Buying parts for DIY cheepskate

In the past couple of months I have been plagued with repair necessities. Washing machine, dryer, ice maker, gas oven, lawn mower and weed wacker.

In doing all of this work I have done a bunch of shopping around and I am amazed at the variation in prices for parts. The washing machine needed a kit to repair the agitator. Part price varied from $4 to $15, and freight was all over the map.

The ice maker project was looking to be about $90 in parts until I found that ABT electronics In Chicago would ship me a whole brand new kit including everything from the water valve to the ice bucket for $41 including freight.

I actually ordered parts for my mower 4 times. The first round was a carb overhaul. Amazon came up with vendor with a good price, but the shipping and handling was mostly handling, but I made an end run around Amazon and got the vendor to send it first class mail for a couple of bucks and had it 2 days later.

I saved about $40 when I ordered the parts to fix the governor over what Sears had for their prices.

I discovered a needed part when I was pulling every thing apart and found it a little cheaper on line with freight rather than getting it local and I can get buy for a few days with the old part.

The last thing was just the v-belt for the drive. (I originally thought the belt was OK until I was cleaning the deck before re- installing the motor. I figured the local auto parts places would have it (nope not a size used on cars so not stocked. I finally got one at a farm supply for $6, I checked, and Sears parts had one for $17 plus freight, Getting one from the place I got the engine parts would have set me back &14+ and McMaster Carr had them for about $4.50. A few places had them a buck or so cheaper, but probably would clip me on the freight.

The igniter for the dryer had a really big swing. If you ever need an igniter there is only a few styles and the biggest difference is the sheet metal bracket that holds the ceramic encased glow bar. the generic ones can be found for as little as $13 but you might need to splice the wires (ceramic wire nuts provided.) or re-use your old bracket. Ordering these as an factory original part can cost around $80 so this is really worth the time to shop.

The weed whacker needs an ignition module (solid state magneto, sans points) and so far the used one on e-bay for $14 is tempting me vs. $30 for a new one.

Also I wonder how may folks out there forgo all the fun I have and either pay for service calls and labor, replace repairable items or hire out the task of mowing the lawn (Of course for the first 10 years of home ownership I had a guy that charged me $6 a week to mow front and back, so I didn't bother buying the lawn mower until he retired.) or giving the mower a oil change and tune up.

Roger Shoaf

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RS at work
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I helped a boat owner replace a microswitch on his steering control. He mentioned they sure want a pretty penny for those switches, I had to ask "how much". He said they were $70 or if you bought 5 they were $50 each. I did an online search and found them for $14.71, with over 2000 in stock, and I found 3 for $8.95 and I found them for $8.53 minimum purchase 100. Same manufacturer, same part number. Ya, prices very. Mikek

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Igniter element , glows red/yellow hot , which turns on the gas valve and lights 'er up .

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What I love about the Internet is that you can not only find these things, but also figure out how to diagnose the problem, identify the correct parts, and install them, generally for free. I've probably saved $3K in the last couple of years, and generally had fun doing it. Eg. replaced the furnace controller and bought a spare (exact replacement) ignitor-- about $120 total. Bought and installed a heater blower for my car ($240, would have cost $1K to have it done). Etc. etc.

Best regards, Spehro Pefhany

Reply to
Spehro Pefhany

Isn't that "whacker?"

Anyway, how do you break a gas oven?

Thanks, Rich

Reply to
Rich Grise

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when the price difference is modest, some of us elect to support local businesses. I will also from time to time go to a local business and show them the on-line price and say "I want to support local businesses like you but I can't afford this price difference" - sometimes the on line price is less than their cost, sometimes they can help and meet me part way.

Reply to
Bill Noble

A few months ago I was quoted over $800 to change the alternator on my truck at the dealership. $400 of it was the alternator. An OEM alternator from a parts store (not rebuilt, not remanufactured, not repaired, but new) was $200. The serpentine belt was $40. I did it myself. It was a pain actually on that model truck, but I figure at the same labor rate they charge I could do it for just over half now that I have done one.

Reply to
Bob La Londe

I didn't break it, I got it in a non working condition off of craigslist for $30. They had advertised it for $50 but when I showed up, the guy said his wife felt guilty to take that much sow they said that they would be happy to drop the price to $30. I had thought I was getting a really good price at $50.

Anyway the only thing wrong with it was that the igniter was week. It glowed but it did not get hot enough to kick open the gas valve.

Roger Shoaf

Reply to
RS at work

Great Bob.

The next thing you need to learn is how to rebuild the alternator yourself. Now instead of paying $200 for the alternator, you install a diode or two and a bearing and only flop for the parts so the $160 you save can go towards the tool budget. Often the feeling after fixing something is, gee whiz is that all there is to this?

Roger Shoaf

Reply to
RS at work

Ditto on that. One of the local small engine shops has given me very good pricing on some items over the years. They also have given me some old obsolete parts for free, and before I knew how to pull a mower flywheel, they did it for me without charge.

I am more than happy to purchase parts from them now, knowing that I am repaying my civil debt and helping them to stay in business so that they can help out another kid who counts pennies and needs a break. Same with the local used appliance place, who employs local guys to do the dirty work of cleaning and rebuilding used appliances.

Sometimes it's a better deal to pay a little more for a local business.


Reply to
Jon Danniken

In this case, it's a boat manufacturer's markup on a part he gets from a distributor who marks it up from the factory. The boat manufacturer buys a small stock for replacement, understands that the stock may have to last five or ten years, and adds on tax + interest for the full decade when he decides his pricelist. Meanwhile, the factory sells overstock or otherwise lowers the part price. Or, improves it.

