Of Engineers, Mechanics, and Journeys

Ispent last weekend putting new motor mounts on the Maulin’ Magnum. The stock rubber/hydraulic mounts are known to fail when subjected to the kind of torque and abuse a Magnuson Supercharged street/strip car heaps upon them. We got the upgraded 2009 SRT Challenger 6-speed manual mounts that are much stronger and have a failsafe feature. However, buying them and installing them were two different things.

A long time ago in a galaxy far away, I went to community college and got my FAA aircraft mechanic licenses, Airframe and Powerplant. If you want to be the best mechanic you can be, this is the way to go. You learn to work on piston and jet engines, you learn metallurgy, aerodynamics, thermodynamics, electrical theory, hydraulic theory, and of course you learn to do anything possible with any engine, airframe, or system. My intention was to go on and become an engineer. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until my junior year in college that I found out that I am pretty severely dyslexic. Finally understanding why I could never spell very well and why I made seemingly simple math errors all of the time, I tried to muscle through engineering school anyway. A kind professor advised me that someday I was going to make a wing fall off an airplane due to a math error and encouraged me to go in a different direction. All of this is to explain why I like both engineers and mechanics.

However, after five long hours under the car, several busted knuckles, bleeding cuts, and a broken tool, I was really cussing out the Mopar engineers that apparently didn’t think anyone was ever going to have to change these motor mounts in the field. I could write a book on experiences like this. I once had to drill a two inch hole through both inner fenders just to get to the rear spark plugs on a V8 vehicle (not made by Ma Mopar however). You literally couldn’t get to the plugs with the engine installed in the car.

I have a proposal. How about we have all new engineers, before they begin designing cars, spend six months working on the line at a dealership? And of course, the technicians there will make sure they get to do all of the hardest maintenance jobs at least once. Maybe the experience will pay dividends with easier to maintain and repair vehicles for us all. I’m just saying.


In her column this month, Alex reflects on the radical change in direction her life took thanks to cars and passion for cars. I have to say, I’m with her on this one. Two years ago my work and life were centered on my long time web development consulting company. I originally founded the company in the Wild West days of the Internet, 1994. I have always loved computers, having built my first one way back in 1976. I enjoyed the business for a long time, and it was very profitable. But times change; the economy tanked and companies jumped big time into outsourcing web and app development overseas. Profit dropped and enjoyment disappeared.

Then one day I offered to teach my neighbor, Alex Rogeo, how to detail her new car. Alex is a very photogenic person and I had already done a couple of photo assignments with her and various cars (I’ve been into photography since high school - it satisfied the art requirement and was a great way for a young man to meet girls in Los Angeles) so I knew she was interested in them. I love detailing cars, and have ever since I put myself through college partly by detailing Porsches in Beverly Hills.