Becoming a Car Girl (Part 2)

So its been about a month and its winter. Winter sucks for working on cars when you don’t have a garage. There is also way less daylight to do any work by. So between the cold and the dark in the middle of rural nowhereville, not much can get done. It can be frustrating when you have a pretty big car project – you know the one where you can’t actually drive the car because the engine is sitting in your house and the transmission is in pieces on a table in the enclosed porch. Yep that one.

But before we get there, I wanted to write a brief feature on the value of having a ton of hobbies. When I say having a ton of hobbies, I mean being good at lots of things. You can suck at some of them, but having a general understanding of the hobby itself is good too; it makes you good at them (at least in conversation).

I have a ton of hobbies. I craft, sew, knit, sculpt, paint, cook, bake, tech, build, fix, and so on. In the course of these hobbies I have acquired a unique set of talents and some rather obscure tools. Some of which come in super hand when trying to unhook the end of a spring clip from a convertible top strut.

Last time I talked about my first car project on the E30. While at the Vintage, we picked up some new struts for the soft top and sport seats. As you know, struts wear out over time and can make the process of enjoying your soft top convertible a bit more difficult than it should be. The top doesn’t pop back or into place by itself, you have to work at it, you have to work more when the struts have worn out.

So the boyfriend is out trying to hook the new struts for the soft top onto the mounts and he’s getting frustrated. Nothing ever works like it should, and he’s been out there at it for a bit. I come outside to help and he explains the problem. I go inside, grab my knitting needles and crochet hooks, bring them out slip the spring clip off and Bob’s your uncle. Less than five minutes. The new struts went on just as quickly. Every car guy needs a set of knitting needles and crochet hooks.

This isn’t the only time they’ve come in handy. Wouldn’t you know it? The rear hatch on our W124 wagon needed new hatch struts, because those things wear out too. The hatch itself is like closing the lid on a tank; a heavy beast without good struts to help you. Same drill. Grabbed a knitting needle to push the clip in place, a little bit more maneuvering but worked very well because of the length of the needle.

I honestly feel that a good distribution of hobbies under your belt can help you in any hobby you are focusing on. Who would have thought sliding a roll of painters tape under the timing chain keeps it from sliding down inside the block while you pull more pieces off?

Another thing, you do not need to buy all sorts of fancy mechanic accessories (yes mechanics accessorize). Those creepers that can run you a pretty penny and keep your back off the dirty ground (the horrors of dirt!)? A cheap snow sled (the foam ones with the plastic back) works just as well; check them out from your local 5 and under store. Cardboard works most of the time if you didn’t run to the ‘mart to buy an automotive drip tray. And a chair to sit on while you do work at that weird height? Just grab your kid’s little yellow chair and have fun.

I’m honestly amazed at how long he went without some accessory or job aid upgrades. But it works for him. And it gives me things to add to his gift list. Sometimes you need to make due with what you have at your disposal. On your next car project, big or small, take a step back from your problem, It may help to get another opinion on it from someone not as involved or with different skills. They may bring something to the table you didn’t know existed.

I hope you all have a good holiday, get all the mechanic accessories your little auto heart desires, and have a great time with family and friends. Let’s hope the winter is short and warm so we can finish the wagon!

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