Have you ever seen an unusual item owned by a friend or family member and wondered how or where the person obtained it? I have had this experience many times. From my friend’s parents to local business owners I’ve known over the years, I have seen some pretty unusual things. I’ve also learned that the adventure of finding and buying such things is a grand one.
There are plenty of items we associate with industrial or government use that we never plan to own ourselves. But if we want some of those things, they are not entirely out of reach. If you know where to look and you are willing to pursue the search for as long as it takes, you can get your hands on a lot of unusual items.
1. The Carpenter with an Ambulance
I was in construction in my early twenties. I did drywall. I drove a truck while my partner drove a van. However, we knew a trim carpenter whose vehicle of choice was an ambulance. It wasn’t an older model built on a station wagon platform. It was a newer model consisting of a box built on a truck frame.
It turns out he bought the ambulance at a municipal auction. The local fire department was replacing its current ambulance fleet and, at the same time, disposing of the old vehicles. He got a pretty good deal on a vehicle that served his needs well.
2. The Father with a Postal Jeep
The ambulance-driving carpenter wasn’t my first experience with unusual vehicles. During my preteen and teen years, there was a father in our neighborhood who owned an old postal jeep. It still had the original paint scheme when he bought it. Eventually, he repainted it in brown. Like the carpenter, he purchased it at auction.
3. A Farmer with a Plastic Water Tank
Years after I left construction, I ended up a middle manager in the retail gasoline industry. The station I managed had its fair share of regular customers, including a local farmer who carried a huge plastic water tank in the back of his truck. This was no normal tank, though. So I inquired.
I learned that it was a food-grade tote from a company known as CedarStone Industry. He got a great price on it used because it could no longer be employed for food storage. Yet it was sufficient for his needs on the farm. He told me that he could find all sorts of food-grade IBC totes for sale at agricultural auctions. This was long before there was an internet, of course.
4. Friends with Cable Spool End Tables
Sometimes, the unusual items I have encountered were less obvious than postal jeeps and huge water tanks. For example, I had a friend who utilized wood cable spools as end tables in his house. These are huge, industrial spools on which manufacturers wind power cables, telephone cables, etc.
These days, the spools are more likely to be made of metal or an industrial plastic. But back in the day, they were usually made of wood. Not only that, but companies also didn’t recycle them. Empty spools were thrown out to the trash. You could get a few by driving to the local utility provider, going out back, and checking the dumpster.
There are tons of unusual items space will not allow us to discuss. The point is this: a lot of industrial items that can no longer be used for their original purposes can be repurposed for something else. The adventure of finding them is a big part of the fun of owning them.