Driveshaft shop keeps wheels turning

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When the owner hit a rock and damaged the driveshaft of his 2012 Chevrolet 3500 diesel pickup truck, he asked Bill's Englewood Driveshaft to build a replacement.

“The rock but a big dent in the aluminum driveshaft, so we have to make a new one,” Bill Farris said July 11 as he and his wife, Shantel, worked on the project. “Our motto is if it needs a driveshaft, we'll build it. Each project is different and this project is pretty straightforward, so we can complete in a few hours.”

A driveshaft is a mechanical component of a vehicle's drive train that transmits torque and rotation from the engine and transmission to the wheels that propel the vehicle.

The shop entrance is located off the alley between Broadway and Lincoln Street, in the block between Floyd and Girard avenues. The shop is compact, with all the spare parts and specialized equipment needed to complete the projects. While most drivers may never experience a driveshaft problem, the demand for the work done at Bill's Englewood Driveshaft at 3364½ S. Broadway keeps the staff busy, and Farris is considering hiring additional staff and possible moving to another Englewood location to have more room to fill the driveshaft orders.

“I am the third member of the Farris family to operate this shop,” Bill said as he began work on the aluminum driveshaft. “My grandpa Viven opened the shop in 1977. My dad Bob ran it for a while. He wanted to run his survival equipment shop on Broadway so I took over.”

He said his grandfather got started building driveshafts when driveshafts installed in many models of 1970s Cadillacs caused excessive vibration because of poor driveshaft balance.

“Grandpa was one of two places in the state equipped to build new driveshafts for those luxury cars. He also began getting requests to build driveshafts for race cars and other specialty vehicles, and our company is still at it.”

Farris said his shop is equipped to help vehicle owners solve problems, whether the challenge is building a lighter driveshaft to reduce the weight or to build a balanced driveshaft to eliminate vibration problems.

“Our family has always tried to treat all our customers the way we would want to be treated if we were asking for the service our shop provides,” the 1980 Englewood High School graduate said. “We want to turn out a quality project to meet the customer's needs. Our policy is to start with the best possible raw materials because you can't build a good house on a crappy foundation.”

In the early years, most of the shop's business came from referrals and from print advertising. Farris said technology changed all that.

“I began advertising on the Internet, which opened up a worldwide market for us. Many of our orders come to us by email from people we will never meet in person,” he said. “On the average, we build 20 to 25 driveshafts a day. Many are for local customers, but we also ship our driveshafts to customers in Australia, England and other countries overseas.”

Farris said he has always worked on cars and, while at Englewood High School, he attended the auto shop classes and helped start the club where students customize their cars.

“I love speed and today, I get my current throttle therapy going off-road or crushing cars with my monster truck,” he said. “I go to the monster truck winter nationals at the National Western Stock Show complex. The first time was a little scary when I hit the throttle to jump some cars but it also gave me a rush that you can't describe in words. But, it was a great experience and I look forward to getting that rush again whether I am jumping a line of cars or going airborne when I am going off-road and going airborne while traveling more than 100 miles an hour in the desert.”

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