J and D Welding

Henry Curry and Jeremiah Dickerson using skills learned in Army to run business


Published: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 3:34 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 3:34 p.m.

Diesel and gasoline engine mechanic Henry Curry and welding expert Jeremiah Dickerson are still taking advantage of the skills they learned decades ago in the U.S. Army.

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Welding expert Jeremiah Dickerson of J and D Welding.

AMY STUART/Special to the Guardian

Dickerson is the owner of J and D Welding and Curry works along with him at the business at 1133 S. Main St., which specializes in all aspects of auto mechanics, diesel motors, overhauling engines and frames and welding. The business rebuilds transmissions, rear ends and also transforms engines from diesel to gas and vice versa.

"Some people consider us to be a chop shop because we specialize in overhauling vehicles," Dickerson said. "We have the skills to completely rebuild motors, transmissions and rear ends. We do all kinds of automotive work, from the basic to most complicated brake jobs, to completely restoring cars from the front end to the back end."

Dickerson said he does the heavy welding and smaller gas engine jobs and Curry does the engine work. He said Curry knows how to take an engine from 30 horsepower to 60 horsepower.

"He will redo the block, and then he will redo the valve stems and the complete engine, and he can convert diesel engines from regular aspirated to turbo," Dickerson said. A naturally aspirated engine is a reciprocating internal combustion engine that depends solely on atmospheric pressure to draw in combustion air. Turbo charging is the norm rather than the exception in modern car and truck diesel engines.

Curry, who has been a mechanic for 45 years, started out in the industry by getting experience in the U.S. Army after graduating in 1958 from former all-black Richardson High School in Lake City.

"I worked on big, heavy-duty trucks in the Army, and they sent me to school for 11 weeks, and when I got out of school, they put me in what they call a motor pool, which is a car shop," Curry said. He said there have been a "whole lot of changes" in the automobile and heavy duty engine industry since his time in the Army.

He said he goes to seminars three to four times a year to keep abreast of the new equipment. He said changing diesel engines to gas engines is very complicated and everybody can't do it right.

"We did one job in the last two weeks when we took a gas motor out and put a diesel motor in," Curry said. "It works beautifully, but it's very complicated, especially dealing with the electrical system."

Curry said there are many wires in engines and they all have a different purpose.

"You have to know what you are doing and you have to know how to read a wiring circuit," said Curry, adding that he gets mostly electrical jobs. He said German cars and BMWs are basically the only two types of cars he does not repair when it comes to electrical work.

"I primarily like American cars, Toyotas and Datsuns (Nissans)," said Curry, 74. He is married to Martha Curry and together, they have eight children.

Dickerson said he received his initial training working on cars while growing up in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the Sugarhill area of southeast Gainesville.

"The older men in the community showed us and taught us a trade, and in 1977, I was given a choice to either go to prison or the Army," said Dickerson, a 1977 graduate of Gainesville High School. Dickerson said he chose to go to the Army. He said the situation arose because of what authorities considered to be gang activity back then, but he considered to be fun.

Dickerson, the father of four, said he would encourage any young man or woman to get at least two years of training in some kind of technical field or trade after graduating from high school so that they will be able to earn a livable wage.

He also offered this advice to young people. "My biggest thing is for the young people in this day and time to do everything you can to keep away from felonies, drugs and alcohol and find somebody who can help you and support what you are trying to do with your life," Dickerson said.

Hours of operation are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday. The phone number is 352-384-3930.

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