Saturday, April 30, 2005

Swap Meet Lessons

KB and I met up this morning to go to the Pate Swap Meet. I picked him up at 6:30 and we were there at 7am. The parking area was open, but most of the vendors seemed to be sleeping off Friday night, as evidenced by lots of beer cans and at least one nearly empty bottle of Jack Daniels, sitting right in the middle of a sales booth.

So we cruised the Car Corral, the main area where ready to drive cars are sold. Most of these guys just leave a spec sheet and price on the window and a cell phone number. It was cool to check out all of the different cars.

Car Corral Highlight - a Mazda RX7 convertible, with a blown Chevy 350 under the hood for only $11k and change. Thankfully the owner was not around. He would have cried with all of the guys standing around laughing at his herd work. There were several nice 67-72 Chevy and GMC trucks, but no Stepsides, not even a Shortbed.

We hit the main swap meet area about 7:30 and started walking the full length of each aisle, at least 1/2 of a mile. There are about main 15 aisles and lots of side streets. We walked the entire place in 4 hours. And that included about 45 minutes of backtracking to find a guy who had some good original equipment door handles for $5 each and some great 68 fenders for $75 each.

I was planning to come back and buy the door handles, but we never found him again. THE LESSON OF THE DAY – If you find a needed part that is good enough to use on your truck, buy it when you see it. SECONDARY LESSON - Take enough cash, so that if you find a dude practically giving away rustless original equipment fenders, you can snatch them.

After giving up on door handle guy, we started walking the main aisles again. I found a couple of good deals at a commercial booth, Outback Truck Parts. I got a replacement chrome gas cap for $11, an OK deal - about the same price as NAPA. I also bought a lockset for both doors and the ignition for $25 with original style keys, a GOOD deal - $10-25 cheaper than most of the other parts catalogs I have checked. And probably made in the same factory as the others.

I was ready to give up, since I had blown the budget already. But it was a nice Saturday morning and neither KB nor I wanted to get home too early. So we kept cruising.

A few streets from the end, I found THE DEAL OF THE DAY – $10 for a set of original 1968 Chevy ½ ton, 2 wheel drive hubcaps! They are pretty hard to find and not reproduced. I have long ago given up any hope of finding a complete set. I was hoping to fine one or two decent ones this weekend. Remembering THE MAIN LESSON OF THE DAY, I snatched them and we headed out. After walking the last three aisles.

And that is when I learned THE FINAL LESSON OF THE DAY – Just because your neighbor tells you that the swap meet is too large to walk in one day, does not mean that it can’t be done, just that it shouldn’t be done. He is an old man, and not trying to dare you or challenge your youthfulness. So listen to him. Especially if you wear crappy shoes.

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