By on January 13, 2013

Back when Pick-N-Pull and Pick Your Part both operated yards in Northern California, Half Price Day sales used to take place at least every couple of months. Everything was half off on those days, which meant you could get transmissions for something like 30 bucks, complete engines for $75, and so on. Then, back in 2009, El Pulpo packed up and left NorCal, which meant that the competition didn’t have as much motivation to put on such sales. Now that I’m in Colorado, it appears that U-Pull-&-Pay also does the occasional Half Price Day… and this time they chose the coldest weekend of this winter.
Actually, UPAP made this sale a coupon-only deal for those who liked the Aurora yard on Facebook. I need a steering column for my ’41 Plymouth project, so I printed out the coupon and headed up to Aurora.
Thanks to the trapper cap that the Busted Knuckle Garage guys gave me at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill in ’07, I didn’t fall over and die instantly from the single-digit cold, in spite of my inability to get used to this real winter thing that places east of coastal California get.
This guy wanted to take advantage of the 50%-off deals, but apparently the only warm outfit he could put together on short notice was centered on this festive-but-not-so-toasty-looking souvenir poncho.
I can never remember what year range of Toyota Previa contains the supercharger with Mad Max-style electrically-operated clutch, so I decided against freezing all my fingers diving into the engine compartment of this ’96.
For the ’41 Plymouth’s steering column, I’m looking for something simple but modern enough to have a built-in turn-signal switch. Ideally, this column would be from a floor-shift car (so no holes where a column shifter once lived) and would be from the pre-steering-wheel-lock era (so no ugly ignition switch on the column). This DJ-5 mail Jeep looked promising.
The turn-signal mechanism was all busted up, so I passed on this column… for now. I might go back and get it tomorrow, though. Half price!
I was also looking for a BMW E30 with rear-mounted battery, so I could grab the cable for the Plymouth. No dice on that, but I did find this ’02 Subaru Legacy to donate some parts for my wife’s ’04 Outback. 21st-century Subarus are still very rare in self-serve yards, so I was happy to find this one.
Got the rear cupholder and the driver’s-door dome light switch. $4.06 total.
One of the best things about serious cold weather in the junkyard is that the range and striking power of New Car Scent Little Trees— by far the most popular air freshener in the junkyard— is cut down to near zero.

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18 Comments on “It’s the Weekend, It’s 3 Degrees Out, and It’s Half-Price Day At the Junkyard!...”


  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    I just watched the Broncos play the Ravens last night while dressed in a short sleeved shirt. Could have worn shorts too if I had wanted. Went to the top of pikes peak on the cog train in June and found snow at the top. You are quite possibly insane Sir. However, I must commend your sacrifice in the name of Journalism.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    Need it? Maybe not. Will use it? Someday, date unknown. But HALF OFF! Look at all the money I saved. Murilee at a junkyard, my girlfriend at a shoe store, me at a bookstore.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    You know it occured to me Murilee that you have a Chrysler Cordoba couch, now you need a coffee table that’s just as interesting. May I suggest a GM 1982 – 199? A-body trunk lid? They were almost completely flat and not too large. 1/2 price weekend would be prefect for that.

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    Sir, you are tough as an early pioneer! Nothing worse than smacking cold fingers when the bolt breaks loose.

    I am a fair weather mechanic and fisherman. Thanksgiving is the deadline to winterize everything and only, yes only do car maintenance over the winter. Wife won’t let me install a heater in the garage until I finish the house.

    That is a lean & mean toolbox. I always bring a big ole toolbox to the junkyard and keep more in the trunk. Nothing worse than not having the tools you need.
    Yep, I also over-pack too when I travel.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s my “just in case I find something cool” standard junkyard toolbox. It has everything I need to pull most parts. If I know I’ll be getting an engine or something requiring weird tools, I bring a big box. I used to have an even smaller box, but I had to decide between metric and the King’s measurement system every time I used it.

  • avatar
    AlienProbe

    Went there for yourself. Came home with presents for the wife. You are such a good hubbins. <3

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Fun ! .

