Down home emergency repair

(“Down home” – I did not want to offend cowboys, rednecks, or shade trees.)

I once used a vulcanized tire patch to fix a leaking radiator hose. I once used a shoelace to tie off a tire chain’s broken cross cross link (beating the *&#$ out of my rear quarter panel, from the inside) as the snow plow was bearing down on me in Donner Pass. But I don’t know if I would have thought of this one:

These temporary fixes are great.
I’ve used pantyhose on one occasion when my serp belt snapped on a cold morning. It got me to the nearest service station and saved the $100 auto service

When the throttle linkage on my Karmann-Ghia became disconnected somewhere between the gas pedal and the engine, I jury-rigged a piece of cord to the linkage at the carb and I tugged on it in order to accelerate. It took a few tries before I was able to coordinate steering, shifting, and tugging on that cord, but luckily I only had to drive a fairly short distance to my mechanic’s shop–at very low speed.

This was a long time ago but I was coming home one Saturday from an antique motorcycle shop near Tulsa and the car started bucking; followed by dying. The 6 month old fuel pump had decided to go belly up 60 miles from the house. It was an older carbureted car.

So after some thought I dumped a 1/3 of a jug of coolant out, crawled under the back end, and removed the gas tank drain plug so as to get a gallon of gas. Being as I always carry a tool kit and bag of supplies I took some cord and lashed the jug to the windshield wipers. I then routed the gas line from the carb to the jug along with another length of tubing and started the gravity feed…

Crude, but it got me home much faster as the nearest tow trucks were close to 70 miles away. In the setting sun I could see the gas level in the jug and when down to 1/2 quart would pull over and drain some more gas out of the tank.


When I bought my 2001 Dodge Ram, the dealer (Jim Click Dodge in Tucson) had a catered dinner for all new vehicle owners. It was a way to says “Thanks” and a chance for him to sell more services. The service manager, the body shop manager, parts, etc… all gave short speeches on the benefits of using their facilities. And he gave out door prizes, I won both a nice dash cover and a seat back “knap-sack”, both of which I still have. So I guess his PR worked, he’s still there and I’m still singing his praises…

But the most important advice that I heard there was the service manager suggested that even though the serpentine belt is good for 60k miles, he suggested you get it changed at 30k miles or so, but keep the original belt, wrap it up and put it in your trunk. This way, if you are out on the highway late at night and it breaks; you may have to get towed but you will not have to spend the night waiting for a parts store to open the next day to buy an overpriced replacement. I did this for the Ram and I’ve done it for my other cars that use a serpentine belt.

I’ve never had to use the spare, but my son who took my advice did and he was really out in the boonies of Wes’ Texas when his belt let go. Using only brute strength, he managed to get it part way on at least enough to limp miles to an all-night station where it was installed properly.

I’m afraid to ask where Docnick got the pantyhose… As for me, I wear white Gold-Toes…

Fan belt

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Had an auto shop teacher, while doing missionary work in Africa made a rotor out of a cork and paper clip.

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Amazing! I am but a grasshopper in the land of giants.


Once on a return trip from Stugis SD while on my Harley Shovelhead dresser the bike started running rough up in northern KS. The spring on the contact points had decided to break and of course not a Harley or bike dealer anywhere in the open prairies.

In a nearby town I found an auto parts store and they happened to have a set of points for an old VW Beetle. They looked very similar to the HD points but the adjustment slot was off a bit. I bought a round file, fixed the slot, installed them by eyeball, and they worked great. Those points were still in there when I sold the bike 2 years later.

The Grasshopper adds one:

In one of my previous cars (probably the 2000 Camry), in the wiper motor control board the cam-driven “park” contact (like ok4450’s points) broke off the printed wiring board. I salvaged a leaf contact from an electrical relay and soldered it in place. It worked for a while. When that one broke I got a new module from the recycle yard.

But this is hardly worth the greatness of the other tales here.

My belt blew while warming up on a very cold morning in my brother’s driveway while visiting there. My sister in law gladly parted with her pantyhose and told my brother to always store a set in the glove box.

