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Author Topic: When does the amount of work in a project make it unrealistic to do it yourself?  (Read 1107 times)
RickB
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« on: April 27, 2012, 05:47:18 AM »

Good morning gang,

My hands hurt, my back hurts, I'm sore in biblical places after the main air tank replacement on my 9. So, if the estimate to replace the tank was at $1500 without the removal of most of my sewer system and without the unforeseen issues I'm thinking this would have approached the $2500-3000 range before it was all said and done so I feel pretty good about doing it myself but it gets a person wondering at 50 just how long am I going to be able to safely get the tires on and off my bus and lift starters and air tanks into place (I used a jack to hold it there but it has to be lifted onto the jack) add to that the danger factor of a bus in the air and the 100 ways you can get hurt and I start thinking this might be as big a motivator to getting rid of the bus as the price of fuel or the devaluation of the rig. I knew what I was getting into in buses but I was 10 years younger and the cost of fuel hadn't made the option of taking it to the shop so unrealistic. My bus is worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $35k and I have way more than that in it like all of you but to spend 10% of it's perceived worth to replace an air tank? Just get's me scratching my head and wondering if it's all worth it sometimes.

RB
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bevans6
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« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2012, 06:03:02 AM »

That's a personal question and one that will be different for everyone.  I like to work on things, as long is it's not a house reno it doesn't seem to matter what...  I don't know when my personal pain point will arrive, but the bottom line is not money, it's satisfaction value.  It's not that money isn't important, but I'm going to spend money to entertain myself regardless - if I spend $1500 on the bus do I get more out of it than spending $1500 to visit Disneyworld for 5 days, or to have high speed internet for a year, or to get the tires changed on my wife's car, or to get the brakes fixed on my truck so it passes the annual inspection?  For pure entertainment, so far the bus wins so it gets the discretionary spending.  It's my hobby, therefor by definition doesn't have to make sense.

Brian
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1980 MCI MC-5C, 8V-71T from a M-110 self propelled howitzer
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Tom & Phyllis
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« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2012, 06:33:25 AM »

Why do you think we're called "NUTS"?

TOM
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lostagain
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« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2012, 07:04:24 AM »

Brian said it quite well. It is not the money, it is the satisfaction of doing it, and then to drive it, use it with the new, fixed items. When the pleasure of doing it runs out, move on to something else.

JC
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JC
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Brassman
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« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2012, 07:06:29 AM »

Fifty is the youth of old age, and from there, gravity only gets stronger.

I'm with Brian. Got to have a hobby. Don't like working on houses (something which I do all the time.) Working on the bus makes me smile.  Smiley
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Geoff
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« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2012, 07:26:46 AM »

I order to do heavy work on your bus you need:

1.  The proper tools to get the job done without risking safety and most importantly to do the heavy work.

2.  Beer is also necessary to get you through the boring part.

3.  Don't do #2 if it increases your risk.

4.  Forget the whole thing if it is too challenging for you.  There are a lot more unfinished conversions than finished conversions out there, and I have seen a lot of poor conversion work because the people did not have the talent or money to do a good job.  Or if your rich you can be a "checkbook converter" and pay to have the work done.

On a personal note, I am a diesel mechanic so I'm not afraid to tackle anything.  Plus after spending the last 12 years converting my bus I have learned a hell of lot about plumbing, electrical, insulation, and building cabinets, etc.  I've done all the work on my bus except painting it. 

And once you're done (or almost done) you can take great pleasure in using your conversion and having everything work right, and knowing if anything goes wrong you know exactly how to fix it.

--Geoff
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Geoff
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« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2012, 08:09:39 AM »

to answer your original post... i think it depends upon how much cubic money you have...
in my case, when i was 34 or so, i was in a bad accident, so i went back and got 4 more college degrees. didnt stop the pain any, but was able to work inside for 20 years. 
I thought pain was bad at age 50, now at 67, i have arthur lurking in most of the joints.....
but that doesn't stop working as much as i can...

If i had lots of cash, i would just buy a new entertainer type coach and relax...
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Oonrahnjay
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« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2012, 08:19:41 AM »

    The above posters have added good info, but there is another factor for me -- time.  I'm almost 64, living on a "limited income" so money is tight, but if I don't get this thing finished fairly soon, I'll drive it away for the first time only to park it as I get too old to enjoy it. 

    So, there's a balance between money, skills, satisfaction, and time.  I chose to pay a "pro shop" to install my generator and inverter (no time to learn those skills) and a cabinet shop to build my drawer fronts (3/8" is a good gap in the seams of my woodwork); it didn't cost a lot but it took BIG TIME out of my project.  All the body work I'm doing, the other interior work I'm doing myself (with help from a welder who's better than I am -- i.e *any* welder).  But it's a balance.

     And there's so much to do.  I jokingly say "If I'd known that it would be 1/20 of the work or 1/10 the cost, I'd never have started" (but I don't mean it).  I also say "This is my one and only bus" (I mean that).  But, man, I love this thing and working on it.
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Bruce H; Wallace (near Wilmington) NC
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bevans6
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« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2012, 08:23:40 AM »

I had another thought prompted by Brassman: "Fifty is the youth of old age, and from there, gravity only gets stronger."  Fifty (I am going to be 55 this year) is the youth of old age, but it's also the old age of youth.  It's a point of change, in other words, at least I found it so.  I have definitely felt the last few years a whole lot more than the decades that preceded them.  I find that now I need to think and plan a bit more - use a few more levers: where I used to just pick up engine blocks now I might reach for a hoist...  I very much am taking things at a more measured pace - slower maybe, but smarter and I get there in the end all the same!

