Popular Mechanics (South Africa)

From the editor:

Skills developmen­t.


I’M FEELING QUITE accomplish­ed – this past weekend I achieved a lot. I carried out a service on Bubba, my 17-year-old Nissan Hardbody. He’s no longer under a service plan, so I like to do this type of work myself. (Usually with my dad’s oversight – if you’ve been reading Pop Mech for a while, you’ll know he’s a retired engineer, and I lean on him a lot for his wealth of technical knowledge.) I did all the usual stuff – drained and replaced the oil, changed the filters, assessed all the fluid levels, and completed a range of other checks. I also scanned the bodywork for corrosion, which is when I discovered one of the roll bars required some urgent rust-removal work – just the scenario I needed… I’ll explain why.

I recently decided to learn two new skills – how to weld, and how to sew with a sewing machine. While very different to each other, they’re both equally useful in life. (Especially if a digital apocalypse were to strike.) Finding rust on my bakkie’s roll bar presented the ideal situation for my first lesson in the basics of welding, in a one-on-one lesson with my dad. Let’s just say that I have a long way to go, but I’ve now gained a little experience in metal arc welding, while attaching a few curved pieces of steel to the base of Bubba’s roll bar. Welding’s challengin­g – kudos to the experts out there – gaining consistenc­y, accuracy and flow in how the electrode melts is going to take hours of practise, but I’m determined to improve. Fortunatel­y I’m not too precious about how the roll bar looks; all I care about is that the rust’s been removed, and that it’s stronger than ever.

Next it was my mom’s turn as my skills adviser. Several weeks ago, I attacked an old pair of jeans with scissors, to fashion tough work shorts for hot-weather DIY. The fraying hems were becoming a problem, so after the bakkie work was completed, I settled in at my mom’s sewing machine for an introducto­ry lesson. With her at my shoulder sharing hints and tips, I added a simple zigzag thread pattern to the shorts’ hemline. My work certainly won’t win any awards, but I got a feel for the machine’s pedal and needle action (without puncturing myself), and the fraying is solved, for now.

I’m motivated to dedicating the rest of 2021 to learning new and functional skills, and to broadening my knowledge about how to fix things that we usually pay others to repair. I’d love to hear some of your suggestion­s – drop me an email at popularmec­hanics@ ramsaymedi­a.co.za.


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