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Discussion Starter #1
THE HIDDEN COSTS OF BEING A MECHANIC


Most people don't realize just how much cost a professional mechanic can have over and above just the cost of his tools. That alone can be a lot especially if you work on a lot of different equipment requiring a lot of different specialty tools. Not every shop will pay for them.


Since I can only really attest to my own experiences I will use me as an example. In my case I started on the farm and could work on all the equipment we had including complete rebuilds by the time I was 10 years old.


My first real job was in the merchant marine 12 years. This also was my first expose to hidden costs. Three years at Maine Maritime Academy and the related expenses. 4 years of verifiable experience working in engine rooms at the various positions before I was even allowed to take the Chief Engineer exam. 3 days and 8500 questions all essay no multiple choice. You had to explain your answers. They really wanted to know you really new your stuff before you
were issued that license. Most of my experience came from here, Not only many types of diesels, but steam and every other common skilled trade. A vessel is a floating city, every skill required to run a city you had to know.


After Viet Nam I became a car and truck mechanic aquireing certs as needed or desired ASE in 74 Ford in 76.
ASE was maintained and upgrade until I reached Master Status both gas and diesel and the L1 and L2 and kept until 2005. Ford I kept until 2000.


Then I got into the heavy equipment, construction and oil field boy was that a eye opener. Certifications on every domestic diesel made at that time vendor specific as well as most Asian and European. 32 in all IIRC.
Not really impressive since I had 55 years to aquire them and not all kept up to date. Dropping those that I no longer needed after I quit working on that particular type of equipment.


When I started working in the refineries there were even more required documentation, much just to get in the gate.
ISTC and endorsements for 9 different refineries. If there was a dock Twick at $300, ISTC $60 for the main card and $30. per endorsement. Most of this paid out of my pocket.
Most of my years in the oil field was as a Field Mechanic working on equipment where is as is. In the oilfield it is more cost effective to bring the mechanic to the equipment than the equipment to the mechanic. Useually it took more time to setup and rig up to do the job than it actually took to make the repair. Varyeous necessary permits and inspections. You might take a half a day for paperwork to do an hour repair.


At the last years I really began to wonder if it was even worth it anymore.
 

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Man, kudos to you for taking that on. I often wondered how some of the specialized people do their trade, have to upgrade and then want to do it at home.

I turned down an apprenticeship for mechanics for two reasons. The first being, if I pulled wrenches all day at work, I wouldn't want to do it at home. The second reason being, how does a guy afford two full sets of tools? I probably have about fifteen thousand dollars in tools and equipment, and can't imagine doing that twice.

All that experience you (dannyboy) have has to be priceless though. Valuable...but priceless!
 

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From one Vet to another, that you for your service. Just as well, thank you for sharing your knowledge here...


Sent from AutoGuide.com Free App
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Well aparently talking general mechanics is wrong also.
Since we have been hashing over the same posts for almost a month I thought something new might rise a little interest.
My appologies.
 

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A ( thank you ) to all you guys that have served this country. It is because of you guys that we are able to have an internet at all.
 

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The second reason being, how does a guy afford two full sets of tools? I probably have about fifteen thousand dollars in tools and equipment, and can't imagine doing that twice.
Myself and guys I worked with really never needed to do that. I had basic sockets, end wrenches, etc, at home, but we all had commonly needed tools, sealers, and all in our top boxes that were required to do "along side the road" repairs to broke down trucks and equipment. We'd just wheel our rollaway over to the tailgate of a shop truck and slide the top box into the pickup (with a lot of effort). Anything additional that might possibly be needed was put in the bed too. Same thing for mechanical work at home over the weekend.
Guess I was luckier than Danny, I never was in the service and never had to be certified for anything. For instance, us guys that were good welders were "grandfathered" in and never were certified although the lives of operators and the traveling public depended on the quality of our welds many times. And the last shop I worked in for 24.9 years furnished everything from bushing drivers to torque wrenches, we had our own impact wrenches, hand tools up to 3/4 drive socket sets. We never had to be certified on a piece of equipment, but the shop would send us to a school on it and it never cost us a dime. Also Cat, Cummins, IH, Detroit Diesel, Roadranger, etc, reps would come to the shop and give a yearly clinic on the latest and greatest.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The main reason I started off saying I could only use my own experience is in a long work life you will work for good companies and bad and some great. This also changes from area to area in the country and from many other factors.

Some companies supplied everything a few even your tools. Most of mine it came out of my own pocket. Luck of the draw really.
 

