My Mechanics Place

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Jason
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Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:37 am

My Mechanics Place

Post by Jason » Mon Aug 19, 2019 3:24 pm

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/15/busi ... e=Homepage

The average age of the US car on the road is 11.8 years. I never would have guessed that. Between Uber, Lyft, etc. and this type of development, I have to think car industry has a lot on their minds.

7Wannabe5
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Re: My Mechanics Place

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Tue Aug 20, 2019 11:47 am

@Jason:

Super-cool. Especially given so many prohibitive codes concerning doing such work on your own property. My sister bought a house that just happened to have a pit in the garage, and turned out to be good source of social capital through barter.

Sclass
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Location: Orange County, CA

Re: My Mechanics Place

Post by Sclass » Tue Aug 20, 2019 12:38 pm

This is really cool. Hope they spread. I’ve seen a lot of places like this come and go.

The best and longest lasting ones were private. Like the 7W social capital model. A group of trusted friends. I keep seeing the public maker space model fail. I like it, but it must be difficult operating something like this because they never seem to last. I’m not sure why. I suspect it’s the people problems. It’s really hard making a profit when the marketable product is allowing your client to get off as cheaply as possible. Maybe the demand is so sporadic you don’t get your repeat reliable customers and the interaction overhead gets too high.

Driving and maintaining my junk cars is definitely a big part of my retirement savings strategy. If it is one of the big sinks of money in your budget it is worth looking at. I salute the bravery of people who dive in armed with simple tools and YouTube knowledge.

Cars are this enigma for me. I read on the forum the average American is spending $38,000 on new cars. Then I see a lot of very inexpensive good quality cars being driven around me in town. I see BMW SUVs with bald tires in my neighborhood. I see jammed freeways ostensibly a result of cheap cars for the masses. I don’t know if they’re cheap or expensive.

They seem to be losing their value as the urban centers jam up. Yet they suck a lot of money out of some people’s pockets.

I think the automakers are going to have to get more actively aggressive like Apple to discourage people from keeping their products so long. Even they are a contradiction letting customers run current OS on old device while making DIY repairs increasingly difficult. It’s not an industry I’m bullish on.

intellectualpersuit
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Re: My Mechanics Place

Post by intellectualpersuit » Tue Aug 20, 2019 3:21 pm

I actually had this idea, except I would also include a wood shop and metal shop.

bigato
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Re: My Mechanics Place

Post by bigato » Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:19 pm

I see those pictures from ffj's shop and I'm inclined to ask whether he is actually my (most cool) uncle in disguise

CS
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Re: My Mechanics Place

Post by CS » Tue Aug 20, 2019 8:42 pm

Frickin' love it. My engine needs new seals. I should find one of these places. Also a junk yard with two doors for my car, lol.

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Ego
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Re: My Mechanics Place

Post by Ego » Wed Aug 21, 2019 12:00 am

Sclass wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 12:38 pm
It’s not an industry I’m bullish on.
Agree. It reminds me of the WeWork model, investing in long-term leases then splitting up the property into smaller portions and re-renting them to very short-term customers. In a downturn WeWorkers will work from home and these semi-frugal repair people will go full-blown tightwad and work from the shade-tree, leaving the person with the long-term lease holding the bag.

Jason
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Re: My Mechanics Place

Post by Jason » Wed Aug 21, 2019 5:48 am

In NJ, the DMV scaled back on inspection criteria. No longer do they inspect for brakes, lights, etc. It's purely emissions. I believe this will contribute to cars lasting longer. You get a better picture of what people are actually driving when you go there.

As someone who is skittish on car repair, such a culture would be inviting. I would pay side cash to someone who could instruct.

BMF1102
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Re: My Mechanics Place

Post by BMF1102 » Wed Aug 21, 2019 6:06 am

@Intellectualpursuit - Detroit actually has one a "club" where you pay a membership fee and you get access to tons of wood working, metal working and welding equiptment. They provide instruction classes on the various machines (lathes, cnc, welders, drill press, etc;) by qualified individuals and then you're free use them to your hearts content. The larger Cnc I believe you need to actually schedule time for since they only have one or two, the rest of the shop is free range though, from what I've heard. I believe it is also open 24hrs.

I really like the these garages as well. First time I saw one was at a Navy base in Jacksonville, FL. I helped my friend who was stationed there change a head gasket. They even had tools for loan and many stalls with lifts. It made alot of sense to me.

Jason
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Re: My Mechanics Place

Post by Jason » Wed Aug 21, 2019 6:09 am

BMF1102 wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 6:06 am
First time I saw one was at a Navy base in Jacksonville, FL.
The article mentions that the business template is co-opted from military bases.

IlliniDave
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Re: My Mechanics Place

Post by IlliniDave » Wed Aug 21, 2019 6:28 am

Jason wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 6:09 am
The article mentions that the business template is co-opted from military bases.
Yeah, was going to mention that. I'm acquainted with a lot of ex-military folks (and family members of), and within a certain subset of them these available facilities are quite popular.

