The last time I pulled an engine and began removing the crank hub I ran into a problem with the…
Hmm… Okay. As anyone who knows me will concur, I’ve never pulled an engine, and I wouldn’t recognize a crank hub if it hit me in the forehead.
But if I ever do in the future, by then I’ll have learned all I know from watching YouTube star and local mechanic Pete Spyche, known to throngs of viewers around the world as the proprietor of Pete’s Garage. With almost 57,000 subscribers, and more than eight million views from motorheads (and motorhead wannabes) in over two-hundred countries, odds are that if you’ve ever torn down/built up an automobile engine in your garage or driveway you’ve turned to Pete’s Garage for a virtual hand.
This all began innocently enough eight years ago when Pete took delivery of a Cobra replica kit (at right) which he planned on building in his garage workshop, which is conveniently attached to his home in a suburb of Buffalo. “Looking at the body and the array of parts, I realized no one was ever going to just open the crate and start putting one of these together,” he told me during a recent visit. “So I decided to make videos as I went along.”
And he did, acting as mechanic, cameraman (with a little help in the beginning), director, editor, and scriptwriter. Posting the videos of the body and frame work on YouTube, he got some action, but it was nothing earth-shattering. “When I got to the engine build though (the finished product seen below), the views shot way up,” he said, “and I realized that people out there (yes, mostly guys, but not all) want to know how to build engines.” Probably didn’t hurt that this engine was one of Ford’s legendary 427 V8s. That 11-part series is titled Engine Building, and can be seen here.
All in all, the 45,124,419 minutes of view time (thus far) for the collection of his how-to videos add up to 85 years and 290 days-worth of watching. And yes, there’s money in them thar’ videos, but it’s certainly not making him rich.
“I’m here to teach, but also to learn,” he said as he pointed out that some of his comments are from viewers giving him pointers. And it’s not only the YouTube comments. “I put my cell phone number at the end of every video, and have had calls from every continent,” Pete told me. One of the more interesting calls came from a collector of American muscle cars in Kuwait who was having trouble finding anyone local to maintain his collection. An all-expenses-paid Pete’s Garage house call? Not yet. But, as he told me, it’s tempting.
It’s not all engine work. I recently sat down at the computer and watched him do a simple paint repair on the bumper of his friend’s Chevy Equinox, and later tuned in to see the replacement of the front bumper cover/headlight assembly on his own Chevy Malibu which had just been whacked.
Even knowing I’ll probably never do any of this stuff, I still watched them all to the end because Pete is just so darned entertaining and down-to-earth. The kind of guy you can imagine sitting down and having a beer with while talking about cars. (Lucky for me, I no longer have to only imagine that!)
And as in any decent garage worth its salt, there’s a photogenic dog hanging around. Pete’s Pug, Shelby (at right), snuggled in the easy chair during our conversation, filling the room with the sound of contented dog-snoring. Another star is born!
Besides the Cobra kit car (still not finished), Pete’s current project is an engine rebuild for a friend’s 1962 Studebaker Hawk(below). The block is out at the machine shop, and the other parts are arrayed on Pete’s work table (also below), waiting to be cleaned, reassembled, and — I’d imagine — videoed for your viewing pleasure.