YouTube Stars - Faine 437

By: Jon Faine

Presented by

youtube youtube

Is there anything you cannot learn on YouTube?

Santa bought me a MIG welder.  I am possibly the world’s worst ARC welder, but now I can add a new medal to the metal on my chest. World’s worst gasless MIG welder too. Undignified but deserved.

My first play with the new toy was a near catastrophe. Together with the spatter and fumes, I managed to set fire to a nearby rag (but not the entire garage…) and somehow get weld on the thread of the bolt I was trying to fix upright onto a steel stand.

Apparently it is not as easy as it says in the ad – you cannot just buy the gadget, remove it from the box and start gluing steel together the next moment.

So I hit YouTube for some lessons. Wow! There are about three million films about welding, most of them made by professionals flogging some expensive bit of kit.

Then there are the wannabe TV stars – handsome, buffed, pimped and primed, not a hair out of place and wearing sponsors uniforms, who treat YouTube as an audition. And the film turns out again just to be an elaborate and thinly disguised ad. After all, they have to look after their sponsors and keep the free tools flowing their way. Annoying.

And then with a little more hunting around, you might find films made by a bloke in a shed somewhere – usually in the US Midwest – who just wants to help. One of them has zillions of views and upon adding myself to his tally I can see why.

Explaining with simple pictures, no fancy-pants diagrams and a surprising lack of technical language, he just shows you what you need to know. It is as if you were in the shed, with him, sitting on an upturned milk crate, getting a personal lesson. Even the accent is charming.

So it got me hunting around on the platform, seeing what else I could learn. Prompted by the story told me by a crazed friend of our younger son, I realise that there is an instructional video about just about everything and anything on YouTube. Apparently there are people who do not know how to hook up jumper leads to overcome a flat battery. YouTube to the rescue.

So a quick play on the ipad and everything is there.

How to change a flat tyre
How to change engine oil
How to check tyre pressure
How to open the bonnet on a 1997 Subaru Liberty…

How to find the button to open the petrol flap on a P38 Range Rover (not so obvious, I assure you) as well as major mechanical and carpentry skills demystified… and so on.

Graduating in complexity, you can also learn thread cutting on your new lathe, re-building gearboxes, setting clearances on tappets and honing a bore. Most bores I know need more than honing.

As I prepare to attempt to coachbuild the body on my 1926 Citroen B2 Caddy, there are instructional videos on steam bending, laminating, timber framing and every imaginable carpentry trick. How to use a spokeshave, how to sharpen blunt drills, when a dovetail is better than a butt joint…

It didn’t take long for me to realise that instead of actually doing any work, I could sit in the recliner watching videos of other people doing work. Much less tiring, and no mess to be cleaned up afterwards.

The genius of YouTube is the automatic feed, seamlessly offering you the link to and the immediate start of another film on a related topic. Before you know it you are watching a Dutch coach-builder working on a priceless Isotta Frashini or a one-off Delage. Sub-titles convey some of the meaning, but there is that classic "lost in translation" moment where a 20-word sentence is translated into three words. Oh well. And like most experts at their trade, they make the extraordinary look easy. Like a star footballer, there are people who can do things that the rest of us will never be able to do and they make it look easy.

I then thought about what I could offer. How to set fire to your shed… how to buy expensive equipment you hardly know how to use and that sit for most of their life unused and depreciating on the shelf... how to acquire a hobby that is guaranteed to aggravate your wife and set her on the path to questioning your sanity… how to leave your kids the nightmare of an unfathomable collection of crap that may all end up at the tip when you fall off your perch… I reckon there’s a market for all these topics, I just need to watch a YouTube clip on how to make YouTube clips, then find the YouTube clip about which camera and tripod to buy,  and some fancy lights to go with it. A haircut, overalls from my sponsors, a logo, banners, fancy glasses, safety gear – I think I am getting the hang of it. As long as no-one ever puts up a YouTube clip on how to write a column for Unique Cars!

 

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