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Come Home Safe Soldier
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As a young boy I used to stay with my Grandparents as Mom hustled between two jobs and school at nights to keep a roof over our heads. My best memories as a child are being in the garage while my Grandfather turned wrenches on the side.It did not take too long before I was learning the ropes and doing simple tasks,such as checking tire psi,lights,and so forth.If you had my Grandfather put brakes on your car,he would always inflate the tires to the correct psi.always check the little things.Sometimes he would just fix them without informing the customers,no charge,just cause it needed to be done.Well that is where I got the BUG to work on cars.All this work took place in his garage after his full day working at the local cab company.It has been 9 months today that I lost my Grandfather,my teacher of so many things.Just thought it would make interseting discussion.Do you remember when you got bit by the HotRod Bug???http://hotrodders.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=11538
 

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I started working at a gas station when I was eleven years old (back in the day when you could do this) sweeping floors, putting toilet paper on the spools, picking up, etc. The guy that owned the station was a friend of my Dad's and he would let me go down there.

I watched what was going on and pretty soon I was changing oil, worked on the wash rack, and eventually tune-ups, and heavier work.

My Dads family all lived in Missouri and when I was fourteen he let me pick up a car to bring home to fix. Which took a couple of years, so it would be ready when I got my license.

Got it done and my Dad took it to his buddy at the station. He checked it over and checked my work. He told Dad it was o.k., and I've been at it ever since. I think back some times and wish I still had that old hardtop. It was a '57 Chevy. I ended up selling it when I left for the service in 1971.

Pappy
 

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Had a neighbor that built rods in the 50's and spent as much time as possible there, watching, asking questions and doing odd jobs like holding this wrench, hand me that 9/16 box, and keep rubbing that fender until it shines. A souped up 56 Coral Pink, 34 3 window Ford coupe rolled out of his garage with my finger prints and drool all over it. A 34 Plymouth 5 window with a 265 Chevy was on the list also. Another friend's dad was a stock car builder and racer. His garage was a great hangout for learning and doing with a great pay check of being able to take the car around the track for a few warm up laps while he was getting suited up. He knew how to extract free labor from aspiring young guys while filling our passions for hot cars. My dad never had the time or money for any of this foolishness and never saw any benefits to my hanging around these two garages. Talk about quality time!!!

Trees
 

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or Jeff, or Doc, or...
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My mom would say "since 16 months old".

I was hositalized with pneumonia at 16 months. So bad, that my parents had wrote the obituary at the recommendation of the doctor(Quack!) My mom was sleeping in the waiting room, and when she woke up, she went to the nursery to see how I was doing. There was a small car in the bassinet. I was laying there, ripping the wheels off it. She started to cry. The Headnurse walked over to my mom to console her, and saw me. She asked why mom was crying (DUH?) Mom told her I was coming out of it. The nurse gave her a puzzled look and asked how she knew. Mom told her that I always ripped the wheels off when I was in a good mood. Then I would try to put them on another car. I'm here today, so I guess she was right. From then on, cars were always the "Toy of Choice".

When I was 8 , my (14 year older) sister was seeing 2 different guys. One with a 70 GTO, one with a beetle. I used to be a pain in the butt to "Beetlegeuce". Asked him why he was here, "because Kathy didn't really like him". Anyways, she ended up marrying Tony. He's been around ever since (33 years ! What did I do?) I am closer to Tony, than my brother. They took me to the drags, to see the sled races, Supermodifieds, etc. I watched him wrench on sleds all the time. I learned to throw wrenches at an early age!
Here's a turning point! At 10, my next door neighbor moves in. A guy and his wife in their 30's. Quiet guy. Introduces himself to the parents. 2 weeks later, a trailer with a drag car! I'M GLUED ! Mom told me stay in our own yard and not bother Danny. I sat in a lawn chair at the edge of the lawn for HOURS oogling over the car. (69 Camaro Z-28 Pace Car White/orange) :drool: Danny comes out after about 2 hours and asked what I was doing. I told him I had to stay in the yard, and not bother him. He jumps in the truck and pulls the trailer closer to me, so I could see better! WHAT A GUY !
Time goes on; I'm allowed to go over there to "watch and learn". Danny is cool with it. Bruce moves in behind us. This is getting better. 74 Duster. H/SA class car. He invited me over, too. So now, I got 2 drag racers, and a brother in law to feed my addiction. Danny and Bruce pit near each other. When one is not home, the other is. Of couse, my Mom calls every so often to see that I am not being a pain.
I turn 12, and get a paper route. The guys see this, and tell me (probably joking, at the time) if I get done by the time they leave at 7am, I could go with them! I think Mom was in on it. I woke up at 5am, and did my 138 Sundays, and at Bruces at 6:50 am, He walked out suprised, to say the least. I was toast, but I was going to the races!! Ayways, I was the veritable pit slave. Getting ice, cleaning rubber off the quarters, loading the cool cans, grabbing the slicks out of the truck (Always trailered with street tires), and any other menial bs they could think of. Man, this kid was in HEAVEN! This went on for 2 years. I learned a TON from these guys. At 14, I bought a Fury III with a 383 in it. I did the brakes, and a timing chain, and sold the car. Bought a 65 Mustang with a HiPo 289 with a bad tranny. The farmer across the street said I could have one out of his junker for free if I took it out, or $25.00 if he helped. (This was in the winter) I took it out myself, and installed it in mine the same day. In a snowbank, by myself. I had both cars jacked up in the air on RR ties...what a site for the other neighbors! And the stories go on from there.....
 

