Do you do all your own build labor?

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Dilldog

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Try not to worry about how others structure their build, do what you are comfortable with and can afford.
That said I will say anyone going into the back country should push themselves to do as much as possible, then more when it comes to maintaining equipment. This will teach you needed skills to keep stuff going and to know when it's time to turn back.
As for me, I literally do all my own work. But I'm a professional mechanic and worked in aviation fabrication. So I'm a bad example, lol.
 

Dilldog

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advantage of wheeling an older truck- you can do the work yourself, no interface needed
labor costs can buy you a lot of parts instead
Also with old trucks it's getting hard to find good mechanics in shops anymore. Some schools aren't even teaching carburetor or mechanical diesel injection anymore.
 
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tjZ06

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Oh man I just started reading (from the end) and that is rough. It's also exactly why I decided to go cheap (I was _this_ close to purchasing a brand new Tacoma); I thought if I can pay cash for something cheap and it blows up on me then at least it will only sting for a little bit. At the same time, looking at the rest of your post really makes me feel that bug to dive in and learn and do.

I've spent a lot of the afternoon watching some videos on how to replace suspension and lift 2nd gen Xterras. It actually looks pretty fun and doable, even for a newbie like myself. Parts plus a couple tools I don't have (like jack stands... yup, I'm THAT green...) and I could probably actually do it!

I think the lesson I'm going to take away from your experience is that I shouldn't touch any component that I'm not willing to pay to have a pro replace for me if I screw it up. Even if it seems totally unlikely and even if all is done correctly (as was your case), if it's too critical or more than a simple lift-and-bolt job then I'll probably stay away and leave it to the pros.
If you check my thread, the good news is it runs again!

-TJ
 

Flipper

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I would rather do the work myself, then you know it done correctly. From my experience there are very few good mechanics and lots of bad ones just like in any other profession. I went to one shop in my area to get an est. on some pretty simple fab work. If it didn’t bolt on they wouldn’t touch it.
 
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Slowone

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l do all my own work , just not sure if i am ready to drill the top of my jeep for a rack yet makes me uneasy not sure why ???
 
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Billiebob

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to learn how to do all my own maintenance
I did this for a bit then I learned a licensed mechanic can be worth his weight in gold. Even oil changes the guy I use includes a full mechanical inspection every time. Brakes, steering, u-joints, knuckles, lighting, charging, battery, coolant, codes checking, ..... as a result I have not had a break down in 30 years. And I drive old vehicles. My TJR is 15 years old, 240K miles. From these forums most guys who have lists of parts to carry also do thier own maintenance but they do it in reaction to a broken part, preventative maintenance and inspections will mean you will not need to carry a parts store when overlanding. Of course if you are a mechanic.... but if you are a mechanic you'd not be asking the question.

On mods, I do all my own but if I need welding, I take the project to a welding shop. Same with tires, a retail tire shop does all my tire work including tire rotations since they also check/inspect many other components. They have caught alignment problems before the tires were ruined. Delaminating treads before I had a blow out. Routine things are best handled by the pros. Fabbing overlanding stuff which takes time and thought is a process which can become exponentially expensive when hired out. If you are handy and intelligent building your own is often only affordable done in the driveway. Many overlanding components are just bolt on and include good instructions.
 
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Billiebob

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l do all my own work , just not sure if i am ready to drill the top of my jeep for a rack yet makes me uneasy not sure why ???
Measure twice, fit it measure twice again, stand back, eyeball it, photo it, mark it and drill.

I failed to do the stand back and eyeball it and discovered the TJ top is tapered, to get the racks level the rear rack mounts need to be 4" closer together than the front rack mounts..... hence the extra bolts.... to plug the wrong holes. Hardly an issue tho, Nut, Bolt, dab of silicone.

DSC_0002.jpg
 
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leeloo

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What ever you decide, I would advise you to try to do the electrical work or at least learn as much as possible about it . It is the one thing who can stop you dead in the water.. You can limp back home or at least to a shop with most mechanical issues. .. with electrical issues you are dead stop or worse.... Try to do it yourself and than have it checked by a shop or a mate with knowledge.. or at least watch the shop do it and ask many questions... :)
 

CHAURY08

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I do my own work on my truck to an extent. Most everything you can find a similar tutorial on youtube or forums. I even learned how to solder wires when I installed a front camera and anytime on rear camera. I have no mechanical background that relates to cars and the job normally takes me twice as long but you learn from your mistakes. Everything on my truck except welding I have done. I do plan to start practicing welding for future mods but that wont be for a little while. Start with smaller projects and work your way up. Ask a friend to hang out while you do it for an extra set of hands and eyes. Best thing about doing it yourself is the feeling that you did it and not paid someone to do it for you.
 
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bgenlvtex

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When something breaks (and it will) familiarity is everything.

