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Old 07-16-2008, 08:47 AM   #21
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14. Home doctoring beyond superglueing good sized cuts.
You use duct-tape on the big ones!

BiL, who is usually a smart guy but has lots of "accidents" around tools because he has an incredibly high threshold for pain, once stuck an axe in his calf while clearing some brush. Duct-taped it and finished the job. His wife insisted he go to the ER when he asked her to help him remove the duct tape from his wound.
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Old 07-16-2008, 12:28 PM   #22
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At one time or another I've done all of it, but now I mostly limit myself to oil changes (if the weather's decent) light bulbs, wiper blades and the like. Essentially if I can't do it in the driveway in a few hours I take it to a shop. When I bought the '03 GMC Sierra pickup, I also bought - and read - the five-volume service manual. There's a whole volume on just the electronics for the engine.

That convinced me that I'd probably be better off keeping my grubby mitts off stuff I don't know enough about and the few repairs that it will need don't justify the expenditure for the tools to do it right. And I can't even see the rear spark plugs on my wife's car. Maybe they pull the engine to get at them?

But if it had points I could reset them.

I am fussy about appearances. They get washed at least once a week by hand only if the temp is over 40 f and fully detailed two or three times a year. Neither has ever been to a car wash.
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Old 07-16-2008, 01:56 PM   #23
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Being an engineer and having a handyman for a Dad, I took on most repairs at one time. Lots of plumbing, electrical, construction, plastering, drywall, painting, wallpaper. Replaced the AC compressor with one from the junkyard once.

Now living in a rental penthouse, I have more gentle hobbies. But the knowledge gained has made me better at outsourcing jobs.
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Old 07-16-2008, 02:43 PM   #24
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But if it had points I could reset them.
Reminds me of a friends son, a mechanic by trade on the newfangled stuff.
Her Simplicity lawnmower with a 1 cylinder engine would not start. After messing with it for a few hours her son calls me, I can't make it work can you look at it?

After 20 years the points were well worn, a 1/2 turn on the adjuster got it within spec., fired right up. The son admitted that he never worked on any engines with points. This after 10 years in the business. He was a bit embarrassed.

Ah another soon to be useless skill.
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Old 07-16-2008, 03:07 PM   #25
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I have a friend who does 1-6 for me, does that count? He usually gets dinner out of the deal.

And although many of us consider ourselves frugal, I think you are learning from this thread that we DO spend money on things that are important to us.

I travel quite a bit too (leaving for Alaska on Saturday!), and I have a decent wine collection. But my TVs are older and not flat-screen, my car is a 2001 Volvo S40 that I plan to drive for many years, and I rarely "go shopping".

And I did tile my entire downstairs with the help from a friend two years ago, instead of hiring someone. Talk about a job!
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Old 07-16-2008, 05:41 PM   #26
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I've done about everything except AC repair. I went to a technical college for automotive and diesel mechanics. One day, I rolled out from under my car with dirt in my eyes, a scrape down my arm, and I realized that I HATED working on cars. I still enjoy home improvement projects and save my money in that area. I'm more than happy to transfer those savings to my trusted local mechanic who has the expertise, patience and equipment to keep my wheels on the road.
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Old 07-16-2008, 07:44 PM   #27
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I used to change oil, but now my knees don't work.

I pump my own gas.

I've had this car a year: should I wash it?
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Old 07-16-2008, 09:55 PM   #28
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NW-Bound, I admire your fortitude. I just started washing the car after a long hietus. This is because we started looking at new replacement cars and I started appreciated ours more. I bought one of those washing mits and even worked over the hub caps (with all those small areas that had road grease on them). So this qualifies as your most "trivial" task -- but there is no anxiety associated with this. I don't have to worry if it will run after I put it back together. Plus it's fun in the summer.

