In the Shop
As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.
When In Doubt, Act Like You Know What You're Doing
Nov 07, 2012
Today I was taking apart an assembly that I'd never taken apart before. The design was new to me, the parts fit together so tightly so I couldn't quite see how it should come apart, and the tech manual's detailed instructions said, "Remove snap ring, remove bearing, press out shaft. Reassemble."
(Somewhere, the engineer who wrote that tech manual is snickering to himself.)
I did some preliminary tapping with a hammer, then escalated to outright pounding, just in case the parts needed extra encouragement. Still no luck. I corralled another mechanic to offer his opinion on how to disassemble it in a "professional" manner, and after careful examination he slapped me on the back and said, "Let me know how it works out for you!"
As he walked away he offered some sage advice: "Do it like you were in the field with the farmer looking over your shoulder."
In that case, I might admit to the customer I was in unfamiliar territory, but I'd grimly attack the problem until things were in pieces, because I never want a customer to feel like he's paying for a mechanic who doesn't know what he's doing. I've learned that if I act confident, the customer has confidence in me. So I attacked the situation with "confidence", and eventually reduced the assembly to its elemental components. In the end, even though I had to resort to a torch, an air hammer and a BIG sledge hammer, the only casualty was to a 50 cent snap ring, so I guess the operation was a success.
Sometimes confidence when making repairs comes from knowing what you're doing. Sometimes that confidence comes from grim determination that you're not going to be defeated. Discouraged, disgusted, annoyed, angered and perhaps temporarily stymied, but never defeated.