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Brake Cleaner - Tech Scene

My Two Greatest Loves: Brake Cleaner And A Garage

Robert Choo
Dec 1, 2004 SHARE
Turp_0412_02_z+brake_cleaner+tech_logo Photo 1/1   |   Brake Cleaner - Tech Scene

Addicted to parts cleanerFirst off, thank you, Kragen Auto Parts, for having a sale on brake cleaner. And second, I apologize for causing a nationwide shortage in brake cleaner.

Brake cleaner is something I hold very near and dear to my heart. I go through more brake cleaner than most full-service automotive repair shops. What can I say, I like to clean parts. Granted, I use so much my friends insist I fried all my brain cells from the fumes, but it hasn't deterred my addiction. I probably go through 10 cans of cleaner for each engine I build. Since each can costs about $3.50, I salivate when it's on sale for only $1.00 per can.

During Kragen's sale I hit up every single Kragen in my county. I bought all the brake cleaner the stores had and then kept calling them to find out when they had more in stock. Unfortunately, I built up a reputation and would hear, "No, we don't have any more. Some guy came in and bought like 50 cans..." Of course, I didn't tell them I was that guy. That was when I learned there was a national back order on this product. Oops.

In two weeks time I accumulated 120 cans. That amount should cover me for the next two months. My wife rolled her eyes when I filled up the cabinet in the garage and didn't have any more space to fit the rest. Cans are now spilling out of boxes along the wall. Well, at least I am well stocked; and like I said, I'm sorry if there wasn't any cleaner at your local Kragen if you were looking for it ... I plead The Fifth.

The quest for a good garageFor the past three weeks my evenings and weekends have been filled with house hunting. After settling on a location to live, my wife and I were ready to buy. For me, it's not really about buying a house. It's about buying a garage that happens to be attached to a house.

I could care less about the number of bedrooms or bathrooms or if it has Pergo flooring with Berber carpeting. As they say in Jersey, "Fawgetaboutit." I only care about how big the garage is and how long the driveway is. I want to know if the garage is facing an alley (a no-no) or the front of the house. I want to know if there is a communist homeowners association that will govern my every move. Unfortunately, homeowners associations are as common in California as face-lifts.

Do you remember the Valvoline commercial featuring a five-car garage attached to a single bedroom home? That would be a dream come true for me. The reality is that zoning just doesn't allow for it where I want to live. That means I'm stuck looking at two-car garages. The only three-car garages I saw are connected to ridiculously huge homes, which is unnecessary for us since we don't have kids. Each of my dogs could get their own bedroom I guess.

When you're on a quest for a good garage, you also want a good neighborhood for your garage. You want a 'hood where you don't have to worry about your cars being stolen. I've lived in those places before where I did have to worry, and I don't want to deal with those headaches again. I'd love a long driveway with RV parking, but unfortunately, in crowded So. Cal., that just isn't happening. In most of the neighborhoods I checked out, you'd be lucky to get a two-car driveway that you could actually park on. Some homeowners associations even have ordinances that say you can't park in your own driveway! These are the same associations, of course, that forbid you from working on cars either. Let's get this straight-I'm paying $300 or more a month to be told that I can't do what I love. Riiight ... so those 'hoods were out.

That left me with trying to find a nice neighborhood with no association fees and a two-car driveway, surprisingly not an easy feat. My wife and I tooled around homes with our agent. My wife would check out the interior while I'd peep at the garage, driveway and backyard space (can you say "storage"?). I'm not fussy so after about 15 homes we made our selection and luckily our bid was accepted. You could spend months and months looking for a place, but the idea of having the quest consume my every free minute wasn't desirable. I have engines to build and cars to fix, damn it! And plenty of parts cleaner.

I jumped at this particular house because there are no neighbors across the street, a very unusual find in Orange County. That means no prying eyes, so I could labor away day and night in my new garage. I'll just bribe my next-door neighbor with cookies, cupcakes, tune-ups, brake inspections, or whatever their vice is.

So hopefully next month the garage will finally be mine. I already scoped out the epoxy flooring and the color for the new paint on the walls. I am working on a floorplan for storage and engine-building space. I'm saving up for my Snap-on top box. My wife already knows she can have all three bedrooms but the garage is off limits. Life is good with a good garage.

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By Robert Choo
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