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Who here works on car engines?

I rebuilt my lawnmower today (long story), and I was thinking about it - how come (in stereotypes at least) geeks don't work on cars, while jocks do? Working on an engine is pure mechanics - basic engineering. I've got no problems working on cars at all...

Any ideas?


Friday, June 13, 2003

This geek not only likes working on cars, but also welding, machining and woodworking. Just wish I had the time to get better at it.

Friday, June 13, 2003

I like working on cars. Here in Australia cars last for ages due to the lack of rusting, so I enjoy working on Datsuns from the 70s.

Matthew Lock
Friday, June 13, 2003

No excatly car engines but...

When I was a kid, I used to love building those minature model cars, complete with engines, tyres, etc.

Prakash S
Saturday, June 14, 2003

I don't think that stereotype is true. Personally, I used modify and tinker with high performance car engines (ported rotary engines, and a 300 HP 5.8L V8). I know a few software developers that are car buffs, although granted, most of them don't work on engines.

I plan to spend most of my money on a collection of cars, a workshop with a hoist and a dyno -- and the rest of the money, I'll spend on foolish things.

Saturday, June 14, 2003

When you're 13 you can't have a car?

You can't play video games on cars?

Cars don't have IRC?
Saturday, June 14, 2003

Scott Mueller uses his hardware skills to alter the chips on the cars he races.

As far as the mindset goes the skills needed of a mechanic are the same as those of a systems administrator, or a doctor doing a diagnosis; a logical mind and the determination to get to the root of the problem.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, June 14, 2003

I'm interested in cars and working on them but don't know how.  If I find myself in that situation with computers, I buy a copy of the relevant O'Reilly book.  What good resources are available to learn about cars, engines and the like.  It seems to me like everything I've seen is a reference book about a specific model written for people who already know what they are doing.

Ken Klose
Saturday, June 14, 2003

I used to play with gas powered radio controlled cars, planes, and helicopters. The engines seemd real to me...single piston, 2 stroke.

Saturday, June 14, 2003

I'm interested in just about anything I can mess with. That is primarily limited to computers, however, because of one thing: learning on computers is *cheap*.

I talk to a friend about doing some work on my car, just because. If I spend $300 I can get a few more horsepower out of it.

However, when I didn't like how XMMS worked, I changed it. That one cost me nothing.

I don't know enough about cars because that would require working on cars. OTOH, I taught myself C without much help at all, for a lot less money than a car (which I was too young to drive then anyway).

I think the stereotype comes mostly from computer people meeting other computer people more readily than motorheads 8-}

Mike Swieton
Saturday, June 14, 2003

Hardware engineers work on hardware, software engineers work on software.

Software engineer
Saturday, June 14, 2003

I've rebuild my project car from pretty much scratch a couple of times, this time however it should be staying complete with 500hp worth of home built, injected v8

Im in Aus (brisbane) and yer, code all day, spin spanners at night

Dan G
Saturday, June 14, 2003

Software engineers fix bugs in hardware, and hardware engineers give software engineers new ways to screw up.

Simon Lucy
Saturday, June 14, 2003

I love working with wood. I've been renovating our little californian bungalow for the last few months, and I've loved every minute of it (even the annoying stuff). There's something about running a bit of wood across the saw, something about putting together different bits of wood and making something, something about the smell of the crowd and the roar of the greasepaint...

I'd never done it before the renovation, and other than high school wood working, never used a saw. I'm a convert. I'm already eyeing off a nice De Walt sliding compound mitre saw which I can justify by building the back deck...

Geoff Bennett
Sunday, June 15, 2003

I can't believe no one has done a YMMV double meaning on this thread.

Ethan Herdrick
Sunday, June 15, 2003

Perhaps because developing an in-depth knowledge about either car engines or computers would require a large enough chunk of time that it would preclude you from learning about the other?

Sunday, June 15, 2003

For one, I have _never_ been interested in cars because it's so messy. I mean grease over your hands, unhealthy particles in the air, plus the physical injuries (cuts and burns on hands) all for some dubbious results.

Not very attrative to me at least. For me a car is just like a oversized toaster: you put the key, you turn, it ignites. Difference with toaster: you can replace a toaster when it breaks as you have to fix a car. So... I found a good mecanics!

He's an honest man and like me just LOVES what he's doing (and was quite a challenge to find ;-) . It's just we don't love the same things :-)

Sunday, June 15, 2003

I'm thinking jcm is the reason for the stereotype...

Sunday, June 15, 2003

I think jcm is one of the few people who spoke up on this thread who admitted to not working on cars. I'm another. Then again, I'm not much of a programmer either. I get the concepts of both, but never dove in and worked on either.

