Self Sufficiency Requires Knowledge, Tools and Parts
By: Tom Chatham
When most people think of self sufficiency they think of seeds, garden tools and canning jars but there is a lot more to consider. Being self sufficient also means you must build and fix things yourself to a large degree. It is easy today to take your problems to someone else and have them fix them for a fee but the day may come when you either cannot find someone to do the work or you cannot afford to pay them for the work. True self sufficiency means you must become a jack of all trades to get by with the least expense.
A few weeks ago I had a flat tire on one of the trucks. When I went to inflate it I discovered the problem was a broken valve stem. Under normal circumstances this would require a trip to the local garage. In my case, I simply removed the wheel from the truck, put it on my manual tire changer and broke the bead. Then I looked through my cabinet of small repair parts and pulled out a new valve stem. I removed the broken stem, inserted the new stem with my valve stem puller and re-inflated the tire and put it back on the truck. This all took about half an hour. A major problem was reduced to a minor inconvenience. Just this week I rebuilt the carburetor on another truck.
When something you need is broken you can either replace it or fix it. Fixing it will require knowledge and parts provided by you or someone else. If someone else does it that is going to cost you. Have you ever noticed that someone else’s time is always more expensive than your time? To pay for this repair you will have to earn money to pay for it. Money is usually harder to come by these days than time so fixing it yourself is usually the preferred method if you have the skills and tools.
Over the years I have had various jobs that allowed me to build up a variety of tools. I have a good mechanics tool box with many specialty tools. I have carpentry tools and basic garden tools. I even have a hydraulic press to make hydraulic hoses. I have soldering guns, a mig welder and even a tube tester to fix old radios and TV’s. I don’t mention these to brag but to make a point. Not only do I have tools and knowledge to aid in becoming self sufficient but I also have resources to use for trade with others should it become necessary.
If you are self sufficient or on the way to it you will likely have a number of tools and machines to aid you in daily activities. If one or more of these machines becomes inoperable, can you fix it? If you are cut off from normal repair facilities you will either have to fix it somehow or do without. Nobody can do everything but the more you can do the more self sufficient you will actually be.
Being self sufficient means having knowledge, tools and repair parts. Knowledge can be procured or from your library of technical and repair manuals. Tools will likely be limited to your capabilities but looking ahead and buying specialty tools for future use is always encouraged. Repair parts are one area that few people think about until it is too late. Fixing a leaky faucet is simple unless you do not have a new washer to put in. In a national or worldwide crisis, you may not have the ability to run down to the local hardware store and buy the parts you need so you need to think ahead and store some of those small inexpensive parts now while they are cheap and plentiful.
I had to order the carb rebuild kit I needed but in a crisis I might not be able to do that so I may stock an extra one for future use now that I’m thinking about it. Even if I don’t use it I may be able to sell or trade it to someone in the future that is desperate for one.
When you think of self sufficiency you need to think about all of the little things that can cause things to come to a sudden halt for want of a few small parts. Simply having some selected parts in stock as well as things such as tape, glue, solder, JB Weld, grease or oil can make future problems much smaller.
Look at all of the things you depend on and study them one at a time to determine what might break on them and make a list of parts you might want to keep on hand. One thing I find handy are the little boxes of parts such as cotter pins, fuses, roll pins and springs that I bought from Harbor Freight. I may only open those boxes once a year but when I need a small part that broke, it saves me much time and money being able to fix it on the spot. That carb I fixed needed a new return spring and I had one in one of those boxes. A screw also broke off in that carb and I had to drill it out fill the hole and retap it. I did that without having to leave the house and that carb works great now.
The more you work around the house the easier it is to acquire these skills and tools. Someone who depends on others to do these jobs now will find it difficult to plan ahead for the day when they must do it themselves. The best time to start learning is today while you still have time to get the knowledge, tools and parts while they are still available. For those of us who can only afford old worn out equipment, it is second nature to learn how to fix it yourself. Being rich has it’s advantages but being poor also has some advantages that you may not think of until all of your resources are cut off for some reason. The ability to do it yourself in the good times will likely save you in the bad times when self sufficiency is forced on you and not just an idea you think about on your long commute home.