What does it mean to be a gearhead, a mechanic, or a wrencher? It usually means you’re into disassembling things to see how they work, and then reassembling them again.
I know this was the case for me at an early age. I enjoyed tearing things apart–household items like radios, toasters (sorry mom), clocks and CD players–well before I could fully understand them. My fascination with all things mechanical led me as a child to play with Lincolin Logs, then Legos, then Capsella, then dirtbikes…and then, eventually, to RC cars. I never really had a choice in the matter, since as far back as I can remember, I wanted to spend lots of time tearing things apart and rebuilding them.
It’s this fascination with mechanical design that keeps me dedicated to RC, even when I’m burned out on racing. And as I get older, I’ve picked up a few new mechanical-type hobbies that appeal to many RC’ers as well. Here are my favorites:
* Watches. Time pieces. Little marvels of machinery. I’m not talking about the Casio $7 digital special, I’m talking about Swiss timepieces with multiple complications. Watches with mechanical chronographs, moon-phase and date functions, all as a result of hundreds of internal spinning gears, jewels and whirring balance wheels. The craftsmanship and engineering design inside these watches blows my mind. I finally bought such a watch several years ago, and it’s my favorite wrist-watch not because some brainless yuppie could consider it a status symbol or because it was expensive, but because of the design, the care and the complication of the machinery. It’s fascinating, and I enjoy looking peering through the clear back case at the moving machinery inside–sometimes for many minutes at a time–as much as I enjoy wearing it. It’s precisely because of the craftsmanship and engineering that the watch was expensive, not because of a brand name, and that’s why I love it.
* Automobiles. Like a fine timepiece, I marvel at a well engineered and crafted automobile. Hyudais and Geo Metros have their place in the transportation world, but I prefer the engineering excellence of Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes, etc. These are marquees that have soul, racing heritage, and performance programmed into their DNA. Magnetorheological suspensions, active engine mounts, double-clutch automated manual transmissions, electronic locking differentials…this is the stuff daydreams are made of. And the mechanical precision with which it’s all assembled and performs captures my imagination. That men are capable of creating a 1200HP, 253mph Bugatti Veyron that could be used as a daily driver with reliability and comfort–that’s engineering at work. Have you ever looked closely, in person, at a Formula One engine, or an F1 suspension? Do so and tell me your adrenaline gland doesn’t get a workout.
* Guns. Oh chill out for a second, I’m not into guns because I think I’m Rambo. Once again, it’s the craftsmanship, precision and engineering of a well assembled rifle, scope or handgun that I like. I’m fascinated that guns exist which are capable of safely sending multiple bullets down-range into a target 1000-yards away at 2500 feet per second, repeatedly within a 5-inch group. Only incredible design, machining and assembly could produce a tool capable of such performance. Shoot a precision rifle with a high quality scope at 500+ yards, hit a target square where you aimed, and try not to be impressed with the machinery involved.
These are some of the mechanical-based hobbies I enjoy most. If any of you enjoy these hobbies or similar ones, I’d enjoy hearing about it in the comments below!
image: Michel Villeneuve