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Who were your mentors, and how did they help you get where you are.

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  • Who were your mentors, and how did they help you get where you are.

    Just something to think about, we are all where we are building what we build and doing what we do because of people who taught us.

    Just a page to talk about who led us to where we are.
    1967 W200.aka.Hank
    1946 WDX.aka.Shorty
    2012 Ram 2500 PowerWagon.aka Ollie

    Life is easier in a lower gear.

  • #2
    When I was really young, my parents owed a rather large John Deere dealership, that also sold Agco, Massey, Troy Built, Woods, and several other brands. Along with that, we did heavy hauling, ran a heavy truck wrecker service, and serviced all sorts of large and small machines. Spending Saturdays and summers in the dealership taught me a lot of the basics of working on things. Between my dad, grandfather, and several of our employees who were family friends as well, I had my hands into all sorts of things that your average kid would never see.

    In highschool, I picked up a job working at the local airport as it was closer to home, and school so I could actually earn several hours of income after school. There I was taken under the wing of two different A&P mechanics that were not afraid to put me to work. I learned a number more tricks for working on things in my few years there before going to college.

    During college, I ended up making friends with a group of fellow gear heads, however I turned out to be one of the more skilled builders when it came to the actually knowing what to do. I was the only one that could grab a stick welder. Over the past 15 years though, I've not had any real mentors other than some friends I've made here and on a few other various forums. I ask questions and things but honestly, the folks that respond here are more helpful than pretty much any other source. I've reached the point that if I "google" search a weird particular topic, looking for additional information, my own posts and threads are appearing in my search results.

    I've been trying to mentor a few people lately but I am having a hard time figuring who is looking to grow and learn, or who is there to just use my tools for their own benefit and contribute as least as possible. I've learned to pretty much work by myself these days. I wish I was closer to a lot of members on this board though, you guys are the best help I have these days!
    1942 WC53 Carryall in progress.


    • #3
      I started out by working with my dad who was a heavy equipment operator. He showed my how to operate an old Massey backhoe when I was 10 years old. We were always building something at our place or helping family members. When I became a teenager my dad started a lawn mower shop as a sideline business. So my brother and I repaired lawnmowers in the summer. I went to work for my grandpa between the 8th grade and freshman year as well as the following summer. He poured concrete and taught me how to set forms, pour and finish concrete. I'll never forget his words, "Get down there and work it, it ain't gonna wait for YOU" I passed that one to more than one of our employees when my dad started our family construction business. Having such a business we worked on our own equipment as much as possible so I called on what I had learned repairing mowers for working on the bigger stuff. Along the way I took a bodyshop class after catching the bug in high school working on my dad's 68 Dodge truck with the usual rust on the door bottoms and cowl. During and after high school I became a carpenter framing houses. I went to work for my dad in 1974 making $4 an hour. We sold the business in 2012 after 40 years in business. Needing a job I turned my hobby of working on Power Giants into a full time job. 5 years ago my friend Jim asked if he could restore a 66 Bronco. I said yes and we were off and running. Jim had grown up in a bodyshop and had his own for 10 or 12 years. He's been working with me since we started on his Bronco and has been my mentor in restoring these trucks. He told me early on that he could make a bodyman out of a carpenter far easier than making one out of a mechanic. His rational was a carpenter knows how to cut things to fit and finish a job in detail. The strange thing is in 1978 Jim painted my 74 Charger. I painted his 66 Bronco and his 57 D100 because he doesn't know HVLP guns or two stage paint systems. We keep banging out Power Giants together because as he said when he started, its either work for me or pay a shrink because he'd go crazy now that he's retired.


      • #4
        Growing up my parents had their struggles like many people. My dad was always fixing something or piecing together his daily driven pickups and until recently has never driven a vehicle that he did not put together from several different pickups. i believe until 10 years ago my dads daily pickup was a combination of at least 6 pickups and at least 4 colors. to this day he has the ability to assemble"junk" that he has accumulated over the years into a exceptionally dependable yet questionable looking pickup. I hope to someday gain that ability but as i am going thru my current project he keeps asking me why i am spending all the time and effort on aesthetic things like sandblasting and painting every piece? he says it won't work any better because it has new paint.


        • #5
          Grampa taught me tool basics and keeping the shop clean. He was a jack of all trades, but he was best at cabinet making. I moved away from him while I was still pretty young, though, so those lessons were cut short. My dad had an office job in the days when you spent a lot of time at the office or they'd bring a younger kid who made less money. So using anything more than a hammer, saw and drill eluded me until I got a job at the local Catholic church helping the new priest remodel everything. There were a few of us working there over the summers, pouring concrete, landscaping, helping the local plumbers and electricians with anything they needed, sheetrock, mudding and taping, and painting. Do you know how many wooden window frames are in a Catholic school, church and rectory? I lost count.. but we learned a lot about how things are built and how they could be repaired and improved. I learned how to bid a job, and how to hire help.. and how to let someone go. I have used just about everything they all taught me in my own homes over the years.
          I was never around any real mechanics, though. Or body guys, either. I have had to learn all that as I went along, and nothing teaches you like sitting on the side of the road. And If I've learned anything from those guys, it's that "the problem won't fix itself." The 80's version of "git er done". My daily driver is the 1975 W200 crew cab in my avatar. It is a constant lesson in maintenance. But it is a lot of fun to drive and it's real easy to find..