Memories of mechanics who shout angrily

pontiac
bonneville

#21

Not sure what the problem is from a repair standpoint. I buy the chip and replace it. Most chips are very inexpensive, especially those used in mass produced consumer electronics. But by and large, the things that fail are chip transistors, driver chips etc that are readily available and easy to replace.

I bought one of those CHiP dogs online for the holidays. The tiny little watch controller it came with did not accept a charge. After working with their online customer support to get an RMA, I decided it might just be easier to fix it myself. I’m not explaining to a 7 year old that the new toy he just got will be fixed in 7 weeks! :slight_smile: Opened it up, lots of 0402 sized SMT parts etc. Reverse engineered the whole circuit, found likely suspect in way they designed the battery logic. Jumpered around the protection circuit and viola! started taking a charge. If the battery goes completely DEAD, the protection will not allow it to charge. It went dead sitting on a shelf apparently. The CS finally came through and I have TWO functioning watches. All of the parts inside are commercially available and although very small, easy to access and replace. YMMV.


#22

I experienced a hostile mechanic in early 2002. I drove my 1990 Mazda RX-7 about 2 miles to the grocery store and spent 15 minutes in the store. When I turned the key there was no fuel pump sound followed by crank, no start. I checked fuses and they were good. It was a Sunday (my vehicle breakdowns nearly always occur on Sundays or holidays). I called my next door neighbor and he rescued me and my groceries. He recommended a local independent repair shop located a few blocks from my car. A towing service was even closer. My plan was to walk to the repair shop then the towing service the following morning. I told the shop owner what happened and the “Grumpy Old Man” loudly stated. “I don’t do rotaries”! I politely inquired why that affected changing the fuel pump. He turned up the volume and repeated “I DON’T DO ROTARIES”!!! When I told the towing service owner he confirmed the mechanic was competent and honest and added “too bad he’s an A-Hole”.


#23

@sgtrock21 I found an old country mechanic about 40 years ago that his shop by his house. He lived simply. He loved fishing and would drive to the southern part of the state on weekends. He has fixed up an old dump truck and would sometimes drive that down south to pick up a load of coal which he uses to heat his shop and house. He had a couple of Beagle dogs around his place. One of them had pups and my son liked to go with me to play with the dogs and puppies. One time when I went out to have sone work done, he had a rotary engine Mazda in the shop. He told me he had never worked on one before, but accepted the job to see how it worked. When I went back, he had the Mazda running. He told me all about how it worked and how he put new seals on the rotor tips.
About the same time, I had a friend, who was a single mother, who owned a Saab. The clutch had gone out. When she went to the local shops she was told that they couldn’t get parts for the Saab. She then ordered the clutch and related parts from a dealer in Chicago. She went back to the shops and was told that they didn’t work on foreign cars. I told her about my country mechanic friend. She took the Saab to him. A couple days later, he called and said that her car was ready. He wanted her to drive it before she paid him. She immediately noticed that it idled more smoothly than it ever had. The r clutch worked perfectly. When she paid her bill, she remarked about how smoothly it now idled. He said he had adjusted something on the carburetor. She said that it had been to the dealers when she lived in Chicago and was told that was the way Saabs ran. The mechanic then said to her “I had never even heard of a Saab until you brought your car to me”.
I have always been impressed by people who learn and try new things. I thought about my mechanic friend when I was sitting in a department meeting in the math department where I taught. The department chair was moaning about not being able to hire computer science faculty as these people could earn three times as much in industry. I had tsken the only two courses offered in computer science when I was working on my doctorate and these were undergraduate courses. I made the comment that if we couldn’t hire computer science faculty, we should “grow our own”. When my colleagues laughed at my suggestion, I enrolled in a graduate course at a university 50 miles away, taught a full load as well. I made the trip two evenings a week. The following summer, I taught only half time and took two more graduate computer science courses. The tuition for the courses and the commuting costs came out of my own pocket. The Dean of the college then thought it was feasible to retrain faculty. He sent two of my colleagues away for a year to another university, paid their full salary and tuition to do coursework in computer science. When I asked for the same privilege, I was told I was needed on campus to teach computer science classes.
Now, I am not sorry I did this. When I decided to do the work in computer science, I was inspired by the country mechanic friend who wasn’t afraid to tackle a rotorary engine or a Saab with front wheel drive (remember, back then almost all cars were rear wheel drive). I also tried to convince my wife that I should get an old truck and drive down south so I could fish the strip mines and bring back a.load of coal so we could heat our house more economically. Mrs.Triedaq quashed that idea.