But basically I HATE working on cars and would rather pay a good, competent mechanic to do the work. I'm an engineer by training but am not really into mechanical things which is why I chose electronics. Occasionally I'd run into a guy at work who would talk your ear off about cars -- sorry to admit it but I found this exceptionally boring. Still it's very practical and I think people who are into cars are OK too. It's just not me, I'm too impractical. Luckily we are a rich enough society that one can be impractical and still live very well.

I'd rather read a book or garden or run in the hills or study investing ideas or about 1000 other tasks before doing mechanical things to my cars. But that's just me .
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Old 07-17-2008, 01:09 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by jclarksnakes View Post
When you buy a used boat and fish offshore with it you had better be prepared to do some serious maintenance and repairs or pay dearly for it.
A year or two ago, there was a news story of an Vietnamese ex-navy guy who lived on a boat in LongBeach. One day he decided to sail to Catalina, and had some mechanical problem. No radio. Drifted for a few months until a US Coast Guard picked him up. From what I read, his rescuers truly respected his survival skill.

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Plus it sounds like you have a marketable skill in case the doomsayers are right this time and all us ERs have to go back to work. I like to get dirty working in the garden, but not in the engine.
Don't scare me. I should have enough assets that if I ever need to go do this hard work to make a buck, it would be so bad that we would not have automobiles but horse-drawn carriages. I'd like to get back to gardening when it gets cooler. Dirt washes off a lot easier than grease!

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Originally Posted by UncleHoney View Post
In the past 45 years I've done a lot of the things on your list but the most exciting thing I've done recently is replace the in-tank fuel pump on my F150.

As far as general auto service I do everything ... Including tires, oil and all parts I've spent less than $1000 in 17 years. (34000 miles). My 98 F150 has NEVER been in for any repair service either ... Total expenses have been less than $800 in 10 years. (55000 miles). I don't do exhaust systems.
They do build them better than before. I don't do exhausts either, not having the right equipment, plus they rarely fail.

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Originally Posted by FIREdreamer View Post
I can build furniture ... I can even sew, iron and cook.
Sure, you can be a handyman without getting greasy... I also have lots of wood working equipment: table saw, radial arm saw, etc... I can only sew on shirt buttons. Since working part-time, I wear lots of T-shirt, so no ironing. I cook by watching GoodEats.

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Originally Posted by Notmuchlonger View Post
Ive done most of the things on your list. I don't like doing those things. I don't do those things anymore because I can afford to pay someone else.
I had to do those things early in life because of money (or lack of it). I will be doing less of it, I am sure.

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Originally Posted by Leonidas View Post
I did everything on your list (except #7) by the time I was 19.
...
We used to do crazy stuff. Like put a big block engine in a Vega station wagon. One of my cars I had while I was in high school was an old Comet, that I eventually replaced the original 4-cylinder with a 429 engine out of a scrapped police car.
Having knowledge and experience is invaluable. Given enough time (and patience) I can figure out just about anything. But I can't count the number of times I was frustrated trying to do something on the umpteenth try only to have someone walk by and say "if you unbolt that other part and move it first, it will be a heck of a lot easier."
You were a pro. I am only a DIY, so I can't compete. I was not into muscle cars though, and by now just want to take it slow and easy, like a geezer. About knowledge, I bought expensive service manuals for my cars ($200 new, or $100 used). They are worth it, because I drove my cars into the ground, and had the chance to refer to the manuals often.

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I just buy a used car cheap enough that if it needs anything beyond 5 it's cheaper to sell it and buy another one.
Sure, that works. Anything to beat the cost of a new car. I hate having to change cars though. I get used to my cars, like old T-shirts, you know, comfortable? I wear them until they got holes.

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I've gotten to # 5. Do most of the maintenence stuff because i can use what i think are better parts and fluids than most mechanics will use.
I am slowly getting to that point, where I will only do the easy part.

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Originally Posted by Puzzley View Post
I've done them all many times over, but I don't enjoy it like I used to. I still like working on classic cars, (I have a 57 chevy), but must admit to taking mine in to a shop for many things now. I still do all my own brakes and most maintainance, though...
I don't even have a classic to pamper. I just wanted to save money.

