No words can describe the bizarre experience of scrounging in 100 degree heat, on the 42nd row, for a part that may not work; such is the U-Pull-And-Pay. The location in Albuquerque, NM challenges a body and soul at the harshest levels. This is a quick list of tips for the intrepid bargain-hunter, inspired by a recent quest for Ford 300 4.9l heads.
1. Bring a gallon and wear sunscreen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwVVpwBKUp0
2. Don't bring your tools in, at first. That junk is heavy! You are going walk around a lot to find the right part. Beyond fatigue, don't risk leaving them at the end of a row for some twack to pick up. Find what you want and come back with the right tools from your truck.
3. Bring all the tools. But leave them in your truck until you find out what you need.
4. All the tools includes: masking tape and marker, fuel-line disconnect tools, spark-plug sockets, paper rags (maybe gloves), penetrating oil, large and small adjusti-wrenches, channel-locks, and every damn extension you have. Maybe Band-Aids. A parasol is nice...
5. Come early. Those bastards are only open 9-5, when it's hottest. Don't risk leaving a pull at 90% for some to cherry-picker the next morning.
6. Hide stuff. Short on dough? Couldn't grab a wheelbarrow earlier? Need to piss? Gotta come back for the lifters and rods because you left a head 90% off at 5 o'clock? (see #5 and #8) Find a trunk that won't open without a screwdriver, or pull back the carpeting, or (I didn't say this) bend the latch shut.
7. Find stuff. Everyone else hides it in the aforementioned places. Also, the junk inside the cab can be a treasure trove- I found a wallet, a carabiner, and a ring for my girlfriend inside the same horrifically mangled mom-van!
8. Break stuff. Not on purpose, but think of it as a learning exercise when you break something in the yard instead of in the garage. And ain't nobody got time to treat plastic paneling right, anyhow...
9. Take stuff, ask forgiveness. Attach everything you can to the part you are paying for. The exhaust rail is part of the head, as well as the hoist mount, spark plugs, rockers, rods, springs, lifters, and every single bolt it took to get there (all for ~$40!). Mirrors come with the wiring (cut behind the harness link for both sides of the connector) and the control unit. If it doesn't fit the price list, it is pretty much free with qualified purchase. Most of the girls don't have the time to care when I'm pressing cash in their hands. If they want to charge, you can pay or give it back- but a little sweet talk goes a long way.
10. Sweet talk. Ask questions. Everyone is there to help.
11. Be nice, get nice. Other than the obvious tweakers, most people are out there to tool. I have trusted many tools to the man in the next aisle, and have received help in the same manner. It's hard pushing a hoist alone...
12. Take a break. Drink that gallon. Pretend you are on a road trip, and climb into a family van to munch some snacks and play with your phone. Or cruise in a tinted Caddy, and pretend the car-phone still works when you call Vinny for more party favors...
13. Find the right part. See #2 and #3. Walking around will be the best strategy to find a good condition part. Simply pulling spark plugs can tell you almost everything. Know the signs of wear for what you seek. Don't settle for something as bad as what you are replacing. Remember: you can buy and try in the parking lot if you can get the vehicle there.
14. Dream. Did you know '81ish Lincolns have a thermometer embedded in the driver's side mirror? 'Cause it is gonna look great on my '40's cab for $15. "New Yorker" rear passenger lights? Please! Whack-attack Chrysler fin-tail lights for my flatbed? At $30 a pop, I will sell them on e-bay for double!
I hope my tips help guide someone through the Mad-Maxian landscape of the pull-your-own parking lots. Trust me on the sun-screen and water, if nothing else. Probably not a very comprehensive or comprehendible list, but I have to get back to drowning the heat out of of my body with cold beer. Here's to praying for reliability from mangled junk!
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