Dozer, the bulldog

Dozer, the bulldog
Dozer: Spring training is upon us!

Backstage at Reggae on the River, 2017...

Backstage at Reggae on the River, 2017...
The author of Mark's Work

Hollyhocks

Hollyhocks
Why I grow flowers

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.
Air-borne bees

HeadSodBuster and BossLady at the coast

HeadSodBuster and BossLady at the coast
Love is the greatest power.

Beauty abounds!

Beauty abounds!
Crossing the Eel River at French's Camp

If you've seen one butterfly, you've seen 'em all, said no one ever.

If you've seen one butterfly,  you've seen 'em all, said no one ever.
Butter in the fly...

July Jewels

July Jewels
Bees to the Kingdom

My souvenir from Reggae on the River, 2017

My souvenir from Reggae on the River, 2017
Something I have always wanted...

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

bellspringsmark@gmail.com

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

United Auto Stores # 8: Take That Axle, Please

Take That Axle, Please


Richard worked in the machine shop at United Auto Stores, Story Road in San Jose for the last several years that I worked there, back in the seventies.  Richard wore his hair long also, but Jaime would NEVER have called Richard a hippie, even if his hair got caught in Jaime’s feet, instead of in his mind.  People did not dis on Richard.  He was not tall like Pescalone, and he wasn’t burly like Jaime, but he was six feet tall, and he was built in the V mode, with wide shoulders and a tapered waist.  Pound for pound, I believe Richard was the strongest man I ever met.
He had the most piercing eyes I have seen since Dan Briggs left Korea, for the greater New York area.  Richard was intense especially if he thought you were being disrespectful.  He was also an individual capable of exuding a great deal of inner strength and support.  I always wanted Richard on my side, whether it was a football game, or a confrontation with an angry customer.  He emitted a great feeling of confidence, and he rode a BMW Motorcycle that cost as much as Stephen’s Mercury Capri, the one that seemed so incredibly sporty in the mid-seventies, even stacked up against a Datsun 240Z.
Richard was a fan of the Oakland Raiders.  I think those blue collar values aligned themselves in Richard’s mind early on, and he felt comfortable going to Oakland and sitting in "The Black Hole," amongst the other members of the Raider Nation.  We’d get together a few times each season at his apartment and watch the game.  If Stephen’s brother Ronald was there, we would be drinking strawberry daiquiris. 
Like all machinists, Richard’s hands were toughened and calloused by the nature of the work in the shop.  If he could have done nothing but valve jobs, and everything entailed, he would have been perfectly contented.  After soaking and cleaning the cylinder head(s), he would run it through the glass beader, so that he could apply a red dye to the surface of the head to check for cracks.  He then ground the valves and valve seats to three different angles to ensure proper seating.  It was all so calculated and precise.  I think it was that attention to detail that got him interested in BMW Motorcycles.
If the head were cracked, Richard could drill and pin it, as long as it was cast iron.  On the east side of San Jose, there were still thousands of old 235 Chevy engines, in both cars and pickups, and they were known for cracking.  That was the bad news.  The good news was that the cracks were fixable, and the boat anchors were then good to go for another thirty years.  They were the heaviest of all the cylinder heads that crossed the counter.  
When the customer brought in a head to have the valves and seats ground, we took all of the pertinent info, lined up the necessary gaskets or other engine parts that might be needed, and made sure the customer signed the receipt and got a copy.  The counter clerks had to work in conjunction with the machinist, so that all parties were on the same page.
Once I began to handle the dealer trade, it was even more important to communicate with Richard.  We had to send the cracked aluminum cylinder heads out to be repaired, we had to be able to order valves, or more likely, the valve guides which Richard had found to be worn, and we had to be able to do it in a timely fashion, so as to be able to compete with the other shops.  That was why the delivery process was initiated, to not only increase business, but to increase flexibility, so that we could guarantee that Richard would get what he needed in time to get it done by Friday.  He was the king of the Vernier Calipers.  As the liaison between the shop and the customer, I wanted to be able to give accurate information, and receive it in turn so that I could acquire the necessary components.
He was very good at his job, even though it meant constantly having to stop to turn a set of brake drums,  or press a rear axle bearing on.  If it happened to be a Chrysler product, the poor clerk would take it back but would not enter the machine shop with it in his hand.  Otherwise, he was liable to draw back a stump.  Those pesky Chrysler product bearings were the rust on the surface of the serenity of the machine shop, and Richard hated them.  Anything that got in the way of the true machinist’s calling, was an annoyance.  It wasn’t even about making money or not; it was about being able to start a difficult process and following it through to its conclusion.  On the other hand, the manager of United Auto would have to consider whether it was in his best interests, in terms of health,  to suggest that Richard might be better off in another establishment.  No, Richard belonged at United on Story Road.  Just save the axle bearings for the weekend machinist.  
[I hope that doesn’t draw a lawsuit from Doug, the weekend machinist.]

4 comments:

  1. Ha! Doug - the weekend machinist and M-F attorney?
    I was always intrigued by Richard. He was not very approachable, always seemed aloof but not arrogant. I am fascinated by your description of the detail work he did as a machinist. It fits my slender memory of him. I believe it was Richard with whom I road on the back of a motorcycle all over San Jose one night.... just because I told him I had never ridden on the back of a motorcycle and he wanted to show me how cool it was. He was adamant though that I wear a helmet (pre helmet law days). Does that fit?

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  2. To the proverbial tee, in every way, shape and form. Aloof, until you got to know him and then a good friend. He visited us up here on Bell Springs more than once. He came into the house once, telling us we had left the keys in the truck. We told him we always did because no one was around to bug it. Besides, as Ken used to say, "What if a neighbor needed to borrow it, and the keys weren't in it?"

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  3. rode - not road - but you know why I wrote road, don't you? me and my lost thing.......
    and that last comment about Ken makes me miss him again -
    he didn't respond to the email that i sent to his work.
    whatever
    I didn't know he was so hurt. He was the one who wouldn't marry me. not the other way around.

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  4. I would not conclude that pain is the reason for non-response. How about someone who is cruising along through mid-life and doesn't need any complications, such as opening up doors to times gone by? Those times were here, they manifested themselves accordingly, and then rode/road off into the sunrise. Put you hands together, in front of you, and thrust them upward into the sky, flaying your fingers outward, saying simultaneously, "LET IT GO." You'll feel better. Repeat as needed.

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