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Salvage Yard Tour In Illinois


Today’s salvage yard tour is going to be a quickie. We don’t have much time, so we’ll get in, and get out. This is U-Pic-A-Part, located in Washington Park, Illinois. Admission is $2.oo, which is too much to pay to go inside and find parts to buy. Other area self-service yards charge $1.00, or are free, and are located a lot closer to home than this one is, so I don’t come here often. But for $2, the place is gigantic, and note that it’s paved! No rolling around in the mud here.


Any self-service-salvage yard warrior such as myself can tell you what a feast-or-famine proposition an outing can be. Some days there are so many good cars with so many good parts on them that there isn’t enough time in the day, or I’m not carrying enough cash to get everything I want.


The flip side of that coin is what it was like today: great weather, plenty of time, well prepared…but little or no good merchandise can be found. Life is like a box of chocolates, as they say. They did have this 1962 Ford Galaxie sedan, which appeared to be a relatively recent arrival. Rough-ish, but perhaps containing just the right part or two for your similar-make project car.


The only other vintage vehicle of possible interest was this truncated 1950s Dodge truck. Do you think it would it be fair to call it a “heavy-half”?  The number on the windshield says “$1250”, which probably means one of three things: A) Someone used a tire-crayon to do an unrelated mathematical equation on the glass. B) The solid gold bars have already been removed from behind the driver’s seat. C) The $1250 was actually intended to be an asking price for this truck, and the meaning of the word “optimistic” has been expanded in scope well beyond the edge of the interstellar medium. Clearly it symbolizes that today’s junkyard tour was an absolute bust. At least you didn’t get eye strain reading all about it. Thanks for hanging in there with me, faithful readers. We’ll do better next time, I promise!


  1. Avatar photo Bobsmyuncle

    Well written!

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  2. Avatar photo 3PedalRacer

    I would gladly pay $2.00 to go in a pick-a-part yard that is paved/concrete. Usually the best stuff is found after a heavy rain and sitting in a puddle of water.

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  3. Avatar photo Robert White

    I have been chased by dogs in way too many junkyards. If $2.00 guarantees no dogs that would scare the hell out of me I would gladly pay it.

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    • Avatar photo Jim

      Nice job extending the quarters for the tail lights. That’s going to look great done!

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  4. Avatar photo jim s

    a junkyard with no mud, i love it. i wish i had one like this close to me. i would walk the rows just for fun. buy stuff i have no use for.

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  5. Avatar photo Paul R.

    No mud holes,rattle snakes or wasp nests? I would pay $5 bucks to enjoy that kind of luxury!
    My neck of the woods U-Pull-It’s are in abandoned clay pits, the cars dangerously propped up on old rims, and well picked over most of the time. Not to mention the occasional rattle snake and wasp nest!

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  6. Avatar photo Bill Parker

    I’m with the above folks that think $2 is very fair entry for a paved yard. I have one near me on west 16th in Indianapolis that is also fully paved and charges two dollars and it is such a pleasure that I almost am not disappointed if I don’t find anything. Every vehicle is already up on four stands too which does require a battery impact gun if I’m wanting wheels.

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  7. Avatar photo Todd Zuercher

    That Dodge is much more than a heavy – half. Probably more like a 2.5 ton unit back in the day.

    All the u-jerk-its/stuff-yer-socks yards have been $2 here in AZ since the early 2000s. They were $1 back when the genre was created in the early/mid ’90s. I’ve paid hundreds of dollars, $1 and $2 at a time, to go stroll through the yards in the past 20 years. They’re only about 10-15 minutes from my home in downtown Phoenix.

    The way I see it – it’s cheaper than going to a movie or going to a bar and can be more lucrative too. I always have a pocketknife in my pocket in case I find some little widget, bolt, or bracket that I want. Or, as I’ve done numerous times – if I find something good I can run home and grab the impact and the appropriate tools!

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  8. Avatar photo RON

    I agree That is about standard everywhere ow and mud free and you can lay on the ground and use a jack!! what a bargain. yu can’t even see an afternoon matinee’ for 5.00 and ths is more fun

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  9. Avatar photo Dave Wright

    These are great busisnesses, I saw the first one start in Sun Valley California. The conversation was all about the liability of letting people wander through a hard with so many potential hazards. For guys like us they are a wonderland, so you need a chrome door lock knob……no problem, just go get it. 2.00 and maby another 2.00 and you have it. No full service yard would even bother with it. They have been 2.00 entry for over a decade in Southern California. I have bought complete cars from them as well. In the days I haunted them, my only regret was I could not use my hot wrench (cutting torch) but I suppose there liability insurance only stretches so far. There is a cottage industry made up of guys that visit these yards daily to remove fresh parts from expensive cars to resell. All the parts are priced the same whether it is from a Yugo or a 65 Mustang. If you are ambitious and selective, you could make 1000.00 cash some days. The Sun Valley yards got a lot of vehicles and equipment from Hollywood. I have seen Tanks, APC’s, made up artillery pieces, lots of wrecked police cars…….fun stuff. I have to try and remember the name of the first yard down there. They would buy cars all over the southwest had special trailers for there semis that held the cars in sort of a rack so they didn’t have to stack them. Alden Brothers? They were long time conventional wrecking yard owners that I believe invented the concept.

