Tired of reading? Turn your service manual into pressed vinyl
In the modern age, folks go straight to YouTube in the hunt for explanations and tutorials. Decades ago, mechanics in shops or at home didn’t really have options other than referencing printed service manuals—or listening to the text by way of a record. Think service records of a different type.
In my travels through the dark and sometimes confusing tubes of the internet, I stumbled upon a video featuring the process required to service Chevrolet Corvair cylinder heads. Except that, instead of a Corvair engine bay, or even a shop bench strewn with parts, the video showed only a record player. What was going on?
The record plays and following brief introduction music, a voice takes off reading specs and details about servicing a Corvair flat-six. It is a Jam Handy production, a supplement created to give professional technicians and home mechanics another option for ingesting the technical details and processes for servicing various Chevrolet models. The production now seems a bit comical, hearing an oh-so-professional voice read specialty tool numbers and quickly zip through describing tasks at a speed even the fastest of mechanics could only dream of duplicating.
So maybe it is not supposed to be a work-along recording. It’s still interesting—though undeniably strange. This specific recording outlined a process I have personally done a few times—and therefore, have extensively studied in the shop manual—and I still got lost while trying to mentally complete the task on an engine in my head.
Jam Handy productions is best known for Chevrolet training videos, tailored to someone improving their salesmanship or learning the benefits and features of various cars and trucks in Chevrolet’s lineup. Maybe that is why this record seems a bit comical as an actual reference piece. Without a visual component, it’s not terribly practical.
This record serves as a fun reminder of how good we have it these days, with information at the tips of our fingers virtually anywhere we go. Today, limited runs of information carefully distributed to certain people are rare, apart from service bulletins and other dealer information; and most of that leaks to the internet pretty quickly.
Recordings like this are downright impressive, much like the hand-drawn schematics and other reference materials so carefully and laboriously prepared before the world went digital. Even if we have better reference guides these days, it is always fun to remember how far we have come.