Barring things requiring specialty equipment far and away exceeding the value of the work, I do it myself.
 

Old Griz

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So I recently purchased my 05 Xterra and while I'd like to use it as a platform to learn how to do all my own maintenance, I'm more eager to get out and see some trails. It seems like pretty much everyone online does their own work and I'm wondering if that's just my perception or if it is actually true? I always imagined I would do my own simple maintenance and mods (some lights, some electrical, accessories, etc) but leave the big stuff like bumpers, lifts, etc. to professionals. Is my approach unrealistic? Is it just going to cause me headaches when/if things break down on the trail?
Sounds like you are on the right track.
Stop by almost any auto parts store and buy a Haynes and an OBD2 scan tool. The most mechanically reclined person can do a heck of a lot more than they think they can.
The investment of $100~$175 will pay for itself the first time that you you don't have to pay a stealership $350 just to have them tell you that your gas cap was loose
 
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The other Sean

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As I age and (in theory) become more financially secure / responsible, this is not such a black and white answer. When I was young and broke, I had no choice but also had the body to do it. Now, doing major work requires a few days physical recovery as well as I am starting to not enjoy "fixing" vehicles and prefer to "tinker" on them.
 

JimBill

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As I age and (in theory) become more financially secure / responsible, this is not such a black and white answer. When I was young and broke, I had no choice but also had the body to do it. Now, doing major work requires a few days physical recovery as well as I am starting to not enjoy "fixing" vehicles and prefer to "tinker" on them.
Well said. I very much enjoy the planning, engineering, and tuning but no longer care for the heavy lifting. Skill, budget, tools, facilities, urgency, my mood, professional workload, the weather..... all come into play.
But there is one reason I still wrench a little more than I'd like- I'm particular. Sometimes I just have to do it myself to get the results I expect. Finding a trustworthy mechanic, especially for custom work, can be difficult at best.
 
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huachuca

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As I age and (in theory) become more financially secure / responsible, this is not such a black and white answer. When I was young and broke, I had no choice but also had the body to do it. Now, doing major work requires a few days physical recovery as well as I am starting to not enjoy "fixing" vehicles and prefer to "tinker" on them.
This

I grew up on a farm in the 50s-60s and learned the basics early on. Over the years, I turned my share of wrenches, First, because I didn't have the money to pay someone else and later because I enjoyed it. At my current age, its just not that much fun anymore and I no longer have the desire to push my equipment to its limits. Plus, I've found a local shop owner I actually trust (his grandfather was the head mechanic at the local Chevy dealer and helped me shoehorn a sbc into a FJ40 in 74.

Al
 

RoarinRow

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Can only do basic stuff. Everything else I bring to the shop. Sooooo if my rig was to actually break down on the trail, I'm actually SOL. Chances that would be another 02 2500hd on the same trail as me would be slim to none lol.
 
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Old Griz

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Can only do basic stuff. Everything else I bring to the shop. Sooooo if my rig was to actually break down on the trail, I'm actually SOL. Chances that would be another 02 2500hd on the same trail as me would be slim to none lol.
Two things I never go without on a trip is a Haynes repair manual as well as a OBD2 scanner.
 

RoarinRow

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Two things I never go without on a trip is a Haynes repair manual as well as a OBD2 scanner.
I have a ScanGuageII always plugged in, but it's nothing without the net to understand the code or the manual. Funny thing is that I had the manual, but got accidentally sold at one of our last garage sales lol.
 

MidOH

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You need to know your truck. The easiest way is to build it yourself.

I do suspension myself. You absolutely should do most of this yourself, as this is a tricky area. I allow good tuners to give me a custom shock valving. If it's not quite right, I'll retune the shocks myself by tuning the shim stacks.

Tires, brakes, rotations are done myself. I drop my wheels off loose.

Batteries, lights, winches, alternator, and starters are all done myself.

Axles, I go to a known good axle guy for gears and lockers.

Steering box, pitman arm, power steering pump, are all components you need to understand.

If you can't do it yourself, I'd limit my travel to reflect such. Don't go places where your suspension is going to fail, or the trucks has a risk of under body damage.

Also get an engine creeper, those weird ladder creeper things that allow you to lay down OVER your engine. Every single part in your engine bay requires hands on attention. Easiest way to to organize that? Hand clean every single checked part. If it's dirty, service it. They don't hand polish the bottom of race cars between races to keep them pretty.
 

Old Griz

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[QUOTE="MidOH, post: 430340, member: 40547

If you can't do it yourself, I'd limit my travel to reflect such. Don't go places where your suspension is going to fail, or the trucks has a risk of under body damage.

I have to disagree a bit. Pushing the limits is how one grows both as a driver and fabricator. I'm not saying be stupid and take a CRV to Moab.
 
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