My name is Gary Barnes. I was born in Sacramento, California in 1946 and have lived here most of my life. My introduction to mechanical objects started at a very early age. By the age of four, I was taking apart old wind up alarm clocks that a jeweler friend of my father gave him. Soon after, my father came home with a box of 1/8 and 1/4 inch pipe fittings and different lengths of pipe nipples and two pipe wrenches, one 6 inch and one 8 inch. I spent hours putting the pipes and fittings together in all different shapes. Later came Lionel Trains, Erector Sets, then Control Line Model Airplanes, Tether Cars and Go Karts. At 11 years old, I was given a Craftsman 1/4 inch socket set from my aunt as a birthday present. That was the start of my VERY large collection of tools that I have today along with that first Craftsman socket set and the two pipe wrenches. Also, at the age of 11, I started working for my neighbor Mr. Ogg, wholived across the street from my family. I would cut his lawn and do all of his yard work. Mr. Ogg owned the Old Tavern Cleaners and Dye Works in midtown Sacramento. After I turned 12, Mr. Ogg asked if I wanted to work at the cleaners half day on Saturdays, and I agreed. His daughter Sharon was 18 and I would ride to work with her. By the time I was 14, I was repairing all the equipment in the cleaners as well as getting the boiler ready for the annual state inspection. There was always something that needed to be repaired. All of the equipment was run off of one 20 hp electric motor connected to line shafts and flat belts. My other neighbor a few doors down was Mr. Gregory. Hee owned the Piston Ring Shop, an old school auto parts with a machine shop in the back. It was located half a block from Mr. Ogg’s cleaners. Most of the money I made on Saturday never made it home, it just changed hands between the two neighbors as I spent it on at Mr. Gregory’s auto parts shop. Two blocks in the other direction of that street was the Reliable Electric Motor Company. Many times on Saturday when I got off work at the cleaners, I would walk down to the motor shop and hang around, watching anold German man work on every size electric motor I had ever seen. I always had so many questions about electric motors and controls, and this man would take the time to explain everything to me. This was during an era when things were repaired , not thrown outbecause they stopped working.
At 16, I got my driver’s license, and my first car was a 1950 Chevy convertible from my uncle Willie. It came without a top, ragged seats, bald tires and needed a valve repair. By then, I was working every day after school and half aday on Saturdays. After graduating high school, I went to Sacramento City College for a two-year program to become an A & P Aircraft mechanic. As I finished that program, I was drafted into the U.S. Army in June 1967 to serve in Vietnam. I served with the 174 AHC [Assault Helicopter Company] 409 th. Maintenance Detachment in Duc Pho, Viet Nam. We did all of the repair on the 30, UH 1C and UH-1D Huey Helicopters that flew missions every day and came back all shot up.
The employment in my adult life started as a packing house butcher for 12 years then selling and servicing processing equipment. Later, Istarted a custom wood and metal working business that I had for a number of years. I have always had love for machine tools and machine shops. I am an old school manual machinist. I have worn many different hats in my life.. Now in my retired life, I enjoy putting all the skills I have learned over the years to good use, building different objects. Please feel free to take a look at some of my Mechanical Wonders in the Gallery section of this site