The Zombie Apocalypse? Or Shop Time!

Social Distancing. Flattening the curve. Self-isolating. Essential travel.
These are terms I’d never heard of before a month ago. Now they are part of our lexicon, and make up much of our day to day media bombardment, as we all attempt to weather this global pandemic storm.

As gearheads, what do we do with this extra time at home? First, let’s assume we are all onboard with the worldwide push to keep the Corona virus from spreading. Nobody wants it to go on any longer than it has to. Okay, so how do we find a way to take advantage of the situation, since we have no choice but to accept it?

Some people will inspire you to hustle, create a business, or build your customer base. Learn a language. Get your HAM license. All these things are wonderful, and you should totally do all of them. Especially the last one: In the US there is already more than one radio club offering online courses. Canada has offered one so far, but it’s already full (Yes, I checked).
I’m going to keep things a little less ambitious, and think about simpler things we can do to get through this interruption of our lives. Lest I sound flippant, let’s acknowledge first that the law of averages says that some of us are going to contract this virus, and it’s going to be miserable. Maybe worse. I certainly don’t want to discount this fact, and for those of us that do, I wish you (us?) all a speedy and uncomplicated recovery.

But either way, many of us are still stuck at home. So… what do we do? Likely we will never get this chance again to do the things that we never get around to doing. So. How do we make it happen? It just so happens we’ve talked about this over on the TGP forum. And we agree on the first thing to do.

Make a list

Without this, all your aspirations will amount to nothing. Okay, that was harsh. You will get some things done, but you’ll come out on the other side with no clear feeling of accomplishment. Take some time. Flesh out this list in detail. I’d go a step further and subdivide the list. My list, although I’m still working on it, is a to-do list. It contains six headings, under two categories.


Vehicles:Prado 90/Pajero Evolution/100 Series

Each of these has a long list of tasks associated with it. Many of them I’ve been putting off for a while, but the simple act of writing them down has seemingly gotten them accomplished sooner. Particularly the “house” category, for some reason? I’ve already knocked three things off the list.

To get your list going, I’ve got some suggestions under the vehicle category, which is likely what brought you here in the first place.

Start by Building a “Build Thread”

I’ve found no better way to keep track of the maintenance, mods and upgrades I’ve done over time than to create a build thread. It doesn’t matter where, although it is best if you put it in front of an audience of your vehicular “peers” if you want useful feedback. Forums are still preferable to FB groups in this regard, because in several hours from now, you’ll still be able to FIND what you posted, and add to it. Mileage stamping each entry is a good way to demarcate each project. I’m guilty of not doing this enough, but my buddy Brian has shown it to be good practice, and I’ll try to remember. I currently have build threads going on Expedition Portal, even one for the PAJEVO, and IH8MUD as well as here on our TGP Forum. I rarely get much feedback, likely owing to the obscurity of my rigs, but I find it very helpful when looking back over my progress.

Change your brake fluid.

Nobody does that. But it is hygroscopic, and deteriorates over time. So change it. Start with the reservoir, using a turkey baster (I DIDN’T TELL YOU THAT!) and then pump it through your brake lines (furthest first) until it comes through clear. Hopefully you’ve got someone at home with you to pump the pedal. If not, there are ways around it. Google is your friend. DOT4 can replace DOT3 and is arguably a better bet overall. If you want to get fancy, DOT5.1 is an even bigger upgrade and is compatible, but don’t use DOT5 under normal circumstances. Read more here (warning: offsite and not associated with TGP). Even DOT3 is likely better than whatever brownish syrup is currently getting pushed by your pedal. And while you’re in there? Lube those caliper sliders too! Heck, if you have a manual, change the hydraulic clutch fluid too. It’s probably nastier than your brake fluid.

Power Steering Fluid?

Of course you’ve done that lately, right? No? That’s what I thought. There are different formulations, and sometimes ATF is the right choice, sometimes not. Take a minute to find out. Then change it. Remember that turkey baster? Well, if you have a good way to clean out the brake fluid, then go ahead. Otherwise? Either pull a line off, or get yourself a large syringe (probably in the aisle with the power steering fluid). Thanksgiving is still a long ways off, so sacrificing another turkey baster isn’t necessarily sacrilege yet. But leaving that nasty fluid in your steering system certainly is!

Grease is the word.

Take this as far as you need to. The gear oil in your diffs, t-case, and trans (if you row your own) is about as nasty as it comes. Get after it. There’s never been more time. Ditto for those grease fittings if you’re lucky enough to still have them.

Unfinished Business

Okay, let’s be honest for a minute. If you look after your own rides, you’ve got a running list of deficiencies, if only in your head. I’m talking about the power antenna that doesn’t go up (or down). The persistent oil leak. That check engine light that’s been “waiting” for you to query it. Tire rotation? Take the list out of your head, and write it down. It will get done a lot faster if its in front of you. Ask me how I know.


Now the most important part, and the thing we’ve been already doing at TGP? Stand up and be counted. Share this list of to-do’s with some like-minded folks. Set goals. Set deadlines. Be reasonable, but give yourself a challenge. If you don’t do this step, your list will likely languish on a shelf with all the other projects you didn’t finish, and someday you’ll be complaining that “there’s never enough time.” Okay. Maybe I’m talking about ME here. You’re probably fine. But if this helps…?

We will get through this. Together, while apart. But wouldn’t it be nice to come out on the other side with a sense of what you DID, rather than what you DIDN’T? So learn an instrument, try a new recipe, binge watch Netflix, perhaps “Breaking Bad”? Those are all worthwhile things (esp BB: Walter and Jesse are magic). But take some time for your rig. It’ll be that much happier and ready to take you to all those places you planned during your downtime.

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