Fix’in Stuff

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I am a tinkerer.  Not always, but I have an interest in how some things go together.  Not all things, but some things.

It started out as a necessity.  At least with cycling.   When I first started, if you didn’t know how to work on your bike, you didn’t race bikes.  I didn’t know a cyclist that didn’t work on their own equipment.  That isn’t the case anymore.

I bought my first car when I was 17.  It was a 1964 Volkswagen pickup truck.  I still own it.  I drove it just a few months before the engine blew.  We borrowed the Idiot’s manual for VW’s from MIke Hudson and dug in.

We did most of the work at night, down in the basement.  When my grandmother would go to bed, we’d sometimes bring the engine up to the kitchen for better light.  She would have died if she had walked in when we were working on the engine on our kitchen table.  Back then we could rebuild the complete engine for next to nothing,  Even the machining was affordable to poor cyclists.

I still do virtually all my own auto work.  I’ve rebuilt a few engines and can do just about anything.  I’m not too big on working on the engines in my diesel vans.  Those engines are very difficult to get to and when they have issues, it takes a lot of time and energy.

The past couple days I replaced the AC clutch on my AWD van.  I drove Trudi to the airport yesterday and the AC is too cold now.  I also put an exhaust gasket on my Honda InSight.  I had to buy the parts at the dealer.  Two bolts and an exhaust gasket was nearly $60.  That seemed insanely expensive compared to other auto part costs.  I’d replaced the AC clutch in December, so it was under warranty, so it was free.  And it didn’t take any time at all.

Repairing things is pretty rewarding in this throwaway world we live in.  I’ve garbage picked lawn mowers that were left at the curb because the pull cord broke.  It is like a 10 minute job putting a new pull cord on a mower.  What a waste.

Anyway, I’m sitting here watching the Tour and was thinking I don’t really have a small fix-it job to do today.  Most the stuff I have to do are big job.  When it is so stickin’ hot out, long rides aren’t really an option.  We’re meeting at 11 am, after the Tour, before the heat index gets crazy, but still late enough to be stifling hot.

Trudi at the Kansas City airport. She flew out to Santa Rosa to get a team car to drive to Tour of Utah.

Trudi at the Kansas City airport. She flew out to Santa Rosa to get a team car to drive to Tour of Utah.

I'm not sure what happened to this AC clutch, but it melted.

I’m not sure what happened to this AC clutch, but it melted.

I'm not big on working on exhaust. The Insight is in super good shape, no rust anywhere, except the exhaust bolts. Both broke and needed to be cut off.

I’m not big on working on exhaust. The Insight is in super good shape, no rust anywhere, except the exhaust bolts. Both broke and needed to be cut off.

The replacement bolts should have been made out of stainless steel in my opinion.

The replacement bolts should have been made out of stainless steel in my opinion.

Tucker collapses every night.  He is not into heat.

Tucker collapses every night. He is not into heat.

 

14 thoughts on “Fix’in Stuff

  1. Christian Davenport

    It is a really interesting conversation about people who DIY and those who don’t. Some people DIY due to the expense of hiring a professional. Some do it for the satisfaction of repairing something with their own two hands. Some simply don’t trust others to repair things for them. All valid reasons. Some things you probably shouldn’t DIY, like medical care or legal matters (unless you are a doctor or lawyer). On the flip side, some of the reasons people give for not DIY stem from not having the time (DIY can often save time, though, by not having to fit into a professionals schedule) or know-how, which I can understand. What I can’t understand is the attitude that DIY, even simple things, like mowing your yard or changing your oil, is “below” people and is work meant for the poor and uneducated. I unfortunately know many people who believe this. It’s the “why should I dirty my hands when I can pay someone to do it for me?” mentality. It’s as though people who are white collar in their profession are unwilling to be blue collar on the weekend to save a few bucks or learn a skill, lest be ostracized in their social circles if word got out that “Jimmy” mowed the yard of his $500k home last Saturday.

     
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    1. James

      Many have forgot, or unfortunately never knew, that there is an unmeasureable value in work, real work, done well.

       
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    2. Barb

      I’m not sure about that assessment of white collar worrying about their social circle judging them. Just seems like if people can afford to pay someone else to do that work, why should they get filthy, skin their knuckles and put themselves through what can sometimes/often be a frustrating learning curve? These people’s time is more valuable doing what they do, in other words it’s about opportunity cost. Most of them are not out riding a bike for a lifestyle/living, so If they’re working a 40-50 hour work week in an office, why would they want to spend their precious time off all day on the weekends, fixing a car? They’d probably rather be riding. Or surfing. Or something.

       
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      1. daveeckstrom

        I see your point, but the opportunity cost of working extra hours at your job to pay for stuff you could do yourself should also be examined. Case in point: oil changes. The most complicated car I have ever owned took 20 minutes to change oil on, clean hands to clean hands. I plan ahead and buy my oil and filters on sale (which is so easy now with the internet) and could change the oil in that car for about $15. With the quality of oil I was using, that job would have been over $50 at a mechanic and even more at the dealer. I was making $105 per hour changing my oil. Most of us don’t make that per hour on our jobs. Most of my cars are even quicker and easier.

         
  2. James

    One thing that can cause an AC clutch to do that is it cycling on – off too much. The constant engagement/disengagment causes it too overheat. Worth a look so you don’t burn up the new one. Low pressure, for example, can trigger the switch & cycle it off. Temp/pressure rises & back on – repeat.

     
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  3. Christian Davenport

    On Steves comment about lawn mowers….I recently found out alot of new mowers have a sealed crankcase. You cannot change the oil. Manufacturer fills it with high grade synthetic and that’s that. Are they thinking something will break before it needs an oil change, necessitating disposal of the mower? Plays well into the concept of a throw-away culture.

     
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  4. Sean YD

    Safe travels, Trudi, and see you a week from today.

    And congratulations on being the first to post a photo of the team’s new (in January) luggage sponsor. That thing looks uber durable!

     
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  5. Paul Boudreaux

    Don’t shy from manual labor (shoveled 5 tons of rock last weekend in 110 F and still paying for it) but can’t fix shit. Any suggestions on why my lawnmower turns over but then quits? Cleaned the air filter but that didn’t help. I assume it wouldn’t turn over at all if it were the spark plug. Thoughts?

     
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    1. James

      Paul,
      Suspect the fuel, especially if it has been sitting for some time. Drain the tank, drain the fuel bowl, spray a little carb clean in the main jet and it should rock and roll

       
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    2. Kurt Bauer

      Use fuel stabilizer. The small-engine guys around here say it’s the ethanol in the fuel. Fuel stabilizer will lengthen the usable life of the fuel. Also, they advised me to run the tank empty every time. Don’t overfill. That way, no fuel sits in the float bowl of the carb.

       
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  6. Hugh Jass

    How does the VW pickup look? I’ve always like the look but they’re pretty rare up here because of all the salt on the road in the winter did a job on them.

     
    Reply

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