Quantcast
Jump to content


Gonzo

Article: Restoration for the Mechanic - - - - sometimes it's great to put down the laptop and pickup the wrenches.

Recommended Posts

Restoration for the Mechanic

Electrical issues on today’s cars have certainly taken center stage. Mechanical issues are still there too, but it’s not uncommon to have a mechanical problem be diagnosed, monitored, or calibrated by some electronic means. You just can’t get away from the electrical if you’re in the automotive repair business these days. It’s taken over just about every facet of the automobile.

Today’s mechanics have become something entirely different from the stereotypical mechanic from just a few decades ago. It’s not that long ago when the electrical section of the repair manuals were just a chapter or two, today… its volumes and volumes of schematics and diagnostic procedures. I’m old enough to remember when points and condensers were still the norm, and I’ve watched the industry go from electronic ignition to today’s electronic jungle of wires and processors. We’ve definitely come a long way with the technology.

Even though I work on all these newfangled electrical wizardry systems on the modern car, deep down I’m still the kid who got a kick out of tearing down an old junker and putting it back together. Now, I’m surrounded by modules, proximity keys, and sensors. Occasionally it’s kind of nice just to step away from the computer and just turn a wrench or two. I look forward to those simpler kinds of jobs, the ones that need a craftsman’s touch and not a box of transistors and capacitors to figure out what to do. Back to a time when a driver was more mechanical involved in the process of operating the vehicle. Heating vents with levers and cables, or a hand choke that needed just the right touch to get it started. No electronics, no service light, just the essentials. (For you younger techs, I’m referring to the days when you actually had to unlock a door with a key.)

 

I still marvel at the ingenuity and engineering of those times. I guess it’s one of the reasons why I like going to old car and steam engine shows so much. It’s all about the mechanics for me. Electronics are great, but to see the early mechanical devices that were commonplace a century ago still amazes me. How they figured it out, and how they made it work is shear brilliance. (If you ever get a chance to study some of those early mechanical systems, you might be surprised how things were accomplished prior to the computer age. It’s quite fascinating… well at least to me it is.)

 

It’s great to be able to step back once in a while and just be a mechanic. Back when things were rebuilt and not just replaced with new. There’s a certain satisfaction in taking a broken mechanical device and making it functional again. It’s those jobs that after you’ve wrestled the components into place, and everything is finished you realize that you’re covered in grease, but for some reason you’ve got this big smile on your face. It’s the look of accomplishment, a smile of pride in a job well done.

 

And while you’re cleaning up the tools, you look over at the finished project still smiling, knowing you’re done and can move onto the next project. It just doesn’t compare to finishing up on a modern car when the last thing to do is watch that blue line steadily move across the computer screen, waiting for it to say “Task completed”.

Not that I’m putting down the modern car, no far from it. It’s just nice to take a break once in a while from the technical mumbo-jumbo and just be a mechanic for a change. Even though it’s pretty awesome to solve a difficult electrical issue, it’s hard to beat a good old fashion mechanical repair. For me, when a restoration project shows up at the shop I get a chance to turn off the laptop and open the toolbox. These restoration jobs are just as much for the customer as they are for me. It’s a restoration of some of my old almost forgotten mechanical abilities. (Yea, I still got it…)

 

We put a lot of trust in the modern electronics, something the engineers and designers of those automobiles from a few decades ago never even though of. Their own ingenuity and craftsmanship kept them going. Components were built to be repaired not replaced. I think it’s safe to say that a car from 50 years ago is more likely to start and run in another 50 years but I seriously doubt a car from today would have the same luck. There again, it might be something a technician/mechanic of that era might figure out how to do by then. Me I’ll still stick with being a mechanic/technician … I still like the physical repair aspect of the job.

The future of electronics in today’s cars is constantly changing; sometimes we notice the changes while other times you can’t physically see them. Sometimes all it takes is a little R&R on an old jalopy just to make me remember how far we’ve come. In the meantime, the latest restoration job is done so it’s time to go for a test drive.

 

I’ll get back to the laptop and the modern car world just as soon as I get all the tools cleaned up… it might take a bit though … I’m still admiring the restoration job and I’ve got some more smilin’ to do.

...

