“I started out working on Transmissions 43 years ago at CAT (Chambersburg Automatic Transmissions). I started out removing and reinstalling transmissions. I took an interest in my work and soon the owner did also. I would try to get my work done quickly so I could have some time watching the transmission rebuilder do his work. Soon I was being trained to rebuild transmissions and I picked it up quickly. When brand-new transmission models debuted in the late 1970s, I got to showcase my ability by taking on these new models. In 1978, the owner of Chambersburg Automatic Transmissions opened a new shop in Winchester, Virginia and was sent there as the head rebuilder. Within 5 months, the owner promoted me to manager as well as head rebuilder. I ran that shop for about 6 months but missed my home town of Chambersburg so when the opportunity to take on more responsibility back at the Chambersburg shop, I took it immediately. After some time, I left CAT for a job at Over's Automatic Transmissions in Fayetteville. Working there gave me the opportunity to get my own tax number and start my own business in my spare time, and Gipe's Transmission Service was born.
In October 1979, I left Over’s and opened my own full time shop in New Franklin. I later moved my shop to a better location on Industrial Drive in Chambersburg. After about a year and a half, I bought a larger property at 958 South Main Street, Chambersburg, and began to build a new shop there. After many years there, I opened a small shop at 1585 Sollenberger Rd, Chambersburg.
Gibble’s Potato Chips and Letterkenny Army Depot were nearly my only customers, but they kept me plenty busy with their fleet work. I would rebuild about 100 transmissions per year for these two customers, combined. Unfortunately, when Gibble’s was bought by Martin’s Pastry all of Gibble’s route vans were converted to manual transmissions. Martins had their own mechanics that could work on manual transmissions, so they no longer needed my services, which meant I lost about 50 transmission rebuilds worth of business per year.
Letterkenny Army Depot used to rebuild a missile system the U.S. used called the Hawk Missile. This missile had a mobile motorized crane especially designed for loading it onto the launcher. This mobile crane used a 1965 Mustang drivetrain. The depot would bring the transmissions in for me to rebuild. Again, I rebuilt about 50 of these per year. Unfortunately, yet again, this work was not meant to last. A new, better missile was developed by the U.S. called the Patriot Missile. The majority of the out-dated Hawk System vehicles were sold to other countries’ armies. I continued to rebuild a few of these transmissions as Letterkenny continued to refurbish the Hawk system for the new owners. I worked on these transmissions for Saudi Arabia and others. Soon they learned how to rebuild these systems themselves, and the units stopped coming back to Letterkenny to be rebuilt. Now I am 100% open to the public and take walk in customers on a regular basis.”