TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
As "opposite" of "good" tech writing as many consider that book to be,
"How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive" was one of the two biggest stepping
stones that prompted me to move on into tech writing. In early 1971, at
age 21 and with absolutely NO experience fixing cars (or anything else),
I bought my first car, a rust-bucket 1961 Beetle with no floor behind
the driver's seat for the rear seat passenger to use. That car "inhaled"
money. Every time I drove past Joe & Marty's Arco gas station at Union
Ave. and Broadway in Cleveland, that damn thing broke down. They made a
mint off of me!
In early 1972, I bought a 1965 Beetle in better condition; but within
weeks, the front suspension kingpins broke while slowly driving over an
intown railroad crossing (across the street from Joe & Marty's Arco gas
station, by the way). About a month later, it seized a piston (broke the
wrist pin that holds it to the connecting rod, but did NOT damage the
crankcase). I traded the '61 Beetle to the repair shop for the 50 bucks
it cost to fix the '65 Beetle.
Like I said, my cars inhaled money from my pocket. And these were not
cheap repairs for a college student making minimum wage parking cars to
pay his way through school. (I didn't mention the clutch replacement,
the electrical problems, the body / rust welding repairs, etc.)
But shortly afterwards, I saw John Muir's book on the shelf at the
university book store. My God! That book sympathized, encouraged,
explained, stroked and congratulated you for everything from the
smallest adjustment to the full engine rebuild (which I -- the
uninitiated mechanic) had to do later that year.
>From the line art drawing near the front of the book of the worried
insomniac (whose thought "bubble" is an exploded view of an entire
Beetle engine) to sketches of an arm reaching out from under the car
searching for a just-out-of-reach tool, that was me-me-me! The "Idiot
book" (as it's affectionately known today) is just text-heavy, setting
up symptoms, tool lists, narratives, etc. Today, I write step 1-do
this-step 2-do that books. But, as god-awful as it goes against the
grain, THAT book accomplished what it set out to do -- help people just
like me stop paying others to do what we certainly could do if we only
tried. Yeah, I know the audience of that book is probably much different
from the one we all write to today, but so what?!
There were no ". . . for Dummies" books back then. THIS was perhaps the
FIRST of that genre.
(BTW, I said "the Idiot book" was one of the two biggest stepping stones
in my development as a tech writer. The other was my dad's passing after
a factory accident. He was so disgusted with me. I wasn't interested in
even trying to learn how to fix or mess with anything. But within months
of his passing, the engine on that '65 Beetle blew and I decided I would
simply follow the Idiot book narration, and if I got in over my head,
I'd take it to Harlan's Sunoco station on Storer Ave. to handle the task
I couldn't. But it never got that far. I did it all. And I went on to
work on virtually all other parts of that car and all my other cars and
household items, etc. The book inspired me and gave me the confidence I
needed. And all these years later, I've written everything from computer
manuals, to factory manuals, to heavy equipment manuals to full site
turn-key operation manuals. And I'm sure my dad is proud of me.)
OK, OK, I really went overboard. But surely some of you have similar
stories how you either tripped into, were pushed into, or walked into
(And yes, I remain forever a VW fanatic.)
From: techwr-l-bounces+poshedlyk=polysius -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+poshedlyk=polysius -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On
Behalf Of Sandy Harris
Sent: Monday, August 21, 2006 10:41 PM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Re: Car repair manuals: standards?
> I'm looking for documentation standards which specifically apply to
> car repair manuals.
Are there gov't standards for docs on the vehicles they buy? What about
> Good or bad examples are welcome as well.
Non-standard I'm sure, but with ideas worth considering:
How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of
Step-by-step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot
I used it in the 70s, and a web check shows 19th edition is still in
Zhuhai, Guangdong, China
This e-mail message and any attachment contains private
and confidential information and is intended for the addressee only. If you are not the intended recipient (or responsible
for delivery of the message to such person), please do not read, copy, use or disclose this communication to others.
If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender by replying to this message, and then delete it from your system. Thank you.
Atlanta, Ga. USA http://www.PolysiusUSA.com
Main Fax: 770-955-8789