Remember These?

So, this week marks the tenth anniversary of my entry into the world of working on construction equipment. I had no idea what I really wanted to do with my life after high school. A good friend of the family had been a mechanic at a local construction equipment rental place for years, and he had faith in me. He knew me well enough to know that I would do everything in my power to do the best job I could.

Well, after two retail jobs I finally decided to take Matt up on the offer to try my hand at turning wrenches. I didn’t have to have a degree, I didn’t need much experience. Everything I needed to learn, I could learn from him. Having tinkered on cars since I was around fifteen years old, I had an idea of what to expect, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

See, cars have small parts; cars weigh around three thousand pounds. The pieces of equipment I work on weigh anywhere from six thousand pounds, like a small skid steer, to fifty thousand pound excavators and boom lifts. Needless to say, when you work on something twenty times the size, you need tools twenty times the size as well. The tools I had were appropriate for a mid-sized sedan, but there are hydraulic cylinders on some of these pieces of equipment that weigh half as much as a compact car.

I think after ten years I finally have the tools I need to fix pretty much anything, but believe me, in a shop where you have to buy your own tools (like most shops), the big ones get pricey. In fact, one of the priciest tools in my toolbox was by far one of those 1000lb torque wrenches. This thing probably cost as much as every tool I had combined before I started this job, but it’s something I had to have. The wrench itself weighs almost thirty pounds, it has a one inch drive, and it’s a beast. But, to be completely honest, what else could I use on a four inch bolt that supports twenty thousand pounds of structural steel?

Looking back on ten years in this industry, I’ll say I love my work. It’s definitely hard, it’s grueling, it’s dangerous, but I wouldn’t change it. I have experience working on some of the largest pieces of equipment in the construction field and I’ve loved every minute of it. To be honest, when we’re kids, we love playing with our big Tonka trucks and fake bulldozers. Not everyone gets to actually do that for a living, but I do and love it.