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Whipple uses talents to educate others about engine repair

tom whipple outside

Arapahoe resident Tom Whipple will use his passion and education in engine repair to educate the next generation of mechanics.

Whipple and his family have lived in the community for a long time. Whipple, a retired Army veteran, is reinventing his small engine business in Arapahoe to accommodate changes in his life.

“I’ve been in the business 20 years, and I’ve been here since 2006, it’s kind of hard on your body-jerking around on stuff. I’ve tore up my shoulders and had to have surgery on them and now I’ve tore them up again,” Whipple said.  He has had shoulder surgery once before and needs shoulder surgery again. He’ll soon be 69 years old and he’s had to change perceptions and job functions.

Instead of repairing engines, Whipple has adapted to teaching the next generation how to repair small engines. He’d been wanting to try his hand at teaching anyway, so he set up his shop for a different function: Arapahoe Technical School for Small Engines.

I don’t want to teach just small engines. Today, you have a lot of “parts changers”, they don’t understand the systems, and they just keep changing parts until maybe they have the right part. That’s not the idea of my school,” said Whipple.

Whipple wants his students to understand the principle and theory behind the engines – the total operation. Not just the basic engine part, but also all of the subsystems. His small engine course goes into the subsystems of the engine – the starter, alternator, fuel system, 4-cycle and 2-cycle engines.

Whipple has even set up a six-station engine lab complete with tools and engines to work on.   At the end of course, the final “exam” (not that there are exams in his course) is to take an engine, check the engine out, and put the engine back together properly.

“We’re in a throwaway society today, lots of times, it’s cheaper to buy a new one than rebuild the existing engine, the other reason is that there’s things inside of the engine that you can replace without rebuilding the whole engine. We need to know these things and that the push of the whole school – to make you a technician not just a mechanic.”  He wants students to be able to recognize which part might be causing the trouble.

Last year, he taught 11 students over three courses in 2014. He likes to have a minimum of three students and a maximum of six. But what is a teacher without students? Whipple said that Arapahoe is 40 miles from everywhere.  He doesn’t know how many students he’ll have this year – if any at all. “I need to expand.”   Last year, he worked with Mid-Plains Community College and Central Community College, but his classroom is too far for many of the students from these colleges to drive.

For the rest of this, and other stories, please subscribe to the Arapahoe Public Mirror.


Arapahoe Public Library offering to patrons

The Library Edition of is now available here at the Arapahoe Public Library. Thanks to a successful holiday bake sale, the Friends of the Library group is sponsoring a yearlong subscription to one of the world’s most popular online genealogy resources. With this resource at your fingertips, people can unlock their own personal story about their family’s history. The Library Edition offers access to censuses, vital records, immigration records, family histories, military records, court and legal documents, photos, maps, yearbooks and more. You can access information from not only here in the US, but also international records.

When using this service, patrons can print or save their findings. You also have the choice of emailing your results and creating your very own Discovery webpage that will hold up to 300 entries. To get the most out of your research, you may sign up for a group training session here at the library, or make an appointment for a research time. Those who have used this research tool at the library have been thrilled to see the names of their loved ones pop up on the screen. Come unlock your story here at the Arapahoe Public Library.

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