?I understand how things work, and with that understanding I can fix almost anything that comes across my path?except computers.?
With that combination of confidence and dry humor, Craig Lynch opened the doors of Craig?s Small Engine Repair a month ago in the old post office building at First and Washing?ton streets in Hillsboro.
So far, his assessment has been right on track.
?Everything that?s been brought to me to this point I?ve been able to fix?except that one over there,? he said, pointing to an old riding mower setting upright near the side door.
?It?s got a bent crankshaft, but it?s almost as old as I am and just isn?t worth fixing anymore.?
Lynch was raised in Alexan?dria, Va., and earned a mechanical engineering degree at North Carolina State University in the late 1970s.
Later, he moved to Wichita and went to work at Cessna. He also owned and ran a retail liquor store for a time before retiring and moving to a farm in Butler County, where he built an airplane to pursue his favorite avocation?flying.
?It?s just a hobby,? he said. ?I?grew up behind Beacon Hill Airport in Alexandria. It?s now gone. But I played in airplanes and watched people flying them and just had a fascination with them. Why I didn?t go into flying as a career, I don?t know.
?When I?got out of engineering school I bought an airplane and had it flown to an airport. I got an instructor and said, ?Teach me to fly.? He did, so I?ve been flying ever since.?
The first plane he built was a bi-plane suitable for aerobatics. More recently he built and now flies an RV-6, an experimental two-seater that Lynch describes as ?a little sporty? and ?very fast.?
Lynch?s plans for his retirement years took an unexpected turn when he met Rebecca Green, who was working as a physician?s assistant at the Hillsboro Family Practice Clinic.
They were married last September.
?I met Rebeca about the time I was finishing up the airplane,? he said. ?She helped me do some finishing touches to it and helped me assemble it.
?Our relationship just built and we got married. The rest is history?I moved to Hillsboro.?
Opening a small-engine repair shop seemed the best option to keep Craig busy while Rebecca continued to care for patients at the clinic.
?The business opportunities in Hillsboro aren?t all that great?it?s a wonderful town, but it?s an agricultural town,? he said. ?I?ve always liked to tinker and I?ve always fixed all my own stuff.?
Lynch?s aptitude for things mechanical surfaced early.
?My father died when I was real young, so one of my chores was to cut the grass,? he said. ?Invariably, once a year I would hit something with the blade and bend the crankshaft. I learned how to take the engine apart, put another crankshaft in it and put it back together.
?That engine probably had at least six crankshafts put in before it just wore out.?
Lynch was 12 years old at the time. His mechanical experiences grew as he did.
?I?ve overhauled car engines and transmissions and rear ends and stuff like that,? he said. ?I?ve built an airplane and overhauled several aircraft engines. When something breaks, you just fix it.
?I?m just a jack of all trades and master of none,? he added with a smile. ?I dabble in a lot of little stuff and some big stuff.?
With the opening of his repair shop, Lynch said he?s prepared to work on mowers, chain saws, trimmers, little tractors, motorcycles?almost anything that has a motor.
?I could handle big tractors, too, by I don?t have the equipment?and I really don?t want to get into big tractors,? he said. ?There are plenty of shops down the road that are set up to do that kind of work.?
Lynch opened his shop June 7 with the following hours: 8 a.m. to noon, and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday.
?That probably will change unless things pick up,? he said. ?I may be open only in the morning and I may not be open on Saturday.
?I haven?t had any Saturday business up to this point, and there are other things I?d like to do. I have an airplane that I?d like to fly.?
Lynch can be reached at 620-877-0706.