What to do after the tune-up

Well, of course you will test drive your vehicle to be sure it’s in tip top shape and that you didn’t cross-wire the distributor cap. It’s okay, I’ve done it, too. But wait, you’re not done, and I don’t mean you missed something.

What I’m getting at is the old parts. They were probably still somewhat serviceable. Let’s start with the spark plugs. Check them over and keep out the one that is in the best shape and clean it up a bit. Then, keep out the longest spark plug wire, check to make sure it’s not damaged. If so, go to the next longest. If your vehicle has one, keep out the ignition coil to distributor cap wire, too, if it’s serviceable. The cap and rotor will probably have some time left on them. Keep them. Throw the rest out. During your next tune-up, any parts more serviceable than your “pulls” should be used to replace them. And if the distributor cap is a larger one, coil up the two wires, put the rotor and the spare plug in it and put it back in the new ones box. This is the beginning of your on-road survival kit. Now, isn’t that a lot cheaper than going and buying new parts to keep in reserve? Yes, you could just buy the whole kit and take that with you, and when it’s time for a tune-up use it and build a new kit later, if you get the time, the money or remember. No, this is better, it’s smaller and you’d be less likely to put off replacing the new kit.

Finally, you say, “I don’t do my own tune-ups, what now?” Two things here, first, learn. It’s usually not that hard, and even if it is, it’s valuable knowledge if you’re ever stuck with a blown spark plug insulator seal, damaged wire or carbon tracked cap or rotor. Do it a couple of times yourself and then resume going to your mechanic. I understand, I don’t like grease under my fingernails either. At the very least, you’ll make an on-road mechanics day if you’ve got spare parts! Second, if you do have someone else do your tune-ups, request the old parts. Now you’ve got the spares and didn’t have to do the work yourself and also got confirmation that the work was done.

More to come along this line.

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Build an on-road survival toolkit

Yeah, I’ve heard it. Guys I know just throw their toolbox into the truck or trunk of their ride and hit the road. Okay, fine. You get home, a day later find a door falling off it’s hinges and you head out and get the toolbox out of the car and fix it. Two days later, you’re in town and the buggy won’t start. Oops. The toolbox is back home being used as a doorstop for the very door you fixed! Mine was having a battery terminal foul in a parking lot of Stater Brothers, for real. Fortunately, they sell some basic tools. “So, you’re saying, you want me to build a whole new toolkit when my toolbox is fine?” Yes, unless you like it being used as a door stop while you’re 20 miles away from home. In which case, ignore my warnings.

No, I’d never suggest you build a whole new set of identical Snap-On tools to match the ones in the tool box. Quite the contrary. But why would you also take an expensive set of tools on the road and chance loosing some, or all, in a break-in. I know I wouldn’t. No, instead, take a road trip to Harbor Freight Tools and build your on-road tool kit. Hey, look, I linked it for you! You don’t even have to leave home to shop, they’ve got an on-line store if there is not one near by. Also, you can save space and money by only taking the sizes of tools you’ll need. Why pack SAE (fractional inch) sockets and wrenches when your driving a Toyota. Also, for example, Toyotas don’t usually have 15mm or 13mm fasteners, for example, so leave those size tools at home. Some people might respond, “What if I happen across someone in trouble and I don’t have the right size tools?” Time for a big fat dose of reality, how is that your problem? If after you try and the tools aren’t in your kit, maybe they’ll learn their lesson and build a kit of their own.

You can also save space by using a convertible screwdriver, one that uses replaceable tips. Get a large screwdriver primarily to use as a small pry-bar. A tire iron makes a good large pry bar. Keep that instead of a cross wrench for changing a flat.

Stay away from expensive non-LED flashlights. They last about an hour and one hard thump and you’re in the dark. Harbor Freight Tools sells one that uses four AA cells you can get anywhere, lights an entire engine compartment and runs for hours. Hey look, another link! Unlike a $50.00 Task-Light, it uses multiple LEDs so if one or more fails you’ve still got light. $3.00, score! One caveat, wrap a little tape around the removable battery holder, the cells fall out after jostling it around. And always keep a spare set of AA cells for it!

