I was a mechanic in the making from age 9, when I broke the go cart and minibike that my father and I had built from scratch. They were rolling sardine cans, but the center of my youth at the time. My neighbor Kermet Winkel, (not only well known as a skilled steel mechanic, but just as loved for the trampoline in his back yard that even my dad jumped on when he was a kid), spurred my interest becoming a mechanic. Everyone was welcomed at his home. Kermet mostly stayed in his shop where he tinkered day in, day out on scale steam engines. He taught me how to braze my toys back together, and that was the beginning of my fascination with making things work.
From then on, every minute I had available I spent there with Kermet watching and helping him with whatever I could, for he was almost completely blind and deaf but knew his shop so well that it didn’t even stop him. He utilized me for what he could, and together we went to a couple fairs to demonstrate the 1/15th scale Briggs and Stratton Thrasher steam engine that would pull a train of karts behind it 15 kids long thru the grass. Impressive, since it only stood waist high to a young American boy.
After the world lost Kermet Winkel, my attention turned to High School shop but didn’t last long before I had a daughter and began to work in construction. A couple years of that and learning tools, I went on to manufacturing Gas Compressor skids for the oil and gas industry. There I was a Millwright working very large engines and compressor sets and became skilled in pipefitting, tubing, electrical, welding, surveying, gas pipe leak repair specialties, and learned how to use every tool under the sun. The Millwright work led me to a several other jobs in Louisiana setting ship engines and doing the alignment.