With the way a lot of today’s culture is going, I feel it is pushing a lot more people to the “bought” way of acquiring tools, parts, and completing projects. Sometimes even to the point where they are forking over huge amounts of money (or buying it on a purchase plan; horrible idea to do this especially if it is a toy and not a tool you need, but that’s a topic for another day). Now, yes, for some of us this is great because it is bringing in huge jobs into our shops across the country. However, what happens when something breaks? That is where I start to have an issue with buying everything brand new.
So, since we all love our project trucks, or at least have a love/hate relationship with them, let us dive into built vs bought in reference to our rigs. I started off like a lot of you, where I was my own guinea pig. I sat there and taught myself, and when I was lucky enough, was able to get Ron on the phone (the guy who introduced me to welding and fabrication). But a lot of the time it was just me, alone, in my little 10’x20’ shop, pulling my hair out trying to figure out what is going wrong and having no idea what was going right. For me that is how I learn. I need to know the reason behind why something is working. And even though sometimes I might lose my patience with trying to figure this out, in the end - once I understand it - I am further ahead then when I started. Which is good. This builds confidence, saves me money, and in my case has now afforded me to have a living doing what I love to do.
Now what if I bought everything, and bolted it all together? In some cases, you have to do this. I don’t care who you are or what you say, there will come a time when buying is always better then building. I have yet to meet someone who has cut a set of gears for their 14 bolt and said it was cheaper and faster then ordering them or picking them up from some guy you met on Craigs List. And to be honest, all of the brackets I have in my shop I buy; this saves me a ton of time and money making them myself. But what I am referring to is this. People who sit there and buy turn key rigs and don’t understand how it all works. This, in my opinion, is a horrible idea if you are going to use it for what it was intended for. (i.e. If you sit there and buy a rock bouncer from Tim Cameron, or you have someone like Jimmy’s 4x4 build you an Ultra 4 car). Yes, these rigs will last a long long time especially if you use them only for weekend wheeling. But in the end, you will push the rig until something happens; either you get scared and find your limit or you find the limit of some of the parts in that rig.
If you can limp back to the trailer, ok fine. But what if you are by yourself, or you have a friend in another rig that’s good with repairs but is completely unfamiliar with your rig? How do you get it off the trail, how do you get it repaired? Sure, you can bring it back to the shop that built it for you but that’s not going to be cheap. And then you have to pour more money into it etc. etc.
This is why I always, always try to educate our customers with why and how we build them their projects; everything from roll cages to repairs at a fish farm that we just quoted out. Every time we sit there and do work for a customer, even if they know their stuff, we take the time to explain our methods, processes and materials selected. This way if something happens and they can’t get back home fast enough, or they need to make changes, repairs or modifications to the work we did, they have an idea of where to start and what they can or can’t do. All depending on their skill levels.
This is the same for you dudes and dudettes at home building your rigs. Do your research, search the internet for good used parts, invest in yourself and learn a new skill. Because at the end of the day investing in yourself will always pay off.
Cheers, stay focused