By Andrew SharbelMarch 19, 2009
FORT BELVOIR, Virginia --For the men and women at Belvoir's Directorate of Logistics Heavy Maintenance Shop, passion for their craft is shown through their many years of experience.
Several of the mechanics have honed their skills over 20 years of mechanical experience in the military and as civilians.
"Here at the heavy maintenance shop, we work on all sorts of equipment; everything from Army tactical vehicles, tracked vehicles, refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, power generators, all the way down to kerosene heaters and lawn mowers," Charles Spencer said. Spencer is the heavy mobile equipment supervisor at the shop. "If it's out there, we work on it."
The shop services all the Army installations in the Military District of Washington and also maintains vehicles for the Navy Seabees, when needed.
Spencer has five mechanics working on the garage floor and an assistant in charge of processing paperwork and notifying customers when maintenance is completed.
"All of my mechanics have their own specialty. But, what is so unique about these guys is they can work on anything that comes into the shop," Spencer said. "We do a lot of cross training and we send them off to school to get additional training on various types of equipment we work on here.
"Another plus is all of the guys here have military experience. That helps a lot because they know the equipment already," Spencer said.
Timothy Kollmer is one of the mechanics at the shop. He specializes in tracked vehicles.
Kollmer began as a mechanic at age 16, then became a tank mechanic in the Army. He has been a mechanic for 20 years, the last four at Belvoir's shop.
Naturally, Kollmer's favorite vehicle to work on is an M1 tank.
"I love big machines, when M1 tanks come in I love to work on them, but I like big construction vehicles too," Kollmer said. "I enjoy working on front-end loaders, freighters, all the big stuff."
Restoration of older vehicles is a common task at the shop, and one the mechanics take great pride in, because it helps to save the Army money.
For instance, currently, they are restoring two See vehicles built in 1989 to meet current Army standards. See vehicles are wheeled engineer vehicles similar to back hoes.
Kollmer is working on restoring one of the axels for one of the vehicles.
"I am trying to rebuild this axel to save the Army money, so they don't have to buy a whole new axel," Kollmer said.
David Cooper is another mechanic at the shop and he has been working there for about a year.
"I really like working with my hands and I enjoy a challenge," Cooper said. "I most enjoy working on trucks and tanks."
Cooper noted the difference between working as a commercial mechanic and a mechanic for the military.
"The military equipment is specialized. With commercial equipment, a lot of things are exactly the same and everything is in the same place," Cooper said. "For the military, every piece of equipment is different and has a special purpose."