The Re-Education of a “Gearhead”

by Doug Stokes

Last Friday (really my “first day on the job”, even though I had only come in to fill out some employment papers), I was invited to sit in on meeting with Gale Banks and a number of members of the engineering staff.

My (just-bestowed an hour earlier) title is the lofty “Corporate Publicist” and so, I was pleased to be asked to be a part of the action so soon after signing on with the company.

As near as I could make out, the subject of the meeting was a new engine design, diesel to be sure, but after that the talk got a very technical very quickly. The parts looked familiar, lifters, valve train components and the like, but the numbers got blurry and the words became sort of muffled pretty fast from my side of the table.

Not unlike someone who has studied another language in school, but only now was in a place where that was all anyone spoke; I thought that I recognized certain key phrases and numbers, but the tribal council that Gale Banks had assembled around the table in his office seemed to be speaking in some arcane dialect of English that I was entirely unfamiliar with.

Oh, I could sort of make out a bit of what was going on, but there was still this complex series of handoffs and headings between design engineers and outside specialty suppliers that I couldn’t have followed with a GPS.

It was, in truth, a dizzying dance of numbers and notations which went whizzing over my head like so many swallows returning to wherever they go when they’re NOT hanging out at Capistrano.

My takeaway (which I dutifully wrote down) was that the new CNC-machined Banks cylinder heads not only increase power, but add very nicely to the overall efficiency of the motor as well. I thought that was pretty good for a guy who was “technically” stuck in first gear.

As the days go by I suspect that many of the words that are used around here which now make me wince in ignorance, will start to be making a bit more sense. This is sure highly technical fun that we’re having here.

So to working directly with one of the true heroes of hot rodding is something that will take a bit of time to get comfortable with. While I’m sure that this Gale Banks guy actually does put his pants on “one leg at a time”, I’ll wager that he does it faster, or better, (or something), than your average company President. His pride shows, his attitude is always “at altitude” and his appetite for the fray is infectious.

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