 

Click here to view the article

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites



  • Similar Forum Topics

    • Today is Pearl Harbor Day- Let us all remember

      National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, which is annually on December 7, commemorates the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, in Hawaii. Many American service men and women lost their lives or were injured on December 7, 1941. National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is also referred to as Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day or Pearl Harbor Day.

      By Joe Marconi, in AutoShopOwner Announcements

      • 1 reply
      • 21 views
    • Article: Identifying the Problem with Your Shop

      I have never met a shop owner who didn’t have the desire to be successful. People go into business with dreams of changing the world and to make a positive influence in the industry to which they have dedicated their lives. They’re devoted, sacrifice time away from family and, at times, drive themselves to exhaustion—all in an effort to become the best they can be and make their mark. However, all too often, something happens along the way and the business begins to suffer. While shops owners may start their business with passion and vision, they tend to create a world in which everything revolves around them. When the business is small, the owner pays careful attention to every detail. Every car is repaired with the highest degree of excellence. Quality time is spent with each customer and a bond is created, which gets stronger and stronger as the years pass. As the business begins to grow, the owner realizes that the amount of work to be accomplished each day is overwhelming and hires more employees. Everyone is working, but not necessarily with the same culture the owner has. They do their job, but they are not really aligned with the goals and vision of the owner. The shop owner continues to work on his or her skills, learning everything that is needed to run a successful business. After a number of years, the shop owner becomes skilled at running a shop and proficient in nearly every aspect of business, except one: the area of people. And that is when the downward slide begins. The owner recognizes that, in spite of the dedication to excellence, things are not right. The shop owner has established the goals of the company and put everything in place. Everything is attainable. But it’s not working. Frustration sets in, and it’s not long before the owner begins to complain about the lack of performance and drive from the employees, which is the perceived root of the problem. Well, the root of the problem is the owner. We all know that running a business is not a walk in the park, but if your business is struggling, you, personally, are struggling. If your people are not performing the way they should, then you are not performing the way you should. Granted, there are employees that are a problem, and if that’s the case, they need to go. But even superstar employees will turn sour under poor leadership. There are endless issues and problems you encounter each and every day, and some of those problems are out of your control. But, excluding a cataclysmic event, you can trace most of your problems back to you. You are the shop owner, you are the leader. The strength of your business begins and ends with you. Given two equally talented ball teams, the difference between winning and losing is usually leadership. Employees need to know you care about them. The people you employ have vision and goals, too. Not the same as yours, but real nonetheless. One of your jobs, as leader, is to align their goals with yours. We throw this leadership term around a lot these days, and for good reason. It’s the most powerful skill you have in terms of getting the results for which you are looking. The horrible truth is there are too many bosses and not enough leaders. Anyone can be a boss. Bosses order people around. And people will follow, but not for the long term. A leader motivates others by understanding what drives the individual. A leader gives credit to others, never seeking gain at the expense of others. Next time you walk through your shop, pay attention to the mood of your employees. Are your employees laughing and talking to each other? You know, having a little fun at work. Do your employees look to engage in conversation with you, or are their heads buried under the hood of a car as you pass them by? Even worse, does everyone stop talking when you are around? These are signs that your employees are not engaged, which means they are not aligned with the goals and vision of the business, and you are not aligned with theirs. A leader finds out what’s important to others, and works to help them achieve it. Aligning the goals of the individual with the goals of the company will achieve great things. When employees are respected as people, they become motivated and perform at their best; not because they are told to, but because they want to. This is the highest form of team spirit and becomes your driving force toward success. This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on October 1st, 2018
      View full article

      By Joe Marconi, in AutoShopOwner Articles

        
      • 0 replies
      • 71 views
    • Article: Restoration for the Mechanic - modern repairs, old mechanic