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Originally Posted by donheff View Post
Argh!!! I used to do all kinds of work on my cars but once I got a pot to piss in, I stopped. I wouldn't change a flat today - that is what money is for. On the other hand, I recently got interested in bike repair and am doing that on my own. The difference is the bike repair is fun (for now) whereas the car repair is torture.
So, how far do you drive on a flat tire to a service station?
You are right about the torture part. Sometimes I wonder if I am a masochist.

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Originally Posted by cashbalancetrouble View Post
I have done everything on the list and fuel pumps in and out tanks. Done all this on boats and other junk. I still enjoy it but don't have the space. I have taken cars for repairs only a handful of times other than new tires. I even change front end parts, steering linkage and the do my own alignments. I have a 77 Jeep Cherokee bought new that saw a repair shop only twice for warrnaty work in '78. My favorite car and best ride was a 1990 Infiniti Q45. Smoothest running and riding even at 140MPH.
You have done more than me, and apparently still enjoy it. My BIL has a Q45. Nice car, but I wonder if it is tough to work on. Engine compartment looks tight.

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I've done everything except AC work, though through most of my professional working career (as opposed to hustling odd jobs to get through college), I drove newer cars that only needed oil changes, which I happily hired out. Now that I'm retired and have a hybrid, I am doing my own oil changes and light maintenance again, mostly because I can't bear to let the grease monkeys touch my car. Not that a hybrid requires anything that special, but I wonder if they'll really put the correct 5W20 oil in or just pump in whatever is in the barrel.
My next car will also be a hybrid. From what I've read, you can get into the electronics and have lots of fun.

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I did routine oil & filter changes on the old Ford (1970-80). Did a tune-up in a class once; was a nervous wreck driving home afterward, over freeways and bridges; never did that again. I believe my specialty was adding anti-freeze.
Hey, it's not for everyone...

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I grew up in Upper Michigan. We didn't have a garage and we had a car that didn't like to run in the winter. After the umpteenth time working with my dad under the car in a -60F windchill, where your hands would stick to the metal if you didn't have gloves on, I swore that I'd make enough when I grew up that I'd be able to pay someone to fix my car for me. My first car (bought when I was 19) was an '89 Buick Regal. I replaced the disc brakes, alternator, rotors... minor stuff, but I made enough to pay someone else for the real work. My next car was a brand new 2001 Olds Intrigue. I looked under the hood of that and decided I'd be better off always bringing it to a shop. That's been my mode of operation ever since. But we live with some gearheads now so I'd probably work on my car if needed. It's a Honda, though, so I'm not sure if I'll ever get the chance.
Yeah, even in AZ winters, I remember kept having to fiddle with the automatic choke and the klutzy thermal control of ignition timing. It is true that modern cars are more reliable. My 1994 minivan is old and rattles over bumps. But its engine is still going strong, and doesn't burn any oil after 130K mi. The old Ford and Chevy engines fell apart long before then. Still, at that mileage all kinds of little problems start to appear. Hoses crack or leak. Alternator and steering pump bearings begin to wear out... When people start having to pay a few hundred bucks every couple of months, they think about a new car. By doing little things like that myself, I delay the big bill. New cars do not excite me at all.

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Did 1 through 12 on several different cars, pickups, vans. Never had a need to rebuild engines. Timing chain on a 74 450se Benz. Chain is about 5' long, not a bunch of fun. Hydraulic high pressure reservoir for suspension and brakes on 88 Jag, ball joints, window motors on both Jag and Benz. Took suburban to dealer for brake fluid flush. Can't do full flush without a Tech II, (expensive gizmo for setting, and operating various computer functions) which will open ABS valves. Then as usual after "professionals" working on vehicle, had to tighten Flare nuts of all brake lines, they were seeping. The few times I had vehicles at shops or dealers', always had to go over things and fix/finish their crappy hurried jobs. Installed Vacuum gauges on all my cars, trucks. Gives instant and cheap engine diagnostics and efficiency indications. Wonder how many used vacuum gauges?
I am not into cars as a hobby like you are. The ones you describe are nice ones, worth maintaining. Mine, I just work on to delay the day I have to call the junk yard to come and get it.

