Zen and the Art of DeLorean Maintenance?
Recently, a lot of people have asked
me how, just how in the hell,
could I possibly get up enough energy, have enough patience, and be able
to spend such a great amount of time, restoring a car that was obviously
(by anyone's definition) a total basket case...
Well, in 1918, a young German scientist named Albert Einstein wrote:
"The state of mind which enables a man to do work of this kind is akin to that of the religious worshipper or lover. The daily effort comes from no deliberate
intention or program, but straight from the heart." That says a lot. This rather
long little essay says the rest. It is stolen directly from Robert
Pirsig's book "Zen and the Art of
Motorcycle Maintenance", and modified by me to 'DeLoreanize'
can be a rough read in spots, but
trust me: if you understand his story, you'll not only understand
my motivations, you might understand a little bit
more about yourself as well.
Well, in 1918, a young German scientist named Albert Einstein wrote:
"The state of mind which enables a man to do work of this kind is akin to that of the religious worshipper or lover. The daily effort comes from no deliberate intention or program, but straight from the heart."
That says a lot. This rather long little essay says the rest. It is stolen directly from Robert Pirsig's book "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", and modified by me to 'DeLoreanize' my 'answer'.
It can be a rough read in spots, but trust me: if you understand his story, you'll not only understand my motivations, you might understand a little bit more about yourself as well.
little story is about “Gumption”.
the word "gumption"
because it's so homely and so forlorn and so out of style it looks as if
it needs a friend and isn’t likely to reject anyone who comes along.
It's an old Scottish word, once used a lot by pioneers, but which, like
"kin," seems to have all but dropped out of use. I like it
also because it describes exactly what happens to someone who connects
with Quality. He gets filled with gumption.
The Greeks called it enthousiasmos, the root of “enthusiasm," which means
literally "filled with theos,"
or God, or Quality. See how that fits?
A person filled with gumption
doesn't sit around dissipating and stewing about things. He's at the
front of the train of his own awareness, watching to see what's up the
track and meeting it when it comes. That's gumption.
You see it often in people who
return from long, quiet fishing trips. Often they're a little defensive
about having put so much time to "no account" because there's
no intellectual justification for what they've been doing. But the
returned fisherman usually has a peculiar abundance of gumption, usually
for the very same things he was sick to death of a few weeks before. He
hasn't been wasting time. It's only our limited cultural viewpoint that
makes it seem so.
If you're going to repair a DeLorean, an adequate
supply of gumption is the first and most important tool. If you haven't
got that you might as well gather up all the other tools and put them
away, because they won't do you any good.
Gumption is the psychic gasoline
that keeps the whole thing going. If you haven't got it there's no way
the DeLorean can possibly be fixed. But if you have
got it and know how to keep it there's absolutely no way in this
whole world that DeLorean can keep
from getting fixed. It's bound to happen. Therefore the thing that
must be monitored at all times and preserved before anything else is the
This paramount importance of
gumption solves a problem of format of this story. The problem has
been how to get off the generalities. If the story gets into the
actual details of fixing one individual vehicle the chances are
overwhelming that it won't be exactly the same as yours and the
information will be not only useless but dangerous, since information
that fixes one vehicle can sometimes wreck another. For detailed
information of an objective sort, a separate analyisis of the car must
be made. In addition, a general shop manual such as Audel's
Automotive Guide fills in the gaps.
But there's another kind of detail
that no shop manual goes into but that is common to all vehicles and can
be given here. This is the detail of the Quality relationship, the
gumption relationship, between the DeLorean and the mechanic, which is
just as intricate as the vehicle itself. Throughout the process of
fixing the car things always come up, low-Quality things, from a dusted
knuckle to an accidentally ruined "irreplaceable" assembly.
These drain off gumption, destroy enthusiasm and leave you so
discouraged you want to forget the whole business. I call these things
There are hundreds of different
kinds of gumption traps, maybe thousands, maybe millions. I have no way
of knowing how many I don't know. I know it seems
as though I've stumbled into every kind of gumption trap imaginable.
What keeps me from thinking I've hit them all is that with every job I
discover more. DeLorean maintenance gets frustrating. Angering.
Infuriating. That's what makes it interesting.
What I have in mind now is a catalog of "Gumption Traps I Have Known." I want to start a whole new academic field, gumptionology, in which these traps are sorted, classified, structured into hierarchies and interrelated for the edification of future generations and the benefit of all mankind.
like to see that in a college catalog somewhere.
In traditional maintenance
gumption is considered something you're born with or have acquired as a
result of good upbringing. It's a fixed commodity. From the lack of
information about how one acquires this gumption one might assume that a
person without any gumption is a hopeless case.
In nondualistic maintenance
gumption isn't a fixed commodity. It's variable, a reservoir of good
spirits that can be added to or subtracted from. Since it's a result of
the perception of Quality, a gumption trap, consequently, can be defined
as anything that causes one to lose sight of Quality, and thus lose
one's enthusiasm for what one is doing. As one might guess from a
definition as broad as this, the field is enormous and only a beginning
sketch can be attempted here.
As far as I can see there are two
main types of gumption traps. The first type are those in which you're
thrown off the Quality track by conditions that arise from external
circumstances, and I call these "setbacks." The second type
are traps in which you're thrown off the Quality track by conditions
that are primarily within yourself. These I don't have any generic name
for - 'hang-ups," I suppose. I'll take up the externally caused
Externally Caused Setbacks:
The first time you do any major
job it seems as though the out-of-sequence-reassembly setback is your
biggest worry. This occurs usually at a time when you think you're
almost done. After days of work you finally have it all together except
for: What's this? A connecting rod bearing liner? How could you have left that
out? Oh Jesus, everything's got to come apart
again! You can almost hear the gumption escaping. Pssssssssssssss.
There's nothing you can do but go
back and take it all apart again... after a rest period of up to a month
that allows you to get used to the idea.
There are two techniques I use to
prevent the out-of-sequence-reassembly setback. I use them mainly when
I'm getting into a complex assembly I don't know anything about.
It should be inserted here
parenthetically that there's a school of mechanical thought which says I
shouldn't be getting into a
complex assembly I don't know anything about. I should have training or
leave the job to a specialist. That's a self-serving school of
mechanical eliteness I'd like to see wiped out. A “specialist” can
screw up a vehicle as easily as an amateur. I've edited manuals written
to train computer specialists for IBM, and what they know when they're
done isn't that great. You're at a disadvantage the first time around
and it may cost you a little more because of parts you accidentally
damage, and it will almost undoubtedly take a lot more time, but the
next time around you're way ahead of the specialist. You, with gumption,
have learned the assembly the hard way and you've a whole set of good
feelings about it that he's
unlikely to have.
the first technique for preventing the out-of-sequence-reassembly
gumption trap is a notebook in which I write down the order of
disassembly and note anything unusual that might give trouble in
reassembly later on. This notebook gets plenty grease-smeared and ugly.
But a number of times one or two words in it that didn't seem important
when written down have prevented damage and saved hours of work The
notes should pay special attention to left-hand and right-hand and
up-and-down orientations of parts, and color coding and positions of
wires. If incidental parts look worn or damaged or loose this is the
time to note it so that you can make all your parts purchases at the
second technique for preventing the out-of-sequence-reassembly gumption
trap is newspapers opened out on the floor of the garage on which all
the parts are laid left-to-right and top-to-bottom in the order in which
you read a page. That way when you put it back together in reverse order
the little screws and washers and pins that can be easily overlooked are
brought to your attention as you need them.
with all these precautions, however, out-of-sequence reassemblies
sometimes occur and when they do you've got to watch the gumption. Watch
out for gumption desperation, in which you hurry up wildly in an effort
to restore gumption by making up for lost time. That just creates more
mistakes. When you first see that you have to go back and take it apart
all over again its definitely time for that long break.
important to distinguish from these the reassemblies that were out of
sequence because you lacked certain information. Frequently the whole
reassembly process becomes a cut-and-try technique in which you have to
take it apart to make a change and then put it together again to see if
the change works. If it doesn't work, that isn't a setback because the
information gained is real progress.
if you've made just a plain old dumb mistake in reassembly, some
gumption can still be salvaged by the knowledge that the second
disassembly and reassembly is likely to go much faster than the first
one. You've unconsciously memorized all sorts of things you won't have
intermittent failure setback is next. In this the thing that is wrong
becomes right all of a sudden just as you start to fix it. Electrical
short circuits are often in this class. The short occurs only when the
vehicle’s bouncing around. As soon as you stop everything's okay. It's
almost impossible to fix it then. All you can do is try to get it to go
wrong again and if it won’t, forget it.
become gumption traps when they fool you into thinking you've really got
the car fixed. It's always a good idea on any job to wait a few hundred
miles before coming to that conclusion. They're discouraging when they
crop up again and again, but when they do you're no worse off than
someone who goes to a commercial mechanic. In fact you're better off.
They're much more of a gumption trap for the owner who has to drive his
car to the shop again and again and never gets satisfaction. On your own
vehicle you can study them over a long period of time, something a
commercial mechanic can't do, and you can just carry around the tools
you think you’ll need until the intermittent happens again, and then,
when it happens, stop and work on it.
intermittents recur, try to correlate them with other things the
DeLorean is doing. Do the misfires, for example, occur only on bumps,
only on turns, only on acceleration? Only on hot days? These
correlations are clues for cause-and-effect hypotheses. In some
intermittents you have to resign yourself to a long fishing expedition,
but no matter how tedious that gets, it's never as tedious as taking the
car to a commercial mechanic five times. I'm tempted to go into long
detail about "Intermittents I Have Known" with a blow-by-blow
description of how these were solved. But this gets like those fishing
stories, of interest mainly to the fisherman, who doesn't quite catch on
to why everybody yawns. He enjoyed it.
to misassemblies and intermittents I think the most common external
gumption trap is the parts setback. Here a person who does his own work
can get cleaned & pressed in a number of ways. Parts are something
you never plan on buying when you originally get the car.. Local
parts dealers like to keep their inventories small. Wholesalers are slow
and always hard to deal with for the trouble of tracking down a DeLorean
pricing on parts is the second part of this gumption trap. It's a
well-known industrial policy to price the original OEM equipment highly,
because the customer can’t always go somewhere else and ask for a
DeLorean part. Not that there's anything wrong with that -- it keeps our
DeLorean suppliers in business, but it can be at a monetary price. To
avoid it, you have to learn the cross-references. The price of the part
is not only jacked up way beyond its local parts store price; you get a
special price because you're not a commercial mechanic.
more hurdle yet. The part may not fit. Parts lists always contain
mistakes. VIN and model changes are confusing. Out-of-tolerance parts
runs sometimes got through quality control because there's no operating
checkout at the factory. Some of the parts you buy are made by specialty
houses who don't have access to the engineering data needed to make them
right. Sometimes they get confused about VIN and model year changes.
Sometimes the parts man you're dealing with jots down the wrong number.
Sometimes you don't give him the right identification. But it's always a
major gumption trap to get all the way home and discover that a new part
parts-traps may be overcome by a combination of a number of techniques.
First, if there's more than one supplier in town by all means choose the
one with the most cooperative parts man. Get to know him on a first name
basis. Often he will have been a mechanic once himself and can provide a
lot of information you need.
an eye out for price cutters and give them a try. Some of them have good
deals. Auto stores and mail order houses frequently stock the commoner
DeLorean parts at prices way below those of the OEM dealers. You can buy
spark plugs from Pep-Boys, for example, at way below the OEM house
take the old part with you to prevent getting a wrong part. Take along
some machinist's calipers for comparing dimensions.
if you're as exasperated as I am by the parts problem and have some
money to invest, you can take up the really fascinating hobby of
machining your own parts. I have a little 6-by-18-inch lathe with a welding
attachment and a full complement of welding equipment: arc, heli-arc,
gas and mini-gas for this kind of work.
the welding equipment you can build up worn surfaces with better than
original metal and then machine It back to tolerance with carbide tools.
You can’t really believe how versatile that
lathe-plus-milling-plus-welding arrangement is until you've used it. If
you can't do the job directly you can always make something that will do
it. The work of machining a part is very slow, and some parts, such as
ball bearings, you’re never going to machine, but you'd be amazed at
how you can modify parts designs so that you can make them with your
equipment, and the work isn't nearly as slow or frustrating as a wait
for some smirking parts man to send away to the factory. And the work is
gumption building, not gumption destroying. To run a DeLorean with parts
in it you've made yourself gives you a special feeling you cant possibly
get from strictly store-bought parts.
those were the commonest setbacks I can think of: out-of-sequence
reassembly, intermittent failure and parts problems. But although
setbacks are the commonest gumption traps they're only the external
cause of gumption loss. Time now to consider some of the internal
gumption traps that operate at the same time.
As the course description of gumptionology indicated, this internal part of the field can be broken down into three main types of internal gumption traps: those that block affective understanding, called "value traps"; those that block cognitive understanding, called "truth traps"; and those that block psychomotor behavior, called "muscle traps." The value traps are by far the largest and the most dangerous group.
the value traps, the most widespread and pernicious is value rigidity.
This is an inability to revalue what one sees because of commitment to
previous values. In DeLorean maintenance, you must rediscover what you
do as you go. Rigid values makes this impossible.
typical situation is that the DeLorean plain doesn't work. The facts are
there but you don't see them. You’re looking right at them, but they
don't yet have enough “value”. This is what I’m talking about.
Quality, value, creates the subjects and objects of the world. The facts
do not exist until value has created them. If your values are rigid you
can't really learn new facts.
often shows up in premature diagnosis, when you're sure you know what
the trouble is, and then when it isn't, you're stuck. Then you've got to
find some new clues, but before you can find them, you've got to clear
your head of old opinions. If you're plagued with value rigidity you can
fail to see the real answer even when it's staring you right in the
face, because you can't see the new answer's importance.
birth of a new fact is always a wonderful thing to experience. It's
dualistically called a "discovery" because of the presumption
that it has an existence independent of anyone's awareness of it. When
it comes along, it always has, at first, a low value. Then, depending on
the value-looseness of the observer and the potential quality of the
fact, its value increases, either slowly or rapidly, or the value wanes
and the fact disappears.
overwhelming majority of facts, the sights and sounds that are around us
every second and the relationships among them and everything in our
memory - these have no Quality, in fact have a negative quality. If they
were all present at once our consciousness would be so jammed with
meaningless data we couldn't think or act. So we preselect on the basis
of Quality, or, to put it my way, the track of Quality preselects what
data we're going to be conscious of, and it makes this selection in such
a way as to best harmonize what we are with what we are becoming.
What you have to do, if you get caught in this gumption trap of value rigidity, is slow down - you're going to have to slow down anyway whether you want to or not - but slow down deliberately and go over ground that you've been over before to see if the things you thought were important were really important and to... well... just stare at the car. There's nothing wrong with that. Just live with it for a while. Watch it the way you watch a line when fishing and before long, as sure as you live, you’ll get a little nibble, a little fact asking in a timid, humble way if you’re interested in it. That's the way the world keeps on happening. Be interested in it.
first try to understand this new fact not so much in terms of your big
problem as for its own sake. That problem may not be as big as you think
it is. And that fact may not be as small as you think it is. It
may not be the fact you want but at least you should be very sure of
that before you send the fact away. Often before you send it away you
will discover it has friends who are right next to it and are watching
to see what your response is. Among the friends may be the exact fact
you are looking for.
a while you may find that the nibbles you got are more interesting than
your original purpose of fixing the car. When that happens you’ve
reached a kind of point of arrival. Then you're no longer strictly a
DeLorean mechanic, you’re also a DeLorean scientist, and
you’ve completely conquered the gumption trap of value rigidity.
keep wanting to go back to that analogy of fishing for facts. I can just
see somebody asking with great frustration, "Yes, but which facts
do you fish for? There’s got to be more to it than that."
the answer is that if you know which facts you’re fishing for you’re
no longer fishing. You've caught them. I'm trying to think of a specific
All kinds of examples from DeLorean maintenance could
be given, but the most striking example of value rigidity I can think of
is the old South Indian Monkey Trap, which depends on value rigidity for
its effectiveness. The trap consists of a hollowed-out coconut chained
to a stake, The coconut has some rice inside which can be grabbed
through a small hole. The hole is big enough so that the monkey's
hand can go in, but too small for his fist with rice in it to come out
The monkey reaches in and is suddenly trapped - by nothing more than his
own value rigidity. He can't revalue the rice. He cannot see that
freedom without rice is more valuable than capture with it. The
villagers are coming to get him and take him away. They're coming
what general advice - not specific advice - but what general advice would you give the poor monkey in circumstances like
Well, I think you might say exactly what I've been saying about value rigidity, with perhaps a little extra urgency. There is a fact this monkey should know: if he opens his hand he’s free. But how is he going to discover this fact? By removing the value rigidity that rates rice above freedom. How is he going to do that? Well, he should somehow try to slow down deliberately and go over ground that he has been over before and see if things he thought were important really were important and, well, stop yanking and just stare at the coconut for a while. Before long he should get a nibble from a little fact wondering if he is interested in it. He should try to understand this fact not so much in terms of his big problem as for its own sake. That problem may not be as big as he thinks it is. That fact may not be as small as he thinks it is either. That's about all the general information you can give him.
next one is important. It's the internal gumption trap of ego. Ego isn't
entirely separate from value rigidity but one of the many causes of it.
If you have a high evaluation of
yourself then our ability to recognize new facts is weakened. Your ego
isolates you from the Quality reality. When the facts show that you've
just goofed, you're not as likely to admit it. When false information
makes you look good, you're likely to believe it. On any mechanical
repair job ego comes in for rough treatment. You're always being fooled,
you're always making mistakes, and a mechanic who has a big ego to
defend is at a terrific disadvantage. If you know enough mechanics to
think of them as a group, and your observations coincide with mine, I
think you'll agree that they tend to be rather modest and quiet. There
are exceptions, but generally if they're not quiet and modest, the
work seems to make them that way. And skeptical. Attentive, but
skeptical. But not egotistic. There’s no way to bullshit your way into
looking good on a mechanical job, except with someone who doesn't know
what you’re doing.
I was going to say that the DeLorean
doesn't respond to your personality, but it does respond to
your personality. It's just that the personality that it responds to is
your real personality, the one that genuinely feels and reasons and
acts, rather than any false, blown-up personality images your ego may
conjure up. These false images are deflated so rapidly and completely
you're bound to be very discouraged very soon if you've derived your
gumption from ego rather than Quality.
If modesty doesn't come easily or naturally to you,
one way out of this trap is to fake the attitude of modesty anyway. If
you just deliberately assume you're not much good, then your gumption
gets a boost when the facts prove this assumption is correct. This way
you can keep going until the time comes when the facts prove this
assumption is incorrect.
Anxiety, the next gumption trap, is sort of the
opposite of ego. You're so sure you'll do everything wrong you're afraid
to do anything at all. Often this, rather than "laziness," is
the real reason you find it hard to get started. This gumption trap of
anxiety, which results from over-motivation, can lead to all kinds of
errors of excessive fussiness. You fix things that don't need fixing,
and chase after imaginary ailments. You jump to wild conclusions and
build all kinds of errors into the car because of your own nervousness.
These errors, when made, tend to confirm your original underestimation
of yourself. This leads to more errors, which lead to more
underestimation, in a self-stoking cycle.
The best way to break this cycle, I think, is to work
out your anxieties on paper. Read every book and DMC News post you can
on the subject. Your anxiety makes this easy, and the more you read, the
more you calm down. You should remember that it's peace of mind you're
after and not just a fixed DeLorean.
When beginning a repair job you can list everything
you're going to do on little slips of paper which you then organize into
proper sequence. You discover that you organize and then reorganize the
sequence again and again as more and more ideas come to you. The time
spent this way usually more than pays for itself in time saved on the
car and prevents you from doing fidgety things that create problems
You can reduce your anxiety somewhat by facing the
fact that there isn't a mechanic alive who doesn't louse up a job once
in a while. The main difference between you and the commercial mechanics
is that when they do, you don't hear about it, you just pay
for it, in additional costs prorated through all your bills. When you
make the mistakes yourself, you at least get the benefit of some
Boredom is the next gumption trap that comes to mind.
This is the opposite of anxiety and commonly goes with ego problems.
Boredom means you're off the Quality track, you're not seeing things
freshly, you've lost your "beginner's mind" and your DeLorean is in
great danger. Boredom means your gumption supply is low and must be
replenished before anything else is done.
When you're bored, stop! Go to a show. Turn on the
TV. Call it a day. Do anything but work on that car. If you don't stop,
the next thing that happens is the Big Mistake, and then all the boredom
plus the Big Mistake combine together in one Sunday punch to knock all
the gumption out of you and you are really stopped.
My favorite cure for boredom is sleep. It's very easy
to get to sleep when bored and very hard to get bored after a long rest.
My next favorite is coffee. I usually keep a pot plugged in while
working on the car. If these don't work it may mean deeper Quality
problems are bothering you and distracting you from what's before you.
The boredom is a signal that you should turn your attention to these
problems -- that's what you're doing anyway -- and control them before
continuing on the car.
For me the most boring task is cleaning the car. It
seems like such a waste of time. It just gets dirty again the next time
you drive it. My friend John always kept his BMW spic and span. It
really did look nice, while my car’s always a little ratty, it seems.
That's the classical mind at work, runs fine inside but looks dingy on
One solution to boredom on certain kinds of jobs such
as polishing and vacuuming and detailing is to turn them into a kind of
ritual. There's an esthetic to doing things that are unfamiliar and
another esthetic to doing things that are familiar. I have heard that
there are two kinds of welders: production welders, who don't like
tricky setups and enjoy doing the same thing over and over again; and
maintenance welders, who hate it when they have to do the same job
twice. The advice was that if you hire a welder make sure which kind be
is, because they're not interchangeable. I'm in that latter class, and
that's probably why I enjoy troubleshooting more than most, and
dislike cleaning more than most. But I can do it when I have to, and so
can anyone else. When cleaning I do it the way people go to church - not
so much to discover anything new, although I'm alert for new things, but
mainly to reacquaint myself with the familiar. It's nice sometimes to go
over familiar paths.
has something to say about boredom. Its main practice of "just
sitting" has got to be the world's most boring activity - unless
it's that Hindu practice of being buried alive. You don't do anything
much; not move, not think, not care. What could be more boring? Yet in
the center of all this boredom is the very thing Zen Buddhism seeks to
teach. What is it? What is it at the very center of boredom that you're
is close to boredom but always results from one cause: an
underestimation of the amount of time the job will take. You never
really know what will come up and very few jobs get done as quickly as
planned. Impatience is the first reaction against a setback and soon
turns to anger if you're not careful.
is best handled by allowing an indefinite time for the job, particularly
new jobs that require unfamiliar techniques; by doubling the allotted
time when circumstances force time planning; and by scaling down the
scope of what you want to do. Overall goals must be scaled down in
importance and immediate goals must scaled up. This requires value
flexibility, and the value shift is usually accompanied by some loss of
gumption, it's a sacrifice that must be made. It's nothing like the loss
of gumption that will occur if a Big Mistake caused by impatience
favorite scaling-down exercise is cleaning up nuts and bolts and studs
and tapped holes. I've got a phobia about crossed or jimmied or rust
jammed or dirt jammed threads that cause nuts to turn slow or hard; and
when I find one, I take its dimensions with a thread gauge and calipers,
get out the taps and dies, recut the threads on it, then examine it and
oil it and I have a whole new perspective on patience. Another one is
cleaning up tools that have been used and not put away and are
cluttering up the place. This is a good one because one of the first
warning signs of impatience is frustration at not being able to lay your
hand on the toll you need right away.
If you just stop, and put tools away neatly, you will both find
the tool and scale down your impatience without wasting time or
endangering the work.
that about does it for value traps. There's a whole lot more of them, of
course. I've really only just touched on the subject to show what's
there. Almost any mechanic could fill you in for hours on value traps
he's discovered that I don't know anything about. You're bound to
discover plenty of them for yourself on almost every job. Perhaps the
best single thing to learn is to recognize a value trap when you're in
it and work on that before you continue on the DeLorean.
I want to talk now about truth traps and, traps and then stop this story for today.
traps are concerned with data that are apprehended and are within the
boxcars of the train. For the most part these data are properly handled
by conventional dualistic logic and the scientific method talked about
earlier. But there's one that isn't - the truth trap of yes-no logic.
and no... this or that... one or zero. On the basis of this elementary
two-term discrimination, all human knowledge is built up. Because we're
unaccustomed to it, we don't usually see that there's a third possible
logical term equal to yes and no which is capable of expanding our
understanding in an unrecognized direction. We don't even have a term
for it, so I'll have to use the Japanese Mu.
means "no thing." Mu simply says, "No particular
state; not one, not zero, not yes, not no." It states that the
context of the question is such that a yes at no answer is in error and
should not be given. "Unask the question" is what it says.
becomes appropriate when the context of the question becomes too small
for the truth of the answer.
the Zen monk Joshu was asked whether a dog had Buddha nature he said
"Mu," meaning that if he answered either way he was
answering incorrectly. The Buddha nature cannot be captured by yes or no
DeLorean maintenance the mu answer given by the car to many of
the diagnostic questions put to it is a major cause of gumption loss. It
shouldn't be! When your answer to a test is indeterminate it means one
of two things: that your test procedures aren't doing what you think
they are or that your understanding of the context of the question needs
to be enlarged. Check your tests and restudy the question. Don't throw
away those mu answers! They're every bit as vital as the yes or
no answers. They're more vital. They're the ones you grow on!
mu expansion is the only thing I want to say about truth traps at
this time. Time to switch to the psychomotor traps. This is the domain
of understanding which is most directly related to what happens to the
by far the most frustrating gumption trap is inadequate tools. Nothing's
quite so demoralizing as a tool hang-up. Buy good tools as you can
afford them and you'll never regret it. If you want to save money don't
overlook the newspaper want ads. Good tools, as a rule, don't wear out,
and good secondhand tools are much better than inferior new ones. Study
the tool catalogs. You can learn a lot from them.
from bad tools, bad surroundings are a major gumption trap. Pay
attention to adequate lighting. It's amazing the number of mistakes a
little light can prevent.
physical discomfort is unpreventable, but a lot of it, such as that
which occurs in surroundings that are too hot or too cold, can throw
your evaluations way off if you aren't careful. If you're too cold, for
example, you'll hurry and probably make mistakes. If you're too hot your
anger threshold gets much lower. Avoid out-of-position work when
possible. A small soft mat on the ground underneath you & the
DeLorean will increase your patience (and comfort) greatly and you'll be
much less likely to damage the assemblies you're working on.
one psychomotor gumption trap, muscular insensitivity, which accounts
for some real damage. It results in part from lack of kinesthesia, a
failure to realize that although the externals of a DeLorean are rugged,
inside the engine are delicate precision parts which can be easily
damaged by muscular insensitivity. There's what's called
"mechanic's feel," which is very obvious to those who know
what it is, but hard to describe to those who don't; and when you watch
someone working on a DeLorean who doesn't have it, you tend to along
suffer with the car.
mechanic's feel comes from a deep inner kinesthetic feeling for the
elasticity of materials. Some materials, like ceramics, have very
little, so that when you thread a porcelain fitting you're very careful
not to apply great pressures. Other materials, like steel, have
tremendous elasticity, more than rubber, but in a range in which, unless
you're working with large mechanical forces, the elasticity isn't
nuts and bolts you're in the range of large mechanical forces and you
should understand that within these ranges metals are elastic. When you
take up a nut there's a point called "finger-tight" where
there's contact but no takeup of elasticity. Then there's
"snug," in which the easy surface elasticity is taken up. Then
there's a range called "tight," in which all the elasticity is
taken up. The force required to reach these three points is different
for each size of nut and bolt, and different for lubricated bolts and
for locknuts. The forces are different for steel and cast iron and brass
and aluminum and plastics and ceramics. But a person with mechanic's
feel knows when something's tight and stops. A person without it goes
right on past and strips the threads or breaks the assembly.
"mechanic's feel" implies not only an understanding for the
elasticity of metal but for its softness. The insides of a DeLorean
engine contain surfaces that are precise in some cases to as little as
one ten-thousandth of an inch. If you drop them or get dirt on them or
scratch them or bang them with a hammer they'll lose that precision.
It's important to understand that the metal behind the surfaces can
normally take great shock and stress but that the surfaces themselves
cannot. When handling precision parts that are stuck or difficult to
manipulate, a person with mechanic’s feel will avoid damaging the
surfaces and work with his tools on the nonprecision surfaces of the
same part whenever possible. If he must work on the surfaces themselves,
He'll always use softer surfaces to work them with. Brass hammers,
plastic hammers, wood hammers, rubber hammers and lead hammers are all
available for this work. Use them. Vise jaws can be fitted with plastic
and copper and lead faces. Use these too. Handle precision parts gently.
You'll never be sorry. If you have a tendency to bang things around,
take more time and try to develop a little more respect for the
accomplishment that a precision part represents.
could ask, "Well, if I get around all those gumption traps, then
will I have the thing licked?"
The answer, of course, is no, you still haven't got anything licked. You've got to live right too. It's the way you live that predisposes you to avoid the traps and see the right facts.
want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It's easy. Make yourself
perfect and then just paint naturally. That's the way all the experts do
it. The making of a painting or the fixing of a DeLorean isn't separate
from the rest of your existence. If you're a sloppy thinker the six days
of the week you aren't working on your car, what trap avoidances, what
gimmicks, can make you all of a sudden sharp on the seventh? It all goes
if you're a sloppy thinker six days a week and you really try to be
sharp on the seventh, then maybe the next six days aren't going to be
quite as sloppy as the preceding six. What I'm trying to come up with on
these gumption traps, I guess, is shortcuts to living right.
The real DeLorean you're working on is a DeLorean called yourself. The car that appears to be "out there" and the person that appears to be "in here" are not two separate things. They grow toward Quality or fall away from Quality together...