Jim's Garage

Replacing a Dodge Diesel Oil Pan

Repairing a Dodge Ram
Air Conditioning and TIPM

Repairing a Jeep
JK AC Compressor Clutch

Repairing a Dodge
with the Death Wobble


Repairing a Dodge
Sliding Rear Window

Repairing a Deere 317
48" Mower Deck

Repairing a
Deere 301 Tractor

Rebuilding a
Deere 33 Tiller

power steering to a Deere 317

Adding a sleeve hitch, hitch rod and plow

Hummer rims for a Ram

Email Jim


Welcome to my garage.

I got my start in mechanics working on motorcycles.  I bought a semi-running 1965 Triumph Tiger T100 500cc. After learning about Whitworth tools and Lucas electrics, I got it running well enough to get me around town.  However, keeping it running was another matter.  Within a month or so, the primary chain tensioner broke and launched the chain through the end of the case. Back to walking.

Over the next few months, I acquired some tools and learned enough to get it repaired.  Rather than being angry at being sold a worn out bike, I found that I enjoyed the fixing almost as much as riding. Thus began a love affair with tinkering with vehicles, particularly motorcycles, especialy Triumphs.  About a year later during an especially rainy winter, I finally got to the point that riding a motorcycle in inclement weather was loosing some of its appeal. One day while cruising Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, CA, I spied a 1962 VW beetle in a used car lot.  I stopped in and inquired about the price.  The bug seemed to be in pretty good shape and soon it was mine. Out the door price? $324.59.  Not a bad deal for a 9 year old car.

I had heard about a book on repairing VWs. John Muir's "How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step by Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot" -- better known to me as "The Idiot's Guide."  This was just what I needed.  Not only did it have sections on typical maintenance items, but it also explained a bit of theory in human understandable terms.  As time passed, I performed most every maintenance in the book.  Needed or not.  I even decided to rebuild the motor. It didn't need a rebuild, but I wanted to learn how to do it. The rebuild took place in my girlfriend's mother's driveway.  Each piece I disassembled got cleaned and put in a baggie, then placed in it's relative position on the driveway.  By the time I split the engine case, the driveway was filled with plastic bags.  I wish I had taken a picture.

I learned to measure cylinder bores, ring gaps and crankshaft journals. I learned how a geared oil pump worked.  I purchased some big bore 83mm pistons and cylinders and reworked the cylinder heads.  I added some headers, an 019 mechanical advance distributer, and an aluminum lower pulley with timing numbers in degrees for some bling.  When I finally got it back together and tried to fire it up, it just backfired and sputtered. I did a little troubleshooting and found the problem.  I had installed the distributer gear 180° out of sequence. My one mistake.  I swapped the #1 and #3 spark plug wires and it fired right up.  I removed the distributer drive gear and replaced it in the proper position and all was well.  I had rebuilt my first motor successfully.  For an old 40 hp VW, it was pretty quick.  However as a friend so aptly put it, "Fast for a beetle is not fast. You could get beaten stoplight to stoplight by a station wagon that wasn't even trying." He was right, but I didn't care. I had rebuilt my first engine and it ran well.

Over the next year, I learned a lot more about VWs. I was beginning to be a half decent troubleshooter.  The next step came about when a friend's Mazda RX2 blew it's water seals.  This happened before Mazda was forced to acknowledge that they had a design problem and my friend would have had to pay full pop for the motor rebuild.  I decided to take on the job.  We rebuilt the motor in his living room.  During the process we befriended the service manager at the local Hollywood dealer.  As we were nearing completion of the engine, I was told that if it ran, I could have a job at the dealership.  It ran and I asked for the job.  It turned out that there was one more stipulation.  I needed to have a California emission license.

Not one to be easily disuaded, I set out to get my license.  The emissions manual looked as big as the Los Angeles phone book, but I took it one chapter at a time, until I mastered the material.  I ended up getting one of the better scores in my testing group and finally got the job.  I stayed in the auto industry for about 20 years as a mechanic, service advisor and service manager.  Looking back, I enjoyed fixing the cars a lot more than managing the folks who fixed them. To this day, I still enjoy troubleshooting electrical problems.

After more than a decade of doing little more mechanical work than what was necessary to keep our family's cars in order, I am getting the urge to take on a large project again.  Recently I've played around with a little John Deere garden tractor and found that work very satisfying.  Who knows what the future will bring.

© Fager 05-28-11