Sclass, I wonder if the high spending on cars isn't driven by families with multiple cars? Is that $38K the average price of the average American's vehicle, or the average total cost of vehicles for the average family? I'm not very good overall at squeezing money out of the budget with vehicles. I tend to buy new every 15 years or so, and operate them until the wheels fall off. So I'm not the worst offender, but still pretty sloppy.

Sclass
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Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2012 5:15 pm
Location: Orange County, CA

Re: My Mechanics Place

Post by Sclass » Wed Aug 21, 2019 7:54 am

I noticed Tech Shop in the Bay Area went under during my last visit there.

https://makezine.com/2017/11/15/techsho ... ankruptcy/

Here is one in my area that seems to be working.

https://urbanworkshop.net/

I think there are some unique challenges in running these places. Like the goals are all orthogonal. The valid business reason is to provide a place and machines to people who cannot really afford them individually. That in itself is a conundrum if they are not all paying in during their downtime. The existing model where these services are provided by well booked specialized private shops gets around this.

Then there’s the motivation. I get the idea these places are often started by people who want others to help them pay for their tools. The awakening comes when most of the customers need training. Failure to do that leads to damaged/degraded tools. So are you a maker or are you a teacher? Good training is a must and consistency in the level of proficiency is required to keep the COOP happy. Noobs break stuff and are dangerous. Often the noobs are the same people desperate for skills training and good payers. So they must be brought up to speed and kept happy.

The same noobs also break stuff or bump things out of calibration. Precision stuff is vulnerable to ham fists. But the ham fists are often the people willing to step up with money. The experienced members will tire of recalibrating and sharpening dull tools and will not be happy.

This is a constantly resetting problem as people come and go. I guess it really tests what the proprietor really wanted out of the place. A school? A better equipped personal shop with subsidized equipment? Community?

Not to be too negative but I wonder why it always comes back to the same models. 1 Private job shops that service businesses or people with deep pockets. 2 Private shops (rich man’s garage) full of tools bought and maintained by an individual. 3 Suburban garage full of fine tools that aren’t shared. The only semi public ones I’ve seen work are university shops that are strictly refereed by the guy teaching the classes. I’m trying to understand why some systems work and others don’t.

I always had this dream of having a really well equipped shop I could walk out to in the middle of the night and test my ideas. I worked in David Packard’s place a few years. Rich engineer gone wild. The shop included a small semiconductor fab. I personally compromised with the suburban garage with light machinery.

I should check out the place in Costa Mesa sometime and see what makes it sustainable.

Sclass
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Location: Orange County, CA

Re: My Mechanics Place

Post by Sclass » Wed Aug 21, 2019 8:10 am

IlliniDave wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 6:28 am
Sclass, I wonder if the high spending on cars isn't driven by families with multiple cars? Is that $38K the average price of the average American's vehicle, or the average total cost of vehicles for the average family? I'm not very good overall at squeezing money out of the budget with vehicles. I tend to buy new every 15 years or so, and operate them until the wheels fall off. So I'm not the worst offender, but still pretty sloppy.
I see this number around in the news.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkiley ... 24cb2a1e84

I think it means one car. But maybe a family buys one nice SUV and also owns an older beater. My neighbors seem to do that. I suspect it is like housing and education. People buy what interest rates allow. The number makes my head spin.

I think holding a car 15 years is pretty good. You are not what makes up the statistics. I suspect many of these buyers trade the car in when the loan is paid off. Many people in my neighborhood tell me they’ve never actually owned any of their cars free and clear unless it was totaled in an accident by their insurers. They trade it in before they get the pink slip.

IlliniDave
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Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2014 7:46 pm

Re: My Mechanics Place

Post by IlliniDave » Wed Aug 21, 2019 8:35 am

Sclass wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 8:10 am
I see this number around in the news.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkiley ... 24cb2a1e84

I think it means one car. But maybe a family buys one nice SUV and also owns an older beater. My neighbors seem to do that. I suspect it is like housing and education. People buy what interest rates allow. The number makes my head spin.

I think holding a car 15 years is pretty good. You are not what makes up the statistics. I suspect many of these buyers trade the car in when the loan is paid off. Many people in my neighborhood tell me they’ve never actually owned any of their cars free and clear unless it was totaled in an accident by their insurers. They trade it in before they get the pink slip.
Thanks, and don't forget people with 3rd and 4th vehicles for the kiddos! As I've thought about it though, I suspect you're right. When I go to the grocery store I see a lot of big-dollar SUVs and German sedans, enough that it probably drives up the average pretty good. Leasing still seems fairly common (like you said, it's the size of the monthly payment that people use to judge what is affordable). Not sure how those factor into the stats of the dollars' worth of car people are paying for access to. In my area a high-end SUV and the entry level for a home are about the same.

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