+1 Diesel Repair: Level grinding my handyman skills
April 3, 2010 12:21 PM   Subscribe

PracticalSkillFilter: Looking for ways to quickly/systematically learn practical diesel engine repair, basic electronics, fiberglass or woodworking techniques in/near Raleigh NC.

I want to start cruising in the next few years, but lack practical skills needed to maintain a boat. Basically I am not very handy. See my thread on sailnet.

To fix this, I am looking at trade/technical schools in the area (IE wake tech) but not sure what will work for me since my starting skill level is effectively zero, but I don't want to spend a lot of time taking pre-reqs and book courses, or get stuck on a trade/specialty track. I want to get practical experience as quickly as possible with hands on, HAND TOOLS . Also, I work full time, so I need to find night/weekend courses, or something I can do in my spare time.

Diplomas/certificates don't particularly matter to me since this has no application to my current job (Computer IT/ Customer Support). However, while I'm not looking for a "career change", getting some useful certificate/marketable skill set that could possibly allow me to make some extra money while cruising could be a nice bonus.

Any recommendations or thoughts welcome, from trade/vocational schools to apprentice programs, to jobs (hopefully part time) that have a good training regime. THANKS!
posted by DetonatedManiac to Education (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
TechShop in Durham.
posted by fatllama at 1:14 PM on April 3, 2010

Don't be afraid to just jump in and get your hands dirty. I recommend buying a broken weed eater (or a working one, since they always seem to break after 10 minutes of use) and trying to fix it. You just need a few tools, maybe a new spark plug and some fuel line. Get a book from the library or check out a website and dive in. You'll get a feel for small engines and gain confidence in your abilities.

You can also build a small skiff or canoe with a limited set of tools and a sheet or two of plywood. Combine that with your weed eater engine and you have a (ridiculous) motorboat!
posted by ChrisHartley at 3:18 PM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Check out instructables.com

Search for 'boat' or whatever. One of the popular members, TimAnderson, has a lot of good stuff posted on how to use scrap materials into something useful, and since he has a passion for sailing, lots of good info to be found.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 6:01 PM on April 3, 2010

I've got the take off and go slow by boat bug too. I'm not sure a general diesel course would be too helpful, it would be about giants that would sink any sailboat most of us could ever imagine. And boat work is just rather different than most other projects, water and constant movement (the slow rocking in the water 'works' things different than a table or cabinet that lives a stationary life)

Get a little boat and start working on it. Here's a good candidate I quickly saw on the Durham craigslist: http://raleigh.craigslist.org/boa/1670952953.html Make it spiffy and pretty and you'll double your money when it's time to go. (true in this case but yes that's a joke, no one makes money on boats)

Once you're around boat folk you'll get too much help probably. Look for the least fancy boat yard and hang around.

"This old boat" by Casey is the bible for where you're going and I've read "Marine Diesel Engines" by Calder cover to cover a few times.

Good luck, get out on the water. That's where you learn the most. Send a message if you're ever up around Boston.
posted by sammyo at 9:45 AM on April 4, 2010

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