Good Evening, my friends.
I drove my ’95 F-150 to College Station, Texas on Sunday. Mistress and I went down there to pick up a dog, and I will upload a picture or two for those who don’t follow me on Twitter.
Being the good Southern man that I am, I made sure to do a thorough vehicle inspection before I left on this 220 mile trip. All lights and blinkers working? Check. All fluids at optimal levels? Check. All tires at recommended pressure? Check. Heater and A/C working? Absolutely. Thus, we set out in all confidence, expecting an uneventful trip.
We made it to CS after an uneventful journey and headed to the abode of Mistress’ friend Ashley. We spent some time with her, then retrieved the dog, who we named Ajax. Back to Ashley’s apartment, then a night of drinking and shooting pool. For those who aren’t aware, College Station sucks. They have banned smoking in public places, it’s boring, and the only decent bars are in Bryan. Even some of the bars in Bryan have banned smoking, which means the night life sucks because I had to go out in the 15 degree cold to smoke. Bugger that. But I digress.
We spent the night at Ashley’s place and woke up to find….a flat tire. It’s freezing fucking cold and I have a flat tire. Ashley is at work, so this truck is my only means of travel. Time for troubleshooting….
I jack up the rear of the truck to get the weight off the tire and proceed to hook up my air compressor. My compressor is running but the tire is not inflating. Compressor gauge is reading 100 psi….that makes no sense. Time to reach into the glove compartment for my tire stem tool.
I remove the tire stem and discover it wasn’t seated properly and the O-ring was out of place. I had to go into the apartment to correct this, because my hands were frozen stiff and numb. So, I cleaned everything up and corrected the O-ring issue, then got it seated properly and began inflating the tire. I assumed that was the only problem and we would be on our way soon….
Unfortunately, when the tire reached 35 PSI, I heard the hiss of escaping air. Damn. There’s a piece of metal puncturing my tire. And my spare hasn’t been used in so long it’s dry rotted. That figures. Back into the glove box for my tire repair kit.
I let all the air out of the tire, remove the offending shard of metal, and proceed to (attempt to) plug the tire. Unfortunately it’s so bloody cold that the plug material is rock hard and will not go into the tire or conform to shape. So I have to go back into the apartment and heat the plug material over the stove until it’s soft, then rush out to the truck and insert the plug. Then it’s back to running the compressor….
The tire held air that time, up to the recommended 41 PSI. Great, now we can get on the road. My repair endured 220 miles at an average speed of 70 MPH and is still holding just fine.
This brings me to the point of this post. How many men would have had: A tire stem removal/installation tool, an air compressor and a tire repair kit in their vehicle…and known how to use them all?
Davis Aurini and I had a long chat Sunday night, while I was in Texas, and we discussed some of these same things. Most men these days don’t have the ability to keep their possessions in working condition, and thus get caught in the vicious cycle of buying new things on credit when break-downs happen. Instead of gaining the knowledge and buying the tools required to do needed repairs around the house and on vehicles, you pay a plumber, pay an electrician, pay a mechanic or buy a new car. Thus, always lagging behind and never having enough to put back. Things will always happen. Things will always need fixing. This is an inescapable fact of life. Think of how much easier your life could be if you had the ability and the means to handle all these hiccups yourself.
I wrote a post a long time ago about this, and it’s worth reading. It’s one of my earliest ones, but not too bad.
I bought my F-150 for $2,000 back in ’09. I paid cash, got title in hand, deal done. I don’t owe anyone. About a year later I had the first mechanical failure. I was almost home when I saw my temperature gauge start climbing. I pulled over, realized I was low on water and filled my radiator from the gallon of water I always keep in my truck. I made it home at 7 pm. I had to be at work at 5:30 am. I discovered the problem was a bad water pump. I walked to the parts store and bought a new water pump and a new thermostat. There was probably nothing wrong with my thermostat, but if I replace one part of a system I try to replace them all. I made the repairs and was able to drive to work in the morning.
Total cost of parts? Around $150. Since then, I have replaced the clutch, slave cylinder, ball joints and spark plugs. Maybe $1,000 in repairs total. So, in almost 4 years, I’ve spent less than $4,000 and still have a reliable means of transportation. Plus a ’96 Ford Ranger that I paid $1,500 for as backup.
Every time I repair one of my trucks, someone tells me it’s not worth it and I should just buy a new truck. New trucks cost upwards of $30,000 if you get a halfway decent one. I can drive these to trucks until I die and not spend that much on repairs. I think I’m doing the smart thing.
It pays to know how to fix things. Basic electrical, basic plumbing, basic mechanics, painting, drywall repair…..these skills add up to tens of thousands of dollars in savings over a lifetime.
When something breaks, a man doesn’t say “I better call someone.”
A man says “I can fix that.”