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Good points. And for better or worse, richer or poorer, at least we can say we came by it honestly. This guy below was here for years, had about 14,000 posts, most all done during working hours instead of doing his desk job. As far as I know he never worked a day in his life in a shop as a diesel mechanic other than on few of his old Ford IDI diesels in his driveway. Big difference between tinkering at home doing what fits your limited experience versus the boss pulling in a Kenworth, telling you to pull the heads, do a valve grind, then overhaul the front tandem differential. He does now own an injection shop but his "fudged" resume' would make me think twice about dealing with him.
A veteran of the I.T. industry, retiring with 31 years of experience, I have turned my attention to things mechanical. My background includes 35 years as a mechanic, 30 years of which have specialized in diesel power. My former component level electronic repair experience, 14 years of computer field service, and familiarity with virtually every PC related device and component introduced since the first IBM PC and Apple computer make me especially adept at understanding todays modern computerized diesels.
 

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I was self taught, and have continued to learn and buy. Been "doing it" for 40 years now, I can say I have over $50K in tools/equipment at home for my "driveway" business and another set of tools at the RV dealership I currently work at.
 

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I am self taught (and Forum taught thanks to you guys). Never been a paid mechanic anywhere, but have been working on my own, families and friends vehicles for over 30 years, since before I could drive.

IMHO, certifications are just a piece of paper where you showed some evaluator that you can answer their questions and scenarios. They are important to lawyers and politicians. College is the same way. I have a degree and I want my kids to get degrees, however I learned how to be an accountant at my first job, not in college. They teach you basics, the real skill come from hands on experience, same way with mechanical and technical certifications IMO.

I hope I don't offend anyone with the post, not my intent, but I do think there is a large mass of the population that put too much stock into certifications and degrees rather than experience and actual knowledge.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
While I served in Vietnam and I do appreciate the comments.
There is something I need to get off my chest.


I did not serve in the regular Military I belonged to a civilian volunteer group simply called special services and not the guys who served coffee and donuts at USO shows.
I will not get into exactly what we did lets just call it Intelligence gathering and leave it at that.


My own situation I can't complain about I knew the rules of the game when I signed on.
However I feel strongly about how the common soldiers were treated to this day the few that are left.
What bothers me the most I only found out about a few years ago.


One of my step grandsons asked me in all seriousness What was Vietnam?
Once I gathered my wits and found my voice I asked him what the heck are they teaching you kids these days?
His reply was not much on Vietnam only a few paragraphs and went and got his history book to show me.


Shure enough just a few paragraphs condensing down the most world shaking event of my generation to barely a honorable mention.
That was disgusting to me so many lives lost or changed forever and barely a mention like it was no big deal.
 

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IMHO, certifications are just a piece of paper where you showed some evaluator that you can answer their questions and scenarios. They are important to lawyers and politicians. College is the same way. I have a degree and I want my kids to get degrees, however I learned how to be an accountant at my first job, not in college. They teach you basics, the real skill come from hands on experience, same way with mechanical and technical certifications IMO.
I hope I don't offend anyone with the post, not my intent, but I do think there is a large mass of the population that put too much stock into certifications and degrees rather than experience and actual knowledge.
I agree, we had a 3 year apprenticeship truck/heavy equipment program and a couple guys I remember had the brains of a cashew nut when they were hired on, 3 years down the road they were still unqualified numbskulls. And some others were really sharp, after a year into it they were as good or in some cases better than some of our life-long mechanics. I have a friend who is a GM auto mechanic and I asked him what all the ASTI (or whatever) certification means, he said basically it means you're a good test taker.
Also, even if you're in the trade, you can hire on in a different shop and once again you find out just how much you DON'T know. A small but funny example, I was pulling both rear duals and drums off a 10 wheeler, got the axle out, got it up just the right height, squirted oil on the shop floor so the tires and drum would slide outward easily on the oil like we'd done at the previous shop, the foreman jumps all over me and says what the hell do you think that's for? He was pointing at a wheel dolly, never knew there was such a thing.
 

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You can apply all the post above to just about any trade where you work with tools and your mind. When I retired 6 years ago I was doing some of the same stuff that I did while I was working where the company supplied 99% of my tools and equipment. When I went out into the real world I ended up purchasing around $20,000 worth of test equipment to do the same job with a couple of the meters running close to $7,000 each.

On the wheel dolly I used to tell all the workers that I was training to work smarter and not harder. But that oil on the oil on the shop floor sounds like it worked.
 

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But that oil on the oil on the shop floor sounds like it worked.
Yes, it worked real slick (no pun intended), then you just wiped the oil up with a shop rag after clearing the axle housing and rolling the wheels out of the way. That particular shop was rather crude, but it had a good rep. Lots of highway trucks pulled in with a problem and they were loaded and in a world of hurt to get back on the road. I later did learn to appreciate the wheel dolly a lot. :)
 

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I only have one mechanic since I started driving. As far as I know he never really overpriced all the works he did. There was this one time, I had a problem and my mechanic wasn't available to go to where I was, it was quite far. This other mechanic charged me a lot! Some really take advantage of you especially when you're a lady driver.
 
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