Mike’s shop tips

In the interest of keeping it light and at least somewhat entertaining this weekend, and seeing how it IS a weekend and all, with plenty of folks embarking on maintenance and repair projects of various types, herewith Mike’s Iron Garage/Shop Laws. These laws are derived from my years of tinkering around with shit that I really ought to be leaving alone, and a few years experience as a Harley mechanic. They are all dead accurate and incontrovertible, but this list is by no means all-inclusive:

1) Murphy’s Law is omnipresent, reliable, and infallible.

2) Be sure your workspace is clean and organized. The odds of successfully completing your project are directly proportional to how clean and well-set-up your shop is.

3) If the project requires a certain specialized tool, go buy it now. Don’t wait until you’re halfway through and realize you need it immediately. Go get it, and spend whatever you have to. This is closely related to

Corollary A: Expensive, well-made tools are worth their weight in whatever precious commodity you care to insert here. Cheap, shoddy tools are not worth borrowing from a despised neighbor. They suck. They don’t work as advertised. They break at the most inopportune times. They break the thing you’re working on. They can seriously injure you. Pep Boys or Autozone or Wal-Mart is no place to buy tools. Real mechanics take great pleasure in going to places like this and snickering at the tools there, as well as the poor hopeful saps buying them. If you don’t have access to a Snap-On truck, go to Sears and buy their top-line Craftsman Professional stuff. It’s not as good as Snap-On, but it’s good enough for most people. Good tools are expensive and worth every dime you have to shell out. Avoid any tool stamped with “Made in China.” This is not a racist statement. Their steel sucks.

Corollary B: If your task requires a specialized tool and you try to improvise with a half-assed substitute, you will break the tool, whatever you’re working on, and something else completely unrelated to whatever you’re working on which will have to be replaced before you can go back to what you were originally working on. When you fling the piece of shit across the shop in a blind rage, it will hit something even more expensive and break it too. All this will add up to a greater expense than buying the specialized tool your cheap dumb ass should have bought in the first place would have been.

4) If you’re working on something for a friend or relative, say their car, they will describe the problem in the most hilarious and wildly inaccurate terms imaginable. Example: “It’s making this kind of clacking sound, like this…” at which point they will proceed to make a whooshing sound or something resembling the noises emanating from various bodily orifices in their sleep last night which in no way resembles a “clack”.

Corollary C: The person in question will not, no way in hell, never, ever be able to replicate the problem in your presence.

5) Super Glue does not work. Never has, never will. Don’t argue, don’t try to convince yourself that this time it’ll do the trick. If anybody tells you that it worked on their sister’s cat’s grandmother’s old Toyota, who had exactly the same problem, firmly ask this person to leave immediately and never come back. The only thing Super Glue has ever been good for is glueing your fingers together, which it does quite well. You don’t even have to open the tube for it to accomplish this – just wave your hands around in the general vicinity of some and see what happens. It does work very well at sealing serious cuts that you probably should get stitches for but don’t feel like messing with, and I recommend it for that. But absolutely nothing else.

6) If a problem with a device or mechanism is not immediately manifesting itself or affecting your ability to operate said device or mechanism, do not attempt a spurious and superfluous repair. I.E., if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, dootbrain.

7) A manual will not help you at all, and will probably only confuse you, unless it was put out by the original equipment manufacturer and sometimes not even then. This goes double for any Haynes manuals you may have. Use them to light your bong with, or to train your puppy – and nothing else.

8) If you aren’t an experienced auto mechanic, carburetor is French for “Leave it the fuck alone.”
Corollary D: If you aren’t at least a somewhat-skilled painter, don’t. Just don’t. This applies to any project other than simple house-painting. You will NOT be happy with the results, and neither will anybody else who has to look at the damn thing.

9) When (if) you successfully complete your task, clean your hands thoroughly, but leave some grease under your fingernails. It will horrify the snooty yuppies at the restaraunt or bar you go to later, and chicks dig the appearance of rugged masculinity it imparts. Well, a certain type of chick does, anyway, which observation segues nicely into…

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