Working On Things Other Than Cars

We spend a lot of time with our cars, making them better or just fixing things that need attention.  But what else do we find ourselves fixing?

When you are good with your hands, tools, and mechanical or electrical things, you are called on to fix stuff by family, friends, or just yourself.  You enjoy making the broken work again.  You enjoy the attention you get as “The Fixer” who can repair anything that is broken.  Your ingenuity is respected by all.  And it can be fun.

Here is one example of something useful that needed fixing:

“Uncle Bob,” the Gravely Tractor

An old friend had this 1972 Gravely around his shop, and we got it to use around our shop.  It needed a few things; Battery, front tires, balky starter and charging system, but in all Uncle Bob has been a wonderful asset to us.  We fabricated a push bar on the front for pushing cars, and he has a trailer ball on the back.  Starts first time, every time.

As this tractor is a “1972.” it was built to last.  The frame is big and strong, the engine is about 12 hp with lots of torque, and the transaxle has four ranges and a two-speed final drive.  He’s old and somewhat cranky, but Uncle Bob always comes through when we need him.

But if you are looking for fun and relaxation away from the car:

Steel Truck Restoration 

If you’re looking for something fun around the shop, try fixing/restoring old steel toy trucks, cars or machines.  There are a ton of videos on YouTube that detail what you need to do and how to do it.  If you have a blasting cabinet, a few basic tools and some patience, bringing one of these old toys back to like-new condition can be very rewarding.

Replacement parts are available online for most of the more popular brands.  Carefully disassemble, clean, paint or powder coat, and reassemble.  Quite nice for your shop displays.

Plastic Model Kits

For those of us who have been around the sun for many, many decades, we grew up on AMT, Monogram, Lindburg and Revel plastic model kits of cars, planes and other mechanical things.  We learned how engines worked with the “Visible V8.”  We built ’40 Ford Hotrod kits and learned the differences between flathead V8’s and OHV V8’s.  We saw how suspensions worked, and maybe even built a few with actual springs and steering.  The Monogram “Big T” was almost 17 inches long, 1/8 scale and had soft rubber tires and 203 pieces, 97 of the in Chrome.  And I had one.

Buy yourself a model kit and spend some time building it.  Really satisfying.  Don’t forget the different kinds of glues (liquid, gel, etc.) and ALL the colors of paint.  And brushes, including the really small ones.  And the toothpicks.  And paper towels.  You remember, don’t you?


No, not that kind of painting.  Not a spray-gun-and-primer-on-the-fender kind of painting, but the kind where you use a canvas and brushes and tubes of paint.  Yea, like Bob Ross painting.  We took up the hobby of ruining nice, white, clean canvas a few years ago, admittedly with mixed results.  The local hobby store has volunteer instructor who come in and teach, as well as bars who have “Paint Night” where you mix acrylic colors with wine or mixed drinks.  In a few hours you can create a nice painting of a landscape, seashore, forest, or flowers and have something that you can be proud of.  Check it out at Hobby Lobby, Micheals or others in your area.  (COVID has all but stopped the “Paint Night” events, but they should return soon.)

If you doubt your creativity, then maybe you should try “Adult Paint By Number.”  You find a photo that you like, send it off, and you get back a canvas with your photo superimposed on it with numbered areas for colors of paint.  You will be surprised how you can take your favorite photo of your car and make a great paint-by-number painting from it.

There are some things that cannot be fixed, though.

Our neighbor’s steer.  Couldn’t do anything to help with this one.

But we did take this nice photo, though.  If painting isn’t your thing, then grab your phone and go take some nice photos.  Or even some bad photos.  With our phones and their cameras, taking nice photos of nature, people, cars, architecture, or just anything that is fun and unusual is a great diversion.  There are plenty of phone apps that help you correct for lighting, contrast, color, and even add special effects.

Or take that perfect photo and make it into a paint-by-number.  Two birds.  One stone.


Doing something a little different as a diversion from life in general is a great thing.  Try it.






Author: Kevin Duffy, LLC, DeLand, FL

After retiring from a career in Law Enforcement, Kevin Duffy turned his attention to one of his passions, Porsche 944's and 924S's. He owns LLC in DeLand, FL, rescuing and restoring forgotten Porsches, bringing them back to a useful life. He is especially interested in the rare-but-beautiful 924S Special Edition. He can be found at Porsche Club events, including track days, tours and shows, as well as other car-focused events around the southeastern United States.

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