“Mechanics are Mechanics. You are a Photographer.”

November 15th, 2009

20091112_carLuciana rolled her eyes at me again. Well, maybe she didn’t, but she should have. I was debating what to do about my beat up lemon of a Subaru. It was stuck in the parking garage with a stripped spark plug bore, courtesy of me. It’s not like I haven’t changed spark plugs before, but in the Subaru the head is aluminum (the place you stick the plugs into) and the spark plugs are steel and ceramic. I cross threaded the plug bore…and then stripped it.

I knew what she was thinking: Your car is a junker and you should replace it. But I’m loathe to toss out perfectly working things. And while my car wasn’t actually working, I’d recently invested in a new transmission because of a shot throw-out bearing. The struts were great (I’d replaced them myself), drive axles, brakes…and a bunch of other things on the car worked just fine. But it IS a 1992.

I knew what else she was thinking: Mechanics are mechanics and you are a photographer. I know she was thinking that because she actually said it.

I guess, gone are the days when I worked on my own car. Thermostats in the dust bowl of a road side bivouac. In-tank fuel pump hours before a back country ski trip. Drive axles and spilled transmission fluid in the back yard. A few brake jobs. Stuffing control arms into a backpack and bicycling them downtown to a machine shop. The list goes on.

I try to do it because I want to understand the vehicle, I want to understand what the mechanic says, and because in the past I’ve had more time than money. These days, I have less time and not much more money which is why, after I had the car towed to the shop, I choked at the repair estimate.

They would need to pull the engine, remove the head and put a steel insert into it so the spark plug would stay in. While they’re at it, they will replace all the gaskets, water pump, etc. And they suggested I do the other head too. I get it. The engine is out, so you might as well.

Sigh. I can’t afford to junk it and shop for another car. At least my lemon of a Subaru will have a drive train good for another 100k…if something else doesn’t go wrong and, more importantly, I don’t try to fix it myself.

I guess I should listen to Luciana more attentively…I’m a photographer, not a mechanic.

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2 Responses to ““Mechanics are Mechanics. You are a Photographer.””

  1. Mikey says:

    Tim as far as I can tell you are indeed a mechanic. But at this point you are a social mechanic and your camera is your tool to try and fix a little bit of the world. The world actually needs more mechanics just like you.

  2. tim says:

    Hey thanks Mikey…I hadn’t thought of the camera being a tool in that way, I’ve just been trying to make a difference. It’s a nice thought, though, being a social mechanic.


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