Mike Pyles 2/23/17

City of Cumberland Senior Mechanic Mike Pyles, left, will retire Feb. 28. On Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, he worked with fellow mechanic Brian Broadwater who was fixing the suspension on a police cruiser. (Photo by CTN - Michael A. Sawyers)

CUMBERLAND — From push mowers to fire trucks — if it has an engine and is owned by the City of Cumberland, Mike Pyles has either fixed it or kept it running at one time or another during the past 38 years.

A proud motor-head, Pyles will turn his last municipal bolt and tune his last police cruiser on Feb. 28 before retiring.

Mike Pyles quote 2-23-17

But his world of lug nuts, fuel injectors and suspensions won’t end, because he has a shop at his Fort Ashby, West Virginia, home where he builds performance motors.

Before being employed by the city in July 1979, he was a mechanic at the former Spoerl’s Automotive in the Motor City area of Cumberland.

Pyles, now the city’s senior mechanic, works with three other mechanics to keep the municipal fleet of 125 vehicles rolling.

“It’s a great feeling to know that a fire truck you kept on the road just saved somebody’s house or life,” Pyles said. “It has been a rewarding job.”

On Thursday morning, mechanic Brian Broadwater performed routine maintenance on police cruiser 10, a 2015 Ford Interceptor, when he noticed a problem with the suspension to be repaired as well.

“We have a good team here,” Pyles said. The other two mechanics are Rob Frankenberry and Garhet Dolly.

“I’ve learned a lot working for Mike, especially on the big equipment,” Broadwater said.

Heavy snows stress plow drivers, but the support staff at the city's garage is there for support.

“During one storm I worked 36 straight hours,” Pyles said. “Plows have come off and gotten run over by the trucks. All kinds of things happen. I always believed it was my duty to work whenever I was needed.”

Pyles has worked on dump trucks, pickup trucks, sedans, street sweepers, backhoes, bulldozers, excavators and, oh yeah, push mowers.

Mike Pyles 2/23/17

Mike Pyles, City of Cumberland's senior mechanic, stands beside the municipality's lone street sweeper on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. The vehicle needed fuel injection work. Pyles will retire Feb. 28. (Photo by CTN - Michael A. Sawyers)

“One time the lugnuts on a (city) dump truck broke. It was cheaper to weld them back on rather than have it towed back to the garage,” Pyles said. 

After Tuesday, Pyles will have more time to hunt and fish at or near his old home place at Fort Ashby.

He resided in Cumberland when the city had a residency requirement for employees.

“Cumberland will always be home,” he said.


Mike Sawyers is a staff writer and the outdoor editor at Cumberland Times-News. Call/text him at 301-268-0630, email msawyers@times-news.com and follow him on Twitter.

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