learning experiences


Old 07-14-03, 11:04 PM
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learning experiences

I have a question for all who are mechanics by trade and have made mistakes over the years while repairing things. I am currently almost finished overhauling the engine on an old case tractor. Well, while removing all the parts, the teacher prefers if I put all the bolts in one bucket, keep in mind that there are probably about 100 bolts total. Well, I seem to have lost the four bolts that hold the rocker arm assembly on the head and he was not thrilled when he found out. He kept telling me how much I messed up and not to let it happen again, but the part that struck me was that he told me that I might need to look for another line of work. I like working on tractors and lawn mowers and other lawn/agricultural equipment. In fact, a while back, I had ran a tap through all 52 holes in the frame of the tractor to clean them out and sanded all the gasket surfaces until they were shiny, well he was very pleased and even told me that he might get me a job working on case and kubota tractors and lawn equipment in just a couple of months. Which leads me to my main question, have any of you guys ever messed up while in the proccess of learning the trade or am I destined for disaster. I have seen people that were still learning mess up, but I never saw them loose bolts. It has been 6 months since I broke anything so that isn't much of a problem. So does anyone have any experiences to tell or tips to pass on that might get me to think this won't go on forever. I have learned a lot and I don't think I will have a problem with loosing stuff again. There was probably ten people working on that tractor at the same time so it was hard to keep track of everything since I am liable for the repair of the tractor. Thanks for helping out this confused student.
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Old 07-15-03, 05:54 AM
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Teacher had a bad day. Mistakes are human, they happen, even to teachers.

Discuss those comments to the teacher and ask him/her to elaborate.

"Hi, Prof. Smith? I was taken aback about your comments regarding that I should find another line of work, and quite frankly, it upset me. Let's review what happened and discuss".

I'm sure he'll say, "Mower, I was wrong by saying that. Hey look, the place was a mess and shoot, I was annoyed as I don't like to work that way. I now realize others may have been involved. I'm sorry if I discouraged you. Please continue to give me feedback when I don't act as a professor should".

In short: Talk to the guy. I'm sure he didn't mean it. Everyone makes mistakes, even the best of us .
Old 07-15-03, 08:18 PM
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That teacher of yours sounds like a real nice guy. Maybe he is looking for a housewife like your sig. says. He should know this is why your in the class is to learn and some of the best lessons are learned be mistakes. This lesson I'm sure you will remember the rest of your life. I'm sure he was just trying to get you attention and it sounds like he has.
Keep working at it and do the best you can and yes we have all made mistakes.
I think someone once said (If you haven't made a mistake you probable haven't done anything).
Old 07-15-03, 11:48 PM
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Don't worry about losing bolts man...it happens...even to seasoned pros. If that's the worst that happens in 6 months, consider yourself blessed, lol! I've been working on small engines for 15 years or so, and I lose bolts on occasion. Shoot--today I broke an intake tube on a tecumseh engine. I think just about anyone who works on these enough has broken at least one before too. Joe is probably right..professor having a bad day or something...he shouldn't have said something like that. NO human being is perfect. I think, by the content of your posts, that you are learning quite a bit in a considerably short amount of time. You be proud of yourself, and don't think of losing 4 bolts as a disaster. Especially when other students are involved. (they may well have done something with them).

Roger is right...if you haven't made a mistake, you haven't done anything.
Old 07-17-03, 06:26 AM
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Thumbs up


As the guys said, things happen . I'm sure your teacher has done the same thing, trust me, we all have, for whatever the reason.

I've been fixing things since I was big enough to take toys apart and reassemble them (the rest is history). My contention over the years was that I would take junked/scrapped units to learn on---if I fixed them, yahoo, if they were too far gone or not worth it, I throw it out like the next guy.

I'll fix it all, because it intrigues me. Last week, I took a control panel off of a discarded gas dryer---same as my mother has. Why? To learn how to test the parts electrically. And, everything works, so now I have spare parts in case something breaks on a Sunday night when everyone is closed. LOL .

Most of the time, I have been able to repair the unit and get it working. My experience is that most folks can't be bothered and new stuff has come down in price; hence they'd rather buy new.

Better for me, I've stocked my workshop and shed with good equipment for nothing or next to nothing by keeping my eyes peeled. .

Shoot, you can put one of your failed projects up for sale on Ebay for parts and turn it into a few dollars. LOL.

Don't get discouraged, I agree with Cheese, you've done a good job. I've read some of your posts and you're right on the money.