Paying the boat manufacturer for a switch is ...paying inventory and monopoly taxes on top of the part price. The boat manufacturer can make it VERY hard to bypass his parts store, by relabeling all those switches and suchlike and eliminating the factory part number.

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A couple years ago SWMBO wanted a specific kitchen sink in the new counter top and cupboards. She bought it (delivered) from a supplier in Utah for one third the price that we would have had to pay to pick one up locally, and guess what - it was made in Canada! Gerry :-)} London, Canada

Reply to
Gerald Miller

It's all an equation. How much time do you have to spend, and how valuable is your time? How valuable is the down time of the item, and how soon does it need returned to service? How long is it until you have the time and/or the money to fix it yourself? Is the price you are getting just an out and out ripoff?

Sometimes, it is better to just have it fixed. But, to me, sometimes when it goes past a point, and I can see they're making 50 or $75 an hour or more, I'll do it unless it's totally technical, and then I'll look for a cheaper repairman.

Had a locking mechanism on my few year old oven that malfunctioned. Guy came out for $70 and said it needed a motherboard and other things, and it would be $600. I pulled the unit, found the tek papers inside, unplugged it, and replugged it, which displays error codes. Door interlock malfunction indicated. Replacement part locally: $23. I changed it, and notified the company if I didn't get my $70 back that I'd call the local TV station that likes to do news items on ripoffs. Got the $70 back.

Other things over the years similarly. But when it comes to big ticket items, a second opinion is often free, and with the Internet, any Rube can find deals on replacement parts, and sometimes locally with no shipping or waiting.

How bad do you need it, and how much do you want to spend, and can you confidently DIY? I'd say it comes down to that.


Heart surgery pending?

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Steve B

4l60E automatic transmission rebuilt :


DIY rebuild kit :


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It does get tricky to figure out how they stock things. I have a classic Onan generator and another Onan motor from the 70's. They are robust, very desireable units, easy to repair, and expertise is readily available on the Onan forums.

Parts are available from the factory (now Cummins), on Ebay, and many gen-set repair companies. It does pay to shop around. One of the tricks is that if Sears ever used the engine in anything, they still list many parts for it.

I recently bought valve guides, seals and some gaskets for the 1979 engine from sears after shopping around. Just plug in the factory part number on Searspartsdirect. They had the lowest cost for the items, although their high shipping cost whittles down the advantage.

When the items arrived at my home I was quite surprised to see that Sears just drop shipped them from the OEM. There was no "Sears" anywhere on the shipping label.

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DT wrote: ...

Ah ... funny you should mention Sears. Yes, they are well known for having parts for old products. I recently was shopping for some parts for a Craftsman lathe. The Sears parts were just about twice the price as from Clausing. So I guess it depends.


Reply to
Bob Engelhardt

A few months ago we had the jeep in the garage for a brake job. Rotors needed turning. The rotors did get turned, but the rest of the job was a fiasco. That's a whole different and longer story (which I may have even expounded upon here). While it was in, I asked how much to repair the blower, which currently had two speeds; off and high. They quoted $125 (IRIC). Since shop time is $95, I assume the "credit card resistor" + tax was $30. I found it online for $22 including tax and shipping, but the big savings came on labor. Because I didn't have exactly the best tool for the job, it took almost 10 minutes. With a 1/4" drive u-drive, it would have been 5 min. And they want to charge an entire hour?

This weekend the UPS (350) on my wife's computer started wailing. Bad battery light was on. Well, we've had the thing for a good 8 years. (The one in the 550 lasted 10 years before replacement.) The other 350 is only a year or two newer, so will be needing a battery pretty soon too. So for two 3.4AH RBC35's, s&h included, the APC site wanted $77. Several years ago, I'd gotten the best price on a

10AH at what is now Two delivered was going to be $50. I finally went with where I got the two to my doorstep for $39.69 -- ONE from APC would have been $42.

This morning I went out to start the jeep. It fired and ran for about a second and died. This has never happened to me before, but I've read of the problem. Now... there's a big 1-1/4" button that's SUPPOSED to be a primer pump, but after hitting the button 50 times, waiting 10 minutes, and hitting it another 50 times, the engine still wasn't getting any fuel. Matter of fact, hitting the button "felt" like all I was doing was compressing a spring and nothing more. Obviously, the primer pump no longer pumps or if it does, not nearly well enough. Grab a piece of 1/4" tubing to fit over the bleed screw. Too loose... barely. Cut a 3/16" length of

10mm poly tubing to jam over the 1/4" which "crimped" it just enough. Loosen bleed screw. Jam hose on. Suck. Suck some more. I hear diesel bubbling at the bleed screw. Yank the hose off and snug the screw as quick as I can. Upstream of the filter is now filled with fuel. Pull the fuel line off the rail side of the filter block. Get an empty honey squeeze bottle, fill with diesel, and the nozzle is a nice size for filling the fuel line. Only cranked for 3 seconds before firing right up.

Say the word "diesel" and most services are automatically doubled (at least). I can't even imagine how much a service call/tow would have been.

I suppose I should get another fuel filter block (which also has a fuel heater element) with new primer pump before I get stranded somewhere. OBTW, that piece of tubing is stashed in the back of the jeep, for just-in-case/when it happens again. At that point, I might think about springing the samolians for a new one. If it happens when my wife is driving, there won't be any thinking involved. It'll happen immediately thereafter. ;-)

Reply to
Steve Ackman

I added an outboard motor primer bulb to my tractor to prime the fuel pump and fill the carb bowl.


Reply to
Jim Wilkins

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