I think you're getting a skewed response here - mostly people who DO work on car engines, and everyone else isn't responding.
Sunday, June 15, 2003

I have worked on cars; because I couldn't afford to get someone else to do it.

Now I don't because:
1. With black box "brains" there are things you just cannot tinker with or fix problems with.
2. You often need (expensive) special tools
3. In car development there is an aim to reduce the amount of space all the doings take up. Consequently a simple job can require half a dozen other jobs as pre-requisites because you can't get where you need to.

I like software; if you want to fix it or change it then you just change the code; no need to buy new bits or dismantling to get to the part you want to change (which can take hours). And no need to get all greasy! And you can do it indoors..

Anyway, why tinker with cars?; if you want something that goes fast just buy an off-the-shelf motorbike (Blackbird, Hayabusa, ZX12R). 0-60 in less than 3 seconds and a top speed of 180+. It's hard getting a car to do that!

The only engine I do maintain is my microlight (ultralight to you yanks) engine.. and that's cos I wouldn't trust anyone else with something that I rely on to stay in the air!

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Mark - I was replying (tongue in cheek) to the *reasons* jcm gave - "it's icky and I might break a nail" [grin]

I'm sure there are a lot of geeks who don't work on cars, and I'm sure that for most of them it's a combination of time and money issues...


Sunday, June 15, 2003

I work on engines and machinery, and drive heavy equipment all of the time.  Cars, trucks, lawnmowers, tractors, farm machinery, you name it.  It's part of my job.  I work on a farm (*but thinks he would like to work in IT*).  I also love woodworking and gardening.  Just finished a solid oak raised panel desk.  I could talk cars, farms, computers, tools etc. all day with anyone.

As for the geek stereotype, maybe it's because a car is a symbol of independence whereas a computer is not.  You also don't have to take a test to use a computer whereas you have to take a drivers test for your license.  You can't show off with a computer.  A computer isn't really a status symbol, unless it makes you a lot of money.  (I could be wrong on all of this though as computers are more "mainstream" and "common place" now.)

It may be that "geeks" don't have the desire to work on "cars" because they "know they can do it" - "it's simple mechanics" and  "common knowledge" and are in pursuit of something more. They may also think that they can't afford it.  A wrench set from Sears and some oil isn't that expensive (of course you have to have a work area, shed, garage etc).  (I think the reverse is also true that some people believe they can't use computers because computers "are math".)

Another reason may be that "geeks" think they "need a manual" or have to "learn it".  To me, manuals are helpful, but not a necessity.  You really don't need a manual to change your oil or your plugs or even your alternator or your battery etc etc.  These are all standard things that garages make big bucks on because people don't want to take/make the time/investment to do it themselves.  Which is understandable.  You may not own a car or have a garage or an area where you can work on your car or may not have the time.  (Our local recycling program collects used oil.)

I believe sometimes you just have to "do it" instead of relying solely on the manual.  That's how you gain experience.  Some people are so afraid to do things without instructions...

There are exceptions to the manual. That is if you are working on complex high-tech items.  Modern Aircraft, (space)ships etc etc all have some form of a "technical order"  or T.O. for different subsystems. e.g. NASA (I worked on aircraft...). 

As for the person who talked about getting dirty and cuts/scrapes, all I can say is that I have never ever been cut by working on any machinery.  I have gotten dirty but hey that's part of the job.  Agriculture is one of the most dangerous occupations.  (Offtopic:  I've actually met people who didn't know what a combine or a tractor was.  Please, tell me you know.  Without them we'd all be in the fields with sickles.  And thank Henry Ford and Harry Ferguson for the 3-point hitch system.)

My $0.02.

Dave B. - Agricultural Engineer? ;)
Sunday, June 15, 2003

I think one reason software people don't typically mess around with engines is that the fields typically reflect  different geo-cultural environments.

To be exposed to machinery with an opportunity to modify it typically requires environments dependent on machinery and with a need to fix it, such as on farms and in some rural areas. Car hobbyists are another field, and they also typically are associated with outer urban areas where there's a lot of space.

By comparison, software typically requires a lot of close access to modern computers, associated information and generally peer groups with similar interests. This will generally be found in middle class, relatively wealthy urban environments, which are the opposite of machine-rich environments.

Cross-overs can occur where rural students move to urban areas and enter occupations or courses involving extensive computer work.

I grew up on  a farm and I used to pull morobikes and pumps to pieces before I could legally drive. Friends of mine could pull $100,000 tractors to pieces using heavy lifting equipment, and perform fixes that would otherwise require professional expertise. Interestingly, in social surveys, those friends would nowadays show up as high school dropouts, because they left school to work on their farms.

