Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Chilcotin Holidays

Learning Mechanics at the Ranch

I started driving a little later in life, I’m not sure why, possibly because I was always travelling and never really needed one at home. Once I learned and got a car though, it was hard for me to imagine how I could have left it so long and certainly would find it hard to be without a car for a long period of time. In saying that I was at the Ranch for 2 months before I bought a car, however it gave me the long awaited opportunity to learn more about fixing cars.

David was my first teacher. I wandered up to the workshop when he was rotating his tyres. I had changed a tyre before but wouldn’t have felt very confident in my ability if I was on my own. He taught me about safety, working on a flat surface and blocking the tyre opposite the one you’re working on so the car doesn’t roll. Loosening the lug nuts first, then jacking the car up and removing the nuts after. After changing the tyre and putting the nuts back on, he taught me the star pattern to tighten the nuts. All very easy steps to follow and now I feel much more confident in my ability to change a tyre.

Another day he put his car up on the ramp and I got to stand underneath a car for the first time and see what the underside looks like. He needed to change his oil filter and fuel filter and so let me help and explained how it all worked. Before it seemed like a job I would never be able to undertake myself and would have to go to a mechanic for but again a relatively simple task. An owner’s car manual is a great thing to have also to do your own maintenance.

We have a lot of ranch cars that need fixing up from time to time as they get a lot of wear and tear and generally quite old. These are the best type of ranch vehicles though, as they can be fixed at the ranch whereas newer cars tend to have more electronic components and would need to be brought to a mechanic when things go wrong in that area and living in the wilderness, that is not always possible.

Luckily we have a lovely gentleman and jack of all trades, Ed, who comes up to the ranch every so often to help maintain the ranch vehicles and make sure they are running smoothly. Ed is a very patient teacher and has been a great help to me on my quest for more knowledge on mechanics. He has an innate talent for explaining how things work to make it easy to understand.

Working with Ed has given me the opportunity to learn how to replace a starter, battery maintenance – the importance of cleaning the terminals, replacing rear shoes and wheel cylinder and learning a lot about the tools you work with, metric versus imperial and the different type of wrenches and sockets needed for different things. He’s also taught me that it’s not about strength but about mechanical advantage. Sometimes it seems like you need to be strong to do certain things but Ed has shown me that if you think outside the box and look at the situation a different way then there is always a way to get the job done.

Getting my own vehicle at the ranch has had its ups and downs; there were a few things that needed fixing when I bought it which turned up a few unexpected surprises, but this is very often the case when you buy a second hand car. It has been a great learning experience for me though. I have learned how to remove the plenum cover , spark plugs and valve cover gasket in my car and put it all back together. I did a temporary ranch fix on the wire mesh flex joint using insulation, black tape and a tin can. It worked beautifully and when I brought it into a mechanic in Vancouver I was told it was one of the best home fixes he had seen.

As Ed would say ‘Who are you? Are you aware of your environment?’ I guess part of me is now a home mechanic and I took the opportunity to learn when the environment I was in presented this opportunity. Being aware of your environment is a valuable thing to consider. Taking in your surroundings, being observant, using your knowledge and considering all the variables has great advantages when being in the wilderness and for all aspects of life.

Chilcotin Holidays

About Chilcotin Holidays

We are a licensed guide outfitter and we conduct guided wilderness adventures throughout our 5,000 square km operating area. This guide area has been operational since 1880, making it the oldest in British Columbia. More about us HERE.

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