Preface: This is a series of personalized posts celebrating people, skills they've learned, things they make, and value they have added to our lives.
Today I am celebrating automotive mechanical engineering. Mechanical engineering is such a diverse field that I decided to focus on different aspects of it and since I have experience with automotive mechanics, it is a good choice to begin this celebration. Even the field of automotive engineering is huge, so I'm choosing automatic transmissions for part 1.
I grew up where the majority of cars and pickups that I saw were manual transmissions, or what we called stick-shifts. Most were three-speed with the shifter on the steering wheel column. It was a very sporty upgrade to have the shifter on the floor. I didn't own a vehicle with an automatic until 1973. When I first started selling cars in 1972, even the full-size Chevrolet Impala had a three-speed on the column standard. Over the years, automatic transmissions began taking hold and expanding in the marketplace until now where it is somewhat harder to find a stick-shift except in very sporty cars or small cars.
I watch a lot of YouTube videos because I love to learn and there are so many entertaining videos that are also educational. One channel to point out here is Precision Transmission. It's a family-run transmission shop in Amarillo, Texas, and I have come to love them and the videos they produce. Richard, the owner, likes to teach others how to diagnose and repair transmissions so they last and function better than new. He's been honing his skills for over 40 years. Watching him tear down an automatic transmission is fun and it fascinates me. He has opened my eyes to so much about automatic transmissions, but he also demonstrates and promotes developing skills, the use of good tools, a work ethic that is admirable, and he exudes love for his family, his shop, his life, and his craft. I celebrate their whole family and the time and energy they put into sharing these videos.
From watching so many of his videos, I also celebrate the mechanical engineers who have created all the different automatic transmissions. When Richard at Precision Transmission is taking a unit apart, examining each piece, looking for wear and damaged parts on even the smallest and seemingly insignificant parts, I can just imagine the engineering teams that designed all the parts and how they work together. Richard will point out the changes from one GM 4L80E to another, pointing out why changes were made toward creating better and better products. Some of the parts simply amaze me and how they all are assembled together with precision each with their specific purpose. He knows from experience what kind of modifications he can make and the use of aftermarket parts to improve the longevity and operation of a transmission. I've been watching for almost a year now and I learn something new in every video.
There is much to celebrate in the engineering of the automatic transmission, and yet there is more in how they fit into the vehicle and the importance of regular servicing. It is fascinating how one aspect affects and interacts with the other. In fact, Richard says all the time that mounting the transmission into the vehicle is as critical as rebuilding it.
Today I celebrate all the people who have learned the skills to design and create these transmissions. I celebrate the companies who employ them and the people who buy them. All of it is in motion and all of it serves others components, other systems, other people, livelihoods, and more. When viewed this way it is more like a living organism rather than a piece of engineering. Every time I get in my car now and put it in gear I find myself celebrating automotive mechanical engineering and all the people that are involved in the process. I am blessed by their skills and their creations.