I used to love working on cars. It started out of necessity when both my and Jenn’s vehicles needed all kinds of work, and once I got familiar with wrenching I found it really fun and satisfying. I got into it around the time I stopped playing in bands so it kind of took the place of that. I thought it was neat that a filthy, hands-on hobby took the place of an artistic one.
Wrenching got old after a four or five years though. I came to resent having to fix our rusty old cars, especially the more involved jobs like timing belts, head gaskets, and clutches. Now I only do the easier jobs that have a better effort/reward ratio, like routine maintenance, brakes, suspension, and steering, and I don’t buy project cars to fix up which means I don’t wrench very frequently anymore.
But today, I replaced the front shocks on our old truck and dang, it was enjoyable. It didn’t go smoothly but the hiccups were part of what made it fun. The passenger side went smoothly, and while I was doing that side I found a worn steering component that is probably part of the reason the steering has felt wonky for a while now. But on the driver side, half of the wheel nuts were frozen in place and the impact gun wouldn’t budge them. So I put a breaker bar with a cheater pipe on them and put my weight on it but the wheel started to slowly turn. So I had to lower the wheel back down to the ground to break the nuts free. Then I found the nuts and bolts securing the shock were also pretty frozen and I had to knock the bolts out of their holes with a big hammer and a punch. Then putting things back together, the threads on one of the shock bolts had gotten fucked up so I had to use a die to clean up the threads on it. That took forever because the threads were so fucked that the die kept getting crooked so I had to use a file to remove the most fucked up outer threads, and even then I still had to manhandle the die to keep it straight at first. After that, I lubed the hell out of the shock bolts and wheel studs before putting everything back together.
I know that was probably really boring to read but I wanted to illustrate that working on rusty, fucked up old shit is a unique art form that requires a variety of problem solving, and I’m happy and proud that I learned a lot of those skills some time ago. I love fixing old shit and keeping it in service for as long as possible, and I love being able to figure out and work through problems that I used to have to call my dad to help me with. It’s nice to feel capable at something.