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Kindly old time mechanics...any stories?

isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
edited April 2014 in General
It seems that in today's world, there are no more
old time mechanics left. Lots of "technicians" who
usually replace things rather than repair them.
Just the way it is today...

Once, as a broke 17 year old, I was driving back
to LA from Seattle with a buddy. We had barely
enough money for gas and food, as usual.

Well, the generator light on my 1962 Buick Special
came on! We were somewhere on I5 in Oregon.

We managed to get it into a gas station that was
so old it had a pit instead of a hoist!

We could tell that the kindly old gentleman was
about to close. Still, he offered to take a look.

After declaring the generator to be kaput, he
looked us up and down, looked at the CA plates, and
said.."trying to get home, boys?"

I made the mistake of asking him what it would
cost to install a rebuilt generator.

" I don't install cheap rebuilds, son, I'm a
mechanic...I repair things!"

Slowly, he unbolted the generator and carried it
to his workbench. "Brushes are shot" he said.

He pawed through some boxes of junk and found a
set of used brushes. He cleaned the junk out of
the old generator, sanded down the communtator
(sp). He reinstalled the generator and it worked
like a charm.

" Well...can you guys afford five dollars?"

We about fainted.

As we went to get into the car, he put a hand on
my arm and said to me..." Son, ALWAYS help a
person, especially a kid, that needs helping"

I'll never forget his kindness.


  • mmcswmmcsw Posts: 29
    Wish I had one like it, but I'd like to offer this instead:

    A HFD(Helpless Female Driver) pulled into a rural gas station and complained to the old timer mechanic that her motor was making an unusual noise. The crotchedy old geezer pop the hooded, listened to the motor, considered the situation for a while, went to his tool laden work bench, extracted a 32 oz ball peen hammer, then precisely whacked the motor with said hammer, whereupon the noise stopped. He then asked the HFD for $25. She indignantly asked how could he charged $25 just to hit a motor with a hammer, to which he replied that he was only charging her $1 for the hammer blow, but $24 for knowing where to hit it.....

    Feminists- please forgive me the term HFD, it's part of the joke, my daughter is actually quite mechanically minded...
  • and there was a guy who owned a service station in one of the villages - only one for about four different villages. Nothing special, just a couple of gas pumps and a pit. Gas was provided by a company called National, whose one claim to fame is that they brought Smurfs into this world. Long since swallowed by BP, but I digress.

    Anyway, I don't have a story of rebuilding an engine for 1 pound, but I always remember the different things he had sitting outside. At anyone time he would have any number of different mechanical disasters sitting outside his shop - the old lady's push lawn mower, a kids bike needing a new brake cable, you get the idea. And like as not, if it wasn't a car it would get done for nothing.
  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    When I first got my 55 Pontiac, the generator had a rear bushing so worn it caused the armature shaft to do an elliptical dance, which soon fried the works. There's a shop near where I work called "Albany Magneto" now changed its name to "Albany Tractor". A friend had told me to take my generator there. Turns out a lot of farm machinery uses generators, magnetos and starters identical to those used in cars of the 50s and 60s. Anyway, this place had all the parts in stock, plus a supply of new and rebuilt generators and startors of all shapes and sizes. I took it in in the morning, picked it up after lunch, completely rebuilt-even painted-for 40 bucks. A few years later, I had some charging problems again. Took it back to same place. The guy took me back to his work place [with open door looking out on cow pasture] and I watched as he put it on the "growler", tested it and found the problem. I forget what the problem was that time, but he fixed it up on the spot and I took it home for a few bucks. Hey, these days, that kind of place is rare!
    I just returned from a 10 day trip to the bay area, and I couldn't believe the rat-race traffic!
    Sure don't think you could find a shop like that in Los Gatos anymore!
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    No, it's been replaced by a Starbucks.

    Back during the Grant Administration, I bought some stuff for my first Studebaker Hawk at a Palo Alto auto parts store which, by some strange quirk, is not yet a Starbucks. The store had an old-time machinist in the back who turned out to be the local Stude guru, so I started hanging out with him talking cars. He was always friendly, even though he was well into his 60s and I was 17 and taking up his time. Now that I'm not 17 I know how hard it can be to relate to teenagers, but he did well. Maybe he thought he was passing on the torch.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Back in the mid-seventies, my best buddy finished his degree at San Jose State and decided to spend a couple of months travelling the country.

    He found a buddy, loaded up "Gomer" and headed out.

    Now, Gomer was a 1959 Chevy Station Wagon that he had bought two years earlier for 35.00.

    The body didn't have a straight panel but it was rust free. It looked terrible but for some reason, ran especially well. It was a 348 with Powerglide.

    Now, in those days both of those guys had VERY long hair. Not too popular in all places.

