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Employee spotlight: Travis Husbyn

July 18th, 2017 · No Comments

          Meet Travis Husbyn, who builds rear differentials in the shop here at ZBAG. He specializes in 9.25” Dodge and 8.6” GM assemblies.

Travis didn’t start out as a rear differential builder. He started his career with ZBAG nearly a year ago to working in shipping and receiving. Due to his reliability and strong work ethic, Travis was offered the opportunity to train with Derek as a rear differential builder.

Working with automotive components has been an interest for Travis since he was a teenager.  “In a high school shop class, I ripped apart a Chevy 350 and put it back together again,” he recalled. He has always done routine maintenance, such as tire rotation and brake work, on his own vehicles.

After high school, Travis was employed on a couple of farms where he took care of cattle and worked on machinery such as tractors, trucks and skid loaders. A friend of his who is a ZBAG employee suggested that he should apply here.

When he’s not at work Travis is an enthusiastic fisherman who likes to fish for crappies and walleye from his 16-foot Star Craft boat on Lake Zumbro. However, his favorite annual fishing trip doesn’t require a boat. He and his family enjoy fishing at Devil’s Lake in North Dakota in June each year. “We catch 24-inch walleyes from shore,” he said. “It’s so much fun.”

Travis owns an Arctic Cat four-wheeler that he enjoys riding. “I hope to buy a snowmobile soon,” he commented, “another Arctic Cat.”

On the job in the shop here at ZBAG, Travis will continue to build the high quality drive train components that our customers rely on.

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ZBAG kayaking trips

June 28th, 2017 · No Comments

                Among ZBAG employee perks is the opportunity to go on local kayak trips with co-workers. On a sunny summer day, it feels good to leave the manual transmissions behind and head out for an afternoon of paddling down the Zumbro River in the company of like-minded people.

Hosting the trips are Steve and Susan Goldammer, both ZBAG employees who love being on the water in a kayak or canoe, and want to share their enthusiasm with the people they work with.

“Our trips usually have around twenty people,” Steve commented. “If there’s a threat of rain, we don’t get quite as good a turnout.” Goldammers have equipment to share, and are eager to introduce novices to the sport.

“We collect canoes and kayaks,” Steve confessed. “We have seventeen of them.” He and Susan bring as many of them as they need to outfit the group for a trip down the river.

“Kayaking is growing in popularity,” Steve noted. “The kayaks sit lower in the water and are more stable than canoes, and they take a lot more abuse.”

The Goldammers like to provide the right piece of equipment for each participant. “If you go double, you get to sit close together,” Steve said. Being out in nature is a good way to refresh the mind, and much different than rebuilding a manual transmission.

He and Susan like to encourage the kayaking, along with other group activities, to help strengthen and solidify relationships within ZBAG.  “We want our co-workers to see ZBAG as a place that has a like-minded group of employees who can have fun together,” he explained.

The person floating on the water will be back on the job Monday morning, rebuilding differentials, manual transmissions, or transfer cases, pulling parts, or doing customer service, but in a better state of mind and body after paddling on the Zumbro.

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Employee Spotlight: Blake Jacobson

June 26th, 2017 · No Comments

               Blake Jacobson took the position of dismantler in ZBAG’s shop in February. He originally trained to tear down transfer cases and clean them up, and recently became a trainer for newly hired dismantlers.
Before joining the team here at ZBAG, Blake worked at Total Tire and Auto. He’s always liked to work with his hands, and as long as he can remember, he has liked to tinker and fix things.
“Whatever I break, I take it apart, get new parts for it, and TRY to fix it, anyway,” he said with a grin. As a kid, he enjoyed working on bikes.  “I would take the wheels off and change them around, or if the chain fell off, I’d try to put it back on,” he recalled.
Since then, his interest has shifted to things with motors. “I ride four-wheelers, he said. “My dad has a Polaris 500 Sportsman. I ride it around at my grandpa’s and my place.”

Blake likes to get outdoors for other reasons. “I hunt deer, raccoon, and coyotes.” He has an English red tick coon hound. “He’s not the smartest dog in the world. His name is Copper,” Blake commented. “He needs more training, but he doesn’t chase deer.”

Hunting coyotes is a family project, Blake explained.  “We call them with an electric caller we set out. Sometimes they come, sometimes they don’t. We usually do it in the winter. It’s easier to see them when there’s snow.”

When deer season is open, Blake likes to go hunting near his home.

While at work, Blake concentrates on tearing down and cleaning up the parts for the various transfer cases that are rebuilt for ZBAG’s customers, and now, in addition, he’s showing others how to disassemble transfer cases.

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Employee Spotlight: Kenny Jacobson

May 31st, 2017 · No Comments

            Meet Kenny Jacobson, an integral part of the team in ZBAG’s shop who specializes in dismantling transfer cases, although Kenny does take apart other drivetrain component as needed.

Kenny comes from a background that includes plenty of automotive experiences. He formerly ran his own car detailing business, and is a long-time demolition derby driver. He generally goes to two area derbies each year. “I use the same car at both places if I can get it bent back straight,” he explained. When asked what he looks for in a good derby car, he said, “I don’t know. I never found one.” He thinks a Chevy Impala from around 1975 would be an ideal derby car because they were built stronger back then.

