The CMGC -- Tech Sessions
What is a Tech Session?
Chicagoland MG Club hosts a few different kinds of tech sessions. We have a long standing tradition of holding a "Spring Tune Up Party" and a "Fall Tune Down Party". In these events club members bring their cars to do inspection, oil change, tune up, and minor repair work in preparation for the summer driving season of for winter storage. For some of us the latter is for winter driving preparation. At these events we may "process" as many as 20 cars in one day (perhaps more if we could get the participation). Occasionally we may hold a "Technical Seminar" to present a training session on a specific topic of interest such as the complete tune up, how to revive a car after long term storage, or perhaps a car restoration project. But by far the more common type of tech session will be the "Home Garage Tech Session".
Our geographic center of membership is in the vicinity of Elmhurst, Illinois, but we may operate anywhere within about 50 mile radius, and there are always a few die-hards who will go anywhere for a good tech session. We don't hold tech sessions just to fix cars for free (although that does happen in the process). Education is the primary objective, and variety is the spice of life. If we did three front suspension rebuilds each year, people would stop coming. When successive tech sessions cover a variety of subject matter and different car models, people have reason to keep coming back. Different people come for different reasons. MGB owners may not be interested in a T-type differential rebuild. T-type owners may not be interested in a Midget hardtop. Midget owners may not be interested in MGA Coupe air conditioning. MGA owners may not be interested in MGB emission controls. A few subjects hold high interest and demand a certain repetition. We definitely need to do a gearbox tech session every few years. Attendance may be a hand full of people or a dozen or more, and the attendees change regularly. Over the course of a year as many as one third of our 300 or so members may attend one or more tech sessions.
The Home Garage Tech Session is usually referred to simply as "Tech Session" including a sub-title for the topic on interest, such as "MGB Windscreen Rebuild Tech Session". These events will be held in someone's home garage, and the location will vary depending on who needs what done and who may have the garage or workshop space to spare. Winter time tech sessions will be held in a heated garage. Tech sessions may be held as often as once a month (more or less often depending on demand). All club members and visitors are welcome. Club tech sessions are generally well organized, as follows.
Suppose you intend to work on the rear axle of your car to change the rubber mounting pads for leaf springs. This entails R&R of some stubborn U-bolts and rebound straps, among other things. In the process you intend to perhaps change hub seals, install new brake shoes, clean and paint leaf springs, replace silentblok bushings and shackle bushings, reassemble, adjust brake shoes, adjust the parking brake, change gear oil. In general sort of a general rear suspension overhaul. This might be enough work to create more than one tech day. If it doesn't all get done in one day, then maybe schedule another tech session for the following week or following month.
You may or may not know how to do all this yourself. If so, then you can host a tech session as a training instructor to show other people how to do it. If not, then you might be asking for help from someone who does know how to do it (import the master mechanic). Or you maybe be asking for helping hands to make short work of a big job. Either way it still makes a good club tech session. The primary objective of the tech session is for people to learn something new. Fixing the car is incidental, a means to an end, or the secondary objective.
The ingredients are:
1.) A bit of pre-planning and an event announcement and invitation in the club newsletter and on the club web site.
2.) A place to work (garage). The person who owns the house or garage may be called the host.
3.) A patient (car to work on). The person who owns the car might be called the donor (or maybe the beneficiary). The car owner also pays the direct expenses for parts and materials (usually).
4.) A "master mechanic". This should be someone who actually knows what he is doing and can either do the work or show someone else how to do it. This may or may not be the host or the car owner.
5.) One or more helpers who don't mind lending a hand and getting dirty. They don't actually have to know much to begin with as long as the master mechanic can coordinate things. The helpers may be called "active students". Minimum attendance to make a tech session is two people, mechanic and student.
6.) Any number of passive students. If you have enough helpers to get the work done, then anyone else can watch and learn (while they socialize on the side, of course).
7.) Optionally (and preferred), a "roving reporter". This is someone with a camera to take pictures and make notes which may hopefully end up on a web page or in the club newsletter as the event report. With luck this may also distribute the newly gained experience and knowledge to a much wider audience.
8.) Optionally, multiple patients, or more than one car in for similar service at the same time (bring your own problems to the party).
9.) Optionally, refreshments or lunch for the helpers, especially if the session will last more than a few hours. It is perfectly appropriate to post a contributions box or ask for donations to cover guest expenses. On special occasions the club might supply or subsidize refreshments.
During many tech sessions involving more than a few people there may be other tech stuff going on the side. Someone might be trying to diagnose a suspension clunk or find the source of an oil leak or fix an electrical problem on a different car. All in good fun if there are spare people and spare time. For a better idea of how tech sessions go you can visit the "Photos" section of the club web site and see a long list of Documented Tech Sessions.
If you want to host a tech session, contact our club Tech Coordinator for a calendar date, and post the notice in the newsletter. We will be forever open to suggestions and looking for tech event hosts. Our Tech Coordinator will have final call on what tech sessions and dates may be approved.
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