Kid turned 16 today…so what’s every 16 year old around here want? Yep, I bought the kid a car. It’s nothing spectacular but it is a hell of a lot better than I thought I’d be able to get her at a low price. Actually a car was not even on the table for this birthday. We have a few vehicles around the farmstead so I figured we’d just work it out somehow. Then I saw a “classified” ad on facebook for right in town here selling an older car as part of an estate sale. I drove by and it looked pretty good from the outside, so I started playing instant message tag with the lady trying to arrange a time to take a look at it. Several people had expressed interest online…so I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to look at it. The lady was coming from out of town and wouldn’t be in till Friday night, the sale was Saturday morning. I didn’t want to try to be part of the rush that morning, so I told her I’d be willing to show up when she came in Friday night. It was a lot of hassle back and forth…but the end result is I bought the car. It’s a 96 taurus with 74k on it. It was an older ladies car that hadn’t driven it in 5 years. The tires were virtually new, it had never been smoked in..etc. It’s not a fancy flashy car but it should be decent for her…and I got it for $700…so done deal. Just like with any used car there could be lots of problems that will surface later, but right now it seems to be really decent. Like I told the wife, I’d rather take a 700 buck chance on a low mileage car than a 2k chance on something with twice the miles. Even if we have to put a few hundred in to it…it’s still a good value. Also, not having to buy tires saves quite a bit. The dude also put a new battery in it…which is something else that would probably have to be replaced in any used car. When she goes off to whatever comes after high school we’ll look at getting her a new(er) nicer vehicle..but while she’s stupid and trying to figure out life something low cost is the way we decided to go.
The next day, I decided to buy a jet ski. Why? I have really no idea. Over the past couple years I have been working on the small engines and recreational vehicles around the farmstead, done a couple of top end rebuilds…so I have some confidence that I can work on most smaller engines, especially 2cycles. The main issue is maybe the cost/value isn’t quite right. I bought this ski for $600 and it came with a good looking trailer. From what I could see, a guy should be able to get 300 for the trailer alone. The dude I bought this from said he figured the ski needed carb work. I looked online for carb kits and they are about 15 bucks. I did a compression test on the cylinders and they both came in at 120psi, which is right on point for this. There are still a few things that could be problematic, but with a trailer and an engine with good compression I should be able to part it out and not lose money on the deal. My plan for this ski is to get it running good, then put it up for sale for around $1700 or so. If it goes, great I’ve made a few bucks…if it doesn’t we’ll be riding it in the mean time so I’ll have a pretty cheap toy to mess with. I rode jet ski a couple of times in high school, they are pretty fun machines. Not fun enough to spend thousands on IMO, but for a few hundred bucks…what the hell. If this goes good, maybe I’ll pick up another one to rebuild.
Over the course of the summer, I don’t like tinkering with things. It’s too hot, and I’d rather be using the stuff I have…fishing, riding the bike, atv…whatever. During the fall and early spring when it’s too cold to really ride or the snow/ice is still melting I like to be outside doing the early maintenance on this stuff to make sure it’s going to run right. Cleaning the carbs isn’t a big deal, rebuilding the top end of an engine isn’t too bad either if you can find the parts for a decent price. I wish I had the chops and money to risk working on cars like this though…more of them out there to buy and more money to be made off of doing it. I’ve tried looking for a few ATV’s to fix up, but generally they are asking too much to make it worth the razor thin profit margin left in the vehicle. I don’t know about these jet skis though, this one should let me know if there is any money to be made off of these things in this area. Also, this one is good enough and still cheap enough that I’m willing to keep it for myself if it doesn’t sell. There is one on bisman in bismarck for $100 that the dude says might need “top end seals”. It’s a 95 750 polaris. The issue I’m having with buying that one is that it’s in bismarck, which is about $100 more in fuel for me to go get it, it doesn’t come with a decent trailer, and it’s a triple cylinder. If I have to redo the whole top end it’ll be 300 in just parts, another 200 or more in honing or a new jug (if I can find it)…so I’m up to 700 before putting any dollar amount on my time. That ski books at 750…so the margin isn’t really there either. If the dude had the engine together and I could test the compression, then I’d be far more interested…but in pieces it’s hard to say what a guy is going to get. Visual inspection will tell me a bit…but again, bismarck. 3hrs and 100 bucks in fuel.