      Restoration for the Mechanic Electrical issues on today’s cars have certainly taken  center stage.  Mechanical issues are still there too, but  it’s not uncommon to have a mechanical problem be  diagnosed, monitored, or calibrated by some electronic  means.  You just can’t get away from the electrical  if you’re in the automotive repair business these days.   It’s taken over just about every facet of the automobile.         Today’s mechanics have become something entirely  different from the stereotypical mechanic from just a  few decades ago.  It’s not that long ago when the  electrical section of the repair manuals were just a  chapter or two, today… its volumes and volumes of  schematics and diagnostic procedures.  I’m old enough  to remember when points and condensers were still  the norm, and I’ve watched the industry go from  electronic ignition to today’s electronic jungle of wires  and processors. We’ve definitely come a long way with  the technology.   Even though I work on all these newfangled electrical wizardry systems on the modern car, deep down I’m still the kid who got a kick out of tearing down an old junker and putting it back together.  Now, I’m surrounded by modules, proximity keys, and sensors.  Occasionally it’s kind of nice just to step away from the computer and just turn a wrench or two. I look forward to those simpler kinds of jobs, the ones that need a craftsman’s touch and not a box of transistors and capacitors to figure out what to do.  Back to a time when a driver was more mechanical involved in the process of operating the vehicle.   Heating vents with levers and cables, or a hand choke that needed just the right touch to get it started.  No electronics, no service light, just the essentials.  (For you younger techs, I’m referring to the days when you actually had to unlock a door with a key.)     I still marvel at the ingenuity and engineering of those times. I guess it’s one of the reasons why I like going to old car and steam engine shows so much.  It’s all about the mechanics for me.  Electronics are great, but to see the early mechanical devices that were commonplace a century ago still amazes me.  How they figured it out, and how they made it work is shear brilliance.  (If you ever get a chance to study some of those early mechanical systems, you might be surprised how things were accomplished prior to the computer age. It’s quite fascinating… well at least to me it is.)      It’s great to be able to step back once in a while and just be a mechanic.  Back when things were rebuilt and not just replaced with new. There’s a certain satisfaction in taking a broken mechanical device and making it functional again.  It’s those jobs that after you’ve wrestled the components into place, and everything is finished you realize that you’re covered in grease, but for some reason you’ve got this big smile on your face. It’s the look of accomplishment, a smile of pride in a job well done.  And while you’re cleaning up the tools, you look over at the finished project still smiling, knowing you’re done and can move onto the next project.  It just doesn’t compare to finishing up on a modern car when the last thing to do is watch that blue line steadily move across the computer screen, waiting for it to say “Task completed”.   Not that I’m putting down the modern car, no far from it.  It’s just nice to take a break once in a while from the technical mumbo-jumbo and just be a mechanic for a change.  Even though it’s pretty awesome to solve a difficult electrical issue, it’s hard to beat a good old fashion mechanical repair.  For me, when a restoration project shows up at the shop I get a chance to turn off the laptop and open the toolbox.   These restoration jobs are just as much for the customer as they are for me.  It’s a restoration of some of my old almost forgotten mechanical abilities. (Yea, I still got it…)     We put a lot of trust in the modern electronics, something the engineers and designers of those automobiles from a few decades ago never even though of.  Their own ingenuity and craftsmanship kept them going.  Components were built to be repaired not replaced.  I think it’s safe to say that a car from 50 years ago is more likely to start and run in another 50 years but I seriously doubt a car from today would have the same luck. There again, it might be something a technician/mechanic of that era might figure out how to do by then.  Me I’ll still stick with being a mechanic/technician … I still like the physical repair aspect of the job.     The future of electronics in today’s cars is constantly changing; sometimes we notice the changes while other times you can’t physically see them.  Sometimes all it takes is a little R&R on an old jalopy just to make me remember how far we’ve come.  In the meantime, the latest restoration job is done so it’s time to go for a test drive.    I’ll get back to the laptop and the modern car world just as soon as I get all the tools cleaned up… it might take a bit though … I’m still admiring the restoration job and I’ve got some more smilin’ to do.  
      View full article

      By Gonzo, in AutoShopOwner Articles

      • 2 replies
      • 94 views
    • Aftermarket Parts Issues Driving Me Up A Wall!!!

