This is an awesome thread topic TG.
I have never considered myself to be mechanically inclined, but the truth is.. i really am. FOr having zero training and zero interest in parts/mechanics.. when something DOES break.. if i sit there long enough and analyze the parts I can usually put it back together faster than most guys i know that work with mechanical stuff alot. (heh heh)
I want to know what function you think I'm using.. heres a few key things i do while problemsovling
comparison model. I like to get an exact duplicate of a functioning object.. and do a detailed comparison of the broken item. This helps me figure out exactly what area is off or broken. When i take things apart I remember (exactly, in detail) how it all came apart so i know exactly how to put it back together. I analyze even the most intricate piece like a spring or something.. and if its off i will try to manipulate it to look or function like the working model.