Friday, October 27, 2023

If You Wait Long Enough, Everything is Free (Or At Least Cheap!)

Someone was throwing away a pressure washer. like this one.

I noted before that if you wait long enough, everything you want in life is free, or at least very cheap.  Of course, this means three things.  First, you have to be patient.  Second, you have to keep your eyes open for bargains.  Third, you have to let go of the "I gotta have it, right now, brand new, so I can impress our neighbors!"

I wrote before about our microwave.  We looked at replacements at the local lumberteria, and they were about $250.  But they were all in stainless steel.  If we are going that route, maybe we should replace all the appliances with stainless!  $250 is now $4000 or more.  And it makes sense to paint the cabinets white, if you are going that route.  Might was well paint the walls and replace the countertops. Oh, and that Engineered hardwood floor in the kitchen (bad idea!) should be replaced with tile.  Now our $250 microwave is over $30,000 and that would be a cheap kitchen makeover these days - with us doing most of the labor (other than the floor, I think).

I looked on Craigslist locally and there were two microwaves for sale, hours away, and the local bubbas wanted $200 for them - only seven years old!  You can buy new for not a lot more.  Meanwhile, in Jacksonville or Orlando, there are several listings in the $50 range, for used microwaves (built-in type, with mounting plates, thank you very much) that are only a year or two old - the owners switched to stainless and wanted to get ride of the white model.

We are travelling there in a couple of weeks, so I told Mr. See that maybe we can snag a microwave while we're down there.  We'll see.  We did this at our old house in Virginia - finding a dishwasher for $75 that a lady had just bought before converting her whole kitchen to stainless.  Good thing, too, as two years later, we sold the house and it was bulldozed.  Glad I didn't spend $250 on a new one, back then.

So, if you are willing to wait and look, bargains can be found.  And maybe this will keep our kitchen going for another few years - delaying the cost of an eventual renovation, or shifting the cost to the next owners - and there are always next owners.  We've seen, time and time again, people pour money into houses to "fix them up to sell them!" and the new owners tear out all the renovations and start over again.  A neighbor put in granite countertops and all new cabinets and appliances to sell her house.  The new owners tore it all out - smashing the brand-new granite and throwing it in a dumpster.

Only in America!

Another neighbor gave me a Honda mulching lawnmower.  It used to be self-propelled, but that part broke.  But the rest worked fine.  I put new mulching blades on it (there are two) and a new spark plug and air filter and changed the oil.  It works great for what it is.   I use it on a large pine-straw mulch bed in our back yard to grind up all the pine straw (that falls like rain from the trees here - can you believe some people pay for pine needles?  They can have mine!).  It also does a good job of grinding up all the weeds, too, leaving behind a fine mulch of shredded pine needles.  It is hard on the mower, sure, but it was free and I've been mulching with it for three years now.  I used the regular mower for the lawn, but I am doing that less and less lately and letting the "lawn guy" deal with that.

The same neighbor asked me if I wanted a pressure washer.  It is an old Craftsman model 580.752070 with an 8HP Briggs and Stratton Engine.  He said it stopped pumping as the shaft key connecting the engine to the pump broke.  I figured I'd give it a try.  I am not a big fan of IC-powered pressure washers, as the electric kind are usually all a homeowner needs and they last forever, provided you treat them like they are made of plastic (which they are) and don't let them freeze in the winter (which busts the internals).

I typed the model number into Google and found the owner's manual and parts diagram which I downloaded and printed out (60 pages) and put in a binder.  I found the part number for the shaft key and found several sources for it, for $10 including shipping.  The previous owner said he couldn't find the shaft key at any "store" but I suspect he was looking at brick-and-mortar, not online.

I started the engine and it runs great.  If it is just the shaft key, I've got a nice pressure washer for doing the driveway (where you need higher pressure than the Karcher can provide) or maybe even to sell at a garage sale later on.  If the pump is shot, there are rebuild kits for that, or a new pump can be found for $150 or so. I'll have to think about that, though.  Suddenly the free pressure washer is no longer free.

But a few hours of my time and ten bucks, what's not to like? Granted, appliances have a service life and I am realistic enough to know that this unit, even if I can repair it, will not last as long as a brand-new one.

But it's worth a shot!