I'm a software engineer now, and I just don't have time to fiddle with machinery.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Well I'll thank Ferguson since he's the one who invented and patented it. And speaking of him, please wish my 8N a happy birthday. It's her 50th birthday.

Speaking of radical innovations? How about the moldboard plow? brought to us by our very own Th. Jefferson, farmer, inventor and founder of the University of Virginia.

X. J. Scott
Sunday, June 15, 2003

>> "Ferguson since he's the one who invented and patented it"

True, but without the "hand-shake" agreement, I don't think Ferguson would have been successful marketing the 9N.  I would have to look it up, but I believe Ferguson ventures out on his own over a dispute with Ford.

You have an 8N!  Is it original?  I'm restoring a Farmall A - ATM and we still use a Farmall M for odd jobs on the farm (This one has a hand clutch).  I also attend a lot of Steam Engine shows.  Reminds me of all the work I did as a kid.

Dave B.
Sunday, June 15, 2003

>> "I grew up on  a farm and I used to pull morobikes and pumps to pieces before I could legally drive."

I hear ya.

>> "Friends of mine could pull $100,000 tractors to pieces using heavy lifting equipment, and perform fixes that would otherwise require professional expertise."

We did the same thing.

>> "Interestingly, in social surveys, those friends would nowadays show up as high school dropouts, because they left school to work on their farms."

In my graduating class, I don't believe anyone dropped out, but then again we weren't encouraged to pursue a career in agriculture.

Dave B.
Sunday, June 15, 2003

"You haven't got enough money to buy my patents." - Ferguson
"Well, you need me as much as I need you, so what do you propose?" - Ford
"A gentleman's agreement. You stake your reputation and resources on this idea, I stake a lifetime of design and invention.--no written agreement could be worthy of what that represents. If you, trust me, I'll trust you."-Ferguson
"It's a good idea."-Ford
And with that, the two men stood and shook hands.

And in 1947, when Ford abrogated the agreement, he proved he was no gentlelman! Fortunately Ferguson had enough cash to strike out on his own at that point rather than become bitter.


She's original - there's only one new serial number 8N I know of, that was put together by a parts company year before last to make the point that they had a complete range of new parts.

And that's my primary and only work tractor. I use her for plowing, discing and bush-hogging.

Whatcha up to on your farm there?

X. J. Scott
Monday, June 16, 2003

I'm still amazed that you can put together a whole new 8N from parts.

I work for a mid-sized dairy in the midwest, we raise some wheat for "cash-crop" and straw but mostly alfalfa, corn and soybeans on a rotation.  The value of these commodities and milk don't make farming very attractive. In fact, it is unprofitable (at this point in time) to start and run your own small dairy farm because there is too much overhead.  Even with government subsidies. Therefore you see the decline of the small family farm and the uprise of monstrous 3,000-10,000 cow herds backed by large cooperatives and private investments.  These farms outsource to have their feed grown by more monstrous farms and utilize migrant workers to do the dirty work.  I guess every industry has it's problems.

Which is part of the reason why I'm pursuing a position working with computers.  The other part is, I like to code.

Dave B.
Monday, June 16, 2003

You got your reasons backwards there, Dave. ;-)


Monday, June 16, 2003

Well, the main reason is that I like to code.  Came out wrong I guess.

Dave B.
Monday, June 16, 2003

Hmmmm...Most geeks that I know are also mechanically minded and enjoy tinkering with engines.

They don't have much time to do it, but they enjoy it and certainly understand the mechanics.

Mark Hoffman
Monday, June 16, 2003

I'm not sure about the jock/geek thing.

Basically, the same people who look down their noses at programmers (aka 'geeks') look down their noses at mechanics (aka 'grease monkeys').

Funny thing is, those people usually have pisspot jobs like answering the phones at financial services companies, but think they must be much more glamourous because they have to wear a shirt and tie to work.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Gotta confirm my geeky friends seem to tinker with cars.  From the drag racing crowd to the racetrack wheel to wheel racing crowd to the there is no freaking way I'm paying $200 for somebody to cahnge my brakes when I can do it 1/2 hour and have some fun too :-)

to jcm I can only say that I've received far worse cuts from crappy computer cases than anything I've done with a car.  Dirt is easy to get off plus I don't mind it.  Have burned myself many times on ovens and such while none on cars.  As far as unhealthy particles - just send you keyboard or phone to a lab.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

tekumse... Hmm sounds like the Indian name Tecumseh.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

... that was a statue in the Cheers.
Wednesday, June 18, 2003

i love fixing car engines its so fun and i am the only girl i know who loves to do it

Saturday, March 27, 2004

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