I'd be lying if I told you I didn't miss the travel involved in field service, but now I do what I want, to a certain extent. My phone is the service counter, which is my world. It sometimes can be more than a little frustrating and anxiety laden. Every once in awhile, however, things begin to disintegrate in the field - someone buys a used drill rig, compressor, or something else, and needs help - and I hear the magic words "Don, can you give me a hand." At this request I don't have to wait long to know this won't be an easy problem - such as a port plate with dirt under it, a piston compressor that was supposed to have good oil pressure but doesn't, a pulldown cylinder with a defective check valve or a rotary screw compressor running hot.

Generally speaking, it's a positive experience: a sanity building exercise in which everything makes sense and my faith in man is restored. The problem needs attention every once in awhile, however it doesn't quite happen that way. And today is one of those days. I've written about this before, and maybe you have experienced it in your shop, but sometimes no one person has to come and get you when there's a problem. Today I just know things are crumbling. We call it 'a feeling', you could have another name for it. However, most of us have experienced it and it doesn't feel good. Most of these jobs, for me at least, have been cause for celebration. Today's events were, if nothing else, a cause for concern.

I traveled from my home to the shop to find a rebuilt screw compressor, that I had just sold and needed delivered tomorrow, was without a high pressure stage. To my amusement, the high pressure stage was needed last week on an emergency break-down while I was out of town. Now I have a couple of problems: the first is parts access and how quick can I build up another high pressure stage; and the second, the most important, is to contact my customer to tell him my horror story. Under normal circumstances this would be no problem, since the compressor business has been good, but unfortunately this crisis was at the end of the week, and we had promised the customer's compressor would be shipped by close of business that evening. What do I do? Time was beginning to elapse and someone else would have to build up a high pressure case. The technician working on the compressor had made plans for the weekend that couldn't be broken. So, as he washed up, I realized just who 'someone else' was going to be.

The first thing I did, after getting into my work clothes, was check with the parts people to make sure all the special parts are available. The parts man just shrugged his shoulders and pointed to where the parts were kept. "Over there" was all that was said. Fortunately, after two hours, I found what I thought was enough parts to build a high pressure stage - gears, shims, bearings, rotors, case, plates, etc. Next, after gathering up my special tools, rags, and instruments, I began work at 3 pm Friday afternoon. It was going to be a beautiful weekend. Outside I could hear my brother loading up the sprint car for a weekend of racing. After a while, I forced myself to relax and began the work. Time passed, and before I knew it, it was dark outside.

My wife called to see if I was going to be home anytime soon. 'Anytime soon' came the next day at 3 pm with the compressor complete - painted and ready for shipment Monday morning.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't satisfied by my performance. It's good to know you can still get out there and work with 'the kids' and make things happen. It's good to know that 30-odd years spent toiling in this industry, the years helping our clients, the hill of success doing the impossible seeming almost effortless, resulted in some kind of knowledge, even if that knowledge seems a bit arcane at times.

I completed the job - a day late - but my customer is happy. As I washed up I felt good, even though my back ached and every scratch and cut cried out from the soap and hot water. I still had to wonder if the satisfaction of that kind of victory is worth what you have to go through, just to say "I did what I promised my customer I would do." YOU BET IT IS!!! So, I will see you next month.