Friday 13 January 2012

Learning New Skills

It is inevitable.  At some point or another the car is going to either break or need service.
For many, the family vehicle is used daily.  They actually perform well considering the heavy use they get.
If you don't use a car much, then good for you.  Rural living requires transportation unless you have all your loose ends sewn up.
We have two vehicles.  A small mini-van and a small truck.  We bought the mini-van as a second vehicle to help alleviate Kira's frustration at not being able grocery shop or take the kids on an outing.  We did very well with one vehicle, but when we found the van at a low price, we bought it.  A low price usually means you pay for some repairs before it is usable.  That was the case with us.  It was still a good deal though, and we have used the van extensively for over a year now.  Now that we have three children, the van can hold everyone, while the truck is only good for four (a stuffed in four that is).

So the inevitable happens.  Yes, just when you think you have the household budget under control, something breaks.  Some failures are tragic, while others really should be expected.  So I didn't get upset when one of the rear brakes on the van stuck on enough to heat up the rim on a cold winter day.

I strongly believe that if you want to homestead, then you must acquire as many skills as possible.
First of all, the homestead requires many skills just to challenge the lifestyle.  But, there is the need to keep costs down and if you can do it yourself you keep costs down.

My neighbour Doug once told me that " If you are in the middle class, then you had better learn to work on either your house or your car.  Otherwise, you'll never get ahead."  Sage words I think.

I wouldn't suggest exceeding your abilities and creating risk.  I would, however, strongly urge you to take on challenges that may be beyond you, but that you feel you could overcome.
The Rust is from Overnight
You'll Need Some Tools
There are other compelling reasons for picking up new skills.  There is a great sense of fulfilment when you build or repair something that you could not have previously.  If you are very rural, then it is often cost prohibitive to have professionals perform a service call.  There is the wait time to consider if you make arrangements with someone else to complete a task for you. Although it sometimes doesn't work to your favour, when you do your own work then you control the quality.  Today's brake job is an example of this.  I chose not to replace the brake rotors.  I feel that they are adequate for the mileage interval I expect from the brakes.  Had I used a professional shop, they would surely have insisted on new ones.  New rotors would have been better, but the difference in cost would have been disproportionate to the performance of the brakes.
 Oftentimes, you will be provided advice or sold service based of litigation risks to a company or government.  Meaning that they do what they can to mitigate their risks of being sued.  That is not always in your best interest.
This topic actually leads into the discussion of litigation related to excessive production and consumption, but I won't go there right now.
Don't Forget to Trade
 in the Old Parts for the Core Charge
The acquisition of skills can be somewhat exponential.  It is a slow start from the beginning, but many trade skills are transferable, so the rate at which you learn speeds up as you go.  For example, drill bit reading and measuring is applicable any time you are going to drill a hole.
One of the strategies for reducing the production and consumption of goods is to repair items when they break instead of replacing them.  In order to enact that strategy, you must be wary of what you buy.  Many goods manufactured now have a short lifespan and are not serviceable.  Check online before you buy.  Can you get parts?  Are there special tools?  Is there access to service literature?  One of the internet's strong points is the availability of both information and online parts shopping.  That way, you can get a good price on parts, as well as simply having access to them.
So, when something breaks and you feel upset at the new cost and inconvenience, seize the opportunity.  Take the chance and attempt the repair yourself.  Get some information first though.  Trying a project blindly will end badly.  Look on the internet, especially videos.  The worst that can happen is that you completely ruin whatever it is you are working on.  If it is already broken, then you've lost nothing.
As far as brakes go, you will want basic skills first, and a manual to guide you through.  If you are organized and methodical you will do well.


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