October 5, 2023
Is the world ready for a reality show about a gearbox repair shop? They seem to be running out of real estate-flipping ideas — at least until the evil design cabal decides the time of the “open concept” is over — and every custom car shop already has a show. The closest thing I can recall is the Junkyard Wars program that attempted to transfer the United Kingdom’s steampunk movement to the USA. Teams would be placed in an industrial junkyard and have to construct a device to perform a particular task in a ridiculously short period of time. Working conditions were slightly worse than your average pole barn; rainy weather was frequent; tempers flared; poor judgement was exercised; workmanship was inept. Not too surprisingly, few of the devices worked for long — or at all. Spectacular failures made for great television. Our customers would never fund such poor results, but the viewing public would certainly enjoy some of the “characters” I worked with over the years. And drama? There is plenty of drama in attempting to herd multiple breakdown projects to completion when key employees have personal problems, hunting season, and football schedules to overcome. And creativity? Imagine the shop’s hero — I am seeing a young engineer here — walking through the shop’s own private junkyard, tape measure in hand, under gathering clouds, searching for something that can be reworked to replace the bit of “unobtainium” that cannot be delivered until next month. Oh — and tragedy. You want tragedy? Perhaps your boss deciding that the “blank” you finally found is perfect for the higher-priority project he or she is personally shepherding to completion. Humor comes standard in most organizations; without it few team members would show up every day. It was far more challenging to repair or upgrade an existing gearbox than it was to design new ones. Over the next few blogs we will consider some of the ways you can “rest-mod” that classic gearbox into the 21st century.