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Young people can't fix things anymore (and what it means for our hobby)


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It's true that there are lots of hands-on younger people, of course, but the overall proportion of them is dropping. Those who are eager to learn will have to be taught...

I can say that children are born smarter these days but because of the computer age have a very short attention span. Are there enough around that can support mechanic schools these days? I mean if kids no longer have the patience to sit and build a 1:25 scale plastic model car but rather buy one already built for them in metal, will they have enough interest to work on the real deal or attention span to figure out problems?

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RW and helfen- I didn't say that rule applied to everyone, but, many, it showed a change in culture, items that were built to last forever disappeared and items that were temporary became the norm. As far as back east, take a look at Levitown (suburb life). Farm life will always be farm life, no matter the generation! (Several family members are farmers and they still live like their parents and their parents before them!).

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I would say Steve_Mack did a fine job of presenting the "lay of the land" in the present day in this regard.

Speaking for myself, let me also say that I did not take offense to 1948 Lincoln reference to my generation. That is why I consciously used the term "resemble" vs. 'resent.' I was just standing up for my fellow pack rats and tinkerers!

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Funny how my Grandpa used to say the same thing about kids not knowing how to fix things,meaning my generation of Baby Boomers, "they just buy new ones". He passed away in 1974.

I like being able to plug a computer into a car and getting a real time diagnosis. I also like being able to look up on Google about a problem and best way to fix it as well as the global reach and price comparison available. My current winter car is a 10 yr. old Pontiac Grand Prix with over 220,000 klms. The composite plastic headlights were pitted and dulled out to the point not being much good at night. That is a problem here in Canada in the winter, very long dark nights. Even after a light sanding and polishing they were sketchy at best. Wreckers wanted $100 each for used ones not much better. Went to Google, found a pair of new for $150 for both including shipping. Changing them on that all plastic modern,disposable Grand Prix took all of 5 minutes.

Now compare this to me back in 1974 trying to fix the rusted out headlight buckets on my then 7 yr. old rusty Mustang with less than 80,000 MILES that kept blowing out the sealed beams every time I hit a puddle with the lights on. Spending the day trying to patch, pop rivet, & bondo up the fender ends and a pair of used buckets & new headlights............ Sometimes the Good OLD Days weren't that great.

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I am of the "eeludddy" group that I also work on both ends of the automotive spectrum.

I was working on my 1915 Buick truck today and also on my Dad's 2000 Cadillac that had a check engine light on. It was very easy to use a scanner on his car to see that the engine had a misfire code in the system and it was on cylinder #3. Now all I needed to do was check #3 spark plug, wire, and coil as it was intermittent which kind of eliminated a mechanical problem. It eliminated the run around of checking the other 5 cylinders.

Fortunately I have the tools to work on both ends of the automotive spectrum, at least for GM cars.

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I am a retired union electrician, and have had the opportunity to work very closely with about 15 apprentices in the past 35 years. These young men (and one young woman) were and are very talented and could pretty much repair anything mechanical if they had to. I feel most of them have much better mechanical skills then the majority of the guys in my apprentice class ever had. They really don't have to be handy with cars or appliances because nothing really breaks and maintenance is much simpler on today's vehicles an appliances. They live in a dual income/work six days a week economy. Spare time is precious in our hobby, almost as much as spare space and cash. I see with my own three sons that they just don't have the time. They don't change the oil in their cars and trucks and is not because they don't know how, it's just cheaper for them to pay someone else then it is to do it themselves.

I don't see the hobby surviving the way we know it, not because nobody will know how to fix anything, Let's face it these cars are simple! Far from the complex machines that are on the road now. The younger generation just will not have the time, financial, and logistical resources to participate, sad...

