More about RAT
Unlike a lot of newfangled places that do the type of work that we do, I strive to keep a simple approach and to do that we keep our surroundings simple. We may have the newest Research going on, and the most happening products but they are created in a much different setting than most think. We had a writer for Excellence magazine drop by and he said the he was in “Deliverance country” and thought our shop belonged in “Southern California” from our equipment and thoughts. I quickly corrected him and said that we belonged right here and that southern California is just 3 days away by our shipping company.
Below I will share with you a good bit about our shop spaces that are now recognized as “Manufacturing Facilities”. I’ll include the past, the present and the future.
As a kid I remember walking through one of our shop buildings that currently houses our machine shop and being able to kick up dust. The reason for this is because the building that had been standing there since circa 1931 had a dirt floor. As I grew up I remember times when we actually raised pigs in that same building. The building is made of solid Oak that was made from the Timber that was cut to make space for its foundation. This was accomplished with a Farmall tractor, real work and a portable sawmill, the way that the old timers made things happen in the hills of North Georgia. They were self sufficient and that’s one thing that we still have in common with them, we can do anything that needs to be done to our engines, ourselves and right inside our doors.
As time went by my Dad noticed that I had a definite knack for working on things (as you can read in my bio) and one year I got something that very few children request as a birthday present. This present was a shiny new concrete floor so I didn’t have to play with my Briggs and Stratton’s and old VW’s in the dirt anymore.After I got the floor there was still one big problem and that was that I had no power other than a long extension cord running to my parent’s house 200 yards away. The first engine I ever built was accomplished under a work light that draped over the rafters and constantly got on my nerves because the long cord zapped light bulbs in a hurry from power loss due to its length (then I didn’t know what caused that). I ended up finding a guy that had an old Snapper riding mower that needed an overhaul and with my dad’s help I was able to trade the engine overhaul for the guy to come in and get some power in the shop. He taught me a bit about the circuits as well while he was doing it. Later on I took over where he left off and finished the wiring myself.
Now, fast forward to two days before I graduated from high school when I was destined for a trip to Parris Island for a “senior trip” to the Marines. My Dad told me that all my things would stay where they were in the shop while I was gone and that he would even leave the radio on for me till I got back home! I sometimes came home on leave and all those things were right where they belonged, in a pile on the floor the way I left them! The radio was still on the same station and was not turned off, the entire time I was gone!
When I did come home I had been working my tail off and saving cash from working 3 jobs, and buying/selling and fixing VW’s. I came home and dumped a ton of cash into the old shop and opened it back up again full time. I had saved enough to buy most simple machine shop tools and redo all the wiring, and make it much more modern. Some of my buddies from high school were now contractors and helped me get it all together.
As time has progressed we have added all the new equipment, added the dyno cell and incorporated a much larger building along side the old shop as the test area and a warehouse. In 2008 we added another 6,000 square feet of space through the renovation of another of the buildings on site and in 2010 I bought an adjacent building that used to be my Grandfather's meat processing plant and converted it into a third building. This brought our workspaces to an accumulative 30,000 square feet. That’s a whole lot more than the 750 square foot shop that used to have a dirt floor and a drop cord for its means of electricity, but that old shop has also been completely renovated and is now our "tear down" facility.
Things have come a long way. (Be sure to take our virtual tour of the shop)
Forever that old building with the dirt floor will be “My shop” and I don’t have any desire to ever build a single engine anywhere else.( I really don’t know if I could do as good of a job somewhere else)
I hope you have enjoyed reading about my shop, or as referred to these days “manufacturing facility”. This old building has been the birth place of things as simple as 2.5 HP Briggs and Stratton engines and 1600 single port VW engines to Fuhrmann 547 4 cam Carrera engines and exotic 3000cc Type IV monsters. I have spent literally years of my life here, sometimes staying awake for 24 or 36 hours trying to make things work, or repairing things that didn’t go as planned.
There is no place on this planet that I love more than my shop!
Now that you've read everything Raby's Aircooled Technology, please feel free to take the time to enjoy this site we've prepared for your reading pleasure or follow the links below to learn about the people who are the heart of RAT.
Jake Raby • Jay Fink • Brent Winman • Rebecca Winman • Keith Raby