#24

Wow! The recent postings after my last one, are absolutely great. They even relate to automotive, heh, heh.

As far as replacing parts on the circuit boards, my daughter’s personal fantasy some years ago was one of those programmable sewing machines, costing thousands of dollars. Her husband worked up a financial plan and she got it.

Last year, it stopped booting. He is a real life Tool Man. Any tool he needs for his cars, he buys without regard to the probability he will use it again. So, he already had a 1500 dollar solder station. When he bought that one, he gave me his old one which was only a couple hundred dollars.

He bought a good meter for measuring ESR on capacitors and started pulling the electrolytics off the mother board on that sewing machine. Most of them had gone bad. He ordered new ones and put them in, and that sewing machine started working again.

He investigated and learned the sewing machine company if you send in your machine and it doesn’t work, they put on a whole new mother board for $2200 or so. Even with an expensive meter for ESR he saved over 1500 dollars with his work.

I asked him if there were a possibility my old laptops, several of which simply stopped booting, could have the same problem. He said he cannot be sure, but it seems possible.

He did put in a different type of electrolytic, I forget what they were called. They should be more reliable.

I forgot to mention in January he took that beautiful old NSX to a car show in his region, and got a big trophy or plaque for the Exotic car class. Second place came from Canada, I think he said. They gave him first because his NSX is original and the other one was pimped. He said they had something, maybe a Triumph, but they said that is not an exotic. I may be messing the details up here.


#25

My personal guess, based on a lot of experience with people, and the details of the story, is that mechanic became fond of the kid, and was willing to take time even if it cost him a few bucks. Personal attachment makes a world of difference.


#26

Some years ago, I read about the PT boats. The book I read said the soldiers coming in were just as you described, and they modified their craft to run much faster than designed. The Japanese were less independent and culturally would not even think of modifying their craft.

I have no personal knowledge. This is what I read.


#27

Yep remember the Normandy invaders in WWII? The tanks couldn’t make it through the terrain so the soldiers fabricated and welded appropriate plows for the tanks. It took individualism, ingenuity, and spirit to get the job done and re-created thousands of times during the war.


#28

Early in the Gulf War and Iraq war solders were often fabricating their own vehicle armor. Vehicles are now mostly if not all MRAP (Mine Resistant Attack Protected), but soldiers were killed during the “learning curve”. It happens in every war. They’re all facing different terrain, different enemies, different tactics, and different armament.

God bless all who serve.


#29

Check this out- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitor_plague


#30

Wow! Another great posting. I wonder if any of these bad caps ended up in automotive electronics, such as onboard entertainment devices, or even the many onboard engine and body computers!

I have to pass this on, to my son-in-law, in case he didn’t see it.

There are people out there who collect and rebuild the beautiful radios from the 30’s and 40’s. I became known by the local radio collectors because I didn’t need the manual to fix a specific radio. My RCA tube manual was all I needed, and I taught some of the more ambitious ones how to do it.

One of the first things to do was to get rid of the old failed electrolytic caps and put in something new and usable. Some show collections could not do this, because the show radios had to be totally original or equivalent. But, in general, we assumed ALL the big electrolytic caps were bad and usually when the wooden furniture of those big old radios was the true value, we did not hesitate to put different appearing caps down inside where they were not visible.

Mechanical parts and speaker cones were sort of like the transmission going out on a high mileage car. It was a very rare individual who could come up with a speaker which would fit in the same place on a radio and have the same parameters.

But, I have been fortunate to know many truly clever people in my life. One example was Lowell Burkhead, inventor of the now probably obsolete Burkhead safety rack used in the past by spelunkers and commandos all over the world. He bought many years ago a 1936 Avon car, with an all aluminum body. The engine bearings went out. A brilliant machinist, he poured new bearings and turned them with an old railroad lathe he bought. It had been used to turn rail car wheels after an emergency stop, which would grind the wheels out of round.

I have never been handy with my hands. I survived because I developed diagnostic abilities for software driven devices, just as avionics was shifting from analog to digital flight navigation computers. I was the pits on mechanical and RF stuff. My buddy was good on almost everything he touched. I taught him software and he tried unsuccessfully to teach me to fix RF and mechanical.


