by Dave C.
Worst mechanic I ever met! I will never call myself an auto mechanic as I am a heavy construction equipment mechanic. I do work on my own vehicles to an extent, and let a trusted mechanic do the rest for me. However, I did work with a construction equipment mechanic who was, at one time, an aircraft mechanic first, then an auto mechanic before finally working as a construction equipment mechanic.
He drove a Lincoln Continental and worked on it himself. He was a true butcher at best. First incident I witnessed was his repair when the Lincoln's alternator failed. Replace it? What are you kidding? He drove it back and forth to work every day, about 5 miles each way and would put the battery charger on it when he got to work, and again when he got home.
After doing this for about three weeks he decided to drive from New Jersey to Mount Kisko, NY to visit his son. Cut two holes in the passenger side fire wall, lengthened the battery cables to bring them to the passenger side floor and connected them to a truck battery. Loaded the trunk with a few extra batteries, the charger and away he went.
When the lights got a little dim, time to change the battery. Once he got where he was going, just charge all the batteries. Next to go wrong was the moon roof as it leaked badly. the sensible fix would have been to replace the rubber seal. His fix was to open the moon roof, load the sealing gasket with a liberal coating of silicone, hit the switch and close the moon roof. Disconnect the moon roof switch so as to not accidentally open it. Next contestant was the heater core as it blew out. There was a remedy for this one too, though I cannot blame him here as I would not wanted to attempt to change it either.
The holes were still in the firewall from the alternator incident, although by now there was a new alternator installed so, half the problem is solved. He took a length of heater hose, probably what was already left on the spool, 25 to 30 feet maybe, and bypassed the heater core. I have no idea how long he drove like this, but one morning I needed a ride to work and it was either him or walk.
When he arrived to pick me up it was freezing outside, and upon getting in the car I was informed that if I was cold that I could take some heater hose and wrap it around my legs or put some on my lap. Just leave some on the dash so the fan can blow some warm air on the windshield.
Got to give him credit as he did tune it up: he had one of those spark plug sand blasters and would clean them periodically. Next to go was the power windows. Well, at this point he decided to replace the heater core. Took a Thursday off to work on it which, incidentally, is trash pick up day in our town. Working on the car in his driveway he had the dash literally ripped out, the door panels off and other various bits and pieces out and piled up behind this wreck close to the street.
Yeah, you guessed right. He went inside to argue with the wife, the garbage truck came around and they mistaken all this for trash. Into the back of the trash truck it went and crushed with the packer. That car was finally retired and replaced with a used Honda Accord and the saga continued of break downs and bastardized repairs.
At work he was no better as a mechanic and was demoted to parts department and finally terminated. I used a company truck to help him take his tool box home. Whatever tools were in that box were either marked "Pratt & Whitney" or "U.S. Navy". Bulk of the box was full of junk. Box was pushed into his backyard garden where it became entwined with vines.
It sat there for at least three years that I know of while he pursued a new career as a guard at a minimum security prison, eventually getting terminated from there too at which point he retired. I believe he is in permanent retirement now due to smoking around 4 packs of cigarettes a day.
He claimed that while he was in the Navy and worked on a transitional fighter plane called the Ryan Fireball. It had a piston engine up front and a jet engine in the rear. It may be possible that he may have been a good mechanic at one time, but I cannot imagine so. I think that if I had just took off from a carrier in one of those aircraft, and found that he had worked on it, I would have sweated it out as I climbed sufficient altitude to bail out.
Note I added a story on my auto repair information blog that talks about how much a bad mechanic can cost you when getting your car fixed.