Does anyone else get pissed off reading David Tracy’s stories about wrenching? I know not everyone has turned wrenches for a living, or always has the funds to do the best repairs possible, but this dude’s articles on wrenching kill me. They are doubly worse because he is a mechanical engineer. While that doesn’t necessarily make him a mechanic, it does give him enough education to either know how to do a repair properly or to know how to find out how to do a repair properly. Having worked as an engineer for an automaker, he ought to have also had an idea at the conditions the manufacturing process took place in. The scary part is that some people will likely read one of his articles and then attempt to do repairs like he does.

In today’s article, his engineering degree ought to have been enough to know that cleanliness when building a transmission is critically important to its longevity. He didn’t even manage to get the case clean, much less anything else. I know he is on a budget, but a roll of quarters and trip to nearest self-serve car wash would’ve done wonders on that case. Then, he builds the tranny on the floor in a dirty garage. To make it worse, they’re building it with dirty hands. He shows dirty hands applying grease, which means the dude probably contaminated his supply of grease in addition to his transmission. Some of the later pictures show bits of dirt on the internals of the assembled tranny.

Back when I turned wrenches for a living as a hydraulic mechanic, we got seriously nasty hydraulic components from customers all the time, especially things like drive motors on earth moving equipment. Something like David Tracy’s tranny was not even allowed inside of the shop before being cleaned. After unloading it from the customer, something like that would’ve gotten worked over with the pressure washer before bringing it inside. After disassembly, everything got thoroughly cleaned in the solvent tank. After taking something apart, the mechanic thoroughly washed their hands and arms, if your shirt or pants got dirty taking something apart, you put on a clean uniform.

Prior to reassembly, the mechanic was clean, your work area was spotless, the floor around your work area was clean and your tools were spotless. Every part got a second trip to the solvent tank and a blow dry with filtered shop air. Then every part got a final spray down with brake parts cleaner and/or acetone and another blow dry to remove any remaining residue. Your clean work surface was covered with fresh, clean rags, the clean parts placed on clean rags and then everything immediately covered to prevent as much dust in the air as possible from contaminating the clean parts and work area. The only parts uncovered were the ones you were working with at that particular moment.

None of this would’ve been expensive for DT to replicate. Cleaning your garage and mopping the floor is free. A roll of quarters at the self-serve car wash goes a long ways, and a package of shop rags and a case of brake parts cleaner doesn’t cost much.


Applied to David Tracy, he should’ve been able to build that transmission on his Mom’s kitchen counter, because that is the level cleanliness that should be involved in assembling an engine/transmission/differential.