Going home from work (about a 35 mile trip at that time) in my old Chevy Silverado (that I had acquired at the scrapyard and had to put into daily driver status way too soon for various reasons), the engine bogged. It then picked back up momentarily, and totally died. As I coasted to the shoulder, a guy pulls up behind me and stops. He’d seen the “for sale” sign I had stuck in the back window. Hell of a bad advertisement at that point in time…but, yeah. I popped the hood, sort of thinking I’d just wind up staring at the engine and scratching my head. I removed the air cleaner housing and poked around a bit. I then noticed the contact in the center of the distributor cap was broken to the point that the wire from the coil was dangling. How it broke to that degree, I do not know. Too many water intrusions and misfires from “muddin” events in the truck’s former life, I’d guess. I stuck the contact (which was still seated in the coil wire) back into position on the distributor, grabbed a bungee cord from behind the seat, and draped it over the coil wire and distributor to kind of hold it in place. I hooked the two metal hooks on the bungee cord somewhere to the engine or inner fender wells. Not real sure where, but I was hoping to keep the possible bungee bonfire to at least a smolder. The guy who had stopped was talking the whole time, asking where I lived and if I needed a ride, etc. His eyes lit up when I turned the ignition and fired the truck back up! He offered to follow me home (which was nice), and I obliged. Actually he followed me to oreilly’s where I bought a distributor cap lol. The cord held and the truck ran fine for the 25 mile remainder of the commute. Oddly the guy never called me about buying the truck, though :thinking:

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We were in a cabin in Allegany State park for a week with my in-laws and first two children.

My fuel pump diaphragm ruptured on my 52 Plymouth and we were stuck. It was 1961 and no cell phones.

I removed my spare that had blown out on the way down, ( When you buy a $20 car, you can’t expect great tires) and took out the remnants of the tube. I disconnected the fuel line going to the carb and using a screwdriver, removed the top of the fuel pump.

I cut a round circle out of the inner tube and used the ice pick we had with us to punch screw holes around the rim and two small holes in the center for the spring.

My father in law said, “that will never get you back to Kenmore, the gas will eat it up.”

I said, I know, but I think it will get me to Salamanca, the nearest town.

It did and I found a Western Auto and I did not even have to buy a new pump, they had a rebuild kit for mine that consisted of a new diaphragm and spring.


@ok4450’s stories are amazing. Mine aren’t even worth telling. I have a complete set of replacement belts (never used, 23 years on) in the truck, as well as plugs, points, distributor cap, tire plugs, spare lug nuts, hoses, clamps… as well as all the necessary tools (even had to replace after thefts).

A friend was driving in the I-10 in LA late one night (fortunately) in his van. He was running out of gas, so opened the hood (between the driver’s and passenger’s seats), opened the valve on his propane tank, fed it to the engine with a vinyl hose. Why he’s still alive today, I don’t know.

Speaking of Donner Pass, one time I got stuck in the snow on I80 in an early Oct snow blizzard, and so I made my own tire chains using rope … this didn’t work as well as I hoped … lol …

Probably because you got it running

If you hadn’t got it running, maybe he would have offered to “take it off your hands” for chump change :wink:

Early 1950’s my dad’s family drove from Beirut Lebanon to Baghdad crossing the desert at night (we have the journal that grandpa kept that documents the trip in safe storage) and at one point my grandfather was pounding whatever was bent from the rock back into place with the tools he brought along. Grandpa was a water resource engineer for the government so they lived in some interesting places.

They’d had their 1947 Chevy shipped over with them from the states. Have a photo of the car after returning stateside in Lebanon Kansas with grandma holding up the Lebanese license plates

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I knocked a hole in the oil pan in my '57 Olds going thru a rocky stream bed.
Lost most of the oil, but I had spares. Plugged the hole with bubble gum, which
was able to hold while I drove 30 miles.

I wouldn’t have called me either! Broken down truck on the side of the road with some guy who works at a scrapyard Jerry rigging it to get it home. Lol. But in all honesty, it was a pretty good (mechanically) truck. The guy I sold it to put another 70k miles on it before the engine blew at over 300k miles. I sold it to him for $2300, so not a bad price for 70k miles driving a 4wd half ton. He probably spent more in gas than on the truck!