South County Secondary School Auto Technology Shop Tour
On Saturday, April 26, 2008, we made a garage tour of the South County Secondary School's auto technology shop. Club members taking the tour included Dave Gunnarson, Eric Sumner, Hank DuBois, Clem Clement, Dave Blum, Ken Burns, John Machey, Leo Cummings, and Roy Judy. Hank, Clem, and Ken dusted off their trusty Fords, while Leo drove his newly acquired red 1966 Pontiac 2&2 convertible.
The tour was hosted by Frank Cannon, auto tech instructor, and two of his students, Scott Livingston and Anthony McLaughlin, both seniors. Other senior students were to be there but family emergencies or work commitments prevented their attendance. We were treated with fresh coffee, which came all the way from France, donuts, and Gatorade as the day progressed and it got a little warmer. Although there was a threat of rain, the forecast was for later in the day, which made the time of the tour quite enjoyable.
We began our tour in a classroom setting, where Frank discussed the curriculum that the students undergo over a three year progression. He also put in a pitch for the Tech Center's upcoming All Make/Model Car Show on May 31, 2008. The first year students, who are freshmen and sophomores, start with the basics with regard to hands-on. That includes tune ups, oil changes, brake inspections, air filters, tire changes, etc. Second year students, juniors do more of the mechanical, which includes removing old and installing new brake components, running the lathe on brake drums and rotors, starter motor, electronics repair and/or replacement, etc. The senior students are engaged in essentially doing it all. For example, the two students that were present, showed us the work that they were doing on Roy's 1965 Buick Skylark, which included removing and replacing exhaust manifolds, removing and installing new gaskets on the intake manifold, and removing and replacing gaskets on the valve covers, as well as other small engine work that would come up in the process of doing these things. Frank also showed us the various teaching tools he had in the classroom, which included computer stations for each student, which he can monitor from a central location, and the computer generated diagnostic equipment he had mounted on the classroom walls that are used to illustrate how to trouble shoot and determine where a particular problem exists on the braking system and electronic components of the automobiles. As Frank was describing his system for teaching, he was engaged in answering questions from club members clearly demonstrating his knowledge of the automobile and its operating components.
Following the classroom session, Frank took us onto the shop floor where he showed us the modern equipment that he has for teaching the auto technology trade. This included actual demonstrations of the lathe for milling drums and rotors, wheel balancing, tire removal and replacement, and front-end alignments. He said that the tire changing, balancing, and front end alignment equipment cost about $15,000. The actual demonstration of the front end alignment station was quite impressive as it is camera and computer generated and can be used on multiple types of vehicles. It was interesting to note that the information stored in the computer actually goes back to some cars of the 50s, including those that Henry made. The shop is also equipped with several lifts, parts washing equipment, sand blaster, drill press and several other amenities.
We ended the day with Anthony and Scott demonstrating how a modern air bag works followed by Clem and Leo giving Frank and his studentís rides in Clemís model A and Leoís Pontiac, which they also were allowed to drive. It was quite a thrill for them. It was a great way to install interest in the youth for helping to keep the spirit of the antique automobile alive and well.