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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Advice from a Mechanic: Part II


A commercial from decades ago has stuck with me all these years. From what I recall, it played out something like this:

The backdrop was a sparkling-white auto repair garage. A very handsome young man with an overload of Brylcreem above the ears was holding a clipboard. He was dressed in a spotless blue, form-fitting coverall with a red & white name patch on his chest - David, or something like that. As a car with its hood up and an engine that was rattling and sputtering was running next to them in the left foreground, David explained to an attentive young housewife with a Donna Reed hairdo that he was going to put her car through a series of the latest diagnostic tests - a 12 point checklist or something similar - to find out what the problem was.

As David continued his lengthy hi-tech explication, a grizzled old mechanic wearing a tattered blue coverall blotched with grease and oil spots - and forearms even dirtier - walked by the car. As he was just about to go off-screen, he stopped for a few seconds, turned around, and went over to the young lady's car. He grabbed his toolbox, took out a screwdriver, and placed the metal end against the engine. After briefly touching his ear to the wooden handle, he stepped back, pulled out a fairly large hammer, and gave the engine a solid whack. 
The engine immediately stopped knocking and started purring like a finely-tuned Ferrari, while David stared in disbelief.

Of course, this was a commercial designed to sell something. Here's but one example from real life that I recently grabbed from a discussion board:

"I did have an oil breather blockage once on an IO-360 Lycoming in my Fuji. That blew out about 5 qts. in an hour. The shop told me I had 'back compression', remove the cylinders, put on new rings, scored the pots, put it all back together whereupon it still blew out 5 qts on the test flight. An old grizzled mechanic who happened to be passing by said to check the breather tube. Lo and behold we found a blockage and the problem was solved. Legal action ensued over the $5000 bill and in the end the shop backed down. If your oil breather is blocked you will know it and it won't be intermittent. - Stephen."

I am constantly amazed at the growing number of internet-educated Marcellus Shale "experts" out there. I am even more perplexed by the number of people who actually hang on to their every word as if these self-proclaimed "experts" actually understood what the Hades they were talking about. I'm not sure who I consider more clueless.

When it comes to understanding the complex web of the Marcellus Shale formation, drilling, hydrofracturing and how it is connected to and impacts, directly and indirectly, everything above and below ground...a little dab of online education here and there just won't "do ya."

One of the most valuable lessons I've learned in life is that, regardless of the setting or subject, there is no substitute for a lifetime of hands-on experience.



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