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My dad always fixed up old VWs and sold them. He also had an old BSA motorcycle in the basement, which he sold when I was about 14....probably a good thing. He was a deisel mechanic for a construction company, and I would go with him in the summer. I kind of just fell into an interest in mechanical things.
 

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Dont know what it was, its actually still happening. Was always into cars and building stuff. I used to collect every piece of junk I found and built something out of it. Turned 12 and started getting more interested into cars. Picked up my first car magazines. Rightaways I was struck with old car, since then the fever has only been growing. My dad or mom never think it'll take me anywhere, they dont really see the purpose in a rusty car. My uncle was a great inspiration, having a '49 chevy truck with a Pontiac V8, a '32 Ford pickup truck (almost completed), a '40 Ford truck soon to get a blown Hemi, and a '23 T-bucket still in pieces behind his house. He also has 14 built up SBC's, 4 Hemis and about 10 miscelaneous (some caddys and pontiacs and olds). Besides and me there are NO hot-rodders in my family. I try to hang around people with car knowledge as much as I can but I pretty much taught myself.






Mike
 

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King of my Man-cave.
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I was a forestry student when I got a job pumping gas an Amoco service station when I graduated from HS.(Remember them? They actually fixed cars!!).

Got involved with gearheads, etc. Got a POS 1964 Buick Special (225 V-6). Learned a lot with OTJ training. Bought a 69 Camaro from a guys friend for 400 bucks.

The college where I was to continue my forestry education dropped the forestry program! I continued with my gearhead career. The Amoco station was sold (they screwed the franchisee out of he retirement, the bastards!). I went to work as a mechanic at another Amoco station after taking an automotive course for 3 semesters. THAT station closed down (a lot of that happened in the late seventies). I took over the repair business at that location for 2 years. Then I got hired where I am today as a machine shop manager. I credit the owner with taking a gamble on a young guy long on desire and unrefined talent, but with little experience in machine work. But I kept at it and taught myself as I went along.

There was a lot of beer drinking, girl chasing, drag racing, etc., going on through all of this. I think if I was aware of how close I came to getting killed a few times, I would have freaked! (My poor parents!)

tom
 

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Come Home Safe Soldier
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846 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
After graduating from Papaw U,I did odds and ends jobs.My first shop environment job was at a, gasp............Toyota dealership.I was a lube monkey.I was looking for zert fittings,and Tony,the guy who trained me in said,spray all the bushings with WD-40.That was a grease job on a Toyota.I still laugh at that one.After that it snowballed,moving from one shop to another.Worked for a Chrysler dealer,than for a Dodge,Mitsu,VW,Mazda dealer.Discovered that flat rate sucked.A bud of mine worked on Class 8 tractors and said I could work there,did not think I would catch on.Did a stint at a body shop,hand sanded cars all day long.I could blow a rainbow of Fruit Flavors out my nose at the end of the day,even with a nuisance mask on.I thought Lucky the Lepricahn lived in my nasal passages and all he did was S**t!!!.That lasted very short term.Stayed with the trucks from then on out.All the engines in our fleet are computerized,drive by wire engines,with emissions standards set for them.You have to stay on top of these engines just as you do with automotive engines.They all change day to day.
 
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