Shop Talk

Sometimes, what we know is what we get known for.

Andy Bolig - May 10, 2012 10:00 AM



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I can remember times when I was much younger, going “into town” where my brother lived, only to see him constantly working on a car.

Sometimes it was his car, since he drag raced it, and usually found the next weakest link during a track session. Many other times, it was someone else’s car that they brought over for him to help decipher some troublesome habit that it had picked up along the way. We lived a good distance from town and I can remember thinking to myself how few times I found a friend in need at my toolboxes. Maybe it was our location, maybe they knew something that I couldn’t admit at the time.

Either way, that doesn’t seem to be a problem anymore. Not that I’m complaining or anything, just that I was reminded of this fact recently by my neighbor. He and his wife were on their back porch (which we can see from our driveway) and, since it was a nice evening, my two sons and I took a quick walk from our garage over to their fence-line. He greeted us with an interesting statement, “Somebody over here start an engine or something?”

Somehow he got the notion that I do a fair amount of tinkering on things that exhibit compression, fuel and spark. Maybe it was all that engine-running late at night when the only sound over the crickets might be the resonating blasts from an unrestricted exhaust pipe. I don’t know. However he came along to believe that, he’s apparently not alone, as it seems those days of dusty tool drawers are securely a thing of the past.

Sure, it takes some time to juggle between work, working on their stuff and working in time for family. But, the returns are usually greater than the investment and since MOST of the broken items aren’t your stuff, it keeps it pretty interesting and varied. Whether changing out the switch in an air compressor, welding up something or even fixing the wheel on a neighbor kid’s bicycle, usually the tasks are relatively simple. Sometimes, the biggies can bite you but they also are an opportunity to learn.

I know all the dangers of having an “open shop”, like lost tools or more nefarious results, but also there are a lot of benefits as well. We talk about introducing others into our hobby/obsession and sometimes, just letting them see the benefit of knowing how to work on, and fix things, can bring them into the fold. Maybe they won’t be restoring any rides in the near future, but you never know, you might just gain a good friend to go to events with you.

And let’s not forget those return favors. I’ve got a ’32 Chevy body that needs to come off of its frame sometime soon and guess what, that mower that works great now, you can ride it over to my garage and help lift it off when the time comes.

Maybe it has to do with the neighborhood that we live in, since we’ve got great neighbors all around us. Some folks might not be able to say the same – I understand that. It also seems to explain the situation where I used to live because now, apparently if my neighbor’s words are true, there’s a big neon banner that resides over my garage door that reads, “To all broken tools and trinkets, herein resides ‘That Guy!’ ”