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Keesler's auto hobby shop services automotive passions and problems

Master Sgt. Patrick Key, left, 81st Logistics Readiness Squadron, is getting his hands dirty with his dad, Albert Key, who’s on vacation from Canton, Miss.  They’re restoring a 1962 Ford Galaxy in one of the covered storage units behind the shop.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Master Sgt. Patrick Key, left, 81st Logistics Readiness Squadron, is getting his hands dirty with his dad, Albert Key, who’s on vacation from Canton, Miss. They’re restoring a 1962 Ford Galaxy in one of the covered storage units behind the shop. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Hobby shop employee Maria Uele helps a customer recharge an air conditioner, a popular request as recent temeratures have risen to near 100 degrees.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Hobby shop employee Maria Uele helps a customer recharge an air conditioner, a popular request as recent temeratures have risen to near 100 degrees. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Chief Petty Officer Joel McEwen changes his oil at the auto hobby shop July 28.  The chief is assigned to the Supervisor of Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Chief Petty Officer Joel McEwen changes his oil at the auto hobby shop July 28. The chief is assigned to the Supervisor of Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Where can customers go to get their oil changed, tires rotated and balanced and air conditioner charged and at the end, the mechanic only charges them a few dollars?

These are only a few of the services offered at the base's auto shop. The only stipulation is that the customer does all the work.

"We don't do the work for you. We show you how," said Maria Uele, one of the staff members.

The auto hobby shop, located off Meadows Drive near the post office, has eight service bays, each equipped with a tool box that will allow anyone to do almost anything they might need to repair or maintain their car. Standing by is a mechanic with more than 30 years of experience ready to show the customer how to do it, free of charge.

"Most people are very surprised when they see this place," said Ms. Uele. "They had no idea all these services were available to them."

Service bays are available for $3.50 per hour. For $1.50 more per hour, a lift can be used. If a car is being restored, customers can rent a storage unit for $1 per day. There's also a welding bay and engine cages for the more robust maintenance and repair operations.

Upon entering the shop, customers fill out a service agreement form and tell the shop attendant what they want to do and a service bay is assigned according to their needs.

"We're on a first-name basis with many of the regulars who come in here every 3,000 miles." said Ms. Uele. "We get a lot of 'weekenders' too who say they are just trying to stay out of trouble. They get here before we do."

Springtime, when the weather is cooler, is the most popular season for the shop.
"We're getting a lot of A/C requests right now." said Ms. Uele as the recent temperatures have been near 100 degrees.

The auto hobby shop has been serving customers' automotive passions and problems since the early 1980s. Their current location is in a structure that was built just before Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It's fully operational and squeaky clean.

The auto hobby shop is closed Mondays, Tuesdays and holidays.

For more information, call 377-3872.