    As I understand it, Gomer's radiator blew up in the middle of Iowa somewhere. In addition, one of the U-joints had been complaining for some time.

    Money, of course was tight and a new radiator was out of the question.

    They limped into an old gas station that just happened to have a small junkyard across the street.

    The mechanic either took pity on them or simply wanted "them hippies" out of town.

    He loaned my buddy some tools and worked into the night helping them micky mouse a radiator out of an old Ford truck into Gomer. The U-joint was also replaced with a used one that worked!

    His charge was something like 30.00!

    They rest of the trip went well and Gomer enjoyed a very long life.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Reminds me of when I tried to take a '61 Falcon wagon over the Sierra, fully loaded with three hippie wannabes and their camping gear. This would have been in '71 or so, because I heard the Stones' Exile on Main Street for the first time on the car radio. 85 horsepower just didn't go far enough, and as soon as we hit the foothills we were pulling over every few miles to let the engine cool down. It's a wonder we're not still out there by the side of the road. My passengers had to hitchhike over Yosemite Pass, which didn't seem to please them. We could have used a kindly old mechanic to swap in a 289.
  • In '74 I purchased a '62 Chevy 6 cyl. Nova,good running car. Although,I guess all the road salt got to it. One cold night as I was driving, I noticed that the accelerator pedal disappeared, all of a sudden this blast of cold air rushed in from the floor. a sq ft. hole developed in the floor pan and the accelerator pedal fell out!Luckily, the actual throttle linkage is attached from above and only the plastic foot pedal fell out. I placed plywood in the hole and it was good as new. A few months later I was stopped at a light and noticed that the hood of my blue car was turning black . Well, I had no clue what that was all about, all I knew is that is was late for my music lesson. When the light turned green I floored it.. drove for another 50 ft. than smoke started billowing from every opening and I lost my violin in the smouldering soot. Michael
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Michael, great way to get out of music lessons.
  • When we first got out of school, two of my buddies worked in gas stations. All of us had hot rods and were real fanatics about anything w/four wheels

    Story #1
    the 7PM oil change. My buddy Eddie worked at a station, and always had the night shift. I remember a buick special coming in with the 215 aluminum engine. He wanted an oil change. Well the car went up on the rack and for the first four minutes, all that came out of the engine was water. Told the guy he needed a head gasket and he said "sonny, I've been driving it like this for five years. I change the oil every week and it runs fine!"

    Story #2
    My car was a '56 BelAir with a 283 bored to 292 and of course, solid lifters, 11.5:1 pistons and a 780 Holley carb... cheap headers and a Muncie four speed. 4:56 Posi ... nice paint ... hmm i'd sure like to have it NOW!

    Anyway my buddy was driving a '62 Chrysler wagon with a 413, new paint, Cragar S/S mags and home made fender well headers.

    Obviously my car beat him off the line every time. and of course, he would rip my pride a new hole every time he blasted past me at 80!

    The only time we raced on a strip was right after the police sanctioned Beeline Dragway to open on Saturday nights as a last ditch effort to keep us off the street (1972 there were lots of fast cars in the Phoenix area)
    Well Mark and I get on the line, and I am wound up tight preparing for one of my 7,000 RPM launches. Mark's old 413 was wound up too, probably a loud 4,000 but making all kinds of noise. Well, I launched on the green and turned a 14 Second 1/4 ... and my buddy had run outta gas on the starting line!! One thing about that old wagon of his: the gas guage never worked!

    Me and my trusty not yet rusty '56 again on the starting line at BeeLine Dragway. Along comes an American Motors Gremlin sporting a 401 and he too was making a lotta noise!
    I wound up for another 7,000 launch and so did he ... then he WAXED ME SO CLEAN I COULDN'T SEE STRAIGHT! That ol' [non-permissible content removed] Gremlin turned 11.5 seconds and I was of course still in the teens! I was the laughing stock of all my friends. Paul's clean, fast '56 beat by a Gremlin!

    I remember one weekend pulling the 4:56 posi member out and putting back in the original 3:08 so I could drive my beauty to northern AZ to visit Grand Canyon and a girl in Flagstaff. (Remember those old Pumpkin-style rear ends? You could change gears in a half hour! Pop the axles out about a foot either side, pull the U-Joint and remove/replace pumpkin. Oh they joy)

    Anyway, I was taking the long way to Flag using 89a through the mountains instead of the Interstate. A young man's dream come true ... there was a girl at the side of the road sitting on the hood of a TR6 that was broke down. "You need a ride?" She looked at my car and said hell yea! I drove her into Flag and we called a tow truck meanwhile I learned that she lived only a half hour away from me. Next weekend we dated!
  • ndancendance Posts: 323
    Be there, bring your camera. Kind of a shame they tore down that MacDonalds on Central though. I do like the concept of a '56 rattling through Jerome.
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