A customer of mine reminded me of this phrase the other day. Sometimes I forget that this has been a way of life for me, the thought process in which I seem to repeat all the time. I seem to dive into every subject of what I do, to the point where you would think I was only focusing on one direction of thinking. But, that's not true. I found that being a Master of None, is actually being the best of who you can be. Being a Master of None reminds me that I am not limiting myself to just one form of thinking. It means that my mind is open to whatever might fall in front of me to help me understand more of what I am asking. The Master of None, is now the humblest of all.
If you want to be a tuner, you can be. But then that means, you have to understand an engine. To understand an engine, you have to understand the performance parts inside of an engine. To understand the parts inside of an engine, you have to understand the build process. To understand the build process, you have to understand the machining process. This is the biggest rabbit hole. This does not only apply to engines, it applies to every area in car building.
Yin and Yang
Let’s say you are tuning a vehicle, the customer supplies a ported throttle body. The vehicle is a drive by wire system, meaning the ECM uses blade position to control how it idles. The porter doesn’t tune, so he takes as much material out of the throttle body housing as he can, because it looks cool to show on instagram. The tuner struggles to tune the car, the idle surges and it's all over the place, everything is just wrong right now. The issue is that no one thought about how the system works. You have one guy who just ports, and you have one guy that just tunes. The key here is that if you are the guy who does both, you learn so much more. You learn that the porting and the changes you make, correlate to the changes you make in your tuning. All of a sudden, you understand the Yin and the Yang of the relationship. Therefore, you change how you port the throttle body.
Cold Air Intakes
Cold Air Intakes. This is always a fun one. So many of them on the market right? You only know brands, names, online reviews at best. But how many have you actually tuned? You start with one brand that seems to work, then you have issues so you try another. The information is overwhelming all the time though. Then one day you sit down and try to understand airflow from a filter, to the intake tube where the Mass Air Sensor is located, and everything else. Before you know it you are deep in reading about how the air filter specs, the height of filter pleats, and the base diameter of a filter all seem to do all these crazy things to how an intake performs. Then you dive into air intake tube size and how air is introduced into a tube from the filter. You even have to learn how the MAF sensor is affected in its location. You can even learn about how every MAF sensor responds uniquely to its own design and where it's located. Crazy stuff!
Now we have only touched on two basic subjects. What about the engine at this point? The size of the engine, what performance heads you picked. How did you design the high performance camshaft? Now we get to the complicated stuff. Now all of a sudden, you have to become an high performance engine builder. Yup, now it gets even harder. Now all of a sudden you have to know pistons, rods, crankshaft specs, Camshaft specs, etc. And you have to understand the effects they will have on the current parts you plan to use, or are planning to use.
So what next? So far you have to know induction or forced forced induction. You have to know how to spec an engine camshaft. What comes next? Well, you have the intake manifold, and this is a science that is always beaten to a pulp all over the internet. Which basically means, you gotta try a bunch for yourself. No joke, that's kinda how it works. But it also means trying other performance parts with it as well.
The other main factor I wanna talk about is the performance engine performance engine exhaust. You wanna talk about a theory or something not many people spend time on? This is the place. Diving hard core into exhaust is the epitome of being a Master of None. Because this area will really make your head spin. I say this because I spent years and a ton of my own money trying things others would never try, just to see if the guys who really sat down with me to educate me were right. And guess what, they were. Exhaust is one of those areas where you have no idea what it is doing, until you understand what it is actually doing. It is wild how much power you can make when you put effort into this area of a build.
So once you are left with all of this, once you have given up all of your time over years to even come close to understanding all of the things that you think you need to know, how do you tune these things? What are your methods? How has what you have experienced molded the way in which you tune a vehicle now? Is what you were doing last month different then what you are doing this month? Did you feel OK with the acceptance that you don't always know it all and that sometimes something slaps you in the face and changes how you see something?
My point is this... To all of those who want to build something of this career, to make something of it, to define who you are in this industry. It’s ok to not fully know something. The difference in who you are, is defined by how you ask the questions about what you do not know. I know that if it was not for certain people in my life, I would not know the things that I know as well. I am more than happy to pay it forward daily, to all those who truly want to learn and progress.
You may not be the Jack of all trades, but you are willing to be more than one.