#31

OK, off track, you brought it up, but we did haul it home in my dad’s 61 Chevy wagon. I’ve got my grandfathers 1940 or so Philco stand up radio. I paid $5 for it at his auction and the only thing I have of his. It worked back in 1966 but just found it again when I cleaned the basement out. I’m afraid now to plug it in because the restorers say all the wiring needs to be replaced and the thing gone over. I’m not sure I want to do that yet sure it continues to gather dust. You know the old kind with the ship and short wave bands. I think he liked to try and get Germany on it.


#32

I used to listen to Radio South Africa, and yes, Russian radio on the short wave bands.

Old radio lovers are much like old car lovers. They are all excited about their prize property, and go to great lengths to make it like new.

Ask the restorers how much to make it usable. It is family history and you need not apologize for putting hundreds of dollars into it (if you have it, of course.) Compare that to what people put into their old cars. Tens of thousands of dollars and it keeps on bleeding money every time you start it.

I realize this is blasphemy on a car URL, but it is true. You get that radio suitably renovated and it should work the rest of your life, with no more than a rare tube failure.


#33

When you mentioned “griefkits” it caused me to recall a fellow employee, a military veteran boasting to me way back in the 1960s that he took a course in electronics that was paid by the GI bill or whatever veteran supposed continuation education benefits available that that entailed constructing a color TV from a kit when color TV sets at that time were very expensive. It, obviously was a scam at taxpayers’ expense. I got so angry that I immediately wrote a letter to our senator. it was not very long and that scam was ended.


#34

Which part do you believe was a scam, the veteran’s benefits or the Heathkit TVs?

If it’s the veteran’s benefits, we who were serving were making squat serving our country, which if you’ve never done it entails a far, far, far greater sacrifice than you can ever imagine. Even those who never see combat make enormous sacrifices. It’s the nature of being in the military.

If it’s the Heathkits, I thoroughly disagree. We built them to learn, and because those of us who did enjoyed building things ourselves more than buying them. I still do. Always have. They weren’t paid for by veteran’s benefits unless they were a “lab” part of a course that met the criterion for benefits. Your friend’s course apparently did, but if he hadn’t built the heathkit for his lab work, he would have had to pay for other lab expenses. Electronics courses, automotive courses, medical courses, and many others have lab requirements. They’re an essential and required part of the learning process. It’s only right for the VA to pay for them.


#35

The only mechanical and electronic training I ever had was in Army basic for four months learning to repair teletypes. Luckily my room mate was a mechanical engineer with Alcoa taking the same course. He was always a little ahead of the rest of us but if we got stuck on a problem, he would give us hints of what to look for. Most of the machines then were electro-mechanical but one was electronic so some of it stuck but a lot of it has just passed me by now. It was my first exposure to fax machines though before fax machines, and the logic for transmission was very similar to the just being developed word processors. The instructors used to tell us that when we got out we could get a good job fixing teletypes but most of us had degrees and were ready to work as soon as we got out of there. Now no one even knows what a teletype is and certainly not the fax machines that used a stylis to burn the image.

Did I stray a little? OK, its Friday the 13th, my lucky day but stayed a little too long and the big snow storm started here. Even with tires the car was all over the road with about four inches of snow until I hit the plowed freeway. Some places are going to get up to 12 inches of snow, in April for cripes sake.


#36

68 here right now, heading to 88 today. I’m going for a bicycle ride. We are supposed to get some of your storm here tomorrow… it could rain between noon & 4:00 and temps will plummet into the 70s! Thanks a lot!

If I head out by car during that storm the standing water could cause the Grand Prix to be “all over the road!” Oh, the humanity!
CSA :palm_tree::sunglasses::palm_tree:


#37

Man, you’re just begging for the next hurricane to nail you…

;-]


#38

Possible severe weather tomorrow mid-day and hurricane season starts very soon. You could be correct. I do deserve it.
CSA :palm_tree::sunglasses::palm_tree:


#39

All I can say is watch out where you are walking and riding your bike. I’m down there most winters for a short stint so know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about big black snakes and alligators. I was washing my car down there once and as I was leaning down to clean the side, a big big black snake scooted from one side of the car to the other. BIG BLACK SNAKE. Don’t want to spoil your fun down there but be careful.


#40

Plus… must be a Geico agency nearby. There are geckos running everywhere! We live in a golf course and you’d better believe I’m watching carefully when I pluck a golf ball from a water hazard.

Speaking of golf and bringing it back to cars, golf carts are legal on many roads here! For some they are “cars.”

Thanks! You won’t spoil the fun!

CSA :palm_tree::sunglasses::palm_tree: