I sometimes find it odd that people ask me what I plan to do when I finish motorcycle mechanic school, but the answer is always “fix motorcycles,” with more than a hint in my voice of “what did you expect me to say, exactly?”

To that end, I’ve been poking about Nashville to see where I might be able (and want) to work when school is finished — and during the six-week internship that caps off the program. Here, “internship” means “go get your first job, and your instructor will chat with your supervisor a few times to see if you’re a knucklehead.” In many cases, the internship position turns into the new graduate’s first regular mechanic job. A good way to have something lined for the internship is to have a relationship already established, which brings me to Thanksgiving weekend. In short, I worked a day and a half just before the holiday at  Tennessee British Motorcycles (TBM).

After a very brief rundown of Where Things Are in the shop, Bill (the owner) set me loose on a few tasks. Scrape the paper side cover gasket off a Honda CT90 (not difficult), run a compression test on an older Triumph (it failed), and see if a Honda CB175 might have a charging problem (probably, yes).

After that, I started in a Honda CB360 with a list of work the customer had requested. Some parts were missing to finish the front fork cleanup job, but I did manage to clean, lubricate, and adjust the clutch actuation mechanism. That involved removing what we decided was a dead lizard from behind the front sprocket cover. Very exciting. (“Is it a lizard? No, it’s a bird — no wait, it’s a lizard. Probably.”) After that, I started work on replacing the steering head bearings, which were in pretty bad shape. The job went perfectly up until I tried to drive in the new lower-outer bearing race. I got it in the first quarter inch with no trouble, but I got it crooked after that. Unfortunately I’d already screwed it up enough at that point that, in the end, I cracked the brand-new race. It’s about a $15 part, so not a huge deal, but it certainly alters my tack on bearing installment for the future. I’ll have to get in some more practice at the school, where mistakes are usually free and don’t affect real, functioning motorcycles. Worst of all, it meant I didn’t get to finish the job and get the bike back together. (Well, yes, the missing parts for the forks also meant I couldn’t finish, but this compounded it for me.)

Crossing my fingers that I’m still welcome, I’ll be back at it during winter break. In the meantime, I’ve got two projects in my hands here in Atlanta, including one that I hope will introduce me to the high-precision world of motorcycle frame measuring and straightening. (Assuming the cost for that won’t exceed the value of the motorcycle by too much.)