Saturday, May 22, 2010

To DIY or not to DIY that is the question.

After my abortive attempt to bleed the fuel system the other day, Herbie's engine is now running again. Had I been more experienced it would have been reasonably straightforward and I wouldn't have bust the head off a bleed screw. The replacement part wasn't cheap, but I still have saved money by doing the engine service myself. However, it might have been a different story if I had done more serious damage.

DIY jobs don't always save money. By the time you have bought tools, wasted a piece of wood, broken something or whatever you could end up a lot worse off than paying someone else to do the job.

So why DIY? Because you learn. After fitting the replacment part today and finally bleeding the fuel system I started the engine only to find that the engine raced away uncontrollably. After pulling the stop button I pondered, then consulted Steve, one of the mechanics at the boatyard. He pointed out that the only thing that had changed was the new engine part, so take a look at that.

It was adjustable. Using two spanners the inner core of the bleed unit could be moved in and out. The packet it came in was labelled anti stall. Hmm. Maybe it controls minimum engine speed. And it did. A few turns of the spanner and I can now control the idle speed and the engine works fine.

The moral of the story is either

a) that by doing a job myself I now know a lot more about the engine than I did before and that might come in handy.

Or b) don't mess with what you don't understand you might do more harm than good.

You decide.


Vallypee said...

That question creates quite a dilemma in this camp! It's always difficult to know in advance whether you have the skills to do a job properly and it's usually only when things have gone wrong that you find out you haven't got said skills. Financial constraints often persuade us to DIY jobs, only to end up finding it costs more to fix the blunder than the professional would have done. But as you say, Neil, you learn all the time..

Bill Rodgers said...

1. you have at least a minimum of mechanical aptitude and
2.) You do learn by doing.
I vote for DIY. Usually I find the cost of the proper tools means you don't save much money and it takes twice as long to do than it should.
But, next time you'll do it faster and a whole lot cheaper. Also, in the case of narrowboating or any kind of boating that knowledge may save you when you're not near proper help. I have to admit though, the satisfaction of DIY'ing it has lost some of it's charm as I've gotten older.