Sadly, we have lost another Club member and an iconic genius and engineer at that.
With the passing of Vern Dalton, we have lost yet another highly skilled inventor / engineer who fortunately has passed his incredible skills onto his son, but this sadly is not always the case. Many gifted people often take their skills with them when they pass on and hence their skills are lost forever.
To add to this concern and reality is the fact that the next generation (current teenagers) don’t really seem to be interested in learning practical skills, they seem to lean towards anything that comes with a screen and buttons.
I can qualify this statement as I spend every Thursday at a Secondary College in the Wood Tech department and I witness first hand that practical ability is seriously lacking in these young people. In general, they struggle to be able to take measurements, mark a square line on their work, use a hammer or saw for example. However, ask them to find out about something via the internet and it’s done in a flash.
As a teenager I was constantly building things using my Dad’s tools and when I turned sixteen and bought my first motorcycle and a bit later my first car, I was constantly pulling them apart and diagnosing and fixing them when they broke. This was generally out of necessity as I couldn’t afford to use a mechanic on my first year $16.45 per week apprenticeship wages. At the time I probably felt hard done by, but on reflection it gave me a grounding in things mechanical & I learnt many practical skills on the way – many the hard way.
So where does all this leave us for the future? There will be a severe lacking of hands on practical people in society, even now at our age and old school practical skill level there is hardly any point lifting the bonnet of your modern car if it breaks down because it’s all wires & pipes and unfamiliar gizmos and hardly looks like an engine. Remember your old Falcon or Holden? They were always easy to get going again if they broke down.
I don’t know what we can do, the trend certainly jeopardises future generations having any interest in classic motorcycles, apart from the odd exception.
The Robert Shannon Foundation is pitched at sponsoring young people to learn automotive / restoration skills, but I suspect the take up is negligible.
We urgently need to mentor young people to take up whatever skills we may have and hope they in turn continue to pass them on into the future, but there must be an interest and passion for this to succeed. I don’t know how you foster and encourage this aspect of the dilemma.
I know I’ve banged on about this very subject in the past, but with the passing of a talented man such as Vern it rekindles my concerns and prompts me to verbalise my thoughts, because it bothers me greatly that the practical skills let alone the engineering genius of the likes of Vern, Bob Satterley, John Trease to name a few, will be lost forever and even us humble Classic enthusiasts / restorers and garage fiddlers are going to be as extinct as dinosaurs in a decade or two.
Enjoy your riding and stay safe.