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The Chilton generation

A small but helpful collection
A small but helpful collection
Ken Spears

Years ago, when a shade tree mechanic or handyman wanted to repair their own vehicle, there were large volumes of reference books to leaf through. In these books were diagrams, instructions, part lists and details of a particular manufacturer’s vehicles and they were one of the only sources of information. One could rebuild a carburetor, fix a fuel flow problem, diagnose a distributor issue and obtain a firing order if the spark plug wires were removed or jumbled all by consulting the book.
There were several reference books available but the one most commonly found is Chilton’s. Chilton’s contained the sum knowledge of a particular manufactured line of vehicles throughout a given time frame, say Chevrolet Chevelle and Monte Carlo 1964 to 1977 for example. These were tune up and repair guides for those savvy enough to conduct such repairs at home or wherever and were extremely valuable to those who needed them. You can tell how useful the particular volume was by the hand writing on the dog eared and grease smeared pages. Haynes, Clymer and Petersen were other publishers and the factories themselves often published service manuals that became available to the public.
Where are these highly prized books now? Many are still in the hands of their original owner or have been passed along to another handyman in need. They can still be had at yard sales and flea markets and newer versions are still available at your local parts store. If your local store doesn’t carry them then look online and you’ll not only find the printed paper reference books available but CD’s, DVD’s and downloadable files. What does all this mean?
The good news is that the shade tree mechanic and the home remedy handyman are still alive and kicking. Fortunately, so are those oh so handy reference materials that can guide us along without making too many mistakes. OK, back to work! Now, what was the gap in the spark plug supposed to be again? Better check the book.