An old style parts place


alwaysFlOoReD

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You know the one. It has a machine shop in the back. I'm lucky, there is still one in my city.
You walk up to the front door. The base of the concrete is starting to disintegrate. The windows haven't been washed since y2k. There are posters cellophane taped to the inside windows that have been there as long as the dirt on the outside windows. The door takes a little effort to pull open. As you walk in the first thing you see is a large German Shepard directly in front of you where the counter space has an opening for the delivery people to come and go. The counter top is an ugly faded orange laminate, pieces of tape struggling to hold the top down at the corners. Some laminate is gone, showing the plywood underneath. Its been gone a long time because the plywood is shiny with years of dirt and greasy hands using it as a help to get on and off the stool. The stool is an old wooden top, tall fourlegged piece of antiquity, placed in front of and to the side of the cash register. There are some signs of present day, a card swipe for credit or debit, but no tap. Along the front window are display cases. One has different cans of paint, cleaners, degreasers, adhesives, etc. Most have a 1/8" of dust on them. Farther along are open shelves, stacked with customers orders that are being delivered that day, or are ready to be picked up. Farther on there are more displays of brass fittings, windshield wipers, battery ends, flywheel spacers and various other small parts that the customer might need on the spur of the moment. The far wall has more robust shelving holding various machined parts, a pair of Ford 460 heads, an old Chrysler block, some more heads that belong on some kind of industrial engine. Turning your attention to the counterman Mike, he has a three day scruff and is dressed casually in denim pants and a loose fitting long-sleeved shirt. He knows your name because you've been dealing with this parts place for years. Mike knows his stuff. If you're not quite sure how something is supposed to go together, he most likely can tell you. He also works at home on his farm raising cattle. If you have a question for the machinist, Mike directs you to go in the back and talk to the machinist yourself. There is no sign saying keep out for your own safety or insurance purposes. You walk down a narrow concrete pathway to a double door. Not 2 doors but one of those doors that split in half horizontally, with a small shelf on the top of the bottom half. Through there is concrete that is clean, but stained almost black with decades of oil and grease and dirt being tracked in. To the right is a washbay for initial cleaning of engine blocks and other engine parts. Past that is a hot tank. In front of you is a bunch of shelving with parts scattered about. Some heads being taken apart, or maybe put together. You're not close enough to tell. To the right of the bench is a lathe, then a surface mill, a couple different drill presses, and various other machining tools. You see Joe the machinist and pass a bit of time getting re-acquainted since the last time you were in the shop. He has found you some good used pistons for the cheap-ass rebuild you're in the middle of. Farther off is an old guy fixing some old shoes for large truck or tractor drum brakes. They also reline clutches. Not too many places do that any more. There are a couple apprentices in other rooms doing something, but you can't see what. Back out front you grab a cup of coffee from an old drip style coffee maker. Its free. Tho they do take donations for the coffee fund. You sit on the stool and wait for Mike to finish up with other customers. Eventually he's has time to talk. You bullshit about the current polititions and what airheads they are. If they would only do this ______ the country would be much better off. Finally you square up you're bill and leave until the next time you need parts or advice.
 


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ericbphoto

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You know the one. It has a machine shop in the back. I'm lucky, there is still one in my city.
You walk up to the front door. The base of the concrete is starting to disintegrate. The windows haven't been washed since y2k. There are posters cellophane taped to the inside windows that have been there as long as the dirt on the outside windows. The door takes a little effort to pull open. As you walk in the first thing you see is a large German Shepard directly in front of you where the counter space has an opening for the delivery people to come and go. The counter top is an ugly faded orange laminate, pieces of tape struggling to hold the top down at the corners. Some laminate is gone, showing the plywood underneath. Its been gone a long time because the plywood is shiny with years of dirt and greasy hands using it as a help to get on and off the stool. The stool is an old wooden top, tall fourlegged piece of antiquity, placed in front of and to the side of the cash register. There are some signs of present day, a card swipe for credit or debit, but no tap. Along the front window are display cases. One has different cans of paint, cleaners, degreasers, adhesives, etc. Most have a 1/8" of dust on them. Farther along are open shelves, stacked with customers orders that are being delivered that day, or are ready to be picked up. Farther on there are more displays of brass fittings, windshield wipers, battery ends, flywheel spacers and various other small parts that the customer might need on the spur of the moment. The far wall has more robust shelving holding various machined parts, a pair of Ford 460 heads, an old Chrysler block, some more heads that belong on some kind of industrial engine. Turning your attention to the counterman Mike, he has a three day scruff and is dressed casually in denim pants and a loose fitting long-sleeved shirt. He knows your name because you've been dealing with this parts place for years. Mike knows his stuff. If you're not quite sure how something is supposed to go together, he most likely can tell you. He also works at home on his farm raising cattle. If you have a question for the machinist, Mike directs you to go in the back and talk to the machinist yourself. There is no sign saying keep out for your own safety or insurance purposes. You walk down a narrow concrete pathway to a double door. Not 2 doors but one of those doors that split in half horizontally, with a small shelf on the top of the bottom half. Through there is concrete that is clean, but stained almost black with decades of oil and grease and dirt being tracked in. To the right is a washbay for initial cleaning of engine blocks and other engine parts. Past that is a hot tank. In front of you is a bunch of shelving with parts scattered about. Some heads being taken apart, or maybe put together. You're not close enough to tell. To the right of the bench is a lathe, then a surface mill, a couple different drill presses, and various other machining tools. You see Joe the machinist and pass a bit of time getting re-acquainted since the last time you were in the shop. He has found you some good used pistons for the cheap-ass rebuild you're in the middle of. Farther off is an old guy fixing some old shoes for large truck or tractor drum brakes. They also reline clutches. Not too many places do that any more. There are a couple apprentices in other rooms doing something, but you can't see what. Back out front you grab a cup of coffee from an old drip style coffee maker. Its free. Tho they do take donations for the coffee fund. You sit on the stool and wait for Mike to finish up with other customers. Eventually he's has time to talk. You bullshit about the current polititions and what airheads they are. If they would only do this ______ the country would be much better off. Finally you square up you're bill and leave until the next time you need parts or advice.
Have you ever considered a career in writing? Crime novels maybe? That was one hell of a description.
 

