It’s The Mechanical Aspect That Gets Me Every Time

It’s The Mechanical Aspect That Gets Me Every Time

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

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Updated: September 20, 2011 — 5:23 PM


  1. Most of my heli’s, (I have several, (What RC’er is content with just one vehicle? 🙂 ), are Thunder Tiger Raptors, 30 and 50 size. One with the scale Euceril body. I’m still in the early stages of flying them, hovering, basic forward flight, that sort of thing. Unfortunately the only time I do 3D is just before I crash!! But heli’s are also like RC cars, in that every part is replaceable, (and all either plastic or metal), so no matter how bad the crash, it can usually be disassembled and rebuilt to new condition resonably quickly. And there’s that mechanical Nirvana bit again!! 😉 🙂

  2. I also love cars. I’m a truck guy though, the super heavy duty offroaders.

    A thing I’m starting to get into is open source robotics and 3d printing. Both can be combined together.3d print the robot chassis which you design, then let it run. The little arduino uno is what I’m going to be using. You can even get into microprocessors, and huge robots, eighth scale ish in size, with webcam navigation, wifi controlled, and a robotic arm to pick stuff up with. Rocks, trash, whatever. A lot of fun though. I hope to get into the microprocessor powered robots one day. So many more possibilities that a micro controller can’t support.

    1. Several RC companies do rapid prototyping with 3D printers, I’ve seen one recently at a major tire manufacturer! Expensive hobby to have unless you’re in manufacturing 🙂

  3. I’d agree with everyting on this list, but would also like to add RC Helicopters. Lots of parts all interacting with each other, that when all aligned and adjusted properly create a flying machine that can do amazing things. Get it worng and it can beat itself to death in seconds. Great fun to build, more fun to fly and just as much fun to clean and maintain. And adjustments …. just about everything. Mechanical Nirvana!! 🙂 🙂

    1. Great point Tony, RC helis are some of the most complicated machines out there. It is incredible that they fly at all, much less do some of the 3D maneuvers they pull off. Which heli do you fly?

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