    I not so fondly remember going to the junkyards in the snow in New England when I was a laddie……

    As mentioned when the bolt finally broke loose (or just broke) , your hands tended to suffer greatly .

    I’m betting that mail Jeep uses some 1960′s vintage GM/Delco switch that’s cheap and available .

    I got a DJ2A shifter to use in my ’59 Metropolitan FHC’s slushbox conversion as the Datsun one is too wide and rubs my knee .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    HA HA…I’ve had a four dour E30 battery cable in my stash for years…maybe I’ll relocate the battery in my 528e…as I get older, I have less desire to do mods like this.

  • avatar
    RedStapler

    I’m amazed that new and intact of a Subaru made it into a Self Service Yard in Colorado.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I was trudging around my local self-service junkyard last week in the snow. Looking for a gas pedal for my ’02 Grand Cherokee. No luck, so just got on from eBay for $30.

    Sadly the only self-service yard around here is TINY. The big yards are full service only, and can’t be bothered to sell small parts like a gas pedal assembly. They have dozens of WJ Jeeps, you would think it would be worth $20-30 to them to undo the two 10mm nuts that hold the thing on and sell it to me, but nope.

  • avatar

    Regarding the Prev, if it says SC on the rear door it has a blower.

    Regarding the Little Trees, I’m with you. I hate all manner and form
    of “air fresheners” with a passion. Someday, long after I am dead,
    maybe people will become aware of what these products actually do to one’s body.

    Email me if you can provide rudimentary instructions on how to wire a
    SC to be on or off. sundbyd2@gmail.com (dave)

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    If you’re selling a late model car and want it to have that “new car scent”, just get strips of new vinyl and new carpet, put one over the dash and the other in the back window and park the car in the sun with the windows rolled up. Four to six hours ought to do it, preferably on a warm day. If you have that lived-in-it-while-homeless aroma, you have to neutralize that first.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    We are not having much of a winter where I live, which sucks for winter lovers like me. So I went to Jupiter Florida for the weekend…80 degrees. At least I’ll have a bit of a tan when I get to Colorado in a few weeks to ski. You need to be pretty dedicated to go parting in 3 degree weather. At least the install is easier with a heated garage…nothing like radiant heat for those long winter car repair jobs…

  • avatar
    Mark in Maine

    Great tale, Murilee. How’s about a future piece on your “Just in case I find something cool” junkyard toolbox? there might be some folks out there who’d like to know what tools a proper pro brings to the ‘yard for raiding missions. @krhodes – where are you going up here for parts? are you in the Portland area? If so, Freeport Auto Parts, up on Route 1, can be a good place to chase stuff down. It is a crush yard, so most parts are cheap, and the paths through the snow this time of year make the hunt a lot of fun . . .

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Westbrook, and Freeport Auto Parts is where I was at. Where are you? Assuming somewhere reasonably nearby…

      I was surprised they did not have a single WJ Jeep. They had a few of the previous generation, but I guess the WJs are still new enough that Scarboro still gets them all.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    You know, just once I’d like you to switch duties with Bertel. Let him try visiting the winter junkyard, while you ogle booth babes at the car show.

    Way to go, Murilee!

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I lvoe junk yard sale day.

    My local U-Pull yard occasionally runs an “All You Can Carry” day once every few months. Pay $60 to get in and carry out whatever you can. You can drag it to the gate, but you have to carry it off the ground the 10-20 feet out of the gate.

    Watching people get creative with this is extremely entertaining.

    The last time I went, I needed a lot of random smaller things like an alternator, p/s pump, exterior mirror, fuel rail and injectors, a blower motor and a bunch more stuff like that.

    I pulled a door weatherstrip out of a Plymouth Breeze and looped each part through the rubber, tied it over the shoulder which left my hands fee to carry 2 whole doors out the gate.

  • avatar
    Mark in Maine

    @krhodes: I reside just above Lewiston. Couple of yards up this way: Randy’s, in Auburn, decent selection – and Campbells’ up in Lisbon, lots of older stuff. Good luck in your search for a new go-pedal!


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