Juneau mechanics place 28th in national contest

Posted: Monday, June 19, 2000

JUNEAU (AP) -- A problem with the mass air flow sensor tripped up two young Juneau men Monday as they competed in a national car repair competition.

Jesse Walker and Nathaniel Abbott, both 18, placed 28th out of 51 entries in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition in Washington. The competition tested how fast two-person teams can diagnose and repair identical problems in new Ford Motor Co. cars.

They breezed through such problems as missing relays, blown fuses and resetting the car's idling speed, but tried to get to the finish line without solving the air flow problem. The engine kept stalling, forcing them to retreat and spend more time analyzing the problem.

''We just decided to say 'to heck with it' and cross the finish line, but the car had other ideas,'' Walker said

Eventually they realized they needed to remove the entire tube that the air flow device was mounted on. Overall, they found the competition trickier than the state contest they aced last month.

''There were a lot more tricks,'' Abbott said. ''I just wanted to do the best we could do and get through to the finish.''

Both men graduated from Juneau-Douglas Highs School this year. Walker said his success in auto repair contests has him reconsidering his plan to become an electrician. Abbott plans to enroll in the University of Alaska Fairbanks in August to study fire science.

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