alwaysFlOoReD

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I don't have the patience to write. Every once in awhile I get the urge and do a little bit. In this case I thought that some of our membership might never have been in an old style parts place. The description I gave above is true to the best of my ability. So are the people.
 

Josh B

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Those places are very rare these days, Always, most have closed their doors forever, you are very fortunate to still have one :)
 

85_Ranger4x4

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I don't have the patience to write. Every once in awhile I get the urge and do a little bit. In this case I thought that some of our membership might never have been in an old style parts place. The description I gave above is true to the best of my ability. So are the people.
I kinda work in one... heck I am kind of Mike...

I remember going to lots of places like you describe going up, various machine/radiator shops in the area that are no longer there.
 
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alwaysFlOoReD

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Yeah, the tire shop I used to go to was like that. Old hotrod mags spread around with some second hand upholstered chairs to sit on. The city forced them to move so they ended up building a new shop just outside the city. Its a sterile place now, shiny and no real mags to flip thru. No posters or signs saying " if you want it cheaper, bring your wife and we'll dicker". I miss the old shops.
 

PetroleumJunkie412

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What I wouldn't give to have one of these around. Carquest was the last one locally. Gone since I was in my teens.
 

Bird76Mojo

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Good enough

Dirtman

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So friggin big!
My credo
Give me money.
When i first worked at advance auto out of highschool we had a decent tool room in the back. Brake lathe, strut compressor, 20 ton press, drill press, big work bench with a vice, full tool box, alternator and starter tester, battery bank charging station, every diagnostic tool you could think of, micro lathe, band saw, exhaust pipe expander, more stuff I'm forgetting.

Now they have a rag and a 11mm socket and not one employee who could figure out how to use either one...
 

Uncle Gump

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Yeah... this is really sad for most places. Now days you kinda have to be your own parts guy when looking for off the wall stuff.

We even lost our last mom and pop Hardware store last year.
 

PetroleumJunkie412

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Yeah... this is really sad for most places. Now days you kinda have to be your own parts guy when looking for off the wall stuff.

We even lost our last mom and pop Hardware store last year.
McMaster Carr has become a way of life.
 

alwaysFlOoReD

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Yeah, I notice the some stores seem to be getting away from bulk fasteners. Pre-packaged for twice the price. My princess auto just cleared out all the bulk nuts and bolts. Wish I had more money. And peavey mart has brought in pre-pack specialty but still have bulk nuts and bolts.
 

Bird76Mojo

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4WD
Total Lift
4" Superlift
Tire Size
33"
My credo
Good enough
Yeah, I notice the some stores seem to be getting away from bulk fasteners. Pre-packaged for twice the price. My princess auto just cleared out all the bulk nuts and bolts. Wish I had more money. And peavey mart has brought in pre-pack specialty but still have bulk nuts and bolts.
I got sick of the expensive pre-packaged stuff so I found a cheap bolt bin in the classifieds. Then I went to Rural King when they had a 15% off sale for anything you could fit in a 5 gallon bucket. I filled it with bags of bulk priced hardware. Filled the entire bolt bin for cheap.

I wish I could find another bolt bin locally, because I want to make a metric bin now.
 

Dsetz

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Made me miss my job at the counter! Except the part where everyone waits until the dead of winter to come ask you to replace their battery in the snow and wind!

Got a few buddies who are still at it so I hunt them down, because I trust most sales people have no idea wtf they are doing.
"You say you need an air filter? Does it have AC? 4x4? Moon tires? I see I have 2 options that SAY they work for all applications... "
"Give me a filter before I feed you your keyboard!"
 


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