® Not just a carburetor rebuilder

"Oh, so you're a mechanic, not just a carburetor rebuilder?" Wow. Someone said this to me recently, and it highlights something I am in the process of coming to grips with. That people view these two things as isolated, as not necessarily connected.

How can a carburetor rebuilder not also be a mechanic? In my days in shops carburetor rebuilding was a constant activity. There was no distinction between being a mechanic and rebuilding carburetors; I have not left one field and embraced another. One of my carb rebuilding competitors once told me he didn't know what a thread pitch gauge was and that he does not know how to do repairs on carbs even though he "rebuilds" them. You should not be taking money for rehabilitating carburetors if you don't have a background in mechanics. That to me is a given. You have no business being in the carburetor business. How can you? You don't know mechanical techniques such as thread repair; separating stubborn parts; the basics of leverage, heat and pressure; proper disassembly and assembly principles; order of assembly; the proper care of fasteners; the use of special tools; and metal repair and refinishing? You don't have experience finding and interpreting factory data; you don't have almost a lifetime of experience tuning and adjusting engines; you are a stranger to troubleshooting? And most importantly, you don't know the bikes you're rebuilding carburetors for, their idiosyncrasies, their weak points, how well they and their carburetors match -- or don't; the issues on these bikes that are often thought to be caused by the carburetors but aren't? That just doesn't compute. I'm having a hard time understanding it. If you're not a professional mechanic you're not a professional carburetor rebuilder.

It's even more a mystery to me that this is accepted among consumers. How can this be? Why would a customer think it logical to send his carbs to someone who is not a part of the powersports repair industry; who isn't a mechanic? Carburetors don't have wheels. They are just one part of a whole mechanical package, and not even the most important part. The motorcycle affects the carbs and the carbs affect the motorcycle. Divorcing the two from each other is inane.

The third lesson I am learning from this is now it is beginning to make sense that my carburetor customers mostly ignore the mechanical advice I give them. It does not occur to them that their carburetors are being rebuilt by a career mechanic. This is a serious disconnect. I still wonder how they can do this. It's totally bizzare. But at least I am beginning to understand how they are thinking, as illogical as it is. The challenge is, how to overcome it. This will likely be the thrust of the rest of the lifecycle of my business.

But this also concerns me tremendously. Is the carburetor rebuilding community that isolated from the industry? Are the many rebuilders who have risen up in the past ten to twenty years simply former photocopy repairmen, dog groomers, mail carriers and tire techs? It sure looks that way. What a bad situation! In an industry already greatly challenged by bad actors in its ranks; an industry whose customer base is rapidly shrinking; and sadly, is now thanks to redefinement from unqualified and uncaring infiltrators suffering the loss of its soul, this is just going to kill it dead. I hate to see this happening.

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