Brian
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1980 MCI MC-5C, 8V-71T from a M-110 self propelled howitzer
Spicer 8844 4 speed Zen meditation device
Vintage race cars -
1978 Lola T440 Formula Ford
1972 NTM MK-4 B/SR
Uglydog56
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« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2012, 09:11:09 AM »

I think first you have to realistically analyze your skillset and determine if you have the ability to do the work.  Then look at your tools etc and make sure you have the right things to do the work, or they are within the realm of affordability.  Then you get the estimate (as you did) and balance it against the value of your time.  For example I have assistant baseball coaching, a sometimes demanding job, a wife and an upcoming cross-country move driving up the cost of my time.  So I've been farming out a few more things then I normally would.  If I was fixed income and semi- or fully retired, my time wouldn't be worth as much, so I would do more work myself.  But I am not good with wood, so that gets farmed out no matter what.
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Rick A. Cone
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bigjohnkub
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« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2012, 10:51:18 AM »

When you get back from Disneyland, you still have to fix the bus. Just sayin....

Big John
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Utahclaimjumper
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« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2012, 10:54:16 AM »

 You 50s are discusting to we 70s,, and we've been thru it many times.>>>Dan
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Utahclaimjumper 
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« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2012, 12:19:18 PM »

I laugh a lot, I started the MCI 7 at age 45, by time I got to 66, I had had the most fun playing motors, transmissions, race trucks on mtns, but all joy.  in between at age 54 I had a stroke, that was a game changer, but I kept playing bus until I no longer could crawl under it while smiling. 
I than sold/gave it away and bought a late model Foretravel with the ISM500, it is not near the MCI7 with a strung out 8V-92 (580+ HP) but it does better than other RV coachs on the mtns, so now at 70, I keep the business going and play RV when I feel like it.  Key to me is keep it fun. Eventually money is less important and happiness is more important
Dave
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MCI7 20+ Yrs
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dukegrad98
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« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2012, 12:23:33 PM »

I'm coming at this from my mid-30s, so a bit of a different perspective.  My issue is time.  I'm in the middle of a career that keeps me at the office long after dark, and a lot more than five days a week.  Of course, a result of all that work is that I can be a "checkbook converter" for some of the stuff I want to do to the bus, and do some of the fun parts myself.

I didn't have to start from scratch -- I bought a bus that was already well-converted (thanks, Bob and Judy!).  So I'm calling it a "bus remodel" project, and I'm finding a balance by doing the parts I enjoy myself, then outsourcing the stuff I can't do or don't have any interest in learning.  For me, that means I'm doing a lot of the mechanical stuff on my own.  I have already built the diesel generator set to replace a gasoline unit that is in place.  Soon I'll weld up the new fuel tank.  I already did a good bit of the demolition of interior areas that I am changing.  I'll wire wheel and then paint areas of bare steel that I've found with some surface rust.

I am *not* building new cabinets, running new AC and DC wiring, replacing rotted-out subflooring, laying new floors, etc.  Those are areas I don't know much about, and which will be nicer and safer by outsourcing that work to professionals.  As I sit here at my desk, that work is already underway.  I'm looking forward to having her (re)finished and on the road.

Cheers, John
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rusty
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« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2012, 01:31:18 PM »

Rick hang in there. When I did our first bus I was in my fourties. I could be at work for 10 hours and come home and work for another 8 most days and weekends. It took me 5 years to finish the bus. I am now in my sixties and can't work those hours any more. I can still go 10 or 12 with not as much fisical labor at work ( mostly stay in the office these days). The thing that keeps me going is I love to come home from work go to the shop turn on the radio and do what I want to do. ( tear things apart and see if I can get them bach together and work on Eagle busses) The second bus ( and the boss says the last) is about 5 years into a 10 year project. I spend more time figuring ways to do thing as my back is not what it use to be, but that adds another level of fun. I have never taken drugs but think I get the same high when I finish a project. I will always do as much as I can I think it keeps you younger and gives you something to look forward to.

Wayne
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bobofthenorth
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« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2012, 02:35:51 PM »

Unless you're going to buy new and stay in warranty I don't see how anyone can own any metal toy without planning to work on it at some time.  Even if you plan to farm out all your work there will come a time when something breaks at 0:dark:30 and mama isn't interested in waiting until you can get a mechanic on scene.  Personally if I'm not under the gun I kind of like wrenching so its no big hardship but I feel the same arthritic pains that several others have referred to.  (I'm MUCH younger than them though - just prematurely arthritic I guess)

I think its more about adjusting your timeframe.  As long as there's an agenda it will feel like work.  If I've got time on my hands I can make an oil change last all day and it will never feel like work.  Working smarter not harder seems to come with age.  I used to take pride in how much I could lift; now I take pride in how much I can get done with little physical effort.  As far as lifting starters goes - get an MT39 and you will be able to lift two of them with one hand.   Grin
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R.J.(Bob) Evans
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« Reply #16 on: April 28, 2012, 05:53:31 AM »

The pain of doing it yourself is often not as great as the anger and frustration of paying some careless idiot to do it for you.
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MEverard
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« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2012, 06:00:41 AM »

I am a General Contractor and own a cabinet shop. Before I bought the bus, I didn't like doing any projects for myself. I now enjoy doing the plumbing, electrical, woodworking, etc.. I am learning to work on the bus mechanics out of necessity. I agree with bobofthenorth, you must be able to do some repairs yourself. I think that routine maintenance is a must by the owner. I want to know that everytime I get behind the wheel that I believe my bus is ready, and safe, and not because someone told me so. I am still young enough to do most of the work myself. However, I am also smart enough to know when it's time to yield to the professionals.

Good Luck,

Mike
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Mike Everard
1960 GMC PD4104-4520
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