Month: May 2017

Mechanic’s Toolsets in Service Manuals

I have yet to come across a service manual for a car, truck or motorcycle which includes a comprehensive list of tools required for each maintenance or repair procedure. The manuals will most definitely include Special Service Tools (SST), but when it comes to listing whether the case cover bolts require a 1/4″ ratchet and 8 mm socket, you are left on your own to determine this fact. I can easily see why technical writers and publishers would have to draw this line when creating a service manual, as it may be assumed that the manual is being read in a workshop fully stocked with all the generic tools one would hope a mechanic would have, but what if you are adventure touring on a motorbike, or privateering in the Dakar rally? Without a truck bed, trunk, or a mobile workshop following you, it’s absolutely necessary to know which tools you need specifically for the kind of maintenance and repair you plan (or don’t plan) on performing.

I’ve only been riding 4 and a half years, but I quickly had to redefine what it meant to be mechanically prepared. I had once been used to heaving a large, heavy toolbox in the back of the Land Cruiser, prepared for just about anything happening (and enjoying that nothing ever did). Then with my first Yamaha dual-sport, a small 350 cc, lacking any form of storage besides an 8″ x 6″ x 2″ tail bag, I had to learn how to pack minimally and hope for only the most basic problems to occur, if any. Riding with friends helps, when some coordination is made ahead of time to split the tools amongst each other, but it’s not always guaranteed that the tools required to remove the carburetor on one bike would allow for the same thing to be done on another bike.

This is where many people simply draw a line for themselves and sign up for roadside assistance, carry cash for a tow, or are one of those types who touch their seat, grips and footpegs and simply sell it the moment something else requires touching.

Who actually goes to this length, to determine precisely what type of tools they require, if say, a tire tube is punctured, or a spark plug needs to be removed, or the valve clearances need to be adjusted? Who has actually performed all the repairs on their bike and made note of which tools are needed for which tasks?

Happenstance Guidance

If Google were to tell you what I search the most… it would be dictionary definitions and encyclopedia articles.

From a young age, I remember being drawn to words and meaning. I’m still obsessed with understanding, and it’s for the most part why I’m so drawn to what the internet has to offer. I enjoy my silent habit of going about my day and taking a word I see or hear and casually putting it under the microscope. The most satisfying words to me are the words that are most commonly used which we happen to be least conscious of using. For example, “wiktionary this” and “wiki that“.

I wonder… how many people can say they’ve looked up “this” in a dictionary? Or noticed that the wiki page for beards rivals most Wikipedia articles for depth of content? Only Google knows, I guess. I should probably write about all the benefits this simple habit brings me one day, but what I want to specifically lead into now is this: nothing has brought me closer to understanding myself in relation to the world than by-chance looking up the noun “medium“. That may be a dramatically embellished statement… but let me try to unpack it.

Like most cases when I look up seemingly random words in the dictionary; I’m first, struck at how flexible words can be in English, and second, amazed that I take satisfaction in looking up what feels like the obvious. This is, after all, a word I’ve used countless times throughout my spoken life. But this word got me seriously thinking… Of all the detailed definitions, the two that impressed upon me most were “The means, channel, or agency by which an aim is achieved.” and “A format for communicating or presenting information.

This is precisely what I’ve been attempting to figure out for the majority of my life; what my medium is. This is why we go to school, this is why we find a job, this is what makes us individuals with purpose and how others may find value in us. This is the interface between each one of us and the world; where individuality is born. But has anybody ever actually put it this way? Does everyone realize this early enough? Do we see each other by the means which we achieve our aims or the way we communicate information? I don’t think we do consciously, but I believe it certainly defines us unconsciously.

This makes me consider my portfolio, which happens to simply be a placeholder on the website at the moment, if anyone’s actually noticed. I have delayed posting anything until I’ve determined what sort of format I want it to be; the kind of content that I wanted to include and who it is that I want to tune it for. I have kept revisiting this hesitation with the questions, “who”, “what”, “when”, “where”, “why”, and “how?”… when I believe I should instead just be defining “the medium”. What could offer myself and those who view it more guidance? What will interface with the rest of the world in a way that displays content consciously while subconsciously hints towards that unique and identifiable “me”?

© 2017 Drew Merryman

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