Get an adjustable (“Crescent” style) wrench so you don’t have to have two sets of end wrenches. Don’t forget allen/Torx wrenches/keys, circuit probe, the kind with a lightbulb in it and electrical tape. Also a 16oz ball pein hammer. No, not for stress reduction, you may happen across a part that is a little rusted or stuck. Last but not least, slip-joint pliers, dykes, needle nose pliers and a cheap box cutter knife in case you loose or leave your Buck Knife at home.

While you’re at Harbor Freight Tools, treat yourself to a canvas toolbag. It’s lighter than a box and takes up less room. Everything fits in mine and I can do any work on my Mitsubishi pickup short of heavier suspension parts, and the like. So, how much did my “deluxe” on-road tool kit cost? About $60.00, it fits behind the seat and I have absolutely no excuse for being stuck with no tools. Throw in jumper cables, tow strap, spare used parts and a little common sense and you’re ready for over 90% of what ever you will encounter.

Got any other ideas? Leave a comment, just make sure they fit in a canvas tool bag.

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Survival, it’s not just for the paranoid anymore

People in modern society have, it seems, to have had survival instinct bred out. We are told things like, “You don’t need to defend yourself, the police will protect you”. Or have become complacent because every time we go to the market everything we want is there. Even information, which is very important, is handed to us any time, any where.

It doesn’t help when we are told by the media that this “Gun Nut” or that “Survival Nut” is crazy and paranoid. They should be put away, re-educated and if they still don’t “tow the line”, jailed. After all, The Government, whether local or federal, is here to protect us, not only from the gun or survival nut, but from information that we don’t need and… our selves.

First, let me say that yes, there are some wackos out there; they take self defense and survival to an irrational and some times a paranoid level. They are in the minority. They are out to prove something, the very same way a gang banger is. But yet they are portrayed differently by the media, gang bangers are misunderstood youths, they are oppressed minorities. Where as the gun and survival nut is a disturbed white man with issues that must be dealt with, post haste. In reality, other than one being a loner, they are both disturbed little people desperately desiring attention and praise.

And now, we have set the stage, where does survival instinct devolve into survival paranoia. Gun enthusiasm devolve into gun infatuation. The line is not as blurred as you might think. A person who exhibits survival instinct, depending on income and potential destination, will stock up on emergency rations for a week or maybe a few months. Like I said, depending on income and destination. If the destination is the Pacific Northwest you may wont to prepare for the possibility that it may be during the winter, you will need supplies for a couple of months, at least. If you are an experienced hunter, you could forgo meat products in your supplies and hunt. Water won’t be much of an issue, either. But if it’s the Desert Southwest, things are going to be different.

Now, how would a survival nut go about this? They’d have supplies for a year or more, for every climate known to man, attempt to have caches of supplies in many different locations at different distances and an entire wardrobe of camouflage clothing and gear. And forget entirely the old proverb, “The best laid plans ‘o mice and men ‘oft go awry”. They get so wrapped up in preparing for the worst, to survive the worst, they forget some little detail like, how to light a fire when you forgot the matches. Fine lotta’ good all those supplies are if you can’t cook them.

Don’t be a gun nut. A gun enthusiast will have some weapons of a few different or favorite calibers. Or even a collection of vintage or antiques, fine. And maybe an assault weapon or two. Who cares, I don’t. They’ll take a couple of firearms out, got target shooting or hunting and come home, clean up the weapons and put them away. That’s it. A gun nut, now that’s another story, he’ll replace windows with gun ports, short windows about eight inches high and two feet wide. Reinforce the walls of his house, have every kind of assault weapon at his disposal with not a hunting rifle in sight. A black market M-16 or AK-47 is behind every door. And he lives in a normal community with little crime. I’m not making this stuff up. This clown needs his head examined, but he’s also in the vast minority, fortunately.

There you have it, you don’t have to be a paranoid schitzo to be prepared. You don’t have to prepare for the worst over a six month period, instead, prepare for the worst over a two weeks or a months time and adapt as you go. You have a brain in your head, use it. As for food, learn what plants at your potential destinations are edible and what hunting equipment you’ll need and that’s all.

Well, that’s it for now. Go forth and be not paranoid.

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