DOBSON — Surry Community College Instructors Adam Vaughn and Bernays White want students to know understanding and repairing automatic transmissions or small engines, such as lawnmowers, can be a money-saver and could be the start of a new career.
Beginning this month Surry Community College is offering two classes to help students learn the trade of engine repair.
The Automatic Transmissions class will be taught by Vaughn and will cover operation, diagnosis, service and repair of automatic transmissions and/or transaxles. Other topics will include hydraulic, mechanical, electrical and electronic operation of automatic drive trains, and the use of appropriate service tools and equipment. Upon completion, students should be able to explain operational theory and diagnose and repair automatic drive trains.
“I’ve had students in these groups focused on the vocational side as well as just wanting to know more about transmissions who benefited from this course. They all come to learn it is an enormous task,” said Vaughn. “It is a challenging class but it is really fun.” Vaughn has taught full time at SCC for seven years and is leading this class for the third time.
He said generally automatic transmissions have become more technologically advanced with transmissions progressing from two-speeds to recent forecasts of a Ford and General Motors project to develop a 10-speed automatic. Vaughn said ongoing improvements to automatic transmissions are driven by fuel economy and emissions.
“I’ve had several students who have rebuilt their own transmissions after this class but it is a very difficult, very tedious process,” said Vaughn. “This can also become a good start in the field for those who work together in groups for the 16 weeks.”
Students are welcome to bring in their own projects; however, space will be an issue. According to Vaughn, if at all possible, students should remove and re-install the transmissions outside of class. Vehicle lifts are available and will be provided on a first-come first-served basis.
According to information from the college, the Small Engine Repair class will be held primarily in a lab setting, so students receive full benefit from a hands-on environment. Bernays White is the instructor for this class.
White said he had been teaching the small engine class, part time, for 30 years at the college and began when the late Carlos Surratt and Max Blackburn called him over to their table at the Sandwich Shop in Dobson and convinced him the to try teaching and he has “been there ever since.”
White has been a mechanic for much of his life and worked with Chatham Manufacturing in Elkin for 41 years. He said like automobiles, small engines have also grown more complicated and emission control standards have had an impact.
“There are no more two-cycle engines being built,” said White. “They simply can’t meet the emission standards.”
White said small engine repairs can save owners money when considering that many businesses charge more than $50 an hour labor.
“I understand they have to make a living and I respect that but there aren’t a lot of mowers out there now which are worth the expense,” White said. “This is something which is useful to most everybody. Sometimes some repair shops can take six weeks to get something repaired and only service what they sell which can be a problem.”
White said small engine repair can also be a good part time job or business to go into after retirement because start up costs are relative affordable, if starting out on a small scale.
A small set of tools is required (sockets, ratchets, screwdrivers, and similar pieces) for both classes. The college will provide specialty tools in most instances. If a student wishes to bring in a transmission or small engine, he will need to provide all parts and materials necessary to complete the rebuild.
The tuition for each class is $183. Interested persons may obtain more information by calling (336) 386-3229.