Auto Mechanics: Technology and Expertise in by Kevin L. Borg

By Kevin L. Borg

The historical past of cars is not only the tale of invention, production, and advertising; it's also a narrative of fix. car Mechanics opens the fix store to historic examine -- for the 1st time -- by way of tracing the emergence of a grimy, tough, and critical profession.Kevin L. Borg's examine spans a century of automobile expertise -- from the horseless carriage of the overdue 19th century to the "check engine" mild of the overdue 20th. Drawing from a various physique of resource fabric, Borg explores how the mechanic's profession shaped and advanced in the context of wide American fault traces of sophistication, race, and gender and the way vocational schooling entwined those tensions round the mechanic's particular services. He additional exhibits how points of the shopper rights and environmental events, in addition to the layout of car electronics, mirrored and challenged the social id and services of the mechanic.In the heritage of the yankee automobile mechanic, Borg reveals the origins of a continual nervousness that even at the present time accompanies the possibility of taking one's automobile in for fix. (Fall 2008)

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A closer look at the stereotypical ad hoc mechanic, the blacksmith, illustrates how various other factors affected the transition from ad hoc to full-time status. The Village Blacksmith John Vander Voort worked as a blacksmith in rural Hunderton County, New Jersey. On 4 June 1908 one of his regular customers, J. N. Pidcock, paid him seventy-five cents to repair the “friction band,” or clutch, on his automobile. This marked only the second time that Vander Voort had repaired an automobile in his shop.

The number of chauffeurs continued to increase, and by 1920 over 285,000 were employed nationwide—a more than sixfold increase within a decade. The chauffeurs of the second and third decades of the twentieth century were professional drivers, not mechanics, however, and their social position as servants was relatively stable and uncontested. In 1911 a contributor to Horseless Age provided an early description of the daily routine of this new type of chauffeur. He started his day at eight o’clock in the morning by getting the car ready for the day’s use.

Six years later, at the height of the chauffeur problem, wealthy motorists shepherded a major revision through the legislature. They included a clause that legally distanced motorists from the consequences of joyriding chauffeurs. Section 23 of the motor vehicle act of 1909 mandated: “The registered number displayed on the motor-vehicle shall be prima facie evidence that the registered owner of said car was then operating the same: Provided, however, That [sic] if at any hearing or proceeding the owner shall testify .

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