earth. Ynuk, Ynuk, Ynuk.

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You could make a 30 minute sit com out of this one. Glad to see that I'm not the only one who gets these knuckle heads. This is a true story, right? I mean, you can't make this stuff up.


Joe, all I have to do is go to work each day and I have new material to write about.... and YES... it really is a true story...


I take it you liked the story then.... This story really makes me laugh... it's so typical of the "know-it-all" types out there. Everytime I read it... I can't help but laugh.


To bad I didn't charge this trio of automotive excellence for all the oil dry I went thru... LOL

Edited by Gonzo
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I do like the story, mainly because I can relate to the story. It's like these are my customers, it's the same no matter where you go.


I think it would make a hysterically funny sitcom myself...


It doesn't matter what part of the country your in.... it's all the same... there are stooges everywhere... LOL

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My favorite parts are where you say,


Don't you just love these people who say that when you know they don't have a snow balls chance where it is hot of knowing what to do.


Then you write This also means either they don't have enough money for you to fix it or aren't willing to spend enough money for you to fix it.


Good job Gonzo!


Pretty funny stuff... thanx...for the comments.


and ya wonder why ... when you get a chance to get back to your office you just roll your eyeballs back in your head... wondering... how in the world did the gene pool miss throwing this one out when they had the chance...


Thanx again... you should get a copy of my book... ask Joe... he's got a copy... LOL

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Got it today in good shape. I will probably read some of it this weekend. Thanks!

that's great... hope ya like it...


Don't forget, like I always tell the customer as they are leaving the front office... "Keep it between the ditches.... and off the back of the tow trucks." Leaves em' speechless everytime.. LOL


Later.. Gonzo

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I read the book over the weekend. My favorite story was the one with the two Lincolns who wanted you to make the great swap. After reading your book I think I could write one very similar but maybe with not as much flair. Do you think any of those people migrated to Indiana? I swear that I have dealt with some of them. You may find it of interest that I am passing the book on to my Army Ranger service manager to read. His wife is also an avid quilter. She had taken their master bedroom and made it into a sewing room. She has a $14,000 quilting machine and a bunch of other fancy machines and it is only a hobby.

Thanx for reading it... thanx for passing it on... then tell them to buy another copy... LOL

The stories are all true... the flair is of course to make it more readable and funny. (Mr. Ditto wasn't a happy camper let me tell you)

I tried to keep the stories real and to some sort of basic scenario that I have had other shops talk to me about over the years. That's why they are so easily related to any shop across the country. That was my intention... sounds like I did that from what your telling me. And, I'll bet some did migrate from or to Indiana... LOL


As far as the wife.... www.persimmonquilts.com My wife has written 2 quilt books so far. the first one has become a best seller, the second one will be out late this year. She is very VERY well known in the quilting world. That Army Rangers wife who is a quilter probably knows my wife... but I'll bet she doesn't know... she knows. (she probably has her book) One of the things my wife does is what is called "Quilts of Valor" you can read about that on her website. It's a organization that hands out a hand made quilt to any injured service person. leaving any military hospital.. it's something that she does that I am very proud of.

Oh, and my wife has one of those big quilting machines.... and our entire upstairs is all quilting... she didn't just take over a bedroom she took over an entire house... LOL... I think there is over 150 quilts for service people up there waiting to get done. Have your friends wife go to my wife's site...


Thanx for reading my book... it's a little something that I thought all of us in the business needed to read... because... we ain't alone behind that counter...

Keep it between the ditches and off the tow trucks.. Gonzo

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      Auto shop owners are always looking for ways to improve production levels. They focus their attention on their technicians and require certain expectations of performance in billable labor hours. While technicians must know what is expected of them, they have a limited amount of control over production levels. When all factors are considered, the only thing a well-trained technician has control over is his or her actual efficiency.
      As a review, technician efficiency is the amount of labor time it takes a technician to complete a job compared to the labor time being billed to the customer. Productivity is the time the technician is billing labor hours compared to the time the technician is physically at the shop. The reality is that a technician can be very efficient, but not productive if the technician has a lot of downtime waiting for parts, waiting too long between jobs, or poor workflow systems.
      But let’s go deeper into what affects production in the typical auto repair shop. As a business coach, one of the biggest reasons for low shop production is not charging the correct labor time. Labor for extensive jobs is often not being billed accurately. Rust, seized bolts, and wrong published labor times are just a few reasons for lost labor dollars.
      Another common problem is not understanding how to bill for jobs that require extensive diagnostic testing, and complicated procedures to arrive at the root cause for an onboard computer problem, electrical issue, or drivability issue. These jobs usually take time to analyze, using sophisticated tools, and by the shop’s top technician. Typically, these jobs are billed at a standard menu labor charge, instead of at a higher labor rate. This results in less billed labor hours than the actual labor time spent. The amount of lost labor hours here can cripple a shop’s overall profit.
      Many shop owners do a great job at calculating their labor rate but may not understand what their true effective labor is, which is their labor sales divided by the total labor hours sold. In many cases, I have seen a shop that has a shop labor rate of over $150.00 per hour, but the actual effective labor rate is around $100. Not good.
      Lastly, technician production can suffer when the service advisors are too busy or not motivated to build relationships with customers, which results in a low sales closing ratio. And let’s not forget that to be productive, a shop needs to have the right systems, the right tools and equipment, an extensive information system, and of course, great leadership.
      The bottom line is this; many factors need to be considered when looking to increase production levels. While it does start with the technician, it doesn’t end there. Consider all the factors above when looking for ways to improve your shop’s labor production.
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