Your vacuum gauges are mounted inside the car? So you have a dashboard like an airplane cockpit? You're the man! Don't you need exhaust temp also?
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Old 07-17-2008, 01:21 AM   #30
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We also have been on a traveling 'kick'. I like my wine, scotch, and cognac, although like you, I do most of my drinking at home. We buy and spend on things we like but are very selective and are not wasteful.
Our friends call us frugal, our enemies (and my children) call us cheap.
You don't have to apologize for living life your way. Enjoy.
Allright, finally a cognac drinker, and a travel lover. But you evaded my questions. Do you change your oil or not? I don't know what my enemies call me. I don't think I have any, being such a nice guy.

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I used to be an auto mechanic, so I've done all that and much more.
Another pro like Leonidas. You guys don't count. I am only comparing myself to DIY'ers.

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Originally Posted by Lusitan View Post
I have only ever reached #2 (and yeah, I'm another one who subscribes to the, er, "natural rain wash" theory of washing cars).
I have heard that some community colleges or vo-tech (sp?) schools offer courses on this type of stuff, and maybe someday I'll take one, after I FIRE ...
Nah... It really ain't worth it. Better off going fishing. You are too old. My son will get all my tools soon.

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Originally Posted by calmloki View Post
All of the above + home repair stuff, which saves buckets since we make our ducats from the rentals. Haven't done:
13. Home dental repair, including but not limited to root canals. (remember the Dan Ackeroyd Splishack home dental kit?)
14. Home doctoring beyond superglueing good sized cuts.
15. Successfull home investing in the stock market.
16. Kid raising - some scary thankless work that - looks like falling downhill tethered to a running chainsaw.
Now, here's a man who gave me some fresh ideas. About no.13, can you point me to a Website showing how it's done, since you have given it some thought?
I have tried to cut my own hair in front of a mirror. With comb in one hand, scissors in the other, my eye/hand coordination was terrible. It's nothing like shaving. Try that yourself to see what I mean.
I may need to enlist my wife on the dental thing, but I don't trust her shaky hands.

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Originally Posted by Walt34 View Post
At one time or another I've done all of it, but now I mostly limit myself to oil changes (if the weather's decent) light bulbs, wiper blades and the like. Essentially if I can't do it in the driveway in a few hours I take it to a shop. When I bought the '03 GMC Sierra pickup, I also bought - and read - the five-volume service manual. There's a whole volume on just the electronics for the engine.
That convinced me that I'd probably be better off keeping my grubby mitts off stuff I don't know enough about and the few repairs that it will need don't justify the expenditure for the tools to do it right. And I can't even see the rear spark plugs on my wife's car. Maybe they pull the engine to get at them?
So, you bought the manual and study it, just to be scared? You may be able to resell it on eBay.
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Originally Posted by kcowan View Post
Being an engineer ... Replaced the AC compressor with one from the junkyard once.
Now living in a rental penthouse, I have more gentle hobbies. But the knowledge gained has made me better at outsourcing jobs.
Another fellow engineer, who is not afraid of AC. Good man.
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Originally Posted by ls99 View Post
Reminds me of a friends son, a mechanic by trade on the newfangled stuff.
Her Simplicity lawnmower with a 1 cylinder engine would not start. After messing with it for a few hours her son calls me, I can't make it work can you look at it?
After 20 years the points were well worn, a 1/2 turn on the adjuster got it within spec., fired right up. The son admitted that he never worked on any engines with points. This after 10 years in the business. He was a bit embarrassed.
Maybe he was looking for the onboard computer to run diagnostic?
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Originally Posted by kaudrey View Post
I have a friend who does 1-6 for me, does that count? He usually gets dinner out of the deal.
I travel quite a bit too (leaving for Alaska on Saturday!), and I have a decent wine collection. But my TVs are older and not flat-screen, my car is a 2001 Volvo S40 that I plan to drive for many years, and I rarely "go shopping".
Of course it counts. I am sure you thank him profusely, and the dinners are less expensive than what service stations charge. And your friend feels good about saving you money too. I have a cheap, ahem, inexpensive wine selection I purchase from time to time from Trader Joe. In order to call it a collection, are you allowed to drink it, or is it just for display? I have a collection of spirits, cognac, eau de vie, etc... I usually do not finish off a good bottle, so I have something to keep in my display. Can't do that with wine

