Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How to Fix Your Brakes, Illustrated

Tonight's post wraps itself around the soft, inviting cover of hobbies, manliness and auto repair. Rarely is a blanket of comfort so well weaved than when time alone meets personal accomplishment and hardened steel tools. Being able to take time aside from a busy life to build or repair something and to do so with the strength of my hands, the hardness of my bone and the stubbornness of my will is a deeply reaffirming experience. To look at something physical and know my hands have laid upon that material, formed or fitted disparate pieces together and repaired or created it brings pride without hubris and gratitude without expectation.
Additionally I should note that tonight's post brings two hobbies together. The description of the second will be laid out in great detail in a follow up post: the "How-To" of how this post went together; I assure you it is more interesting than it reads. The rest of this post should be humorous...

Ah brake repair. It is so necessary a task. Without brakes airplanes would crash into levees, auto drivers would crash through fast food restaurants and order their meal while idling inside the kitchen. Even kites need brakes, for without a method to stop those flying daggers every third person would have an eyeball permanently attached to a flying piece of nylon on strings. And what of the Vikings? Without a method to stop their boat they might have accidentally carved a new river in North America as they missed their turn at Greenland and continued heading west.
What follows is a series of photographs from an old auto repair manual. I was fortunate enough to find these photos before I fixed my own front brakes last weekend. In case you're interested I replaced the brake pads and rotors. I'll relay the text as best as possible from the book I found. It is old so forgive the liberal interpretation of the instructions. From the illustrated manual, we can see that fixing your brakes, the front ones, is an easy process requiring no more than 8 steps. So... on we go...

"Step 1: Hire an Assistant-
The hiring of an assistant is of a dire importance. Assistants can be trusted colleagues who anticipate your every move and have the precise tool ready for you before you speak it's name. Working together side by side, you and your assistant will create a bond stronger than..."
Okay, this part gets fuzzy, but I think the author is trying to give examples of things with strong bonds like "Tango and Cash," "Bert and Ernie," or dihydrogen monoxide. The author then gives instructions on how to find an assistant including greetings of proper etiquette of the time. Below, the photo illustrates hiring an assistant.
"I say fair maiden... want to get in my buggy?"

"Step 2: Inspect Your Tools-
Now Reader once an assistant has been hired be sure that all working equipment is in operable shape. This is often where the bonding between you and your assistant starts. The pairing of technician and assistant must start here. Ensure your assistant understands the tools and job at hand."
Umm... I'm not sure what's going on here but I think the technician is excited by his assistant's knowledge.
Great Googly-moogly!!

"Step 3: Read the Instructions:
Well done reader. If you have made it this far, you certainly are quickly preparing yourself for the task at hand."
This photo is straight forward. Make sure you and your assistant read the instructions.
Find the nearest book and read it (this one!). All books contain useful knowledge.

"Step 4: Take a Break:
Reader by this point you have surely worked up a thirst. The road ahead will be arduous, take naps, cat-naps, breaks and rests often. I wager a shilling dear reader that you're ready for that nap!"
I guess people back then got tired easy.
Zzzz.... Oh not that insufferable Mr. Darcy again.... Zzzzz....

"Step 5: Fire that Chipmunk!
By now my fellow auto enthusiast you've witnessed that accursed chipmunk waiting around the edges of your project trying to take credit for your work, take your assistant or steal your Lucky Charms. Clearly I do not have to tell you this can not be tolerated. Fire That Chipmunk!"
Look at the chipmunks they had back then. I had no idea chipmunks evolved that fast in a hundred years.
You'll never work in this town again if my mustache has any say in the matter!!

"Step 6: Fix the Brakes!
This is it dear Reader. This is what all your napping and rodent expunging has lead to. It's time to fix your brakes! Make sure your assistant uses the big 'x' shaped tool in the general area of the engine bay. Buff the B-post!"
I think this illustrated guide is missing some key steps...

"Step 7: Congratulate your Assistant on a Job Well Done-
It is customary to show your appreciation to your assistant by making idle conversation and offering fair recompense. It would be rude to not ask your assistant if she is free on the morrow's Thursday to wed and make babies. The modern woman particularly finds large mustaches and waggy fingers appealing."
Times sure have changed since then...
Good Work Technician. Wiggle your mustache and she is now satisfactorily flattered! Prepare to make babies!

"Step 8: To the Victor go the Spoils
Soon the morrow's Thursday will approach. Prepare with a clean shave and practice your waggy fingers!"
Clearly not all technician / assistant relationships ended in babies back then. I think the author was deluding himself by this point.
Dear Technician, did you forget to properly display your waggy fingers?!?! A modern woman deserves better!!!

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