Growing up as the only girl in my family (I have two brothers), and the daughter of a former greasemonkey, I learned a lot about tools and how to use them. I was exposed to fixing cars at an early age, although I didn't really jump into trying it myself until I was in my 20's. Back when I was growing up, men didn't take their cars or trucks to the garage to have an oil change, or even replace an entire motor. You got a few friends together for the bigger jobs, and worked on it in the back yard.
My 16 year old and I were chatting the other day on the way home from an errand, and he mentioned to me that at his high school, they might have to cancel Small Engine Repair class next semester because they have no working engines to practice on. I kind of looked at him weird. He said they couldn't do the class if they didn't have them to work with. When I went to this same high school, the whole point of this class, and others like it, was to learn how to repair things. The teacher would put the word out through the students, and anyone with a lawn mower, snow blower, or other small engine tool, could bring it in. The class would use it to practice on, and for less than $10, you got that tool running as smooth as if you had just bought it. Apparently they don't do that anymore. If it isn't already working, they don't have the ability to use it? Didn't make sense to me either.
This conversation led my son to mention that he really should learn how to work on small engines himself. Especially if he gets a motor for his boat. He wants to be able to repair if he has to, himself. Now he is very mechanically inclined, so a bit of searching online would help him figure out what he wanted to know. The same for me....I can figure things out usually. A case in point happened when I was about 25......
I was dating the kid's dad, and drove an old Ford Fairmont. Well, the water pump decided to let go. I was supposed to go out with my boyfriend and some of his friends for a day of fun. Instead, in the brutal cold winter, I was in my father's coveralls, fighting to get the old radiator out, so I could replace the water pump, and then the radiator (in case you don't know, most times when the water pump goes, it will shoot the fan right into your radiator). Five hours later, it was finally done with some help at the end from my older brother. My boyfriend's friends, especially the guy ones, were surprised that I could do that myself. They said they wanted to "borrow" me. Now I didn't know everything there was to fixing cars, I wasn't that good. But I knew the basics of changing brakes, oil changes, tune ups, and the common sense thought that if you take something apart one way, you put it back the exact opposite.
Back to current times though: I can fix a lot of things, but there are many areas that I am lacking. Small engines is one of them. I have to plan for the future as if I will be on my own, without my kids (who are all growing up too fast and will be moving away), and without Sir Jack (just in case). So I need to learn these things for myself. I made a short list I thought I would share with you, of where my mind is going. Feel free to leave me other ideas that you think I would need to know as a homesteader on my own.
Skills to learn:
-Brush up on car maintenance
-Learn basic electrical
-Small engine repair
-How to use a chainsaw
-How to drive a small tractor
-Learn basic plumbing