20 June 2015

Shop Manuals

I was disappointed after receiving the shop manual I ordered for a new Honda generator, but at first couldn't put my finger on why. Then I realized: shop manuals are no longer the good, long reads they once were. Gone is text not only explaining in print the how to perform the maintenance/repair/adjustment at hand, but also the background and theory into how and why something works.

Today's manuals, like so many things, seem to have become more about pictures and less about words, just cutting to the chase. Is this because those who are expected to work on stuff are better trained, and understood to be able to fill in the general technical/mechanical blanks when servicing things? Or that our busy lives—and busy jobs—do not allow for any "wasted" time on interesting but frivolous information? That's hard to believe, since we are surrounded, including at work, by frivolous and huge time-sucks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Does time allow, but attention spans do not? Or is it because we've all become so "in the moment" that we don't care about the background, the "why" stuff is the way it is? Need it, Google it, execute it, forget it.

Or is it because we simply cannot read?

The Detroit Diesel In-Line 71 Service Manual was a compelling book I could curl up with on a rainy day just to read for pleasure, not only to study in preparation for upcoming service or repair of my bus's engine. The Honda Generators EM6500SX Shop Manual is just something on the reference shelf to be pulled out only when needed.

Are curiosity and retention dead, deemed simply wastes of time? Pity, if so.

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