Now that we are officially into the full swing of Summer, the weather has gone from "Hey this is nice" to "I'm melting" in a matter of days (at least here in Sunny Central Washington). One of the trends we start seeing in the shop this time of year is older equipment, like me, aren't big fans of the heat. You may find that your machine doesn't want to start after you have been using it for a while, or it starts but just doesn't want to move. There are, of course, are a whole slew of heat related problems you could be dealing with in the near future. The big question we are routinely asked by customers is if it is worth fixing?
Once upon a time, like pre-COVID, before out of control inflation and supply chain issues, etc. this was a fairly easy question to answer. In most cases if your machine was getting long in the tooth and starting to nickel and dime you to death it was time to send it down the road and get something newer. Simple, right? Well those days are gone, at least for a while. Getting a new piece of equipment that is on par with your old one is more difficult than you think.
One of the trends we have been seeing coming out of the pandemic is more and more faulty units and parts right out of the box. Some manufactures have even resorted to building their own components rather than waiting for the their traditional suppliers to get back up to speed. But, like any new production of a product, the first couple of years can be really tough getting the bugs worked out. For the consumer, this can mean that your brand new machine is breaking down as much or more than your old one.
On top of that we have heard from several customers that they can't even find a replacement, and if they can it's very expensive. Gone are the days of new $1000 lawn tractor or $100 push mowers. Many people find that when they go replace their equipment with the modern version the price has literally doubled, with the specter that the new unit might be a dud from the factory.
So back to the original question, at what point do you say "junk it" and move along? The first thing you have to ask yourself is how much do you want a new machine? Sometimes we just want something new and shiny, and that's okay. The key here to at least be honest with yourself, even if you have to sugar coat the purchase to your significant other.
If, after searching your soul, you come back with the notion that you don't really want something else, but you don't want to throw money away on some old turd; then it's time to start looking at the problem objectively.
When it comes to making a decision there are really only a few key things you have to look at. Start with the most obvious, it it rusting into oblivion? If yes, junk it. If no, keep going. The next question is the engine; does it run? Is it blowing blue or white smoke (the color is actually pretty important), does it sound like someone is playing Rock'em Sock'em Robots inside a garbage can? If your answer is "yes" to either of the two last questions it may be time to move on, but do yourself a favor and get a quote for a new engine and compare that to what it would cost to replace the machine.
Now if your machine has passed the engine sniff test, take a look at the transmission? Does it go forward and backward? Is it making terrible noises like something from the pits of Hell? Well there is your answer.
The bottom line is this, if the overall condition of the machine is pretty good it is generally worth fixing. But if it has been used and abused for 20 years it may be time to move on. Just be careful that you don't get caught in the trap of thinking because it looks old and dated that it's not worth fixing. Often times that old equipment, with a little love and money will surprise you. One other thing to keep in mind, outside of the Powersports and Vehicle worlds, the technology really hasn't changed much. The nice shiny lawn tractor you have been eyeing is pretty much the same as the old clapped out machine you have been using for the last 10 years.
Personally, I am a fan of keeping things going. If it's been a good machine overall and parts are still available, I would rather put money into something that has shown it's own merit over the years, rather than rolling the dice on something new and shiny that may turn out to be a lemon.
It's that time of year, the snow is mostly gone, the weather has warmed considerably and the flowers are in bloom! It's time to get on your bike, ATV or climb into your UTV and head for the hills. Whether you are going for the day or the weekend there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Do you have your "10 Essentials"? If you were in Boy Scouts, at some point you probably heard that phrase, probably multiple times. Often we don't think of going into the wilderness on a motorized vehicle the same as hiking or backpacking. But, think about this for a minute, when you are hiking you are mostly likely only a few miles from your vehicle; but when you are in or on a motorized vehicle you could very easily find yourself dozens of miles from your vehicle. What happens if you break down? Or worse, get lost? I know, that would never happen, right.....?
The reality is that getting in trouble on a bike or UTV is very possible and it happens more than you might think. My rule of thumb when I go out is this: do I have the needed gear to spend the night outdoors? In the old days, it was difficult and expensive to get light-weight and compact survival gear; thankfully that is no longer the case. You can, of course, still spend lots of money on gear if you want but you don't really need to. Here are some basic things I always carry with me regardless if I am on my dirt-bike, Jeep or simply hiking.
1) A way to make fire (ooo fire good). Matches are okay, but they don't always work if they get wet or just get old from being in your bag too long. Instead I carry a simple flint and steel as well as a small pill bottle stuffed with cotton balls saturated in Vaseline. Cheap, water-proof and takes very little room.
2) Water and way to purify more water. There is nothing worse than running out of water and looking at that nice cool stream or lake, knowing that drinking it may lead to some serious stomach/intestine issues which in the end (no pun intended) is worse for you than running out of water. I carry a small bottle with water purification tablets, boiling the water will also get you there, but you need some sort of container to boil in.
3) A knife of some sort. There are lots and lots of choices here, but I prefer something small and compact. It's tempting to carry your Rambo survival knife; but the truth is, even though it looks cool, it's not terribly practical and takes alot of room in your pack. In addition a small folding saw is a must, trees are sneaky; they are always looking for a way to fall at just the right time to get in the way.
4) Some sort of shelter; now you might think I am nuts to say this but it doesn't need to be a tent or a big blue tarp. I carry a very compact "space blanket". These are great for keeping warm, but also keeping the rain off your head. They even make them now that you literally crawl into like a sleeping bag.
5) Small flashlight, this one is self explanatory. There are lots of bright LED lights on the market. Personally I prefer a headlamp that takes actual batteries. That way you can carry extra batteries, chances are you won't have a USB charger handy.
6) Food! I always keep 3-4 energy type bars in my pack, in addition to what I brought for lunch. Yes they get sort of squished over time and don't look very appetizing, but when you are hungry they are the nectar of the gods!
7) Small first aid kit, doesn't have to be a big one, but make sure you have band-aides, disinfectant and some sort of pain relief like Ibuprofen. Duct tape, and no not the whole roll. I wrap a bunch around a lighter and keep in my first aid kit. Works great for emergency repairs and blisters.
8) Compass, you might think you don't need this since your phone generally has the ability to tell you direction these days. But again, if you don't have a way to charge it, it's not much good. Even if you don't know how to use it with a map to find your way, a compass will at least help to prevent walking around in circles.
9) A map of the area, with your parking place marked. Again GPS is great and I use it all the time. But I also keep a paper map with me since batteries do go dead and GPS and cell phone signals are not always available.
10) Last but not least is some sort of rope. Parachute cord is what I typically carry since it is light and strong. A good way to carry it is in a weave of some sort like a bracelet or strap of some sort.
This is in no way an exhaustive list, or even a good one! But it is what I carry. You will find over time that you will develop you own list. The thing to keep in mind is finding ways to stay happy and more importantly, alive, if things don't work out the way you planned!