Come around my automotive forum if you'd like to learn so more, you're welcome anytime to post, comment or just browse.
Old 07-17-03, 07:39 PM
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Thanks for everyones input. He had kind of let go about the bolts but still reminds me now and then. Well, yesterday I was getting ready to start the tractor when he says, "get the battery". Well, low and behold the battery is no where to be found. I looked through out the entire shop and I couldn't find it, heck I even looked through out the entire school trying to find it. The teacher told me that maybe someone took it as a core or maybe the owner picked it up when he brought parts. Well, I was left to hope all that night that he had the battery. Then the next day I found out that while I was desperately looking for the battery, he told everyone else that he helped the owner put it in that back of his truck days ago. Eventually, the teacher said he did and I was releaved to hear the good news. Then he told me, "Keep track of your parts" and "I wanted to get you back for loosing the bolts, I'll never forget that you lost them. How can you loose four identical bolts?" Then he laughed in front of the whole class. I didn't find it funny one bit. That battery cost about $90 and he almost made me call the owner and tell him I lost it. Then today the owner comes by with oil and the battery and he tells the owner that the radiator is leaking and it is couse I was to ruff with it while washing it with the pressure washer, which is a definite lye. It leaked before I even removed it. One day I asked him after school why he is always harder on me and why he always finds something wrong with whatever I do. He said, "because your the only one getting something out of this course". That made me kind of understand his reasoning. I think now I know what it's like to work under someone and have them always look over your sholder. Thanks everyone for helping me to understand the real world as a mechanic.
Old 07-18-03, 07:25 AM
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Ok, a couple of things:

1) If someone ribs me, I rib them back. The minute he did something out of place, I would bring it to his attention in front of the class. A touche type thing.

I remember the math teacher catching me talking in class in HS.....gave me the whole litany about chatting, etc, etc. Embarrassing. But I don't give up .

About three weeks later we were doing a problem on board and I developed a third way to do the problem. The teacher was like WOW, that's great. Now I had her respect.

A week later, she was doing a problem on the board and had made a slight adding error, which of course screwed up the rest of the solution to the problem. The rest of the class was confused, but I knew the deal. LOL.

At the end of the problem, this woman is tapping her foot on the floor going, "I don't know why it doesn't add up" and she's getting steamed and pissy about it.

Up goes Joe out of his chair, approaches the board, takes the eraser and erases 2+4=7 and puts a 6 there with the chalk, and puts the right answer to the question.

I said, "It helps when you know how to add. Calculus is based on the fact that you know how to do elementary addition operations". The whole class burst out laughing and giving me high fives and I just sat down in my chair and joined them with my pen behind my ear. LOL.

Touche? Absolutely. That teacher never broached me again in class. LOL.

Another time in college, I did a report on leadership and had chosen Lee Iaccoca and how he turned around Chrysler in 1979. This professor was a PITA and challenged me all the time. He told me that Chrysler didn't introduce the minivan here at all, and he also told me that Lee Iaccoca was far from a leader and I didn't prove it. He even said that Chevrolet made more automatic Corvettes in the 70's because "women can't drive stick". He was a really mean guy.

I wasted no time to react and said to him, "Well, let's take each question one at a time".

"You are wrong on the Corvette. The reason that more automatics were made was that they easily made the impending CAFE requirements the government was imposing on car makers at the time, and the Vette was a high profit vehicle albeit with smaller output 350s in the 70's. So, economically, they didn't NEED to make a 4 speed---the car sold like wildfire with the much cheaper automatic. As an economics professor, I'm sure you know that you need to have more profit than cost to make money".

The class burst out laughing. He turned red.

Then I told him, "Well, let's see, the time is 1979, and Chrysler is ready for bankruptcy. You've stated that K Car saved Chrysler, but you are wrong. The K car didn't debut until 1981, by that time Chrysler would have been bankrupt, do the math. The car that saved them was the 1978 Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon as it was a stopgap for the CAFE requirements and to have small cars. Also, you've failed to realize that in 1984, Hal Sperlich took the K car platform and created a minivan off it, reducing costs with common components. The Colt Minivan that Chrysler was importing didn't come out till around 1984 and was a unique product. Hence, based on the sales of the minivan, I'd say you're dead wrong. Also, Hal Sperlich is one of the most revered engineers for doing this project, so I'd say you're wrong twice".

The class laughed and I got an A on the project.

A week later his battery went dead because of a stuck trunk solenoid. He came into class asking if anyone knew how to fix it.

I blurted out, "Must have been all the money GM saved with building those automatics, they forgot to put quality control in your solenoid. LOL".


While I enjoy teachers that give "hard" lessons, I like to make a humbling example out of them. Many DO need it as they forget why they are there.

Good luck to you Mower.

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