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A heavy equipment mechanic works on all aspects of large earth-moving types of machinery. Large bulldozers, front-end loaders and track hoes are all maintained by a heavy equipment mechanic. Some types of heavy equipment mechanics specialize in engines and drive train while others focus their attention on hydraulic systems. Regardless of their area of expertise, a heavy equipment mechanic works on very large machinery and uses some very large tools to make even small adjustments.
One of the drawbacks of becoming a heavy equipment mechanic is the sheer size and weight of the parts being serviced. Many times, even the most basic repair requires the use of a crane or hoist to maneuver the part into position. For example, the basic task of changing a tire for a heavy equipment mechanic might involve a large crane to lift a tire that may weigh more than the average family sedan.
Tool costs are also incredibly high for the heavy equipment mechanic. A single wrench might cost as much as a complete set of tools for the average auto mechanic. While some auto mechanic tools are also used by the heavy equipment mechanic, the vast majority of the tools used are based on the requirements to remove and replace bolts and nuts the diameter of an automobile tire.
Many heavy equipment mechanics work in pairs or even teams due to the incredible size and weight of the parts being worked on. It often takes a pair of mechanics to place the wrench onto a fastener used on this equipment. The sheer size of the tools makes service in the field an emergency-only situation. Whenever possible, the equipment is brought back to the maintenance shop in order to be serviced. There are few parts which can be serviced without the use of specialized lifting equipment and tools.
Some problems that a heavy equipment mechanic might encounter that rarely affect a typical auto mechanic are fear of heights and claustrophobia. When servicing some types of heavy equipment, the mechanic may be higher than the roof of his family home. Also, many tasks performed on the engines of this large equipment require the mechanic to actually crawl into the engine to make repairs. It is for these reasons that the job of a heavy equipment repair man is dangerous. These mechanics must rely on and trust their co-workers for their personal safety and precise diagnostic conclusions to the equipment.