What’s a bushmechanic? A bloke like me I guess, someone who never had formal training in mechanics but who for whatever reason wound up doing heaps of it. And here in Australia, where distance rules and remote means something other than changing the telly, being a bush mechanic isn’t always an option!
Back a bit. From my earliest days all I ever wanted to do was muck around with machines and hang out in workshops. At eleven I put a Victa mower engine in a pushbike frame and learnt heaps about gearing when it sputtered into life, shot off at about 30mph and only stopped when I threw it into a hedge. Then an Uncle gave me a BSA Bantam in bits and that was that, I was hooked.
At 16 I got a job at a garage chasing an apprenticeship but after nine months of washing floors and cleaning toilets I dropped it to go working on bridge sites. Twice the money and in those days, with old machines everywhere on construction sites and no real workplace standards, it wasn’t long before this kid’s talents at getting crap running turned into almost full time maintenance.
Spending a lot of time in the bush meant knowing heaps of farmers along the way and when it’s going to cost you a trip to town and cash every time something stops there’s a huge incentive to have a go and sort it yourself. Some farm workshops are incredible -welders, lathes, presses and that’s on top of the usual fare of pits, benches and grease guns so things can be serviced. Some farmers are animal specialists, others know their crops but unless they want to go broke you can bet they understand that servicing machinery especially in dusty environments is the cheapest form of insurance there is.
Which is a really good place to start for anyone contemplating a bit of back road touring too. Learn how to do the simple services on your machines at home and you’ll also be learning what to look for on the track. It’s always a whole lot easier to fix something if you’ve already learnt how to open the bonnet…
So if you love the travelling life, sooner or later you’ll learn some mechanics to go with it. Unless of course you’ve just broken down in the middle of nowhere in which case you’ll be in for a crash course in what’s possible. More than one bloke who’s never touched a spanner has learnt to tie wire lying under a broken truck.
Ah, tying wire. And correct application of tape and zip ties. And the use of self tapping screws! Oh sheer joy, finding out that a self tapper and a bit of old tyre tube can plug a hole in a petrol tank!
Welcome to my world. A world where service and maintenance is the key to not breaking down. And where anything can be fixed, until you’ve tried absolutely everything and it can’t!