Jack has a unique talent for highly technical projects. At 14, he already has years of practice on anything he can take apart, repair or replace. This is Jack's story.
Dad has always surrounded Jack with aircooled toys, books, legos, and merch, including the VW Beetle mural Dad painted on Jack's wall
Jack was playing with Legos by himself one day, and Dad walked in to find this: Jack was built this differential gear set driven by a steering wheel with a rubber band. The kid was five with no help and no instructions! Just a deep curiosity for to figure out how things work.
He also used Dad's hydraulic floor jack to "fix" the ATV in the garage.
After going to two air shows with Dad and Gramps in 2011, Jack wanted to build a life sized plane to fly. They made a quick run to Home Depot, and Jack shared his parts list. Yes, a parts list! When they got home, Dad laid out several sheets of plywood on the ground, gave Jack a pencil, and Jack drew out the basic shape of his plane and wings.
Dad trued up the lines, cut out the shapes, but Jack helped to design and assemble the airplane. The body was set on a hand truck chassis. Jack wanted a really long bolt so he could turn the prop by hand. The next day, Jack painted the plane and the result you see here. He rode that plane around the cul-de-sac just as proud as ever!
The family decided to move to Louisiana to be closer to family. At their farewell dinner with friends, one of the guests gave the keys to her husband's Porsche to Dad and Jack to take it for a spin. It was a Speed Yellow 978 Cayman with a manual 6-speed. It's ironic that Jack's first car is a Canary Yellow Porsche under all that white paint.
In Cub Scouts, Jack was eager to take on the challenge of building a fast car. That didn't mean just painting a hot rod, but trying to figure out how to make it faster by balancing the weights, smoothing the wheel spin and whatever else he could do to legally reduce friction. By middle school, Jack was in Wood Shop class cutting out his own design from scratch on an industrial bandsaw table.
By the end of elementary school, Jack was participating in Ecobots (robotics), but he was bored out of his mind. He didn't have the patience for other kids to catch up, so he dropped out after a very short while. Along the way, he taught himself soldering. Boy was Dad surprised when he discovered that Jack disassembled his drone, replaced the motors, soldered new connections and had it flying again in 45 minutes. Jack was also building Arduino projects and subscribed to a kit of the month club.
By the end of elementary school, Jack was participating in Ecobots (robotics), but he was bored out of his mind. He didn't have the patience for other kids to catch up, so he dropped out after a short while. Jack had also amassed a collection of over 5,000 legos and was building complex, technical lego sets for Ages 16 and up.
Jack started playing video games and websites requiring high levels of spatial complexity, dexterity and acute hand-eye movements. Dad couldn't keep up for sure. Jack found several free apps online and started to play with 3D-CAD, designing shapes, downloading templates and figuring out how things work. This was a foundation for Jack to start building and using 3D printers.
Jack is no stranger to fire and fire extinguishers, but Dad teaches him safety for every project and emphasizes wearing protective gear whenever possible. After several tries, Jack made a thermal insulated heat foundry from plaster of paris, a tin can, charcoal, an air tank and lots of guts. He used the foundry to blacksmith nails into small knives and axes that he ground down in his workshop and made small handles.
With is fascination with jets, airplanes and propulsion, Jack's bedroom was filled with airframes and posters of space. With a vision of going to Mars one day, Jack set out to learn the periodic table. I came home one day to discover he was creating homemade acids and chemicals for electrolysis. The 110-volt wires were in his bedroom. "Don't worry, Dad, I have a voltage reducer so I don't get shocked." Geez.
Jack became obsessed with watching how to videos on YouTube, and his appetite for projects and learning grew exponentially. Learning to Airbrush and experiment with different pain techniques was fascinating for a hot minute.
Some kids like to play with Hot Wheels. Jack started making his own Rustomods and customized paint schemes. It wasn't fun unless he could take it apart, change it, fix it, and put it back together.
Given Jack's aptitude for all things mechanical, Jack assembled his first 3d printer which was delivered without any instructions. He looked online, figured it out, and taught himself how to true the bed, select the heat settings and flow rates for different materials.
Jack got so good at customizing and fixing his printer, he began to design and print custom 3d parts for his printer using his 3d printer. That's insane. He was also the official 3d printer fixer for his teachers at school.
Now that Jack understands the fundamentals of 3D printing mechanical and electrical components as well as material properties, Jack started to design and build his own 3D printer using left over parts and custom components. Jack hasn't finished this build. One day. One day...
With greater confidence gained from using industrial tools at school, Jack took on a project to build himself a workbench. It came out great. It's the perfect height, rolls easily on casters, and it still works great today.
As Jack's skill levels have grown much further than most kids twice his age, he started to buy his own shop tools. When he purchased his drill press, Jack undertook woodworking and small scale metal fabrication. That soon led to his new disc grinder, vice, and bench grinder.
After Hurricane Harvey, Jack helped the neighboors with clearing out their houses and garages. A few items were donated to Jack along the way. He swears he could find everything he owned in his messy workshop.
After watching some of his favorite YouTubers, Jack started repairing and rebuilding computers. He also built his sister a gaming PC using recycled parts..
Mom and Dad hired Jack to build them a nice PC -- which works great by the way. It's smooth, quiet, powerful and very reliable.
Jack has designed and built several computers for himself and others. His latest creation using a Ryzen 7 chip, and with overclocking, he gets over 300 frames per second!
When Dad purchased a new 4Runner, Jack was eager to help install a suspension lift kit including new coils and shocks and oversized tires. Jack wasn't shy around big tools.
When visiting Jack's grandma, she said that her chainsaw wouldn't start. Well, Jack took a crack at it, and before you know it, he rebuilt the carb and had it running again. He fixed several small engines that week.
Jack brought home a 5HP Briggs & Stratton motor, and quickly began disassembling it to understand how it works from the mechanicals to the fuel and ignition systems. This inspired Jack to build a Go Kart. Without a kit.
Jack modified the heck out of a set of plans to build a Kart of his own design, using parts from an ATV. This required hours of planning and problem solving as well as lots of math, plus cutting on an industrial-sized bandsaw.
After just an hour of lessons, Jack started welding like he was born to fabricate. He crafted a custom frame, modified the suspension from an ATV and built a custom steering setup. His welds are looking good.
The Go Kart is coming along. It's about 85% complete now, so Dad says when the Kart project is done, Jack can start on the 914. This is a good motivator to finish projects!
Dad and Jack are looking forward to this build together. The goal is to get the 914 back on the road by Summer 2021, and over the next year and a half, they will take it back apart to fix the body, interior and paint and get it back on the road when he starts driving at 16.