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April 11, 2008

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This Part Goes There…

In Catch 22, Yossarian calls Lt. Orr an "…evil-eyed, mechanically-aptituded, disaffiliated, son of a bitch." I qualify for all of that except the mechanically aptituded part, and my life would have been a lot easier if I had been.

People with mechanical aptitude can look at machines, such as guns, and see how they work on an intuitive level. Melvin Forbes, of New Ultra Light Arms, is the most mechanically aptituded person I know. Melvin says he can call up in his mind a three-dimensional schematic of the hellishly complicated Browning Superposed shotgun, and look at it from any angle. He can pick locks, or diddle with cars, or build almost anything.

Among gun writers, John Barsness and Jim Carmichel are so mechanically aptituded that they could have been successful as gunsmiths had they not objected to honest work. Jack O'Connor, by his own admission, had very little mechanical aptitude, and I think that for someone in this line of work, that is actually an advantage. By the time you are able to understand a piece of machinery, like a gun, you apprehend it in such simple terms that you can describe it to anyone, and they will understand.

Some of most incomprehensible gibberish I've ever listened to was spoken to by engineers at gun companies. They blast right off into outer space and leave you there on the launching pad, scratching your head and wondering if what you just listened to was English.


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As I reach for the OED to find "aptituded", ponder the following:

The talent of the engineer is the ability to understand the complex.

The art of the engineer is the ability to explain it.

Catch-22. Bet you most twenty and thirty-somethings don't even know what you’re talking about.

I’m a neo-luddite so I believe the future of mechanical aptitude is dark and will go the way of buggy whips and cheap gas. Our good friend technology has been elbowing aside craftsmanship, skill, art, and our desire to even protect those things.

I look at the current crop of guns that same way I do cars. Mechanically eons ahead of what I grew up with but totally lacking in personality and character.

Clay Cooper

How do you know when you really MOOSED UP!

You clean your Remington Nylon 66 and you remove the trigger assembly!

This spring goes like?


I am sure everyone has dissambled a gun only to sruggle like hell to get it back to together again.


Dave, your thoughts make me wonder where John M. Browning would fit in today's gun world.

Dean J

The Ruger Mark II was apparently sent out as a test, then.


In regards to the Nylon 66. I worked in a friends gunshop for over 20 years and about once a quarter back when the Nylon 66 was still moving around in gun circles we would get one that someone had disassembled. While there was three of us doing gun repair only one of us was stubborn enough to tackle the 66. Les would turn the air blue while trying to put too many too large fingers and a part in the damned awful narrow slot called a receiver at the same time. It was always fun to be out front talking to someone about purchasing a new firearm and then to hear him cut loose. Then he would show up out front and ask for help finding a part that had escaped. That's been years now so thanks for the memories Clay.


I thank God for men that are mechanically er...ept!Only they can overcome my ineptitude with mechanical thingies,electrical stuff,automotive issues,plumbing goop,ropes,vacuum cleaners,gun cleaning disassembly,reassembly etc.They can speak Klingon as long as they can fix it.

Clay Cooper

You know Mr. RLRiggins

Those where the good ol’days!

It’s too bad we can’t revive those days of yesteryear

Jim in Mo.

Leave out the gun reassembly part and I'm your guy. And I speak Human.

Jim in Mo.

Do you think that its just fate that we met on a blog entitled "This part goes There".

Sorry, I'm actually a gentleman.


Engineers speak Engineerish; the science of technical writing is understanding Engineerish, the art of technical writing is translating Engineerish into understandable English and make no mistake good technical writing is an art!

Agreed that the Ruger MK II is perhaps the Midterm for Mechanical Aptitude 441, for the final a customer brings a box of parts which he swears are from three different guns (and he swears that all the parts to all three are in the box). To receive Mortar board and tassel from Aptitudinal U the Final is to reassemble and test fire all three! Good luck and a long trigger string!


My friend, and varmint hunter mentor was an old time handyman. Locksmith,gunsmith,cooper,pidgeon breeder and racer,and more. When we first met,he had a sign over his counter/workbench that read "WE FIX ANYTHING BUT BROKEN HEARTS AND AUTOMATIC DOOR CLOSERS". About a year later,I was watching the shop, while he went to open a locked car. A mother came in with a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun her son had dissasembled and said she "would be back in 2hrs. to pick it up, please have it put back together". Well,I will skip most of what my friend said as he attempted to get that Daisy to bloom again, but the next week there was an addition to his sign. Scrawled at the bottom, in long hand was the notation, "and dasey bb guns". Of course, I, being young and eager to help a friend, pointed out the miss spelling and the lack of class of the addenda, and his reply is completely unprintable,but contained the advise never take a broken air rifle in for repair again. He wasn't an engineer, he was a former drill sargeant, and was adept at getting his point across.


Mr. Petzal: Was the gun sneaking off to go hunting by itself when you apprehended it? Or did you know it so well that you comprehended its inner workings?


