One of the interesting things about being somewhat proficient at “building stuff” is that people naturally assume I’m also good at anything mechanical, like, say, fixing cars. (And also that I like watching sports… as if that somehow equates with getting shit done around the farm. It does not.) Let me relieve you of both of those delusions. I do not have the attention-span to watch sports, and framing a house is not even close tuning a carburetor or whatever-the-hell kind of stuff you do to those things. (I don’t even know what a carburetor does, but I assume it carbureates shit, so… yeah.)
Here’s the truth… I’m not even necessarily a good “builder” the way master tradesman are. I don’t possess the patience, attention to detail, or ability to ever find a damned pencil when I need one to legitimately be a master a this craft. At the core, I am a problem solver. And, even better, a problem solver with a stubborn streak. I started out building or fixing things through the sheer force of my will, and after doing it enough times I’ve amassed enough knowledge to do it right more times than I do it wrong when it comes to houses.
When it comes to vehicles, I am a complete novice. And yet, I own this beast:
Let me sum up my vehicular knowledge for you:
- Don’t put gasoline in your diesel truck.
- (Thanks to my grandpa) Plug the engine block heater in when it’s cold. but don’t leave it plugged in or you will have an effing expensive electric bill.
- (Thanks to the comments this post.) Diesel trucks do not have spark plugs, they have glow plugs. Which I actually referred to as “glow rods” when talking to my father last week and I actually heard him blink seventeen times over the phone before he corrected me. Plugs. They are glow plugs. Got it, Dad.
However, I love learning new things and being self-sufficient–and I now own a 20 year old truck–which means that I’m about to get a crash course in being a mechanic.
Lesson 1: Broken Tailgate Hinge
This actually isn’t anything that even relates to the engine, but it seemed like a good place to cut my teeth on truck-fixing skills. When I bought the F250, it had a broken tailgate hinge which made loading and unloading materials into the back of the truck an awkward affair.
It’s supposed to look like this…
I did a little googleing and decided this was the kind of thing I could handle on my own… after all, it was basically just removing a couple of bolts and replacing a hinge, right?
Yeeaaaah... that’s what I thought.
Turns out this was basically waging war on twenty years of rust and stubbornness.
So, as I understood it, I just needed to remove the tailgate by unhooking the supports and lifting it off the hinges…
First of all, the tools they use to construct and then disassemble automobiles are entirely different than the tools they use to construct and then disassemble houses. Which means I tried to half-ass this project on Saturday, and then finally gave in on Sunday and asked my neighbor if he had bits I could borrow. (One of the 1000 awesome things about my neighbors is that they have the same amount of auto-tools as I have house-tools.)
Let me tell you about the number of ways I tried to remove these stubborn bolts. Oh, actually? Let me show you.
I tried pushing…
I tried oils, and magic, and heating the damn things with a blowtorch…
I also tried enlisting at least one Nugget who seemed eager to help…
After all of that, what actually worked was using a piece of metal tubing to add some additional leverage to the allen wrench…
While it was hailing on me…
True story. And god bless the person who invented hoodies. Thanks, October.
I’ll admit, long before this, I actually legitimately thought removing these rusted-on bolts was a lost cause. That’s right, I believed in “can’t”. I’m still not sure what compelled me to keep at it, other than that I figured at least if I stripped the bolts out I’d know that I’d done every possible thing I could to fix this on my own.
And then a miraculous thing happened…
The bolts turned.
Yes, guys, that’s the big thing that happens in this post– and maybe, sometimes, in life–the bolts turned. And I was able to replace the old hinge with the new one.
And then I put the tailgate back on…
And it worked!
I actually fixed something on my truck!
It wasn’t mechanical, or overly complicated, but I’ll tell you what I know after a decade of DIY… this is where it starts.
With a simple thing that was broken, and now it isn’t. Because I fixed it.
And next time I’ll fix something bigger, and I’ll know more. And later I’ll fix another thing, and in the end I’ll be a girl who builds houses and can fix her old diesel truck too.
(I actually drove off into the sunset to meet some friends for dinner a movie after this.)