Norm at Cheers

I have an old Klinge reefer unit genset.  Diesel.  We call it the Klingon Warbird.  That is because it is so black, bad and macho, like Lt. Warf on Star Trek.  And, like poor ol’ Warf, it is always going wrong (did you not notice how Warf always suggested using a photon torpedo and Jean Luc would always ‘hold that’ and decide to talk with the enemy first?  Warf represented macho men in general.  Picard was the enlightened new age sensitive man and Warf was made to look like doofus every time).

My genset is not as bad as Warf.  But it is powerful, dirty, mean and cantankerous.  Like Lt. Warf.  And, like Picard, I try to reason with it.  But I am considering a photon torpedo right now.  I have a streak of doofus still.  Last resort, mind you.

I’m macho (read: stupid) but with a sensitive, new age side to me.

But this is not about me.  It is about diesel mechanics.  I have come to the conclusion that diesel mechanics are the last of a dying breed of gentlemen warriors.  These guys seem like good eggs.  Mind you, my survey is small – only two or three – but, in each case the guy was a mensch of a man and a brilliant mechanic.

My warbird is down.  Couldn’t get the fuel control solenoid to stay in the ‘on’ position.  This is NOT a major problem.  It is just electrical.  But ‘electrical’ is a major mystery for me and so the problem is more difficult than it would be for most people.  But I persisted.  And, of course, got nowhere.  The solution so often employed nowadays is just replace everything.  No fixing required.  No understanding.  Just installation.  And that was likely the route for me.  I decided that I had better start the process of looking for parts for an old Klingon Warbird.  They can’t be easy to find.

I contacted Klassen Diesel in Delta.  Talked to ‘Norm’.  Explained the symptoms and asked if they could get parts.  Norm answered in five short sentences.  Said it was likely the switch.  How the hell he could conclude that from the briefest of descriptions I sent him was beyond me but I decided to go back and check my switches.  Lo and behold, my temperature breaker switch was cutting out now and then.  It was the switch!!

I’ll get a new one.

But here’s the deal…..big ol’ diesels are heavy.  The KW weighs 2000 pounds.  You don’t just ‘bring ’em in’ like a car or a washing machine.  And living remote means that the mechanic can’t or won’t come out.  And, if they do, they have to charge a gazillion dollars.  So, the old gentlemen mechanics often trouble-shoot by phone or e-mail.  They don’t get paid.  They are like doctors – only better.  They seem to care.

Four years ago I was looking for parts for the Warbird and some nice guy at a diesel shop did the same thing as Norm.  I fixed it from his notes.

To be fair, they aren’t Anne Landers-in-overalls, either.  Ya don’t get a lot of conversation.  “HI.  If you are pushing the button and the unit stays running than the problem is not the solenoid. It is the temp or the oil switches. They are not functioning. Also on this system if a wire has come off the switches you will have the same problem. I would get a new oil and temp switch”. Cheers, Norm.

Unsaid is the following: “If you are not a doofus, that should help”.

I am a doofus but it does help.  Thanks, Norm.


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