Ever get random gear questions thrown your way? As a rather public “gear guy” I am used to questions coming in via e-mail and try to answer promptly. It helps that gears are a real passion for me and not just an occupation.
There used to be many more gear people in our area and I still find traces of the old timers at estate sales. Unfortunately our once common trade has become more exotic as time passes and fewer people are directly engaged with the mechanical bits of modern life.
Some of this may be due to my location in the Chicago suburbs but my sense is that we have improved our product to the point where gear failures are very rarely seen in the life of the average citizen. Automobiles, trucks, and lawn equipment last much longer than they used to; high school kids don’t have to swap tranmissions to keep their jalopies running. Frankly, few mechanics would even attempt a transmission swap on a modern front wheel drive car.
Questions still come up though. It might be someone at the race track wondering about the rather crude quick change gearsets we use or a retired professor interested in why so many wind turbines along I-88 seem to be parked instead of producing power on a windy day.
Do people in your community see you as a “gear guy” or “gear gal?” If not, consider becoming more public representative of our trade. We make some cool stuff and you never know when you’ll run across a kindred spirit who can help on a future project.
For those with more advanced questions, Gear Technology magazine features our monthly Ask the Expert column. We’ll be doing a live version at the Gear Expo next month in Detroit and hope to meet many readers during that time. Just about our entire staff of volunteer technical editors will be in the booth for a few hours during the show. The exact schedule will be posted on our web site.