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Living Simply means Getting Your Hands Dirty

In this age of instant, life like, hands free, digital, better than yesterday, time saving, fuel efficient, increased productivity, lower carbon footprint, twitter filler, and facebook friends living simply can be anything but simple.  You are confronted daily by the temptation of easier living through modern technology which ironically takes so much time to manage you run out of free time to ponder loftier non-technological pursuits.

Part of our simplification includes a move towards self sufficiency.  As a live aboard sailor, self sufficiency becomes a merit badge we wear with pride.  I can think of few other pursuits where the ability to maintain your vessel and its numerous systems results in the ability to go anywhere and live anywhere.

Taking that to the next obvious level, I’m ‘trying’ to stop being a disposable consumer and own products that I can fix and maintain.  Buying the 1999 Chevy Diesel Suburban was a move in that direction.

While there are reasonable limitations to my ability to maintain our possessions, I am a fairly handy guy and enjoy both learning about how things work and taking things apart and putting them back together.  As an added bonus, most of the time they actually work when I put them back together.

Since our trip out to Tucson in the Suburban it seems I will perpetually have grease under my fingernails.  I knew the 4×4 Suburban with a 6.5l turbo diesel was on the cheap side and suffered from deferred maintenance.  It’s a BIG SUV with BIG, HEAVY parts.  When we bought the car in Jacksonville, Florida I took it in to have 4 new tires installed and aligned.  The front end bushings and bearings were so worn they couldn’t align the wheels, so we sprang for an expensive repair and had the front end rebuilt.  I knew we were embarking on some serious highway miles.  With Emma James and Hil being pregnant I needed to make sure the Suburban would be mechanically reliable to get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ safely.  The new tires, front end rebuild, a new oil line, and a oil change basically doubled the cost of the vehicle for us within 2 weeks.

There is a price to pay for deferred maintenance.

You can pay now, or you can pay later- but you’re gonna pay!

Within the first month of owning the Suburban I’ve replaced:

  • fuel solenoid
  • starter (twice)
  • air filter (basic maintenance)
  • fuel filter (basic maintenance)

Since the trip out to Tucson I had to replace:

  • alternator
  • thermostats (yes, there are TWO thermostats in the SUV)
  • radiator reservoir tank
  • radiator cap
  • water pump
  • rear drum brake piston assembly
  • rear brake pads
  • water temp sensor

Coming back from what seems like the daily trip to the auto parts store, my Dad says, “You should get rid of this car, it’s constantly breaking down.”  The good news, the Suburban has yet to strand us anywhere.  I’m making these repairs either just in time or in an effort to AVOID being stranded.  Part of getting ahead of the maintenance game is investing in your possessions as valuable objects that deserve your time and energy to continue to perform reliably.

But the funnier part, I can’t sell the car- I’m running out of things to fix!

You know an ICE COLD draft beer in Mexico is a very affordable price of approximately $1.25! Click Here to Buy Us a Beer.

9 comments to Living Simply means Getting Your Hands Dirty

  • big cheese

    Wouldn’t you know it, the same day I post this I have to replace the air filter!

    Add it to the list…

  • mk

    “The good news, the Suburban has yet to strand us anywhere” Did you forget the day at the post office in Brunswick??? : > ) Take care, mk

  • joey presnell

    Your truck sounds like my boat. When I went to Galveston, Tx to buy it i knew there would be lots of work to do to the boat to get it ready to cross the gulf and bring it back to Georgetown, Sc. Four days after staying on the boat I kept smelling diesel. I traced it to the front fuel tank. I fired up the engine turned the fuel valve to the back tank for the engine to return fuel to it because the front was full.
    Three and half hours later engine was over heating. The inspection hole on the front was leaking fuel. Later I figured out there was no return line from the front tank to the engine. It went through 2 1/2 gallons of coolant in the 3 1/2 hours. I was mad. It was a freshly rebuilt perkins 4107.
    I had it out with the owner and told him I would fix the engine myself at cost and take it off the purchase price. That worked out fine but like your truck it needed a lot more attention in the greasy and texas heat.
    Us boat people are a special breed. You have to know or learn how to work on everything. I’m glad y’all have had a safe trip and hope you like your new boat. That suburban sounds like its ready for lots of miles. I wish I was over there. Maybe next year. Great fishing

  • Damon B

    If you sell it, what else are you going to buy? At this point, I say you should at least ride out the repairs you’ve done. Maybe you can find a good junk yard near the boat in Mexico and stop paying retail.

  • big cheese

    Yeah- We’re not selling anytime soon. Besides it’s the perfect Mexico vehicle. Outside a little beat up, paint peeling, but the engine runs good and it’s 4 wheel drive.

    Ironically, in Tucson and in Mexico they don’t have junk yards as we know it in the south. I’m used to wandering through a pull-a-part junk yard with some tools and pulling parts for a few bucks a piece. Old cars run forever in the dry Arizona and Mexican climate. We went out to find some misc. plastic knobs and trim pieces and they wanted near retail for them!

    I’m hitting pull-a-part in Atlanta when we pass through!

  • big cheese

    You can’t know everything, but I like being as self sufficient as I can. Besides, you can never stop learning.



  • big cheese

    Lucky for us it was just in Brunswick and not in the middle of No-where-ville, Texas at three in the morning! Thanks for all your help!


  • Jack

    I use amd
    The first for my 1988 GMC Suburban 350 and the second for
    my F350 PowerStroke Turbo Diesel for parts.
    Both companies have been good to me.

  • big cheese

    Thanks for the referrals!