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Originally Posted by hankster View Post
I've done about everything except AC repair. I went to a technical college for automotive and diesel mechanics. One day, I rolled out from under my car with dirt in my eyes, a scrape down my arm, and I realized that I HATED working on cars. I still enjoy home improvement projects and save my money in that area. I'm more than happy to transfer those savings to my trusted local mechanic who has the expertise, patience and equipment to keep my wheels on the road.
See my notes below on AC. About finding trustworthy mechanics, that's another reason I have done more car repair than I wanted.

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I used to change oil, but now my knees don't work. I pump my own gas.
I've had this car a year: should I wash it?
Non-working knees? I guess they don't hurt either, because as George Burns said "You know you're old when everything hurts. What doesn't hurt doesn't work."
Nah, why wash your car? You only have to wash yourself.

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Originally Posted by lsbcal View Post
NW-Bound, I admire your fortitude. I just started washing the car after a long hietus. This is because we started looking at new replacement cars and I started appreciated ours more. I bought one of those washing mits and even worked over the hub caps (with all those small areas that had road grease on them). So this qualifies as your most "trivial" task -- but there is no anxiety associated with this. I don't have to worry if it will run after I put it back together. Plus it's fun in the summer.
But basically I HATE working on cars and would rather pay a good, competent mechanic to do the work. I'm an engineer by training but am not really into mechanical things which is why I chose electronics. Occasionally I'd run into a guy at work who would talk your ear off about cars -- sorry to admit it but I found this exceptionally boring. Still it's very practical and I think people who are into cars are OK too. It's just not me, I'm too impractical. Luckily we are a rich enough society that one can be impractical and still live very well.
I'd rather read a book or garden or run in the hills or study investing ideas or about 1000 other tasks before doing mechanical things to my cars. But that's just me .
Thanks for using the word fortitude. Most people call it masochism. About washing cars, have you spray-washed the engine and everything under the hood? It may not run after you are done! Yes, it's related to the electronics things under the hood. Lots of fun.
When young, I rebuilt engines to save money, and also to see what they looked on the inside. After that, I did it to save money, and not really for enjoyment. As with most people, the problem was mainly because of the greasy dirt. I am also a EE. Electronics are way cleaner.

OK. About AC. I don't know why but many home mechanics are afraid to touch the AC. Yet, it is not that tough, and its return ($$$ saved) I believe is amongst the highest DIY work. Psst - Harbor Freight has a very useable gauge manifold service set for something like $60, and has been on sales as low as $40. If you need to buy a flush gun and flush solvent, you can find it on eBay. For my daughter's car, I was fortunate to get on eBay a used compressor from a fairly new car that was totaled. They show pictures and VIN, of the donor car, along with list of all other parts. I had some apprehension, but was relieved to receive it in the condition I expected.

So, next time please give it a shot. The "elbow grease" requirement is even lower than changing front struts.
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Old 07-17-2008, 07:24 AM   #31
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So, my grandpa had an International Harvester Scout II that had been sitting outside for many winters. It still ran great but the body was rusted out. Dad and I tuned it up, put in a new floor and generally got it working. That was the family car for quite a while.