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Wayne, that was not the way it was on the west coast either, especially if you had parents who went through the depression. I, as well as my parents grew up in the L.A. area. My parents got married in 1936. My wife and her parents grew up in Michigan. Our family values were pretty much the same, both with the emphasis on saving and self reliance and whatever you bought it needed to be good value for the money. Those values which we were brought up with helped tremendously in our marriage, especially where money is concerned I am glad to say we are on the same page. One thing that I'm different from my father was every ten years he would buy a new car. I will never forget one Saturday morning in late October 1958 ( too cold for my mom and sister) we loaded our 1950 Silver Streak 8 with surfboards to go surfing. About two blocks from the house my dad stopped at a stop sign and said "I'm thinking about a new car". I was devastated...crushed. Both of us had done so much to keep that car looking new ,so much so my neighbor across the street would say I was polishing the paint right off the car or I see you are polishing the polish. He, by the way was the only person I ever saw wash his cars with kerosene. Anyroad, after that private talk my dad had with me that day I vowed to never let that happen to me. Two of the cars in my collection I have owned since H/S, one of those I bought new. The 76 Olds I bought new, and there are two others. To say I have a love of cars, boats, planes and trains is a understatement!

d

Me too! I was with my dad when he bought his brand new '57 Oldsmobile and was devastated when he traded it for a new '65 Chevy Impala. I still have my first new car, my '75 Olds.
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I am just like R W BURGESS. I am 75 yrs. old. 9 yrs ago when i moved from N.J. to SC i filled a 20 yard dumpster before moving of stuff I didnt think I needed. I do miss a couple of things i chucked out.

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There are a lot of talented younger kids building cars who enjoy the tinkering with carburetors and all things mechanical.

They are hot rodders which to some are a scourge as they seem to destroy not cherish the stock automobile and yet they take on projects deemed not worthy of restoration and get the vehicle back on the road.

There are those whose mechanical skills lay in the building of their own computers...soldering motherboards,designing and building cabinets not unlike those who built hi-fi's in the 50's and 60's.

The Mechanics Illustrated and Popular Mechanics monthly magazines have been replaced by online forums or e-zines.

Even "back in the day" (choose your generation) there were those who did repairs and built what they wanted and those who didn't.

Be honest and without counting family members or relation how many people did anyone know who built much of the articles in Mech Ill or Pop Mech?

While the skill sets we grew up and and value may seem to be lost on the current youths many have skill sets that fit this era.

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There's still hope!!

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The new TV show, Scorpion, illustrates (I know it's only a TV show) what some young people working as a group can accomplish. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scorpion_(TV_series

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They just need direction, and someone to guide them in the right direction, something only wisdom can do. (You're not born with wisdom, right?)

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This reminds me of the upcoming AACA Annual Meeting in February, a weekend session of activities that include seminars (guidance classes?), awards ceremonies, and just plain old fun. That is what we are all supposed to do, share our wisdom with the youth, so it is not lost in the dust bin of history. Woah! Where did that come from????:)

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They are not finalized yet Howard. Headquarters will be working hard next week after this holiday to help get everything in order, and Pat Buckley will probably post the schedule soon there after. See you there.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Several things.

It is true that most young people do not know how to fix anything, and have no interest in learning. There are exceptions, but that is just what they are, exceptions.

But it isn't always their fault. I have a couple of appliances at home (shampooer, floor cleaner, etc.) that simply need a part, and I would fix them. But the manufacturer does not have spare parts, I can't find them on Ebay or online. So they sit there not fixed because I don't feel like spending $150 for a new one when all it needs is a $20 part I could easily put on myself. Eventually I will give up and give in, but for now they are still sitting there.

I also have a fiber optic Christmas tree. It is discontinued, and it looks different than most of the rest of them and I really like it. Amazingly, I was able to get parts for it from the manufacturer. However, with parts and shipping, it cost me $88.00 to repair the tree that I paid $29.99 for. In this particular case, I did it because I wanted that specific one fixed. But otherwise it would make no sense to pay almost 3 times what you could buy a new one for to fix the old one.

As for my Lincoln, I will try to repair simple things myself or with help from a friend. But I also have no desire to spend several weekends trying to fix something a mechanic could do in a few hours. I would rather spend the time driving and enjoying the car.

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Back when the Philadelphia area was a manufacturing center young people got into apprenticeships and learned a trade, many related to auto work. When they had slow periods they worked on cars,sometimes not going back to the main jobs. Now that those factory jobs are mostly gone the new jobs start with internships or fancy computer work where they start at the bottom and don't advance far. There aren't many fall back jobs either like construction or truck driving.

How many computer analysts can you fit in the back of a pickup truck? Two, with their lawn mowers.

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