In Kenny’s opinion though, the worst derby car he’s had was a Crown Vic. “I got stuck on the wall twice with it,” he recalled.

When he finds a suitable car, Kenny puts in his own engine, a 350 Chevy. “I was told that’s a good engine for a derby car,” he said. “I have my own tires that I put on; they’re fork lift tires,” he explained. “They grip more.”

This year Kenny will be running a 2002 Impala. “I’ve never run one like this,” he remarked. “It’s one of the old cars I have sitting around.”

When he’s not working on a derby vehicle, Kenny enjoys doing some four-wheeling on his family’s property, and he enjoys hunting and fishing when he has the chance.

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Employee Spotlight: Gus Hegge

May 30th, 2017 · No Comments

Gus Hegge joined the team here at ZBAG last October, and under the guidance of experienced builders Adian and Terry, has been training to build the high quality remanufactured front and rear differentials ZBAG is known for.

At the start of his career, Gus took a year of automotive training at an area vo-tech, and then worked at a Toyota dealership. “I think that’s better training than schooling,” he commented with a grin. Gus did service work such as oil changes, and helped other techs with bigger jobs in the shop. But Gus found he couldn’t move up at Toyota, and Adian told him about ZBAG. “I wanted to keep learning new stuff, so I applied here,” Gus said.

Gus has always done maintenance on his own vehicles. He currently owns a Mazda Miata that he enjoys driving. “It’s cheap on gas and it’s a fun little car,” he remarked. “It’s my first convertible, and I don’t know if I’ll ever go back.” The Miata is around 25 years old, and in his spare time, Gus is doing some restoration work on the interior, “making it a nice car to drive,” he explained.

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Employee Spotlight: Chris Engel

May 1st, 2017 · No Comments

                Chris Engel is a manual transmission builder in the shop here at ZBAG who brings a solid background of mechanical experience with him to the job. Along with his automotive expertise, his past includes some hunting experiences few others have had.

Chris builds NV4500 manual transmissions for Fords and Dodges, three quarter ton and up. ”I’ve been a mechanic since ’92,” he commented. “I got a vo-tech certification for auto repair and worked at Ford dealerships, doing all types of repair work—engines, transmissions, whatever came through. Then I was a mechanic at UPS for 16 years.”

Chris used to work on his own vehicles, but not anymore. “They’re under warranty,” he said.

He owns two Ford pickups, an F150 and an F350, and his wife drives a Subaru.

His interest in hunting has led Chris to some unusual adventures. He hunts deer, which are plentiful here in southern Minnesota, but hunting bears is his favorite thing. “I’ve only done it a few times in northern Minnesota. You have to apply for a permit and get drawn. It’s easier to get a permit in Minnesota than in Wisconsin.” Chris has hunted bear three times, and has gotten two bears. He likes the meat in roast, steaks or ground. “It’s a little sweeter than venison or beef,” he explained.

Chris’s most unusual hunting adventure was alligator hunting on an airboat in northeast Florida. He was able to harpoon an alligator and pull it in. The skin is in his freezer, but the meat had to be processed in Florida, Chris said. “You have to hire somebody, and they have to have a license.” Before the meat is eaten, it is cut into little chunks, breaded and deep fried, he said, and tastes similar to pork.

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Employee Spotlight: Derek Olson

April 25th, 2017 · No Comments

        Meet Derek Olson, a builder in the shop here at ZBAG for over a year.

“My brother works at ZBAG, and he told me what a great place it is,” Derek recalled. He’d been working construction jobs, beginning with eight or nine years of roofing, and then two years of commercial construction that was mostly concrete work, such as footings and poured walls and floors, but included other interior work.

Derek liked the various aspects of construction work, and enjoyed being able to do side jobs for people to help them out and make some money on the side. “I just recently remodeled a kitchen,” he noted. “I did the demo, and installed new cabinets and flooring—it was fun.”

But Derek was looking for more stability in his job situation. “With union work, there were always layoffs,” he said, “and you had to go where the work was.” When he began his employment here, Taylor trained him to tear down transfer cases, then to build them: the 246, 273, 271, and others. “Now they’ve got me doing manual transmissions, the Mazda built F150s and Rangers.”

Derek has always worked on his own vehicles. His first car was a Delta 88. “I changed the manual transmission in my dad’s garage,” he recalled. And now, Derek admits gets a lot of satisfaction each day when he comes to the shop, gets a work order, puts on his headphones, and works with his hands.

During his free time, if Derek loves spending time with his family, especially outdoors near water. He goes kayaking on the Zumbro River, from Zumbrota to Zumbro Falls, and enjoys trout fishing in area streams. “I like to go early and get the first ones to bite,” he comments. Camping, along with hunting pheasant, deer and turkeys round out his recreational activities.

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Jeep NSG370 Transmission

March 28th, 2017 · No Comments

                The Jeep NSG370, a six-speed manual transmission, is a unit frequently rebuilt and sold by ZBAG. This transmission was introduced in 2004 during the era of Chrysler’s association with Daimler.

