Good Shop Practice

Shop Tools

Any time we work on an engine we want the to do the work quickly and accurately. To do this we need to stay organized. I am always surprised how some, otherwise good, mechanics keep their tool boxes. Good mechanics takes time, so does searching for tools. Spend your time twisting wrenches not looking for them.

While in collage I worked for a large auto parts and truck rebuilding company. They had about seven mechanics who worked exclusively at rebuilding gigantic 16 speed truck transmissions. Two of the mechanics were quite old. At least One was 67 and the other was 71. The others were young guys around 25-30. The old guys always worked in slow motion. They had all their tools set out in front of them. Big 3/4" drive sockets, real monster rattle guns (air guns). Everything BIG, which made sense. Those big sixteen speed transmissions must have weighed 600 pounds or more. They would use a socket and then clean it off and put it back in it's place. They were never in a hurry. If something in the shop needed fixed or a special tool made they were the ones that did it. They had that much free time. The young guys were always working like mad. Dirty tools flung all over the place. They had no free time at all.

Now the interesting thing about all this was the number of finished transmissions each mechanic had done at the end of the day. Near as I could figure, these old guys were working TWICE AS FAST as the young guys. I think it was the way these old guys worked. They never hunted for a socket. They never had to redo anything because they took their time and did it right in the first place.

I always remembered that and I have found that memory to be valuable. I always try to keep my tools clean, neat and in order. In fact, it's just about the only thing I'm neat about. It really does help. At the end of the day I police up all my tools, clean them, and put them back on my tool board. You may have to work out of your tool box and not have a tool board, but you can still have neat tools. You can buy tool box organizers or make something to fit the tools you have. Whatever way you go, keep those tools neat so you can always grab the tool you want without searching for it.

Another good shop practice I use is to keep a good Fire Extinguisher very handy. From any one place in my shop you can see at least two of them hanging on the walls. I have them in every room. They have saved me from serious burns several times. Pain hurts, slows you down, and costs you money. A Fire Extinguisher, properly used, will eliminate any threat of pain from fire. Buy one and keep it handy.

When test riding a strange (to you anyway) motorcycle, Good Shop Practice is to ALWAYS wear a Helmet. Things can happen. Brakes can fail ("Oh yeah," the customer says, "I forgot to tell you the brakes don't work!") Gears can lock up. Countershaft sprockets can come off and lock the chain. Any number of things can make you wish you had worn a Helmet, not to mention gloves and a leather jacket.

Clean, neat tools, several good, working, Fire Extinguishers and a good Helmet. Make this your shop practice. It will save you a lot of time, money and pain.

One last thing. If the guy you work for won't put lots of Fire Extinguishers around the shop DO NOT ARGUE with him. Buy your own and keep it by your side. HEY, It's your life. Live it own your own terms. OK?

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