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In the Shop

RSS By: Dan Anderson, Farm Journal

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.

In The Shop: The Most Important Tool?

Aug 07, 2011

 I used to think the key to being a good mechanic was to have lots of tools. I equated wrenches, hammers and other tools with skill, at least until I met Markie, Wader, J-Rod, Sparky and other mechanics in our shop who proved to me that it's the man behind the wrench that makes the difference. Wrenches, hammers and other tools are for sale at the hardware store. Confidence is purchased with time and experience.

Confidence isn't cocky. Confidence doesn't mean those guys know it all. Good mechanics aren't afraid to say, "I don't know--yet." They do research, dive into tech books, talk to other mechanics, call engineers, and eventually figure something out. Then, with additional knowledge and their fingers crossed, they grab their wrenches and see if they can get the problem fixed.

Time, patience, and a few mistakes--that's the purchase price if you want to gain confidence. When you look at it that way, confidence is expensive. But it's available, often in bits and pieces, rarely in mass quantities. Sometimes when I finish a major repair I stand back and ask myself, "How the heck did I do that?" The overall project seemed beyond me, but in the end, it was nothing except a bunch of small interconnected "jobs" that I was confident I could conquer. If you're confident you can remove and reinstall one bolt, one bearing and one shaft at at time, eventually you can rebuild an entire combine.

I need to find out where politicians gain their confidence. They all seem to know exactly what needs to be done in every situation. Ever notice that the more un-calloused a person's hands are, the more apt they are to have all the answers?

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