Master of None

Prefaced by the obligatory “jack of all trades”.

I am an information hound.  I live to learn new things.  Maybe not apply them so much, but at least have it in my back pocket.  I think it’s more to do with pride of having to ask for help.  Or maybe it’s the whole waiting for them to show up part.  In fact, it could simply be that most experts are anything but.

My wife and I did the majority of the renos within the house.  I have a more than solid understanding of framing, roofing, wiring, flooring, plumbing, and finishing.  I would prefer to avoid finishing work (except maybe painting) given that it takes me longer to set up/get warmed up than a real pro would take to do the entire job.  I recall a friend who split his house baseboard work into 2 zones.  Upstairs for 1 pro.  Downstairs for 6 guys.  The guy upstairs was done a long time before the downstairs folks.  Clear experience in working efficiently.

Plumbing is a bit different now.  Before, it was an upfront investment to get all the equipment to run pipe.  Copper lines of different sizes, PVC drains, cutters, connectors, valves…And that’s without counting the fact that the solders have to be rock solid or you’ll have a mess.  Nowdays, a child could lay out PEX pipe, without any tools but utility knife.  Sure, you need to know where to put valves, but it’s not rocket science.   (the main, in/out of hot water, exits to outdoor connections, before each end point.)

Flooring is easy until you reach a door or transition, then you need some magic hands.  Plus it kills the back without the proper tools on hand.

That leaves me now with electric work.  My dad’s an electrician, so that’s part of the history here.  But aside from the main panel, nearly all connections are extremely straightforward.  There are 3 wires, color coded, and it’s quite hard to mess up replacing something.  When you are installing something, then it gets a mess.  Want a 4 way switch?  Go get a book from the library.  Ceiling fan install?  Get half a case of beer.  When it comes to troubleshooting, then just retire because so much can go wrong.

Trailer Woes

I have a boat.  It has a trailer.  And I have a hitch.  The trailer lights flickered on an off for a while now, and no matter what the diagnostics said, no one was able to find the root cause.  I got fed up last night and started digging some more.

I checked the wire harness with a tester – everything was ok.  I checked the trailer, all the connections are on 3 wires – meaning the ground (essential for this to work) is in the wiring and not directly connected to the metal in the trailer.  Since it’s a boat trailer, and it goes in the water, this makes a lot of sense.

I went back to the wire harness and started tracing it back.  Ever try to remove the filler in the back end of a vehicle before?  It was 15 minutes of unclipping things to trace a 12 inch wire.  I finally lost the wire behind a panel and could not figure out where it went.  Out comes the screwdriver to take off the screw holding that panel.  Lo and behold, this screw was holding the ground and had come lose.  Tighten it up, put the connector on, and things are fine.

That went through 2 mechanics, 3 people who own hitches/trailers, and 2 years of wondering what the hell was going on.  For a single screw.


I guess the end result here is that as much as there are experts, it’s important for you to know what they are talking about and to challenge the assumptions/conclusions.  I didn’t do that for the trailer, due to lack of understanding of the mechanics.  I don’t need to know everything, but I need to know enough to have a conversation about it.  Otherwise I would have waited a few more years to get this fixed.


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