BIG Troubleshooting Secret: Principles Before Methods

500HPU3Ralph Waldo Emerson once said:

“As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”

It’s a pretty astute observation from a poet. That principles are far more important–and powerful, than methods. And when you consider that a lot of troubleshooting is conducted by trial of method, while principles are ignored, it’s not too surprising that the path is often long and torturous, with missteps along the way.

This story from Simon Aguis, a Hydraulics Pro Club member from Malta, is a good illustration of what happens when principles are ignored, and when they are followed:

“My 12 year old son and I have been involved in karting for the last 14 months, mostly as enthusiasts, just racing for pleasure on Sunday mornings.

About a month ago, a guy at the track experienced starting and sudden stopping issues on his kid’s 2-stroke kart engine. It seemed that no one could locate the cause of this intermittent problem. It had been persisting for 3 consecutive weekends and even those known at the track as the ‘Professionals’ in the field could not solve it. Electronic ignitions, the coil, and all sorts of other possibilities were offered up as the cause.

After several attempts resulted in a fail, I got the opportunity to troubleshoot the problem. Since I’m a novice in this field, and even though this wasn’t a hydraulics problem, I decided to follow The Hydraulic Troubleshooting Handbook, step by step.

So first I applied Troubleshooting Principle (TP) #3, Check the Easy Things First. Logically, the easiest thing to check was the spark. So I asked if this had been done and was assured that the spark was OK, that several spark plugs had been tried, and that it would be useless to check it again.

So I moved on to apply TP#5, Never Take Anybody Else’s Word For It, in conjunction with TP#4, Make Sure You Do Actually Check It. After removing the spark plug and cranking the engine, spark resulted OK but it didn’t glow as it should. So I checked for any defective earth connections, and they were all good.

The next logical and easy thing to check was the spark plug cap. A deep look inside the cap with a torch, where the brass connector sits, showed a partial breakdown issue. I asked for any spare, but none was available. So I connected the high tension lead to the spark plug directly with the aid of a piece of tape. Started the kart and off it went. After several laps around the track it was clear the problem was solved.
It was unbelievable to me that a simple spark plug cap issue, that no one had managed to locate, was the culprit. But thanks to your Troubleshooting Handbook I now stand ’10 feet tall’ in the pits and am the go-to guy when problems arise.

Which means I now have a different problem – of limited karting attention time for my son, something for which I don’t think you can help. Other than to follow TP#10, Backing Out, and return The Hydraulic Troubleshooting Handbook to sender. No way, FORGET IT mate, that’s mine!”

Like Emerson said, there’s probably a million troubleshooting methods. So if you insist on troubleshooting by method, without proper attention to the underlying principles, you’re gonna have a rough time.

The Hydraulic Troubleshooting Handbook outlines just 12 PRINCIPLES. And as the above story proves, nearly all of them apply when troubleshooting ANY system. Doesn’t matter whether it’s hydraulic, mechanical, electronic or even biological. The methods may vary, sure. But the troubleshooting principles are the SAME.

Be WARNED however: as Simon found out, once you’ve proven yourself to be a reliable and effective troubleshooter, by using these principles to solve problems that have stumped others, you’re going to become VERY popular and in demand. If that doesn’t bother you, get your copy of The Hydraulic Troubleshooting Handbook today.

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