Eventually, the body got bad enough that it was time to go. We sold it to the grandson of the man that had sold the car to my grandpa. See, the grandson had a Scout II that had a great body but a tree had fallen across the hood so he needed a new engine. I'd be willing to wager that truck is still running.
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Old 07-17-2008, 08:26 AM   #32
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Non-working knees? I guess they don't hurt either, because as George Burns said "You know you're old when everything hurts. What doesn't hurt doesn't work."
Hereditary arthritis; the chronic pain is gone since I retired and lost weight. Squatting or kneeling causes pain and funny noises.
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Old 07-17-2008, 08:53 AM   #33
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". . . What doesn't hurt doesn't work."
Now they have Viagra for that.
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Old 07-17-2008, 09:53 AM   #34
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It still ran great but the body was rusted out.
I'd be willing to wager that truck is still running.
I try to picture it. Probably looks like one of those filmed in "Mad Max".

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Hereditary arthritis; the chronic pain is gone since I retired and lost weight. Squatting or kneeling causes pain and funny noises.
Sorry to hear that. But George Burns wasn't wrong. You can't call your knees non-working.
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Old 07-17-2008, 10:56 AM   #35
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Your vacuum gauges are mounted inside the car? So you have a dashboard like an airplane cockpit? You're the man! Don't you need exhaust temp also?
Yea, vacuum gauge inside mounted to dashboard.

No amateur cockpit . No EGT - it is only useful at constant RPM, fairly high power settings, with true mixture control to run "lean of peak" for good fuel consumption, or "rich of peak" for maximum power.
Northeast does not have uncongested highways like midwest for traveling for hours at steady speeds.
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Old 07-17-2008, 01:31 PM   #36
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In order to call it a collection, are you allowed to drink it, or is it just for display?
----

Trust me, I drink it! It becomes a collection when you buy more than you drink, and they build up. I have wines that I won't drink right now - they are either for special occasions or they need to age for a few years. So those are what I consider to be my "collection". The others are part of my continually rotating stash of everyday drinkables.
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Old 07-17-2008, 01:57 PM   #37
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In order to call it a collection, are you allowed to drink it, or is it just for display?
----

Trust me, I drink it! It becomes a collection when you buy more than you drink, and they build up. I have wines that I won't drink right now - they are either for special occasions or they need to age for a few years. So those are what I consider to be my "collection". The others are part of my continually rotating stash of everyday drinkables.
We went to NapaValley for our honeymoon, 28 years ago. Happened to stop by Robert Mondavi when they had a tour. Bought some fairly pricey bottles to bring back to my parents as gifts. They kept them in a closet, and forgot about it. Twenty years later, I discovered it, and had the courage to open it. Vinegar!

How do people know what wine would age well, and what would not? I stay with strong spirits. They evaporate some, but that is about it.
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Old 07-17-2008, 03:46 PM   #38
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Now, here's a man who gave me some fresh ideas. About no.13, can you point me to a Website showing how it's done, since you have given it some thought?
I have tried to cut my own hair in front of a mirror. With comb in one hand, scissors in the other, my eye/hand coordination was terrible. It's nothing like shaving. Try that yourself to see what I mean.
I may need to enlist my wife on the dental thing, but I don't trust her shaky hands.

....
Was wrong about the Dan Ackeroyd "Spishak Industries" dental kit - it was MadTV:

My gal cuts my hair and i lop hers (she fixes that afterwards) - works out well - a bit scary when an ear or eye is at the point of the scissors and she doesn't seem focused, but still have two of each.
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Old 07-18-2008, 02:51 AM   #39
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Being an engineer and having a handyman for a Dad, I took on most repairs at one time. Lots of plumbing, electrical, construction, plastering, drywall, painting, wallpaper. Replaced the AC compressor with one from the junkyard once.

Now living in a rental penthouse, I have more gentle hobbies. But the knowledge gained has made me better at outsourcing jobs.
that's an excellent point you made at the end....even if you don't do the job, just knowing how allows you to be more educated when quoting the job...and typically results in either a lower price, a higher quality job, or both.
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