      There are days I want to set the place on fire (sometimes just customers cars) ok just kidding. I seem to be getting a streak of problematic parts lately. I am so tired of reps telling me about quality, oem specs, warranty blah blah. My main supplier is AAP. Here are some examples below. - 2000 wrangler needing rear axles due to bearing failure. Ordered Dorman axles and both had fitment issues where once installed the differential pin wouldn't fit in due to improper clearances on the axle. Ordered another brand online Yukon Axles. - 1995 Lexus SC300 (mint cond, low miles) Felpro valve cover gasket was manufactured too thick and didn't fit in the groove on the valve cover. Ordered from Lexus and fit fine. - Forgot the year (Chrysler van) water pump with a pulley that wobbled and even the online reviews had the same issue.  - 1993 Wrangler water pump machined incorrectly where once bolted to the block, the ears of the pump where the ps pump bracket bolts to was not machined correctly and if you tried to bolt it on it would bend the water pump. Ordered AC Delco (i think) from Cold air distributors and worked fine. - 1999 Lexus ES300 front left brake hose manufactured incorrectly. Ordered another brand, probably Raybestos from Cold Air Distributors, and all is well. - 2003 Taurus 3.0 OHV timing cover from Dorman 635-117. Online reviews had some issues but the oem unit was expensive. I ordered 3 before I found one that was machined good enough then installed. Came back a while later leaking. I ordered a replacement under warranty and the quality control was horrible. Just ended up getting the ford one and looked and seemed to work great. Time will tell - 2005 Honda Element Monroe struts all the way around (these are the ones) in the front like the civics where the strut has the bracket where the tie rod bolts to. Left front was fine. Right front couldn't get aligned properly as the bracket for the tie rod was welded on at the wrong angle. Went through a couple from the local parts store then I think Monroe sent me a strut that was tested to be ok on their manufacturing/ quality control/ measurement jig and it still failed. They paid to have the old Honda part sent back for inspection. I think i ordered KYB for the front and all was well.  I use the AAP Wearever Platinum which have been great brake pad material and braking, but lately they don't fit properly and I have taken video to show the reps and I believe when the backing plate is cut, there are imperfections where it wont fit into the caliper bracket without me grinding the backing plate on the edges. The actual manufacturing company for them sent a rep to a local AAP BBQ event and I talked to him and he is very aware and they supposedly changed the manufacturing process to address this issue but recently I did a brake job and had the same issue then installed Akebono and all was well. I am considering switching to the Wagner TQ which they stock as well. They give me an across the board pricing on the Platinum pads of $34.99 on most vehicles. Has anybody got a good pricing structure on the Wagners? AAP gives a 3 month parts and labor warranty on pretty much everything they sell. The labor is reimbursed on my parts account at 1/2 my shop labor rate times the book time. The problem is I still have to write up an invoice showing that I replaced the part and didn't charge the customer, and spend time calling their hotline and explain what happened, then fax or scan and email the original invoice, warranty invoice, original parts invoice with the claim numbers and I still have to call and check in to make sure the claims have been processed and paid out. This takes time and is not very encouraging. Otherwise the parts themselves have the standard warranties, 2 year, 3 year, lifetime, etc. though this still requires me to redo the repair that should have been successful the first time. I am the owner and mechanic and I waste so much time in the office dealing with parts, Calling manufacturers tech support lines, taking measurements, sending pictures of parts problems. Then if I cannot get it resolved having to research another part. The Dorman timing covers were terrible. the metal was porous and i sent them a screenshot of their website talking about "High quality plastic or metal construction resists warping, cracking and porousness". I am surprised that these companies don't look at the reviews of their own products and correct the issues. I do need another technician so I don't have to wear so many hats but in the meantime how do you folks deal with these types of issues.  The other issue is because I am not a high volume purchaser, although it is getting better as I grow, I have to purchase the majority of my parts from AAP to keep myself on a reasonable tier level. If I spread my purchases around then I can fall off the tier level in a short time. I like AAP and they have a warehouse near me and have a vast inventory available locally as opposed to other suppliers. Most of the stuff I get is name brand stuff to avoid junk parts. I like Moog, National, Motorcraft, Delco, Etc so its not like I am trying to be cheap on everything, I just seem to get burned a lot. When the commercial reps come by, it is usually to check up on business and try to sell me something or a service or a package deal, however when I show them the issues I am having, they really don't or cannot do anything other than listen and tell me about their "quality parts". I ask for the numbers to the engineering departments to try and at least get some of these issues resolved and I cannot get through. How do ya'll deal with these situations?

      By [email protected], in Automotive Products & Services

      • 21 replies
      • 893 views
    • Article: The Ghost Mechanic - those mechanics that seem to leave evidence of their bad work that you find... or was it a mechanic after all?

