Some fancy tires on mag wheels showed up in my shop the other day. People just drop stuff off to see what I will do with it. So I wondered what would they look like on the equipment? One of the advantages of having old equipment is that it can be customized without having to worry about voiding the warranty. Here they are on #12, Crown’s rough trim mower. I was surprised by how much better the mower looks. Maybe chrome exhaust should be next?

The magnet coil in #4 mower parking brake burned up and the springs in it set the parking brake. Because the mower was still running, the driver drove the mower with the parking brake engaged back to the shop. Once shut off and restarted, it would not move. The brake test in the startup routine was telling the computer onboard that there was no brake so the mower refused to be driven. To move the mower from the parking lot into the shop I needed to put it on roller skates (car dollies) and drag it in. Once in the shop, I put it on the lift and pulled the old brake off the end of the main drive motor, ordered a new brake, and was going to wait for parts. Meanwhile, the hydraulic-driven back up greens mower blew an “O” ring and the driver made four stripes of hydraulic oil on a green before he realized it, proving the urgency of getting the no-hydraulics mower back in service as soon as possible. My E-Z-Go RXV golf car at home has a brake like this, so I took the brake off my golf car and put it on the mower to get the mower running again.

Cleaning a brush

I have observed that drivers take better care of machinery that looks nice. A little touch up paint here and there actually cuts down on my work load. I use oil-based paint to prevent rust on steel, so I need an economical, fast and easy way to clean brushes or rollers. The parts washer in my shop has about 20 gallons of low odor paint thinner in it because it is inexpensive, non-corrosive, a great degreaser and dries quickly. Pigment sinks to the bottom of the tank and the clean liquid is re-circulated. That makes it a great place to clean paint brushes. I am not a naturally neat person so there is still the problem of me getting paint all over myself when I paint. To solve that problem, I keep my painting clothes (an old military uniform) in my car to wear when I am in a mood to paint things. There are very few other occasions for me to wear camo in civilian life. It was an honor to serve.

Grow your own

For the Crown Golf Club to continue past the lifetime of its current employees, it will need skilled people from the next generation to be the master mechanics and equipment managers for their generation. All of our current employees will eventually leave, some sooner, others later, eventually all. Companies are immortal and will live on. It is a fact of life. In the orchards nearby, I can see the trees are in rotation. The orchard has trees of a variety of ages. They take out the batch of trees that are the oldest and have reached the end of their career to plant new ones in their place. It takes about four years before the new trees start producing. Are you thinking four years ahead like the orchard people do? Sponsoring community programs like 4-H technology clubs in your neighborhood is one way to make sure you have a pool of skilled people to choose from when you need to hire a skilled person. To do my part in bringing the next generation up to speed, I lead the 4-H MakerSpace Club in Traverse City, Mich. I have a picture of a 4-H MakerSpace Member learning how to tune up a small engine because he wants it to power his bicycle. Eventually this is the same person the Crown might hire to tune up and sharpen our chainsaws. Is your maintenance shop a place where the next generation can discover their science, technology, engineering and math talents? 4-H wants to create a STEM club in your neighborhood. To do this they need a maintenance shop where kids can learn how to use tools. If you are interested, 4-H will cover the required liability insurance and has training for volunteer instructors. Like the orchards, the Crown is starting to grow future employees years before we need them to be producing. You could do the same thing.

Paul F. Grayson is the Equipment Manager for the Crown Golf Club in Traverse City, Mich., a position he’s held for the past decade. Previously, he spent 8½ years as the equipment manager at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa. Prior to that, he worked as a licensed ships engine officer sailing the Great Lakes and the oceans of the world.