Vocational Conclusion………..#55 (the 50’s)

High School Auto Shop

        Entering the high school vocational shop,  the Teen’s first impression was the automotive smell.   Having completed a first semester of mechanical drawing,  wood,  sheet metal, and  forge shop, during his 8th and 9th grade’s at Frick Junior High,  this class would be his final school vocational effort.   Participating in a semester of Auto Shop to familiarize the basic essentials and add to his already acquired knowledge of the craft.   Most of the students were underclassmen,  but that was understandable as he had declined an earlier opportunity during his first semester at Castlemont to enroll.   Gary breaking stride with his college prep colloquium classmate acquaintances and ventured down a different caliber path.  The vocational shop requiring work apparel, which each student was required to purchase.   After donning the apparel,  sporting the Big Ben coveralls trademark,  once suited noticing a silence prevailed in the classroom and an atmosphere of professionalism seem  to engulf the group.   Gary interpreted the outerwear garment would symbolize a pronouncement of assertive recognition.

Mr Marinelly’s Auto Shop retained the same odor as Fletcher’s Signal Station, one of oil and the solvent used for cleaning.  Like all vocational studies,  the course would start with a classroom  study before getting the students hands begrimed with the extracts associated with the automotive endeavor,  but this was expected.   The class instruction started with the principle of the internal combustion engine and then propagated to its exponents,  the makeup and function of the electrical system,  battery to spark plugs,  the fuel system,  gas tank to carburetor, the drivetrain and all concerning parts  in between.  The Teen inhaled a host of enlighten answers to long unanswered questions.   It was his first introduction to the stator,  rotor and basis of field generation motors and unlike some in the class found everything interesting.   It would be six weeks before commencing the everyday hands-on aspect of the class and a disappointment to some. The only letdown inhibited by Gary was that the transmission functions were part of a second semester’s  curriculum.

Mr. Marinelly Auto Shop Instructor

Gary was no stranger to laboring on a car,  he could readily identify the function of a specific part but now the mystery of its workings was revealed.   His time at working with high school graduate Ted at Fletcher’s Signal Station enabled him to be party to older teens and their conversations enable a discernment to the automotive hot rod world.   Gary having experienced the 27 metal pan screws that fastened the oil pan on a 41 Chevrolet pickup,  having counted them, his Dad holding the pan in place so he could get them started.   It wasn’t his favorite pastime, helping  Dad,  but ever since the 39 DeSoto needed a rod replacement,  he was elected.   His main objection wasn’t the assisting,  it was the timing the teen objected to, it was always on a weekend when  Dad decided to become a mechanic.

The class finally reached the addendum to dwell into the mechanics of the engine and to some  of his classmates there was disappointment,  all the motors were Chrysler Product built six cylinder flat-head engines mounted on stands.   Mr. Marinelly was adamant on the subject of safety and rumor circulated that during a previous class,  a student failed to torque a rod bearing  properly and the rod exited thru the side of the engine block nearly injuring someone.  The students were paired into teams and the instruction commenced,  learning to set the timing 5 degrees before TDC, replacing the points in the distributor,  adjusting the carburetor and finally getting disassemble parts of  the engine, exposing  cylinders and valves.   Gary was compulsive in his work  and similar to his other vocational shops finding the learning experience fulfilling but recognized that he lacked the patience required of a good skilled mechanic but felt comfortable as the final grading period approached with the final exam on the horizon.

Dodge flathead six

The Teenager and his assistant, it was how Gary silently referred to the other half of the two-man team,  having no difficulty completing the first of the two-part final.   The first part was basic, remove the carburetor and the adjustment screws.  The second part was to  pull the pan, removing the bottom half of a rod bearing cap and insert.   Inserting a gauging strip, replacing the cap and insert,  torquing the rod nuts to the required tolerance,  then  removing  it once again, measuring the gauging strip for tolerance and a final replacement of the cap and insert.  The achievement of measuring the tolerance of the insert and assembly was 50% of their final grade.   The second half would be determined by the number of attempts it took for the engine to start upon total assembly.   Gary having come to the conclusion the real test would be replacing the carburetor air and fuel adjustment screws settings good enough so the engine would start and idle.  It was no surprise, the class finding that no engine started the first time.   The start test grade was determined by when the engine started,   ” A +”  if on the first try,  “A” on the second,  “A-” ,   then descending down to “F”.   The course completed,  Gary confirmed his mechanical skills were suitable, his “A-” a result of a little ingenuity, marking the carburetor adjustment screws and counting the number of turns when removing them.

His automotive class experience provided the confidence of a measurable shade tree mechanic,  knowing that desire trumps knowledge when acquiring a skill.

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