U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Daniel Cimon, 727th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics technician, swaps out his engine at the Auto Skills Center at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Sept. 26, 2012. The shop has many tools and machines available for self-help. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jette Carr)
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Simon Lejeune, 27th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintence journeyman, inspects his newly purchased vehicle in the Auto Skills Center at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Sept. 19, 2012. While there are mechanics available to do vehicle maintenance, many tools and services are available for self-help. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jette Carr)
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Nate Miller, 27th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron aircraft fuels systems journeyman spins the wheel of his motorcycle to check a repair at the Auto Skills Center at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Sept. 19, 2012. The motorcycle repair bay is a new addition to this shop and includes two lifts, a jack, two tire machines - one for balance and the other fro mounting and demounting. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jette Carr)
by Senior Airman Jette Carr
27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
10/1/2012 - CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- It's a dream for the mechanically minded - a shop with the option of self-help and top-of-the-line auto tools at their disposal.
For the Air Commandos at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., this is no fantasy thanks to the Auto Skills Center on base, a repair shop dedicated to providing Airmen a space and tools to work on their cars, trucks and motorcycles.
"We have six lifts available for different types of automobile repair," said Keith Robertson, 27th Special Operations Force Support Squadron skills development manager. "You can do anything from an oil change, to an engine swap and transmission work - you name it!"
"They've got everything you need here," said Airman 1st Class Daniel Cimon, 727th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics technician, currently using the lift and tools at the Auto Skills Center to swap out his engine.
During the past year and a half, Cimon has been working on his vehicle at the center. He said he's been able to replace his transmission, change out tires, bleed and redo his brakes, replace his master cylinder, his brake system and replace the clutch.
"It's extraordinarily useful to have this resource on base," he said. "Without it, I'd have to go to a mechanic and I wouldn't learn how to do any of this myself. It would have cost me more money and I wouldn't be this knowledgeable about my own car. It's much more beneficial to have a place like this."
This center isn't only useful to the Airmen who own automobiles. With a growing population of motorcyclists on base, the need for mechanical repair of these machines has become more noticeable. In response, the Auto Skills Center has recently added a motorcycle bay to the workshop.
"In the past, we had a few people come in with motorcycles, but we really weren't properly set up for their needs," said Robertson. "We wanted to have something here specifically for them, so we just got all the equipment for that area. There are now two designated bays for motorcycle repair. In those bays there are two lifts, a jack and two tire machines - one is for balance and the other for mounting and demounting. It's all self help."
Many people who come in already possess a basic knowledge of how to fix their vehicle, weld or operate the auto repair machinery and are able to receive further guidance and instruction from the shop's mechanics.
"As far as using some of the equipment, several people may have experience with torches, but not the plasma cutter," said Robertson using an example. "They will have a background and general knowledge of how to cut metal, so in that case, what we'll do is show them how to use that particular piece of equipment. Once they show us they have learned it, we'll issue them a certification card."
With other basic automobile care such as an oil change, even those with no previous knowledge can have the opportunity to learn as the mechanics are willing to give step-by-step instructions.
To increase this learning environment, Robertson is scheduled to begin hosting instructive classes at the Auto Skills Center in November with an automotive familiarization class. He said he would like to have a class each month on different topics of vehicle repair and maintenance such as automotive care, collision identification and trip preparation.
"We work for our customers," said Robertson. "We're here for them and our main goal is to provide outstanding customer service. Let us know what you want and we'll do our best to provide that service. If there's a specific tool you need, we will do our best to get that for you."
The shop is currently receiving a facelift as old equipment and facilities are being upgraded. New workbenches are being assembled, equipment is receiving maintenance or being replaced and new tools have been brought in. The car wash and vacuums have also been upgraded.
To provide an area for Airmen to work on the assembly of parts away from the elements such as dirt and wind, a clean room will be coming soon.
Robertson stressed that there is still room for expansion at the Auto Skills Center based upon which facilities are used and what is requested. This is why feedback is greatly appreciated by this shop to gain insight on what Airmen need, would like to see change and what they value having available.
To provide input, go to the services page and fill out an ICE comment card.
For more information, contact the Auto Skills Center at 575-784-2170.