      The Ghost Mechanic          Creepier things have happened, but rarely do things go without an explanation.  This time around it’s the mystery mechanic who seems to have been working on this guy’s car, or maybe not.  Maybe it’s that ghostly mechanic who haunts people’s cars on quiet neighborhood streets in the middle of the night. You know, that guy who leaves nothing but telltale greasy finger prints or unattached wire harnesses, or even loose bolts where loose bolts shouldn’t be. This job was no exception to the antics of the invisible mechanic’s handy work. It’s a mystery worth solving.          A Chevy HHR was towed in for a no start condition.  It wasn’t exactly a no start; it was more like a poor starting/running condition. When it would run, the poor thing sounded like it was on its last trip to the garage and its first trip to the salvage yard.  Trying to beat it to its last ride on the tow truck, I hooked up the scanner to see what inner mysteries were present.  Code P1682 (Ignition 1 switch circuit 2), but I wasn’t done yet. Time to do a complete health check on all the modules.  Sure enough, the ‘U’ codes were off the charts.  Seems we have a lot of low voltage codes causing a problem.           A quick check of the wiring diagram showed the power led to a voltage input lead for the PCM, TCM, and several other circuits that would definitely lead to a rough, hard to start, non-cooperating HHR. This may turn out to be a simple problem after all.  Could be wiring, a component, or perhaps a fuse box problem.  A quick glance at the fuse box didn’t reveal much, but I should probably take a closer look at that fuse box.  Maybe go as far as physically checking the actual fuse circuit.  Hmm, something is amiss here. The fuse is good, but the fuse is in the wrong slot. The slot that it’s in should be an empty slot. Seems somebody was fooling around under the hood and didn’t put the fuse back correctly.             Might as well try moving the fuse back to the proper location.  Well, imagine that, this old HHR starts right up!  OK, it’s not running the best . . . yet.  Do a little throttle relearn and it runs as good as new.          After rechecking the related circuits for any damage, or out of place items I gave the HHR the once around the block test.  Runs great, sounds great, no warning lights, no unusual noises, seems fine to me.  I guess I’ll write up an invoice on this job and call the customer.  As I closed the hood, the telltale greasy hand prints from the last guy who was under the hood were everywhere.  I think I spent as much time cleaning this guy’s hood as I spent diagnosing the problem. I gave him a call and explained to him, as best I could, what I had found. Although, I did have that one nagging question regarding who had worked on the car previously. I really wanted an answer to that question.   "NOBODY" … are you serious?  That’s when I explained the entire repair all over again.  Between the greasy finger marks on the hood and fenders, and the fuse in the wrong place, I’m afraid I’m not going to buy the story that the mysterious ghost mechanic has struck again. His only explanation came down to the whole thing must have been a poltergeist or something. Or ‘someone’ not ‘something’ is a better way to put it.  I’m not buying the ghost mechanic theory. At this point, he seemed to be more intent on finding out the final bill, and not so much on solving the mystery of how the fuse mysteriously moved into a different slot. But, before I gave him the total, I recommended he perform an exorcism on his car, since ‘NOBODY’ has been touching it.  His response, "How much more will that cost me?” Seriously? Now, I’ve been asked to do all sorts of things to a car, like put a helicopter landing pad on the roof, remove a varmint from behind the dash, or turn a Prius into a tow truck, but I don’t think I’ve ever been explicitly asked to do an exorcism on the family truckster.  Actually, I’m starting to put this whole thing together.  The mystery mechanic is none other than this guy himself.  His answers to certain questions, and how he told his story were a dead giveaway as to who the ghost mechanic was. I swear some people just can’t be honest and admit when they’re beyond their learning curve.  We both might have had a good laugh over the whole thing, but instead this guy wants me to drop the price in half, since it was such an ‘easy’ repair and all, and ignore the whereabouts of this seemingly ghostly apparition with the mindless ability to screw up the family car. But, since this guy wouldn’t own up to it, even with the evidence of his very own greasy paw prints, he’s in for a lesson of honesty, awareness of his own abilities, and how to pay for a professional diagnosis. It’s just another case of the mechanic solving the mystery of the proverbial ghost mechanic.  Debunking wives’A tales about the modern automobile, supernatural occurrences under the hood, and apparitions that seem to move fuses around is just another duty of the modern mechanic. Oh, and don’t think you’re the first person who’s tried the ghost mechanic as your method of passing the blame… you’re not.  Every good mechanic has performed their fair share of exorcisms in the past and have seen the results of the mystery mechanic and his endeavors.  We know who you really are.
      View full article

      By Gonzo, in AutoShopOwner Articles

      • 2 replies
      • 298 views
  • AutoShopOwner Sponsors



×