Bikes and Brakes and Drains Oh My!

Posted on August 25, 2011 by Howling Hill

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Recently Wolf has been on this wicked DIY kick. I’m totally cool with him doing things such as fixing his motorcycle, changing the brakes on the car, and cleaning the totally disgusting bathroom drain by himself. He reports these things are not quite as difficult as we’ve been led to believe.

For instance, the motorcycle I mentioned about was, in fact, a free bike. However, it doesn’t run. Wolf felt up to the challenge to bringing it back to life so he’s been working on it a little bit each week. He downloaded the owners manual from somewhere (I have no idea where) and printed it out and he’s been on all kinds of forums dedicated to his specific bike. He’s replaced all kinds of things it: brakes, carburetors, the battery, and some other stuff. All the while he’s enjoyed the project because of the challenges it poses, the skills he’s learning, and the sense of accomplishment he feels.

The brakes on the car was another DIY job he decided to learn. His boss offered to teach Wolf how to change the brake pads. Wolf took the car down to his boss’ house and within hours the brake pads were fixed for a fraction of the price. Normally it costs around $100 to bring the car down to the mechanic to have the brakes done. Wolf had the whole project done for $50 plus the cost of gas to get to his boss’ house.

The bathroom drain was another big job. Between his hairiness and mine, he felt calling the plumber to clean the gross drain wasn’t really an option due to our low, low budget. Wolf took a page out of The Greenist’s book by pouring baking soda and peroxide down the drain, leaving it over night, then flushing with boiling water. The hair bubbled up to the top so he just pulled the small effigy out of the drain and threw it away. Then he flushed, flushed, flushed with water until it went down without issue.

Wolf has said more than once he feels like he’s been duped. None of these projects are particularly difficult though they can be time consuming. I think the “duping” is a combination of things. First, there’s fear. Fear that you’ll do it wrong and something with break and be more expensive to fix and/or someone else will die because “he did it at home.” Second I think to hire someone to fix the bike, brakes, or drains is a way to show wealth. After all, you need money to hire someone else. And since we’re all about saving money, we’re learning how to do these things ourselves!


  1. kudos to him! i’m not very handy, but that doesn’t mean i can’t be, right??

    August 25th, 2011 at 11:57 am
    Comment by jorjiapeach
  2. And good for you (or Wolf, really.) The sense of accomplishment we can get from taking care of things ourselves is usually worth what we would have paid someone else anyway. I keep meaning to learn how to take care of car stuff, but I’m fairly handy otherwise.

    August 25th, 2011 at 12:00 pm
    Comment by mickey
  3. Re plugged drains, I learned a trick from a plumber: when using a plunger, instead of trying to force the blockage down through the pipe, plunge UP. Let the sink fill with water, carefully place the plunger over the drain and gently push down to empty the plunger cup of air, then tug up on the plunger handle. It may take a couple of times to get the hang of this and to produce results.

    August 25th, 2011 at 3:09 pm
    Comment by Abby
  4. It’s definitely not a show of wealth for me when I hire someone — but you’re right about the fear. I am always afraid that I’m going to screw something up royally, which is why I don’t often tinker much with my car or anything electrically charged. Fortunately my husband is braver than I would rather do something himself than be charged out the wazoo.

    August 25th, 2011 at 3:38 pm
    Comment by The Modern Gal
  5. Good job Wolf!

    I agree with MG – when we break down and hire someone, it’s not because we want to throw money around. It’s because I know from experience that we’re not super handy when it comes to big tasks and if we reach too far, we’ll end up costing ourselves more than we would have if we hired someone to begin with. But if you’re handy or have friends with knowhow, that is a great way to go!

    Abby – LOVE that tip!

    August 25th, 2011 at 10:08 pm
    Comment by Allie
  6. Thanks for all the lovely comments everyone and for the great plumbing trick, Abby!

    My grandfather, being a firefighter, was often thought to be very handy around the house but he wasn’t. Plumbing, electrical, roofing, all these things were unknown to my grandfather. Often my grandparents hired someone to fix things around the house.

    Fast forward a few years. My dad decides he’s going to fix the roof of the house. He gets up on the ladder and realizes he’s afraid of heights. He gets stuck on the roof. The only thing that’ll get him down is my mother threatening to call the fire department (the one my grandfather was on) to get him down.

    After that, Dad always paid someone to fix things around the house.

    It seems the skills to fix stuff are taught from parent to child. But if your parent never learned them than s/he can’t teach those skills. This is the problem Wolf has had. So he’s teaching himself and learing to get over the fear.

    August 26th, 2011 at 7:16 am
    Comment by Howling Hill
  7. [...] me how the brakes work after you step on the pedal. Now I have a better understanding of them and feel confident to do them myself next time. By the way, the pads were only [...]

    September 22nd, 2011 at 5:56 am
    Pingback by Gaining DIY Confidence

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