Like a few of you I've been blessed with high mechanical aptitude. As Dave said I seem to know intuitively how mechanical things work. I honestly couldn't imagine being without it because it sure makes life easier. Balancing that out is the fact that I have near zero artistic ability and require the services of a wife/sister/niece to decorate a home or match shirt and pants...:)


One shining moment in my file of boyhood memories was when my father had disassembled one of his guns. He looked at the pieces for a while and to save his life could not have reassembled it.

Somehow, it all made perfect sense to me. I just rearranged a piece here and there and flipped one or two over and slammed the whole thing together. I was probably 13 or 14 years old. Well my father was stunned! He said, "Buster, you are a mechanical genious!" It was definitely an affirming and somewhat defining moment in my life!

For Shaky: Incidentally, I have repaired automatic door closers -- though they are usually better off thrown out and replaced... BB Guns I've had no success repairing -- some things just don't fix! Yet, since childhood bb guns usually carry some sentimental value, people are reluctant to throw them out until there's an estate sale. Broken hearts? They always get referred out to the One Who can fix anything -- broken hearts, broken dreams, broken lives,...


I wouldn't call myself a genius or anything but if I can get it apart I can almost always get it back together. Cars, Guns, House, Computer, Electrical, Plumbing, you name it. Just always had the gift I guess.
And it usually works when I'm done too, always a plus!

Bernie Kuntz

I envy you, Zermoid. I can almost guarantee that if I take anything apart, I will NOT be able to get it back together.

One of my first jobs as a teenager was to assemble bicycles at a discount store. I lasted one day.

It is one of the miracles of the 20th Century that the Marine Corps was able to teach me how to disassemble and assemble an M-14 and M-16. I learned it just as a monkey might--by repetition.

Nowadays all of my shotguns get visits to gunsmiths every several years, depending on how much shooting I have done with each of them. They do all the taking-apart-and-putting-together. I have had the bolts taken apart and cleaned on my centerfire rifles. I handle the bores myself.

The mere thought of taking anything apart or attempting to fix something fills me with a sense of foreboding.

Ive found out its not really that hard to take a gun apart. Just have to remember how you put to it back together:-)


also. Thats when the "o shoot" feeling comse. After your done cleaning the gun, you think, okay, now, which of the parts goes first? Is this even to my gun?


I started with old alarm clocks, the wind up kind that no longer functioned. I never got one back together that worked but I learned tons in the attempt. Then when I was about 4-5 I started hanging out in the garage in the evenings where my dad and his friend worked on a Micro Midget dirt tract race car. I learned about fetching wrenches first and enternal combuston engines timing and gears etc. Later Dad got into building guns and checkering and finishing stocks and reloading. He was a Electrical contractor so fabricating things came with the job. One of the main things I learned was to study the design and function of a piece or part and realize that it was built to fit togeather without having to force it. It is just applied lodgic, not magic.

Dr. Ralph

I don't have a problem assembling my Ruger MK II, and have replaced many parts in the trigger assembly in my 10-22 but I took the bolt on a Remington 700 apart one time and when I put it back together it would not chamber a round... of course I found this out after driving two hours to hunt.

So Jack did you find aptituded in ye old Oxford English Dictionary?

Worst thing you can do is buy a stock and put your action into it yourself. When I tried it the gun would automatically discharge every time I closed the bolt... thank GOD I had a father who beat me every time I pointed my muzzle in an unsafe direction and made me hunt without shotgun shells my first season and with them in my pocket the next... of course I was eight years old.

Elle, loved your web site... Jim I hope you have a Harley or you don't stand a chance.


We used to have a mechanic in South Jordan, Utah. We named him"OH, NO". We would take apart a carburator and couldn't get it back together. He would see us coming and say, "Oh,NO, not another 'box job'" I've ended up with a few 'box jobs' with guns as well.

Mike Reeder

As someone who has always had trouble operating a can opener, I can empathize with DP. On the other hand, I've always felt like there are two kinds of thinkers, and both are of equal value. There are the conceptualists who can see the big picture and cut to the heart of the matter like a surgeon, and there are the more linear thinkers, who may not see the big picture but who can break down and assemble its component parts in minute detail. The conceptualists is an architect, while his linear counterpart is a carpenter. I do think the mastery of mechanical detail is something of a dissipating art, though. My own father, who was a self-employed home builder, was typical of men of his generation; he could sharpen a knife until it was scary, take apart and reassemble an automobile engine wearing a blindfold, and build a custom rifle from scratch, starting off with nothing but a rebarreled action and stock blank. At the same time, he could draw blueprints for an entire house and served on the local school board. I'm afraid I'm more typical of my own generation. I'm at home dealing with big ideas, but anything more complicated than an oil change requires me to pay a mechanic, and try as I might I still can't sharpen a knife worth a damn.

Jim in Mo.

Mike Reeder,
You put into words what I couldn't so I kept quiet. Back when our grandfathers and fathers grew up was the days of the shade tree mechanics. There was logic in the way things were done or assembled. Over-engineering took over,maybe because labor was cheap, then electronics told the parts how to move. Students were taught don't do it till you're schooled. Maybe with the way things are today manufacturers are going to move back to a simpler but effective ways to build things.

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