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Lee Byrd's "Lessons Learned" post reminded me of a post put out quite some time ago... and I think it's time for a re-post... and I'll ask you all, what's the greatest lessons you've learned from working on your vehicles?

I grew up in the Great White North, from Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories on the east to Valdez Alaska to the south and everywhere in between, Ft. St. John, Whitehorse, Dawson City, Dawson Creek, half-mile Glacier, Fairbanks, Soldonta, Chrome.... My first job out of school was carving ivory.

In short, I grew up in the bush, and it did not take long to learn the ways of survival. I learned at an early age the importance of transportation. Where I lived, if I did not have quality transportation, one could be stuck 200 miles from the middle of nowhere and pay your life for the mistake. The vehicle you chose had to be functional, looking cool was never an issue because usually cool killed in time.

When I turned 13, I decided to start my search for a quality vehicle, I'd been hoping for a pick-up. I asked my dad if he'd help me buy one. He said he would think about it and get back to me. About three weeks later he called me aside and said that he had come to a decision and would help me with my quest. Oh, I can tell you, I was in hog heaven. It lasted about three seconds. He placed a radiator cap on the table and said: "Son, I've done my part, now you do yours." Well, I can tell you I was astonished. I accepted the radiator cap and started my search. It was the best thing my dad could have ever done for me. So now I'll let you know what I learned from that day.

I learned to budget time. I could not search for parts all day, or fix all day or work all day or go to school all day. I had to learn that everything was a priority, and how to rank them. This lesson came in handy over the rest of my adult life, I worked my way through two undergraduate and one graduate college degrees and have been the husband of one wife for 26 years, and father of 7 children. Without the ability to prioritize I would have never been successful at ether of those tasks.

I learned to budget money. I learned the value of a dollar and what it would buy and how to honestly work. I learned to recognize quality, even if it were not packaged in a flashy manner. I still prefer to buy an old car an fix it up and know what I have and put 300,000 miles on it before I start all over again.

I learned that quality is an opinion. The usage determines the opinion, which determines quality and value. I learned that to have the best I could afford was no sin and only the rich could afford poor quality. I learned that money had power to change a life, for good or ill and if used for good, one's life is bettered. I bought quality hand tools, cheap was not going to be a good investment. I still have most of those tools and use them weekly. Yep, they are a bit worn, but they're my friends.

I learned to plan. It took me three years to complete my project. When I was done, it ran like a top and I was very pleased with myself. I had accomplished something many people never will. The project lasted only two weeks... my older brother "borrowed" the project one night and destroyed it in two hours. Though I lost the use of the vehicle, but I never lost the tools or the knowledge I gained. Though I did not think it then, it was well worth the effort.

I was kept off the streets for three years! That was a blessing to my parents, and looking back, to me. Oh, yeah, really there were no "streets" where I lived, but we hicks could always find creative ways of getting into trouble...

I learned to complete what I started. There is great satisfaction in completion. Very little in life is like that feeling. One competes only with one's self and nowhere else.

I learned to value my labor, and I matured. I learned to value the vehicles I fixed. There was no way that I would ever think of driving a vehicle I'd made with my own hands in reckless manner. It was far too valuable to me.

Good Jeepin'


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Great story Larry. Not really all to far from mine.
We were pretty darn poor when I was in high school. Dads health was failing fast and a good job was hard for him to find. One of his good friends was a farmer that was a BIG guy. He decieded to "donate" his field vehicle to my dad for me as a project for us to fix up since cash was short. It was a 65 VW floor, no brakes, didn't run, front axle beam rusted away, etc. I didn't care. It was a CAR.
First thing dad said was, well your going to need a job to fix it up. He already knew that Mark (the farmer) needed help. So off to the farm I went. Thats were some of the good work ethics came from. As many of you know, it's good hard work. This all started when I was 15. So after a few weeks I had money to start buying parts. Little by little it came together. Dad and me putting "quality" time together on it. I learned all kinds of automotive mechanics from this. Welded in a new floor pan, new braking system, converted the 6V to 12V, got it running great, and even managed to scare up a set of porsche wheels. I even got to paint it.
Thats a lot to be learned for one car. And at 15, it was invalueable. Even today the times doing this stuff with dad was some of the best of my life.
So..... I finally turn 16 and I have a shiney set of wheels. I am proud a pie. Dad tells me he has a deal for me. I need a job to get it on the road. No ifs ands or buts. He said I'll take you to find one, and when you do I'll loan you the first weeks gas money and get insurance started......BUT you pay me back out of your first check or how ever many it takes........AND if you quit or are not working.........NO WHEELS. I was under his roof, so there was no questioning what he said.
So I think I got what money can't buy at that time and I can't thank him enough.
Here she is. Not too bad for under $400 finished.



Larry thanks for sharing that . I have learned a lot from this board. When I was growing up my parents could never afford a new car. They are now in there 60's and have never owned one.My dad was an auto mechanic if something broke you fixed it. I can remember him laying in the snow to get the car fixed so he could go to work in the morning . Even though he had his faults ( alcoholism )he made me into the self reliant person I'am .Some of the things learned are

1. The only stupid question is the one your afraid to ask. So many times I have had to redo something rather than admit to someone I didn't understand it .

2. Everybody was a beginner at one time. We all have are own strengths and weakiness's in certain areas acting together we can handle any problem.

3.I agree with Larry on learning how to work on your jeep first. Make it safe and reliable then begin your Mods.
One of the things I love to do at a jeep get together is walk around and check out the rigs. I try and find some of the most well maintained and reliable.they are often not the newest or prettiest.I like to see somebody make there own rocker protectors , bumpers and such its a great way to get ideas for your own stuff.

4.I often get harassed by my brother in law about always having a clean jeep. On the trail I get as muddy as anybody but just like a soldiers rifle .When the battle is over the gun gets cleaned and problems get fixed so its ready for the next round. this ride has to get me to work on Monday morning. LOL. jeeps are just like any other tool they are only as good as the person using them and taking care of them.

5. I learned to weld by studying an old high school shop book trying to copy the welds I saw. My stuff sometimes isn't the prettiest but Iam getting better with practice and sometimes I have to grind it off and try again. and sometimes I'am laying in the snow trying to fix something.I don't think I would have it any other way .Bob!

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