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  10. Avatar photo bob

    I find far more entertainment value in a junkyard than most of the movies I have gone to ( Other than Mad Max Fury Road) $2.00 is a bargain.

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  11. Avatar photo JW

    A paved Pick & Pull in y Dad’s home town for $2 entrance fee, not bad as here in the KC area they are $2 and you roll around in gravel. I have to travel over to Alton, Ill. the end of the month for the other side of the family has a big 90th Bday party going on so maybe I will head over to Washington Park and do some window shopping.

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  12. Avatar photo AMX Brian

    The pick’n pull I go to is great for the slightly newer stuff(before 2003). I did see an old full size jeep that was pretty rusted, but someone snagged the axles before they crushed it. I was able to come across a Comanche pickup and I grabbed the none-Cherokee parts. It’s amazing what can be had for little money. I grabbed a mudflap off that truck(the other side was already gone) and was able to sell it to a Comanche enthusiast for $20 because it was a rare “Jeep” oem mudflap.

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  13. Avatar photo grenade

    I wish our yards had pavement! Ours are built on large white rocks, like you’d see in a railroad track. You have to find something to lay on, but if you’re a member, you only pay 1.00. They let me bring in a small generator and a sawzall. I cut the doors off of a Maserati Biturbo. They were rust free! I love those places.

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  14. Avatar photo steve

    We have a Pick a Part in Australia… $2 admission also. Same deal as the USA .
    Great place to get your car parts. Would like to see this yard.

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  15. Avatar photo AMCFAN

    The one I go to is on a rough side of town. Hate to park my vehicle in the lot thinking it too will be parted out when I get back. That bad. The type of people I see roaming is many who I wouldn’t want to have a run in with.

    Was there in Dec. Looking around and sat my junk yard only tool bag down…..gone just that quick. Same day. Spotted a clean Dodge Omni GLH that looked very out of place. Looking like it had a new motor. Chrome 2.2 valve cover shiny. Both Sad. The thing I do not understand is that at this establishment there seems to be quite a bit of lawlessness. If someone needs windshield trim they bust out the windshield. Parts of previous cars litter the ground. The cars look absolutely ripped apart or blown up. No apparent management walking around. Average life span appears to be less then 5 weeks. They crush the remains and add fresh meat.

    Went to LA in the 1990’s and the Pick/Pulls there were very organized and strict. If you spilled something it was to be reported. Pretty sure if you pried off a fender to get a grille you would have been escorted out. The cars although missing parts were clean. I was at one and they had just hauled in a 78 Camaro. A group of 10 gringos were on it. It was put in a row behind a car I was removing parts from. Can still hear the sound of that car being ripped apart. Creepy like something off of Walking dead.

    Another funny thing I remember is that in LA the Taco Food trucks are driving around inside the yard selling food. Obviously for those private contractors hanging out removing those hard to get parts for a fee! Amazing.

    Even though the cars in the yards are a lot newer I never get tired of walking around in them only now I do it with a gun haha

    Dave Wright, Alden Brothers were selling off everything and were scheduled to close Jan. 1 of this year. They had one of the original Jaws sharks. Pretty sure any junk yard scene filmed in Hollywood was filmed there. In fact just saw an episode of Emergency. They were called to Aldens. They crushed a 65 Cadillac sedan and someone happened to be inside living in it. Squad 51 saved the day….as always! Several episodes of MacGyver filmed there too.

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  16. Avatar photo Jim

    After too many days at Harry’s U-Pull in Hazelton PA in mud, dirt, gravel and dry grass I’d be happy to pay $5.00, I have a box with tools and another loaded with batteries for the impact and sawzall that get strapped to a handtruck and go shopping, although these days one of my sons or a buddy has to go, but I still love it.

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  17. Avatar photo Rick

    Back in the late 80’s Goldie’s in Walpole, Ma would occasionally hold a “Grabathon” on Saturdays. For $10 you could walk out with all the parts you could carry at once, including your tools, across two lines about 15 feet apart, without putting anything down. I scored four good mounted white walls plus a bag of interior trim and dash parts for my ’64 ‘cuda. My buddy walked out with a pair of doors and a deck lid for his Dart convert (the secret was to hang stuff off your shoulders with rope). There would be a small crowd at the finish line cheering you on. Rumor has it that two guys carried out the engine for a 928 for 20 bucks!
    Come to think of it, I have back trouble now….

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  18. Avatar photo LARRY WILLMAN

    wish there were more old time yards still.my favorite place to se4arch for was yards of old timers,joker

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  19. Avatar photo Jim

    I would have loved that place when I was a kid, I definitely would have been one of the idiots carrying a short block or 9″ rear! For ten bucks I’d show up every time. Yes I’ve had my spine reconstructed and now I’m careful just putting out the garbage and I have a hoist in the garage that does all my lifting bigger than my insulated coffee cup.

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  20. Avatar photo Hide Behind

    As a note, when one sees old heavy semis with original brand caps and numbers grab them as those who restore older semi, dump or gravel hacks and log trucks pay big bucks matched great reconditioned or originals.
    Seeing restored ones on more and more long haul private owner trucks as well.
    Also any hood emblems, Mack had gold and silver that they gave out to high volume and buyers as comeons.

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