The places a Haynes manual can take you
MY GRANDFATHER HAD a mind for machines. He could tease apart the inner workings of an engine, see them all splayed out in his mind long before pulling the first bolt, their choreography as obvious to him as the words on this page. It was a gift grown from a lifetime of curiosity, intuition, and countless hours spent pulling broken and bent pieces from oily hollows. Of everything he gave me, his gait and his grin and his temper, a quirk of genetics meant I missed that innate understanding.
Instead, I’ve relied on a library of service manuals to carry me through the projects that have punctuated my mechanical life. Some I’ve bought. Others have showed up in the boxes of spares that seem to come with every old bike. All of them—from the pulp-paper Haynes to the factory service manuals with their exquisite exploded diagrams and part numbers—have been a torch in the darkness of my ignorance.
They are the passports to the hidden places inside every engine. They’ve led the way through dizzying labyrinths of valve trains and transmissions, giving me the much-needed confidence to dive in and suss out the ticks and grinds that plague all well-loved machines. Even now, when every scrap of human knowledge is just a keystroke away, I prefer leafing through grease-smudged pages to scrolling down pixelated PDFS, placing my own fingerprints on paper that will be around long after I’ve gone on to catch up with my grandfather.