The NSG370 was first installed in the Dodge Crossfire, which shares the platform with the Mercedes Benz SLK320. This manual transmission was the first six-speed to be used in a Jeep, and was used in the Liberty and the Wrangler for several years, beginning in 2005 ending in 2010 in the Wrangler

The NSG370 is built with a cast aluminum case and substantial ribbing. The three transmission bell housing configurations mate the transmission to the 2.4 I4, 3.7L V6 or 4.0L I6 version.  This unit is equipped with a top shifter and contains a longitudinally loaded transmission with fully synchronized gears. The six speeds include a fifth gear that is direct drive and a sixth gear with overdrive. An integral throw out sleeve is located on the front bearing retainer for a conventional throw out bearing.

This manual transmission’s input torque capacity is 272 ft. lbs. according to the manufacturer, and output torque limits are 1100 to 1300 ft. lbs., making it a good fit for pairing with the NP231 and NP241 transfer cases, which the unit is commonly used with. The Jeep/Dodge six-bolt transfer case mounting design that is used is compatible with many other New Process/New Venture transfer cases. If you are looking to convert to a 6-speed manual transmission, kits are readily available from other manufactures for use with Chevy and GM Gen. III, and small block V6 and V8 engines and conversions can be easily done. Caution: Only the transmissions used with the 3.7 V/6 and the 4.0L I6 having the ten spline 1 1/8” diameter input have conversion kits available.

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Employee Spotlight: Darin Olson

March 22nd, 2017 · No Comments

                Meet Darin Olson, an energetic and enthusiastic member of the team in the Parts Department at ZBAG for nearly two years.

“We pull parts for orders that come from the sales staff and from builders,” Darin explained. He ships out products ranging from manual transmissions to rear differential kits. “We take ‘will-calls’ for people who are coming in to pick up parts. We do stock orders that consist of lots of parts that are sent out together.” These orders can include items like bearings, gaskets, gears, and kits for front and rear differentials and transfer cases. Darin takes phone calls from the office letting him know when someone is dropping off a unit to be repaired, picking up a unit, or dropping off a core.

Darin came to ZBAG from the construction industry, where he did roofing, framing, and windows. He has always worked on his own motorized equipment, such as snowmobiles, four-wheelers and dirt bikes. He hopes to get a truck someday, probably a Chevy, since they’re easy to work on. “I’ve always been a Dale Earnhardt fan,” he commented. “He was a Chevy guy.”

Away from work, Darin likes to be outdoors. He likes fishing area streams for trout, and enjoys hunting pheasants and deer.  “I just picked up bow hunting, and got rid of my guns,” he said.

Last year Darin and his family adopted a dog, Miley, from a family who was abandoning her. “She’s the most obedient dog I’ve ever seen,” he remarked. “She’ll be a good bird dog, I think, but I haven’t tried her out.”

While at work in the Parts Department, Darin will continue to do an excellent job of serving the customers’ needs, whether for a complete unit or parts for that particular rear differential or transfer case.

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Maintaining Your AWD or 4WD Vehicle

February 28th, 2017 · No Comments

Owners of four-wheel drive (4WD) and all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles have vehicles that serve them well during challenging driving conditions. Along with the ownership comes the added responsibility to keep the drivetrain systems in good running order.

Galen Neuzil, one of the customer service representative here at ZBAG, has some advice he likes to share.

“For any AWD or other torque-on-demand system, if you’re having a drivability issue, one of the first things to do is check on the tires,” Galen says. “The best test for this is to mark all four tires in the six o’clock position (so you have a mark on the sidewall of each tire pointing at the ground), then have someone watch one wheel and count rotations while you roll the vehicle in a straight line, for ten rotations. Stop with one tire at the six o’clock position. Now, go and inspect the other three tires. The variance of the marks should not be more than one and a half inches from the original six o’clock position.”

If the variation is more, it may be due to tire wear, tire condition, or tire pressure. The cause needs to be remedied, and here’s why.

“In these style vehicles, the transfer cases are designed to keep all four tires turning equally,” Galen explains. “Usually, if the tires are worn more than one and a half inches, the transfer case will be trying to equalize the rotation. If it can’t perform that operation, the mechanics of the transfer case can be severely worn or damaged. The further the tires are off, the sooner the damage can occur.

“If you do the test and the tires are off, the first thing to do would be to check the tire pressure. The person with a slow leak who adds air every couple weeks might be doing damage to the transfer case.”

“If you don’t rotate your tires,” Galen continues, “the wear between the fronts and rears can be substantial, and that could be a cause for eventual problems.”

Another tip Galen offers is to make sure the transfer case fluid is checked regularly. “Be sure it’s full and the fluid is in good condition,” he adds. “If the fluid is dark and smells burnt, it’s an indication of stress or damage in the unit.”

Galen notes that most car service technicians go through the proper servicing procedures to keep your vehicle’s transfer case running properly, but it’s also important for you, the owner, to read the owner’s manual.

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